You've got to fail to find what works and what doesn't -Talk Marketing Tuesday 009 - Alex Ryan

You’ve got to fail to find what works and what doesn’t – Talk Marketing Tuesday 009 – Alex Ryan

Talk Marketing 008 – Alex Ryan

Martin: Good morning Mr Ryan.

Alex: Good morning Martin, how’d you do?

Martin: I am very well thank you, how are you?

Alex: Yeah not too bad, not too bad, a little bit washed out with sunlight despite there also being snow outside so a weird collection of weather that we’re having. , it’s exciting isn’t it, pleasant.

Martin: Sounds like a winter wonderland.

Alex: It is in the beginning of February so that’s, I guess that’s climate change is it?

Martin: No.

Alex: Don’t know, is that is that normal? I don’t know.

Martin: Well it’s not normal but there’s nothing warm about it. The thing you need to know about the climate is the climate always changes, so always be ready for a surprise.

Alex: Absolutely yeah, yeah. You’re not a denier right? Are you a denier?

Martin: I think about it.

Alex: You think about denying it? You consider it?

Martin: Well, I wasn’t expecting it to go this way. I don’t think climate change is the most immediate threat to humanity, is what I think. While we’re all distracted thinking about climate change there are actual acts of environmental terrorism going on every day that we could be addressing. That’s that’s what I actually think about the climate, so I’m not trying to deny that the climate changes, the climate changes all the time.

Alex: Yeah, okay. You’ve clearly thought about it much more deeply than I have so maybe maybe we shouldn’t go that down that tangent. I like to jp on board any bandwagon, less plastic, more paper, wallpaper? I don’t know, I don’t even know if that’s good these days; trees.

Martin: I think less pollution would be a great place to start. Let’s do that, let’s just have less pollution. Let’s do that and if we can do that then maybe we should start imagining we can actually control the temperature of the planet and we can focus on that next.

Yeah. Step by step, by step, yeah, yeah. I haven’t thought about this. I love it. Are you pointing at me? Were you pointing at me?

Martin: There was a speck on my screen, it was annoying me, it’s still there.

Alex: I thought you were educating me and that’s what we should do next, that’s what we should do, baby steps, baby steps.

Martin: Okay good. Thank you for agreeing to spend some time with me this morning. We’re not here to talk about the environment unfortunately. Unfortunately we’re here to talk about marketing. I’ve had one conversation with you in my life, we spoke about what this was about. It’s interesting because you’re the eighth person, we’ve established you won’t be 007. You are the eighth person and it’s interesting because it’s going in a direction of its own. Where I started was thinking that nobody knows anything about marketing and nobody wants to invest in marketing. I still think that but I can’t find anyone who doesn’t know anything about marketing; everyone I’ve spoken to seems to know perfectly about marketing and is perfectly prepared to do it.

They are marketing people to be fair apart from Jim who introduced me to you. It’s taking its own course which is nice and the conversations are probably more interesting than they would be if I was just left to my own devices.

The way this works is we’re interested to know, I’m not going to introduce you because I don’t know you well enough to do that, I know you’re doing some interesting things you can tell us about those. You can introduce yourself to us, you can tell us how it is that you are qualified to talk to us about marketing, where your career has taken you, what you’ve been achieving, those kinds of things. I’m interested to know how you feel about marketing. I understand that you are offering marketing as a service now as a consultant so I’m interested to know who your clients are and what you deliver for them in the way of marketing value. We round off by talking about this weird, stupid situation that we find ourselves in and what your recommendation might be for people.

That normally takes about an hour 10 minutes, if we’re only talking for three minutes we can get back to the climate.

Alex: Yeah, if we’re done in three minutes I probably don’t know much about marketing, I could start there, I don’t know anything about marketing.

That’s where Jim started, I know nothing. You may have to give me some prompts of those questions, I haven’t got a great recollection, short-term memory wise.

Alex: Okay. I can definitely start with who I am and why I do marketing, what I do marketing I guess.
Martin: How you’re qualified to talk to us about marketing, that’s what I’m interested in.

Alex: Yeah, okay. That’s probably an easy question. I’m not qualified in that I have no qualifications, no marketing qualifications, I have a good rounded education in all kinds of things but marketing was certainly not one of them. In fact I went down way more of an entertainment route, drama, and music, and ended up being a DJ for 10 years. That’s my actual background house music, nightclubs, that malarkey. Step by step I started, as a DJ you can only make so much per hour so you start looking at who’s putting the nights on, the promotions, who’s making the big bucks, who’s taking all the door money. So I started looking at promotions as a next career step, tried putting some events on which led me down the marketing path. I guess I’m now doing marketing because I’m trying to sell tickets for an event. That’s, I guess, very briefly how I found marketing, through that very natural music route.

Alex: After that I was still doing marketing and entertainment I was about to get either dismissed or made redundant, it didn’t really matter, I was in a very small business where I wasn’t properly employed. I was working freelance and I basically went and pitched for a job way above my experience levels and my pay grade. They liked me, I learnt how to do marketing the night before, how to interview for it. I got this DVD, 77 Ways to Grow Your Business or something and I memorised it and thought what was going to be the most appropriate for this business that I was interviewing for. They loved it and I spent the next six years with them; a global design manufacturing business. They’ve been making Disney merchandise, Harry Potter, Xbox, and selling it all around the world. So a big business, one of the main players in the gift and merchandise industry and I was the head of their their global marketing department for the next six years.

Alex: So in a way I find marketing quite a funny subject, I don’t know if you feel the same. It’s almost like it’s, marketing, I think, is almost more of a gut feeling and a willingness to learn than it is any education. It’s so fast moving right? How can you really learn marketing in education, it would be 20 years out of date at least. Does that make sense?

Martin: Yes it does make sense, it makes it makes perfect sense. I’ve got particular experience of this because I have, for the last seven years, I’ve been a lecturer with the Digital Marketing Institute. That’s taken me to some quite interesting places, some quite interesting continents, I’ve met some really interesting people. The issue that they have, the challenge that they have, and one of the challenges of digital marketing is that if somebody at Google decides they want to change something it changes globally, for everyone. It seems like they decide every 20 minutes they want to change something. There is absolutely no way that you can design a curricul, get the curricul accredited, and get it to the students before everything’s changed. It’s not that everything changes, it’s where the buttons are changes ? So yeah, it’s a hugely evolving thing.

What I tell my digital marketing students is I can’t tell you how to do digital marketing, it’s a bit like surfing, no one can teach you to surf, they can only teach you to be safe in the water and that’s what I do. I focus on the principles of digital marketing and I give them that.

Martin: Absolutely right. There’s no way any academic body can keep up with the change.

Alex: I also wonder how much actual change is going on, since the mobile phone there hasn’t been a step change that I’m aware of. Every 20 minutes there’s new social media but not so different, necessarily, than what’s going on before.

Martin: I’m with you entirely it, it does change. I don’t think it needs to change so much. I think people will be able to get much better value from it if it were a little bit more consistent but certainly academic institutions can’t keep up with the pace of change in digital marketing.

Alex: Yeah, yeah. I think it changes for a number of reasons. The right reasons are to adapt to consumer behaviour, or user behaviour, especially in technology, or to changes in the way that people think about things. We were talking about climate change, and sustainability, and ethical marketing, ethical practices. Things come in and things go out and those are the right things that should change as an opportunity for marketing and that’s really what it is, it’s the opportunity. Perhaps there are things that don’t need to change, you’re right. The people, what do they call it? Scratching their own back no? I can’t remember what it’s called but where they’re basically making work for themselves, to keep themselves employed and they’re changing things and adding technologies here or changing the way, like you said, moving buttons around basically just to give themselves a job to do.

Alex: I think there’s a huge amount of that and it does make things really complicated for us and all you can really learn. That’s why I said almost, I think marketing is a gut feeling. You can learn the fundamentals of putting yourself in your customers mindset and trying to figure out how they want to be talked to, for me that’s that’s the fundamental of marketing. You have to learn all the tools to do that but really if you can switch your brain around and think how can I talk to this market? How would I want to be talked to if I was a potential consumer of this product then you’ve got that bit now and that’s the swimming right? That’s the swimming in your surf analogy, some people swim really naturally, some people have to be taught it, need slightly more thorough lessons.

Alex: So yeah, so yeah, so that’s where I was for six years. It was great, a real learning curve. We did every marketing from your most basic designing, I learned it all on the job. Designing business cards through to Geo Fencing and pay-per-click, all the complicated stuff and then I moved away from the actual marketing into the management side of things so I was the manager, when I arrived I was the manager of no-one and by the time I left I had a team that I had to manage. There was a bit of a bit of an itch there I guess, to scratch, I enjoyed learning the management stuff but it’s that old thing, you keep growing until you’re doing something you don’t want to do anymore or that maybe you’re not very good at.

Alex: I wanted to get back to the the marketing side of things, actually delivering marketing rather than just managing people, around that time, almost conveniently, that the pandemic struck back in in March 2020 and that’s when I got furloughed. I furloughed the entire marketing department for the business, got furloughed. Thankfully the business is all recovered, it’s great, it’s lovely, on wonderful terms with them but I got furloughed and I just couldn’t, I can’t sit, I’m a busy person, I’m full of hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder and all that malarkey so I went straight into trying to help people. Giving free marketing to businesses that were struggling with the pandemic. We’re getting into my brand story here which again, in itself, is marketing I guess, which is Marketing 101. It was born from me giving free support to businesses that were struggling in the pandemic. I did it for three months, loved it, took voluntary redundancy and made it my business. That’s bringing me up to date on the qualified to talk about marketing; I’ve done it on a really big scale, global scale, millions of, millions and millions of pounds budget spent over those six years. You name a marketing; events, influence, content strategy, social, email, CRM, management, rebranding on both an internal, using internal resource, level and using a big expensive rebranding company. I’ve done it all and I guess that’s why consultancy now suits me. Yeah I guess that’s why I love that, I’ve got a big tool kit I guess to to talk to people about and to advise on.

Martin: Yes, okay, cool. So actually this business that you were involved in went through a great deal of growth in the time that you were there, did it grow six-fold? Am I right in thinking that?

Alex: I think last time I did the maths it figures out just 400 percent it grew from 10 million to 60 million in the time I was there. I joined and there was about 30 members of staff and I left there was about 100, and between 140 and 170 depending on what time of year, we had seasonal stuff. So yeah considerable growth. Which again has been an amazing experience for me to to not just work in a successful business but a business that went through things office moves, systems upgrades, investments; literally having to run due diligence for a minority investment, those things I’ve all been part and parcel to which I certainly wouldn’t have as a DJ.

Alex: It’s been, it was a great journey, I couldn’t really ask for anything better especially considering what I was doing before, I was basically a marketing admin and jumped to a head of position. It was a a stroke of luck. Apparently I interview well, I guess that’s what I’ve got to put it down to.

Martin: Okay cool. You’re going to be gutted to hear this but the guy who was number seven, who was 007, also was a DJ before he went into marketing. So that’s interesting. I think Tim, who I spoke about spoke to before that, he is also an actor and he did like a minute or two minutes of Shakespeare before we started anything, only because only because I didn’t want to stop him it was King Leah. so there seems to be something, even if it’s not the most creative marketing, even if it’s not the brand identity type stuff, there seems to be something about creative people ending up in marketing.

Alex: Definitely, yeah. I’ve seen it a lot. One of my, I mean several of my DJ buddies, one of them obviously can’t work at the moment, he’s doing a lot of work for me content creation, web design stuff, managing social media channels. Another DJ also runs a nightclub, also runs a marketing course at a local uni for event management. The one actually, who has blown us all away, about six years ago, he was a really really good DJ and moved to Australia and the latest update I’ve seen on LinkedIn he’s literally head of marketing for Mastercard. He’s had massive growth over the last 10 years. So there’s yeah, there’s definitely something there about creatives and marketing.

Alex: It appeals to me because of the variety within marketing, there’s never a dull moment there’s never a repeated day, and I think that’s probably a creative itch to scratch. There’s also opportunity with marketing there’s way more than one way to skin a cat in marketing, way more, so that’s I guess, where the creativity comes from, that provides that.

Alex: I still need to go and DJ a little bit every now and then, I do a radio show and I need that creative outlet as well, grab the piano or whatever. Certainly the whole do the job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life, that, I think, applies for creatives in marketing. You’ve got a bit of free reign to be creative with it.

Martin: There’s a guy I know, do I know him? I’m not going to remember his name now, there’s a few of these guys who are speakers, I’m talking about marketing, and they do juggling and they get the guitar. Also me, I think I’m a bit of an entertainer, I auditioned for the part of Oliver Twist when I was about 11 for a BBC production.

Alex: Yeah?

Martin: They turned me down, my cheeks were too fat. Well, you can’t play a starving orphan with fat cheeks, that’s a fact, you can’t.

Alex: Yeah I played the Artful Dodger, not in a any televised production, it wasn’t a school one it was a local Am Dram darling production of Oliver. But yeah, it’s great, it’s great, maybe there’s something there.

Martin: I’m thinking there is something there. I teach digital marketing, I’m a lecturer with the Digital Marketing Institute, it’s 90% entertainment. You have to stand up in front of this group of 50 people for five days and they get bored. I don’t know if it’s 90% entertainment, but it’s a lot of entertainment that goes into it. It’s never really occurred to me until I spoke to Tim, he did his King Lear, then I spoke to 007, DJ, I’m speaking to you, you’re a DJ, there’s something in this.

Alex: There must be something in this. I was just going to say also, I think that within marketing there’s a lot of breaking things down and explaining things to an audience. I guess as a creative type, or a performer, what you’re trying to do is draw your audience into what you’re doing. There’s an element of of that certainly in what I do now, marketing consultancy, where you’re trying, you’re looking at cues and you’re like are they getting this, are they into this, are they not into this, what do I need to do to get them into this. Certainly as a DJ, that’s what you do, you’re reading you’re reading the room and you’re trying to take people on the same journey as you. That’s perhaps why I’ve I’ve found my feet a little bit in in marketing consultancy. I’m good at reading people and in the previous job they said I needed to be a little bit careful because I’m a heavy influencer, so I could draw people to my way of thinking, even if my way of thinking was wrong. I had HR warn me to be just a little bit wary of that. Maybe that’s the entertainer in us all, that we’re desperate to get them to like our show of marketing.

Martin: Maybe, yes. This has honestly never occurred to me before, but the more I think about it the more I’m convinced by this brand new thing. I’m thinking there’s a book in this.

Alex: I don’t know. Have you heard of the, you must have heard the phrase, imposter syndrome?

Martin: Yes.

Alex: Have you heard that?

Martin: Yeah.

Alex: I was in a an SEO conference, a really big one, Brighton SEO Conference. Huge thing, they take over ten different giant halls and thousands, and thousands of, thousands of people arrive. I went to this one and we talked about mental health in the in the digital marketing trades and the the lady did a show of hands thing, who’s ever felt like they’re an imposter in their own job, like they’re not really as good as what they’re selling? The whole room put their hand up. Who ever feels like they’re talking a better game than they’re actually delivering? And the whole room put their hand up. There’s some real honesty there and I think that that’s part of this performing thing. I often find that with marketing, a huge part of it is selling, not more than you can deliver, but selling the the maximum that anyone could deliver. SEO can get you to number one on Google once you’ve managed to persuade people of that, because it’s marketing, it’s my trade, I want you to believe that everything is possible and then you go and find out a way of trying to actually figure it out, how to do it.

Martin: I think there’s a lot of a lot of that and I’m not sure if I like it or not.

Alex: That’s because one of your questions was how do you feel about marketing, I don’t know if that’s where we’re getting to but I feel like its a lot of smoking and mirrors. I hate all of that. I’m desperate to be as transparent as possible and pull back the cloud, or the dark fog around certain marketing subjects but it’s actually really difficult because you just find more fog. I think it could be a really frustrating industry to be in, I think, do you find that?

Alex: I can swear can’t I on this?

Martin: I think so yeah.

Alex: Well it’s a gentle swear word, you’ve got a very no bullshit attitude or part to your brand, the curtain bit.

Martin: I wouldn’t call it smoke and mirrors, and I wouldn’t call it fog, I would call it bullshit, I would push it. You will start to know, I’ve pitched, lord knows, thousands of people, it’s torture, because everyone, they’ve seen six people already, and everyone else has bullshitted them do you know what I mean?

Alex: Yeah.

Martin: I remember I saw a potential client at one point and he said to us look guys you’re just too honest, you need to learn that you will slide much further on bullshit than you will on grass. It’s almost like for people expect that.

Alex: Yeah.

Martin: And the thing is that the truth also is pretty good.

Alex: Yeah.

Martin: What can actually be achieved. I’m hearing what you’re saying, I think there’s layers to this. Everyone in that room was presenting themselves as maybe a bit better than they are and what they were presenting, the product or maybe the opportunity was a bit better than what it was and what they were presenting the opportunity, the product, as a bit better than what it was and maybe the way they were presenting the results was a bit better than than what it was. The job really is to present your product or service in the best possible way isn’t it?

Alex: Yeah, of course.

Martin: At some point you are the product or service because you have to sell it. I say this a lot, the hardest sell of all is the internal sell; actually getting people to understand and commit to what needs to be done and actually then making it happen, that’s actually, I think, harder than being out in the wilderness looking for customers. So there’s layers and layers of upward projection, it needs to happen, it needs to be like that.

Alex: Yeah.

Martin: But I’ve not thought of it until you said it like that; imposter syndrome.

Alex: Well there’s this balance, that’s quite a hard thing to to balance these two sides. The first being you’re right, the job is to sell marketing and specifically your services. The truth is that marketing is a gamble, both me and my customer need to agree to take, there are no guaranteed results in marketing but telling them that, whilst trying to sell them your services, is impossible. It’s literally a juxtaposition, they’re fighting with each other, those two statements. I can do this, I can deliver this, this is what we can achieve, the caveat is it’s a gamble, nothing’s guaranteed. It’s really, really hard and what you end up doing, and I’m trying not to do, is missing off the caveat. Then you end up disappointing customers. I think if you can get to a stage where you are on the same page as a customer from the beginning, from the offset, saying this is a gamble, yes , we’re hedging our bets, it’s not like it’s red or black, we’re hedging our bets, we’re using our brain, we’re looking at the right location, we’re looking at the right demographic, we’re presenting them with things we think they’d like, we’re looking at our our cost per acquisition to make sure that we’re spending the right amount of money every time someone’s clicks so that you’re not just throwing your profit. You can hedge all these things to say we should have a successful venture together, but it doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen.

Alex: That’s where where the bullshit comes into it. It’s whether you can bring people on board truthfully or whether you have to be untruthful. I think if you have to be untruthful then they’re probably not going to be a great client, if you can’t start honestly with them, and if they can’t grasp the fact that no-one can guarantee that you will get to number one on Google for this search term, if they can’t grasp that it’s not possible, then they’re probably not going to be a great client down the line. I don’t know if there’s a lot of them out there that would grasp it, I don’t know it’s weird isn’t it?

Martin: Yeah, I would say it’s not a gamble, it’s an investment, that’s what it is. The trouble with marketing is that there’s only so much you can control and really, what you’re mainly doing is influencing things, and hoping that influence is going to pay dividends.

Alex: Yeah.

Martin: I would say the the only the only place where it falls over entirely is at the point that you lose the customer and they stop investing, that’s the only one failure point.

Alex: Right.

Martin: So at both ends. At the beginning, if they’ve got a shitty product and no one wants to buy it you need to run away at a thousand miles an hour because it’s not going to happen. They won’t realise that nobody wants to buy it, so that’s the failure point right at the beginning. That’s where you let it fail, you make it fail, you say in the kindest way possible we’re not going to be able to help you with this. So there’s that. Then, at the other end of the relationship there is the client losing faith or running out of resources; typically, I think running out of faith and that’s where it fails. So, for me, I can guarantee success in people’s marketing. I don’t want to sound like one of these secrets to marketing idiots because I think they are largely responsible for the situation we find ourselves in, but I can guarantee that your marketing will be more successful than it is now certainly. For as long as you continue to invest in it. You’re right, people don’t want to hear that because it’s shrouded in all this mystery, and the biggest secret, and all of this stuff. If people think it’s a gamble they want to gamble on the the situation, I don’t know there’s probably a word for this in gambling, but when you just go for the crazy bet because it’s a thousand to one as opposed to the safe bet which is three to one. Do you know what I mean?

Alex: Yeah. Hey, I’m not a gambler, yeah absolutely. I think you’re right, as long as they’re willing to invest over time and allow you to steer that ship to whatever is working better and away from things that are working worse; if they have more of a holistic attitude to a marketing budget and to all the tools available them to them, absolutely I think yes. Where I’m saying it’s a real gamble is if you take it back to a real grassroots scenario.

Alex: I’ve got a customer in construction who are currently selling garden rooms. Really nice 30 to 35 grand rooms that can be built really quickly in a garden, maybe it’s an office, obviously that’s a hot, hot topic at the moment – home offices – but maybe it’s a new lounge, or maybe it’s a play area or maybe it’s a gym. Whatever. They’re selling these units and what we’re going down the geo, the geographical route. They’ve had some other, very digital first, businesses, trying to sell them on social, and PPC, and SEO, and that’s fine and it should definitely be part of a holistic campaign but where I’ve suggested we go, which is where we’ve ended up going, is down a postal route, supported with some geo-targeted social and some local consumer press. We’re gonna find the postcode of the people who are affluent, who are homeowners, who are gardeners, have gardens and have maybe invested in home development at some point in the last decade. We’re going to really hedge our bets and we’re going to send a flyer to everybody on that road, it’s down to a single postcode, it’s brilliant, we’re going to send a flyer, or a brochure, or whatever. There’s a chance that no one on that road wants that product and that’s why I’m saying it’s it’s always a gamble. You cannot account for the people that you end up marketing to not wanting what you’re selling. It’s a brilliant product but what if they’ve already got every solution they want; or this person’s got the solution already; this one hasn’t got the cash; this one’s investing in someone else and that’s when you go, well let’s find the next postcode. Let’s find the next post code and that’s when you’re hedging your bets that’s when it goes from your thousand to one, to a five hundred to one, to a twenty, to down to your seven or eight to one or whatever the odds are. That’s where I think people have to be willing to go on that journey, that longevity, I come across so many people who just expect you to expect to stick, I don’t know a few hundred quid a month into social adverts and they’re surprised in month one when they maybe haven’t made the money back or sold anything. I guess that’s just the conversation you you have to have, about the time it can take to regain your marketing investment and find your feet. It’s not just pay to play it’s pay to experiment.

Martin: Yes and that is the gig, that is the gig. What you have to do is test everything so that you can see where the responses are, where the sales are, and where the high lifetime customer value and the low cost of customer acquisition are, that’s it. I would say you are taking a gamble if you’re relying on direct mail because the Direct Mail Associations say that only one percent of direct mail is even opened so. They haven’t got a clue how many people open them, how would they know?

I would say if you’re putting all your eggs in one basket then it becomes more of a gamble. The way I hedge my bets is I turn up and I would hope that I would have some experience of a business like this, or a product like this, or in this market. I come with experience, some experience, and say we’re gonna go with x, y and z in this order because that’s our experience of this happening. For me it’s always about integrated marketing, it’s always about establishing what the message is, what the products are first, what the messages are, then what the channels are, and then going that way.

You could do some really cute things. The thing is this is also an issue that’s happening now. Marketing is becoming so, what’s the word, fragmented and diverse. Now you’ve got people who are wholly Facebook advertising companies, service providers, or Twitter. There’s Twitter marketing specialists, TikTok marketing specialists, there are certainly PPC advertising specialists.

Martin: Absolutely. When I started in 2005 we were a telemarketing company so if anyone came to us with a marketing issue it had to be telemarketing.

Alex: Exactly, yeah.

Martin: And that really isn’t hedging your bets, because who knows if telemarketing is the thing that’s going to be effective. The thing about social advertising is that social is essentially just display advertising; nobody should have an expectation that you’re ever going to make a sale from a social ad. It will happen occasionally, you’ll get clicks occasionally, but it will be very occasionally. That’s not the role of of display advertising in your marketing investment, that’s to build awareness it’s a different. I think that’s a danger of where we are right now. Marketing has become so technical and fragmented.

I know a guy and he’s like the people on these pre-roll YouTube ads who do this, do this and you’ll make millions.

Alex: Yeah, yeah.

Martin: They’re getting a shitty ride on on this on this, whatever this is, marketing chat show thing. I know he’s making a lot of money and he claims that his customers are making a lot of money he won’t speak to me because he’s too busy to speak to me. But my experience of that is that it doesn’t work, you need a marketing mix. If you think about this in terms, I’m talking too much, but if you think about this in terms of the customer journey they need to be aware in the first place that there’s a solution available, they need to be aware that you are creating that solution or delivering that solution, they have to go on that journey. What might make them aware is an ad on Facebook, by the time they’re interested they might be checking it out on YouTube, so you’ve got to be doing Facebook and YouTube for that to happen. Then one day they might wake up and just Google it, in which case, if you’re not ranking, you need to be doing your PPC, do you know what I mean. Then they might get a quote and then they need to stay warm for three four months, so there needs to be some email. At some point somebody should pick up the phone and have a conversation with them and maybe someone’s going to go around have a cup of tea and a biscuit with them, what I mean is you need to take this yeah journey, so it has it’s touch points, integrated.

I think yeah, yeah, and that’s that’s a hard one to to talk about really, sometimes, with customers. I think when you really just break it down and and say look no one ever buys on the first touch point and no one’s going to buy if you keep bugging them with the same touch point, like if you put a flyer through their door every single week, or you email them twice a week, no one’s ever going to convert on that because you’re just annoying them. So yeah, touch points, absolutely and you’re right there are those people out there selling a single product and branding themselves as a marketing agency and then, people who who aren’t in the know, understandably, they’re not marketers, they’ve got businesses to try and grow, they go to Google, they find this business and and they go okay yeah I know I’ve heard all of your problems and SEO is the answer.

Alex: I think that the fragmentation is definitely a real problem and to be honest people like me, or ourselves, who who can consult on everything like not having a real bias. My agency, Marketing 101, does deliver some core functions we will do copywriting, we will run email marketing, we’ll do social media, whatever, but I’m working really hard to be very unbiased. I have my favourites like I’m quite a big fan of content strategy or if you’re talking about social media then I’m always going to be biased towards LinkedIn. I think having a holistic attitude as a marketer is is really, really important. That being said, talking about the guys at the at the front of YouTube videos selling – I’ve discovered the secret to social marketing, follow this formula and you’re guaranteed to do x, y and z, they may be correct. You had Jim on a couple of weeks ago, I was fascinated to hear he was one of the people making the most of SEO when it first came out, right? He found the loophole and and really went for it and maybe these guys are doing the same, maybe they have found a little loophole, but there’s no longevity there. They can get you leads, 100 a minute maybe, but is your website converting? Are your your customer services nice on the phone? Are your sales people following up leads? have you got an abandoned basket campaign on on your website to catch those people that that fall at that stage? All these things that go before and after it, or at least after it. That crazy lead driving pitch that they’re giving you, that’s why we were talking before about businesses really have to have an understanding, to have an appetite for marketing, to really do it properly. If they don’t then they’ll get snapped up by someone who offers them the, what’s the phrase, the moon on a plate, is that a thing? I don’t know if that’s a phrase they offer them the moon on the plate, on a stick, they offer them everything, they say yes but really what they’re going to do is charge them 400 quid a month for SEO and it’s a tiny part of the puzzle.

Alex: That’s what I’m trying to get at, I think they offered the moon on a plate, I think it might be the moon on a plate, I don’t know I think it’s the moon on a plate, next time you get on one for two or three minutes I’m gonna google it.

Alex: Okay, cool. It does happen, it does happen. I think I would always recommend that they talk to, I mean of course, I would, it’s what I’m selling right? This is my shit, I’d always recommend talking to a marketing consultant first, you’ve got to because you won’t be considering, almost certainly, you won’t be considering every opportunity for your business. That’s literally my job, to understand what you’re doing and I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation where I haven’t managed to say have you thought about doing this? The biggest one I have is how are you talking to your existing customers, your ex- customers? We don’t know we just we just need new customers. No, no, no, you need you need to go to your existing customers and your and your ex-customers that’s always good.

Alex: When I joined that business, I was with them for six years, within a couple of months I’d sent an email campaign to ex-customers, they had 15 years of or more of of emails, email addresses of customers that they’d never contacted since they stopped buying. That email, and you can imagine, brand new on the job, that email generated about 40 or 50 grand of sales in a couple of weeks, which is the size of a pretty decent sized customer. It was a really, a really good move, and it’s because no-one had ever thought about ex-customers. Those are the conversations I think that you need to have and why you need to get someone in who can think beyond one subject, one marketing activity.

Martin: Yes, I think you’re absolutely right. There’s a stat that I roll out all the time. When I first started there was an organisation called Business Link, they employed lots of middle-aged men who supposedly, supposedly, had been really successful in medium sized businesses. They employed these guys to go around and consult with small businesses and they did a study supposedly and they found it is 17 times more expensive to find and win a new customer than it is to sell to an existing customer.

This is what I mean about it not being a gamble because if they’ve got existing or expired customers that’s a rich bank that you can mine and you can see some pretty quick success. Unless they’re ex-customers because they screwed them all over.

Alex: Again, that’s where I come back to there is still a gamble there because their ex-customers might have hated them. Maybe they put out a product that that had to be recalled and sent some of their friends bust, that sent them under, and now they’ll never work again. I’ve come across those people who were like oh my product wasn’t displayed properly, I’ll never work with them again. I agree, there’s rich veins, and there’s hedging your bets but there is still, always that underlying gamble.

Martin: Okay. I’m coming to some real clarity. There’s a gamble at the beginning, the gamble is their product is shit or they are dicks.

Alex: Okay, yeah, okay.

Martin: There’s a gamble at the end which is you haven’t been able to motivate them enough to keep them investing in what it is that they need to do. So the way I’ve done it, I don’t do it anymore, I’m not looking for clients anymore, god help me. I wanted to be the small businesses marketing champion for the nine years that I launched myself out of bed and did The Effective Marketing Company 15 hours a day. What I realised is is that they don’t deserve a marketing champion at the end of the day. Your job is to to take them on, is to convince them, not necessarily, I don’t think, blow their minds because they haven’t thought of this one opportunity but to convince them of what the process is convince them that they’re in the business of buying customers and then you have to show them progress immediately. It doesn’t have to be your phones are ringing off the hook immediately, it can’t be that because anyone who believes that it is falling into the dick category at the beginning of the conversation. If its a shit product, or they’re a dick, you need to run a mile.

If you take them on it’s not even a gamble, that is a hiding to nothing. I sound like I’m lecturing you but …. I’ve been hard.

Alex: No, I know, I know, I love it. And you’re completely right. I think, again, it comes back to that appetite. If they have an appetite for marketing and understanding. The question I often ask, I had this conversation very recently with the customer that I then lost, I think because I asked this question – where do you think your customers are gonna come from if you don’t do any of these recommendations? I was pushing this, whatever it was, it was like well you need to you need to get blogging so you can flood your LinkedIn with real content and show that you’re an authority, an active member of your industry. Then you need to, this was a brand new product, they had no brand awareness, they had nothing, they had no sales, they just had the website and the product. I was like okay, so then you need to get on social, no-one’s interested in following your social media because your product’s boring. Alex: We can advertise it to them, so we need to run adverts and it was like, no we don’t like that. Okay, well how about some consumer press and trade press, how about we try and sell it at trade shows – yeah we’re not really keen on face-to-face meetings. I literally had to say, how are you expecting to sell this product if you’re not gonna take anything on. I think that’s, if you can say that nicely, to people that perhaps don’t have an appetite or don’t understand marketing, then maybe you can move the conversation along. What they’ll probably say is, oh it’s a word of mouth or referrals, great so how do we get more of those? How do we treat your existing customers better and your ex customers so that you’re always in their mind, so that next time a referral opportunity comes up they will make that referral? How do we make your customers better advocates for your business? Can we put a promo a, customer reward scheme in? How many customers are you losing? Can we work on customer retention? You can have those questions but only if you get people to admit that they have to get customers from somewhere. There are some, there’s some real deniers out there, they think it’s a “if you build it they will come” and that’s it, and it’s not the attitude at all. There we go, that was a rant. What did you do? What did you need to do? Did you Google anything?

Martin: No man, I was interested in what you were saying.

I’m going to tell you what somebody told me when I was probably as far into the Effective Marketing Company as you are into Marketing 101. I sat down with this guy and he’s like how’s it going, I was probably a couple of years in, and he said to me how’s it going and I’m like so exciting, I’m getting people so excited about marketing. He’s like here’s something you should probably think about why don’t you just spend your time talking to the people who are already excited about marketing? He was right, my energy was going in for free, educating these people about what marketing was and the opportunity, and how actually what you could actually realistically achieve, and I’ll give you a report every month to show you that we’re moving towards that, and I was getting people but all of that energy was going in for free. I don’t know how much of that was converting, probably not enough, but then if I’ve just convinced someone of something then how long is it going to take them to become less convinced? If they come to you convinced then you’ve probably got, they are at that point, a proactive marketer.

So yeah, the issue is I think we’re talking about the same class of people which is 99% of business owners in my experience. I’ve only spoken to thousands, so I’m not saying it’s universally true.

Alex: I’ve only spoken to a few.

Martin: They don’t even know why they’re in business, they don’t even know the value of running a business. For me it’s so, so simple. You’ll come to know, depending on how your business goes, you’ve probably been close enough to the leadership in your last business to know that the only point really of not having a job, of not having holidays and pensions, and all that other good stuff, the only point of that is to build something that is truly valuable so at some point in your life someone’s going to knock on the door and say here’s a big fact cheque for that thing that you made. The only point of running a business is to not be in business and the trouble is 99% of businesses are in business to have a living, to have an income, and that will kill you. That will kill you because it’s too, here’s a heavy swear word, fucking hard. It takes a big swear word, we might we might use the c word, I can’t see it coming in this one. If you don’t understand the base premise, the only point of being in business, there’s another heavy swear word coming up, if you don’t understand the point of being in business is to not have to work; to build something that’s so valuable that someone will write you a big fat check for it, don’t be in business. It’s too late for 99% of them already have done that. If you are in business and you don’t understand that being in business is simply about finding, winning and keeping customers profitably, you shouldn’t be in business, you just shouldn’t. But you have to convince people of this, you will have to convince people of this, because they don’t know. Here’s the other heavy swear word, it’s the same swear word again, it’s got fuck all to do with you, because you fancy this or you fancy that, or you want to spend time on the phone, or you don’t want to spend time on the phone. It’s a hundred percent, you’ve got absolutely no control of people turning up in your business and giving you money and if you want them to do that there’s work that needs to be done. There’s caveats to this, I’ll tell you about a pork restaurant in Cologne, but essentially it’s all about your customers because all you need them to do is to continue to give you their money, then you’re a business. If you do that successfully enough you’re going to be a successful business and then somebody is going to knock on the door and they’re going to say like here’s the millions of pounds, why don’t you buy yourself a nice home and not work anymore.

Alex: It’s amazing, it’s amazing, how many businesses don’t look internally first at doing well for your customers. You’ve made me think with your, you mentioned the restaurant in Cologne, which I’m very keen to hear about, but effectively a restaurant can thrive just by making amazing food right? That’s really simple, we understand that right? Do good food, everyone will talk about it, people will write their own reviews, you don’t need to do any marketing probably? Maybe you’re about to to tell me otherwise but just apply that mentality first, do an amazing job, look to your existing customers. I had this phrase that I developed, I think it’s maybe my epitaph phrase, whilst I was at Paladone, my previous job, which is “everything is marketing so marketing is everything.” What in simple terms that means is that just because you think that this is where marketing sits, realistically, if you take it back to that basic definition, which is what you’ve just quoted the attraction and retention of customers at a profit then everything has to be marketing. How are your staff picking up the phone? If you’re wholesaling what’s going on the outside of your boxes? I don’t know, how clean is your office and how many plants have you got? Because that’s going to affect your staff’s performance. Literally, you can pluck away at any thread and and come back to saying well actually that sits under marketing and that’s always the attitude I try and take.

There is always something you can do to do better, to treat your customers better, and I, certainly in my last business, my main goal was actually just to make it an amazing business to buy from. I wanted the best collateral, the best trade shows, the best website, the most engaging social media, the most awesome YouTube channel, the best showroom, the best office for people to come and visit. That should should be enough to get that basic swirl of advocacy with customer retention and word of mouth going. Do that and then the adverts can come on top, what people would see is the more traditional marketing.

Alex: Tell me about your restaurant in Cologne, I’ve never been, never been to Germany but France border isn’t it? Germany France border, Cologne, is that right?

Martin: It’s north west Germany. I don’t know how close it is, we drove to Holland from there so I think it might be a couple hundred kilometres I think. This restaurant, what do they call it, I don’t remember what they call it but it’s a dish and it’s basically 800 grams of pork knuckle, and some potatoes, and some cabbage I think it is. It’s famous in in northern Germany, I don’t know if lovely is the word, healthy isn’t the word I’d use either, traditional, it’s traditional, traditional, let’s go with traditional. Anyway this restaurant are famously, famously, rude to everyone who goes in there. There’s a queue all the time and basically if you’re queueing you’re nobody, well if you’re at a table you’re nobody, but if you’re queueing you might as well not exist. As a British person you’ll go in and you’ll expect to get a look, or at least a hello, or it’s gonna be at 10 minutes – nothing, you get absolutely nothing. If you’re queuing you’re nobody and then you sit down and you’re still nobody. They bring you this little, they call it Kolch, and you drink it in like little 150 ml glasses and you get really drunk because they keep pouring it out.

Alex: Lovely.

Martin: But, if they decide you’re going to get some Kolch, you’ll get some Kolch, that’s what will happen. Then the food will come and it is delicious, but the guy I was with said do you have some mayonnaise? The waiters like they sell mayonnaise at the kiosk. go and buy some.

Alex: Really?

Martin: Seriously. Now this isn’t unique, I’ve known some businesses like this. The thing is, it isn’t the anti-marketing that you might think it is, because what it does is it builds it, adds to the legend of the place. Supposedly, supposedly, Bill Clinton wanted to go there when he was president of the United States but he said you’re going to have to close the place because this is the president of the United States – no we’re not closing the place, he’s not coming, it’s simple like that. So this is the legend, so this is the marketing, so everyone goes they’re expecting to be rude and they are, and everyone talks about it.

At one point in my life I was selling a really high value marketing product to Managing Partners, Country Managers and Managing Directors of brands that we know of, accountancy brands and stuff. There’s only one way to do it and it was reverse psychology. You literally had to phone them up and in the first 30 seconds of the call make them, let them know you didn’t like them and you didn’t want them to buy this thing and that they couldn’t have it, that was literally the only way. So there’s two sides. What we don’t need to think is that you have to be sugary nice to people all the time. What you absolutely have to do is deliver value. Deliver value, that’s what you have to do.

Alex: I think yeah.

Martin: I don’t know if business people understand that, because it’s a very personal thing isn’t it? I developed this product. This was the issue I had with the networking scene when I started my businesses. People come from home and of course their family, and their cousins, and their aunts, and their uncles all telling them they’re amazing, their products are amazing. Then they come to me and it’s like everyone I know says this is amazing, and it’s like well it’s a good job maybe, ,if you knew everyone you would be really successful already. So it’s interesting. This conversation’s taken a turn.

Alex: I’m fascinated by your restaurant though. That’s the dream for a marketer, to come across something like that, where they’ve got a real, a real unique selling point already. A truly, a true USP, not one you’ve got a dredge for, which is what you’re doing most the time, you’re dredging for USPs or competitive differentiators. You’re desperately thinking that, but that’s all, that’s like the, it’s that healthy vein, did you call it your mineral vein, legend?

Martin: Legend.

Alex: Yeah well, yeah, you said, yes a legend. I was thinking earlier in the conversation, you talked about a vein, like a gold mine vein analogy. That’s it, that’s what you tap into. To tap into businesses that actually have that, or having them, and have a truly amazing product, like a dragon’s den worthy product, and they just haven’t been discovered yet. That’s the goal really, isn’t it? That would be joyful for a marketer, it’s so hard.

Martin: No, well no. For the restaurant I don’t know, but people pay good money to get put down in certain establishments. Like dominatrixes, they do exactly that, that’s all they do is treat people badly.

Alex: Exactly.

Martin: We’re on to something. There has to be something about creative marketers, and dominatrixes, and huge knuckles of pork – this is going to be the thing for the book.

Alex: That’s the Venn diagram. That’s the Venn diagram right now dominatrix, yeah creatives, marketer in the middle, I like it. yes, good.

Martin: Bullshit maybe in the middle.

Alex: Yeah, so where do marketing, knuckles and dominatrixes meet?

Martin: I don’t know.

Alex: Okay, so what is the punchline?

Martin: Are you ready to be shocked?

Alex: Shot?

Martin: Shocked.

Shocked, I prefer option B – shocked. Yes please, go for it.

Martin: Well you accuse me of being a climate change denier.

Alex: Yeah.

Martin: I’m not a climate change denier, I am a USP denier, I think that is such a crock of shit.

Alex: Do you not think that being rude to their customers is their USP?

Martin: Well, no, it might distinguish them, I think it’s their legend, it absolutely is. I can prove to you right now this is absolute bullshit, 100% bullshit.

Alex: I’m excited, I’m excited.

Martin: Right, unique, yeah? Okay, there’s four million businesses in the UK yeah?

Alex: Yeah, absolutely, but I would say that’s semantics. I think what you’re talking there, like that restaurant selling point.

Martin: We have to look at who that restaurant is competing with if that restaurant is competing with everyone, every other restaurant in the world, then that’s probably not their unique selling point. If they’re only competing with people in that vicinity it maybe. Maybe they are competing with the world, like Clinton wanted to go there. Maybe that USP is global.

Alex: I agree, but I think it’s semantics. Maybe USP could be upgraded to a better word, something else which says what differentiates you from from your competition without the word unique in it because it really annoys Martin. Maybe we could put that in as a caveat and make a new marketing term.

Martin: It doesn’t really annoy me. I’m just telling you I don’t believe in it, it’s fine, that’s absolutely fine. You could win this argument and I’ll concede this argument to you 100%, I will apologise, I will send you chocolates – when did you last decide not to buy a product because there wasn’t something unique about that product or that brand?

Alex: Yeah that’s a a very good point, if you you’re turning it on its head. I buy plenty of products because I think they have a unique selling point. I’m thinking back to a nice wooden toothbrush I bought towards the end of last year, made from recycled wood and from for every toothbrush purchased they plant a tree somewhere.

Martin: Lovely.

Alex: I was like that’s really good what a nice USP. There was another brand next to it selling a wooden toothbrush that did something else for a different charity every time someone bought it too. So yeah, I agree. I think unique is not the correct word, maybe it should be a sellable selling point, or a promotable selling point, something like that. Unique is drawing it too narrow.

Martin: Here’s what I call it, I call it a value proposition.

Alex: Oh that’s nice.

Martin: How exactly do you deliver value? That is on my LinkedIn Marketing course, I’ve got a LinkedIn marketing course, nobody’s bought it, one person bought it who I don’t know. That’s your LinkedIn headline, whatever it is, 19 words, three lines and that for me is a value proposition.

Alex: A value proposition.

Martin: Yeah. That’s like your elevator pitch, you remember? You are you too young to remember that?

Alex: Yeah, no, no. Absolutely.

Martin: That’s it. The way I get people to structure their LinkedIn headline is; this is my level; this is who I work with; this is what I deliver; this is what you’re going to take away. Mine reads something like; expert at driving, I don’t know, I don’t even remember what it is. That then is something valuable because a hundred people out of hundred people that you will meet will say I don’t know how to tell people what I do, whereas I can. It’s a big problem. I could say I’m an expert in marketing training, I support business owners and marketing managers to drive the efficiency of their marketing or something like that. Do you know what I mean? It’s like six seconds, bam, and it’s over with.

Alex: But what I’d say, to maybe just try and win a little bit of the USP argument.

Martin: You had the chance and you gave it up.

Alex: Well no, I know, I know.

Martin: Just tell me one instance where you’ve said ….

Alex: I could have just said nothing.

Martin: No you had to give me an instance.

Alex: Oh yeah well, it was deeply personal, I couldn’t possibly commit it to video, there we go.

Martin: That’s a lie.

Alex: It’s not, I can’t ….

Martin: You’re such a marketer.

Alex: When you’ve got your LinkedIn value proposition, I feel like I’ve heard that phrase before.

Martin: Definitely.

Alex: I get that, but when they put you against other people who have the same value proposition …..

Martin: Okay.

Alex: Because there’s going to be other people out there in a similar role. Imagine that you have taken, I don’t know, Samsung, you were the consultant that took Samsung from, I don’t know, whatever, x many billions a year to x many billions and Motorola are looking at all these different people with similar value propositions. That’s your USP, your unique selling point, is that you have done the exact journey that Motorola want to do and you’ve done it with Samsung. None of your peers have, even though they all have the same value proposition, they’re growth consultants.

Martin: Perhaps.

Alex: And they work in the tech business, but your USP could be your experience and that is unique to you, you’re the only consultant that took Samsung from x many billion to x many billion.

Martin: Okay, so firstly, no marketing consultant ever did that.

Alex: No, of course not.

Martin: So here’s my value proposition, my LinkedIn headline is, expert at educating and motivating business owners and managers to improve sales and profits through digital marketing.

Alex: That’s nice.

Martin: It is. That’s great.

If I was pitching Motorola it would say Japanese, it would say expert at driving Japanese electronics manufacturers from x percent to x percent blah blah, do you know what I mean?

Yeah there’s no such thing as unique, there’s no consultant who ever did that for Samsung. There’s nobody, go and search for marketing agency owners, I’m tempted to do it right now, they’re not delivering a value proposition. The point is, what’s the point? The point is that really you want to get over this as quickly as possible. What I’m talking about, I know what I’m talking about, now let’s start talking about what your issue is and how what I know might be able to address that issue, yeah that’s the point. Marketing agencies who do this, they’re trying to be quirky and unique and all this shit, deliver value, that’s a good idea. Do what I mean I mean, it’s the best, it’s the best idea, it’s the best.

Martin: I can’t come on board with you with the USP. You warned me to be shocked about the lack of the existence of USP. Whilst I’m with you in that I feel that unique is probably not the right word there are lots of things in the world that have the wrong name. I think the theory behind it, finding things to hold on to or shout about, is right. If you’re the first toilet paper company to become sustainable or whatever, then that’s, for that moment, that’s your USP. Even if you’re not unique because there’s plenty other businesses going sustainable or whatever, but if you’ve got that you’ve got a USP. If you’re the one restaurant in the city that prides itself on bad service, then that is your USP. Even if the word unique doesn’t apply, it is something to grab onto as a marketer. It’s not the only thing, I think that’s maybe where we could align, I’m not saying I would base an entire marketing strategy on a single USP but it could be something which helps, an element, a demographic that we go after, a way of talking, it could guide our brand voice, it could just be a few nice bits of content, it could be a nice paragraph on the about us page or whatever. I think they are there and they’re important to identify things, that make your business different and interesting. I guess my point was that they’re really rare, like they’re they’re really hard to come by. I struggled at my last business to decide what our brand story was, because brand story was we wanted to sell product, to make money, that’s most people’s brand story, right? Is make make money. You have to almost pluck these USPs out of thin air sometimes and and help invent them.

Martin: I’m sorry man you’re not taking me with you. Here’s a unique selling point, be the best, deliver the most value, understand your customers better, give them better experiences, get them to the point where they can’t shut up about you, whether that’s good or bad, they can’t shut up. You won’t believe how rude these guys were at this pork knuckle restaurant, they are so rude, people are like I can’t believe that, they have to go and see it for themselves, and then they’re telling everyone they know about how rude these people were, he said to go and buy it from the kiosk, I asked for some mayonnaise and said he said go buy it for yourself. We are in Germany, we should be having some mayonnaise, he’s like, go and buy it from the kiosk. Now I’m talking to you about this this.

Alex: Yeah, okay.

Martin: The difference is, don’t be digging around for a unique selling point, there isn’t one. Deliver the most value, that is actually what you should be serving for your customers, even in this knuckle restaurant. It’s not about being super nice to people, it’s just about making a mark, and then it becomes legend and that’s the best marketing. That’s the marketing that Sue and Polly thought they had when they bought out their envelope puppets for the pandemic, everyone in their family said it was great, people weren’t going to be able to shut up about these things, it’s not until the market tells them how good the product is. Do you know what I mean? Don’t be fishing for a USP. I’ve never said that marketing is everything and everything is marketing, I’ve never said that, I haven’t quite had the balls to say that, but what I do say is that everything in business is marketing. You could say there’s HR, it’s a pitch, everything is a pitch. People come and work for you because they want to come and work for you, because they believe that’s going to be the best for their career and their mate told them about it, or the uniforms are cool, or the locations’ cool, or the whatever it is, the opportunities, everyone goes on to work for Samsung afterwards. I don’t know why you think people should want to work for Samsung or Motorola, but that’s the legend. Everything in business is a pitch, it’s the boss pitching his PA, who’s pitching the production manager, who’s pitching the the guys on the line, who’s pitching the delivery guy. The only point of being in business, there’s two points. The first point is to build something of value, that someone will write a cheque for, the only way you’ll do that is by finding, winning and keeping customers profitably and having that process, the point where it just works. Then there will be a few of people at your door wanting to write you a big fat cheque for your business, that’s the point. If you struggle to find a USP, well I would say part of the reason it’s so difficult is because they don’t exist and also you’re bullshitting.

Just do a better job.

Alex: I think we are in agreement, we’re both, maybe, just too stubborn to agree. I agree with you. My point was that it’s so nice when you stumble across a business where there’s a really clear USP, insert other word here. I’m saying it’s nice because you’ve got something to immediately say great this is something that I could use and now I’ll look to the rest of my toolkit and deliver amazing value elsewhere. How wonderful to find a business that already has this really cool thing about it, that I’ve not heard about, I definitely wouldn’t be going into businesses digging for USP’s.

Martin: I agree. I think that’s boring.

Alex: I remember when I was in school and we were talking about it must have been Sylvia Plath the poet and the english teacher ….

Martin: Did you go to a posh school? We weren’t talking about poets at my school.

Alex: Funnily enough I did, but this is in my secondary, my private school was my first school. The secondary one was state school, but this was this english lesson, in a state school, we were talking about poetry.

Martin: We may have spoken about poetry in our english lessons, okay.

Yeah, exactly, I mean it wasn’t a poetry lesson, it wasn’t that posh.

Martin: I know.

Alex: She said what’s the reason behind this poem? What’s behind it? Why is Mrs Plath, dear Silvia, writing this poem? I was a stubborn boy and I said because she’s a poet, it’s how she gets paid Miss. I was really stubborn about it. So I think I’m with you in that that you shouldn’t dig for a reason if there isn’t one. There’s no need to try and go, oh our business is unique because, convoluted reason sentence, digging, digging, digging, tada. I’m just saying I think it’s great when you come across a business that has something really cool like that as one of a hundred elements to talk about online or whatever’s next. I think it’s great, like, I’d be for example with your Belgian business, your Cologne business sorry, I’d be, if I was their their new marketing consultant, I’d be talking about how do we get people to write more reviews right? Because the more scathing the reviews the better. How do we get those reviews built into some Buzzfeed article? Or how do we get one of the waiters to read out these reviews on TikTok. One of many ideas to help gain publicity, but actually, it’s part of a holistic approach to to the marketing strategy for that business. It’s just nice to have that.

Alex: I want to hear more about these envelope puppets, what’s an envelope puppet?

Martin: An envelope puppet is where you cut the end off an envelope and you put the envelope over your hands, you draw a face on it, you’re not up with the kids?

Alex: No. Was that really a business that got pitched to you?

Martin: No, I made it up.

Alex: I’m really disappointed, I really want to know more.

Martin: So this is where I agree with you it is really really rare to find a business that is actually delivering value, that’s the thing that is probably more unique than a business that just happens to have something that is newsworthy or talk worthy. The trouble is that there are too many marketers, and I’ve been guilty of it, I think my wife told me that, we did like a personality test and I was supposed to be a rescuer was my personality so immediately I started talking to people I want to rescue them. I wish I’d said look your business is a piece of shit a 1,000 times more than I ever actually did, because that’s where it starts.

Alex: Yeah.

Martin: I mean it’s like you need this business to make a living, okay that’s fine, but you’re not doing it the right way, you’re not delivering value for your customers and if that’s not your focus, and if it’s not happening because you don’t fancy this and you don’t fancy that, then absolutely Alex run a mile, they are not people who are who are going to be with you for the amount of time it takes to deliver value through their marketing. That for me is the big issue for marketing service providers like you and I, getting the commitment. Nobody’s going to commit to a year, is anyone going to commit to a year? You need to be able to say in three months this is what you can expect to see, and in six months this is what you can expect to see, and in nine months this is what you can expect to be see, and in a year this is what we expect to see and in five years this is where we expect to be. What happens is people pay these marketing service providers and they disappear off into the wilderness. Three months is supposedly the average amount of time a digital marketing agency in London keeps a customer.

Alex: Three months? Really? Is that it?

Martin: That’s it.

Alex: That’s why they all insist on six-month contracts?

Martin: Yes because, yeah, but I understand, and hopefully you understand, that at the end of month one there needs to be, in black and white, this is what we’ve done and this is the effect that we’re seeing. At the end of every month that needs to be the case. I’ve produced marketing reports for my clients knowing they’re never going to read them, but I make a point of speaking to them every month and referring to something in the marketing report. Then a marketing report’s there, so when they’re in a shitty mood, in three months time they’re looking to get rid of some expense and they come speak to me, I’m like well, let’s have a nice look at the reports and see what’s been going on.

Yeah, and even if they just, you know, go and pick on someone else. If they’re really just in a shitty mood, that has to be there, because if that’s not, why would they continue to invest, it’s an investment.

Alex: Absolutely there has to be, there has to be difference. I just think sometimes it can, it can be so difficult, especially when you’re talking about that delivering of value to customers, just doing the best you can. There, I look jaundiced, I’ve gone really yellow now, haven’t I?

Martin: Sorry about that, I’m colourblind, so I don’t know.

Alex: Oh okay, a lot of sunshine coming. I’ve lost my train of thought, yeah, delivering that value and hoping that that will, well not hoping, but knowing that that will affect your growth. You will grow just by delivering that. But that’s really long tail, that’s long, a long time to wait I think.

Martin: How long?

Alex: Well I don’t know. I’m very much focused; I think sometimes those projects where you’re polishing the way that you deal with customers, the service you’re giving them, the customer journey, trying to find better things to deliver on. Can you turn around deliveries better? Can you provide them with less packaging? I think those things are absolutely the right thing to do, service the hell out of your customers.

Martin: Definitely.

Alex: Maybe I’m thinking in a B2B world it can take quite a long time because in my last business you got two to three orders a year off a person. To see that go up to four or five a year, or to see the average order value increase, or to see customer retention improve, it can take a long time. I think people find that quite hard to buy into but that’s absolutely what I believe in. That’s how, I believe, my element of my previous businesses growth was achieved. Yes, there was amazing product development, and amazing sales at this business, and no doubt that was the real driver for the growth. My element was polishing it, trying to do everything as beautifully as possible to ensure that everyone loved trading with us. I think you’ve got to have that yeah combination, it’s back to that everything is marketing. Look at everything 360 to see what you can improve. It’s that lowest lowest hanging fruit, what’s the biggest gap at the moment that we can try and resolve, or the biggest opportunity that sits there.

Alex: I just think people often just want, they just want more leads, and good ones, without addressing everything else. It’s building, it’s building your city on sand instead of rock. If you’re just gonna go after the leads without addressing everything else in your in your in your business first.

Martin: Yeah, so here’s what I think about that. I think that, I really knew what I thought about that when I said here’s what I think about that.

Alex: Okay what do you think about businesses who just want more leads? Would you do you ever try and turn them around and say no look look to yourself first? Let’s look internally and make sure we’re converting properly, make sure we’re treating customers right, let’s hold on to more customers, let’s get some ex-customers back.

Martin: Absolutely. Leads is not the point. Leads is absolutely not the point. Like you I’m also B2B so what I know is that every lead has to be worked. There is the cost of acquiring the lead and then there is the cost of servicing the lead. The number of leads is probably the worst indicator of how your business is doing, absolutely, but people are obsessed about leads, that’s absolutely fine.

What I would need to do if I was going to take on a client now, I would have to convince them that the only point of them being in business is to have a business that’s valued at something and that someone will write a big fat check for it at some point in the future; that business is all about finding, winning and keeping customers profitably. If I could convince them of those two things, which is actually much more important than what these other guys on YouTube on the pre-roll ads on YouTube are telling them. You can have 200 leads a day, great, it takes 10 minutes to service a lead, to find out if they’re actually interested in something or not. Times 200 by 10 minutes, my maths isn’t great, for every day of lead generation you do you’re gonna have to do five days of lead servicing. So it’s not profitable, do you know what I mean? Everyone thinks they need leads and they don’t need leads.

Martin: The point about what you were saying before is people don’t buy in for the long term and that’s absolutely fine. Why would you expect them to. Our industry has a reputation for not maintaining customers for more than three months but. What you have to do then, if you’re saying okay this is what we’re achieving, this is what we are expecting to achieve in 12 months, I’m going to come back and I’m going to show you the progress we’ve made after one month and I expect it to be this. The key is to be able to over deliver, under promise what that first month’s going to be, under promise on what the second month is going to be, so that every month you go back you’re able to say look we’re doing better than we expected. I think to really do a good job for a customer, and this is this is service providers doing a good job, as well as customers doing a good, it’s all the same thing. You’re doing your customer disservice if you aren’t able to convince them of that. You’re doing yourself a disservice because you’re not going to be able to service that customer profitably without convincing them of that.

Martin: Do you have any idea what time we started? I think we’ve gone long. This is by far and away, you may not have made it to 007, but this is the most interesting conversation I’ve had.

Alex: Oh that’s very nice of you, thank you. I mean it might not be a good thing. Maybe I have some weird, and conflicting, and incorrect views on marketing and you’re just you’re just setting me right along the way. Maybe that’s why it’s it’s the most interesting. I can imagine why you’re finding this interesting because I mean I talked about the ADHD, the hyperactivity, my brain goes down tangents, my brain goes off in funny ways. That is effectively my USP Martin. When I’m talking to customers my brain goes everywhere and that’s why I love what I do and why I think I’m doing okay at it at the moment. Because I cannot stick to their point. Maybe sometimes that can work against me but whatever they come to me to talk about we will end up talking about other things and other ways to achieve marketing success for them. Perhaps that’s why you found it interesting, thank you, what a lovely compliment. now

Martin: That’s okay.

Alex: Sheldon’s not finding it very interesting, Sheldon is completely unimpressed.

Martin: I think Sheldon’s with me on the USP. What did I want to say? The reason I’m finding this interesting is, I don’t think it’s because you’re going off on tangents, I think it’s because what you’re saying is a pretty consistent with marketing theory. The thing that I find interesting is that you were the steering the marketing for this business that went from 10 million pounds to 60 million pounds and I’ve never done that. I wouldn’t have coped in that environment and you did. You had budget, and you had resource, and you clearly had a board who were committed to that growth. That’s why I find it interesting. There’s nothing that you’re saying that isn’t not standard marketing, good marketing practices. All I’m trying to do is push back a little bit is all. The time you’re spending fishing for a USP, there’s a danger that you’re going to produce some bullshit and there’s too much bullshit already. That’s what I think.

Alex: Yeah. I think one thing you’ve just reminded me of, when you’re talking about the board having that vision for the growth. One thing that I tried really hard to do, I mean yeah, I’m definitely one of those people that like listens to marketing podcasts and reads marketing books. I love to hear about best practice and and every now and then I find I get a little light bulb moment, here’s a way to do this, here’s a way to talk about that, here’s a way to explain this. One of the most interesting things I found and why I really enjoyed my time in in the last business, Paladone, I really did, they I expressed this desire to try things. One of the first things my boss said when I arrived in the business was if you do everything right, or if everything works, you’re not trying hard enough. It was basically, you’ve got to fail in order to find what works and what doesn’t work. That was a really nice, interesting starting point. It led me, eventually, to this analogy. I don’t know who it was, but they were talking about bees. In a beehive they send 80% of their bees to where all the flowers to get pollen. 80% of the bees go to where the pollen is. The other 20 percent go out and find where the next pollen’s going to be for when those flowers are all done, they’ve used those up. It’s the old classic 80/20 rule, our favourite split. The business were really keen on letting me do that spend 80% of the time on marketing activities that we know, we love, it works, it’s classic, they’ve heard of us, they understand us; and 20% of the time being experimental, looking for opportunities, trying to further ourselves, trying out things that competitors weren’t trying out. I guess perhaps, that’s again what you’re you’re talking about in that a lot of what I talk is theory but I’m also really interested in throwing the book away and moving away from classic marketing. if today’s marketing consultancy session is going to be all about how are your receptionists answering the telephone and is it adequate, or what voicemail have you got in place for when your customers are calling out of hours, I’m as happy having those conversations and seeing if we can get it working better as I am setting up an email campaign. So yeah, you just you just reminded me of that that whole board thing, because they were a great board to work for.

Martin: Yeah and so it sounds to me like nobody describes it as starkly as I do, I don’t think, I haven’t heard anyone describe it as starkly as I do. They were certainly on that mission, you need to know that you’re in business to make money and the more money you make the more successful you are as a business.

I don’t want to shock you three times in the same call but I’m also a revolutionary communist but I do accept that we live under capitalism and you are as successful as the amount of capital you make and you manage to accrue. That is the point of business, that’s the only point of business. It sounds to me that your board at least, was somewhere in that understanding, they knew what they were about.

Alex: So yeah. Really I think the point of this for me is that in the first instance we’ve started with the product or the customer being a dick. That’s your job is to assess how good is that product, how good is that customer, is this someone that I can take on this journey; because it is going to be a journey and they need to be prepared for that journey. If they’re turning up and they’re saying look, I’m 20 stone and I want to be 12 son for my son’s wedding a week on Tuesday, you can say okay, good, you’re gonna have to lose a stone and a half every day between now and then so i’ll be by with a sword tomorrow to cut an arm off. It’s almost like that situation, it’s almost like this situation.

Martin: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s quite a nice thing. What I’ll take away from this, because as a young business, I am looking to grab every lead, you want them to convert, you want to be able to help everyone. I’ve certainly realised over the last eight, eight-ish, ten months of running this business that not every lead can be converted, or perhaps, I’ve even discovered, worse that I can convert almost every lead but I can’t deliver enough on their budgets or on their expectations. I’ve never had to do this before, working with clients in that way and that’s a really interesting part of what I’m discovering now. Saying no is definitely a thing to a business that isn’t gonna go on the journey with me, being realistic about what investments they’re gonna have to make, not just not into me but in their paid budgets, other partners, you’re gonna have to have this partner that partner.

Alex: I think people hugely underestimate how much it costs to build a proper website, especially if you’re talking global, B2B, e-commerce. Really getting people’s expectations right up front I think is, and is something I’m learning.

Martin: Yeah absolutely. Yeah and you have to say no. No is the most powerful close in the world ever. If you start telling people no they might just buck up and decide that they want to put in the hard yards and I think that’s the difference.

There’s real parallels between … I used to say to people that running a marketing company is a little bit like a gym membership. When they turn up they’re fully committed, they’re prepared to invest everything, and it’s all going to be great; actually three weeks later they’d rather sit at home and eat cake. It is exactly like that.

I think part of your challenge, or anyone who’s a marketing agency’s challenge is to actually qualify their opportunities, Is this somebody that I can work with and keep motivated for the long term and is this actually a product that has a chance of being successful. If you get those two things right then I don’t think it’s really a gamble I really don’t think it’s a gamble. Give me those two things and I can show you progress every month and they could be with me for years, that’s what I’m saying.

Alex: You’re right that’s the dream customer; if they have those two things and you’ve had that discussion then I think that’s it, you’re ready to go on the journey. I’m gonna be keeping my eyes open. We talked, in our off camera conversation, we talked about that and I think that’s that’s the one, wait until people really understand what they want, what it’s going to take to get there, and show the appetite, the willingness and then move it forwards.

Martin: Yes and you’ll need far less of those. You need many, many, many, many, more people who think that their business is going to grow 500% in the next 20 minutes because you’re going to turn them over every three months, if you’re lucky, three months might be a long time.

Alex: It could be, it could be.

Martin: Okay good. I’m just aware that I’m going to have to transcribe this.

Alex: Do you do it by hand?

Martin: No I cheat. Do you want to know the cheat?

Alex: I did notice that you cheated a little bit actually, because on the one I watched previously there was a couple of typos on Jim’s one. I reckon you play it out loud into google notes or something like that?

Martin: No. Google are involved.

Alex: Are they?

Martin: Yes, they are involved but I don’t play it out loud into notes.

Alex: Because that’s something I read once, for students taking notes during lectures you can just open up Google and it and it can translate audio into it, can type it, of course voice recorder. So no, that’s not what you do you?

Martin: No. Here’s what I do. I upload it to YouTube and then I leave it for a couple of days and if you go back a couple of days later and you go into the subtitles it will have auto-generated subtitles and you can download all of that. These are typically around 12,000 words. Then it has to be edited because it’s not right, particularly on the keywords, which I think is odd of Google, you think they’d be sharp on the keywords, but they’re not. Very often you’ll talk about PPC and they’ll be like PPS or something like that.

It takes me 15 minutes to do a page, a page is about 500 words, so I will spend an hour or 40 minutes on this every day before it goes up next Tuesday.

Alex: Gosh, and I I talk quite fast, I reckon I’m about 100, and I reckon I’m audiobook speed which is 160 words per minute I think. So you’ve got a lot you’ve got a lot to get through, I’ve no idea how long we’ve been recording.

Martin: I think it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Alex: I’ve really enjoyed it as well, I’ve really really enjoyed it. We’re going to have to do this again because …

Martin: Absolutely, yeah.

Yeah. We haven’t got on to this whole recession, pandemic thing that’s going on currently.

No. Shop local, support local, Google harder.

Yeah. Well those are my tips. Honestly, my biggest tip is to Google harder, ask for recommendations on social media. Literally, I’m having my kitchen knocked down, I put out a Facebook notification – where can I get good Sunday roasts for delivery and the amount of of businesses I’ve never heard of. Local businesses, restaurants that have turned to doing online delivery and so I’m now excited. I’m gonna start a blog. I’m gonna do the next 12 weeks whilst my kitchen’s gone, different Sunday roasts from different places. I’m gonna review write them.

Excellent. But the point is there’s loads more out there than the top of google and your Facebook adverts tell you, so that’s my advice for the pandemic, it’s not business advice, it’s personal advice, Google harder, social media harder, try and find what’s going on locally. Because every business is trying to do something, but the way that, especially SEO, works they won’t be showing up right now on Google. So look harder and support local, there we go.

That’s interesting. That’s not what anyone else has said so well done for that, that was unique.

Good, that’s my unique perspective. Perhaps that’s yours USRP, unique social review point. I don’t know what it was reminded me of my unique Sunday roast policy.

That’s great, I love it.

I love a Sunday roast. I if I may say so, I’m a very good Sunday roast cooker and it’s the thing I’m gonna miss the most.

I hate it, oh there we go, because you’re having your kitchen done. You can have a new kitchen, you’re gonna cook a thousand Sunday roasts in that kitchen.

I’m actually going to do a vlog because I do a zero waste Sunday roast that’s how I like to cook, which is perhaps also quite unique. I’m going to do a vlog, I’m going to send it to you, there we go, you’ll enjoy that once I’ve got my new kitchen.

It can’t possibly work as zero waste. What about the bits of roast potato that are burnt onto the roasting dish because they’re so crispy and you can’t get them off. That’s waste, can’t be zero waste.

Well I mean, you’re catching me a little bit there yeah. I mean the oil, the potatoes, the oil the potatoes cook in?

Yeah maybe you could reuse that oil?

Maybe I do, maybe you could.

Okay, cool. I have to draw a line now. I think I feel like I’ve disagreed with you enough but I’ve thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this, this has been really cool, thank you.

Me too Martin. It’s been a real pleasure and I look forward to seeing the transcript. I really want to know how long it takes, that’s going to be fascinating. But yeah, let’s do it again, it’d be great. Maybe you can come on my podcast?

I would love to do that and we should do something else.

I don’t know but the thing is I don’t know if I’m going to run out of people because people recommend people like you. It might be good but I’m interested in, like Ed, I spoke to at the very beginning he wants to talk about the morality of marketing and it seems to me there’s levels to that that I’m interested in. Yeah we’ll do it again, we’ll definitely do it again, and I would love to come and talk to you about whatever it is you do on your podcast. You didn’t tell people about your podcast, what’s it called?

No. I guess I should do a plug at this end of it. The podcast, you can find it anywhere, it’s called Marketing 101, Big Steps for Small Businesses and it’s like a real nice marketing basics, intro to certain topics, how to choose how to choose the right social media channel, how to create a nice organic LinkedIn ecosystem to grow your business page; things like that. I don’t go too broad, I don’t go too niche, yeah so that’s. The business is marketing 101,

Good, that’s where people will find you. Yeah, cool, absolutely excellent. Thank you so much I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this it doesn’t feel like we’ve quite come to the end of things I think but we’ll get there next time. Let’s go again it’ll be great fun.


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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