Online branding and building connections are what drive companies to success, says startup enthusiast John Rampton.
Entrepreneur, author and investor John Rampton says he has been an entrepreneur all his life. His rise to online marketing influencer status took place under surprising circumstances, as he was recovering from an accident in the hospital and trying to learn to walk again in 2007. It was then that he also learnt to master the art of selling online. In 2010 John started Pixloo, a company which helps people sell their homes online for free. He is also the founder and vice president of Adogy, a marketing company focused on helping startups. John is a Silicon Valley Investor and writes for Huffington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur.com (to name a few). Oh, and he has over a million Twitter followers.
You have branded yourself as a startup enthusiast, and you have invested in several young companies. I also see success and failure popping up as regular topics in your blog posts. Is this success vs. failure aspect one of the things that draws you to startups?
Absolutely! I'm drawn to the risk involved in building something from scratch and seeing if I can put a team together of talented individuals, gauge the audience and market need, and determine a strategy to make it succeed. There are times where failure has happened, but it would never stop me from continuing to be drawn to startups because each one has lessons that help me learn and that I can put to work on the next one to make it even better. There's an excitement and thrill to whether or not you can build that next big thing and create something truly disruptive. I can say it's very addictive.
You've spoken for influencer marketing as a strategy for better branding and mentioned the benefits of native over traditional advertising. Do you think that the nature of advertising is changing permanently, with internet impacting the type of content that actually reaches its audiences?
It's not necessarily a permanent change as it is an ongoing, evolutionary change that is occurring with the nature of advertising based on the changes in consumer and business behavior, technology, and the platforms and formats available from which to create and transmit the advertising. Everything is becoming more personalized and targeted, which is a great thing because it makes the advertising effort into a better return on investment.
Would you say that online branding has become vital for any company's – or influencer's – success?
Online branding is a must because this is where customers and prospects are the majority of the time. There has to be a set of attributes that can speak for the brand and company in an environment where there is no touching of products, and where the human aspect is harder to decipher, trust takes longer to build. Having that online brand that makes emotional connections with the audience based on shared values can accelerate that trust and build a connection at a faster rate.
With extensive experience in getting involved and founding companies, how do you perceive the role of company culture in terms of business results and establishing a solid brand?
It's the culture that drives how people feel and act on a daily basis as well as provides the framework for developing the brand attributes. When a culture is innovative, flexible, passionate and collaborative, amazing things happen in getting a startup to grow, attract customers, make money, and become a trusted brand. Those within a culture that values them also want to work smarter and be more productive to help the company succeed. Those outside the company then feel that culture in how they interact with the brand.
What are the most significant "lessons", in terms of building connections and/or management that you have learnt as an entrepreneur that you would highlight for new businesses?
Connections are what really drive a large part of success. I learned early on that it is other people who you network with who can truly help you move a business along. They can connect you to that investor or talent you were looking for and they can help with getting influencers to talk about your brand or ease the struggle of getting media mentions. They essentially grease the wheel of your business efforts and assist in accelerating some of your results. Of course, the rest is on you and how you choose to manage your business, which I have learned takes a lot of hands-on work, clear and consistent communication, and a willingness to let go of certain areas and put other talented people in charge of those components to really make progress.