As a part of my interview series “Millennial Marketing Leaders” I’m highlighting millennials in marketing to watch. These are people who are shaping a whole new age of marketing. Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Raiker.
Raiker is a recognized thought leader in Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Process, and all things Digital. Ryan has been featured on NBC, RTInsights.com, MarketWatch, TowardsDataScience.com, Data-Driven Investor, Insurance Innovation Reporter, Yahoo News, and more. Ryan Raiker is Director of Digital Marketing at ABBYY, where he leads global digital marketing initiatives, promotes the corporate messaging, the web experience, and advances ABBYY’s Digital Intelligence positioning. He joined ABBYY after the 2019 acquisition of TimelinePI, now ABBYY Timeline, where he led product marketing and brand strategy. Ryan studied Business Analytics and Operations Management and later earned his Master of Business Administration from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. He continues to serve at Widener as an advisory board member and an adjunct instructor.
Thanks for participating in this interview! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
I’m not sure if there were multiple “tipping points” or just one.
What I can say is that there were several years of hard work that might have seemed as though things weren’t successful in the moment. Many nights, I was up burning the midnight oil on projects that didn’t guarantee a paycheck. I’ve spent countless hours submitting to RFPs and RFQs to projects I never won. I was working full-time, freelancing, working with clients I’ve had for years, teaching part-time, and overall hustling and making an impact, but I was spread thin. It was then when I started to realize that I was doing too much. I tried to be everything to everyone, and I needed to focus on fewer things at once. I narrowed my focus. Once I found my groove, things seemed to fall in place. I was winning more bids, getting more gigs, and finding new opportunities. All of this came from the prioritization of my work and my time.
Companies like Google and Facebook have totally disrupted how companies market over the past 15 years. At the same time, consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. In your industry, where do you see the future of marketing going?
Marketing is becoming much more educational, especially in the tech space. Innovation is occurring so fast; many industry leaders do not even know what they need or should be looking for to succeed in today’s highly competitive and digital age.
In recent years inbound marketing has been the preferred style of gathering attention and getting new qualified leads. Last year I wrote in the publication the Startup about Why Inbound Marketing Is Important and How it Can Future-Proof Your Business. Inbound is simply a form of marketing that uses content to attract new customers to you. This is also often referred to as content marketing, as it involves putting content out into the world to help, inform, or entertain your audience — who are your potential and current customers. This June, I’d likely have a new suggestion for how you can future proof your business. So is the way of change. Inbound marketing of today is equivalent to running google search ads.
The rising trend is in something new called the media strategy. Instead of hoping people come to you because of your content and positioning the offer at the center of the strategy, media focuses on building, maintaining, and growing the audience as a media brand. The media approach helps to attract an audience on a given topic or outcome and then episodically entertain and educate that audience towards that topic or outcome. Think of a podcast or YouTube series.
I think we are going to start to see thought leadership change to thought entertainment, and very much so in an episodic way. I believe audiences will be formed of interested buyers, curious folks, and most importantly, existing customers who are eager to evangelize their successes.
Can you tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started? Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t plan your future; work for it, and let it come to you.
Disappointment, anxiety, and stress are a few of the things I felt when I planned things out of my control. When I was younger, I swore I would be married and engaged and then have children by a specific birthday that has since passed. I also decided as a child that I would own a house and become a corporate director by another birthday. While the latter came true, I cannot explain to you the immense amount of self-imposed anxiety I experienced simply because 10-year-old Ryan decided some predetermined age when I should have gotten engaged, married, and later have had kids. In the end, those ‘deadlines’ never mattered, and I was foolish for ever thinking they did.
- It only gets better.
In his Stanford commencement address, Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”– The idea behind the concept is that, as much as we try to plan our lives, there’s always something utterly unpredictable about life.
- Great, hardworking, and loyal people are hard to find.
Many good people are looking for a leading organization, a quality manager, and a fantastic team to work with. However, I can tell you, the great ones are incredibly difficult to find, and when you think you got one, they disappoint you. However, when you do find them, let them know how much you appreciate them and create an environment in which they want to stay.
- It’s not about the money.
I’ve worked for money, and I’ve worked for passion; heck, I have even worked for some people out of pity. The best opportunities were those that weren’t about the money. They were based on fun, creative ideas or projects that I found immense passion in.
- The gentle art of saying no.
It is a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments. Requests for your valuable time are coming in at an all the time—from clients and coworkers to family members and friends. Your time is innately valuable, and it should be spent doing things you love and want to be doing. Even if I were to have some extra time, which is rare for many of us, is this new commitment the way to spend that time? Once you start prioritizing your time and your passions, the rest seems to fall in place. I don’t think saying no is an easy thing to do, but once you master it, we tend to find that we’re less stressed and more focused on things that matter most to us.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
There are numerous podcasts and too many books to list that I enjoy. I am almost exclusively reading nonfiction. There is one that stands out to me. For anyone looking to accelerate their career path, I’d recommend the book The Start-up of You. It was written by LinkedIn cofounder and chairman Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha to help people adapt to the future, invest in yourself, and transform their career. It is a blueprint for thriving in your job and building a career by applying the lessons of Silicon Valley’s most innovative entrepreneurs.
Who is your hero? Can you explain or share a story about why that person resonates with you?
One of the heroes in my life is a man whom I had never met. I quoted him earlier, but I truly admire Steve Jobs. When you look back and hear some of the experiences with the guy, he seems to come off as largely a jerk, but when you peel back the layers, he’s an incredibly complex and motivated individual. Alongside Wozniak, Steve Jobs created the Apple II, Macintosh, Pixar, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, and countless other innovations. He has touched millions of lives, including mine.
I admire Steve Jobs because he is resilient. Even after being voted out of Apple by the board, he created NeXT which Apple later acquired for $429 million. While Steve had an ultra-humble beginning, he worked extremely hard, pushed for excellence, challenged the status quo, and demonstrated that passion, enjoyment, and striving for success would make all the difference. He was a visionary, and maybe the most important, he was an amazing marketer. If you see any of his presentations of products, you will become hypnotized.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
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