Aren’t you glad it’s the weekend? Aren’t you glad there’s another edition of The Beal Deal to go along with your morning coffee? Thank you for inviting me into you home this morning–you even tidied up for me! I’m honored.
This week’s interview is big. I know, using “big” around Dave Snyder is hackneyed, but I’ve known Dave for many years and the guy doesn’t do anything unless it’s big! The guy has overcome big challenges, made big moves in the industry, and has made a big name for himself in marketing circles. So, with that, let’s ask Dave some big questions.
Q1. It seems in the blink of an eye you went from BlueGlass, to SteelCast, to Copypress. What was the toughest thing about that transition?
The biggest transition for me was going from pure marketer mindset to pure business owner mindset.
SteelCast is the funding group (7 partners) behind today’s CopyPress. It also funded several other companies and projects such as Hua Marketing, FunLink, PerformNow, and Rewardit.com. In 2011, I spent my time split amongst all of these and working with CEOs to see which gamble would pay off.
We merged CopyPress and Hua in Q3 of 2012, and it became clear that project would need my day to day attention.
Some of the projects such as FunLink have hit the shelf due to changes in market, and others, like Rewardit.com which we own a small stake in, are about to be launched. PerformNow is becoming a personal project for me to grow out this year now that CopyPress has an amazing team and is growing.
The biggest transition for me was going from pure marketer mindset to pure business owner mindset. I had obviously owned businesses before, but had not had to juggle the amount of issues and road blocks I hit in 2011 and 2012. I have had to rethink how I approach business operations radically in the steps between agency life and where I am today.
Q2. It seems more than ever “content is King” and Copypress is gunning for the marketing throne. What does Copypress bring to the table that a company can’t do for itself?
Everything is organic, and transparent. No smoke. No mirrors. I’m really proud of what we are building.
1) A marketplace – Lots of people offer a marketplace to get content. The difference with our marketplace and others is that we train and certify our creatives and pay them a premium. We are incorporating this with evolving the authors social graph and authorship value beyond Google in 2013. This will mean creatives will make more with us than anywhere else.
The term “creative” is important because our system is being redeveloped to include images, photos, illustrations, and video.
Our marketplace will eventually allow for collaboration amongst teams of independent creatives, allowing advertisers to harness that power.
2) A toolset backed by data – There are lots of tools that help aid the placement of content or the social promotion of content, but most of these are built by teams not doing the practice. Our data is refined by our inhouse staff of 20 content placement specialists. Further we are looking for tools to cover the full content life cycle. The vision is that you could use our tools to tell you what kind of content to develop, whom in our marketplace should develop, where it should be placed, and what conversion platform will work best. You will then be able to estimate CPA and traffic levels, making content marketing less of a black box.
None of this has been released yet. We will enter a private beta in March for our tool, that will allow auditing, and marketplace management. Throughout 2013 the tool will be released in updates. The reason for this is we want to stress test everything internally before we release it. Everything is organic, and transparent. No smoke. No mirrors. I’m really proud of what we are building.
Q3. What type of content marketing do you think is underestimated?
Based on a survey we just did it would have to be video and interactive media. Obviously people talk about video a lot, but there is a huge desire for it, and the pricing is still so high.
However, the most underestimated concept in content marketing is conversions. Right now content marketing is focused on for its search, branding, and traffic value, but content is a powerful conversion tool if used correctly. This is the part of our toolset we think we will make the biggest impact with.
Q4. With your experience you deserve to have a little swagger, yet you always seem grounded. How do keep your success from going to your head?
Money is good, and can do good, it just isn’t a focus for me. I’ll work for it, but I won’t compromise for it.
I have a balance in my life today I didn’t have 2 years ago thanks to putting my family and principles first.
At the same time, in terms of the success most people think about, I completely fell flat. I have spent all of my savings building the businesses I am involved in today, and I make just enough of a salary to feed a family of five and allow my kids to go to a good public school. From the perspective of an Internet success story, I am not one.
And that doesn’t matter to me.
I do want to grow CopyPress and my other projects, but it has far more with my passion for what we are doing, and the awesome people I work with and that have supported these projects, than making money. Money is good, and can do good, it just isn’t a focus for me. I’ll work for it, but I won’t compromise for it.
There was a time when I had that swagger, and I let small amounts of success go to my head. That all lead to a pretty huge wakeup call about what is important, and more importantly what isn’t. I live my life today based on a totally different set of ideals, and I wake up happy everyday in a house a 1/3 the size of the house I woke up in 2 years ago when everyday felt like it was gray and lifeless.
Q5. What’s going to be your biggest challenge in 2013?
We are in the middle of a pretty big growth spurt for CopyPress, and growth spurts hurt. I need to keep our culture and vision unified as we add more people and customers. We are on an evolutionary path this year, and that evolution is from a pure marketplace to a SaaS model. We are doing it with only our initial funding support, which is going to make 2013 the “year of discipline.”
Some things that are top of mind for me as well:
1) Finding a CTO with enterprise web based software experience. We have amazing technical skills included in our ownership group, but none of them are working day to day on this project.
2) Cutting through the noise of content marketing in 2013 to let people know we aren’t just like everyone else
3) On a personal level, cutting back travel and putting my family first. I have three boys, and that amount of testosterone needs a lot of one on one daddy time.
Q6. Dave, you can only keep one business book on your shelf, what do you pick and why?
For me personally, one book has made a huge difference in my last year, and that is Delivering Happiness
However, for me personally, one book has made a huge difference in my last year, and that is Delivering Happiness. Tony Hsieh grew Zappos based on passion and gut feeling, and almost lost everything doing it. The story is one I hold onto. Obviously I am no Tony Hsieh, but the message that culture and passion are important is one that hits home to me.
Thanks Dave! I hope you have lots of success in 2013!