Keeping marketing simple and achieving great results - Talk Marketing Tuesday 005 - Chuck Kile
Keeping marketing simple and achieving great results – Talk Marketing Tuesday 005 – Chuck Kile
Martin: Good morning Mr Kyle
Chuck: Good morning Martin, how are you?
Martin: I’m doing good yourself?
Martin: I’m really good thank you, thanks for taking the time to speak to me, I understand you’ve seen bits of some of the videos, I don’t know if you know what I’m up to. I’m on this mission with my what the fuck series that I was talking to you about, whenever that was, two years ago. It actually was in production for the first part of this year and then the pandemic came and screwed it all up but I’m on that mission again now.
My take is that I ran a marketing agency for nine years properly and it was torture. I kind of feel a bit like Oliver Stone, I spent my time in the trenches and now I’m not in the trenches anymore it’s my opportunity to tell the world about the horrors that went on with a view to making marketing easier and more accessible to other people.
The reason I wanted to speak to you is because you’re quite different from the people I’ve spoken to before. I started with Ed, Ed was working in agencies in London, marketing agencies in London, in the 70s. I spoke to Jem, Jem was working on the internet before there was a worldwide internet since 1992. I spoke to Jim, Jim’s a business owner who was cheating SEO right at the very beginning and did very well out of it and has learned all those lessons. Then I spoke to Ionut who’s ex-agency now internal marketing department, head of marketing, no he’s not head of marketing, he is the big one, chief marketing officer, that’s what he is.
So I’ve kind of got these different perspectives, your perspective I’m expecting to be different again because I understand that you’ve been in marketing for around five years, you are obviously American, you are in the United States, your customers are in the United States, so I’m interested to get your perspective on this whole marketing thing.
We start by understanding why we should listen to you when it comes to marketing.
How are you qualified to talk about marketing?
Chuck: Sure. So as you said, I’ve been in the marketing world for five years or so, five years ago, give or take, I was actually googling the word marketing. I had an idea of what marketing was but all I knew was that the company I was working for didn’t have any customers and I really wanted to save my dream job here. So I had to figure out how to get customers and so I took some online courses, I built a crummy looking website, I took a course on Google Ads, started running ads and after a few weeks we were getting phone calls. After about two months we had projects back on the books, this was a remodelling company, like construction. Shortly after that time I got the urge to travel and I was like what can I do from my computer and make money? That thought was happening alongside me experiencing being able to create customers kind of out of nowhere with marketing and really turn things around for this business that was doing a million a year before I came and doing three million a year after I came, after I did their marketing.
I decided to leave that company, start my own company, so I could travel. They became my first customer and they’re still a customer today, they are booked up for years, their website brings in customers every week, they don’t have to do advertising anymore.
Since then I’ve worked with dozens of other companies, mostly in the United States but some in Europe and Bali even. I also have my own remodelling company now, so we do marketing for ourselves – we are booked up through 2023, right now we are just letting people get in line because we’ve got so many people coming in.
So I’ve been in the marketing world a while, the results speak for themselves and I rather enjoy it too. I’ve learned a lot about marketing, I’ve tried many different methods and eventually figured out the marketing that works for me. That’s why I’m qualified to talk about marketing.
Martin: Okay, cool. So what’s interesting to me then is that you were working for a business and they didn’t have any customers and you took it upon yourself to remedy that situation. What was your role in that business? What had you been employed to do?
Chuck: At the time it was just me and the owner, he’s a general contractor so he gets projects and then he subcontracts out to a bunch of other contractors. I was brought on as the VP, I was the superintendent on jobs, just helping him do everything.
So I took it upon myself, because I was the only person other person around and he wasn’t going to do it so I just kind of fell into it.
Martin: Okay. That’s that’s really interesting because this is what I imagine, in my mind’s eyes, to be going on. This is why I’m producing all this marketing content, because I think this is what happens. People, if it’s not the business owner, it’ll be somebody who’s employed in the business, will start thinking we really need some customers. It blows my mind that people don’t think that before they start a business. It’s not a surprise to me, because I read, what’s that book? The E-myth 20 years ago and he told us this. The only thing that does surprise me a little bit is that it happens in America because from the UK we think of America as being very pushy, very direct, very motivated, very driven. I would have thought in America they would know this stuff, just because you didn’t know it doesn’t mean nobody knows it, but also your boss was in business and hadn’t actually realised that he should be winning customers.
Chuck: Well I wouldn’t say that he didn’t realise, he just had been procrastinating it for ever because he had enough referrals coming in, he was always busy enough. It wasn’t until the main job we had fell out and we didn’t have any referrals that it became immediately necessary to do marketing, before that it was like an option but at that point it was no longer optional. To further go on your point the E-myth it’s a book about people that move from being a technician and then they decide you I can do this better than my boss, I’m going to become my own boss, they’re they’re coming from an employee’s job. a technicians job and all of a sudden they’re moving into business. They don’t have a business school background, they just think, I can do it better than them, so I’m gonna do it. They don’t have all the training or know what’s going to come business-wise.
Martin: Right, and you think that people learn that in business school?
Chuck: Well I would imagine they do. I never went to business school.
Martin: Well I didn’t go to business school either but I know that I’ve had people who’ve done marketing MBA’s attend my half day marketing strategy workshop and tell me afterwards they learnt more in those three and a half hours than they did in four years at business school, so I’m not entirely convinced of that.
In the e-myth, it’s 20 years since I read it so I’m not going to challenge you at all, but the E stands for entrepreneurial does I, entrepreneur, the entrepreneur, or the entrepreneurial myth so he does frame it like that. It’s people who’ve come from a job into an entrepreneurial situation maybe but I don’t know if it’s very different. I’ve worked with thousands of customers, I’ve spoken to thousands of people about them needing marketing, that’s why they’re talking to me and what you’re saying isn’t very different from what I hear over and over and over again, they don’t understand what marketing is, they don’t know how to do it, and they don’t want to do it. That’s where I am, what is it that’s preventing people from getting on and doing the marketing that’s going to make their business successful. It must be something, you know, it must be something.
I’m just a little bit shocked that this is going on in the States, we’re schooled to believe that the States they’ll eat their mother to be successful in business, but you’re telling me they won’t do marketing, or this one guy wouldn’t do marketing and now you’ve had dozens of customers also who you’ve taken on so what is that about marketing that prevents people from doing it?
Chuck: Well, you know, there’s always going to be people that don’t do marketing. A lot of my customers, when they come on, they’ve been doing some sort of marketing but for one reason or another it’s not working anymore, it’s not working well enough. So that’s, I think the core of it. What you said before, that they don’t really understand what to do and when people don’t understand something they’ll tend to just avoid it. I see that all the time. I just gave a a presentation, a talk, at a virtual conference about a month ago and the people that I talked to afterwards most of them said I finally get it, I’ve been paying this company for x years but after your 40-minute presentation it finally makes sense to me.
Martin: I think they just don’t understand, I think they definitely don’t understand and the crime of that is that marketing is the one thing they should understand. If you’re going to be in business it’s about finding, winning and keeping customers profitably, that’s the whole gig. Like you say, if you’re a general contractor and your job is to win the work and then sub it out to people, then you are essentially a sales operation. How can you not know about marketing it it just blows my mind, it absolutely does blow my mind.
How do you feel about marketing?
So, how do you feel about marketing?
Chuck: I feel like it’s a necessary part of business it’s half the equation as far as getting customers goes so it’s super important. I have fun with marketing. My team and I, we really geek out on this marketing stuff and we enjoy pushing the frontier of what we do. It’s funny, the better we get at marketing. the more simple our approaches are. We really focus on the basics, on the fundamentals of marketing: you know websites, getting found on search engines, and after that doing advertising. Keeping everything super simple. It’s all about adding value to the customer every step of the way so when they find us online we want their experience with our company to be as seamless, and easy, and fluid as possible. If you can start the relationship that way, the rest of the process is just so much easier.
Does that answer your question?
Martin: It answers my question, it really does answer my question.
What I’m thinking is that historically if you wanted to do marketing it was cold calling, or it was knocking on doors, marketing was a horrible thing to do, but now it’s not. You can sit at your laptop anywhere in the world and you can do marketing, effectively do marketing, and have some success. You don’t have to go bowling into anyone’s life, a lot of it, like you say, is about positioning yourself on websites and on search engines.
Also, what you’re saying that makes sense to me is that it’s about keeping marketing simple because I think there’s two major challenges. I think one major challenge is that the industry, the marketing industry, doesn’t make it easy for people and it buries all this stuff in a ton of jargon, that’s why I’m doing this what the marketing series, to bust through, to cut through that marketing jargon. The second thing is that the major providers, the Facebooks, and the Twitters, and the Googles are also working to complicate this thing, to make it more difficult.
When I teach marketing, or digital marketing, I teach the fundamentals because those big providers are changing things every 20 minutes which makes it more complicated. When I was speaking to Jim he was saying that he had set up all his re-marketing and hadn’t looked at it for years because he doesn’t know how it works anymore. He got his head around it once and he can’t get his head around it again to go in and change things, reallocate the funds, make it more targeted, or make it more effective.
So it seems to me that there are two, those are the two big barriers and I think that’s marketing’s fault. That’s why I’m kind of on a mission to address at least one of those issues. I can’t tell you how how Google is going to change in two weeks time or how Facebook are going to change their UI or or any of those things. It seems to me those are the two big issues.
Chuck: Yeah. I’ve been using Google Ads for five years now, and I’ve been using Facebook Ads for almost as long. Those companies, it seems to me, they’re moving towards wanting to control the entire thing, they don’t want you to do your own marketing, they want you to sign up, put your credit card in and then let them do your marketing for you.
It’s the same with so many marketing companies I deal with, and marketing freelancers, it’s like they think that their knowledge, or their method, is their secret sauce and they don’t want anyone to know. They want their clients to keep paying them forever to do the marketing and it’s like the scarcity mindset thing of never wanting to be exposed for not knowing what you’re doing, that’s really common in the marketing industry, not letting your client know exactly what you’re doing so that they’ll never do marketing for themselves.
That’s what it seems like to me and so we take the opposite approach. We want to make it as simple and accessible as possible, we want our clients to understand marketing well enough to do it on their own, but see the value in letting us do it because they can make more money that way. I think you these companies, they want to lock people in, especially Google and Facebook, they want their algorithms to be the marketers.
Martin: Yes, yes. So what I tell people when I teach them digital marketing is that Google wants your money, it is absolutely true, and Facebook wants your money and you know that is absolutely true. I was transcribing the conversation I had with Jim today and he was saying how it’s not economically viable any more, he’s in the print business and it would cost you 12 pound for a click in his industry and that sale will probably be worth 15 pounds. So if you’re converting at 10 percent then each one of those sales is going to cost you 120 pounds and the sale is going to be worth 15 pounds, so it just isn’t economically viable for anyone other than than the very biggest companies who are looking to put people out of business. That interests me.
The other thing I want to mention is omni-marketing, are you familiar with this? This is something that only came up for me like three or four months ago.
Chuck: I’ve heard people using the term but I don’t know if I’m thinking the same thing you are?
Martin: Omni just means all, so basically if you engage them, with your marketing company, they want to do it all. That’s fine, that you probably need to do it all, you need to test it all maybe, if you want to be thorough but there’s nothing in marketing that says you have to do every single method of marketing that is available. Do you know what I mean?
I think that goes to what you’re saying, they just want more of your money.
The other thing about what you were saying is that they don’t want to get found out but the thing is that they do get found out. On average the the life span of a digital marketing customer in London is three months, so they get found out really quickly. I don’t understand how this situation is helping anyone, especially this marketing jargon situation.
How do you go about delivering marketing success for your customers?
So tell me, what is it that you do for your customers? You’re keeping it to the basics?
Chuck: We have what’s pretty close to a productised service, we call it the foundational marketing system for general contractors. It’s a simple website, Google analytics, Microsoft clarity, all the analytics, as much SEO as we can do during the initial build, and that’s pretty much it.
I’ve been doing this long enough and I’ve started enough companies online that it’s basically what I would do if I was starting a business or if I had a business. It’s the foundational setup that I would do, no matter what else I was gonna do. If I was gonna do advertising, Facebook, whatever, if you have a solid website that can be found online you will get customers over time and then if that’s not enough then you can do more. We always start there. Besides that we offer, not omnI services, but we do offer a lot, everything that I just mentioned, we’ll do email marketing, we even help people get print ads made and that kind of stuff for our customers.
We focus heavily on contractors so we do a lot of things for them but because we stick to that industry we know what’s efficient and effective.
Martin: That’s the other thing that I wanted to ask you, because traditionally building contractors aren’t the most famous for investing in their marketing; what I’m interested to know is, clearly every business gets to a point where the penny drops and they realise marketing is something they need to invest in, but building contractors wouldn’t be at the top of my list of companies that do that. I’m interested to know how you go about winning your customers.
Chuck: So it is hard in this industry, I talk to a lot of people before I find one that wants to be a customer that’s why I’m kind of moving towards education as a part of the business too. There’s tens of thousands, or maybe even more, hundreds of thousands of contractors in the United States and a lot of them are man and wife partnerships and they don’t have big marketing budgets so they need to do it themselves. What happens is companies like Home Advisor Angel’s list call them every single day, promise them the world, say we’ll give you all the leads you could ever want, just give us your credit card number. So they end up believing that it’s that simple, just pay somebody, this is how marketing works, I just buy leads from this website and then that takes care of my marketing. Over time it doesn’t take long for them to figure out that that’s not going to work, at that point I’ve got content out there about this situation, they go online to research what’s going on and they find me. They find my website, I tell them what’s going on and and then we talk and sometimes they want to become a customer. Most of the time they’re just trying to understand what’s going on. So I get some customers that way. I also focus on other industries that have contracting businesses like the groundwater industry for example, and it’s just the same deal, it’s local service businesses, a lot of them are in rural areas so having a good website and being found on Google maps is all you need to get all the customers you want.
I try to focus on the businesses that are like that. I’m not going for contractors in Los Angeles where there’s 10,000 of them and 20 of them have spent 100 grand on marketing in the last decade. I go for the more rural areas that just, if you have a fundamental setup and a website that could be read on a mobile phone then you’ll get customers. That’s my clientele.
Martin: Okay, so how many businesses are you working with at any one time?
Chuck: 15 to 20.
Martin: Okay, so that’s a significant number. And you have a team, how many of you are there in your team?
Chuck: There’s three of us, soon to be four.
Martin: Okay. It sounds to me, it sounds eminently sensible. It sounds like you are niching, you found a spot and it’s not actually terribly difficult to market to these businesses, they’re used at least to the idea of spending money on marketing. You’ve always struck me as very sensible.
Chuck: Yeah, yeah. Why why go after the the tough clients when you can just go after the easy ones.
Martin: Yes that makes absolute sense. Is there much competition for you in your market?
Chuck: Yeah, but they’re not as sophisticated as us. Like I said earlier, the marketing industry is plagued with people that are trying not to get found out and that are trying not to get away give away their secret sauce and it’s paradoxical, that works against them. We look at what everyone else is doing and then we just go the other way and so far it’s working pretty well for us.
Martin: Okay cool. I think that makes a lot of sense, that is my experience. I invoiced a thousand different businesses in the nine years that I was running effective marketing company as an agency and you just hear the same story over and over and over again. By the time you’re actually pitching people you are speaking to people who invest in marketing and it’s the same story; we had an agency, they were a joke, we don’t know what they’ve done, they haven’t achieved anything that we were looking to achieve and and now they’re gone and it just makes it harder and harder and harder because people become more and more resistant to the ideas. Your 40 minute presentation convinces people? What are you telling them in that 40 minute presentation?
Chuck: I’m literally just showing them my marketing setup for my remodelling company, showing showing people how it works. I act like I’m somebody searching on Google for something and I go through the process of looking through my website, what am I looking for, filling out the contact form, going to the calendar page, picking a time on the calendar that works for me for the meeting and showing them that this whole marketing thing can actually be really simple and reframing it a little bit so they realise it’s not about them getting customers, it’s about them giving their customers a better experience dealing with their business. I start to get them thinking about their customers and serving them better through their marketing as well as all of the other aspects of their business and that seems to connect, seems to click with people a lot better than trying to pitch them on some kind of marketing.
Chuck: I just show them, show them what we.
Martin: Yes. So you’re just positioning them like that, all you typically have to do is build them a well optimised website, locate them on Google maps, plug them into the analytics and that’s enough?
Chuck: Yeah. That’s the foundational setup. We do ongoing SEO which is about improving upon that, but for a lot of customers that is enough.
Martin: I’m not surprised about that either, but what surprises me, oh it doesn’t surprise me. What interests me is that businesses in construction, you could say this is not the most technologically, IT technologically advanced industry, and I don’t know if I’ve beaten up the marketing industry too much, but people invest in a website and it’s not got optimised, it’s not locating them in front of their customers. They spend on a website and it’s junk, it never gets found, they believe they’ve done that what they’re supposed to do in terms of having a website and so they just go on struggling I suppose, I don’t know.
Chuck: Yeah, yeah. I’m in the process of making a deal with a new customer who just spent two thousand dollars on a website earlier in 2020 and I’m telling them, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to do the foundational marketing system like I’ve already explained to you and we’re just going to start with a fresh website, we’re not going to use the one you have. They’re take it like oh man, we wasted all this money on this website and I try to explain to them, it’s not like you wasted this money, that was a step in the right direction because we’re gonna use the same domain, we’re gonna use the same colours, the same logo, some of the same text content, but we’re gonna make the website five times bigger and we’re going to build it with the tools we use because it’ll be 10 times as efficient to do it that way, rather than try to use what somebody else started the project with. I think that there’s a disconnect with, not only business owners, but web designers. Businesses need a website that’s common sense these days, it’s like a business card, we need a website, we need to find a web designer, the web designer is like yeah just give me your money, give me whatever you want me to put on the website and I’ll put it together for you, it’ll be great. People think that that’s doing marketing but the web designers just builds websites, they’re not concerned about the real goal which is getting more customers. They’re not doing everything they need to do to actually have a website that gets customers and that’s that’s why we do things the way we do. We don’t believe any of our clients actually want a website, they want what the website’s going to give them which is more customers, a better reputation, a professional appearance. There’s some disconnect, even in the marketing industry, if you consider web designers marketing just let that sit for a little while.
Martin: That’s the truth, I’ve said to people for years. Okay I need a website so I’m either going to get a web designer or I’m gonna get a coder. The issue with the web designer is that they want something that looks pretty in their portfolio, the issue with the web builder or the coder is that they want something with all the bells and whistles. In reality you don’t need either of those things, both of those things are available now off the shelf if you buy a halfway decent theme, WordPress theme, it’s going to look beautiful and it’s going to have all the functionality that you could possibly need. What you really need is a marketer who will market that website, that that’s what you need. You’re saying that people don’t want a website they want customers, I don’t know if they’re even thinking that far ahead, I think they’re thinking we’re a business, we should have a website.
Chuck: Well some some of them certainly are but why why do they need a website?
Martin: They don’t even think that, that’s what I’m saying to you. I don’t think they think why do I need a website they’re like I’m in business now I should have a website. Maybe very rarely you have someone that it definitely clicks with, maybe subconsciously. but I’m with you, I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be thinking that a website should be bringing them customers but I don’t think they do.
Chuck: I don’t think that, you don’t think they do?
Chuck: You think they don’t think I don’t need a website, I need customers?
Martin: So you think they go to a web designer looking for a mechanism to to win customers and then the web designer sends them away with something that’s not going to do that for them.
Chuck: Well, halfway. I think they know they need customers but they don’t understand what it is about the website that’s going to bring customers, if they did then they would be able to just tell the web designer this is what goes on the website; that’s the case where a web designer would be perfect. If someone at the company knows the marketing they just need the website built. But like you’re saying, web designers should be producing something that will win them customers, but they’re not, that is the web design industry’s fault.
Martin: And it’s the customers fault because they don’t put those businesses out of business by saying look this is absolute junk, we’re not going to pay you, and telling all their friends so they go out of business. These web design companies have been sustained in business for the last 30 years. It kind of goes to my point, I think people start businesses and they don’t know what a business is; a business is a mechanism to create money, to create yourself an income, and preferably something that goes beyond an income, it should be something that sustains you for your life. The only point of running a business is that you have something of value that someone will write a big fat cheque for at some point in the future. Or else you might as well take a job, and the holidays, and the benefits and the whatever it is that comes along with that job, because being in business is difficult It’s doubly difficult because people don’t know, exactly like he says in the E-myth, I’m great I’m making doughnuts, I’m going into the donut business, well that’s great, you’d do better in the donut business if you made terrible donuts but knew how to sell them to people. you. The selling, the marketing and the selling, is the key aspect of being in business. That is what being in business is and it doesn’t even occur to people that that that’s the case.
Chuck: I think you’re, I think you’re right. Business means something different to everybody, I can’t speak to the way it is all over the world but especially in America it is super easy to start a business; all you need is a customer, and for them to give you money for something and boom, you’re in business. People get into it, and I can just talk from my own experience, my frame of mind and that has changed 10 times in the last five years. Reading the E-myth about a year ago was a huge mind shift for me. I’ve always, ever since I got into business, I’ve always looked at it from the perspective; I don’t want to build websites, I want to build a business that builds websites. If I get sick and I’m in the hospital for a month, I want my business to keep operating the same as if I were there, that’s always been the goal.
But that’s not the goal for most small business owners they’re just thinking how can I get to three three months from now, how do I get all my people paid and then still make some money next month, that’s where they’re at. So I would I would agree with you that a lot of people would be better off just working a job.
Martin: They would absolutely be better off. I think most people who start a business, like you say, these people that E-myth was talking about were ex-technicians but I think a lot of people start a business simply because they don’t want to have a boss anymore.
I was the worst at that. When I was an employee, if my money wasn’t in my bank account on the day it was supposed to be there would be an absolute riot. What I soon realised, when I started my business with no money, no money, is that actually all a boss does is work every day, and stress every day, to make sure that the money is there at the end of every month. When you start working for yourself you have a completely, 180 degree, different perspective which could not be more different and people get into that situation just because they didn’t want to have a boss. The whole thing doesn’t make sense, we’re building a picture here of people who don’t have a clue of starting businesses and they don’t get to have a clue, the marketing industry disguises what do they do, they they pass off marketing products and services which should be good for their business, which aren’t. It’s all buried in tons and tons of marketing jargon and at the very top of the pyramid, the huge corporations, Facebook, Google etc are also not making it any easier for people to be in business; why on earth would anyone go into business?
Chuck: Yeah. I often think that the rules and regulations and the way Google works make it just easy enough that people will keep doing it, but if they make it much harder nobody’s gonna run a business anymore.
Martin: Absolutely and with what’s going on now globally, with the economy, with tens of thousands of small businesses going out of business, yeah, it’s interesting.
And to counter that, here you are trebling a company’s turnover in five years, from a million dollars to three million dollars, by doing the most simple stuff.
I’ve had experience of doing exactly that. In the two years since I’ve seen you I took a small business and we tripled their income in two years and we didn’t do anything clever. We just made sure that there was content going on the website, we also rebuilt their website so it was easier to optimise, we made sure there was content going on, we made sure that we were touching their audiences on social media etc, we did some PPC, couldn’t get any value out of it, so really we were only doing the basics.
But you and I can’t be heard because we’re drowned in this whole ocean of bullshit. Like you say, people want to believe it’s as simple as buying an ad, but you must see, like I see, on YouTube pre-roll ads where they’re saying here’s the secret to marketing. There is no secret to marketing; do the work, do the marketing, that’s the secret, it pains me.
Chuck: That’s why we do things like this, to get the word out, because all we have to do is get the word out and we’ll get more customers, because the message is easy to understand. When you hear it, it sounds true because typically simple things are better. When I get the word out I just try to focus on what we’re doing and showing people the results and that seems to be enough.
Martin: Well why wouldn’t that be enough? If you can say, black and white, this is what we’re achieving for people in your industry, or in similar industries, it is this simple, it is this cost effective? Why wouldn’t that be enough?
I’m not looking for customers so I’m not crying about the fact that people don’t want to work with me, lord knows I’ve done enough of that. I’m on a different mission, my mission now is to blow this hypocrisy to bits, so that hopefully people can be more successful.
I still think that the most the best person to be doing a small businesses marketing is that small business owner; he knows his values, he knows his market, he knows what he wants to do, what he doesn’t want to do, he knows what he’s got to invest. With some direction I still think that person is the very best person to do their marketing. It really isn’t any more difficult than doing a good job and letting people know that you do a good job, it doesn’t have to go beyond case studies and testimonials to demonstrate, we work with people like you, this is what we achieve for them and this is what they think about it. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.
I think I was expecting to hear something different from you coming from the United States, I was expecting you to tell me we kick the doors in and we get the customers and everyone does that but that’s not the case?
Chuck: No it’s not. My perspective is definitely my style, my style is not outbound sales, I hate cold calling, I’m not a huge fan of advertising, though I do it sometimes but I prefer when people are coming to me based on what they know about me already.
Martin: Yeah, because then the conversation it’s just an easier conversation, I’m not here to convince anybody of anything, I’m here to work with the people that already understand the value of what I do. My marketing is about helping people understand that marketing can help them to achieve the success they deserve and I would agree with that 100%
I don’t know if you know much about my career, there’s no reason why you should, nobody knows about my career but I started in telemarketing in media houses in London and we were on the phone all day trying to sell people advertising. I did that for the best part of 10 years. I was a salesman in companies that were investing nothing in their marketing so I had to go out and do my own lead generation. I started The Effective Marketing Company and I realised that all the time I was out looking for customers people might have been looking for me. It took me a long time to to realise that, even though I’d started doing that for my customers already, positioning them where people were looking. You’re absolutely right, if somebody comes to have a conversation with you saying can you help me, that’s a much easier conversation to have than when you phone them and say you don’t know me but you know I could give you a great thing. If I needed a great thing I’d be looking for it already, that is 100% true, that is 100% true.
What is your recommendation for businesses that are looking to improve their marketing?
What is your recommendation then, not necessarily for someone who would want to be a customer of yours but somebody who’s looking to address their marketing challenges what is your recommendation for those people?
Chuck: For a business owner, unless you are running an operation where you are specifically hiring out every position in the business, if you’re a business owner that handles multiple positions in your business then I 100% agree with you; the best person to do their marketing is them, at least on a fundamental level. They need to understand what place their marketing has in their customers experience and make sure that every single interaction that their customer has with their company is the best experience they could possibly manage. That includes marketing and then, at that point, you can kind of just work it out yourself, what marketing you need to do or what the best path is. If you don’t have a fundamental understanding of what’s going on or what you need then you can’t even really hire somebody to do your marketing because you don’t know what kind of job they’re supposed to be doing, unless you can directly measure the monetary results from those marketing campaigns. Kind of a complicated answer and it depends on what the business is but I lean towards the owner or manager at least having a basic understanding of marketing in their company.
Martin: Okay and where would they go to get that basic understanding of marketing, is there somewhere you would recommend?
Chuck: I would say spend some time reading blogs, or YouTube or whatever, get an idea of the jargon, the language, what people are talking about, as soon as you can start to understand what you’re seeing go look at other companies like yours. Just look at them, pretend you’re the customer, go to their website, look through their marketing, figure out what marketing they’re doing, why they are doing it. They’re not doing this stuff by accident, why are they doing this stuff? Start to dissect what other companies, the most successful companies in your industry are doing. Go look and see what they’re doing because if you can figure out what they’re doing then you can figure out what all your other competition is doing and make sure that you’re doing it better.
That’s what marketing is, looking at the competition, seeing what they’re doing and making sure that you are doing it better.
Martin: Yes. 100%. Okay, so how’s the mood there in America? In the UK they’ve just gone back into lockdown. I heard that forty thousand four hundred thousand or forty thousand people have been made unemployed in America?
Chuck: Our weekly new unemployment claims have been nearly a million a week of new people filing for unemployment, so unemployment’s extremely high and I think it’s going to get a lot worse.
I target niches where some companies are 200 years old so they’ve been around forever so there aren’t really great up times for them but they’re hopefully not really big down times. It’s kind of business as usual for a lot of my customers but yeah, there’s no telling what will happen if they do another nationwide lockdown so many businesses are gonna close permanently.
Martin: Yeah and as a marketer how do you continue to function?
Chuck: I’m trying to not get too bogged down with the negative and just think of it like this, there’s going to be tons of people that need help and there’s not enough people to help everybody. I’m expecting most businesses to just barely be making it and they’re definitely not going to have a marketing budget so they’re going to need to learn how to do their own marketing so a whole segment of my time now is going towards creating educational content for business owners in my niches to handle it themselves. To understand it so that they can keep their business going when, if, it gets really bad. That’s my approach.
Martin: They reckon that there’s more millionaires created in a recession than any other time in the economic cycle and I think that’s true. In 2008, after the last big crash I did a talk and it was about how small businesses handle recession. What I was telling people at that time is that their competition will be going out of business and their competitions customers will be looking for new suppliers. There was this whole thing at the time, I don’t know if you had it in the States but we had it here, it was a keep calm and carry on message which is something that they put out during the second world war, if the Nazis invade we were advised to keep calm and carry on. This message had a resurgence in 2008 and I was telling people you know the message that we’re putting out, The Effective Marketing Company is not keep calm and carry on but get excited and kick arse. Actually, now is the time, I did this whole thing, the British economy is like the teacups at the fairground. I’d spent some time living in South Africa where the economy is like roller coaster, there’s huge swings, there’s huge changes, but there’s opportunity in change. That’s what I was telling people at that time but when it got to March last year and everything shut down I didn’t have a clue man. Nobody wanted to be receiving a sales call, I didn’t want to be, I’ve made sales calls for years but how do you keep selling when people are dying?
Do you know what I mean?
It was almost as serious as that, whereas now, it seems to be getting serious again but obviously people have different opinions about what’s going. It seems to me like this is such an effective way of closing businesses altogether, if people can’t get to the stores to buy things, if people can’t get out to eat in restaurants, if people can’t go to cinemas or theatres. So I don’t know I, I mean, I honestly don’t know.
Clearly, if you want to stay in business you need to be investing in your marketing and clearly lots of businesses are going to go out of business and their customers are going to be looking for suppliers. The message needs to be drive your marketing, get smart, cut out the waste in your marketing, make sure it’s as effective as it possibly can be and drive it as hard as you possibly can.I think, in the way that I’m framing this question, I don’t feel like 100% believe it, you know?
Chuck: Yeah, well I think you’re a thousand percent right in that for every event like this there’s huge opportunity, there’s probably more millionaires made in a recession because there’s 10 times as many that are lost. Business owners, I only have two employees, but I’ve already made it very clear to my employees and to myself that we’re in a little boat and the goal is to get through the storm with everybody still in the boat.
I’m seeing it already though, there’s businesses pulling back their resources and there’s businesses that are going all in and the ones that are going all in are just scooping up market share. I think every business owner has to make a choice, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna haul in and try to wait it out or are you going to double down and go for it? There’s really no room for middle ground, if you don’t push hard you’re probably not going to make, so yes, decide what you’re going to do and then go 100% That’s what I think.
There’s three three situations; the people who are going to bail immediately. We were furloughing people here and immediately the opportunity came up then businesses were like yeah, staff stay at home, you know what, we’ll just wait it out and see what happens. I don’t know how much you know about that but staff were accruing holiday pay and people were clearly not going to be very excited about going back to work if they hadn’t been to work for three months. There were all sorts of issues with that so taking that position was effectively saying “we’ll go out of business.” Then there’s the middle ground, where they’ll batten down the hatches and try and wait it out and then there’s a small percentage who will drive really hard and they will pick up market share, they will pick up customers, because they’re the only players in the game.
I’m not properly in business, I’m not employing anyone full-time, I’m putting together this content and stuff and I’m lucky enough to be in that situation. What I have been saying to people is that this is one of two things; it’s either the biggest opportunity that’s going to happen in your business life or it’s the biggest excuse that’s going to come along in your business life. You can take one of those two options, you can either realise the opportunity or you can just bail. It seems to me that everyone’s there so the only question is how much market is going to be left? You’re saying that people are scooping up market share but what’s that market going to be worth at the end of this?
Chuck: It’s certainly a good question. For me, personally in my company, we’re staying super lean and ready to pivot in any direction. There’s entire industries that are being wiped out now, like movie theatres, I don’t see those coming back unless the virus goes away completely. Restaurants have just been demolished. I’m lucky enough that construction doesn’t stop 100 percent, a lot of the market could go away 60 or 70% of the businesses could close, there’s still 30% left and so I aim to be their marketer. But I’m ready to do anything. As an entrepreneur I know that people are going to need help with things forever and just because the entire economy changes doesn’t mean that people need less help. Maybe, in a year we’ll be selling food or helping people produce food, who knows?
We’ll find a way to be valuable and I think that’s just kind of the mentality that entrepreneurs need to have right now, especially if you’re in a business that’s getting hit; it’s how can I adapt? Whatever I’m doing to help people with what they need today.
Martin: Yes, and this is what I think a marketer is. A marketer is someone who finds those opportunities to support people in ways that they’d be happy to pay for and that’s all a marketer is. If you can’t adapt, maybe you shouldn’t be in marketing.
You might enjoy Jim’s interview that I did because his response to this situation was just the best that I saw. He was out immediately saying we’re here and if you want to talk to us, he set up an all day Zoom meeting that people could drop in and out of. Because he was engaging he saw the next opportunity, he is in print so he’s always sold to restauranteurs, the restaurants were in trouble because the restaurants were closed so they had to pivot to takeaways. They didn’t have the technology, they didn’t have the experience, they weren’t able to do that so he supported them through it. That took his business to the next place and there’s something about having to be in the market to understand what’s going on, to see, and realise those new opportunities. I think that’s all a marketer really is, it doesn’t matter what you’re marketing.
In exactly the same way that you found your niche in construction there will be other industries you will find that will be as accessible, and probably more accessible, and as easy to deliver value for. I think that’s what a marketer is for me. The UK is in full lock down again now and people are being furloughed again now. People are being paid not to go to work it’s just crazy times and the 2008 me would be saying fuck it, do it now, now’s the one time you make your millions. I’m not so convinced that making millions is a really worthwhile thing to be doing and it just seems, I don’t know, it seems crazy. Like you I’ve realised that people will need some help with their marketing, I’m also on a mission to produce all of this content hopefully people will find it and use it and understand what we’re saying now which is if you are investing in marketing, what you’re investing in is your ability to understand the market and adapt to the needs of the market that’s what marketing.
Chuck: I think yeah, that’s that’s a really good point because I have many different types of clients but for the majority of them they are happy to let me do my thing, they trust me, they’ve seen the results and especially after a few months they see more calls coming in they’re like cool this guy’s got it, I can let it go. We don’t just leave it at that, we’re in there, we’re looking at what’s going on, we’re looking for new ways to help them capitalise on their market. If people are searching for this particular service and you’re showing up for it can we expand on that?
Martin: Yes and that’s where the real value is.
Chuck: I contrast it to other customers I have that think they know everything, they think I’m just the web designer and that they want to control all of their marketing which is cool. Sometimes that’s not the best way, or at least they should be open to to my input, but again, it’s up to them.
Martin: You might also enjoy the interview I did with Ed because we discussed this at length. The customers that that had no clue when they called you in and by the time you go back for your second meeting know absolutely everything about marketing and it absolutely has to be the way that they want it to be. For me that is anti-marketing, marketing is not what you want at all, 100% it’s providing the market with what the market needs and wants and is prepared to pay for. That’s the whole story, this ego driven marketing never works, it never works. Just be the thing that people want to buy, that’s the whole story.
The other end of the scale are these business owners who don’t understand in the first instance that they’re in business to find win and keep customers profitably and they don’t understand that marketing isn’t just about them doing what it is that they want to do, it actually has a function to it.
I’m kind of interested that things don’t seem to be so very different there in the states than they are in the UK. I thought, because in marketing terms you think about British marketing it’s very often very classy, very understated like you think about Jaguar the brand, before the Germans bought them, you think about Rolls-Royce the brand before the germans bought them. Thats stereotypically, the way the British would be perceived in terms of their marketing whereas if we think about the States and their marketing we think it’s go out and grab them and grab their money. It doesn’t seem to be that different.
Chuck: You know the internet has been like the great equaliser for the world, it’s made the whole world a lot more homogeneous in their behaviour. When you’re searching online for stuff most things don’t matter anymore, if you can go read a thousand reviews people just disregard everything and look straight at the reviews for most things they purchase online.
It’s changed the way we market, we can no longer make stuff up and have great copywriting and have people get interested, we have to be super straight with them so when they read the reviews they they gel they line up. I read a book about this, but I can’t remember what it is because it’s all about it’s all about the review revolution. The fact that there’s reviews online now, people trust reviews more than they trust the opinion of their own mother and think about it if your mum said hey I just tried this new restaurant out and it’s awesome you have to go there, and then you went online and you saw a couple reviews that said oh undercooked chicken, oh I got really sick, who are you gonna trust?
Martin: Well I don’t know if I trust the reviews because I know that there are marketing agencies out there who specialise in writing shitty reviews for their competitors businesses. So who to trust, indeed, in 2021 who on earth do we trust. We trust the random reviewers from Bangladesh?
Chuck: Yeah, it’s insane man, it is insane man.
Martin: I think we got to the end, do you feel like we got to the end? Is there anything else that you wanted to say?
It’s been really interesting and I tell you what I was thinking today is that you’re the sort, you’re not quite, but you’re almost the person that used to piss me off the most when I was running my agency. What would happen is I was employing people, I was building reputation, I was marketing, I was doing the whole thing and then someone would pop up and just decide that they’re a marketer out of nowhere. Then this is new competition, they’ve got no cost, they’ve got no idea of what the market needs, or what they can charge, or what the market is charging so they come in and they’re a tenth the price you are. It was really annoying and I thought you might be one of those but I think you’re probably a bit different from that. Those people are normally, what are those people? They’re normally low-class marketing managers for a screws company or something and then they get made redundant and then they become a marketing consultant.
Your story is a little bit better than that, but on the flip side of that I was also thinking today that there’s no reason why those people can’t be successful.
I was closer to marketing, I was in sales. When I started my marketing company my rationale was I’d always had all of the target and none of the budget while the marketing people seem to have all of the budget and none of the target. That was why I started a marketing company but I wasn’t very different from that and I think it’s kind of anti my message to be anti those people because I really think that anyone can be effective with their marketing if they just take some time to understand it. If they can dig through the BS to get to people like you and I who are just achieving things for people in the simplest ways. I still think that marketing success is very achievable, very achievable, in most markets.
So I’m sorry I was having bad thoughts about you today man, but I’m not anymore.
Chuck: Hey man, you know I was one of those people once upon a time, brand new in the industry, didn’t know what I was doing, but I was selling websites and taking some of the market, a microscopic part. I think the internet has also made like things like this easier, anything you can learn, you can learn on a computer, it’s become super accessible. A lot of people these days get an ad on Facebook, learn how to build websites and become your own boss type of thing.
Chuck: So tons of people are doing that. I guess there is one more thing I want to say and it’s it’s another thing that plagues the marketing industry but it really plagues humanity right now and that is monkey see monkey do. People see it on a blog, they see it on a course, they see it on YouTube, they see the same methods of doing things and then they just go out and they do them. But they have no idea what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and so my message to everybody, marketers, business owners, everybody – is think for yourself. Turn off the courses, the blogs, just sit down with a piece of paper and and say okay why is this company that I’m looking successful? What what are they doing for marketing? How can I serve my customers better? How can I get notice more? And just try to find your own answers because I spent years taking courses, blogs, I’ve probably spent 20 grand on courses in the last five years but it wasn’t until I turned all this stuff off, stopped reading books, stopped doing everything, and started to just look for my own ways to do things that my results took off.
I started doing things different than the herd and immediately saw a lot better results. Marketing is like the stock market, if you do the same thing everyone else is doing you’re not going to make any money. You have to do something different in order to stand out, that’s that’s how you get noticed. So that’s my message, think for yourself and ask yourself why you’re doing everything you’re doing and if you can’t find a good reason then stop doing it.
Martin: That to me sounds like brilliant advice.
Chuck: I think just looking for yourself, do you know what I mean? It’s like politics has become so polarised, either you’re in one camp or you’re in the other camp. Business is so polarised and everything is so spoon fed. It’s like this is what you’re supposed to think, this is what you’re supposed to do, this is how you’re supposed to be.
I think you’re absolutely right it’s. It’s not very different from my message or what I tell people in marketing; just understand your market and understand your customers and be the thing that they want to buy, it’s really no more difficult than. All of these secret steps, secret sources, quick wins, all of this stuff is not terribly difficult, it’s not terribly complicated, just, know your market, be the thing they want to buy and like you’re saying give them the best experience.
It’s similar to what I say when I teach people about pay-per-click advertising for example, it should be like falling through a trapdoor, or slipping on ice, there should be no resistance, no friction, the easiest thing they can do, the best thing they can do, is just buy from you.
I think that’s really good advice. No-one can tell you about your market, no-one can know your market better than you know your market if you know how to look at it and how to come up with actionable insights, that’s what marketing is, that’s absolutely what marketing is.
Martin: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this. People don’t know that we’re on a 16-hour time difference, they don’t know that I’ve waited up until the middle of the night and you’ve got up at sparrows fart to have this conversation.
Chuck: Yeah, well I appreciate you having me on and I enjoyed being here.
I did want to just comment, you were just saying everybody’s so split, so polarised right now and I would just ask anybody watching this have you ever heard of the phrase divide and conquer? If we stay divided we’re gonna get conquered, so let’s look past this, we have more in common than we have not in common.
Martin: Absolutely, I believe that and I think that’s something that your country really needs to be thinking about right now, but this is getting a bit political we’re gonna have to come up with another channel to have this conversation on. I am dying to have this conversation with you also.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this chat, thanks so much man.
Chuck: Yeah, thank you Martin.
Martin: Okay, best of luck buddy and maybe we’ll have a conversation about politics sometime in the near future.
Chuck: Alright, let’s do it.
Martin has built a reputation for having a no nonsense approach to sales and marketing and for motivating audiences with his wit, energy, enthusiasm and his own brand of audience participation.
Martin’s original content is based on his experience of running effective marketing initiatives for his customers and the feedback from Effective Marketing’s successful and popular marketing workshops.
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