People see through bullshit very fast - Talk Marketing 18 - Steve bustin

People see through bullshit very fast – Talk Marketing 18 – Steve Bustin

Martin Henley 1:18
Good afternoon, Mr. Bustin.

Steve Bustin 1:20
Good afternoon, Martin. How are you?

Martin Henley 1:22
I’m really well, thank you. How are you?

Steve Bustin 1:23
Good, good. Sick. It’s good to talk to ya. It’s been too long.

Martin Henley 1:26
It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? It’s been a really long time. Man, thank you so much for agreeing to do this with me. I’m sure this is going to be really interesting. Like you say it’s a long time since we’ve spoken but I’m sure you’re going to have something of interest to say to my minuscule, little audience, minuscule but growing little audience, about what it is that you’re busy with now, which I understand is you’ve gone kind of full bore into public speaking. So I think we’re gonna be speaking about that today. How are you? Are you well? You’re looking well.

Steve Bustin 2:00
Very well. Yeah, I’m good. I’m in a good place man, thank you. So, yeah, just enjoying some sun at last in the UK.

Martin Henley 2:07
Yes, that’s good. That’s really good. Okay, cool. So as you know, there’s only kind of four or five questions. But it is quite conversational so, will keep us busy for like an hour and 15 minutes, typically. So the questions are, how are you qualified to talk to us about public speaking? Who are your clients? How do you get them? And what is it that you do that is of value to them? Kind of how you feel about public speaking? I think it’s kind of evolving, as we’ve been alluding to already in this conversation. It happens differently now in where are we, July 2021, than it did before March 2020. So how you kind of feel about that evolution. And then the last thing is kind of your recommendation for people in this evolving situation. So if you’re comfortable with that.

Steve Bustin 2:52

Martin Henley 2:53
You are?

Steve Bustin 2:54

Martin Henley 2:55
Okay good. Right. So how are you Steve Bustin qualified to talk to us about public speaking?

Steve Bustin 3:02
Because I’m either on stage myself, or I’m teaching other people how to do it, would be the glib answer. Or the last 18 months, I’m either on screen myself, or teaching other people how to do it. So I work as a professional speaker, and event compere, and public speaking coach. So I’m on stage a lot, either speaking, delivering keynotes, workshops, those sorts of things, or as a compere emcee, to hosting events. So a lot of people see me on stage, and then they’re like, “Uhm, you’re good at that. Can you teach me how to do it?” So that’s really how my business grew. When I started to speak at events, and people would start saying, “Oh could you come speak at my event? And actually, could you teach my team how to speak like that? And could you give me some coaching?” I suppose the other creds, I mean, I’m a journalist by background, I’m ex-BBC. So I’m used to, you know, I’ve always been a communicator. And right back at school, I was one of those kids who always wanted to stand up in assembly and to say things and talk about things, I’ve never been shy in talking. So it was, you know, it’s sort of the natural career, I suppose I’ve always been waiting for in a way, I did stand up for a few years, and gigs around things, which was actually really useful training in terms of being able to play any audience and read an audience and different sizes of rooms and those sorts of things. And I suppose then, you know, as I’ve progressed through, I’ve actually just finished an 18 month term as National President of the Professional Speaking Association, which is the trade body for professional speaking here in the UK. And I’m board member of the Global Speakers Federation. And I’m also the author of a book The Authority Guide to Presenting and Public Speaking. So yeah, that’s out there in a while. It’s on, available in on Amazon and Audible, which was interesting, actually, and interestingly I sell far more copies on Audible than I do on Amazon. So the audio book, which I recorded, sells much better. So anybody who’s happen to have a book their name, if you haven’t already done it, make sure you’ve got an audio book out there because that’s where the demand is right now, particularly for business books.

Martin Henley 4:59
Fantastic. Good. I’m a little bit embarrassed, I asked you how you’re qualified to talk to us about public speaking now you are clearly, clearly, clearly, very well qualified to talk to us about public speaking. Okay and I’d forgotten about your stand up comedy, because I did that a little bit as well after you.

Okay. So that’s interesting. That’s, really interesting. And I normally have, I did have a question, but you said so much. You are so qualified to talk to us about public speaking. So you are, okay. So just for context, when I first knew you, this was probably around 2005 – 2006, something like that, you were running a PR agency. And you were talking, teaching people how to present to the media and those kinds of things. So this isn’t a huge evolution that you’ve gone on, to be focused almost entirely on that.

Steve Bustin 5:56
No, I mean, I don’t do PR anymore. I do actually, I have a second book to my name, which is the Authority Guide to PR for Small Business. But actually, that’s in my past, I don’t do PR. People still ask me occasionally for advice and things, which I’m always happy to give. I do still do a lot of media training. So I do train people how to appear on camera, how to give interviews. And of course, that’s been quite interesting in the last 18 months as the on-camera staff and the onstage stuff have suddenly become one and the same. So that’s quite interesting, sort of melding of those two parts of my business. But I think it’s, it came about because when I was like, I worked with BBC for many years, came out of the BBC and went into an in-house PR role for a dotcom, back in 2000. That, as dotcoms will want to do at that point, went bust after 18 months. And I went freelance initially. But I always did a mixture of PR, and freelance journalism. And, speaking, because I was an early adopter on social media. I was one of the people who helped introduce basically the internet and then social media into BBC newsroom. And then, and so people kept saying, “Would you come and speak to our team about how we could be using social media?” Virtually, what is social media? So that was really my topic. I then got, somebody then said, “Oh, would you come speak at our conference about this?” I’m like, “Yeah, fine, I can do that.” Somebody else saw me there and was “Oh would you come speak at our conference about that?” And then somebody came up and said, “Do you teach presentation skills?” And I was like, “Well, I don’t, but I do now.” You know, because I thought, yeah, actually, you know, I know what I’m doing here. I know what makes a good speech or a bad speech. So I then started moving into that.

So I always was doing the PR, a bit of journalism, freelance, and then to training, it was predominantly training and a bit of speaking in conferences. I kind of got to a point about cranky, 2015, maybe, where, no, a little bit early than that, should be 2013/14. Where I was working with a business coach, actually Judas Andre, who I’m sure you know. And she said to me, “Which bit of your business is making you happy?” And I was like, without hesitation, “It was a training and speaking.” And she said, “You always talk about PR with such a downer, so why are you still doing it?” I was like, “You’re right”. So actually, that’s when I fired my last PR client. And went into the training, speaking coaching full time. So it’s been a yeah, it’s been a journey to then grow that side of the business to make sure people were aware that this was what I was speaking on. So I do quite a lot of public speaking about public speaking, which is a bit meta. You know, and people almost inviting people to critique me while I’m speaking to them in an audience. But it’s, I love what I do. I love being able to work with people who are nervous, unsure, unconfident, don’t feel they’re getting their message across, or people who just want to get themselves out on the speaker circuit, maybe for business, and actually being able to work with them and help them hone their content, hone their performance, hone their delivery, and then get out and deliver it to an audience and see the response you can get. That’s a joy. I love doing it.

Martin Henley 9:09
Okay, that is a joy. I’m sure that’s a joy. So there’s something which might be a little bit of an aside from where we’re going, but I am interested in, which is kind of the evolution of media, that’s happened in the last 15 years with social media. Because, I remember we were presenting one day for Sussex Enterprise up in Horsham. And it was about social media. And my pitch at that time was kind of like, you know, the media, you used to have to pay for media, now it’s free. So basically, fill your boots you don’t have to pay advertising agencies. You don’t have to pay for space. You can create your own media, you can step closer to your customer. And this audience turned on us really badly and they were saying like, you can’t, you know, like, basically you need the media to make sure that you’re presented well is I think their argument, I think it was like an orchestrated attack, actually is what happened. But that evolution is really interesting I think. I mean, I don’t know how you feel about that. So for example, in PR, like, historically, you would have been saying to people, if you get the opportunity to engage with the media, this is how you should engage. Whereas since social media, it’s like, it’s not an if you get the opportunity, the opportunity is there for all of us now. So how do you engage? Is that interesting or not interesting?

Steve Bustin 10:36
Oh it is. Yea, I mean yea what’s interesting is, we are all now journalists, and publishers and editors, you know. You are, in doing this interview, you are making journalistic decisions about the questions you want to ask, about the content you want us to generate, and how you’re going to use that. So actually, you can reach an audience, essentially, you said, a miniscule audience, actually, I think people who have got a small focus targeted audience, are at a much stronger position than people who’s got this huge broad audience that doesn’t necessarily actually respond to what they want to do. So yeah, the media has changed in as much as we’re all now in control of our message far more. That doesn’t mean that what we call, you know, the mainstream media, the old method, like old media, is dead and buried at all. But now, you know, you look at the rise of the influencer, and you know, how we can now reach very targeted market by going for a really targeted influencer. Now, it’s not quite the same, it’s not true PR, because often the influencers want to be paid if they’re doing something that’s promoting. But yeah, you can now put your own media out to your own audience, and it doesn’t have to be mediated.

I think one of the ways that is exemplifying this is if you look at the celebrity magazines, you know, Heat, Take a Break, all those are now, all those sort of celeb mags, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, were huge. You know, they were on everybody’s desk, they were being widely read all this and stuff. Because that was how we got celebrity news and gossip. Whereas all of a sudden, that changed really with Twitter, when celebrities realized they didn’t, they could actually reach their audiences direct. They didn’t have to go through, you know, and try and sell an exclusive to, you know, the Mail on Sunday or Heat or whoever. So actually, those magazines now really struggle. Because why do we need to buy a magazine to read about our favorite celebrities, when we can follow them on Twitter or Instagram or whatever, and get what they’re doing now, we can get our fix of celebrity news and gossip right now. Now, I’m not a huge fan of savage news and gossip. But you see what I mean? It’s that thing where journalists used to mediate what went to an audience, that’s gone. Journalists now having to respond and react to what an audience want. And actually, a lot of these celebrities, businesses, brands, they can all go direct to their audience, they’ve cut out the middleman, the journalist. So I think a lot of PR agencies now if you talk to them, you know, they’re spending far more time talking to influencers than they are talking to journalists. So yeah, that media landscape has changed massively. I think it’s about to change again, because I think we’re about to start seeing regulation of social media platforms, because you only have to look at the hate that was spewed out of Twitter, after the Euro finals the other night. And I don’t think Twitter will be allowed to host that sort of content and take no responsibility for it for much longer. I think we’re gonna see regulation, probably in the US and in through the EU first before it happens in the UK, where these platforms starts to become accountable and responsible for what other people are posting on them, and actually will be treated far more like publishers than they are at the moment because at the moment people, they just go, Oh, well, yea, our users decide what they post, but actually, I think they’re about start finding themselves being regulated to they have to take responsibility for their users post.

Martin Henley 13:59
Yes. But Trump wanted to do this, didn’t he? And then he lost the election. So it’s not happened yet. And I think they are publishers. I think it’s about time, they were held to account especially for that vile stuff that happens after it seems every football match.

Steve Bustin 14:14
Just think of what you said about Trump. Trump’s a perfect example of this. You know, he very rarely gave press conferences, he very rarely gave interviews, because he didn’t have to. Why allow journalists to edit or, you know, not necessarily twist, but you know, to judge what’s the word, the message when you can go direct to your audience via Twitter, and it was why he was so successful. And I’m often asked when I’m teaching communication stuff, people say, “Oh, you know, what do you think of Trump?” And I, my answer is while I intensely dislike the man and his politics, he’s a brilliant communicator, he understands how to communicate with an audience. And he was very focused on his audience. Most brands have their audience and then they have the sort of fringes where they can reach new people. Whereas he didn’t even care about the fringes. He just, it was his audience that was who was talking, to sawed everybody else. And that’s one of the reasons he was so successful.

Martin Henley 15:08
Yes. And I think that is interesting. And this is what I was teaching like, right at the beginning of social media, because I came from media, I came from, like the commercial side sales, rather than journalism, or writing or anything like that. But this is what I was teaching is, I was teaching people build your audience, by basically you don’t have to go through these middlemen anymore. You don’t have to go through ad agencies, you don’t have to go through journalists, don’t have to go through magazines or radio stations or whatever. You can build your own audience and you can step into the media shoes is what I was telling them. Yeah, but I think that’s, there’s been an evolution since then, also, because now you have to pay for it again. You know, whereas there was a window, maybe 2007 – 2013, where you really could make hay. 2013, they close the door. And now it is about paying, except I suppose with Twitter, I don’t know, Twitter don’t have these algorithms like Facebook or Instagram, where they’re deciding what people see still, I suppose.

Steve Bustin 16:09
No. And you pay, I mean, on Twitter, you can pay for an advert. It’s a bit yeah, it is just a slightly different beast. I mean, they haven’t monetize their content in quite the same way.

Martin Henley 16:20
Right. Okay, good. So that’s interesting. That is interesting. And I think you’re right, they are about to get regulated, and it is going to change. And that’s going to be interesting again. So I want to talk about, I’ve got a friend who calls what’s going on with social media and the internet, “the great 21st century publishing scandal”. Because basically, businesses like Facebook have 2 billion contributors, and they’ve never paid any of those people a single penny for it. And I think they’re getting into trouble now, Facebook, I think they’re struggling because of that. So, but we’ve all been programmed now to become content producers. So whatever we do in our business, we kind of have to be as part of the marketing process, we have to be content producers.

Steve Bustin 17:16

Steve Bustin 17:16
And that comes I think, closer to what it is that you do, which is teaching people how to present and how to interview and how to do.

Steve Bustin 17:23

Martin Henley 17:25
Or am I wrong?

Steve Bustin 17:26
No, that’s it absolutely. I mean, because actually, you know, a lot of my time is spent helping people on their message. It’s not just about actually how you stand and deliver on stage or how you speak into a camera or microphone. It’s about what you want to say, it’s about generating your content. And you know, even this, you know, you and I are sat here generating content. So, and I just pick up on what you said about Facebook. What I think the mistake, I think a lot of people make, particularly with Facebook, and Instagram as well, is people think that we are their customers, we’re not, we are their product, we are what they sell, they make money off us, you know, because they sell our data and access to our timelines to advertisers. And I think that’s one of the things people have to bear in mind. You know, I’m far more aware now of some of the perils of social media because I come, I don’t know whether you’re familiar with this, Martin, for my social media feed this. Um, yeah, so I’m the face of an online international dating scam for my sins. So somebody stole about 25 photos off my facebook profile, and uses them on dating sites to try to set up, well they set up fake profiles, to try to scam rich elderly women out of money. Now, the ultimate irony being that I’m married to a man, so these women really aren’t my type. The worst bit about the whole thing is he sends out my photos, this scammer and tells the women I’m 68. Thanks. But it has made me far more aware of, you know, when you’re playing on social media, you are playing in somebody else’s playground, you do not own your social media profile. They can take it down like that, you know, you don’t own once you put something on social media, even if your settings are relatively secure. It’s out in the public domain.

Martin Henley 19:14
Even if you are the President of the United States.

Steve Bustin 19:17

Martin Henley 19:17
It can go like that.

Steve Bustin 19:18
Yeah, absolutely. And that was yeah. And that was just a classic example, wasn’t it to see that in action? But anyways, yeah, I have friends who have, you know, have had their profile switched off for various reasons. So you know, you’re playing in somebody else’s playground, you do not own your social media profile. And people have to bear that in mind.

Martin Henley 19:37
Yes, no, they really do. And that’s, yeah. I mean, that’s what I teach now, is basically you don’t own it, and it could be gone in a second, and you probably too reliant on it, because, yeah, it can be gone in a second. Okay, so that’s all very cool and interesting. There’s another thing like I think you’re number 17 or 18 in this little process. And if there is a theme at all, the theme is the performative nature of sales, marketing, PR, people. Like everyone I’m speaking to like even Joe. Joe was like three ago she did, she didn’t do stand up, but she did some..

Steve Bustin 20:19
She did improv. Yeah, which I’ve done a lot of as well, yeah.

Martin Henley 20:24
Yes, I spoke to Jim Cunliffe. He also got on the stand up comedy thing. Everyone’s either a DJ or was an actor or a singer or something. And then they came to this thing that we do now. And it seems to me that presenting is definitely like the final destination of that. Like, if you couldn’t be a singer or a DJ or an actor, the next best thing is probably to be a presenter. And I just find it interesting that this is so common. And I find it interesting, like how much of sales marketing PR is just performative. You know, how much of it is just about being able to put on a show for people? And that attracting people who are just show people?

Steve Bustin 21:05
Yeah, there’s certainly I mean, certainly in the speaking world there’s a lot of frustrated performers, definitely. There’s a lot of people who, you know, started off on the, either as a magician or possibly, as an actor, or cabaret artist. So yeah, there are definitely a lot of performers out there. Beyond that, I think, yes, there is an element, when you’re setting yourself up as a of business experts, you’re setting yourself up to say, I can help you with your sales and marketing, I can help get you into the media. There’s an element, it’s not I don’t say it’s BS, but you have to be confident in your ability to deliver that. And sometimes, there is an element of having to persuade. Yea any sales call, there’s an element of persuasion to it. So you do have to have the Hertzberg, there’s the word, to be able to say to somebody, I can get you into the media, or I can get your brand out to the top target market you want to reach. And you, yeah, because you and I both know, you can’t polish a turd, you know, if you’re trying to promote a product that isn’t very good. It doesn’t matter how good you are as a marketer, or a PR person or whatever, nobody’s gonna bite. So there is an element of needing to persuade people, yeah, you have the confidence to be able to do this. Because, as you know, if you’re selling stuff on the phone, or if you’re ringing and pitching to a journalist, or, you know, you’re trying to do a deal, there is an element of having to perform having to speak the right way, find the right words, know and understand how to persuade, understand how people are gonna react, understanding human behavior. So, yeah, there’s definitely an element of performance to it. And sales and marketing, yeah, I’m trying to avoid saying it’s all bullshit. But there is an element to which you have to believe your own hype, to be able to go out there day after day and say, I can do this for you. Or do you disagree?

Martin Henley 22:58
No, I think I really agree. I think what we’re doing in sales and marketing is polishing a turd. Like if the product is sales and marketing and that’s what we have to present, and we have to try and convince people that, you know, it’s working, and it’s worthy of investment, and it needs well, do you know ,or all is going fine and don’t fire me. Then I think, and I’m only realizing this like right now, is that is essentially what you’re doing if you’re in sales and marketing is you are polishing a turd, because the value of sales and marketing isn’t recognizable enough if you don’t put some Shazam on it, you’re gonna get fired.

Steve Bustin 23:38
Because every advert is basically saying, “Hey, look at me, I’m great, buy me.”

Martin Henley 23:42

Steve Bustin 23:42
That is what it’s doing. I mean that’s one of the things I used to teach when I was teaching PR, is that, what’s the difference between advertising and editorial, is that editorial has a third party endorsement implicit in it, they say “Hey, look at this guys, they are great.” And that’s always the difference and you know, so we believe when somebody else tells us something more than if we hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. And I think that’s true sometimes of ourselves, I think it’s harder for us to believe that we are good enough, that we are good at what we do until someone says you’re great at this. So I think it happens quite on a personal level as well as brand level.

Martin Henley 24:23
But what I’m saying is slightly different, I think, because I’m saying that everyone knows or everyone thinks that sales and marketing is shit, you know. So that’s why it’s the turd that has to be polished. And that’s why it’s attracting performers because this is what gives us the stage to perform. So I think it’s a percentage. I think it’s somewhere around 38% performative like the way I am kind of trying to change the world to see it, is actually much more, what’s the word? Quantifiable, like you can see pounds and pence, this is how your marketing is performing. But the truth is that it’s not seen like that at all. So unless you’ve got someone there giving a jazz hands, you’re gonna fire them. That’s what I think.

Steve Bustin 25:08

Martin Henley 25:08
Okay, good. I like that. I really like that. Okay, cool. So that brings us then to what it is that you do and kind of how you do it. So who are your clients? You’ve given us an indication of how you win your clients. How is it that you deliver value for your clients? So there’s kind of three things there, who you work with? What it is you do with them? How they get how they get to find you?

Steve Bustin 25:31
Yeah, I mean, well, just sort of to pick up the point about how I find them. I’m very lucky in many ways, because I get paid to go and stand on stage and speak. And that’s actually also my best business development tool. So, you know, I’m aware that people, they will come up afterwards, “Oh, could you you know, can you work with me? And how can we get you involved in our business?” So who do I work with, I have probably three main areas, the moment, I do a lot of work in the pharmaceutical sector, pharmaceutical healthcare, medical, that area is a big one for me. I do a lot of work or a fair amount of work with accountants, particularly accountancy bodies. So I do a lot of work through the Healthcare Financial Management Association, and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and all this and stuff. Don’t ask me how I got there, they just came to me. And the third sector is agencies. And actually, that’s probably my biggest area at the moment, I do a lot of work with the owners of marketing agencies, PR agencies, SEO agencies, design agencies, etc. Aid them with their pitching, because a lot of them are struggling. And particularly, they’ve struggled to move their pitches online, and to try and pitch effectively on camera. So I’ve done a lot of work over the last 18 months with agencies who are struggling with their pitch. But there’s also agency owners, who are recognizing that they need to be seen as thought leaders and movers and shakers in their industry. So they want to be invited to speak at the next big marketing conference. And like my competitors are being asked to speak while on tie. And that’s often comes down to because you’re not putting yourself out there as a speaker. And you haven’t spent the time to learn how to do it and deliver it properly. And yeah, so that’s what I can go and help with. So yeah, agencies are a big sacks of meat at the moment.

Martin Henley 27:08
Okay, good. Right. So that’s really interesting, because pharmaceuticals are in a crisis of authority. Well, ss that too much of a stretch? The authority of pharmaceuticals is being challenged at the moment. Let’s just say that.

Steve Bustin 27:27
Yeah, it is.

Martin Henley 27:28
Global pitch going on, that everyone should have these vaccinations? So that’s what occurs to me when you said pharmaceuticals?

Steve Bustin 27:38
Yep, I mean that’s true. And certainly the pharmaceutical sector is in flux at the moment. I mean, the pharmaceutical sector, is one of those weird sectors where there’s constant takeovers, buyouts, mergers, etc. Smaller brands being swallowed by the big brands, and you have got these, maybe four or five mega brands now across the pharmaceutical sector. Interesting that when you think of the smaller brands, you realize, actually, they’re just sub-brands of the big boys. So, yeah, pharmaceuticals are an interesting one. I mean, most of my work in pharmaceutical has either been a board level, or working with their Key Opinion Leaders, their KOLs, who basically are doctors. They work a lot with doctors, either to sometimes to promote particular brands, but often actually just to promote a specific type of treatment. And I’ll give an example, I’ve done a lot of work with doctors around the flu vaccine. Now, interestingly, this was all obviously, pre-pandemic. But I coached a lot of very senior doctors on how to go out and speak to patient groups about why they should be getting the flu vaccine, or to speak to their funding bodies about why they should be paying for the flu vaccine. So it’s, yeah, and doctors are not on the whole, natural presenters, it doesn’t tend to be in their skill set. So I do a lot of work with those. So pharmaceutical is an odd one. It’s also very, very compliance regulated. So there are lots of very strict rules about what you can and can’t say and what you can and can’t do and how you can mention things and then so that’s been an interesting one that I’ve had to get my head around a lot of that, to understand what people can and can’t stand on stage and say, and what claims you can make and you know how you have to evidence things. So it’s yeah, it is a strange sector.

Martin Henley 29:30
Okay. Okay, so that’s interesting. The last chat I did was with Melanie Farmer, I don’t know if you know, Melanie Farmer, do you? She was up, I think for a long time, about 15 years ago, but she’s now back in Australia and she’s working with the health authorities on these exactly these kinds of issues. So like they’re addressing, they’ve been involved in pandemic type stuff more recently. But yeah, okay. So that’s interesting. Okay, so that’s your first group is pharma, second group is accountants.

Steve Bustin 30:01

Martin Henley 30:02
That’s interesting, because what accountant has anything of any interest to say.

Steve Bustin 30:07
Well, okay. And essentially, a lot of accountants come into my sessions and go, “Oh, God, I’m just, you know, people don’t want to hear what I want to say.” And it’s like, actually, you are often the most important person at the table. Because you control the budget, what you say dictates every other decision that’s taken in that meeting. So a lot of my work with accountants is getting them to understand the importance of what it is they have to deliver. Now the problem is, without wanting to over generalize, most accountants are not necessarily the most charismatic of people. It’s not a profession, that that tends to appeal to those who may be, who are more often performative in their natures. So a lot of accountants came and said, “Oh, God, you know, what I do is dull, what I’ve got to say is dull.” It’s like actually, no, it’s not. If you’re in a board meeting, presenting the figures, every other decision that board makes is based on those figures. So you are the most important person in the room. The problem they have is they tend to be so wedded to the data, is trying to get them to present in a way that everybody else can understand. You know, as you I’m sure you know, accountancy has its own jargon, it has its own approach that not non-accountants often struggle with. So it’s often finding ways of helping them to explain the financial position, or what this data says, in a way that everyone understand. So we quite often end up using analogies, we end up using, you know focusing on what is the crux piece of data that we need to talk about, you know, a lot of accountants will put up a spreadsheet and then they’ll pick out your one or two cells from an enormous spreadsheet. It’s, I don’t know, let’s scrap the spreadsheet, let’s just concentrate on the figures in those cells. Why is that figure important? How do we tell the story? What context we need to put across? So it’s a challenge. But it’s yeah, it’s, you know, it’s an interesting sector. And you know, and again, I enjoy being able to help people discover that actually, they can present and what they are saying is interesting, and in fact what they’re saying is important. So it’s yeah, it’s a fun journey to go on with them.

Martin Henley 32:04
Okay, cool. So that’s interesting, because that’s what I think you’re in business to make money. And the only people who really know if you’ll make it, the only people who know if you’re making money are the accountants. Yeah. So I’ve always thought that accountants should be much more interesting. But I’ve always found them so wedded to the compliance.

Steve Bustin 32:28
They have to be.

Martin Henley 32:29
So you agree.

Steve Bustin 32:31
Yes. You know, they can’t start making claims just like pharmaceuticals. They can’t make claims that aren’t true. They can’t exaggerate. They, you know, they have to be and it’s all about the data. The problem is they just become so subsumed in that data that it’s quite hard to extricate, what are the really important points and then to explain it in a way that everyone understand.

Martin Henley 32:50
Okay, I think I’m saying something slightly different, which is like accountants hold the key to kind of your success, like, what am I trying to say? It’s actually much more interesting what accountants are doing than what they think they’re doing.

Steve Bustin 33:04
Oh, absolutely.

Martin Henley 33:05
They seem to think that it’s just about complying with whatever the tax laws are, or just nearly complying with whatever the tax laws are, or bending the tax rules as much as you can. But actually, like the function of money in your business is what the accountants do, and that’s how you’re going to be successful.

Steve Bustin 33:21

Martin Henley 33:21
Okay. So that’s interesting. So that’s your second group as accountants, that’s mainly about making them interesting, because they don’t believe they’re interesting. And the third one is marketing agencies. So when you say agencies?

Steve Bustin 33:34
Agencies of all types, you know, marketing agencies, PR agencies, SEO agencies, digital agencies, design agencies, I’ve worked with all sorts of types. But you know, having run an agency myself, you know, because I understand that world, so yeah, that’s why I end up doing a lot of work there.

Martin Henley 33:48
Yes, I’m getting shouted at from downstairs, I’m gonna have to message them. So they know I’m on a call. They already know I’m on a call, by the way, but they are still shouting at me anyway. So the interesting thing for me about that then is, and is a broader point, but it’s the same, which is why are marketing agents, they’re all marketer types of marketing agency that you deal with, yeah, PR, SEO, design. Why are they so bad at selling themselves? Why do they struggle? I can understand why accountants struggle to sell themselves or find a pitch or find what’s interesting about themselves. But surely marketing people that’s their job, is to find the interesting thing in something.

Steve Bustin 35:46
That’s right. So you’re asking about why do agencies struggle?

Martin Henley 35:51

Steve Bustin 35:52
I’ll tell you what a lot of their struggles are about is differentiation. Because, you know, if I’m working with a PR agency, you know, if a client has put out a call sender, and they are now having pitches from, let’s say, three agencies, those three agencies all have the same set of journalists they can reach, they all have the same sort of influences they can reach. It’s not like one agency, say, “Oh we’ve got this Sunday paper that nobody else can reach.” Or “We’ve got access to the biggest youtuber that nobody else can.” All the agencies do pretty much the same thing, Marketing agencies all do pretty much the same thing. So the pitches tend to end up being very similar. And I spend a lot of my time helping them differentiate themselves from the other agencies. And it’s often not about the services, because the services are pretty much the same. Anybody can buy Facebook advertising space, you know, then what it becomes about is what’s the experience of working with you like? How do we differentiate in terms of who you are, and how you work and what your work experience is like far more than the services. Trying to differentiate your services is very, very hard at this day and age, because all agencies do very much the same. So it is yeah, a lot of extract differentiation, and that can come down to how you pitch. So I worked with a design agency a while back, who were struggling, because they were getting like every other design agency, they were going in with a deck of PowerPoint slides. And you know showing here’s our creds, and here’s some ideas, some examples of work, my edit. And every pitch was the same. So it was like, “Okay, what are we missing here? Actually, what we’re missing is any sense of design.” So what they now do is they go into a pitch a situation, or when we’re in the room with a with a scroll, large roll of paper, they will ask all the people that are in the meeting table to kill the mugs, kill the glasses, kill the laptops. And they will unroll this piece of paper on the table. Some stuff will be pre-drawn or pre-written on it. But then the team from the design agency will actually go around and stand between the people at the table so they can reach this scroll. And they will start to design. And as the person who is pitching talks, the designers will actually then draw and write and do some design. And the clients love it. Because they can see Design in Action, they can see that this agency has taken a new approach, that they’re seeing design created for them. And most companies are like, “Oh my god, can we keep the scroll?” To which of course the agency say, “If you take us on, of course you can.” But otherwise, they roll it up and it gets taken away. And then it gets presented back to them when they win the contract. So yeah, anyway, so it’s finding new ways of delivering, if you are going into a pitch with a deck of PowerPoint slides you are about to create, to deliver a really boring pitch. There are other ways of doing things that a lot of agencies still haven’t done. The big problem, the moment is that a lot of agencies are still trying to deliver their offline pitch online. So I’m seeing slides with, you know, just rows and rows of logos of previous clients. And I’m seeing huge amounts of text, lots of bullet points. And those sorts of slides don’t work on a small screen, you have to bear in mind that some of the people may be watching your presentation on their phone. So your slides have got to be readable and legible and interesting and engaging on a screen that size. So it’s, yeah, that’s what a lot of my time is spent with at the moment with agencies is mostly helping them design online pictures rather than what trying to do offline, online stuff. Well it’s helping differentiate how, what is the experience of working with you like as different to another agency. And it’s tricky. Some agencies really struggle with it. But what’s missing from so many presentations is creativity. They’ll come in and say we’re a really creative agency. And it’s like, well, if you had to tell me you’re creative, you’re clearly not. You know, if you have to tell me, people come say, “Oh, we are really passionate.” If you have to tell me you are passionate, you are clearly not. You know, your creativity, your passion should come across in quite frankly what you wear, what you say, the way you walk into the room, certainly in terms of the way you present your pitch. And some of these agencies actually just roll it out. I was talking to an agency owner a few weeks ago about this, and she admitted that a big, it was a 20 person agency. She admitted that they haven’t won a single pitch in the last year. And you know, but I was looking at it and they were pitching from their front rooms without any sort of thought to what’s behind them. They weren’t using like e-cam or OBS or any of the tools that are available to us now that we can actually use to make these things look great. So actually, it was like working through quite a basic level of what needs to be done. So many agencies rely on one or two people to do the pitches. They actually need a team to do it, you know play to they strengths. If you got a high energy client, you’ve probably want to send a high energy pitcher. You’ve got to maybe have somebody different to your accountancy firms, that sort of thing. And then it’s about, finding the message that resonates. But a lot of people aren’t doing much research with a potential client. This agency I was talking to, she admitted this, she would like, she’d have a day of meetings, jump off a call, go into a pitch, pitch for 45 minutes and then come back put. I was like, “So how much rehearsal have you done? Oh none.” And it’s like if you’re not rehearsing, it’s never going to be good. You know, and she said, “I’ve got a standard deck.” And it’s like, “Well again, that’s not going to be good, if you are presenting with a standard deck, it’s gonna be standard, it’s gonna be generic and do you really want to come across as a generic agency?” So, yea it’s something that winds me up quite frankly but I enjoy helping them unpick. And you know, it’s obvious, you could suddenly see that light bulb moment and they go, “Oh okay,

Martin Henley 41:41
Yes. Okay, brilliant. Because I think the issue is like that is, like you say that all marketing companies do the same thing, but if you’re a Facebook agency, then maybe, you know, you are just buying ads. But surely the role of a marketing agency is to look for and kind of nourish that differentiation in you to make you look better or different. And I think that, that people need agencies, because it’s hard to do that for yourself, it’s hard to look from inside and see.

Steve Bustin 42:12
Yeah, but an actually do, but put yourself in the client’s position. They’re sat in a meeting room or sat on zoom calls, and they see three agencies come in, have a morning, you know, you’ve got a 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock pitch. And what they see is very, very similar from each agency. And in fact, most if you talk to clients, about why did you buy us, why did you book us, it doesn’t tend to be over because you know, your your, your, you had a really interesting tool that nobody else had, or you had a better strategy approach other people, what they tend to say is, we really liked you, you seem much more fun, you seem more creative, you seem more energetic, you seem more relaxed. That’s what when it comes to it, so many pitches are so similar. The decision is often not on anything really to do with the business. Because as I say, if you’re faced with three marketing agencies, they’re all gonna be able to help you reach your market. You know, it’s not as if one of them is going to be Ogilvy. But they’re never gonna be able to do it. It’s a lot of it will come down to the people to people relationships, how you come across how you pitch, how creative you all that stuff tends to be around the the softer skills, if you like, in the soft the way you present, that it is actually about what you present.

Martin Henley 43:29
Yes, good. Brilliant. So it sounds then like a lot of what you’re doing is, and the way we’re talking about it now, it sounds like presenting is almost like the purest form of marketing or pitching. Do you know what I mean, it’s like,

Steve Bustin 43:53
It’s not mediated.

Martin Henley 43:54
And then what you say, yes,

Steve Bustin 43:57

Martin Henley 43:57
Maybe it’s just the pinnacle of marketing.

Steve Bustin 44:00
It’s certainly one of them. Because actually, to be able to, you know, to be invited to come and spend 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes delivering your message to an audience is a privilege. And I always, one of the things I often coach people on is, you have to remember it’s a privilege and you have to earn the audience’s attention. You know, in this day and age, they could all be sat there checking their emails very easily. You have to earn their attention. And it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to stand on a stage and speak. So yeah, but you have, then you have this time to sort of say what you want. And it’s the mistake I see too many people making is they will just go into their creds, so they spent too long talking. This is who we are, and this is my background, and this is where I come from and then suddenly, their content is all concentrated in the last 10 minutes. So you have to remember that your audience want value. They don’t want a sales pitch. And it’s about what’s in it for them. Too many people focus on what’s in it for me as a presenter. But put yourself in the audience’s shoes, when you stand up to speak when you are introduced onto that stage, what do the audience sit there thinking? What do they want? The first thing they want is they want this to be engaging. And they want it to be some fun, entertaining. And I’m not saying we don’t mean jazz hands, you know, but then the second thing is they want relevance, it has to be relevant and useful to them. So if you consult, you know, if you’re putting together a speech or a presentation, you think, okay, is this engaging? is this relevant to my audience? And is this useful? Then you’re, you’re on the way to put together a good presentation. I often say to people, if people go away and do one thing differently as a result of what you have told them, what do you want that to be? and build your presentation around that.

Martin Henley 45:43
Brilliant. And I think that is true of all content. Yeah. And kind of all marketing and all messaging. Okay. So here’s an interesting question. How much of it is content? And how much of it is delivery? And this will take us hopefully into the other part of what you must be doing, which is teaching people how to present this well.

Steve Bustin 46:13
Yeah. I can’t really give you a percentage, I don’t think there is a percentage.

Martin Henley 46:18
It’s got to be a percentage.

Steve Bustin 46:23
No, it’s not. Because, yeah, but you’ve got to have, yea if you’ve got crap content, it doesn’t matter how good a presenter you are, it’s not going to resonate with an audience. I think okay, so it’s probably easier if you’ve got great content, and you’re not a brilliant presenter, you’re probably going to go further than a brilliant presenter with crap content, because people see through bullshit very fast. Whereas they recognize that presenting is tough. And they recognize when they’re hearing good stuff, it could maybe just be presented better. So it probably is, I think probably content is actually more important than necessarily than your presentation skills. So,

Martin Henley 47:05
I suppose people take confidence from the content, you know, if they know they’ve got something good, then they’re going to be more comfortable presenting.

Steve Bustin 47:12
Yeah. And they will make a judgement very fast. Is this going to be relevant to me? Is this actually going to be relevant to me, my job, my role? Is this gonna make my life easier in some way. Is this useful. And it’s one of the issues I have with things like Ted Talks and TEDx talks, because they’re all about one big idea. I think a lot of them are theoretically really interesting, but actually have very little practical application. And I think the better TED Talks, the ones that actually have some sort of practical application, or at least a call to action, if there’s no call to action to go at the end of a speech, what was the point of giving it? If there isn’t something that people can go and do or think or say differently, why do it?

Martin Henley 47:53
Yeah, and I’m with you, I think if you’ve got, I kind of do the calculations, so if I’ve got 100 people for 10 minutes, that is, what is that? That’s a thousand minutes of somebody’s life. Do you know what I mean, that’s 1000 minutes in total.

Steve Bustin 48:08

Martin Henley 48:08
So I’m always really interested if I possibly can to deliver some value in that. And that might be why my stand up comedy was so preachy. It wasn’t preachy, but you know, I’m like really aware of that. What really upsets me, really upsets me, is when people pitch I hate that, like, I will get enraged if I’m in an audience and somebody’s gonna pitch. And like, in seconds, and you’re sitting there thinking, I’ve got 10 minutes for this, or I’ve got 20 minutes of this or half an hour.

Steve Bustin 48:42

Martin Henley 48:40
I could walk out, I think. So what I’m interested in, I did a presentation called Present Like a Mother, and I think that’s what you have to do. And what was the point of that? The point of that was, like people think that the audience are gonna openly revolt. They are gonna come at them with pitchforks and stuff and that rarely happens. I feel like doing that if I realize am like 20 seconds into a 20 minutes long pitch, I feel like I’m in a pitchfork, but audiences are very forgiving, do you think?

Martin Henley 48:42
Yeah of course. Yeah, they want you to do well.

Martin Henley 48:42

Steve Bustin 48:43
You know, watching a bad presentation is excruciating. You know, if you can see somebody is suffering being up there, the whole audience suffers with them. And so yeah, you’ve got to entertain an audience to an extent. You know, but an audience, yea is on your side. They want you to do well and they want to get something from it. If they’re going to give you the their attention, if they’re going to give you their eyeballs and their ears, they want something back. You know, it has to be a two way process between you and the audience if you’re presenting. And too many people stand up on stage and just are in their heads. They’re not in the moment. They’re not in the room. And they just stand up and recite. And it’s one of my big bugbears it’s one thing that I do a lot of work on with people is getting them off the script. And I always say, know what you want to say, but don’t know your words, you know, don’t be scripted. Because as soon as again, you can always tell if particularly somebody’s standing there reading it. But if somebody just saying that sort of reciting as an audience, you lose contact and lose rapport very fast, because you want somebody who’s talking to you and with you, not at you.

Martin Henley 50:29
Absolutely. Okay, so how does that look then? Are people coming to you largely because they don’t know what it is, they’re supposed to be saying. Or because they don’t know how they should be presenting, or they don’t have the confidence to present? What is their pain?

Steve Bustin 50:51
Mixture, but a lot of the confidence or not having confidence around presenting is because they don’t really know what they should be saying. So if you can help them develop great content, and this is really talking about relevance in any entertainment and engagement and lots of stuff, then actually their confidence will soar. It’s also the big one, for me is rehearsal. So many people don’t rehearse their presentations or pictures. And rehearsal is again was what will give you confidence because you know how to say it, you know where you go from one topic to the next, you know, what the junctions are. And actually that will give you the ability to deliver confidently and look more relaxed, and you can take your time because you know that actually this 20 minutes, you’ve got the content needed to feel that 20 minutes not gonna overrun, you’re not gonna run short. So, yeah, confidence is around so many different things. Having confidence in your own content is a key part of it. It’s not just about “Oh, my God, I’m going to stand up there and melt.” It is, it’s a whole process.

Martin Henley 51:53
Yes. And I’m with you. So how do you then coach people through that? I mean, is that the way you see it? Are you having to coach people through that? Like the stats isn’t there? They say that people’s greatest fear after death is public speaking.

Steve Bustin 52:11
No. No. Public speaking comes top. I know it’s crazy. I actually do have a T shirt, which says “Your greatest fear is how I make a living.” To which some people got going what? spiders? Yeah, it is true. There are polls that says people are more scared of public speaking than they are a death. And there is an element of

Martin Henley 52:35
It’s not true is it? It can’t be true. Because if you go to someone say like either, I’m going to kill you now you have to get up on stage, they will definitely get up on stage and present.

Steve Bustin 52:44

Martin Henley 52:44
So. Yeah. Okay, good. Sorry, I cut you off.

Steve Bustin 52:50
Don’t worry.

Martin Henley 52:52
But that’s the issue that you’re addressing, That’s why I’m interested to know.

Steve Bustin 52:55
Yea, I mean, yeah, some people do have deep seated psychological issues around their own confidence. And so much of it, it’s not just about presenting, it’s about self confidence, and self belief, and all those things. With those, I mean, I have colleagues in the speech coaching world who specialize in helping people with psychological issues. And I know people who’ve gone through hypnotherapy, and all those sorts of things. And I would never tried to do that, I always pass people on to a specialist, I think they need that sort of help. But for most people, it’s about actually, they’ve never really had the practice. They’ve never had somebody critique them and help them hone it. They can’t do it themselves. And they don’t just don’t quite know where to start. So they just get it on their head, Oh, my God. And it was also, you know, there is this thing, I suppose it’s a myth, in the corporate world that presenting is hard, you should be nervous about presenting, that this can be career changing. And joy can be. But actually, it can also be great fun, it can be a great way to boost your reputation to impress your boss to get yourself promoted, and all these sort of things. So it’s helping people understand what they actually want to get out of the presentation. And then I say it’s going back to this thing about do you actually know what you want to say? How are you gonna put it across? You know, how can you make it stand out, and then rehearsing it. So I can’t stress how important rehearsal is, and it’s the one step most people miss out.

Martin Henley 54:14
Right? Is there not a danger though? If you are rehearsing that it becomes, it starts to sound scripted, it starts to sound like you are reciting it, is that?

Steve Bustin 54:24
There is an element, but it’s it’s rare. I mean, it tends to happen when people have started with a longhand script. And it’s one of the reasons I don’t let people writing longhand script when I’m working with them. We’ll write bullet points and we’ll have structure but we don’t have a script. Because as soon as you have a script, yeah people will start reciting it. And it goes back to what I said about, know what you want to say but don’t know your words. So you can you know, you if you know what you need to talk about, where we’ve come from where we’re going, where we’re getting to, you know, and past present future is just a classic presentation structure. You should be able to talk through that. Another way I get people, if people are really, really nervous about stringing together long pieces of content, I will encourage them to use a format like FAQs. So it’s like, here are the 10 things you need to know about marketing your business. Number one, you need to know about social media. Number two, you need to know number two, and I shall get people to structure it that way. Because if I asked you, if I asked most people in marketing, how should you be marketing your business? Those people talk about it pretty easily. So if you turn it into ostensibly a one sided Q&A, where you’re asking yourself the questions, then answering it, that can actually help people go through it. It’s when people know they’ve got 25 minutes, and they’ve got to fit it in, they don’t quite know how to start, how to stop, how to structure it, that’s when they run into problems.

Martin Henley 55:39
Right. So how much rehearsal are you recommending? If I find presenting next month, I’ve got presentation, and it’s important, and I’ve got 20 minutes? How much rehearsal should I be doing?

Steve Bustin 55:54
You should have run it out loud at least three times. The first time you video it. So you prop up your phone in the corner, your video it and you watch it back and critique it. And you will be your own harshest critic by a country mile. And just look at what you’re saying how you’re saying it? Are you drowning? Is your body, what your body language like? Does it make sense as a structure? That sort of stuff. You then hone it, you know, so you make the changes necessary. And then you rehearse it again, in front of somebody. So a colleague, your partner, online, present it again, and get their feedback, hone it, and then rehearse it again in its final form, and then you take it out deliver it. So, you know, I would say a minimum of three times, some people will do it over and over and over again. And yes, there is a danger of it starting to sound scripted, it’s why I try to keep people away from a set of words. You know, the other thing I’m seeing a lot of, when people like interrupting when I’m presenting, people want to you know, they start to ask questions, and I then lose my place and so yeah, and that’s the problem. If you’re in a script, you’re in your head. Whereas if you are just chatting to somebody, a presentation should be a conversation, really one sided conversation, but it should still be a given take. If you’re interrupted, then it’s much easier to jump back to where you want to be rather than going “Oh, my God, which words have I said? and which sentence I finished?” Yeah, that will throw you.

Martin Henley 57:19
Okay, good. So this was my issue with stand up comedy, I thought stand up comedy was going to be so much more fun than it was. Because what I didn’t realize is that the whole thing is scripted. And basically, you’re reciting a script.

Steve Bustin 57:35

Martin Henley 57:36
And that actually scared the shit out of me. Because you’ve seen me present. I’ve never spent a second in rehearsal. You know, I’ve got, I’ve got my slides, and there are the prompts. And if I run out of things to say, then I just start interrogating the audience. That’s my style. And I kind of enjoy it. So my question to you then is, do you have a speaking coach? How much kind of training have you undertaken to get to where you are now? Or are you a natural at this? That’s the question.

Steve Bustin 58:09
Yeah, no, no, I absolutely, I have a couple people who I will go to, if I’m putting together a new speech, a new keynote, I will absolutely go, I have two people who I work with, for different reasons. One is a paid coach. One is a colleague, and we coach each other. So I will run content out for them, they will critique it, they will give me feedback. And then I will make it better from there. So yeah, I mean, absolutely. It’s, you know you can absolutely critique yourself, you will be far harsher than anybody else. And often you won’t focus on important bits. So I think it is important to, you know, to have somebody. And it’s one reason I now have I have a couple of clients who I work with on an ongoing basis, because they won’t to have a speech coach on call. So I have a chapter works with a pharmaceutical company in Zurich, who will ring me going “Okay, I’ve got to get this speech on Monday. I’ve got this coming up in a couple of weeks time. Can we prep?” Sometimes it comes to me saying “I’ve already written it, can we just get this degree right?” Sometimes come to me saying “I haven’t got a clue what to say here.” And I will help develop his speech with him. So, you know, some people actually see it as an ongoing part of their professional development. I also then get a lot of people going “Oh my God, I got to give this presentation on Thursday. And I already I’m shitting myself, where do I go from here?” So you know, it’s yeah, some people see it as personal development and professional development and will absolutely wants to hone it. Other people is a panicky thing.

Martin Henley 59:34
Right. So before you started speaking, before you started presenting, did you get some coaching then or did you just you said you just found yourself doing it?

Steve Bustin 59:47
Yeah, I mean, I did I you know, even at school.

Martin Henley 59:50
Sorry, I think you’re a natural and I think there are naturals. I think there are people who just like for me, if I’m standing in front of a group of people, that’s I’m in my flow state, that is the best thing that can happen to me, you know. And I’m absolutely buzzing. And I’ve never been nervous and I’ve never had to rehearse anything. And I could probably stand up and give you 15 minutes on 100 different subjects at like five minutes notice. And I think you’re in that camp. And then it’s like they say, like professional, like really good footballers struggled to become managers, because they don’t understand why people aren’t so as good as they were, can’t on do the things I do.

Steve Bustin 1:00:31
Yeah. And I mean, thank you for saying I’m a natural and I’m, you know, I’m aware I have a, I seem to have a talent for it. And people seem to like my persona on stage. And one of the biggest compliment I can get is that people say you’re exactly the same on stage as you are off stage. I don’t have a stage performance persona. And my style is very informal, it’s very chatty, it’s why I like compering and emceeing work so much, because I mean I can bounce off an audience far more I’m not stuck in, I’m not sort of trying to deliver a certain set of words. But yes, there are certainly naturals. But even now, you know, I work at it. And one of the ways I can make it look easy when I’m on stage is because I would have rehearsed it and checked it and I do my research and I will have prepared it and things and then I could, that means I can relax into it. Because I know what I’m doing. I hate that feeling of bullshitting my way through it, quite frankly. I mean, flying by the seat of my pants, I don’t mind but you know, and I’ve done quite a lot of improv. You know, unlike you, I did stand up, match up. I prefer improv because there’s no script to learn, because you make it up. And what was so good about improv was it taught me to be playful. And it taught me that I could, you know, trust myself that if the brown stuff hits the big revolving thing, something vaguely relevant will come out of my mouth. And I can respond to what’s going on around me. And it’s, you know, I, you know, I actually quite enjoy it not necessarily when things go wrong, but when the unexpected happens, and being able to respond accordingly. That’s quite fun. So it is there is an element of I think, yeah, natural talent. There’s an element of having done the training, having done the coaching, doing the preparation, and what have you to make it look easy. Yeah. There’s the old adage about, you know, it takes a lot of hard work to make it look easy.

Martin Henley 1:02:18
Yes, there is that adage. And the one thing I didn’t enjoy about the Professional Speakers Association is that it was very formal and very kind of formulaic, not formulaic but formal. And I suppose, what I don’t know is if some people like if this is something that you find difficult, maybe that’s what they need. Do you know I mean?

Steve Bustin 1:02:43
There’s too many big organizations around us, there’s Toastmasters, which is a great place to go. If you want to practice speaking, you want to get feedback and you want to get. They are real Tartars on things like never honing or hiring. And it’s a part of natural speech, we all do it. I don’t have a problem with it. And then the Toastmasters will teach you how to speak to an extent.

Martin Henley 1:03:06
Yeah, I’ve been to those meetings. They’ll count the arms and the hours.

Steve Bustin 1:03:09
Yeah, yeah.

Martin Henley 1:03:10
And you down.

Steve Bustin 1:03:11
Absolutely. It’s very judgmental.

Martin Henley 1:03:15
Very judgmental. That’s exactly what I was gonna say.

Steve Bustin 1:03:17
And I think the problem with Toastmasters is they have a house style that you’re taught. So I mean, I can spot when a speaker walked on stage within 20 seconds of them opening their mouth I probably, shorter than that. I go, oh okay, they’ve done Toastmasters.

Martin Henley 1:03:30
They want to get hand to hand as soon as they get on stage.

Steve Bustin 1:03:33

Martin Henley 1:03:34
They want to shake hands? Yeah.

Steve Bustin 1:03:37
And they said there was a start, which I did, which I yeah, I don’t particularly like, but hey, it works them. And I know a lot of people love Toastmasters, the Professional Speaking Association, the PSA is slightly different in as much as it will do give you help to improve your speaking, we don’t tend to work with absolute beginners in terms of people who’ve never spoken before. But the most important difference is we teach how to make money out of it. So it was much a business support organization as a training company or training organizations for speaking. So there is certainly a moment where you will, you know, your speaking will be improved, partly through the opportunity to showcase and receive critique and feedback, but actually we’ll teach how to make money out of it. A lot of it’s about the business side of it, which is different.

Martin Henley 1:04:19
Okay, good. Right, good. When I, when people say they’re scared of speaking or presenting, it goes back to this presentation like this Present Like a Mother thing that I did. What I say to people is that you, if it’s going right, if it’s intentioned well, you are the least important person in that room, because what you’re supposed to be doing is to be delivering value for that audience. And if you’re scared about you, it’s almost like there’s no room because we’ve all seen it happen. But like, the more ego there is in this, the less effective you’re going to be. Does that make sense? So if you’re thinking about you, you’re in trouble. If you’re talking about you, you’re in trouble. We don’t know, is that valid what I’m saying?

Steve Bustin 1:05:15
Yeah, it is. I mean, you know, the most important person in the room is not the speaker, it’s the audience member. You know, you are there to provide value for them. And you are there to engage them and entertain them and to make it relevant and useful, etc. All those things we talked about. And yeah, ego does get in the way, you know, I see a lot of people and stuff that was talking all about me, and here’s my personal story. And here’s my business journey and all this stuff. Yea, fine, great. What’s the relevance me? I’m not a great, I don’t particularly enjoy motivational speakers for a similar reason. I’m just like, I don’t want the platitudes. I don’t. I’m yeah. Am I impressed you’ve climbed Everest, fine for you to do it, not gonna interest me. And then it’s like they’re trying to then extrapolate a lesson that we can all take from them having climbed Everest and how we all need to remember that it’s all it’s not just about getting to the top, it’s about helping each other. Yeah, all right, whatever. It just doesn’t float my boat at all. I want something useful that I can apply to my life to my business now, not platitudes. I think too many people thinking that motivational, inspirational speaking sphere, talking platitudes. So I’ve lost track of actually where this question started.

Martin Henley 1:06:22
Ego, they shouldn’t be talking about themselves.

Steve Bustin 1:06:24
Yeah, I mean, it’s certain you do need a certain amount of ego to be able to say to somebody, right, I want you to listen to me for the next 45 minutes, because I have got something to say, I can help change your business, or I can help change your life, it does require a certain amount of ego to want to do it. And that’s the thing, if people haven’t got that ego, they will often you know, that’s when the nerves will kick in. But if people now come to me, and they are really nervous, I will talk them through and say what’s the worst that could happen. And then like, I could forget what I’m going to say. So okay, let’s talk about prompts. Let’s talk about what’s going to, you know, we’re not gonna have a written, handwritten or full written script, but we can talk about how you prompt, you can always just get to Q&A. You know, there are ways around, if you completely blank, there are tried and tested techniques to get you out of it. And what’s the worst that can happen to people, but I might, I might fall over, it’s like, when was the last time you fell over. If you’re falling over regularly, go to your doctor, you know, or I might, you know, I might I just go really red and I sweat a lot. It’s like fine, wear a lighterweight jacket, and just, you know, set out to be as comfortable as you can be, and acknowledge that this is how your nerves manifest and get on with it. You know, people build up this enormous big thing they might, I think, for a lot of people, the anticipation is actually far worse than the reality. Once they’re off and running, they are fine. A lot of people, you know, they can also get, “Oh my God that went so fast.” Most people prepare far too much content, because they’re terrified of running out of things to say. On the whole, it’s tricky. If you’re speaking in a big formal conference, and you massively under run, there is a bit of an issue. Because the program is timed certain way. But if you’re speaking in a meeting, which sound most people present is an intermediate something to the team or in a meeting whatever. That presentation was too short, said no one ever. You know, it doesn’t it’s like, if you if you’ve got 20 minutes, it doesn’t mean you have to fill it. If you can say what you need to say what the audience needs from you in 10. Most audience members would rather have a 10 minute extra break, than trying to pad and fill time. So most people massively over prepare. And then they end up they spend ages talking about their introduction. They try to fit the content, and then they desperately desperately squeeze everything in at the end. And it’s one of the things. Yeah, the art of the edit is a big part of presenting. And knowing how much content you actually need is sort of, is quite an important part of it these days.

Martin Henley 1:08:47
Yes. I saw a meme recently, which was, “You should remember that everyone who ever died on Mount Everest was once a highly motivated person.”

Steve Bustin 1:09:00

Martin Henley 1:09:01
And maybe just calm down. I think. I just like that. So I thought I’d share it.

Steve Bustin 1:09:06

Martin Henley 1:09:06
I think you’re absolutely right. And I think it’s, have you ever got to the point with someone where you’ve just said to them, look, it’s much better that you find somebody else to do this, you’re clearly not going to be able to do this?

Steve Bustin 1:09:21
No, I will tend to suggest that they do go and see somebody with a psychological background or a hypnotherapist or whatever to counter that. Have I ever actually told somebody not to present? I don’t think I have, no if they are in that much trouble. I will get, make sure they have seen the right person because yeah, I have to say I don’t have that set of skills. You know, I’m not trained in those practice. So I will send people off to see somebody who’s right. I have occasionally suggested particularly to an agency. Maybe this isn’t the right person to pitch you know, or maybe you need to support them. So that actually you take, maybe they just do a section of the pitch, not the whole thing. Because you often sometimes you will have one person who has a very specific set of expertise that you need to introduce. And they’re just not a very good presenter with it. So maybe we just, you know, we give them a little bit of the presentation and get other people to work around it. But no, I, you know, I think anybody, if you can stand up and say, “Hello, my name is, this is what I do. And this is why I’d like to talk to you.” Most people should be able to get through it. It’s not that difficult. But I’m aware, I say that as somebody who enjoys being on stage, and a lot of people loathe it.

Martin Henley 1:10:42
Exactly. Okay, good. So the current theme, what’s been going on in the last 18 months, and everybody presenting online. How does that change? You say that you’ve kind of been busy with this in the last 18 months? Yeah. So how does that change? I’ve given up on, this is my third kind of studio setup. But up until the pandemic, I had a huge Blackboard behind me, it was really cool. And then and the pandemic came, I had to move, right. And that didn’t come with me. And then I’ve got a huge, great big long, four and a half meter wide screen, back screen that went up for about a month, and then some refurbishments happened, and nobody realized that this thing shouldn’t be smashed up. And so this is it. But I’ve thought a little bit like there’s a light on my surf photos, for example. Yeah. And you know, I’ve thought about it a little bit, but the amount of people who have been presenting as this is how you present online with awful, awful setups.

Steve Bustin 1:11:42
Yeah. I mean, you certainly need to spend a little bit of time doing it, you know, and you see the little things like you say, having a little bit of light behind you. But you don’t want too much light behind you, because your silhouette. So actually, it’s having light in front. So I’m currently working in my spare room, because we have building work going on. So I don’t have my usual studio set up. But I made sure the window is in front of me. So that there is light, and actually natural light is always good. It’s quite soft. So it will eliminate. Well, it’s interesting in the course of this call. It’s gone from being bright and sunny outside to being cloudy. I’m aware this side of my face is actually now in more shadow because the lighting has changed around me that is the downside.

Martin Henley 1:12:17
The Michelangelo triangle here, is that what I call it?

Steve Bustin 1:12:20
I mean like that, yeah. So yeah, I mean, it’s basically it’s not making sure that people can hear you properly. I do think some people have gone too far. And there is this big thing, oh my god, if you have a proper studio setup, you shouldn’t be doing it. And if you don’t have, you know, green screening on all this stuff, you don’t have OBS, or e-can sort of those sorts of systems, which I don’t tend to use, I do have an account, but actually very, very rarely use it. Because on the whole, most clients just want to like keep it simple.

Martin Henley 1:12:49

Steve Bustin 1:12:49
So I think Yeah, as long as we can see you clearly and hear you clearly, and your background doesn’t distract. I think that’s okay. The bigger issue for me in terms of the move in the last 18 months is people still using slides and other visual images that they used to use in a big room. And they’re still using them on a small screen. So I’m still seeing you know sheets with tiny text on them, or four graphs on one slide. And actually, we can’t read any of them because even on my laptop screen is still only that big. Whereas put those four graphs onto four separate sides and move through them slightly faster, or overlay them if you need to compare, you know the passage of the data. There are ways to make your visuals far more suitable for small screen. Yeah, much bigger text, far less text per slide, bigger graphics, that sort of stuff. So too many people, I’ve just taken their offline stuff and tried to dump it online. It’s a different format. It’s a different channel. It’s like going from listening to radio to watching TV, it’s always actually different. So people have to accept that.

Martin Henley 1:13:56
And I get a sense also because I spoke to James Owens on these things. And he was saying that it’s almost more of a privilege, it’s more difficult to get a meeting with people now. Because essentially, you’re being invited into their homes. So if they have a video meeting with you, you’re in their house, you see their kids come storming in, you know blah, blah.

Martin Henley 1:14:20
Which was really interesting to me, because that hadn’t occurred to me at all. It’s like the whole world thought well, we can just do this on zoom now. But clearly there are issues with that, the people don’t necessarily consider. You sound great. How come you sound so good today, what have you done?

Steve Bustin 1:14:38
I haven’t actually done anything. This is just, because I’m home I don’t have my usual setup. And this is just the mic on the laptop. So

Martin Henley 1:14:46
Like you mend your voice.

Steve Bustin 1:14:48
Well, I suppose I mean, yeah, I know. And also I am projecting slightly, I’m talking slightly more energetically and slightly louder than I might do if we were just having a regular chat. But uh, I’m in a space that has carpet on the floor. There’s quite a lot of stuff around me. So that’s going to be absorbing from the sound as well. So there’s actually quite a lot of baffle material around me, which is nice. That helps soften the sound.

Martin Henley 1:15:11
You just do sound great.

Steve Bustin 1:15:14
Thank you.

Martin Henley 1:15:14
You sound great. And you look like the sort of person that a slightly older lady would be attracted to that’s your trouble, Steve?

Steve Bustin 1:15:22
Well, clearly, I know of at least 18 women who have dated me online, so yeah.

Martin Henley 1:15:29
But that’s a huge privilege for them. As long as your husband doesn’t find out. We’re good.

Steve Bustin 1:15:33

Martin Henley 1:15:34
Okay, cool. So what’s your recommendation, then? What’s your recommendation, if I want a career as a speaker, which I might, or if I am having to present, if I’m finding myself having to present? Or what is your recommendation in those kind of situation?

Steve Bustin 1:15:59
Those are two different sort of things. If people are looking to SAP want to get in as a professional speaker, and it’s a fun way to earn living I’d say. You’ve got to understand very clearly, what you want to talk on. And you’ve got to have quite a specific topic. Who do you want to talk to? And to what end? What do you want that sort of people to do? So those are the three questions, I do a lot of work with people who come to me saying, “Oh, I want to establish myself as a speaker.” We do a lot of work on those questions. It’s surprising how many professional speakers take several years, and I count myself amongst them to really nail down what you speak on. In terms of people, they’ve just got a presentation coming up. And they’re not quite sure where to start, I would say, get help. Or you know, there are lots of really good presenting books out there. There’s lots of content on YouTube, and I have a YouTube channel full of tips, so you know, go and look at other people start practicing, rehearse, all those sorts of things. A good presentation happens in the preparation, not on the podium. It’s quite a good way of thinking about this. You know, it’s not just about your presentation skills. When you’re standing up in front of the audience. It’s all about how you prepare. So yeah, that’s, again, that’s what I spend a lot of my time doing with people who’s actually in the preparation stage. And then we’ll get to the end where we actually right now let’s work on how you deliver it and the actual presentation skills on the stage craft.

Martin Henley 1:17:26
Brilliant. Cool. I think we’ve been going for about an hour and 15 minutes. So it feels to me like we got to the end. Is there something you wanted to say that you haven’t said?

Steve Bustin 1:17:36
No, we’ve covered a lot. It’s been quite wide ranging, which is good.

Martin Henley 1:17:40
It’s good. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been really good to see you again after all this time.

Steve Bustin 1:17:45
And you.

Martin Henley 1:17:45
So here I’m gonna give you an assumptive close. Are you ready?

Steve Bustin 1:17:48

Martin Henley 1:17:50
Okay, so who are the two people that you recommend I speak to on my talk marketing mission? I think I might reach out to Julia.

Steve Bustin 1:18:05
I do think Julius Andre, I have a lot of time with Julia she’s great.

Martin Henley 1:18:08
Who else is good at the moment on marketing? Or even more broadly, so things like so what’s interesting is what I’ve heard from you today is how you are kind of marketing your creativity, your ability to be able to find a value point and find interesting ways of sharing that value point. So I’m interested in like storytelling and things like that I’m interested in. Yeah.

Steve Bustin 1:18:47
Oh, okay. That’s good on storytelling.

Martin Henley 1:18:53
It doesn’t have to be that it could be somebody who’s just interesting about sales and marketing. Giving you the hard clothes here aren’t I Stevie?

Steve Bustin 1:19:02
I’d say, yeah, I didn’t have to think about who the best people would be. I mean, there’s lots of sales speakers and people out there. They are not all great. There’s a guy called Tony Morris, who runs a sales training company. He’s very good. I need to look it up. I need to Google his work, find out what his company’s called.

Martin Henley 1:19:22

Steve Bustin 1:19:29
I think he would be very good. And you know, he’s quite active on social and those sort of things. Hang on,

Martin Henley 1:19:42
Is he an older guy?

Steve Bustin 1:19:43
No, he’s younger than me.

Martin Henley 1:19:46
Okay, well, you’re 68 aren’t you?

Steve Bustin 1:19:48
Well exactly.

Martin Henley 1:19:50
Yeah. Okay, cool. I didn’t mean to put such a hard clothes on you there, but I’m very impressed I could still do it if I have to do it. Man, this has been so cool. Thank you so much for your time. Yeah, it’s interesting. I think it’s really interesting. Yeah. Cool. Yeah. So I’m going to allow you to leave and enjoy the rest of your afternoon. If there’s nothing else you want to say.

Steve Bustin 1:20:15
No, we’ve covered a lot, it’s a great time. Its being good.

Martin Henley 1:20:17
It’s being really good fun. Thank you so much, man. And let’s not leave it, maybe I don’t know how long it’s been six, seven years ago.

Steve Bustin 1:20:25
And let me know when you put this up, and I can share it and things as well. So.

Martin Henley 1:20:29
That’d be really cool. It will go up on Tuesday.

Steve Bustin 1:20:32

Martin Henley 1:20:33
Talk marketing Tuesday. That’s the thing TMT.

Steve Bustin 1:20:37
Excellent. To be like an academic.

Martin Henley 1:20:39
Okay, cool. Thanks so much, Steve.

Steve Bustin 1:20:42
You’re welcome. Good to talk to you.

Martin Henley 1:20:43
Cheers man. Bye.

Steve Bustin 1:20:45
Yeah. Thank you.

Martin Henley 1:20:47
And you’re still, no you’ve gone


Martin  0:32

Good afternoon, Mr. Abela.

Nicolai  0:35

Good afternoon Mr. Martin.

Martin  0:40

How are you, man? You’re looking well.

Nicolai  0:42

Yeah, not bad, not bad. Can’t complain summer on the way hey.

Martin  0:46

Summer is on the way. It should be nearly there now it’s June is it? You’re in Malta, you’re right there on the Mediterranean ocean. I understand you got some ocean this morning, did you?

Nicolai  0:55

Yes, actually, it’s a sea, so it doesn’t live up to your ocean expectations.

Martin  1:02

Okay, it’s still very, very beautiful and blue. Good. Good. So we’re here today to talk about marketing. Thank you so much for agreeing to spend this time with me, with us, with whoever ends up watching this. You’ve made me feel terrible, I feel like I’ve had to bully you into doing this.

Nicolai  1:22

But yeah, that’s fine. But anyway, fine.

Martin  1:28

Okay, good. So you understand a little bit of the format. The idea is that you tell us how you’re qualified to talk to us about marketing. What it is that you do, how you offer value for your customers; how you feel about marketing; and then what are your recommendations for people in the current situation, ie the global pandemic situation and the economic situation and then you are free to go and enjoy the ocean some more, if that’s what you’d like to do.

Nicolai  1:55

Most, most, most kind of you, thank you.

Martin  1:58

That’s okay. So tell us how are you qualified to talk to us about marketing?

Martin  2:40

So tell us Mr. Abella, how are you qualified to talk to us about marketing?

Nicolai  3:42

Well, I’ve been meddling in marketing for around 10 years primarily with, starting off, with my own business. I had my own website, which I launched in 2000. Then, I launched my, my ex wife’s yoga business, which involved using various platforms. I mean, using email marketing, social media, Facebook had just being kind of launched, Seo was starting to become a bit more structured. When I saw that, I mean things were picking up it was just a case of investing in a number of courses in digital marketing in, SEO in

Nicolai  4:56

Like some graphic type stuff you do as well.

Nicolai  4:59

Adobe courses, you know, you know, bits and pieces of putting all together. So nothing really structured, but basically seeing how the markets developing and adjusting to the market.

Martin  5:16

Okay, of course, which is what good marketers do. Excellent. So you and I know each other because you attended the Digital Marketing Institute course. When was that, was that 2015?

Nicolai  5:27

That was at least, yeah, six, seven years ago no? One of your first courses in Malta.

Martin  5:37

I think it was the second or third course in Malta.

Nicolai  5:41

That’s right.

Martin  5:41

I think so. The first one was in 2014. No, the first one was 2014, so maybe it was 2015. Yeah, good. Okay. So when did you, because now you offer marketing services, so when did you move into that kind of situation where you’re like, Okay, I can offer this to other businesses now?

Nicolai  6:07

Basically, that must have been at least. So that was seven years. So it must have been five years ago, five, six years ago, when I started offering it full time, and there was enough demand and enough clients who needed that kind of support.

Martin  6:26

Okay. And then interestingly, what did you do before you were …. you ran your own businesses before?

Nicolai  6:33

Just before that, I was working in web development as a project manager with a web development company. We set up websites, custom software development. Basically, I saw that just selling websites to people wasn’t the be all and end all, you know, there needs to there needs to be some, I mean, it needs to be a whole process, an ongoing thing. I was  pushing that so the web development company started offering more support services and digital marketing to get the website out there, to get the message out . Just having a website, that wasn’t enough. When I launched my first website, in 2000, you just plonked it on the World Wide Web, and you just waited for people to look for your services and use use the website, that’s all it was. There was nothing constructive you could do to generate traffic to the website. But as things developed,  more and more platforms were launched, where you could actually actively go out and generate that traffic and get people onto your website. It was an e commerce site, so it was important that I had a lot of traffic coming.

Martin  8:03

Of course, and what were you selling on the site?

Nicolai  8:06

I was selling tourism cruises in Malta.

Martin  8:09

Okay, cool. All right. And Malta gets, is it 2 million visitors a year?

Nicolai  8:17

Something like that. Yeah.

Martin  8:18

Something like that. Okay, so the population is about 400,000 and then there’s …

Nicolai  8:23

500 now?

Martin  8:25

Yeah, okay. You’ve been busy during lockdown. That’s good. Okay, cool. So you’re kind of employed in web development, you ran your own businesses, and then you started offering marketing as services around 5, 6, 7 years ago. Okay, cool. So what sort of customers do you work with and what is it that you do for those customers?

Nicolai  8:49

Basically, I’ve two types of customers. I have clients who come directly to me who need consultancy, and support with their digital marketing strategy, and I work directly with them. Then I have a number of agencies who bring me on board as part of their team to offer the same service to their clients through them. So in some cases I’ll be presented to the client as one of the agencies team,

Martin  9:33

right. Okay. And you are more Freelancer than company you don’t employ people necessarily, you don’t have any ambition to employ people, that’s good. Don’t employ people that’s when it gets really difficult.

Nicolai  9:47

I’m very adamant about that. Before I worked in web, it was 15 years in tourism. I was a leisure manager and I used to organise activities for English language students coming to Malta. I had a big team. So I’ve been through all the, the frustration of employing people and dealing with all that stuff.

Martin  10:23

Yes. The thing is, it’s one thing managing people, which is a nightmare all on its own, when you are managing them and having to pay them. it’s just obscene. I don’t know how anyone does it. I was terrible at it, really bad at it. I tell you how bad I was at it is I would, because I read the one minute manager, I would tell people, they’re amazing until they upset me, and then they would leave in tears. It wasn’t good. It really wasn’t good at all. So so that’s cool. So you’re offering digital marketing strategy to businesses. Part of what I’m interested in is, I think people are reluctant to invest in marketing. I don’t think people like marketing. I don’t think people understand marketing, and I don’t think they want to spend money on marketing. Is this something I’m imagining, or is that also your experience? If that is your experience, how do you address that challenge?

Nicolai  11:25

Oh, totally. I mean, it’s, it’s looked at, by most, the majority of clients and companies, as a necessary evil, they only do it because they get the feeling that they have to do it. And if they don’t do it, their businesses want to go down the drain. Out of all the platforms and all the channels that they use. It shows up most acutely with search engine optimisation. Because that’s something people really, people don’t understand marketing, as a whole, but they really don’t understand search engine optimisation. So trying to get people to understand the importance, it’s a long term strategy, there’s a lot of work involved, it’s very technical. That’s just the the the pinnacle of of frustration, when it comes to all the channels. Facebook, for example, when it comes to social media, people understand. So it’s, it’s related a lot to how much they understand about the channel. If it’s something they can relate to, then it’s easier for them to get on board and believe in what you’re doing.

Martin  12:51

Okay. And historically, Malta has always had a big showing on Facebook. Yeah, they were slow to get to Twitter, if they ever did, I’m not sure if they ever did, even to take up Instagram, I think. For some reason Malta loved Facebook from the very beginning. Okay, so that’s good. Why do you think it is then that people don’t like search engine optimisation, specifically. Why don’t they understand it? Because everyone uses Google.

Nicolai  13:25

It’s, it’s related to their understanding of it. That’s why they don’t like. If they don’t understand it. They’re not going to appreciate the value of it. They think it’s just the case, okay, I’ll vote if I type something in Google, it just magically appears on the search engine results page. The whole process behind which website shows up is quite intricate to explain to someone who doesn’t have a technical background, it does take a bit of time for them to understand the framework and the algorithms behind how Google ranks your website or your web page. After a while why they just, they just, I mean, it’s like, Whoa, this is too technical for me, Just tell me what I need to do and you put together a package, and you explain to them it’s long term. The thing is, with Google Adwords, advertising, marketing, it’s a question of you pay, and you get, the results are instantaneous. You put 100 Euros onto a display campaign, or search campaign or video campaign, and you get instant gratification, you get the clicks back to your site. You can get back to the client, okay, you spent 100 euros, 10 cents cost per click, these are your clicks. With search engine optimisation it’s just a long process, obviously, depending on how good the site is, on your competition, on the latest algorithms, but it does take time. By the time you start getting results, clients are like, okay, we’ve been doing this for six months, and nothing’s really happening, and you’re like, yeah, but it’s on its way, it’s getting better. You give them the reports, the reporting, again, the reports are very complex, you know, and just printing out a report, even even from something simple, like Facebook, just printing a report from that, you need to explain it to the client. So unless they’re understanding the value behind what you’re giving them, they’re not going to be happy, spending more and more money on it. It’s always much easier to give a client, to set up, a social media campaign for clients, or a Google AdWords campaign, and give them the results in a couple of days, rather than to set up an SEO strategy over a number of months and start giving them results in six, seven months.

Martin  16:35

Yes. Okay, good. And I think you’ve got a particular issue. I’m agreeing with your 100%, that the hardest thing to keep people investing in is search engine optimisation. Because there is so little feedback for so long and it takes an amount of time to get to where you need to be, which is really in first position, because everywhere else is not worth having even. Okay, good. Right. So I agree with you 100%. You’ve also got a particular issue there, which I remember in 2014/2015. So if you are a digital marketing lecturer with the Digital Marketing Institute, like I was, you turn up, and you just have a go, and see how it works locally. Now, thankfully, the first time I went to Malta, I did the second three days, I think, and somebody who worked for me that the first two days. So he turned up the day before the course was due to start. And he went on Google, and he did what we do as digital marketers, he starts looking for search volumes and all this sort of stuff. The first issue is, you couldn’t at that time, I don’t know if you can now because Malta is 500,000 people, you couldn’t actually select Malta as your target market, because it was wasn’t recognized by …. I think this goes on a lot for Maltese people, I’ve heard of people traveling on holiday …..

Nicolai  18:02

I think I think it’s related to the size of our sea, I think that’s how Google defines it were important enough.

Martin  18:09

Yes, yes, yes. Now, we know, like we were saying just before we started Malta are ridiculously over, what was the word we used … over represented in these chats. This is the 14th chat, three of them have been with Maltese people, that’s to do with the amount of time I’ve spent in Malta. But the thing is, so that’s the first issue, Malta doesn’t turn up as a market. And then you start looking at the search volumes, and they are just not there, because the population is not there; but they’re also not there because the population is so small. The thing about marketing, the thing about search engine optimisation, is that you only go to a search engine, if you don’t know and you don’t know anyone who knows. Now, because there are 400 – 500,000 of you, who doesn’t know somebody who does something, do you know what I mean? So locally, in a population that small, it’s not likely to work. So I’m taking it that you’re talking about clients who have more broader markets than just Malta? Or are you talking just about Maltese clients?

Nicolai  19:13

Broader markets, plus websites and sectors which are a bit more high volume or a little bit more tailored to Google search. For example, when it comes to real estate, the trend is that people do spend time looking for real estate through Google.

Martin  19:40


Nicolai  19:41

So okay, volumes are there for that for that sector. So it does pay them to be ranked on first page, yes, but it’s correct what you’re saying we have such a small population, the metrics and the forecasts that you get for for Google are obviously limited.

Martin  20:06

Very limited. Yes. Okay. But then that brings me back to Facebook, because I’ve got some experience, I delivered a course to a property company there in Malta, one of these ridiculously fast growing property companies, the fastest growing I would imagine. It was interesting, because I went with my digital marketing bag of tricks, think about this, think about that, think about something else. About, I’m not even joking, 20 minutes in, they’re like, yeah, we just do it all on Facebook. So this goes again, to how, how effective Facebook have been with the Maltese population, and how effectively people have used it to market themselves in Malta. There were these huge groups with like, I don’t know, a significant percentage of the population, certainly the population who were looking for property, and they were all in these Facebook groups, and essentially, all you needed to do was market yourself in those groups, and that might be all that you needed to do. So it was an interesting three days from there. Once I realized that they had it down pat, and actually didn’t need to know anything. I mean, we had good fun, it was a good course, they really enjoyed it, it might have given them some new ideas, but they already knew what they were doing. Okay, interesting. So what is it that you mainly do for your customers?

Nicolai  21:36

Mainly, it’s mainly social media.

Martin  21:44


Nicolai  21:47

Google Adword. campaigns mainly, and then, then it’s SEO, and email marketing.

Martin  21:59

Okay. So it’s actually pretty broad, because I had the sense from speaking to you, when we’ve had other conversations that there was much more Facebook going on.

Nicolai  22:08

Yeah, I mean, the majority, the majority of it is Facebook and Instagram, totally.  Like I explained before, it’s something that’s, that when when somebody, it’s the first conversation, people have with you. It’s like, yeah, I need to be on Facebook, I need to get get myself out more, be more visible with my Facebook page. I want ads out there, I want an ad campaign, that’s the first thing they ask you for? They don’t come, they don’t approach you with an open mind, they already know that they need to be on Facebook.

Martin  22:48


Nicolai  22:49

So you cater for the demand, then obviously, you look at who they are and what they’re selling and you try and tailor the strategy according to what they’re trying to achieve. Obviously, I push Google AdWords as well, so those are the the main driving forces of what I offer.

Martin  23:16

Okay, cool.

Martin  23:16

So do they come to you looking for a strategy, because that wasn’t my experience, what we had to do as an agency, is we had to present as the tactics, so we had to present as an email marketing company, or a search engine optimization company or a social media company; and then we couldn’t even charge them for the strategy. Once they came, we kind of had to give them the strategy and explain to them about integrated marketing, and how all these things work together. It works best if they are all working together. So are people coming to you looking for a strategy or are people coming looking for Facebook advertising, Facebook marketing, and then you develop them from there.

Nicolai  23:59

Possibly the clients that you’re talking about, the clients I’m talking about, maybe mine are a little bit smaller? So it’s not like they’re putting out to tender out and they’re getting a number of companies and seeing what’s going to happen. Basically they approach me directly, they see what I’ve done, word of mouth, and it’s like, yeah, look, I’m looking for a Facebook campaign, I’m looking for …. you know, and then you kind of have to, not upsell, but you broaden it out and you tell them – Look, if you’re going to be doing Facebook, and you’ve got this budget, you might like to spend a little bit on Google AdWords, because what you’re doing would really work good on on display, or you need to be there on search. You try to give them an integrated strategy, you know ….

Martin  24:54


Nicolai  24:55

And then obviously, it’s always, it’s always – every client is, that’s the fun of it, that’s what keeps it interesting, is that every client is completely different. So you can’t really tell a client totally Facebook is totally gonna work for you. So it’s kind of like, look, okay, you’re set on Facebook, let’s get 30% of the budget and put a little bit on Google Display, and see what that gives us. We review after a month. Okay, that kind of worked let’s put a little bit more on on Google Display, and maybe try a little bit of Google search, you know, and then you kind of build them up towards using a kind of multi channel approach.

Martin  25:40

Good. Okay, good. Yeah. I don’t know, we weren’t dealing with tenders and stuff like that, I think I think it was …. people, businesses, when they come to look at marketing, if they’re coming to the first time, will have a sense of what it is they want. Whether that be some Facebook advertising, or some email marketing, or search engine optimization, they will have got it into their head, this is the thing that we want to do. So we would have to present as all those things, so that we might be in front of them when they actually come to do it. Now, I’ve got bit of a bee in my bonnet about this as well because for me, like I would have told you when we did that course, all the way back in 2015; it has to be an integrated approach. These different platforms achieve different things at different points in the process and you need to cover off all of those points, the customer journey and the different steps on the customer journey. That’s why, certainly, what I tell people now, I don’t know how evolved that was when when you were on the course in 2015.

Nicolai  26:49

You did push on that, yes.

Martin  26:53

So the issue I’ve got is the issue I’ve got is with these people on Facebook, no, they’re not on Facebook, they’re on YouTube is where they are, but what they’re telling you is that the only thing that works is Facebook advertising, and that’s all you need to do. Now, I don’t get that. For me, Facebook is I mean OK, a couple of chats ago, I spoke to somebody who does really good YouTube advertising and he told me that, and convinced me that, YouTube stands alone. If you’re going to do one thing in marketing, YouTube will do it for you because basically, if you can get your videos in front of people, and you get through those first five seconds, then they stay and they watch, then you can communicate some story, some message, some call to action. He says you can do the whole thing with YouTube. Now, you and I know that you can also do the whole thing with AdWords, PPC on Google, because then you’re putting yourself in front of people at the very best time. I don’t understand how it works if you’re just doing Facebook advertising. Do you know how that works?

Nicolai  28:07

In what way Martin? It works? It depends on what they’re looking for. If it’s just clicks to their website, or brand awareness, the client can just use Facebook. I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rules when it when it comes to digital marketing nobody really knows  exactly what’s going on. Things are changing so, so, so quickly, that what works for this client might not necessarily work for another client. So it’s not a question of YouTube is gonna work for sure. Some some clients set up, their business structure, their profile, it doesn’t lend itself to video. So what do you do? Video, it does take a bit more time and investment to get going properly, rather than just getting a Facebook campaign going, so each each digital marketing platform caters for a different type of client, a different kind of company. I mean, budgets are different. It’d be great if everyone had, you know, had a really decent budget and you could try all these different channels, find out which is working best, you know, reallocate to take advantage of the channels, but it’s not really a reality when it comes to dealing with a client.

Martin  29:51

No, it’s not.

Nicolai  29:53

You can’t really say okay, Facebook, just using Facebook is not the way to go or using  every single channel available is the way to go. I have every different structure in place, I have clients who just use Facebook, I have clients who don’t use Facebook. So it’s, it’s really so varied. Applying, or making statements like, okay, only YouTube can work or only Facebook, it just doesn’t apply to the way I deal with my clients.

Martin  30:36

Okay, so good. Really good. So, I think you’re right, the ideal is that you test every single marketing opportunity, you assess, which delivers the best average customer value, at the lowest cost per acquisition, that is the gold standard of digital marketing. That’s what you do. In reality, like you say, it doesn’t work like that, you don’t get exactly the feedback that you need to make those decisions, you don’t get the authority or the budget from the client to exercise all those things. So the only real answer in digital marketing, and I’m sure I would have told you this 100 times on the course, is test, do it and see what happens in a meaningful sense.

Martin  31:26

Good. What I’m saying is slightly different. Yeah. What I’m saying is that some of these platforms, very few of these platforms, will stand alone. Like PPC, if you were going to do if, like, you know, clearly there needs to be search volume, there needs to be budget, all of that stuff needs to be in place, but if those things are in place, then you could just run PPC campaigns for a customer and know that they will get some success. Absolutely. That will happen. Yes, this guy was saying you can do the same with YouTube, to the point where he was doing this on a what’s the word, a reward basis, or an outcome only basis and he was investing in the ads. He goes to his clients, he has to be very confident that this is going to work for them, he tells them, YouTube will really work for you and you don’t have to spend a penny on this. I’m going to invest in the ad content, I’m going to invest in the clicks, I’m going to invest in the whole thing, because I know that this will be successful for you. I think the way that model works is it probably ends up costing them more than it would if they were funding it themselves because he’s obviously carrying the risk. Okay, so that’s good. I don’t understand these people who say that Facebook, do Facebook and you’ll be successful, those are the people I don’t understand. I don’t understand because for me, Facebook is a stupidly well targeted form of display advertising. Absolutely, you’re right, it’s first prize if you want very targeted impressions – Facebook. If you want some clicks, you might get lucky. Do you pay per click on Facebook?

Nicolai  33:19

You do sometimes, hey.

Nicolai  33:20

Okay, so they’re also motivated to get you those clicks, so clicks and impressions and clicks, I get it. I don’t understand how and why these people say that Facebook is the one thing that you need to do, the one thing that will …..

Nicolai  33:35

I mean, it can get you the reach, the impressions, the clicks, the views. So it’s a very, one stop shop, which people understand, people have access to and they, they know that locally a lot of people are on Facebook. So in Malta, if there’s anywhere you start from it’s Facebook.

Martin  34:06

Right. Okay. And that’s obviously the other criteria is that the market is hugely Facebook driven. How is that? Is that still the case? Because my personal experiences that Facebook is much less … personally, I don’t engage with it anymore, and a lot of people I know don’t engage with it anymore. So it seems to me like it’s on the wane. it seems to me like the Facebook audience is going away, and I don’t know if that’s the case in Malta still, or is it still ….

Nicolai  34:38

I don’t think as much, it’s still it’s still pretty strong. I mean, when we are saying Facebook, we’re saying Facebook and Instagram, because obviously, when we market on Facebook, we’re hitting both both platforms. Now it’s still strong here and and clients still believe in it.

Martin  35:00

Right. Oh,

Nicolai  35:01

So even if you’re trying and you’re trying to push people and I say look, with Google we can get a lower cost per view, we can get a lower cost per click, they still want Facebook. So even if you want to, if you want to try and sort of move them towards more Google AdWords because they don’t understand it as much, you know, it’s just harder to get them on board with it.

Martin  35:39

Right? And that’s specific to Malta. Okay, I’m really interested in this. So we’re going to go on if that’s okay.

Nicolai  35:47

Yeah. Okay.

Martin  35:48

So the issue is, the issue with marketing is you want to land the right message, on the right person, at the right time.

Nicolai  35:56


Martin  35:57

So the way I think about the two platforms is Google, the visitor there is self qualifying, they are interested in this.

Nicolai  36:08


Martin  36:08

The time is defined because they have taking action now, so you want to meet them now. So Google, if you’ve got a lot of time, then search engine optimization will work. If you haven’t got a lot of time, but you’ve got some money, then PPC will work, because Google is delivering the right person at the right time, because they’re self qualifying.

Nicolai  36:32

Okay. They’re already on their way to looking for you.

Martin  36:35

So yeah. So I talk to people, when I talk to people about search engine marketing, PPC, or SEO, I’m telling people these are motivated buyers. They’re not dreaming about owning these training shoes, they’re looking to see where they can buy them.  So that’s the way I talk about it. In that sense. Facebook, if you’ve done your targeting, absolutely can guarantee you, not guarantee you there might be some wiggle in it, but the right person?

Nicolai  37:07


Nicolai  37:08

But it can’t be the right time, and then I suppose it just needs to be all the time; and then I suppose what you’re trying to do is motivate those people, motivating, pushing those people towards the time. I don’t know.

Nicolai  37:24

Yeah, it’s creating the desire. Yes. So so you’ll be on Facebook, and you’ll be swiping away and motorbike helmets would come up, and it’s like the latest range. And it’s not like, No, I don’t need a new motorbike helmet. But it comes up. And you look at it. And it’s like, oh, yeah, maybe Okay, let me click through, let me have a look. It starts the whole process of you maybe wanting a motorbike helmet, which is not as effective as someone who’s actively looking for a new motorbike helmet, right. But it gets the click, again, to the website. When people don’t have a website, which is set up for conversion tracking, and they’re not really monitoring their conversion rates, that click is enough for them. If they can get more clicks to their website, in their little head, they’re happy. There are certain things that yes, in an ideal world, when you’re setting up all these campaigns, you’ll have all the conversion tracking, and they’ll be able to track this campaign to this sale. They’ll know exactly what every cent they’re putting into marketing is getting them back sale wise, but most of the time, that isn’t the case. People have websites, which have been developed years ago, and they are not on good terms with the web developer, and and trying to get conversion tracking and getting pixels into the website and changes into the website isnt possible. A lot of the websites are poor when it comes to usability and customer experience and the whole setup, they’re just a disaster. So you get the clicks to the website, but then the website isn’t optimized for the conversions.

Martin  39:44

Okay, yeah. Okay.

Nicolai  39:47

So there’s a lot, a lot of different factors. In an ideal world, you tell them, look, this website is crap, it’s not going to convert. Before you start investing in campaigns, sort out your website, because any money you’re going to be chucking on generating traffic to the website is going to be a waste of time. You tell them that. No, no, no, no, we still want the campaigns, we want more traffic, and then we’ll sort out the website in due time. You get everything going, you start generating traffic at really low cost per clicks. I mean, when COVID hit, cost per clicks, I mean, they just dropped  like, crazy, crazy thing, less than point .004 of a cent per click, you know, which is unheard of. But if these people don’t have a website, which is good for for conversions, then you know, it’s not going to get them the sales they want.

Martin  41:08

Okay, so that was going to be my next question, which is, how technical are you getting with this? Are you doing lookalike audiences? Are you building audiences from remarketing type stuff?

Nicolai  41:25

Yeah. Yeah.

Nicolai  41:27

So you are doing all of that stuff?

Nicolai  41:29

Yeah, I mean, everything we can do to get that audience. The thing is, the sticking point tends to be at the website, right. So everything we can do to get more traffic at a lower cost per click, we’re doing everything we can, everything that’s available, we’ll, we’ll use all the tools. But, in the end, if there isn’t a marked increase in sales, then it’s not really getting getting them anywhere. So unless you have control over the whole journey, then the sticking point is, is usually when it comes to the website.

Martin  42:22

Right? So there’s like a legacy thing happening here isn’t there? Where the sins of the past are coming to bite people in the bum. You can put all of this, all of these pixel tracking analytics, you can put them on any website, but the issue is them having access to the back end of their website to do that and they don’t have that necessarily.

Nicolai  42:46

Yes, there’s a lot of different scenarios. The web development team isn’t isn’t on board with these things, they’re not responsive, they may be a bit too technical to understand the UX of the website, it needs an update, you know, so, you know, there’s a lot of different scenarios. Ultimately, if they don’t start with the website, if their ultimate goal is sales, we’re talking in relation to an e commerce site …

Nicolai  43:28


Nicolai  43:29

If they don’t start with the website, they you really shouldn’t be starting with the the tail end of it.

Martin  43:40


Nicolai  43:43


Martin  43:44

So does this go to I mean, how, like, so for example, will they have access to their domain? So you could rebuild the website? Not necessarily,

Nicolai  43:54

There  are people who have access to the domain and there are people who don’t. There’s so many different scenarios that it’s always very frustrating when it comes to websites, always.

Martin  44:12


Nicolai  44:14

But what do you do? I mean, if people want the traffic, and and you can give it to them? Obviously, you tell them, you make it very clear, I have no no issues in highlighting their bottlenecks. So if it’s the website, and the website isn’t going to deliver that, you tell them look, I can get you X amount of traffic, based on your budget, we can use the channels, but once that traffic hits your website, what then?

Martin  44:51

Yes, yes, yes. And do you want that work? Do you want to be rebuilding websites for people or not really?

Nicolai  44:58


Martin  45:00

Okay. All right. So this is really interesting because nobody’s talking about this. So this is interesting, because nobody’s talking about this. This was also my experience. I mean, I haven’t been proactively marketing The Effective Marketing Company since 2014. I haven’t taken on a client, well, I did take on one client, but I haven’t been looking for clients since 2014. But this was often the issue for us. I mean, the worst thing that could happen is that somebody would come, and they would have a coded website, where someone’s actually coded the thing in HTML, or Java or whatever, custom coded websites were a disaster because nobody knows about that apart from the person who coded it.

Martin  45:53


Martin  45:54

So yeah, so it’s interesting,

Nicolai  45:57

But it’s different, it’s different. Everybody has a WordPress site,

Nicolai  46:05


Nicolai  46:06

So it’s not exactly that difficult to get a site re resorted or restructured or even just setting up a new website. It’s not rocket science. You go online, you find a good template, it’s gonna cost you $50, and you get someone who knows what they’re doing to take the content from your old site and put it in a new site, which, ultimately, you’ve chosen, specifically for your sector. So it’s already thought through, the whole process, how the website should be structured, what type of page layouts you should have, how the cart system should work? It’s all been done before. There’s no, there’s no business …. I haven’t had any clients ever, who’s just come up with something so avant garde so off the books that’s it’s like, oh my God,5 we won’t find anything similar online. I mean, it’s all been done before.

Martin  47:21

Yes, yes. Yes. Okay. So that’s good. But the point is, the point is that there is this issue, that people don’t have access to their website, because their developers are not interested. They’ve got too busy. They’ve gone away. So that is the issue. Yes, that’s what nobody’s talking about that issue. I can imagine that because, you know, I’ve just picked things up after six years, I had to dig around for my passwords, I had to dig around, access issues, my accounts, the whole thing was kind of a mission and I always made sure I had access to those things. Okay.

Unknown Speaker  48:02

It was a mission for you and you live in this environment. Imagine someone who has no idea what a domain registrar is. So they come back to you and say, Okay, do you have access to your domain? Yes, yes, I have access to my website. No, no, your domain. Okay, that isn’t for your domain. So then you have to go through the process of explaining what the domain registrar is, and how that links back to their website, and how hosting, having a hosting service is different different to paying a subscription to a domain registrar. So imagine what a minefield that is for someone who has no technical background. It’s very time consuming, just explaining it to someone. The biggest issue they already have, they’ve already been screwed up by, or screwed over by someone in the past.

Nicolai  49:00


Nicolai  49:02

They’re being charged 1000s for a website, which they have no access to. When people didn’t understand, let’s say, 10 years ago, when people didn’t understand about websites a lot of companies were charging crazy prices, because people didn’t really understand. They were charging, depending on their perception of what the client can afford.

Martin  49:31


Nicolai  49:32

You know, which just sucks.

Martin  49:34

It does suck.

Martin  49:36

You know?

Martin  49:38

Yeah. I think that becomes part of the reason why people don’t want to invest in marketing because very often they do something, whether it’s a website, or whether somebody was supposed to run a campaign or somebody was supposed to do something; it’s almost like the process of going through suppliers or agencies, teaches them not to trust marketing suppliers or agencies.

Nicolai  50:01


Nicolai  50:03

The web designer thing, I mean, I’m amazed, you know, this guy on YouTube or Instagram, where he goes up to people in really flashy cars and says, what do you do for a living? Have you seen that thing? They’re driving like the Buggatis and stuff? Why don’t they all say we’re web developers? Because every web developer I’ve ever known has been too busy to talk to people, or take on a client, or do the work they’ve agreed to do already. Yeah, and that’s gone on for already 15 years, and the industry is only 20 years old, you know, so

Nicolai  50:37

There’s an inherent distrust of people who, you know, service websites who develop websites because in the beginning they were on a bit of a roll. I mean, I would see how long it would take to set up a website, and it isn’t that long.

Martin  51:03

No, it isn’t that long.

Martin  51:06

Oh, it isn’t that long. The other thing is that these people are, and I used to work in the IT industry, so I know exactly how this works; because they are technical, because they’re geeks, they just dismiss people, you wouldn’t understand, you don’t know, you wouldn’t understand so there’s that issue going on.

Nicolai  51:25

Which for me has worked to my advantage. Because I’ve been able to come in as a kind of translator.

Nicolai  51:34


Nicolai  51:35

I can take the time to explain to people, you know, what’s going on. I believe that if you educate people, and they understand a little bit more of what how you’re trying to help them. You’re, you’re you’re bringing on board a long term client.

Martin  51:35

That’s what I think as well.

Martin  51:35

You know, you’re not just there to make a fast buck and sell them a website. Yeah, this is your website. Here’s your invoice. I’m out of here.

Martin  51:35


Nicolai  51:35

That was the approach before, you know, quick buck. Okay, this client is a big corporation, we can charge him three times our usual rates.

Martin  52:20

No. Okay. But this hadn’t occurred to me that the was this legacy issue, but it’s come up in these conversations. Like when I spoke to Jim, I think in the third one of these that I had, he’s like an amazing marketer and he’s been around as long as I have. He’s been running his own businesses, his whole career. He was all over SEO, when it started, like insanely all over SEO, they started on PPC, they went to SEO, he rode the wave of everything at the beginning, and rinsed it and did amazingly well out of it. His issue, I think, was that he never sustained any of those things, but that’s okay, as well. He says that the issue is now that he will set set up, for example, his P ixel on Facebook, and then he’ll go back six months later, and it will have all changed, and he won’t know how to do it anymore. And so the issue is, what’s happening, which can’t be good for the industry. What’s happening is people get it working themselves, or investing themselves into a rut. Like, like, Lord knows, I’ve come back to like, I haven’t been on the tools for the last six years, I come to look at these things I don’t understand how they work anymore. So they are already too complicated. They change too often. I don’t think there’s really major changes in the industry, there hasn’t been a major change, I don’t think since YouTube or since Twitter. But they are fiddling, they’re tinkering with it all the time, they’re moving where the switches are, which I think is an issue. So what they’re doing is like people must be, I wonder what I mean, I wonder what the data would be where people are working themselves with their marketing into a situation where it just couldn’t possibly work anymore, because they don’t have access to their website, they don’t really know how the different platforms are working all the time. So if you’re not a full time marketer, and you’re not on the tools every day ….

Nicolai  54:26

I think it’s it’s the nature  of most things. I don’t want sound philosophical, but it’s the nature of most things in life. I used to be able to to take my motorbike to pieces and put it back together again. Nowadays, I can’t even change the oil on my bike without taking it, or the brake pads, without taking it to a mechanic and plugging in and resetting all the sensors and diagnostic. So things are becoming increasingly complex.

Martin  54:56

Right and manufacturers are Were, like good marketers, that they want to increase their customer value. So whether it’s more technical or not, you have to have the software to plug it in to be able to access it to be able to do anything or invalidate the warranty already.

Nicolai  55:15

Yes, totally.

Martin  55:17

The thing is, it seems to me and I don’t know if this is the case, I don’t know if it is just me, but it seems to me that marketing has worked itself into a really, really difficult situation. That’s the way it seems to me. People don’t like marketers in the first place. They don’t trust marketers. When they do invest, they get bitten. The big players are as bad as the very small players, because Facebook, you know, the reason I don’t enjoy Facebook is because they made me a liar, because in 2009 2010, I was telling people spend money and build yourself an audience, because what you’re buying is the right to speak to those people forever, or the ability to speak to those people forever, and then, of course, in 2014, whenever it was, Edge Rank came along, and Facebook were like, well, if you want to speak to those people pay us again, do you know what I mean, it’s like, so that’s why I’m not a fan of Facebook. I think, I don’t know if it’s because I’m bitter, because in 2008, 2009, 2010, we were making hay, the sun was shining, and we were making hay on these brand new platforms. It seems to me that they’ve done such a good job on closing the door to anyone who isn’t prepared to pay. So what they’re doing now is just helping themselves to significant portions of people’s marketing budgets. And that would be fine, but I don’t know if they are still delivering value or not. I don’t know.

Nicolai  56:43

From my end when I when I compare what’s available and what they’re all offering as a return on the investment, it’s it’s not like Facebook is charging 10 times as much as Google, or any other, I mean, they’re all pretty in line. I think it’s the nature of marketing is that you need to invest in it, whether it’s time or money. It needs to be invested in. Yeah, I mean, if you want to engage with new customers, and have an ongoing conversation with them, and have more visibility and more reach that there is a time and cost element. So I just think the way people are spending their budgets has changed but if Facebook came in and started charging, but not delivering, it would have been a dead duck from the word go, but there was value, they did give clients results. So that’s why it’s still around and still people are still investing in it.

Martin  58:03

Okay, good, but all those results …. So this, I suppose goes back to my question before which is  can Facebook stand alone? And I don’t personally, I don’t believe Facebook can stand alone, like YouTube can or PPC can. If people’s expectation is so low, it’s just wrong. When you invest in your marketing, you are not investing in having clicks, you are investing in acquiring new customers. So if that’s people’s expectation, is that they will just get clicks, I wonder what percentage of Facebook’s customers are in that situation where all they are getting is clicks. I’ve seen it in the nine years that I was running Effective Marketing properly, people have no idea how far gone they are, how far away they are from actually making money. Do you know what I mean? So it might be that Facebook is delivering something, but they’re not delivering the thing that they should be delivering? You know, and I’m not saying that there’s not value in having people aware of your products, I’m not saying that there’s not value in people clicking through to your website, these are all steps on the journey, but it has to get to the end of the journey. You know, it has to get to the point where you know that you are paying for customers, and you’re right it’s time, and money, and energy. If you’re proactively marketing, you’re effectively in the business of buying customers and I think businesses need to know what they’re paying for those customers because they they’re not going to be profitable if they’re paying too much for those customers. You know, that is probably the biggest risk in their business. I don’t know.

Nicolai  59:47

But I don’t think we’ve ever been in such a good position to inform clients exactly where every cent of what they’re investing in with regards to marketing is going. I mean, years back, it was all about selling space in magazines, and newspapers, billboards, banners in airports. So I mean, what will be selling then? I mean, what were we getting back to the client with an idea?

Martin  1:00:22

What we were doing, because I was there, so I know. What you were doing is you were taking them out, getting them stupidly drunk, and hoping that would convince them to invest their advertising budget with you again next year. Do you know what I mean, so? There is no, you know …

Martin  1:00:37

Did it feel good from I mean, doing, not getting the drunk bit, but getting someone to invest four grand on a billboards on a busy on a busy road for a month or two? And then when they get back to you, and it’s like, Okay, what are the results? What did I get back from that? Yeah, you couldn’t give them a straight answer. You could just give them a look, kind of, yes, sales have gone up but was it because of the billboard? Or was it because of the newspaper articles? Or because the banner at the airport? Or, you know, you just didn’t know it was everybody fumbling in the dark, really.

Martin  1:01:22

Everyone was fumbling in the dark and that was fine. It feels bad now, you’re asking me how it felt at the time, it felt amazing. If I made that sale, and it felt amazing. I was very happy. I probably wasn’t there a year later to go back and try and make that one sale again, or justify why it went. You know, what buyers and sellers are playing the same game, you know, so buyers would know not to ask those really difficult questions like what have you actually delivered? Because they knew there was no answer. You got a great lunch, that’s what happened. You know, I miss that corruption. Corruption is coming up in these conversations, increasingly, as we talk about 80s and the 90s. Okay, good. So the point is, what’s the point, the point is that it’s never been so transparent. I’m with you, it’s never been easier to actually calculate your cost of customer acquisition, it’s never been easier to actually realize what part each of these platforms are playing in your sales process, or the buying process, what should be attributed to which platform. It’s not as easy as they would have you believe and people aren’t looking for that information, still, I don’t think, in lots of instances.

Nicolai  1:02:40

I mean, granted, Facebook does allow people to get their ads, out there. I mean, just clicking on boost post does get them a certain level of reach. I mean, if they want to do it properly, they need people who know what they’re doing.

Martin  1:03:03


Nicolai  1:03:04

But you have to give it to them that they do allow people to click on a button, have a very easy user interface, have their credit card plugged in, and push that button and get these ads out.

Martin  1:03:23

Yes, yes, yes.

Martin  1:03:24

Oh, so it’s not like they’re trying to make it so complex that the average person can’t do it.

Martin  1:03:32

No, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that it is much more transparent is much easier to achieve this stuff than it’s ever been, but it’s not quite as easy as they would have you believe. Secondly, people, customers, businesses, aren’t educated or motivated to go to that degree to understand that thing. Like you say customers are happy if their get more visits to their website, that they need to be more demanding than that of businesses like Facebook. If Facebook were being a little bit more honest and saying to people that we are a display platform, we are the most targeted display platform that has ever existed. If you know who buys your products, by their age, by their location, by their marital status, by their income, by how many times a year they travel away from their home, or how far away from their home they are. They have stupid, stupid, stupid insight type stuff. Facebook are the most targeted display platform that has ever existed in the history of the planet, certainly, of civilizations that we know about. That would be one thing. I don’t know if that is quite what they’re saying. I don’t know what they’re saying anymore. And I don’t know what the feedback is. I know that the Facebook feedback, is it called Facebook Insights.

Martin  1:04:51


Martin  1:04:51

There’s a spreadsheet there that is an abomination. If you want to understand what’s going on with your activity on your campaigns, I don’t know what it’s like, I haven’t done paid advertising on Facebook for six years. The feedback was an abomination that spreadsheet was the worst spreadsheet ever conceived by man. I don’t know if it still looks the same. I know the one behind the pages still does. So yeah, it’s interesting.

Martin  1:05:15

It’s really interesting. My personal direct contact with, I speak to Facebook on a weekly basis, they call me and we go through campaigns I get ….

Martin  1:05:28


Nicolai  1:05:28

I got a guy from from Dublin, you know, very nice chap. The feeling I get is that they’re genuinely interested in helping my clients …

Martin  1:05:43

Spend more money. I

Nicolai  1:05:47

I’ve got to be honest, Google, Google, sort of rammed that down my throat, not Facebook.

Martin  1:05:53


Nicolai  1:05:55

Google are like, you know what you if you spent an extra 15 euros a day, you’ll be able to get three times the amount or lalala. So I find Google a lot more money centric. I mean, Facebook, I find them, you know, genuinely, that they’re not so interested in me spending more money, but more about seeing the value of what they’re offering that’s my personal experience. But I know you have an inherent dislike to Facebook, so I won’t be able to change your mind.

Martin  1:06:36

I have a inherent dislike of corporations basically and Facebook are a corporation, I also don’t particularly enjoy Google. This is the trouble. The trouble is that in Google, for example, they are the gatekeeper and they are the poacher. they’re telling you what it’s going to cost and they’re taking the money and you know, they’re running the auction. Yeah, so I don’t particularly enjoy Google and I’ve never, ever had an experience where I’ve spoken to somebody at Google, at Google you can only speak to somebody who’s taking money, and I’ve never had an experience where they haven’t said spend more money. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, yeah, it’s poor. Right? This has been really interesting. I think we’ve got to the end, but I think we could probably do another one in the future.

Nicolai  1:07:20

Sure. Sure.

Martin  1:07:22

That’d be cool. Is there anything you’d like to say that you haven’t said? No? Okay, cool. I know the

Nicolai  1:07:36

I think it’s a kind of mindset, I don’t look at Facebook and Google, I look at them like other people look at their phone. It’s a tool, they provide a service at a cost, which is what most most companies do. You know, so in the end, I’m paying for that service, and they’re giving me a perceived value. That value, it’s worth investing in. So yeah, I do tell my clients according to my experience with Facebook and Google, that, you know, for, I mean, the cost of entry of, I mean, I get a lot of small startups, and they want to get things moving. When I look at what it cost to get things moving 15 or 20 years ago, and getting your your name and your product and your service out there compared to what it’s costing nowadays, it’s giving people a lot more freedom. They’ll be working a nine to five job, and they’ll have this little dream of setting up, I don’t know they want to do, they want to cook cupcakes. I have really small client, what she does, she puts together party gifts. So if you’re having a birthday party for your kids, or whatever, she puts together, those little gifts that you give to the kids when they come in, or when they leave. She’s doing this because she’s been through a tough time, and she needs to subsidize her income and just by using Facebook, she’s been able to get this off of the ground and it’s given her quality of life and it’s helping her to literally make ends meet. Without this, or in another reality if it was like 10 years ago, this would not be happening she would be stuck in that rut of not being able to get this, this idea off the ground. You know, you know, you have to look at the whole picture, you know.

Martin  1:10:14

You do and I think I’m probably a little bit guilty of being, too down on these things. I think you’re right. It’s never been more transparent. Running your own business has never been more accessible. I think, to go back to what you said at the beginning, is that people need to, like you said that, what did you say? That marketing is, what was the phrase that you used, the less of, not the lesser of two evils, a necessary evil.

Nicolai  1:10:47

Yeah, yeah.

Martin  1:10:48

What I think is that sales and marketing is essentially the function of a business. So when you run a business, you need to know that you are in the business of sales and marketing. What you do, you have to be good at it, but that is secondary to being able to find and win and keep customers profitably. That’s actually what being in business is. People don’t get that, they think that that it’s a necessary evil. It’s a million miles away from the truth, which is actually, it’s all it is, you know, business is selling and marketing yourself, or marketing and then selling yourself.

Nicolai  1:11:25

And anything that helps them achieve that faster, easier, is just going to help more people ….

Martin  1:11:34

More cost effectively, that’s the thing.

Nicolai  1:11:36


Martin  1:11:37

I think if people understood that they’re in the business of buying customers, and they could see what they’re spending on their customer, and they could see people like you and I come in and actually make a positive difference to that number and affect the profitability of their business, then I think this whole issue would go away. But it’s not going away. I’ve got a list of things that stop people from marketing. I think it’s the jargon is an issue. I think the not understanding it is an issue. I think the in the UK, we’ve definitely got a you’re not supposed to be seen to be trying issue. You know, so in the states is different, like everyone loves a trier in the States. In the UK, it’s a little bit embarrassing if you’re a trier. So there’s that. What you’re telling me today is that there is this, there’s the technical issue, it’s all too technical and changes too much and then you’re telling me today there’s this this legacy issue where people have invested and they can’t leverage that investment anymore. They’ve completely got mired down because it’s got broken. Man, this has been interesting. I knew it would be that’s why i bullied you into talking to me.

Nicolai  1:12:45

Equally. It was fun. A lot of fun.

Martin  1:12:47

I was fun. Alright, cool.

Nicolai  1:12:50

I had no idea where I was going. But you know, yeah, this thing’s good. It’s good. Yeah.

Martin  1:12:55

And I think the message I want to get out to people is absolutely you have to be marketing, and absolutely it’s actually easier than you think it is. and more fun than you think it is more accessible than you think it is, once you’ve seen the bullshit, once you understand the bullshit, then it’s perfectly navigable.

Nicolai  1:13:12


Martin  1:13:12

Do you know that’s that’s kind of my lesson that I want to give to people. So hopefully, they will have taken that away?

Nicolai  1:13:18

It’s It’s not rocket science. And what I do and what we do, anyone can do. We just do it, we just do it faster because we have the experience. That’s all.

Martin Henley  1:13:30


Nicolai  1:13:30

I mean, we’re not we’re not Einsteins, you know, we’re not we’re not some some super geeks, we are on the pulse of everything that’s happening, you know?

Martin  1:13:41

Yeah, well, I think the value that you and I offer is, like we said before, it’s about testing everything. The thing is, we are constantly, well, not me for the last six years, but you certainly you are constantly testing everything so you have that experience of what works in what situation that you offer to a client. I think that’s the value that we offer.

Nicolai  1:14:01


Martin  1:14:02

Okay, good. Thank you so much, man. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this. I’m going to bully you into talking to me again in two or three months time.

Martin  1:14:09

I’m sure you will.

Martin  1:14:11

Yes. And I’m interested in your strategy. Like how, what that looks like and how you arrive at that and how you motivate people to to invest in that. That’s what I’m interested in. But for now, I’m going to let you go. Are you going back in the ocean again this afternoon?

Nicolai  1:14:26

Back in the Mediterranean Sea, I’m afraid No, no oceans here mate, we can’t all be as lucky as you. The Indian Ocean is it?

Martin  1:14:35

Yeah, it’s the Indian Ocean, it’s the Indian Ocean. Yeah.

Nicolai  1:14:38

Can’t be bad. Okay, cool.

Martin  1:14:40

I think it’s the Indian Ocean. It might not be. I don’t know. I’m gonna look it up next time we speak I’ll have the answer for you. It might just be some sea. I don’t know.

Nicolai  1:14:48

Haha there we go. We’ll be playing on the same field then.

Martin  1:14:57

Cool. All right, man. Thank you so much. I will speak to you again very soon.

Martin  1:15:02

Okay mate, have a good one.

Martin  1:15:04

Cheers buddy. Bye bye

Martin Henley

Martin Henley

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 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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