Interview conducted by Omar Reyes, March 2024

Where were you born and raised? Also tell us something unique about yourself.

I was born and raised in the North of the province of Antwerp in Belgium, where I lived in 4 different municipalities so far. Something that probably makes me unique is that I grew up in a large family having 7 sisters and 1 brother. That’s right, seven!

What got you interested in marketing and what was your journey?

I’ve always believed that anything is possible if you believe it can be done. When I discovered the internet at the age of 14 in 1998, I was immediately intrigued by the medium and its possibilities. Seeing the search results from Google slowly loading in front of me, it opened my eyes.

I started exploring how I could create things myself on the internet at the age of 17. I didn’t know how to write code, but still managed to set up websites for building local communities, helping people to discover music and more. If I had a new idea, I started building it, just for the fun of it. I used open source solutions like Drupal for building websites.

In 2007, my girlfriend and I decided to create a video blog. Filming yourself and putting it out on the world wide web using Google Video and YouTube was still experimental. Our blog was picked up by national media and we got our 15 minutes of fame when we were featured in all major media outlets. 

That same year I graduated in marketing science and was looking for a fulltime job. I already did an internship at a web company called Edge in Antwerp and decided I wanted to start my career at that same company. From day 1, Edge supported me in keeping my curiosity and provided freedom to keep exploring and experimenting. It was the perfect match. Today, I still work for this company.

What skills and industry do you specialize in?

When I started working at my company, its main focus was building websites. Back then, I specialized in SEO. Rand Fishkin was one of my heroes in that space. Google and Facebook started expanding their online advertising tools and clients started asking for online marketing services to send traffic to the websites we’d built for them. This was around 2011.

It was the start of a new offering related to paid media and online discovery. I started learning more about Facebook advertising and discovered the endless possibilities on how these ad platforms could help our clients to succeed online. 

I discovered a lot of learning resources related to Facebook advertising. As I was intrigued by the platform, I wanted to learn as much as possible about it. My main resources back then were Jon Loomer’s blog and the Facebook Blueprint courses.

I started experimenting and going really in-depth on Facebook marketing. In 2017, I was one of the first 3 people in Belgium getting officially certified for running Facebook ads. A representative of Facebook Brussels reached out to me and I got invited to their headquarters in Brussels, which was amazing and a great recognition.

I felt the need to share my expertise more globally and started sharing content about running ads. People started following and liking my updates on LinkedIn and it was a great motivator to keep going.

Now, 7 years later, I’ve built a following of 70,000+ people and I feel that people trust my expertise in the digital marketing space, especially regarding Meta Ads.  

I get recommended by peers, I receive speaker invitations and  a lot of people reach out to me on a daily basis to connect. Sharing content is very rewarding in terms of opportunities. 

What is your best soft skill?

Patience. People who know me usually describe me as a very easy-going person. While that’s kind of true, it’s more about being able to keep your peace. Don’t expect things to go the way you want it right away, most good things take time before they happen. Having this mindset helps you to achieve your goals in the longer term. This is also very true for results coming from marketing efforts.

What software and tools do you use regularly?

My phone as the number one tool for taking screenshots. It is one of the best ways to keep up with all the changes in digital marketing. Whenever I come across something I find interesting and want to learn more about, I take a screenshot so I don’t forget about it. Right now, my phone holds 576 screenshots related to digital marketing. I just need to work on deleting some of the old ones. 

On my desktop device, these are some of the tools and services I often use: Canva, Google Drive, Meta Business Manager,  Google Analytics, ChatGPT, Looker Studio and Google Tag Manager.

What are your goals for the next year and into the future?

Apart from keeping up with the many changes and running successful campaigns for my clients, I want to accelerate my journey as an expert in the paid media space. Although I don’t care much about numbers, it would be nice to be able to share my expertise to an audience of 100,000 followers. That would be a crazy number.

I’m also exploring complementary ways of sharing content. Collaborations with other inspiring creators, publishing a book on advertising, providing courses or keynotes,… A lot of possibilities where I need to find options that genuinely excite me.

What has been the hardest thing you dealt with in your career path?

I’m lucky to find this a hard question to answer. Maybe we should change the word ‘hardest’ to ‘most challenging’ in this question. The most challenging part of being a digital marketer is to keep up with changes and to keep learning. You really need to have intrinsic motivation and genuine interest for this to work. While it may be challenging, it also is the perfect way to keep growing and building your professional expertise.

What is the biggest mistake you made that you want others to avoid?

Not challenging yourself enough early in your career. Getting out of your comfort zone allows you to grow, but it ain’t easy. Find your comfort zone and look for ways to go beyond, while still being able to stay true to yourself and what you believe is important.

Who are your favorite people in the industry that you follow?

This is very personal of course as it is related to specific interests and challenges. People who read this should find their own favorite people to follow. To find these people, actively search for answers and follow people who help you solve specific problems or inspire you to think differently.

If you are looking to keep up with the latest updates though, LinkedIn is by far the best platform for following PPC experts and content curators.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career to date?

Actually a lot of people have influenced the path I follow in my career. I’ve been working for an agency for more than 15 years now and of course all the clients I have been working for influenced how I am currently performing my daily tasks. Clients challenge and push you to keep up and provide best-in-class services.

Two people who influenced my career to date more directly are Tom, the founder of the agency I work for and Sarah, my wife.

Tom for giving me countless opportunities for growing my expertise and challenging me in my professional life. 

Sarah for being the most supportive and enthusiastic person in my personal life. She doesn’t mind me talking ‘geek’ at the breakfast table and always shares honest feedback on all things I’m doing in my professional life.

What has been your favorite course that you’ve taken and why?

While there are a lot of high quality courses online, I find this a difficult question to answer. That’s because I see all relevant resources as bits and pieces of knowledge. Courses from official sources may be high quality, but you need to be aware of subtle nuances and you only know about that by reading every day and more importantly, by consuming lots of different sources. This way, you will get a much broader view on what might be relevant and work for your business or personal growth. 

What would you tell yourself or someone who is just starting out in marketing?

Don’t follow just that one strategy. Keep learning and keep testing, again and again. Tactics that failed last campaign might just work this time. You should have this mindset to become a successful marketer.

Stay open for a lot of different opinions and inputs. People have certain experiences that are related to historical outcomes. None of them are always right or wrong. When your peers talk about specific approaches to follow, be aware that these are based on custom experiences. Take note and create your own journey.

Just do it and don’t be afraid to fail. Learn from your failures. 

If the entire world was listening to you, what would you have to say?

Keep things simple. And have patience.

Where can we find you?

About the Author

Bram

Bram Van der Hallen is an all-round Belgian Digital Marketer and Meta Certified Professional with 15+ years experience in media planning and buying.Bram talks about Facebook Ads and all things Digital Marketing on LinkedIn. Click here to Follow Bram on LinkedIn.

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