Mike Munter runs an internet marketing and online reputation management firm from his home office in Portland, Oregon. He started the business in 2011 after becoming curious how Google ranks websites in its search results.
Prior to that, Mike took a hiatus from work. He spent 3 1/2 years traveling and exploring new hobbies before settling into his new career as an online marketer.
For Mike, this is what he deems, his “third career.”
His first began at age 20. He worked as a PC repair technician for a computer reseller in Baltimore, Maryland. After 6 years in the field, he was installing server-based networks at companies ranging in size from 20-250 employees. He dabbled a bit in sales and landed a few accounts of his own, prior to ending that portion of his professional career.
“I never really liked the IT field much,” Mike says,”I didn’t feel it was best suited to my aptitudes.”
He would find a better fit for his skillset when he joined the Bowie Baysox in 1993. The Double-A farm team of the Baltimore Orioles hired Mike to help run its telemarketing department and do sponsorship sales.
He quickly moved up, holding various titles and responsibilities along the way. In 1996, he was named the team’s Assistant General Manager and in 2003 he became the club’s General Manager.
“I’m more suited to running and leading a business, rather than doing all of the execution. I’m an idea guy, and so I need help implementing my ideas,” Mike adds. “Working in baseball showed me how much I enjoy sales and operating a business. It let me exploit all of my ‘efficiency’ skills, too. I was constantly looking for ways to cut costs and grow revenues.”
Under Mike’s leadership, the team boasted record profits in 2004. Following that season, he accepted a position at the Rose Garden Arena, home of the Trail Blazers, in Portland.
“I was really excited to move across country and work in a major league facility,” Mike says.
But within 2 1/2 years, the corporate structure changed and Mike was laid off. Thus, were planted the future seeds for Mike to start his own business doing SEO, web design, marketing, and reputation management.
What was your favorite subject in school?
I was really good at Math. I remember once in 5th grade, the teacher held a contest that everyone in my class could participate in. She would say something like, “Ok take 7 times 14 plus 66 divided by 3. Square your answer.” And I would be the first to answer and get it right. She did it again and again and I kept winning. I remember other kids around me just watching me scribble away on paper as I won again and again. I was so locked in. My Mom thought I should be an accountant, but I was a rebel and accounting seemed boring.
What was your first job?
At 15, I was a dishwasher at CJ’s Crab House in Owings Mills, Md. Later I became a busboy.
Where and how did you first get into the industry you currently work in?
I put an ad on Craigslist to hire someone to teach me SEO – even though at the time, I didn’t know there was a thing called SEO. I think my ad said, “Someone to teach me how Google ranks websites.”
How have those jobs prepared you for what you do now?
When I was younger, I was pretty shy, so being a busboy really brough me out of my shell. It forced me to talk to people. Later when I got into sales, I had no problem talking to people.
Describe the best day of work you’ve ever had.
When I worked in minor league baseball in the mid-90’s, we used to have to sell these outfield billboards. They were a pretty tough sell because they were so expensive. About 3 weeks before the season, we had about 8 signs still left to sell. To management, this was a disaster and meant a lot of lost revenue. So, our VP got our general manager and called an impromptu sales meeting. We had about 10-12 people on staff responsible for selling signs. One by one, the VP went around the room and asked people specifically what leads they had for billboards. No one had a single concrete lead. I was salivating because I knew I was loaded. When it came to me, I rattled off my leads, some of which I can still remember – “Midas, Tropicana, USPS, Target…” The GM looked me square in the eye and asked, “Do you think you close all of those?” I said, “Yes.” And I did. Pretty soon after that I was promoted to assistant general manager of sales/marketing. I’d been working my butt off for a few years with the Baysox (Orioles AA farm team), so it was pretty satisfying to have that moment in the sales meeting.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Fear motivates me. That’s about the only thing I need.
What kind of business ideas excite you most?
I like ideas in general. I sometimes struggle with getting them implemented, so I try to surround myself with competent people who can execute.
Have you ever tried any unorthodox techniques to attract attention to your business?
When I worked in outbound sales, I tried a lot of “experiments” to get people to call me back, to get a meeting, or just to get my foot in the door. I once did an entire proposal for Target using stick figures to demonstrate what they were getting. They loved it. I knew they would.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
Doubling my sales in 1998 so I could afford the 10% down payment on my first house.
What wisdom would you have liked to share with yourself when you first started out?
Focus more on the successes and don’t take the failures so hard.