5 Words of Unconventional Wisdom from Rand Fishkin

by | Nov 19, 2020 | Digital Strategy | 0 comments

As a co-founder of Moz and now CEO of SparkToro, Rand Fishkin is a leading voice on digital marketing. He has a clear message for healthcare marketing professionals.

In this excerpt from our pod­cast inter­view, you’ll learn how to gain com­pet­i­tive advan­tage, guide your com­mu­ni­ty to bet­ter health and grow your mar­ket­ing career. (Hint: It’s not by fol­low­ing the crowd.).

There are many paths to career success.

Rand dropped out of col­lege and start­ed design­ing web­sites. He even­tu­al­ly joined his mom’s small mar­ket­ing con­sul­tan­cy and the pair strug­gled finan­cial­ly, going deeply into debt before he “stum­bled onto search engine opti­miza­tion.” His curios­i­ty and pas­sion for shar­ing ideas led Rand to cre­ate one of the first SEO blogs, and in 2004 he went on to launch what has become a mar­ket leader in SEO soft­ware. The rest is his­to­ry, which you can read about in his book Lost and Founder

Marketers should look beyond the duopoly.

While Rand read­i­ly admits that lever­ag­ing the most pop­u­lar dig­i­tal plat­forms works, he sug­gests explor­ing oth­er chan­nels to build and engage your audi­ence “instead of just throw­ing mon­ey at Google and Face­book.” Oth­er­wise, he says mar­keters are just doing the same thing as every­one else and “you are not build­ing a moat through marketing.”

In fact, Rand start­ed Spark­Toro to give mar­keters an alter­na­tive tool for tar­get­ing more effec­tive­ly by under­stand­ing their audi­ence’s behav­iors and char­ac­ter­is­tics. This reflects his desire to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo and delight cus­tomers through hon­esty and transparency.

“My strong advice is not to take a one-size-fits-all approach, or to fol­low any thought leader’s advice,” he says. Instead, Rand sug­gests focus­ing on your unique audi­ence and doing three things to under­stand how their needs inter­sect with your capa­bil­i­ties: Sur­vey your cus­tomers, inter­view them through one-to-one con­ver­sa­tions and use tools to track how they engage with your brand.

Trade the marketing funnel for the flywheel.

Rand beseech­es mar­keters to stop what he calls “boul­der-push­ing mar­ket­ing” where each new cus­tomer that you attract takes approx­i­mate­ly as much time, ener­gy, effort and dol­lars as the last one. Instead, he sug­gests cre­at­ing a sys­tem that gains effi­cien­cy through iner­tia like a fly­wheel

“In this way, every time you pro­duce a new pod­cast, blog post, or newslet­ter, it reach­es a few more peo­ple, you get bet­ter at it, you fig­ure out what your audi­ence wants more, they res­onate with it more, and ulti­mate­ly each brand touch pro­duces a high­er prob­a­bil­i­ty that peo­ple will con­vert in the future,” he says.

While Rand says it’s not easy, the advan­tages of this approach will even apply to the dom­i­nant channels.

“When you run ads on Face­book, Google or YouTube, the num­ber one thing that’s going to pre­dict if you have high click-through rates and low cost per con­ver­sion is brand recog­ni­tion,” he says. “If peo­ple know your brand, like your brand, trust your brand or have pre­vi­ous­ly inter­act­ed pos­i­tive­ly with your brand, you are going to do pret­ty darn well with those audi­ences as well as through dis­play, retar­get­ing and remar­ket­ing. This is an awe­some thing to invest in.”

Stop sending traffic to rental properties.

While it’s com­mon­place to direct users to your local busi­ness page on Google or a social media account like Face­book or Insta­gram, Rand rec­om­mends against mak­ing those the pri­ma­ry destination.

“Those are not prop­er­ties you own,” he says. “You do not get to con­trol the expe­ri­ence and you can’t improve a lot of things in those places.”

Instead, make your web­site the hub for your audi­ence and deliv­er excel­lence at every step of the journey.

“You want to under­stand not only how to get peo­ple to my web­site, you have to know how your audi­ence behaves and how to opti­mize the expe­ri­ence when they get there,” he says. “If it takes 7 min­utes to find a phone num­ber or 10 min­utes to make an appoint­ment, you can lose peo­ple through­out this fun­nel. That’s why dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing has so much growth opportunity.”

As healthcare marketers face unique challenges, the fundamentals are more important than ever.

“I and so many oth­er Amer­i­cans tremen­dous­ly appre­ci­ate the hard­ship and sac­ri­fice that you are going through to make our lives bet­ter, and health­i­er, and hap­pi­er and longer, and you don’t get near­ly enough cred­it for that,” Rand says. To guide hos­pi­tals and health sys­tems in this flu­id envi­ron­ment, he rec­om­mends get­ting back the first prin­ci­ples of marketing.

“As health­care mar­keters, in par­tic­u­lar, it’s our job to find the mes­sages that res­onate and tell them in the places where you know your audi­ence is pay­ing atten­tion — and then you will be able to influ­ence them in pos­i­tive ways,” he says. “That’s exact­ly what health­care mar­keters need to do right now.”


Listen to the full interview with Rand Fishkin on the Healthcare Insight podcast.

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