Mark Verwoert is the founder of Mark’d Agency. The digital marketing agency for luxury living & lifestyle. He can help you through the ever-changing online landscape to make you stand out. We are living in the age of opportunity. Never before have there been so many opportunities to reach new markets and customers to make money. However, it can be confusing to know which social media platform you should use. Or if you should invest in online advertisements like social ads or Google ads. What will work for you? He is here to help you.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Mark Verwoert: Hi, Mark Verwoert here. I am the founder of Mark’d Agency, the marketing agency for luxury living & lifestyle. We have clients active in luxury homes ($1 million and above), yachts, jets, and exclusive cars. I just love these quality products and it’s an absolute dream to be able to represent brands like Baerz.com. When I am not kicking butt for my clients, you’ll find me traveling through Scotland.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Mark Verwoert: Born? No shot. I mean, I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Ever since I was a child to be precise. However, it was no walk in the park to become a successful marketing agency owner. I think the biggest struggle is that you are learned to follow what people say. Think about it. You are taught to listen to your parents, teachers, and ultimately what society sees as ‘the right way’ of living. But as an entrepreneur, you can’t be a sheep. You need to be the wolf and set out your path. Create what never has been done before because that’s where the money is at. You have to build yourself to be an entrepreneur. That’s the truth.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Mark Verwoert: Work smart and hard instead of just hard. It’s a common mistake to think that working hard will give you the things you want in life. It’s BS. I have seen my grandparents work themselves into the grave with working 100 hours per week. Did it make them rich? No. The key ingredient is to work smart. Your business model needs to do the heavy lifting. Your business should be scalable. If not, then you will work for money till you die.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Mark Verwoert: My company is the marketing agency for luxury living & lifestyle in Europe. We are doing social media marketing and ads for large real estate companies, yacht builders, and manufacturers of luxury drinks like whisky. This is by far the best move we’ve made so far. We started as a digital marketing agency for anyone. We focused on branding businesses online. However, there was so much competition and you couldn’t charge the prices you wanted. And I know that we are worth those prices because our work was better. Not because we are superhumans or anything, but we just care more about our clients. Anyway, it was crucial to niche down and offer valuable knowledge to a niche that has less competition. I have always loved quality products, so it made sense for me to drive the agency towards the luxury industry. That choice has proven to be our golden egg.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Mark Verwoert: To be honest, I think you shouldn’t look at those 11.000 new businesses being registered daily. I mean, sure competition affects you, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be your motivation. If you are an entrepreneur, then you must start your business. It’s something in your blood that you can feel boil. You have to create something and not help some random Joe build his empire. A good entrepreneur is made, but an entrepreneur is born. Without the desire to compete or create anything, you are dead in the water before you even start. As I explained previously, it’s about working smart. So, don’t compete with your competitors by having the same services or clients like they do. In heavy competition, there is no money to be made. Specialize and niche down to find the sweet spot. That’s where the real money is.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Mark Verwoert: I assumed that my work ethic would be the distinctive feature of my company. That I didn’t need to niche down too much because we worked harder than anyone else. Well, that might have been the case but you didn’t see that back in the results. Because you are SEEN as just another agency and therefore clients are not willing to pay your worth. In the end, I decided it was time for a change. I didn’t want to have hundreds of clients and have to compete with ten agencies for that one client. Therefore I specialized my knowledge and niche down. Today, we are a social media marketing agency focused on the luxury industry.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain
Mark Verwoert: To relax a bit more. And no, I am not saying that I should be sitting on my butt all day. I mean that I shouldn’t put too much pressure on myself to deliver results. Grind but also give me the time and opportunity to fail. I HATED failing when I just started, but actually, it’s the best thing that could happen to you. Failing is just another word for learning. If I could go back in time, then I would say to myself: enjoy failing! It’s alright, you are in the position that you can afford to fail. Fail as much as you can. It will make you a better entrepreneur.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Mark Verwoert: Start your business part-time and have a job to create safety. That was just horrific. I would spend time working for someone else and dream about my business while I was there. It was torture. And even more importantly, it slowed down my progress. I couldn’t try things out, fail, and learn from them. I think you are not meant to be an entrepreneur if you are not willing to take a risk. In the risk lays the reward. Now, I am not saying to just go for something and see how it goes. No, of course, you need to run your business smart and adjust strategies where needed. I mean that you should go full-time right away. Make long hours to get your first customers or find a way to earn money WITH your business. It doesn’t make sense to fuel someone else’s business with cash flow. No, you’ll need that for your business. Figure it out, entrepreneur!
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Mark Verwoert: Your online presence must be waterproof. You can’t just have a Facebook page with 0 information or a website without an about-me page. It’s completely foolish to do so. COVID-19 is not the reason for this change but rather the accelerator. Even before COVID, things were already shifting towards online first. However, because of the pandemic, this change has been forced upon us. It’s a change that isn’t reversible. More than 81% of the customers research a brand online before they conduct business (GE Capital Retail Bank). Customers have always been looking for signs of trust. They want to trust you, but you’ll need to give them information that allows them to trust you. The only thing that has changed, is the fact that you need to give this information through online channels first. It’s the way the world works right now.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Mark Verwoert: That you need to work hard and success will follow. That’s just rubbish. You can work all you want but that will never make a bad business a good business. Either your business plan works or it doesn’t. You need to build a smart business plan with a focus on scalability. If you can’t scale your business without yourself, then your business model has flaws. It should work whether you are involved or not. There is only so much one person can do, but a business has the potential to work 24/7.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Mark Verwoert: The most important trait is that you can see the importance of having a complete improvement plan. You’ll need to build yourself on every single aspect. Health, knowledge, finances, find your unique purpose, all these things are needed to be the best version of yourself. You and your business are one. If you lack depth, so will your business. Have good systems in place to make yourself a better person and therefore a better entrepreneur. Fail, and your business will be a tunnel-visioned entity. If you truly have the drive to build something that matters, then you’ll want to improve yourself constantly.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Mark Verwoert: Oh, there are plenty of ways to gain knowledge. We are living in the age of knowledge sharing! Let me give you a few sources that have helped me. First of all, these books are insanely valuable: atomic habits, the richest man In Babylon, how to win friends and influence people, and the innovation stack. For websites, I would start with markdagency.com of course! Ok, I’m sorry… I couldn’t resist. But to be fair, we post valuable marketing insights every day. It’s not often that you’ll get a look at marketing from an actual agency that does the work. Additionally, Forbes and Business Insider are great for inspiration. And lastly, I advise you to take a look at the Search Engine Journal to understand what’s going on in the digital marketing space. It’s something you can’t ignore.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Mark Verwoert: Crazy. What would I be if I couldn’t pursue my purpose. There is just nothing else I can do. When you’ve found your purpose in life, it’s impossible to do anything else.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Mark Verwoert: Warren Buffett. If you just open YouTube and search Warren Buffett interviews… You will get so much knowledge that your brain will explode. He might be 91 years old, but he is my hero. He became successful by working smart instead of hard. Knew how the game works and played it right. He never stopped working because it’s who he is. I mean, so many people are just searching for a way to quit working. When they finally reach that goal, their whole world collapses. You’ll need to find something you truly love to do. That’s what makes people happy. Being rich will strengthen your happiness, but also your unhappiness. Money is a tool that will strengthen either your power or your weakness. True happiness and success come from the heart. Doing something you love and do not see it as ‘work’ but rather as who you are. I hope that makes sense! And otherwise, just search for Warren Buffett on YouTube. He is a far better mentor than I will ever be.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Mark Verwoert for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Mark Verwoert or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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