02: Neil Patel: Change Your Mindset, Not Your Customer

“Change your mindset. When you do something outside your comfort zone, what’s the worst that can happen? The answer is usually nothing.“ — Neil Patel

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What does it take to start several, very, very, successful companies? Wouldn’t we all like to know!

According to Neil Patel — the cofounder of Kissmetrics, CrazyEgg, and HelloBar, and marketing consultant to companies such as Amazon and NBC, to name just a few of his accomplishments — the answer is very simple: be honest and listen to your customers.

Neil’s sharing out how he got started — by turning people away! — and the importance of not overselling yourself. You want customers to be surprised by your work, for the right reasons!

He’s also talking about learning from your mistakes by failing forward, and about learning from your customers by listening to them. If they don’t want what you’re selling, figure out why! What are they still looking for that they can’t find, elsewhere or anywhere?

We’re digging into the importance of getting to know your customers and focusing on their goals, to meet yours. Neil is a marketing genius — you won’t want to miss his advice to us entrepreneurs.

“Word of mouth kicked in because I was honest. You under promise and you over deliver.” — Neil Patel

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  • Don’t be afraid to turn away customers who want something that you can’t provide. Be honest about what your skills and specialties are, and don’t promise something you may not be able to do. It’s better to under promise than to under deliver.
  • Try to find out what the goals, budgets, and overall health of your clients are. Ask them about long and short term goals, and then offer solutions and ideas to help them meet these goals.
  • Focus. Especially when you’re just starting out, or starting something new, don’t try to do a million things at once. You customers won’t get the attention they need, and your business will suffer.
  • You’re going to make a lot of mistakes, so your best option is to succeed forward. Learn from your mistakes so you can avoid making them twice.
  • Do whatever the company needs. When you’re early on, it’s not about what you want or like, it’s what your company needs to keep going, and you need to be willing to do that.
  • Understand your customers to get more sales and revenue. Figure out what they want to buy and what they’re looking for, and stop selling them the same thing over and over again. Customer development is an excellent growth strategy.








Kim Orlesky: Thank you so much for joining us again to the Kim Orlesky Show. Today’s guest is Neil Patel. He is the cofounder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influence around the web. Forbes has called him one of the top 10 online marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine has said he’s created one of the hundred most brilliant companies in the world. He was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama, and one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the UN. Neil has been awarded the Congressional Recognition for the United States of House of Representatives. I am thrilled to have him on. Welcome Neil.

Neil Patel: Thanks for having me.

Kim Orlesky: Absolutely. So tell me a little bit about how everything got started. I mean, I know you were an entrepreneur at a very young age, you’ve been doing this for a little while. I’d love to hear the path that got you to where you are.

Neil Patel: Yeah, sure. So when I first started out, I was looking for a job. I was 16 years old. I couldn’t find a good paying job, but I landed on a job board. And I found that they’re publicly traded, they’re making good money. Hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s called monster.com. I decided to replicate it and tried to create my own job board and hopefully, I could make even 1%. Because if I did that, I would be happy and successful. Obviously, just creating a copycat of someone else’s business doesn’t guarantee success. When I started the site, I learned that people just don’t visit the site. You have to do marketing.

From that point on, I learned how to do it. I got good at it, and I decided to [inaudible] to the marketing realm, [inaudible] consulting products for a few people. Luckily landed on [inaudible] he gave a speech in marketing in one of my college classes that I was taking at night time when I was in high school. And someone ended up referring me to their boss and got a job from there, and it kept growing. It helped that company make extra $25M a year in revenue. They referred me to quite a few more companies, started adding up, had a small consulting job, and eventually I got tired of consulting so I just started going to the [inaudible]. But that’s how I got my start.

Kim Orlesky: Wow. It sounds like you tried a few different things throughout that path. I would love to hear a little bit more about kind of what it was like to start your own company, like was there a lot of fear inside of that, was there a lot of excitement?

Neil Patel: Yeah. When I started my own company, there wasn’t much fear, there was a lot more excitement. And I assumed things would do a lot better, faster than I expected [inaudible]. So. It was this big learning curve for me.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that you’ve said was you were able to grow your company so fast by being honest and over-delivering. I would love to hear a little bit more about what type of things that you were able to incorporate early on in the stages. You’re still quite young when you’re starting your company so I imagine experience isn’t quite playing in your favor at this point yet, but you’re able to still create a name and a brand for yourself.

Neil Patel: Yes. What ended up happening was, if I thought I could help someone out, get them more traffic, more sales, I would help him out. If I wasn’t 100% sure, I wouldn’t do anything. I would just tell them like, “Hey, you’re not a good fit. I don’t think I can provide the results you’re looking for.” But that’s how I got started and really built a name. And word of mouth kicked in because I was honest. You under promise and you over-deliver. I know everyone talks about that, but very few people [inaudible]. When they have a money-making opportunity, most people just take the money.

Kim Orlesky: So were you turning clients away, potential clients away, or were you kind of taking on everything and evolving how you were delivering the products to them?

Neil Patel: No, I was mainly turning people away, and I was doing that at mass quantity. So majority of the people [inaudible] we turned away because we cannot provide the results they were looking for. Some people didn’t have crazy expectations, but just the results they wanted. Like they just want achievable because of their budget or their website was too new or they were [inaudible] of the space and they want to be able to compete like it would take them a year. Then neither businesses cannot survive if they kept doing it for a year, right? Or spending money with us for a year. But we always try to put the customer first.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, absolutely. It sounds like when you’re dealing with the customers–I mean, you probably had to deal with a lot of different personalities, a lot of different variety of people that were coming to you. What types of questions were you asking people in order to help make those initial revenue sales that came through?

Neil Patel: We were just trying to find out what are their goals, what are their budgets. Company’s financial help. What are they ideally trying to accomplish like six months from now, a year from now. We’re just trying to find out what would impact their business, like if they can wave a magic wand, what would they ideally prefer to see happen? And if we really thought we can help and get them on the same page, then we’ll do something. If we didn’t then we just pass.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah. And how’s that kind of changed or evolved now that you’re the cofounder of a couple different companies?

Neil Patel: Nowadays, we sell software. So it’s a bit different. You don’t really have to ask questions. People go to the website, they like it, they buy it. If they don’t, they don’t buy. And you give a free trial. So if someone is unsure, they just try it out and they have nothing to lose in the first 30 days. No contracts, no nothing. They just pay if they want it, cancel if they don’t.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, absolutely. And on top of that, I mean, you’re still educating your potential clients, your prospects. I know you also offer–you have a massive conference coming up, you’re speaker at quite a few different ones. How do you find educating potential prospects has really started to bring more people aware of what you offer?

Neil Patel: Well, so you’re asking how do we educate prospects, or?

Kim Orlesky: Yeah. So, I mean, just how are you educating them and how do you find that by giving them new information, it’s helping to create a new sales cycle or a new opportunity for them to be aware of you?

Neil Patel: When you educate, you’re helping others. When you help them, and they start seeing results just from the nudge you’re getting from your blog or your content. And they see results, they’re like, “Wow, if we got results from this one, it’s if we worked directly with Neil.” So it starts building a pipeline, especially as your blog and your content, your education–the pipeline just gets bigger and bigger.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah. I know your company has grown quite a bit in the past. I mean, to where it is now, do you get to a point where you try to differentiate between yourself and where your company is or do you like to stay the face of the brand?

Neil Patel: I don’t really try to do either one or like, I don’t try to differentiate, I don’t try to state the face of the brand. I’m a big believer in just whatever happens happens. I kind of always brand the company first, and sometimes, it’s me first. Whether I choose to or not, I just always try to put the company forward on whatever’s best for the company is what I want to do.

Kim Orlesky: Absolutely. So as you kind of got through everything, I mean, looking back on how far you’ve come to where you are now, what would be the biggest piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Neil Patel: The biggest piece of advice I would give my younger self is focus. I try doing one too many things when I was younger.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, what kind of things were you focusing on at the time?

Neil Patel: Well, I had a consulting business. I was trying to do way too many things. Like, “Oh, let me try creating software. At the same time, let me try creating a hosting company.” If I created a [inaudible] on the consulting, not only would I be able to do it better, but I bet the companies would also be happier, too, that I was working with, right? I’d be able to provide much better results.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah. And we find a lot of entrepreneurs kind of get caught up in the multiple focus. They’re wondering about their SEO strategy. They’re thinking about their lead magnets, they’re thinking about–”How do I then incorporate just even getting in front of customers?” Especially if they’re starting up, and they still have to do a lot of the cold calls, emails themselves. That’s a great piece of advice. What failure did you learn the most from?

Neil Patel: Not one failure, it was a lot of failures. Also I learned that I’m going to make a ton of mistakes so my best chance of succeeding forward is to learn from all these mistakes and try to avoid making them over and over.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, yeah. How do you find–you bring yourself back and be resilient, right? We’ve all suffered massive failure in our lives, right, where we’ve either invested in the wrong thing, whether that’s time, money, some type of resources. Or we’ve been completely certain of a certain direction. How do you find that when you do that and it doesn’t go the way you wanted to, you were able to kind of dust yourself off and pick yourself up again?

Neil Patel: Yeah. The way I look at it is you just keep pushing forward if you love something and you really want it. If you don’t want to keep pushing forward then you need to question the business or the concept that you’ll kind of go after. Because when you really love something and you’re passionate about it, you [inaudible] to keep pushing forward. If you’re not, then probably you’re either in the wrong space, or entrepreneurship isn’t for you.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah. Are you still passionate about the same things today as you were when you were younger or has that been a transition and an evolution?

Neil Patel: I’m still passionate about similar things. The same industry, of course, it’s evolved in what I like to do. I was doing a lot more sales earlier on, I don’t really do as many sale–or I don’t really do sales calls anymore, but I still love marketing, and that’s what I focus on.

Kim Orlesky: Absolutely. When you talk to entrepreneurs now, what kind of advice would you give them when they are at the very beginning where they have to do the sales? Or would you tell them focus on the marketing inside a bit more?

Neil Patel: Do whatever the company needs. When you’re early on, it’s now what you like. You should just do whatever the company needs to grow.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah. Absolutely, right? We kind of have to bootstrap ourselves up a little bit, right? Pick ourselves up and really look at where the future is. Do you do a lot of goal planning right now?

Neil Patel: I don’t really do too much goal planning, so. I just keep cranking away.

Kim Orlesky: Were you [inaudible] day to day operations, right?

Neil Patel: Yeah.

Kim Orlesky: There’s something to be said for that, right? When we need to get things done, right, we have to continue to lay down the foundation and lay down the brick work. Where do you kind of see the growth strategy of your companies in the next little while?

Neil Patel: The growth strategies for [inaudible] and my company is more so we just need to keep surveying customers, figuring out what they’re unhappy with, try to improve it, and then just keep growing. So for us, it’s always customer development that determines where we’re going to grow next.

Kim Orlesky: When you’re doing something like customer development, how do you test what’s working and what doesn’t?

Neil Patel: For me, when it comes to customer development and when it comes to testing, it’s [inaudible]. So looking at qualitative data, and then also quantitative. So when you make changes, you look at numbers, analytics. Are things are going up into the [right?] or down, right? So based on that, you’ll know that, if the changes you’re making are actually working.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, absolutely. How do you make those adjustments? Like do you make little adjustments or do you go from massive ones to try to do more of a complete different AB [inaudible] test?

Neil Patel: We go for small adjustments, and then if the small adjustments stop having changes, then we go for drastic changes. If small changes aren’t making impact then you try something drastic.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, absolutely. I imagined that was a little bit fear-inducing when you’ve spent a lot of energy in work. Or do you find that to be a little bit integrating?

Neil Patel: That’s correct.

Kim Orlesky: Wonderful. You have a conference coming up. Tell me about how that started and what kind of spurred that.

Neil Patel: My guys wanted to throw a conference. Internally, I was like, most of these conferences aren’t giving action [inaudible] advice, and I’m tired of it.” So I’m like, “You guys want to throw a conference? I’m tired of just learning [inaudible], let’s just do something that’s action-based content.” That’s how it came about.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah. How many years has it been running now?

Neil Patel: The conference? This is the first year.

Kim Orlesky: Oh, this is the first year. Okay. Because I looked at your lineup, you have some pretty heavy hitters for speakers and everything which speaks volumes to how much of a brand that you’ve created for yourself over the last few years.

Neil Patel: Thank you, I appreciate it.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, you’re welcome. I’m excited. I signed up and everything. I know that there’s going to be lots of other people listening today that are going to be interested in it. So tell us a little bit more about what it is and how they could find more information about it.

Neil Patel: Yeah, sure. You can just go to–I’m trying to think of the URL. It’s…

Kim Orlesky: Well, that’s okay. I believe it’s summit.neilpatel.com.

Neil Patel: There you go. Summit.neilpatel.com. I’m like the guy who starts cranking out so many [inaudible]. I got 150 people working in the company. I’m like, “I have no idea how this stuff [inaudible].”

Kim Orlesky: Yeah. Which is interesting. I mean, you’ve only been around for–I know you’ve been doing this for about 15 years-ish. When you kind of got to that point where you’re starting to hire your first few employees, you hire them on, and then you kind of get this breaking point, right, where now you’re no longer this kind of entrepreneurial small business side of it, but now you’ve kind of moved into this medium-sized business. Where was that for you? What was that kind of defining moment for you when you realized that this is something that’s bigger than what you ever imagined?

Neil Patel: There really wasn’t a moment. Just over time, it’s just growing and growing, I’m like, “Ah, I guess it’s working out.” There really was no specific moment where I’m like, “Ah, this is going to be huge.” Or anything. Over the years, it just grows. It wasn’t one of those companies like Facebook where instantly, it’s like, “Wow, this is going to be big.” I never really saw that. I’m like, “Ah, it’s just growing.” It’s nowhere near as big as I want it to be.

Kim Orlesky: Where would you like it to be?

Neil Patel: Like 100x bigger.

Kim Orlesky: Absolutely. Why not, right? We need to have those dreams and goals. I know things happen really fast, right? Nowadays, we have more companies that grow faster. They hit that $100M mark faster than they ever did in the past. So I mean, that’s completely possible.

Neil Patel: Definitely.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, great. Is there anything else you would love to share with any of the listeners today? We have a lot of entrepreneurs on, a lot of small business owners. They’re all in very stages. Most of them are looking for–how do I get more revenue? How do I get more sales? What kind of things would you tell them?

Neil Patel: If you want to get more sales, more revenue, what I would really say is you need to understand your customers. Figure out what’s causing them to want to buy and not buy, what objections they have, and of course, continually adjust and go from there.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That’s a great piece of advice because a lot of us, we try something and we continue to try it until it works, right? And we often get caught up in the definition of insanity, right, which is if you’re trying the same thing over and over and it doesn’t work. It is about that adjustment, it is about trying new things. How would you encourage somebody to go ahead and kind of step outside of their comfort zone and try that?

Neil Patel: Look at it this way, right, change your mindset. When you do something outside of your comfort zone, what’s the worst that can happen? Usually the answer is nothing. You’ll be in the same spot that you were before.

Kim Orlesky: That’s great advice. I really appreciate that. Who inspires you?

Neil Patel: Who inspires me? A ton of people. Not anyone specific. But there’s a lot of people [inaudible] Elon Musk of the world that are just doing crazy, world-changing things. It’ll be awesome, whether he succeeds or not. I think he will. But he’s already done quite well. I don’t know a lot of these people in person. But eloquent people like him or Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. What they’re doing with their money is amazing. They’re trying to change lives. It’s not just about making more money.

Kim Orlesky: Yeah, absolutely. I saw in one of your bios that your eventual goal is to actually start working like–we’ll get to that point where you’re doing more for not for profits. Where you’re doing more for charitable causes. Is there something that touches you specifically?

Neil Patel: For me, I actually love helping other entrepreneurs and people start businesses. Just having more people go out there, do what they love, create more jobs–that makes me happy.

Kim Orlesky: That’s good, right? And it has a certain level of freedom, right, especially with the online marketing side of it. I’m a huge traveler. I spent 6 months traveling around the world. When I came back, I came back realizing that that was what I wanted to do for more of my time. I wanted to be able to create something that location-independent. I was able to create that. So it was wonderful to know that there’s entrepreneurs like yourself out there that are out there helping us all in those efforts and in those abilities.

Neil Patel: Thank you.

Kim Orlesky: You’re welcome. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close this out? How can people reach you?

Neil Patel: neilpatel.com.

Kim Orlesky: Neilpatel.com. And I have to say, you have one of the best blogs. You were an active writer for a wide variety publications including several that I read such as [inaudible] and Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine. I love your material so I think that’s fantastic. And I look forward to seeing more of you, more videos, more blogs, and more online content.

Neil Patel: Awesome. Thank you.