Today, an interview with Bob Bentz, President of Purplegator.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to participate in our interview today Bob. I see that you have an interesting background and we are pleased to have you here today. Let’s start with your book, Relevance Raises Response: How to Engage and Acquire with Mobile Marketing. How did you come up with the title?
Bob Bentz: There has never been a medium quite like mobile that enables you to target your audience in a mass scale like mobile can where there’s almost no waste! I liked the alliteration of the title having three R’s and I think the title describes the power of marketing by mobile precisely.
Q: Writing a book is a massive project for anybody, especially for a person like you that runs three businesses. What made you want to do it?
Bob Bentz: A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to become an adjunct professor at the University of Denver to teach the graduate level course in mobile marketing. They gave me a textbook that was four years old which was ancient history in a new industry such as mobile. To update the book, I wrote 10 to 15 pages each week to supplement the outdated text. So, when I got through the first class, I had a third of a book written so I just decided to go ahead complete the job.
Q: Interesting. Are you still teaching at the University of Denver?
Bob Bentz: No, I’m not. Last year, I was contacted by my alma mater at West Virginia University about teaching there so I made the switch and am now the instructor for the graduate level course in mobile marketing at WVU.
Q: I saw on your LinkedIn that you built a business from a start up to $62.2 million in annual sales. That’s quite an accomplishment. Tell me about that.
Bob Bentz: In 1989, I was working in television advertising sales and learned that AT&T was going to be introducing its 900 number MultiQuest product to the masses. I was familiar with the industry from the TV business and saw the opportunity to start a new business, Advanced Telecom Services. It was the right business for the right time and we built it to about 150 employees over 5 countries.
Q: But, today, you are involved mostly with mobile. What got you interested in mobile?
Bob Bentz: In 2002, I was working in our office in London and I noticed when people’s cell phones rang on the Tube, they rang with a unique ringtone. This was not something that I had ever seen before, so I took that concept back to the US and we started one of the first ever online ringtone sites. We built that up to 60,000 members paying $9.99 per month. We sold that business in 2006 to a publicly traded company in Canada.
Q: But, how did that help you learn about mobile marketing?
Bob Bentz: Not so much mobile marketing as we know it today, but how to deliver stuff to the mobile phone. After we sold that business, we looked for a new product and discovered text message marketing. We started one of the first online text message marketing sites in 2007 and I’m still involved in that business today. At that time, mobile marketing was text message marketing and little else.
Q: Which brings us to today. Purplegator. That’s an interesting name. What does it mean?
Bob Bentz: Not much. Purplegator was the name we were going to give to our fourth online text message marketing brand so I had been sitting on that domain for a few years. I was aware that our original company, Advanced Telecom Services, had become a bit outdated, because “telecom” really was being somewhat antiquated. I didn’t want a name that could become outdated, but was catchy. Purplegator did that for us.
Q: So, what does Purplegator do?
Bob Bentz: Purplegator is a mobile first marketing agency.
Q: When you say “mobile first” what does that mean?
Bob Bentz: It means that everything we do starts with mobile. Mobile isn’t all we do, but we believe it is the first and foremost thing a business should concentrate on when doing marketing. For instance, when we develop a website, we develop it first for mobile and then make it fit for desktop. Most companies do it the other way around. Of course, at this point, mobile isn’t a secret anymore and a case could be made that we need to be “mobile-only” instead of mobile first.
Q: Does your company work with all industries or does it have an area of specialization?
Bob Bentz: Yes, we will consider working with almost any vertical market, but we also know that to grow, you can’t be expert in every vertical market so we do have specializations. The single biggest focus is recruiting for hard to fill jobs such as nursing and truck drivers. We also do a lot of government work, travel & tourism, and restaurants.
Q: What excites you most about your business and the future of mobile?
Bob Bentz: I’ve long said that the holy grail for mobile is geo conquesting – device detection down to a specific address. With geo conquesting, through our third party data providers, you can identify mobile devices that have been at a specific location, then serve them ads. So, if you are a retailer, you can serve ads to people that have been at your stores and also at your competitors’ stores. That is truly “Relevance Raises Response.”
Q: Yes, I can see that. That’s fascinating and I can imagine very effective marketing. Before we leave you, tell us three things that you love. Take a minute to think about it if you need to.
Bob Bentz: That’s easy. I don’t need any extra time. My family. Dogs. And, baseball.
Q: So, how can our readers get in touch with you if they want to?
Bob Bentz: Hit me up on LinkedIn; that’s probably best. Or, email me at bob at purplegator dot com. Thanks for the interview. This was fun.
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