Earlier this week I sat down with OnlineMarketingInstitute.org’s founder and CEO Aaron Kahlow, to catch up on how things are progressing into 2015 for the popexpert and OMI partnership. This is especially interesting since popexpert has offered a more general market approach to training and education online.
In this interview, Aaron gives us some exciting insights into what’s up next for the brand. He also talks about spirituality, mindfulness, and how to better manage your time. Let’s jump in:
CW: Back in March, you posted a blog about why popexpert and OMI were going into business together. In that post, you talked a lot about the reasons for joining forces, and how the two complement each other. How’s that vision being realized today?
AK: There are three main ways we’re growing into this exciting relationship – technology, content and branding.
This is a new version of eLearning in the market. We’re combining digital coaching and the marketing place, matched with OMI’s existing digital eLearning library. There are some new realizations here, and this will be the first time anyone’s hearing about it. We’re excited to launch a new learning space called the Mindfulinstitute.co.
What you’ll find there is the ability to watch a lot of asynchronous classes, but you’ll also have the ability to book a live digital coaching session with experts. The way that we look at this is that you can get more education on something that you’re interested in, and also expand that into a life practice with live coaching. It’s one thing to like what you hear, and another thing to continue to practice it, so helping with that is our goal.
As we brought these two companies together, we looked at what types of content we were producing and how those can evolve. We concluded that people want more bite-sized pieces of content to remind them of the main points of their lesson. So we’re adding more 2-5 minute podcasts to give people a snippet of what they should be thinking about on a certain topic.
That can translate into video components, blogs and other types of content. Overall we’re focusing on mindfulness and wellness, digital transformation, and marketing, and then entrepreneurial-type topics. You’ll see a lot more coming out from the entrepreneurial category.
popexpert is the master brand. They can funnel info from there into our institutes to create specific disciplines on overall topics. It’s a nice natural synergy to have a masterbrand that covers all categories, and then area specific classrooms and institutes that help you learn topical focus areas.
We discuss the lifetime value of our customers a lot. Imagine the sheer impact of learning things from entrepreneurship, to digital marketing, to meditation. Our vision is to be the learning outlet for each of the stages in someone’s life, professional and personal. We want all of these things to come together and help people.
CW: You mentioned that OMI would expand into some other areas of training. Can you give us some examples of those?
AK: For some of the larger global agencies out there, digital transformation is a big one. This includes all the pieces of the pie. This includes all of the digital elements out there and how to make them a part of daily life.
We’re also focusing a lot on solo-prenuer (1-5 people) and the specific needs that they have (website, building an audience, etc.). We’re spending time building content about how to get a business started alone or with just a few people. This is a big segment of the audience and we want to help them at every stage.
We’re expanding training around agency best practices, which I know you Clayton teach as well. Here’s a group that we’re focusing new attentions on, as well as others:
- Digital Transformation
- Solo-Prenuer Topics
- Website Building
- Local Search
- Digital Advertising
- Big Data
CW: What are the bigger industries or corporations OMI is getting into now that you’ve partnered with popexpert?
AK: We’ve already got a good segment of clients that have corporate relationships with volume licenses with us. Some of the largest manufacturer and branding agencies in the world are with us and we’ll be expanding into other topics with them and other larger groups.
We want to hit the big issues like turnover, and some of the intricate disciplines that agencies and larger groups face. We want to tackle mindfulness so that it can help reduce turnover for people’s companies. If you don’t address this, they’re going to leave. We want to create solutions that create long-term employees.
CW: The industry of digital marketing training: how has it grown over the last few years, and where do you see it going in terms of growth in the next few years?
AK: The training industry serves over 200 billion users per year, so the space is large. No one needs to explain what it is anymore [eLearning]. Investors and large groups are putting in big money because they realize this is the future. We’re also seeing a lot of conversation revolve around education technology, which we’ve been involved in for years.
The digital learning space is getting coverage everywhere now. Then you see things happening like Lynda.com being bought for 1.6 billion dollars. This has really put our industry on the map, and the attraction to it is growing faster by the day.
CW: Who’s the most popular expert?
AK: It’s pretty distributed, but we’ve got some names that come immediately to mind, like Rohit Bhargava, Lisa Buyer for her digital PR content, Emeric Ernoult for his tactical Facebook strategies, and many more.
CW: I noticed you’ve been moving around a lot…for those who don’t know, what have you been doing?
AK: Back when I was running an agency, I was moving around doing thought leadership. Now it’s transformed into me running a conference, the Online Marketing Summit, and doing those around the world. Now it’s more thought leadership around some of the broader stuff. I still talk a lot about digital, but I try to weave into the conversation about mindset and entrepreneurship.
I could teach you about social media marketing all day, but if you’re not ready to run a business, that’s not going to do you any good. You need to understand why you’re doing this in the first place, so I talk about that a lot.
CW: I know that you’re big into living a zen life. Are you able to do that while on the road so much? How do you do it?
AK: It starts with before you get on the road. Everyone who isn’t a Buddhist monk is challenged with this. Some of the things that have helped me are reading the things that plant the right subconscious thoughts into your mind, every single morning.
Make time for yourself in the morning. Not reading industry magazines or catching up on Facebook, I’m talking about being at peace inside. This helps you to stay focused during the day and not zone out. You just can’t do that kind of thing. You need to be in the conversation fully, or don’t do it at all.
CW: What’s the next event that OMI has coming up?
AK: We’re doing a Virtual Summit on August 20. It’s a summit about being mindful with your work. Interested folks can email me at Aaron@popexpert.com to get more info. The other next big thing that I’m excited about is the launch of the MindfulInstitute.co, where people can learn more about how to be mindful and get into a proper mental state to reach their goals.