The adoption of the entrepreneurial mindset is pervasive for younger professionals looking to carve out their reality. According to Fast Company, Gen-Z entrepreneurs have the tools available to open online models and marketplaces with fewer cost constraints than previous generations.
A survey conducted by EY Ripples and JA Worldwide points to 53% of Gen-Z wishing to operate their own business in the next ten years. The percentage increases to 65% for those already in the workforce. With so many aspiring entrepreneurs at the ready and startup costs at lower margins, internet marketing comes front and center in the ability to stand out in the crowd.
Yet the loudest may not necessarily get the attention.
Dr. Oliver Pott knows a thing or two about growing companies and increasing visibility. He has been referred to as one of the most successful Internet entrepreneurs in the German-speaking world. Pott has been growing European Internet technology businesses since 1999, founding three multi-million dollar European companies, including Pott Holding Corporation, while co-owning the soccer team SC Paderborn 07. Although he originally received his Ph.D. in neurochemistry, he shifted focus early on to fulfill his passion for building technology companies.
Today, he is more interested in sharing his methods and experiences in his writing and as a Professor at Paderborn University, where he has been teaching entrepreneurship for the last 12 years. His book, ‘Visible! Attracting Customers in a Distracted World’ is consistently ranked on the Der Spiegel German bestselling list, offering a three-pillar concept for marketing impact with a quiet assertion at the core.
The first pillar is relevance. “It is not about how many eyeballs you want on your message. It is a question of reaching the right ones,” says Pott enthusiastically. “For example, Ping got a 14-minute video review from PGA professional Alex Etches on YouTube for their new G425 club driver. Around 180,000 people watched that video, which is not necessarily a vast number, but the relevance of the message to that audience counts,” says Pott.
He posits that successful marketing is not about shouting the loudest but rather quietly stating your message to a relevant group. “You don’t have to be loud in order to be listened to,” he says.
The second pillar is authenticity. “Do not exaggerate. It is better to over-deliver and under-market yourself than the other way around,” says Pott. “There is a feedback loop of people rating your product or experience on Amazon and Google reviews, for instance. Let this bolster the marketing because people will respond more positively to an expressed authentic message instead of hyperbole.”
Testimonials can be a powerful way to support your goals of being clear and authentic in advertising. Pott advises researching your industry for influencers and finding those specific voices that can assist. “You can derive authority from others’ endorsement,” he affirms.
This tactic also feeds into the third pillar, which is storytelling. According to Pott, telling a compelling story about your business can draw people in on a neurological basis because our brains respond to clear narratives.
New York Times best-selling author Daniel Pink believes the world can be rich in stimulus but poor in context. Research shows our brains can struggle to process the onslaught of online information without knowing where to file it. For individuals with neurodivergent brains, including ADHD, dyslexia, and autism, the effects can be even more dramatic. Education-focused nonprofits such as Understood.org believe more understanding is needed on neurodiversity.
“Awareness around neurodiversity is growing, yet stigma and a lack of understanding remain high, especially among young adults,” says Nathan Friedman, Co-President of Understood.org. “New research from Understood.org shows 58% of Americans do not fully understand neurodiversity, while nearly a quarter of those under 35 falsely believe that learning and thinking differences don’t exist. These findings underscore the need for access to credible information and expert-backed resources.”
Pott’s early background in neurochemistry recognizes the limits of a constant flow of virtual information. “Our modern lives are anything but quiet. The remotest internet use can garner 4,000 advertising messages daily, compared to 500 ads in the 1970s,” he says. Added to the mix is Pott’s understanding that attention spans are short, sharing that an average user only watches the first three seconds of an advertising message. As a result, immediate, authentic, and relevant content matters.
There is a competitive nature to marketing, where gaining (and keeping) attention, while daunting, can be financially rewarding. According to The Commerce Institute, four million businesses start every year in the U.S., and 93% of brands attribute new customers to video marketing on social media. The escalation of startups and the increased need for visibility renders concise marketing strategies more essential and challenging than ever.
Relevance Over Time
A data-driven mindset propels Pott’s desire to innovate, leading to business success. His forward-thinking vision brought U.S. app software to Germany, including Computer Associates’ Pest Patrol, as he expanded into anti-virus and decoding component software-driven ventures.
While these niche areas developed into multi-million dollar companies, the advertising messages were not aimed at the general market. As a result, Pott awoke to the idea of relevance as a key for marketing. “You can build relevance over time,” he says. “You should always be able to answer the question, why is this relevant?”
According to Pott, the younger generation is interested in their relevance or relationship to the world. “Gen-Z are asking why am I doing it? Does it work for the betterment of the world?” he says. A marketing message is far easier for companies whose products answer those questions and are relevant, adds Pott. “Any startup can easily buy relevance. The ecosphere of Google and Meta is simply set up because of relevance. They give you relevant customers, and you pay them. Authority and storytelling are harder to get.”
Authority can come in the form of testimonials that reflect a company’s specific business space, yet storytelling takes time, according to Pott’s years of experience. “There’s no abbreviation for good storytelling. You must develop your story, and a major component is time. If you don’t have the time, don’t invent the authority or make it up. Instead, work on it over time,” he says.
Dr. Oliver Pott spent years perfecting his craft in building businesses, fine-tuning the art of internet marketing along the way. Relevance, authority and the ability to tell a story are key components of his marketing philosophy.
Through his teaching, writing, and the personal influence of his children, he has shifted priorities to educating the next generation of hopeful entrepreneurs on successful engagement practices.
Pott is now more invested in legacy and how his actions can impact others, including younger entrepreneurs looking to attract using authentic messaging.
“The key to visibility in marketing is to be quiet but smart about it,” he says—words of wisdom for a distracting world filled with a deluge of messaging and imagery.
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.