Personal branding can be an important strategy for companies. In an interview with FLEX managing partner Peter Waleczek, Philipp Westermeyer talks about how personal branding can be linked to business success and reveals how to get invited to podcasts as a guest.
Peter Waleczek: Hi Philipp! Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today about personal branding.
With OMR, you have built a brand that represents a new generation media company. You are also an entrepreneur, event organiser, and most importantly, a podcaster. Many people know you as a personal brand.
Philipp Westermeyer: My name is Philipp Westermeyer, I was born in Essen and have lived in Hamburg for almost 20 years. I was always involved with media in the form of the school newspaper, at Radio Essen or the local newspaper in the Ruhr area. I've always had interest in media companies and content. My professional life began at Gruner+Jahr, which was a big company at that time along with Bertelsmann.
My first boss was the head of Gruner+Jahr and also a Bertelsmann board member. I was his assistant. This gave me the chance to get to know a media company from an executive perspective. At some point, the topic of SEO started to intrigue me.
SEO was a big topic then and I started building SEO pages with my business partner Tobias Schlottke, which worked pretty well. With the company’s expansion, I ended up not having much to do with media, which was unfortunate.
Advertising was also an attractive field back then. We created banners, did re-targeting and ended up building a company which was sold to Zalando. Along the way, I was often asked if I could help them with online marketing. When at some point I could no longer help everyone individually, I started doing seminars and conferences which then became a media brand. There were high search volumes at the time for "Online Marketing Rockstars", which is why today we are known as OMR.
Afterwards, I built up an editorial team and started with the podcast because I liked listening to podcasts. Back then, it was still a small topic in Germany. But I saw a lot of potential and built the podcast studio which became the original source and now we have over 100 different formats. We do live events, education topics, podcasts, and software reviews. At Hamburg, we have 250 people at OMR—that's my main job.
Philipp Westermeyer: The story is like this: my wife and I had twins and when they awoke at night, they had to be pushed around. Because this is pretty boring at half past four in the morning, I started listening to American podcasts. I liked them so much that I took the children for a three-hour walk every day. After that I thought that a podcast would fit in well with OMR and persuaded an old friend of mine, Sven Schmidt, to appear. He is now a regular guest and a media personality himself.
Many people found the podcast format exciting and I noticed in the first few episodes that there was a lot of interest in this area out of which we could create something big. Of course, I didn't expect that a huge podcast wave would sweep through the country shortly afterwards. We rode this wave and also understood how podcast marketing would work. We answered questions like: How do I use SEO or re-targeting for podcasts? How do I address the target group? How do I prove that podcast advertising makes a difference? Now, we not only do B2B or business topics, but also a cooking podcast with Tim Mälzer, a football podcast with Mats Hummels, and a news podcast with Lanz & Precht. Simultaneously, I have also conducted online marketing podcasts along with doing events and seminars.
Philipp Westermeyer: I realised that you can tell stories much better through people. Even the most successful media brands have strong people behind them. This was probably why I could give OMR a face. However, I didn't want to be the corporate figurehead so much and preferred putting other people in the spotlight.
Philipp Westermeyer: In fact, because of it other leaders of OMR companies are also fully accepted. Of course, a lot of things still depend on me. I feel that if something happens to me or because of me, the whole company immediately suffers. From an entrepreneurial point of view, however, it should be more independent of the person. We actively wanted to take this step two years ago. However, Corona changed things for us because we could no longer hold live events. I had to make sure that the company remained present and that we could continue to grow despite everything. Constant social media posts are also sometimes unpleasant and take a lot of effort, but it's worth it. Nevertheless, OMR's plan is to make more people visible in the coming months.
Philipp Westermeyer: A lot helps a lot. Especially in the B2B sector, there is really no such thing as too much. High frequency is rewarded in the social media sector with growth in reach. If you plan to go down this path for yourself or your company, then you really have to go in full throttle and post something three times a day rather than none. The quality of the posts is of course, important, but a high frequency is often still underestimated.
Additionally, it helps to find your positioning format. The big channels, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and podcasts, are used very intensively. Currently, however, you see similar content on these channels. But if you position yourself differently, for example by using humour, there is still room.
You should also think in advance about the extent you are willing to share your personal story and disclose background information. If you want to go public, there is no point in publishing content that goes in the direction of PR messages. If you want to grow a business through your name, then you have to be bold in that area. A very good example of this is Tarek Müller from About You. Since the beginning, he has communicated his views, opinions and, in some cases, company figures very openly and authentically. For me, he is an absolute pioneer in this area as far as listed companies are concerned. You could also be this open in an earlier company phase.
Philipp Westermeyer: We attach a lot of importance to the professionalism of our podcast. That's why we think very carefully about which topic would make sense and if the person would fit. In the meantime, we get a lot of in-bound suggestions and I am very grateful for that. Of course, we can't accommodate everything.
In general, you can also position yourself as an industry expert through other podcasts. One person who does this very well and is my role model for good personal branding is Alexander Graf from Kassenzone. E-commerce and retail are the topics he shares about in his podcast and blog posts. Through this, he has become a guest on a few other podcasts and has positioned himself in the industry. This path is perhaps one that can be followed. Good quality and unique content is absolutely key.
Philipp Westermeyer: That's a tough one. I look more to the US. Although I am completely different, I find Gary Vaynerchuck, Scott Galloway or Shane Smith, the founder of VICE Media, very interesting.
Peter Waleczek: Thank you very much! There were many exciting insights that were valuable.
Philipp Westermeyer: It was a pleasure to meet you!