About: PPC Ian

(PPCIan.com) is a top online marketing executive who has had direct P&L responsibility on over $150 million of search engine marketing spend during his 9 years in the industry. Currently, Lopuch is Vice President, Search Marketing at a large publicly traded company. Previously, Lopuch held online marketing leadership positions at Inflection.com, QuinStreet, and Nextag. Lopuch holds his BS in Computer Science from Stanford University. In his spare time, Lopuch is an avid domainer, web developer, and blogger via his company, IJL Productions LLC (IJL.net). Residing with his wife on the San Francisco Peninsula, Lopuch is passionate about empowering and educating online marketing professionals. You can follow Ian via his online marketing blog, PPC Ian.

Productivity: It’s All About The Warm-Up

Aug. 31

It was an incredibly productive Monday for me, and I’m so thankful. However, not all of my Mondays are like that. Have you ever had a Monday where you just can’t get started? The time seems to pass by, but you just can’t gain any momentum? You don’t know where to start and your mind is still in the weekend? Today, I’m thrilled to share a productivity hack that could take your Mondays to the next level. I want to share my warm-up strategy for generating great momentum, on Mondays and any other day that you need a little extra push!

Warm Up Vomero

As a running enthusiast, I’d like to leverage a running analogy today. That said, you could really think about any sport. What’s your favorite sport? Would you just jump into that sport without a proper warm-up? Definitely not advised!

Whenever I go running, especially at fast pace (when participating in a charity 5K for example), I always warm-up. Why? My body is not ready for the intensity of the running without a transition period. The body cannot just jump from one thing to another. An intense race is a very different undertaking than the activities that typically precede the race: Getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy food, drinking plenty of water, and driving to the event. I warm-up to tell my body it’s race time, and no longer sleeping, eating, hydrating, and driving time. I warm-up to get my muscles ready so that they do not get torn. I warm-up to perform my best, while minimizing the chances of an injury.

Let’s think about the mind for a minute. My warm-up strategy for Monday mornings is based on the observation that my mind also needs a warm-up period. What did I do all weekend? While I certainly work some weekends, I really try to take as much time as possible for my family and myself. Weekends are about relaxing and doing fun things, with some household chores thrown in. While I do try to think out-of-the-box and accomplish some reading, my mind is not in intense Excel modeling mode.

Enter Monday Morning: An incredibly complex Excel model is so different from my weekend activities. Oftentimes, my mind is not ready for that immediate jump. Without a warm-up, I may go slower than normal, and not do my best work. I may even risk a mistake (the work equivalent of the sports injury). My solution: I warm-up my mind.

Let’s use today as an example… Heading into today, I knew that I had an incredibly complex Excel model to build. However, being a Monday, I wasn’t quite ready to build that model first thing in the morning. So, I spent all morning on emails and easier tasks. I crossed five easy tasks of my list.

After lunch, I was fully warmed-up. I felt a great sense of accomplishment since I completed so many tasks in the morning. While they were easy, warm-up tasks, they got me moving. Just like a runner, I started gaining momentum about half-way through the race. At the exact moment my momentum really started kicking in and I felt my strongest surge of energy and focus, I went for it and built my model. I got my model completed in about four hours, and I had complete focus and peak efficiency the whole time. I also felt completely exhausted afterwards, just like the runner who’s momentum builds right into that sprint towards the finish line.

After building my model, I did a little bit of cool-down work (another easy task or two) before calling it a day. It’s all about accomplishing as much as possible in as little time as possible, and leaving the office knowing that you had a rock star day! I hope the warm-up strategy helps you operate at peak productivity.

It’s The Little Things

Aug. 25

Jimboy’s Tacos, man is that place delicious. I was in the Sacramento area the other day and just had to stop by! (If you are ever in the Sacramento area, I highly recommend trying them out, they have many locations and are so amazing.)

PPC Ian At Jimboy's Tacos

I would have never known about Jimboy’s Tacos if it wasn’t for my amazing friend Suki (most amazing Executive Admin in existence), and that would have been really sad since Jimboy’s is so incredibly delicious. Suki scheduled regular team outings to restaurants like Jimboy’s. Suki has a passion for food. More importantly, however, Suki has a passion for her team, her people. She knew that something little, a single lunch, could literally transform someone’s day. It could get the creative juices flowing, it could become the genesis of the next big idea, it could create a lasting bond between teammates. Suki’s lunches became legendary and made our workplace enjoyable.

I’m here to submit a business leadership strategy for those who care about building amazing, long-lasting teams. I’m here to submit a business strategy for those who care about their people: Focus on the little things, especially the little things not directly tied to the work at hand. It’s the little things that make all the difference. It’s the little things that motivate, empower, and grow careers. It’s the little things that make life fun. As an employer, manager, teammate, or friend, you are responsible for others. Take that responsibility with great seriousness! Strive each and every day to make business amazing for everyone.

Perhaps lunch is not your thing. That’s ok, you have to find your unique way of creating culture. Some ideas I’d like the share (mix several of them and the little things will add up into tremendous culture):

  • Remember birthdays and do something special and unique for each of them. Include everyone from the team, make it a true celebration.
  • Take each team member to Starbucks once a week, on you. Spend your time together talking about the big picture, brainstorming big ideas.
  • Schedule a team lunch and movie day after each big milestone.
  • Don’t be cheap! Invest in your team and send them to the conferences that count. Even during a period of cost cutting, never save money at the expense of your team learning.
  • Have someone on your team that is working especially hard? Give then a half day off (or even a full day off). Tell them they don’t need to use PTO, and can save that for another day.
  • Don’t forget happy hour! Don’t want drinks at the workplace? My favorite happy hour had nothing to do with the drinks, and everything to do with the fresh Samosas each Friday.

Work in an environment with none of these fun, little things? You may have a boring culture, one that is prone to losing top talent. Take a step back from the work and invest time in your people. Find little ways to reward and empower. What you create may become legendary!

Suki, thanks for crafting all those special team lunches. Those are my highlights from our time working together, cherished memories I will not soon forget. Taco Thursday is now part of my schedule forever!

Image of PPC Ian at Jimboy’s Tacos © PPCIan.com
Jimboy’s sign and restaurant © Jimboy’s Tacos

Approaching Business As An Investor

Aug. 17

I’m an investor with a lifelong obsession for cash flow. If you’ve been reading PPC Ian for a while, you probably already know that (from my posts about topics such as Lending Club). I recently started a new role, one where I’m able to combine my passions for investing, marketing, leadership, technology, and general management. My passion for investing seems to enter all aspects of my role. Today, I want to share some thoughts on how you can approach business with the investment mindset.

Think Long-Term

There’s a big difference between investing and speculation. Investing is all about the long-term. Investors think five, ten, and even twenty years out. Speculators, those trying to earn a quick dollar, actively trade in and out of stocks (and other financial instruments). I’m here to argue that the patient, long-term approach is fundamental to both investing and business. Some practical examples applied to business:

  • Treat people well and build long-term relationships that turn into friendships. It’s all about the people. You cannot carry the weight of the world on your own shoulders. Build long-term relationships, and build careers. Those very relationships will drive long-term results for you and the company.
  • Integrate technologies and build systems that offer long-term efficiency and gains. Don’t write sloppy code, don’t build short-term bandaid solutions. You may have to invest more money and time (at the sacrifice of short-term results), but your efforts will drive compounded results in the long-term.
  • Make smart decisions that provide predictable business growth over the long-term, not just the next few months. Do you want to experience super high-highs and low-lows, a roller coaster ride? Or, do you want to experience continuous, incremental highs over time? With the right long-term approach, you can smooth out volatility and create predictability. Those predictable investments are often the best ones. In parallel, there is nothing better than creating a solid, predictable business environment for growing one’s career and winning the trust of the investment community.

It’s All About Dividends and Cash Flow

I’m an investor who truly appreciates dividends. I’m of the "Show me the money" mindset. Those enterprises that consistently put cash in my pocket (in the form of growing dividends) are my favorites, and almost always turn out to be the best investments.

In business, nothing changes. Why are you in business? Aside from your top-level mission statement and charter, you’re in business to turn a profit, to generate cash. The quicker you turn a profit and the bigger the profit, the better. Whether you’re running digital marketing campaigns, analyzing a real estate opportunity, or making the case for a new hire, always understand the implications on your company’s cash flow. Generate increasing cash flow over time, and you’ve got a truly winning business.

Have a stockpile of cash on hand? Even if your business is privately held, you can pay out dividends. I have worked for several employers who have done just that, turning my career into a true investment!

Take Action When Others Are Not

In the investing world, industries fall in and out of favor. I like to take advantage of temporarily depressed industries, especially with big, sustainable dividends. When others are selling, I’m buying. That said, I’m also very careful not to catch a falling knife, so to speak.

From a business standpoint, I encourage you to face your fears head-on. Take advantage of those opportunities others are ignoring. Tackle the seemingly impossible. Is there a neglected are of your business, one that is really difficult and intimidating, or just plain mundane? Embrace those opportunities! Take a calculated risk when your modeling proves over-and-over that it is warranted. Don’t ever take the easy, safe route. Leaders forge their own paths and drive companies forward. Take action when others are not!

Note: I am not a licensed investment advisor and this article is not investment advice. This article is for entertainment purposes only.

Acquisio Summit: Don’t Miss Out

Jul. 12

In the world of digital marketing and business overall, I’m a tremendous fan of conferences. Conferences provide the ideal opportunity to network, meet new people, see new places, and learn new things. There happens to be an amazing conference just around the corner, the coolest of the summer: Acquisio Summit 2015.

If you’ve been reading PPC Ian for a while, you know that I’m a tremendous fan of Acquisio. Their co-founder and CEO, Marc Poirier, is one of the kindest and smartest people in the digital marketing industry. Acquisio offers an incredibly high-powered performance marketing solution, one that automates around 90 percent of the work so you have time to focus on the real strategy. In short, they are amazing, and a platform you absolutely must audition.

Acquisio Summit 2015

At the beautiful Hyatt Regency in Montreal, conference attendees have access to preferred room rates. With Acquisio Summit spanning Wednesday July 29 – Friday July 30, it ends just in time for you to enjoy a weekend of music at the world-famous Montreal Osheaga Music Festival.

Getting down to business, what can you expect to learn at Acquisio Summit?

  • The mobile and local PPC environment
  • Automated campaign management at scale
  • Bid and budget optimization
  • Acquisio’s open platform and partner ecosystem
  • New features and releases

Want to share the conference with your boss, and get approval to attend? Upon navigating the conference website, I was really impressed to see that Acquisio shares a helpful tutorial on How To Justify The Conference To Your Boss. Just remember to move quickly because the conference is just a few weeks away!

Need even more justification? It is my great pleasure to announce that Acquisio is extending a special 10% discount to PPC Ian readers. Simply enter the code "PPCIAN" and you will get 10% off your Acquisio Summit pass.

Image of Acquisio Summit © Acquisio

How To Be An Agile Marketer

May. 04

Have you heard of agile software development? If you work in a technology-focused environment, it’s likely you have. While many engineering teams used to leverage the waterfall software development model, many are now transitioning to agile. Our world is moving quickly, with flexible and fast-moving companies winning the hearts of consumers. The agile framework gives software developers the ability to adapt rapidly, while exceeding the consumer’s expectations.

The Kenshoo Guide To Agile Marketing

Given the popularity of the agile framework, one starts to wonder: Can agile be applied to other disciplines, such as marketing? Today, I’m absolutely thrilled to share The Kenshoo Guide To Agile Marketing from my good friends at Kenshoo. It’s very fitting that Kenshoo published this guide because they truly embrace the agile mantra, as a company that is always innovating rapidly to lead the forefront of digital marketing technologies.

What can you expect to learn in Kenshoo’s new guide? Quite a bit, in my opinion! The guide starts off with the definition of agile marketing. Then, you’ll learn the six core values of the agile marketer. Next, you’ll enjoy studying the rise of big data and predictive marketing. Synthesizing it all, the guide ends with tips on becoming an agile marketing organization. If you’re a leader at your company and looking to take things to the next level, I highly recommend Kenshoo’s guide.

I’m always reading new whitepapers and eBooks to learn, grow my career, and add value to those around me. Kenshoo’s new guide is one that truly resonates with this scrappy, results-oriented marketer.

Images in this post © Kenshoo