Live and breathe your brand, it's fun, you get the right customers - Talk Marketing Tuesday 006 - Tim Fifield
Live and breathe your brand, it’s fun, you get the right customers – Talk Marketing Tuesday 006 – Tim Fifield
Good afternoon Mr Fifield.
Good afternoon Mr Henley.
How are you? You are looking extraordinarily well.
Tim: Yeah I feel strong, I feel vital, I feel energetic.
Martin: Excellent, let’s hope I can cope with all of that this afternoon.
Thank you so much for for agreeing to spend some time with me this afternoon. I know this is going to be an interesting conversation because every conversation I’ve ever had with you has been really interesting. I don’t know too much about you I’ve always known you as the most enthusiastic, most excited, most committed person networking around Sussex. I know that you do marketing, I’ve known you for 15 years, I don’t actually know what kind of marketing it is that you do. What I’m interested to do is find out more about you this afternoon, how you’re feeling about marketing and what recommendations you might make to people in this weird, awful situation that we find ourselves in currently.
Is that cool?
Tim: That’s absolutely superb.
Martin: Okay is there anything that you’d like to tell the very few people who will ever see this?
Tim: Well to your other friend I would like to say that essentially I show up in the world in three distinct ways. I am a Business Development Director for a company called Britweb who are a full-service digital agency based in Sussex, so that’s one tick. The other tick is I am highly theatrical, I write plays, direct and occasionally I appear in plays. I’m also the Training Director for a networking organization which is global but my particular area is Sussex so three distinct ways that I show up in the world.
Martin: Fantastic, I’d forgotten all about your comedy and all about your acting, I miss that man. I forgot all about your theatrics, actually I didn’t forget all about your theatrics at all.
That kind of brings me to my first question, which I always ask which is how are you qualified to talk to us about marketing? What is your marketing experience? That’s the question, how are you qualified to talk to us about marketing.
Tim: Great question. Essentially my background in marketing goes back probably to 1997 when I started my first web design business. At the time it was all about technology and it certainly wasn’t about business opportunity, it was just about getting stuff online. Over that time, obviously, we’ve had huge amounts of change in the digital space and I’ve gone along with that. Now I’m helping advising businesses from startup through to corporate global corporate brands, people like Electra who manufacture MRI scanners and CT scanners. etc. Advising them on the best way to take advantage of the web, to deepen and widen their digital footprint.
Martin: Okay fantastic. So have you always been entrepreneurial in this? The first thing you did was set up a web design agency is that how it happened?
What actually happened was, curiously, I was doing something that I had absolutely no knowledge of which was importing electronic components and selling them to the likes of Matra, Marconi, GC Ferranti, Himes, etc with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever.
I inherited the business, or rather hooked into a family business and that was in 1991, so I have been self-employed now since 1991, responsible for paying my own mortgage and doing my own thing.
Actually, that was a brilliant way of making money, I made more money in the first year of doing that than I have ever made. The challenge was that I realised that at some point that market would be threatened, we were importing components for a dollar and selling them for a pound. We were one of two suppliers in the United Kingdom. I knew instinctively that at some point that market would be challenged by the Far East, especially in terms of military qualified and high reel parts. One day I turned up at Matra Marconi and there was another name on a drawing and it was clear that they would be using another supplier. I realised at that time that our market would be compromised.
It was the late 90’s and the web was kind of coming to fruition, businesses were becoming more engaged online. It was very, very formative, we were still worried about security, we were still connecting with 28kbps modems. People were essentially loading websites and then going on holiday for two weeks and coming back and it still wasn’t load. There were security issues and challenges but over that time the market matured, people got more confident of it and the moment people started to trade actively over the internet people started to take it seriously.
You have to bear in mind that at the very beginning of the web adventure even companies like Microsoft weren’t particularly engaged, they didn’t even have a web browser. It was the likes of Altavista and Compuserve, and those sort of historic names. I instinctively knew there was an opportunity there to be marketing businesses. In the first three months of setting up business I had sold £27,000 of websites. I had no knowledge of how to build them, I got teams to put them together.
I suppose to a certain extent, over that timeline, I have learnt a huge amount about web marketing, and more especially how to adopt key principles that deliver ongoing marketing success for my clients.
Martin: Fantastic, and that is why I am interested to speak to you. So technically, you weren’t on the tools, you weren’t personally involved in building these sites, you went straight into selling them?
Tim: Yes, absolutely. I am essentially somebody who sees opportunities and tries to find solutions to deliver on peoples requirements. Like you, I will start with the end in mind, I will have that conversation first up with the client; What are we trying to achieve here? Then I reverse engineer a solution to deliver on that requirement, thats the core principle of marketing. I surround myself with good people. Probably like you, Martin, you can’t do everything yourself, none of us is cleverer than all of us. I surround myself with people that scare the shit out of me, who are highly skilled, ambitious, energetic, knowledgeable and I utilise that to deliver solutions to my clients.
Martin: Fantastic, and you are right, that is exactly at the core of marketing that ability to be able to identify a need and deliver a solution that meets that need. That for me is what marketing is.
So in 1997, I imagine, I was one of those people who was waiting for weeks for images and websites to download. You were building websites at that time but there wasn’t much in the way of marketing available, was it just here’s a website? How did you evolve into a marketing person or a marketing solution provider?
Tim: I think the essence if that came around in 2004, Facebook was launched and we became aware of what these big tech companies were actually doing. They were giving a free service but getting their customers to pay with the data. The same with Google and those other big platforms, you were paying for that service with your data. I understood that at some point that would be monetised. In other words, we would be fed with adverts and other interactive media that would speak to us at an emotional level and inspire us, motivate us, to do stuff. It was around 2004 that Facebook was launched and the advent of Google and Google algorithms. Understanding how, subsequently, Paid Search works allowed me to understand the potency of this marketing opportunity. I simply went to businesses and said do you want a slice of this?
I worked with the Consumers Association very early on. Which Magazine is their publication and we did some trial marketing with them on Paid Search. They put about a £1,000 in for a months worth of advertising with Google. Based in that we created a whole series of algorithms which was essentially how to convert sales and identifying at what point people dropped off from the process. As you know the Which model is about getting somebody on a free subscription, there will be a percentage of people that drop off, people that don’t complete the registration process etc etc. We started to work where the sweet spot in that process was and we understood that the cost per acquisition had to be at or below £17.21 for it to work.
When you start to get into all that sort of stuff it becomes really interesting because you’ve got a definite cause and effect in terms of what you do relative to the results that you get. That sort of learning inspired me and allowed me to help business whether they were established in the market place or startups.
Martin: Wow. Ok, so two things. You realised that this was a data trade, the social media’s and the Googles, was a data trade, in 2004. That was super early to be at that particular party, I don’t think the world woke up to that until much later.
Tim: The reality of it was that, at the time, nobody really knew what was going on and it was all a free service. There was this acceptance online that stuff was free. Why would you pay for it? It was freely available. For these tech companies, they were running at quite substantial losses, there must be a game plan, they must be doing something in order to profit out of it. As sure as eggs is eggs, we all now understand that when we click yes, accept terms and conditions and we accept cookies we are, kind of, tacitly saying, you know, that’s what you get. Thats the trade point, we understand the fact, we began to realise that we are the product.
Martin: Yes, and all I’m saying is that people didn’t realise this widely. I’m trying to think of when I realised this. This became public knowledge with the Cambridge Analytica stuff, I think maybe around 2013, 2014, this kind of started the realisation with me. I was busy utilising it, I was offering it to my clients as service, Facebook Advertising, Facebook marketing – all of that stuff. Certainly not 2004. I remember signing up for Facebook and thinking they seem like a nice bunch of guys out of the American North West, what could possible go wrong? I remember, literally, feeling that and then two or three years later they sold out to Wall Street and everyone knows where it went from there.
So you were building solutions out of this opportunity, you said that you were building algorithms of your own.
Tim: No, no, we were observing this, we were creating very simple websites at the time. These were HTML websites created in Dreamweaver, really just brochureware, brochure sites, they weren’t e-commerce sights, they weren’t anything flash. I created two distinct brands, one was called Swift Sites, just an embarrassment, the strap line for that was £299 and your online. We were just getting businesses to engage and get onboard.
When I started my networking adventure it was an easy sell because everybody was curious but not necessarily ambitious about the web space. They kind of knew that they needed to be there but it wasn’t an important thing and they hadn’t see the construct of how it works and certainly hadn’t seen the benefit of paid search or were engaged in that market.
The internet keeps delivering, it delivers over and over again with these amazing opportunities. From a client perspective we can constantly be reinventing where they are and enhancing their digital footprint with all the new sexy stuff that these big tech companies offer us.
Martin: Yes, OK. So at what point did you, 97 you started building websites, 2004 the big guys turn up, Facebook, Google, those kinds of people, is that how you evolved into a digital marketing service company?
Tim: Yeah. First of all it was all about SEO, optimising websites, search engine optimisation, just doing the good stuff. Creating websites that conformed to Google’s 300 requirements, most of which came out of the box when you build a website, you can’t build a website unless you have content and a structure.
Certainly from 2006 onwards we were headlong into helping businesses with Google rankings on SERPs, Search Engine Results Pages, looking at other opportunities like eMail marketing, looking at blog writing and creating content, getting citations across the web, back links; all of the stuff, that in the early days, was based around meta data, meta code. It wasn’t particularly around user experience, this is obviously pre-mobile, pre-smart phone, it was all about a set of coded criteria that made the website rank well or not.
As the technology has evolved there is so much more now to constructing an effective web presence. We are talking to clients at the moment about creating new and exciting ways of engaging with the their customers, a lot of that is based around what can we do that their competitors are not doing currently in this space. How can we get them to engage? How can we keep them in the conservation? That might actually not be stuff that is allied wholly to websites, it can be social media channels, it could be developing mobile apps, it could be developing bespoke software that does something quicker, cheaper etc.
Martin: OK Cool. So tell me, how do you feel about marketing.
Tim: I think that marketing is a conversation, I think people look at marketing as this massive tick list that they need to go through. The reality is that marketing is very, very simple; it’s having the right conversation, with the right person, at the right time, in the right way. It’s as simple as that. If you break it down to its lowest common denominator it’s about where are your customers and what motivates them and how you get involved in that conversation.For me, I think it’s as simple as that. I think that there is a temptation, certainly amongst digital marketeers to over complicate that, to create a whole raft of acronyms and language that essentially takes people away from that core principle of – I need to find these customers and I need to motivate them, engage with them and convert them.
Martin: OK, I am entirely, 100% with you. I think the whole thing is mired in this marketing jargon and BS that nobody understands. That’s what I definitely think, I think they over complicate it.I am interested, because like you, I have pitched thousands of businesses and you don’t get to pitch somebody unless they have some kind of interest in marketing, I am always astounded at how …..
I was having a conversation with my buddy Chuck in the States and I was expecting him to say we are the States, we are aggressive, we kick the doors in, we will sell our grandmother to make the sale; but it seems to be the same thing there where people go into business and they don’t seem to understand that being in business is just about having customers profitably. When they do realise that they still don’t seem to want to do marketing. That just frazzles my mind. I do marketing, like you do marketing, we have fun doing marketing and marketing is probably the best opportunity to have fun in your business; but there is so much resistance to marketing in business, so much resistance.
Martin: I think part of that is the jargon and I think marketing is becoming less accessible because, as you say, it’s all becoming more complicated and technical. It frazzles my mind that people go into business without realising that its about having customers, and when they do realise it’s about having customers they don’t want to do the thing that will get them customers, which is marketing.
Tim: Absolutely, and I think that they forget that a customers journey doesn’t end when the sale is made. Some would argue that that’s when the real magic happens. The ability for you to wow a customer at that point and gain traction form that experience that you have given somebody is vitally important. To get your customers to do your marketing for you, I think, is one of the wonderful things about the digital marketing stuff, if you do a great job and you have systems in place that allow people to tell other people then effectively your marketing is fairly automated. You really don’t have to think too much about it. It presupposes obviously that you do a great job at the beginning, but the ability to post reviews, and to get collateral out there based on case studies and experiences is really powerful.
I’m not sure if this ever stops.I was in your network, I founded my business in BNI in 2004. I was attending three or four BNI meetings every week, I was subbing all over Sussex, I was out of the house everyday at 5.45, I was in a meeting almost everyday at 6.30, it was insane. I don’t know if I knew you then but I had a money tree in my logo and my minute was always; I am in the money tree shaking business, I have a money tree, I call it The Effective Marketing Company, I come to meetings like these to meet people who also have money trees like you who want to shake their money tree more effectively etc. That was my pitch at that time. The response I got to that was always, I need new customers, I need new customers – if you ask people what is wrong with the customers that they already have you quickly realise that they are not looking after those customers at all. They will always tell you they are the wrong customers, or they are not paying enough or they are not doing whatever it is, but there is this thirst always, for new customers. That is the most expensive marketing you could possibly do, if you want to be plucking people out of the wilderness and making them into your customers then that is going to cost you a lot of time, and energy, and money.
Tim: I completely agree with you Martin. One of our big things is to look, with the companies that we work with, at how we can shape those long term relationships. For example, a lot of our business now is with companies that recognise the value of creating online hubs, online communities, communities of raving fans, people that will do their marketing for them. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out how you engage an online audience with strong, consistent, relevant contact. Sometimes people just forget to ask, forget to ask, for the opportunities that they are presented with. If I’ve got a network of thirty people, and they know thirty people that’s a 900 strong network immediately. We are talking about huge levels of potential traffic. We are always looking at getting the customer, keeping the customer and sharing the customer, sharing the customer experience. Thats where the online space is really powerful.
Martin: Really powerful. It blows my mid how little people know about marketing. I was listening to a podcast earlier and it was some Professor talking to a podcast called Everyone Hates Marketers. He was saying that in most countries 80% of marketer have no idea about marketing and in some places it goes up to 90%. Why don’t people understand that the success of their business depends, exclusively, on the ability to market and sell their products and services. Of course it depends on having a decent product in the first place, of course it depends on having strategies, and putting the right messages, in the right places. You are exactly right, it’s about landing the right message, on the right person, at the right time. If you can do that, you will be as successful as you want to be, there is literally, unless there is no market whatsoever and you’ve got a stupid product, we’ve said it depends on the product; if you have a decent product there is no limit to what you can achieve. Everyone wants to be successful but they don’t want to do the marketing.
Tim: One of the things, certainly in COVID times, that’s happened, is we have seen quite a lot of polarised activity. People become victims of circumstance or they become opportunists.
I have see a lot of businesses that are currently on pause, my wife’s business is on pause; she runs a hairdressing saloon, she’s got 26 members of staff and there is absolutely no prospect of cutting hair at the moment. She is online, she is marketing, she is absorbing stuff so she is getting lots of education from her network, she she’s putting stuff out content, creating touch points with clients, videos here and there, offers of what she can do, delivering professional product etc, top of the mind marketing. She’s not become a victim, she’s become an opportunist, she’s creating future demand, she’s creating a compelling future for her customers and her business. I think that’s really inspirational, that even a businesses that seem to be really challenged by current circumstances can actually get on the front foot with some strategic marketing.
Martin: Yes. This is what i said right at the beginning of this. This situation is one of two things, it’s one of only two things; this is either the biggest opportunity you’re ever going to have in your business life because these recessions, these disasters, always create opportunity, or it’s the best excuse you’re ever going to have in your life. I’ve seen businesses, immediately the government offered furlough, they’re like okay good everyone go home we’re not working. The people are happy to go home, if they think if they’re getting 80% of their income and not having to do anything for it they think they are winning at life, they’re happy with that.
Marketing is an opportunity, it is the ability to see and realise an opportunity. This is what I see from small businesses who want to be doing better, but don’t want to do the things that they need to do to be better. People don’t buy things by accident, they don’t buy things because they’re bullied into buying things, they buy things because they want to buy things or they need to buy things. They buy things specifically from you, even if they need it, because they want to buy it from you. It should be a joyous situation and it just freaks me out, but it’s just not. Why don’t they do the marketing? Just do the marketing, just be in your market, see the opportunities, realise the opportunities, make your customers happy, have a great life.
Tim: Yeah yeah, totally, totally. But people, occasionally, they get mired in the running of their business, the doing of the day-to-day, and they forget I actually forget the joy of business. Actually, when I have one-to-ones with business owners, one of the first questions I always ask is – are you happy? I can’t tell you Martin, how many business owners, their eyes fall to the floor and you know they’re not happy. They’re not engaged in their business, they’ve lost the essence of what it is to be in business and actually, all of that is based around your marketing message, and your brand positioning, and your success. If you live and breathe your brand, and it’s a great brand, and it’s sustainable, and it’s fun, it’s engaging, it makes life a lot easier and you get the right customers.
Martin: If you’ve got the right energy you absolutely do, it’s insane.
On the other side of this, there is the marketing industry which is, I think, pretty shameful. There’s a stat I quote which is that the average lifespan of a digital marketing customer in London is three months. Digital marketing agencies are taking on customers and annoying them to be to the extent that they fire them within three months. That comes down to what you’re talking about, all of this marketing jargon. The big players, the Googles, the Facebooks, they’re not making it any easier by changing things every 20 minutes. It’s a really sad situation. That’s why I’m on this message, on this mission to produce all this marketing content, because I just want people to be successful and happy in their businesses.
My experience is the same as yours, I don’t remember meeting many business owners who were actually happy out of the thousands that I’ve met. It’s a bad situation.
We are getting a sense already of what it is that you offer your customers, digital marketing, the full digital marketing experience; how does that sit with your other passion which is this networking thing that you do which is obviously all face to face and early mornings?
Tim: It’s a perfect compliment because I think that whatever conversation you’re having, and whatever channel you’re having it on, it’s still a conversation. I don’t like the word passionate, it’s so overused, but i’m really excited about networking. I think that people are missing a trick, an opportunity, to turn up in an authentic way, to a group of forward-thinking, growth ….
Martin: Okay, cool, before we got rudely interrupted you were talking about the networking thing which i thought was, maybe, different from the online thing that you really enjoy.
Tim: As I’m saying, it’s really important to recognise that all human life shows up, wherever it might be, in real life, online etc. I think it’s important, I always try and coach people to be consistent across both areas because there’s nothing worse than meeting somebody in real life after establishing a six month Zoom relationship and realizing that they are a cross between Margaret Thatcher and Chewbacca. It’s important, I think, that people create an authentic brand for themselves online. In terms of the real world networking, I’ve done it for over 20 years, I love it, I’ve got some amazing business out of it, and I’ve met some incredible people.
I’ve also had the privilege of being able to help people with a bit of my experience as well. I also do networking in other areas; BNI is predominantly where I’m getting business and helping people to develop their own businesses. Also, in my area there’s Gatwick Diamond Business which is a flourishing networking organisation, more about campaigning, and education, and business support and intelligence, than direct referral marketing but still a really good source for me to connect with people. Then we do chambers of commerce as well, I’m still, very much, active with a value-led proposition. Networking is still a very very important part of what we do.
Martin: I think you’re absolutely right and I think that was my feeling at the time. There are four million small businesses in the UK and it’s a lonely experience. Having that opportunity to get up and have breakfast with other people who are in a very similar situation typically, is really useful. It helps people stay focused, it provides solutions, maybe to issues they don’t even know are a problem for them. I think it is a tremendously useful thing, I think it’s tremendously useful.
How do you do your marketing? Do you have a marketing strategy?
Tim: One of the most important things about marketing, sorry, about networking, is to adopt the same sort of principles as you would with any kind of marketing is to ask why am I here? What am I going to get out of this? How am I going to build my network to deliver on the goals that I’ve set, assuming you’ve got goals. Do not turn up at networking events fearing competition but to seek collaboration, it’s a really important part of my networking approach. Don’t prejudge, you never quite know where your next million pound piece of business is gonna come from, so don’t turn up thinking – oh well this isn’t going to work or that’s not going to work or there’s no point in talking to that person you just never know.
I’ve famously got business from people over the years where I had no expectation of anything in return. I networked a while back with a woman who was in the travel industry and over five years I managed to refer, probably around about 65,000 pounds worth of business to her, personal holidays for me, obviously I’ve gone on very expensive holidays, but also other people that I know, friends, family etc. It’s a brilliant service, she does a great job and I’ve got diddly squat from her in that period of time. Then, one day, in the grip of a recession, in a cold, damp leisure center in Crawley she handed me a piece of paper that was worth 85 000 pounds. It came from kind of nowhere she just happened to live next door to somebody who was got seeded finance for a startup and within two weeks we were engaged to do a massive project, which was brilliant.
You never know and that’s why I think that people who have a pathological dislike of networking are missing a trick. You’re making life very hard for yourself. Showing up is basically saying I’m open for business, would you like me to be part of your sales force and you’ll do the return for me. It’s worked fantastically, we’re still getting great referrals out of BNI. From the outsiders perspective they see it as quite a small business type of environment but well we haven’t ever found that, we’ve got some amazing business out of it, just with people who are running local businesses. So never pre-judge, never pre-judge.
Martin: I think my issue with, it like I said, I did it, like I did it, maybe too much and i was just burnt out. I got about nine months into my first year and I’d done everything I needed to do in it, you know. I think I just aspired to be in a different space, I didn’t want to be a local business necessarily, that’s not what i wanted to do. But i still have really good mates, I don’t think i think I met you through BNI. That was through a potential client, it was a start-up, all that time ago.
Tim: Do you know I can’t remember exactly what we worked on.
Martin: I remember what it was it was, do you remember Gordon Borer?
Tim: Oh yeah, yeah, the coach.
Martin: Yes and he had a business called High Performance or Peak Performance or something like that. You were working, or you were talking to him, and I was talking to him, I think that’s how we met.
Still, I’ve got good friends that I met through the BNI that I met all that time ago. If I go to BNI meetings now, I did one recently, there’s people there that i know. You know, it’s, I think it’s a good thing, I think it’s a good thing.
Tim: I think it’s an amazing thing, once you understand what it actually is and specifically what it’s not, you can make good use of it. For me BNI, specifically BNI, is three things. It’s business education, business support, including emotional support and it’s pre-qualified opportunities to do business through referrals, those are the three things. Like any networking, it’s based on building relationships. In the online space we’re trying to make those relationship as quick as possible but in the real world networking it takes more time to get the bigger results but it’s time well spent as far as I’m concerned.
Martin: Okay and is this part of a marketing mix that you do, or is it your online stuff and your networking that sustains you in your business growth?
Tim: Actually, the business networking helps us to establish what the market is requiring so we can actually go to our network and say here’s an idea, here’s some thoughts, What do you think? Does this resonate for you? In our business we will take a sounding board, so for example, in one of my groups, I’ll harvest 10 members and do a focus group for them for example. Just to establish some ideas that we’re considering putting out, whether that’s got legs, or maybe to do a little bit of a focus group in terms of one of our clients. That gives us access to entrepreneurial minds who may be buying service either from us or from our clients.
Martin: I think that’s really interesting because if you walk into those rooms you are in the market and you are engaging with the market and you’re hearing what they’re saying. That’s the cornerstone of marketing, understanding the market and what it is they want or they need. I’m imagining, in the thing that’s happened in the last 12 months, that that has been invaluable because so many people are so isolated and they don’t know what’s going on for other people. The BNI thing has gone on through these Zoom meetings and I think that’s critically important .
Tim: It plays to our strengths as a business because the more people who are online, getting familiar and comfortable with being online, then we say right well you’re doing it anyway so can we create some authentic IP around how you’re showing up online. We’ve seen a marked increase in the amount of businesses that are using video to market, whether it be show and tells, or how to, or direct sales messages, whatever it might be. The last year has been pretty transformational for businesses in terms of their attitude toward being online. We’ve helped some businesses transform within 48 hours. One of our clients is runs seven restaurants in Surrey, fish n’ chip restaurants. It’s a great business, it earns a lot of money. Of course, as soon as the first lockdown occurred it was taken away only, they needed a click and collect service, we created that within 48 hours. In the first week he did 160% more business online through his click and collect service. Because there was a bit of pent up need and he seemed to be active and responsive, and kind to his customers, come and get fat on me, yeah.
Martin: That brings me to where I want to go with this which is … I did, I don’t know if you were there, but in 2009 I did a presentation at City College in Brighton and i called it making the most of the recession. At that time we had been officially in recession for a month or two months but they had been banging on about it in the press for 18 months previously. It was probably the nadir of my presenting career and I was telling them this is the best opportunity you’re ever going to see. Now the market is dynamic, now the market is evolving, now the people who are surviving on debt are going to be in trouble, they’re going to go away, their customers are going to be looking for customers. I’ve just transcribed this because I’m putting a whole tsunami of content on my website.
Anyway, this recession is very different, this situation is very different, but i think the advice has to be the same and things have got so bad I’m putting the band back together. Effective Marketing will be available to people again because what I know is, it doesn’t really matter what the situation is, those businesses that are able to market themselves effectively will be the best off. It won’t necessarily be better than it was before, but you will be the best off if you are the best at marketing.
That’s what I’m interested to know from you, what’s your recommendation now for businesses in this stupidly weird situation?
Tim: First of all to take a dispassionate look at what they’re putting out online, does it fit the bill? Is it the right message for the right time to the right audience? Do a deep audit of where you are from a marketing perspective, I think it’s really crucial not to get mired in analytics and green arrows going up and red one’s going down. What what are the results here? What’s converting? What’s not converting? The technical aspect is one thing but ultimately it’s about the message and if you get the message right, timely, relevant, that’s the marketing holy grail, then you have a real chance.
And be creative, try and look at ways in which you can monetise your expertise. It might not necessarily be the thing that you’re doing now, or you have done in the past, but what are the opportunities using technology. So, a deep audit, and if you don’t know how to do that get people who do, surround yourself with experts, surround yourself with people with proven track records that can help and advise you, it needn’t cost the earth. A decent agency will be really happy to give you some top-line understanding of where you are and some potentials and recommendations around actions. A lot of that might be technical, but also look at that that marketing mix. What is it that you’re doing that is working? What is not working? What are your competitors doing? Are they stealing a march on what you’re doing at the moment? Just be hyper, hyper, aware and if you don’t know how to be hyper aware get somebody who does know how to be hyper aware. Buddy up with them, make friends with them and utilise their experience.
Martin: Okay, so the message isn’t really very different from what it be would be if this situation weren’t happening. I think you’re absolutely right, it’s a similar process that we have put in effect previously. I haven’t been particularly active for the last six years, I certainly haven’t been marketing myself or The Effective Marketing Company; I have been very detached from the market. I shit myself when this happened, I wasn’t so concerned about the pandemic, I wasn’t so concerned about the disease, it was the response to the disease that terrified me. The difference now from 2008-2009 is that businesses have been forced to close their doors, literally close their doors, and they can’t actually accept customers and that to me terrifies me.
Jim had a similar story to you, he’s in print, and he obviously supplies a lot of restaurants and he was also helping them, getting involved in being able to pivot, to to be able to continue to serve customers. You were saying about your wife’s business, she has managed to find a way to be proactive, and like you say, she’s getting future interest and demand. She’s continuing to look after her customers and i’m sure that’s really appreciated because people i’m sure want interaction.
How do other businesses do that, you recommend, clearly, that people do that but how do they do that?
Tim: Well, I think, again, it sort of comes down to making a list of what it is that you actually do, the after effects of what you do, the key benefit points. I suppose to a certain extent market it’s about revisiting why you’re in business in the first place and because we get so mired in the do sometimes we forget to do some future proofing, some forward thinking. It’s about how you add value to that relationship and I think from that particular example, obviously it’s an ongoing relationship. It can be an ongoing relationship online as it can be in the salon for example. If you’ve got a relationship with any business it’s just about how you create a desirable worth, so people come back to you because you are the acknowledged expert in your field, creating an ongoing conversation.
Tim: Like you’ve said in the past when I’ve seen you speak, we spend so much time and money and effort on getting new customers then, when we’ve got them, we forget them.
Tim: They are the source of future products, of decent feedback, ongoing relationships with other third parties, referrals processes.
Martin: Exactly, yes. It is everything and I think you’re right, I think that’s what it’s about and people don’t do this enough. It’s about going to, not the obvious benefit, not the added benefit, but the benefit that’s there, somewhere in the recess, that people get from doing business with you that doesn’t rely, necessarily, on them coming into your salon or to your pub, or to your hotel, or whatever it is – it’s maybe getting to that thing.
Tim: And also creating stuff that is viral, and funny, and engaging. It doesn’t necessarily need to have any specific aim in mind, sometimes it’s just about making a bit of noise in the market place.
Tim: You know the digital world is perfect for that. There’s some amazing brands, brands that are utilising the web in ways that we’ve never seen before and also mainstream media. Many of the banks now are positioning themselves, almost as counselling services, they’re talking on an emotional level rather than come and get a mortgage from us.
Martin: Yes you see at the time, I’m not aware of what you were doing at the time but Jim’s response was amazing. I spoke to him about it when I chatted to him, he put out this thing, he set up a 24-hour Zoom and he’s like I’m always here, if you ever fancy having a chat, or if you get bored, if you get lonely, if you get – whatever, I’m in the same situation as you. He was in his office, his office was a 100 meters from where he lives – I’m sitting here doing nothing just like you are. That for me was the best response and the thing about that was that he was continuing to be in his market, so when people were having issues or immediately people started thinking we’ve got to do something, he was aware of what that was, he was aware of that going on and so he saw the opportunities. I think what you’re saying, like you’re saying it works both ways. The face-to-face networking you do, which has now gone online, allows you to be in the market and I think that’s the most important thing, to be in the market, hearing what people are saying, what they’re wanting, what they’re needing, that’s really important. You are right, you need to go beyond the obvious value that you deliver, because there will be some, and I’ve always said this, my best sales relationships when I was in sales for 20 years, I wouldn’t talk to them about whatever it is i was selling them, computers or IT systems or whatever; I talked to them about their football teams, about their families, about whatever it is and at the end of the meeting they’d be like okay we need this, this, this and this and I say okay we get it done.
Actually, in good sales, that relationship is really valuable. I don’t know how you monetise that, I don’t know if you need to monetise that.
Tim: Well actually it’s a very interesting thing, I regularly call my clients with no expectation whatsoever. I might have talked to you about this many, many years ago but the notion of opportunity today is a little bit like what you’re saying with Jim. Just phone people up and just shoot the breeze yeah and sometimes your best business comes out of those conversations.
Martin: I think very often it does. You’re causing me to think very differently about things Tim. It’s nice. because I’ve always known it’s about that relationship but never invested very much in it. I would just phone and talk shit with people anyway, because I really like talking to people and I have always done that. When I was running around Sussex doing The Effective Marketing Company I was dropping in on people all the time, I was doing that and maybe I’d forgotten what that relationship was worth.
People I’m working with now, we don’t talk about what needs to be done, that can be done in an email. If you’re talking to them, you’re talking about what’s going on in their lives and I think right now there’s a real need for that. I’m a little bit horrified that the banks are seeing themselves as being in a position to counsel people, that’s a little bit scary but certainly small businesses are in need of those interactions.
Tim: You know it’s positioning, yes it’s a little bit cynical positioning. I’m really fascinated by it, because, all of a sudden, all businesses now are hyper caring businesses who formerly just wanted to flog you something. Now, all of a sudden, they’re just pictures of families, and people homeschooling, and working from home and all that kind of stuff. It’s just marketing, as it’s always been, it’s responding to market trends and trying to get on an emotional level with clients which I find, you know, obvious and brilliant. But, you know, very amusing.
Martin: Yes, very amusing. When corporations get too interested it always scares me.
What is your experience of what is actually going on?
The thing about the talk I gave in 2009 is that it was actually really easy, because they were telling us, I’ve just transcribed this thing, this is why remember saying it. They were telling us that business closures were up 220% it had gone up to 120 per day everyone was quoting the 220% figure and they were petrified. When you do the calculation it turns out that 120 businesses is 0.003 of the number of businesses that are in the country and you would have to sustain that for an entire year to get to one percent. If one percent of the businesses go away that’s that should be the normal situation. I don’t know if I could deliver that talk now with the same confidence because this just seems to be so much more impactful, businesses are being forced to close their doors, industries are being forced to close their doors, like hospitality and travel, the service industries like hairdressers and restaurants. What’s your feeling of how this might end up or get resolved.
Tim: Actually I’m very optimistic. I think it’s going to create efficiencies in business, I think it’s going to cut out a lot of process. People are now considering what their lives are like and how they use their time. One of the things I think has been interesting is that I’ve got a team, I work with a team of 14 people and we’re all working from home and we take the register at the beginning of the day and we check in with everybody, and we have become adept to understanding what they’re saying and what’s behind what they’re saying. Then we have a catch-up meeting in the afternoon with two or three discrete teams and then we have a wrap-up at the end of the day. Actually, it’s made us a lot more efficient because we’re all aware of what everyone’s doing and we can spot opportunities. We’re having open conversations about projects whereas before we would have not seen a project or not been aware of it, now it’s uppermost in our mind.
Our business processes have been transformed, we’ve got a new system to manage workflow that’s all online so everything that’s that’s going on now is properly documented. We’re less likely to drop balls on big client contracts, not that we did before, but there were acknowledged issues and challenges sometimes with communication from one department to another, those have been closed up.
To answer your question, I think what we’ve been left with is people doing an enormous amount of naval gazing and come up with new ways of communicating, new ways of processing, new ways of marketing their businesses and new ways of sort of, kind of an open-minded thinking. People aren’t necessarily close-minded, you know we’ve always done it this way so that’s it, people are now aware that there are different ways of communicating with their target market and they need to be on the bus. I think there’s enough people who will be forced off the bus to create enough opportunity for those who are still willing to be in the game.
Martin: I was thinking two things. Will you go back to being office based once that opportunity arises?
Tim: We do acknowledge that human contact is very, very important but we are already putting a process in place to have a more flexible working environment. In other words, as we come out of COVID, and presuming that we can actually go back to our workspaces, we will kind of rotate a physical office space. We’ll have different teams in on different days and then crossover days and we’ll supplement that with homework as well. It starts coming into things like sustainability, being kind to the planet, what our responsibility is to the mental health of the people that we work with, that we’ve got accountability in the business that we all know exactly what the values of the business are, and how that translates into customer relationships. It’s made us more aware of ourselves, more aware of our customers, our processes, and the need to keep adding value and to do what we say to our clients. How can we keep the conversation going and utilising all of the things available online to be able to do that.
Martin: Yes, absolutely. The other thing I was thinking is one of the issues that I always had in my business is that I was never around to manage my business. I was always up early in the morning presenting somewhere, or in meetings all day, or towards the end I was flying around the planet delivering digital marketing training. I was never there to do the management; so is the fact that your management team are more available, has that brought their attention back to the business and that allowed you to improve those processes.
Tim: Definitely. Martin, the big word for me of 2020 is accountability.
Tim: Accountability. It’s about getting people to understand not just what they’re doing but why they’re doing it.
Martin: Yes. That’s the most important thing.
Tim: I think, ironically, working in an office five days a week, working of silos, it’s easy not to communicate at a hyper level because you’re working alongside people, you’re not looking into the eyes of people.
Tim: Because we’ve had this, sort of, enforced, direct communication it means that things are said quicker, with more impact, with more lasting impact and better results. So, I think we’re leaner, we’re faster at responding to things.
I’m having a conversation with a prospect in the morning, I’m having a team meeting to discuss that prospect opportunity and then we’re at first level proposal by the evening. This is an exciting time for business, get on the front of it.
Martin: I think there’s some amazing opportunity.
Tim: That whole concept of time. We’re saying that businesses don’t have to be nine to five anymore, they don’t have to be a painful journey into work and a painful journey home. We don’t have to show up because we want to be seen to be the first in and the last out anymore. We’re cognisant of people’s mental health and their physical health and the need for them to come away from screens as well as to be productive on screens. All of those things have made us, and hopefully other businesses, consider who they are, what they do and why they do it.
Martin: Yeah, for sure. The commute thing always blew my mind. I lived in West Worthing at one point in my life, in my very young life, and I was commuting into London. I was getting on that train and there’d be people who’d been on that train for two hours already. They were traveling three and a half hours each way, each day, to go and sit at a desk in London. This was in the early 90s, so maybe the opportunity wasn’t quite the same, but the commute thing has always frazzled my mind. There must be some, I mean there’s a cost, obviously people aren’t getting the interaction, but if people are in their families and immediately they end work they can be with their families, then there has to be some rounding off.
I knew this would be really interesting, it never goes the way I expect it to go. I had no idea you were so interesting. I still think you’re hugely entertaining, enthusiastic, so I’m adding interesting now too.
Tim: You may not know but about three years ago, this coming March, I had a brain tumour.
Tim: I subsequently had a tumour removed from the centre of my brain, via a craniotomy, by an extraordinary man called professor Marius Papadopoulos. I’ve been tooting some george’s and the recovery period from that was long and fairly arduous. t completely changed the way I saw the world and my ability to connect with it. I’ve always been very, very lucky that i wake up pretty positive, I see the positive in people, I look for it and I find it. To come out of something which was life-threatening and then re-engage with the world in a slightly different way, it means that you are highly aware of your own mortality but also that you don’t necessarily have a right to be here. We’re here through complete chance and I would never, ever, say to anybody I’m gonna live every day as if it’s gonna be my last because I think that’s absolutely bloody bollocks, you just can’t do that. What you can do is be really appreciative, and pay attention to the world around you, and do the very best you can in terms of being kind, being as happy as you can be without being irritating, and spend time with people who you love and who love you as well.
That’s kind of where I’m at. I feel very, very fortunate to have survived it um but I’m also highly conscious that our lives are a fleeting moment in time and we just have to be comfortable with ourselves and turn off the pressure valve occasionally, just give ourselves a bit of a break. That’s my overarching message to you, I never take life too seriously but I take the stuff that needs to be taken seriously, very serious.
Martin: I think that is a hugely valuable message, I was worried that you weren’t going to get to the end of that message, you were counting down like in one of your BNI minutes.
Tim: I’m quite creative, we crave experiences to write about. You know when Tammy Wynnett’s husband ran out, she was very sad but she did get d-i-v-o-r-c-e out of it. So i’m actually writing a play; I’ve had brain surgery, but i don’t like to talk about it, in which I am going to talk about it for an hour and 15 minutes, watch this space.
Martin: So like you Tim. Okay cool, we’ve got less than a minute to go. Thank you so much, this has been really interesting and useful and i think you’re right people need to be more engaged, more living, more giving, and if they can do that in their marketing they’ll be more successful, they’ll have more fun, I think that’s what they should do.
I love you man. I’m so glad that you have recovered and we need to speak more man.
Tim: Yeah, let’s do another one very soon because i i’ve got bragging rights now i’ve got a mate and Bali, he’s just amazing yeah he’s brilliant.
Martin: I will speak to you very soon, thank you
Tim: Cheers, bye.
Martin’s original content is based on his very current 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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