This post originally appeared on neilpatel.com
Marketers tend to be very reactive.
We are conditioned to be very reactive. Whether it’s your boss who is pissed that your traffic dips or even yourself… everyone hates when sales and income drop because of something you can’t fully control.
And even when you try to be proactive, you are probably planning ahead from a 3-month period to a year max.
But that’s not how you win. You win by making bold bets that take time and can’t be done in a few months or a year… you win by doing what your competition isn’t willing to do.
So how do you come up with these bold bets?
Here’s how I come up with my ideas
Once a year I try to unplug. Just like right now, as I am writing this I don’t have cell reception and there is no WiFi.
I’m on a ranch in the middle of nowhere.
No matter where I look, there are no neighbors. All you have is nature in its rawest form. Just like how lightning kept going on for hours.
By unplugging and just being one with nature, you truly realize what’s important.
See, we all have problems and issues… especially in business. But how bad are your problems? Do they even matter in the grand scheme of things?
Look, I’ll be honest with you. I am not a big nature person… I’m actually quite the opposite.
I live in a modern, cold feeling house in a heavily congested city. I’m so OCD that I have a full-time cleaner come just because I’m afraid of getting dirty (seriously).
Heck, I won’t even go through airport security without having booties in my briefcase, just in the rare chance they make me take off my shoes. There is no way I can have my socks touch that dirty ground.
Yes, I am crazy when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene.
But even me, I go to places that are full of nature and wild animals… or in my case, cows, bears, deer, snakes, mountain lions, etc… being there really helps put things into perspective.
Because when you aren’t surrounded by noise caused by us humans, it allows you to clearly focus and think about what’s important.
For me, spending 3 days a year usually does the trick.
It allows me to forget about the bullshit we all have to deal with on a daily basis and come up with ideas about what I need to do over the next 5 (or even 10) years to win.
I know that sounds like a really long time… and it is. But again, to win you need to think long term and make bold bets that your competition wouldn’t dare to copy.
Just look at what I did with Ubersuggest.
I came up with that idea a few years ago by disconnecting (just like I described above).
Companies like Moz would constantly post their revenue stats and their competitors decided to also talk about their financials. So while being disconnected, I came up with an idea on how I could win and the first step was acquiring a tool like Ubersuggest.
And since then I’ve executed a few of the steps in my plan, but I still have a long way to go.
None-the-less, those steps have paid off. Just look at my traffic numbers.
So what I am going to do over the next 5 to 10 years?
I am going to turn SEO upside down again.
It hit me on this trip that we all have to go to sites like Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Ahrefs, or even Moz to get data.
But why is that?
It’s not natural in our workflow. Wouldn’t it just be easier to see this data as you browse the web?
Like when you search Google for any query sure you can use browser extensions like Keywords Everywhere to get some data or SEOquake or the Mozbar… but what you can’t get is that Ahrefs or SEMrush experience when you are just on a Google Search results page.
What will that look like? I have no clue yet, but I will figure that out over time.
Will that kill the traffic I generate to Ubersuggest over time?
But that is what needs to be done. I obsess about providing an amazing experience to my customers, even if that will kill off my existing business.
And no, that won’t take 5 years to do… I will probably do it over the next 6 months. I will first roll out a basic plugin like Keywords Everywhere and, eventually, I will add the functionally so you can get that type of Ubersuggest or Ahrefs experience right on Google or on your competitor’s site.
What will happen over the next 5 years though, is that I will be able to build something that gets you more traffic. Just like a light switch. Something that simple.
It should all be automated.
And no, I don’t mean in a templatized way. I manually send out emails every time I write a blog post because I know I can write custom copy that generates a 30% open rate and a high click rate.
But again, it should all be automated. And not just for English based sites, it should be done on a global level and work for every site in any language or country.
So how can you figure out what to focus on?
You may not be able to disconnect like me and spend the money that it costs to go to a ranch in the middle of nowhere.
And that’s fine… you don’t have to.
When I first started off, I didn’t have the resources or money, and I did just fine within my constraints.
For example, roughly 5 years ago I came up with the concept that I needed to go after global markets and compared to any of my competitors in the digital marketing realm, I’ve crushed all of them when it comes to global marketing.
Most of my competitors just translated their site or translated some of their content. Me on the other hand, I have 7 offices and teams in 18 different countries. And I’ll continue to expand so I can keep beating my competition when it comes to grabbing international attention.
But that idea didn’t come to me when I was in nature, being disconnected.
At that time, I was in my condo in the middle of Seattle and I disconnected my Internet for a few days.
Before I disconnected my Internet, I went and got food so I didn’t have to leave my house, and then I turned off all my gadgets… from my TV to phone and anything that was a distraction.
It worked well because now only 18.89% of my traffic is from the United States compared to 57% before I started to expand globally.
In other words, you can disconnect no matter where you are. You just literally have to disconnect your router, turn off your phone, and unplug your TV… it really is that simple.
If you do that for a few days, you’ll start realizing what is important and what isn’t. You’ll be able to strategize and start thinking more long term.
The key to winning long term isn’t by being reactive every time there is an algorithm update or even proactive and preparing for each algorithm update.
Because some of those things are simply out of your control.
Instead, you need to think long term and how you can disrupt your market to make a long-term bet that your competition isn’t willing to make.
Nike wasn’t built by SEO.
Airbnb wasn’t built through paid advertising.
American Express wasn’t built through social media marketing.
Tesla wasn’t built through content marketing.
Doing something disruptive or better than the competition is how you win.
Ubersuggest gets 1,668,233 visitors and 9,136,512 page views a month from people just coming directly. Not through SEO, marketing, or anything like that… I just focus on the future instead of being reactive.
That’s how I win.
Now, the real question is, how are you going to win?