Get to know: Mike King. Managing Director at iPullRank. Keynote speaker, marketing technologist, and serial entrepreneur.
B&BAN: What inspired you to start iPullRank and what do you hope it accomplishes?
MK: I started iPullRank after working at a variety of different agencies and not really finding a “home” that truly understood me and nurtured my talent. I want us to continue to drive highly valued and outsized results for our clients. I want us to continue to be a diverse team that attracts people who are very talented and underutilized in their existing roles. I also want us to build a Ventures team that builds and pilots new products that we can use our agency to bring to market. I started in software and I, ultimately, want to get back there with iPullRank as the engine to help us along the way.
B&BAN: What do you think makes iPullRank different from its competitors?
MK: Big picture: We primarily do SEO and Content Strategy work, so we exist in a space that lacks the level of sophistication of multi-national agencies. Being that I come from those agencies we’re able to offer that level of polish on our strategic planning and ideas. However, big holding company agencies cannot do SEO effectively, so we also bring that scrappy level of technical skill and agility. Small picture: We do audience-driven version of SEO that aligns with market segmentation and plays nicely with the overarching marketing mix. We also do something we call Technical Content Optimization where content we create better matches the statistical expectation of search engines. Finally, we are results-driven and deliverable-based rather than hourly-based, so we’re able to focus on getting our clients results rather than just showing activity in the form of timecards.
B&BAN: How do you keep iPullRank innovative and fresh?
MK: Personally, I have a deep aversion to boredom. That coupled with being very involved in digital marketing thought leadership, I’m constantly reading and researching different ways to do things. I’m always sharing what I find with the team and we collectively come up with new approaches. It’s also a function of the industry that we operate in since Google is making changes to Search daily.
B&BAN: Where do you find your creative inspiration?
MK: This comes from the same place as how we keep iPullRank innovative and fresh, really. I’ve been called both right and left-brained by
some folks and a polymath by others. Before I got into marketing, I always had a hodge-podge of interests that included visual art and music.
My creative inspiration often comes from the synthesis of two or more things that most people don’t think should fit together.
B&BAN: Where do you see your industry going over the next 5 years?
MK: Search is going to continue to evolve dramatically. Google is looking to become more predictive and leverage more implicit signals to surface the content that you want before you indicate you want it. I imagine a world where something that your phone lets you know that a store your walking by has an
item in stock that you’d put your shopping cart and forgot to checkout. The real fear, however, is how algorithms will reinforce our collective biases, so it is very important to me that I be involved in working with people to ensure that those biases are minimized.
B&BAN: What hurdles did you overcome to start a Black business and how did you do it?
MK: My main hurdle is access to capital. I present the fact that I bootstrapped iPullRank as a badge of honor, but really, I didn’t really have a choice. I suspect that others run into bigger issues with finding clients, but I overcame that by spending the years prior to iPullRank building a reputation through thought leadership. I would encourage anyone starting a Black business to spend the time creating content to express how you approach what you do and what’s different. People are starving for that type of strong and well-presented information because there is so much mediocre stuff to sift through.
B&BAN: What are the biggest risks you have taken in your career?
MK: After starting and running a business, you learn that every job you’ve taken was a risk. There are no guarantees that the company will be able to follow through on its commitments to you. More to the point though, I take big risks every time I put an idea out into the marketplace about how we’re approaching something. More often than not, the risks pay off, but there’s the risk that people disagree and react poorly and you have to deal with a public backlash.
B&BAN: You wear a lot of hats both professionally and personally, how do you balance all of these dimensions of your life?
MK: I don’t know that I do balance them well, but it’s both art and science for me. I just make a lot of lists and regularly review my big picture goals to ensure alignment. I try to maintain a sense of what is priority and what resonates with me because I never feel like I’m doing my best work when I force it. Anything that I don’t feel like I can give my best effort at the time, I look for an opportunity to delegate to someone who will be more passionate about it.
B&BAN: What has been the biggest impact on your business – Covid-19 or Black Lives Matter?
MK: COVID-19 has been the bigger short term impact. We did not have any clients cancel their engagements with us, but our new business pipeline dried up very quickly. However, it seems that there is a much bigger appetite and focus on businesses bringing in diverse suppliers. Hopefully, there will be
bigger long term impact from that.
B&BAN: If you met a 10-year-old Michael King today – what would you say to him and what advice would you give him if any?
MK: Don’t allow yourself to fall into a trap of dreaming too small. You can accomplish anything you commit to so, get started now.