An interview with Rand Fishkin, Founder of SparkToro, and previously co-founder of Moz

An interview with Rand Fishkin, Founder of SparkToro, and previously co-founder of Moz

1. Tell us about yourself.
I'm the co-founder of SparkToro and, prior to that, Moz and Inbound.org. I've been a marketer and an entrepreneur for my entire career -- the last 17 years -- and have made a lot of mistakes from which I hope others can learn :-)

2. Did you choose to become a marketer?
Not entirely. I fell into marketing after entering the tech world as a web designer, but I love the combination of technical and creative processes required to succeed, and truly enjoy the people in the marketing world.

3. What do you think one should do to align their marketing goals with their business goals?
Tie marketing goals explicitly and directly to specific business goals, then show (as best you're able), how metrics improvements in marketing correlate (or cause) improvements in the business goal.

4. Your views on why MVPs (Minimum Viable Product) may not be ideal:
My basic contention is that many customers and amplifiers of your business and work will likely judge your product on their initial experience. If you release something that's barely viable but doesn't truly astound and impress, you're likely to burn the opportunity to re-earn that customer's business in the future. Worse, if that person might have been an amplifier of your company or a promoter of your product/service, you've lost the opportunity to reach their audience with a message of endorsement.

5. What would be some of the biggest challenges in marketing in the next few years?
The major web properties are all moving to a model of sharing out less traffic and keeping more for themselves. That makes many web marketing activities much more difficult, and mean that fewer people and organizations will benefit from the popularity that Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. have achieved. Rather than spreading the wealth of traffic and linking across the web, we're seeing consolidation and closing of gates to keep people on their platforms.

6. What's your favourite ad? Why?
A favourite ad is far too difficult, but I really enjoyed this concept from Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m89djlGgzIQ

7. Are there any marketing gurus you've been inspired by?
Hmm... Not sure they'd call themselves "gurus," but a few folks that have certainly inspired and impressed me lately include Purna Virji, Emily Grossman, Tara Reed, Everette Taylor, Camille Ricketts, 

8. What do you think is the most senseless marketing campaign? Why?
Hard to name just one, but I think politics is an area where a ton of marketing activity, advertising spend, and media effort of all kinds is placed, but with a very low return on investment. At most, 2-3% of the electorate seem to ever shift their votes in the United States, yet fewer than 40% of eligible voters even bother to cast ballots. Clearly, it's a field with perverse incentives, incredibly illogical thinking, and horrific bias of all kinds, yet I can't help but feel that most of the marketing dollars spent are done senselessly, too.

9. What's your favorite social media platform? why?
I still love Twitter. It's a wonderful place to engage with people and organizations, to form connections, to get help with problems, to socialize around professional, political, and interest-based issues. If the platform could work to solve its horrifying abuse and harassment problems, I think it would have a very bright future indeed.

10. What phone app do you use most?
Gmail :-) But right behind that is probably Twitter, Pocket, Lyft, Reddit, Fitbit, and Instagram

11. What do you do when you have free time?
My wife and I socialize a lot! We have so many wonderful friends in Seattle and the cities we frequently visit that our calendar is often booked up for months in advance. I love seeing people, eating good food, sharing stories, and being supportive however we can.

12. Is there a software product you love?
Many! I'm a big fan of Excel and Powerpoint -- still gold standards for much of the work I do. Google Drive has also proved invaluable, and for my new company, a few others like Gusto, Typeform, Docusign, and Carta have been invaluable.

13. What productivity hacks do you use?
I try to run 100% of my communication through just two channels -- my calendar and my email. If it's not in those two, it doesn't exist for me (or, at least, I don't prioritize it). That helps me stay mostly on top of everything I need to get in a day without falling too far behind.


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