Mitch Joel has built a reputation as a digital marketing guru, a sought-after speaker, and an author. He was the president of Mirum, a marketing agency operating in 48 offices around the globe, with over 2,500 employees.
In 2002, Joel joined Twist Image, a digital marketing company, and became its president. Twist’s clients included Home Depot, Microsoft, Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust, and Fujifilm. Four years ago, Twist Image was acquired by WPP, the largest marketing communications network in the world – worth $30 billion – and Mirum was born.
Dubbed “one of North America’s leading digital visionaries” by Marketing magazine, Joel speaks frequently to corporate groups such as Google, Walmart, Starbucks, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Twitter, and Unilever, and has shared the stage with Bill Clinton, Sir Richard Branson, Anthony Robbins, and Dr. Phil.
Joel says his professional mission is to help companies “figure out how to transform their business in this digital world,” while “taking large, complex, usually highly-regulated organizations and brands, and helping them make a big shift.”
Joel has imparted some of his business advice in two bestselling books: Six Pixels of Separation, named after his successful blog and podcast, and CTRL ALT Delete, about rebooting the entrepreneur’s career path, named one of the best business books of 2013 by Amazon. He was featured in the Winners’ Circle section of a past issue of The Edge, and this is part of that interview.
What’s the best entrepreneurial advice you’ve picked up from someone else?
I learned a lot from Michael E. Gerber’s book The E Myth, the entrepreneur’s myth. The story is very simple: So-and-so likes to make apple pies, and she’s great at making apple pies. Everyone says, “Your apple pies are delicious,” and she brings them to parties, and she gives them away. Eventually, she thinks, “Hey, I should sell these apple pies.” So, she sells her apple pies, and people buy them.
It’s very exciting; she loves what she does, and she loves apple pies. It gets really busy and she says, “I want to open an apple pie shop.” And, she opens up an apple pie shop. But it doesn’t work, primarily for one reason. This individual didn’t realize that the minute she opened the store, she is no longer selling apple pies. What she is doing now is running a business that sells apple pies.
This concept of understanding what a business is – it’s not all you – was huge. And people see me, Mitch Joel, they’re like, “Wow, you have this amazing brand. You’re publishing all this stuff, and you’re out in the world, you’re speaking, writing books, you’re on TV.” That’s the E-Myth.
We built an infrastructure from day one that’s not ‘The Mitch Show.’ Mitch does a specific role, and that role is important to the organization. But it’s no more or less important than our person who heads strategy, or our person who heads creative, or our person who heads technology, or user experience. It’s a team. It’s not one person, one face. To me, those two things, combined, were very much pillars of who I am, and pillars of what I encourage other people to do.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Have partners, and choose your partners wisely. I think, all too often, we have this sort of spirit of, “I’ve got this. I can do it on my own.” But choosing that partner, making sure it’s the right fit, is important. I happen to be very lucky that I have three business partners that are amazing individuals that complement my skillset, or as we like to say about each other, all of us hate what the other one does. Those niches complement and build cohesiveness.
Most of us spend daily time watching Facebook videos or YouTube videos, and it seems to be a marketing trend. Is this where people should focus their marketing?
I think that they’re all different media; people consume different content in different ways. As long as you’re comfortable creating that type of content, and there’s an audience for it, and you can make a compelling business case for it.
Where can your content go to create a compelling, unique, and connected message? Is your audience potentially there? Is it true that more people watch TV than read newspapers? Sure. Does that mean that you shouldn’t want to be in the newspaper or have an article written about you now? No. So I don’t really look at it from, “this is popular, so drop everything else,” I look at it from, “what’s really driving results for your business?” And if it’s working, keep at it; and if it’s not, trim it. Play on your strengths, know your strengths, and work on them.
Dave Gordon | Contributing Writer