Raymond has worked in the IT industry for 30 years in a range of roles from programmer to project manager before establishing his current role as an Internet Marketing Consultant. He is certified by Google for Adwords and has 20 years of experience of developing and promoting websites. With experience in a range of industries including petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, interior design and magazine publishing he has used his experience to optimize business process in companies of all sizes. A Eurasian Raymond is a native English speaker.
How did you start out as a marketer?
I came into the marketing sphere purely by accident and from a very technical path. When I was a teenager in the 80’s I started my career helping people build their office computer setups. I worked with several companies that wanted to use the then-new digital faxing technology to outreach to their customers. Then one of the companies I helped was a mail-order business book company called Book Express, and together with the owner, I helped to brainstorm innovative ways of marketing using digital faxing. Together we invented the business process and the technology that allowed us to customize and target direct faxing to business leads resulting in an unheard-of conversion rate of around 10%.
During this process, I learn enormously about how marketing works at the very practical digital sharp end, and how analysing massive amounts of data could lead to better marketing decisions. It was the beginning of “big data” though we didn’t know it at the time. Sadly that company failed to scale and was overtaken when Amazon.com came into being, but the things I’ve learnt about being innovative and always following the data have stood me well as we’ve moved into the Google-centric digital marketing and SEO sphere of today.
Looking back what is your hardest struggle when it came to delivering results?
Accepting that some things are just random is a hard pill to swallow. Taking some extended training on Statistics, this isn’t something I learnt when I was young, by doing courses online at edX helped me to understand better what I had previously done on instinct.
Once you realize how much is random, and therefore what parts are not random, you learn the importance of testing. Whether it be trial batches of a mailing or using different coupon codes to track results, the lessons from direct marketing that go back to the 1960s apply today much more than most people realize.
What do you find most rewarding about what you do?
When you see the light go on in a customer’s eyes when they realize how a digital solution is going to empower their business goals, that’s great. Being able to fill in the missing blank that makes a great project come to fruition, then you know you’ve really helped someone.
We have a lot of readers who are bent on becoming freelancers, aside from freelancing how else can someone earn online, and what is your advise?
Building your own brand is essential these days, and this is something freelancers often fail to emphasize. If you have built a brand, and that means by delivering satisfactions to customers and having it be associated with your brand, then you can take this way beyond the individual freelancer. It can still be in your personal name, but go beyond one site, one product or one person and just be known as a brand that delivers.
If you were given the chance to build your career all over again what would you do differently so that you will achieve your dreams faster?
Looking back I see many times where I had the right idea, but I was slightly too late in implementing it. If I had to do it all again I’d have more confidence to jump in immediately with two feed when the new ideas came up. Whether it was personas and personalization, automated outreach, or content amplification; if I’d done it earlier it would have had more impact.
How is your typical work day structured?
I tend to work a 9-5 day these days. In the past I’ve worked with global teams and ended up being on 24×7, but today with a smaller focus at WL Media HK it is possible for me to achieve a better work-life balance. Arrive by 9, get some coffee, check mail and social (but only briefly), then I use a chalkboard beside the desk to write up a short term immediate to do. Just two or three things that are really achievable that day. Then the process is to stick to the tasks and not get distracted! Focus-mode on the PC and on the phone help, and sometimes a little quiet jazz music. I always break off when I’m too tired to be productive and go spend time with the family which is after all the most important thing.
What do you do to stay up to date with new marketing techniques?
While I read about new techniques I try to avoid getting distracted by “shiny thing syndrome” and stick to the basics, to my own test results and to things that are based on fundamental concepts. What people want. What Google thinks people want. It isn’t new, but if you stick to the fundamentals of drive, interest, demand then there is always potential to grow.
What advice would you share with other Marketer’s who want to become more productive?
“The perfect is the enemy of the good”. Stop looking for the absolute best, and instead find things that work, then fine tune them. Yes, you have the risk of local minima optimization, but compensate for that with some blue sky things. Meanwhile, get the basics working and follow-up successes with plenty of energy.