Ben Young is New Zealand entrepreneur living in New York, CEO of Nudge, blogger at Bwagy, Co-Founder of Young & Shand and author of The Best Ideas are Free.
Tell us about a project you’re most proud of.
My book The Best Ideas are Free. When I started blogging I got a great response—my blogging style is to share a gem or morsel in a short post, so that it connects to whatever the reader happens to be thinking of that day. Suddenly her idea becomes more powerful and specific. It’s not spoonfed thoughts, it’s ideas that feed off each other.
I like that approach but it does mean lots of people don’t get it (and sometimes get mad about it), but it’s what I wanted to do and share. It was also how I believe we build knowledge, lots of little ideas connected together.
When I was 23 we turned that in to a book, The Best ideas are Free. Young, sure, but when I look back at the process of getting work in print—I’m proud of what I did. Sometimes I pick it up (and this makes me sound like a dick) but I think, “I forgot about that – that was a good idea!”
What part of your work do you enjoy the most?
In shipping art (a.k.a. a new project) you have to persevere through a period of constant input but no noticeable increase in output. I love coming out the other side of that, seeing the cumulative effect of thousands of little changes, days, weeks, months, years of hard work, sweat and tears starting to pay off.
We sat with a client, who looked at a component of Nudge – and said that’s a really smart solution to the problem they’re looking to solve. Little do they know we sweated over that for 6 months!
What’s your favorite marketing hack?
Doing things that are mundane to some people but seriously interesting to others.
At Nudge we do This Week in Native Ads, a weekly newsletter about native advertising. Unless you’re super into the space you’re not going to subscribe. But those that do read the emails and respond.
You don’t get mass audiences with this approach, but you get a passionate one.
How often do you try new marketing techniques? How much do you follow a blueprint vs wing it?
Every week I experiment with new things. This helps inform future projects, guide current product and keep me informed so we can navigate digital successfully.
For example, this year SnapChat is blowing up. I played with it as a marketing platform three years ago.
I will trawl Affiliate Marketing forums, as these groups often find new ways of using existing platforms, or inefficiencies in the eco-system.
By definition there aren’t yet blueprints to follow but most experiments tend to follow a similar plan of attack—test it on your own site, start small, scale up see what breaks, investigate why it broke, fix and continue, evaluate results.
What excites you about marketing today?
There are more opportunities than ever for companies to share their passion with customers. Technology has opened these tools to everyone, from tourist operators where I grew up in Queenstown, New Zealand, to small whiskey distilleries in Scotland and entrepreneurs in South Africa. That’s incredible.
Fifteen years ago you had limited options as a small business pursuing your passion. Now you can take it globally. I really think that capability is understated and powerful, especially for the next 2.5 billion people coming online.
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