Marketing confessions of a small business owner - Talk Marketing Tuesday 003 - Jim Cunliffe

Marketing confessions of a small business owner – Talk Marketing Tuesday 003 – Jim Cunliffe


Martin: Good afternoon Mr Cunliffe.

Jim: Mr Henley, how are you today?

Jim: I am extraordinarily well, especially because I am speaking to you for YouTube.

Martin: That’s only a pleasure. The reason I wanted to speak to you, because I really like speaking to you – so that’s okay, but the reason I want to speak to you is because I’ve spoken to Ed and I’ve spoken to Jim and they are marketing service providers, so obviously they’ve got a perspective; you are an actual real live business person, although your business does  verge on the marketing. Is that fair? You do print and in your past you’ve done web design , but you’ve never offered marketing as a service, but you’re  on the cusp of that. You’ve employed web developers, you’ve employed designers, you’ve done all that sort of stuff. Tell us, how long have you been in business?

Jim: I’ve been in this game over 20 years.

Martin: Over 20 years, so you’ve been marketing all that time I would imagine by the fact that you are still in business, you’ve had customers so you must have done marketing?

Jim: We used to cheat at SEO.

Martin: Okay, good, I want to speak about that.

Jim: When you could do that, that’s what we did and we built a few successful businesses off the back of that but then you can’t cheat at SEO anymore.

Martin: No. Okay so tell me, let’s start with how you feel about marketing?

Jim: Well I know it needs doing I’m incredibly bad at doing it myself but I can talk to people about marketing but not as articulately as both Ed or Jim could do. What I was scared about today is that you would be throwing loads of questions at me, asking for big answers and I’m not that intellectually inclined. You know I just love printing.

Martin: I’m not so much interested in big answers, like what are the solutions to marketing. I was  talking to Ed about the fact that business people don’t particularly enjoy marketing and talking to Jim about the way that marketing has changed. You’re a business owner and you’ve been all the way through that marketing evolution; if you’ve been in for business for 20 years you’ve been all the way through digital marketing, you’ve been all the way through social media marketing, you’ve been all the way through it so I’m just  interested to get a business owner’s perspective. You know marketing has to be done, you’re not very good at doing it yourself, do you do enough marketing?

Jim: Definitely not. I definitely should be doing more marketing but I keep coming up with excuses. I think what my problem is, is that I have customers to market to, but I don’t want to spam them. I’m just not really a sales person, I’m more of a, I don’t know what I am, but I’m not a salesperson. I’m not a cold caller, I’m not that guy. When I’m talking to customers I don’t want to force products down their throat.

Martin: Okay, so that makes sense. Why do you say you’re not a sales person? Your business is essentially a sales operation, you’re a print agent, is that right?

Jim: I suppose historically we’ve reacted to what comes to us, because, you know, we had the leads, the quotes, the sample pack requests – they come to us, so we’ve just spent all our time dealing with what comes to us. We react, we’re not proactive – right now is the time we should be proactive but we’re not.

Martin: Okay, well I think you have been proactive recently, that’s what I think. So what is it that you mean when you say that don’t want to be spamming people?

Jim: I mean, we’re in the middle of this situation aren’t we, where are we now? October We’re in October, so beginning of March the last thing anyone wanted to be doing was answering a sales call or reading about what they could buy. Because it was like, you know, batten down the hatches, all hands on deck. Or more like sitting on your hands, doing nothing and waiting it out. We can’t wait it out anymore so we’ve got to start doing something. I didn’t want to be, I mean I got a few phone calls that first week, second week and I’m like are you really trying to sell me something? Like you know, business heroes are you really doing that? You could hear down the phone, the woman’s speaking like she’s got a gun to her head, and she’s she’s reading off this script; I’m like “babe, just hang up, nobody wants to buy anything this week.” I feel a bit like that. I don’t want to be pushing sales when no one wants to buy anything.

Martin: Right, but I think they do want to buy stuff that’s what I think.

Jim: They do now, but they didn’t then. We’ve got a huge database of clients, or previous clients, or quote requests but what we are doing is dealing with the customers who do buy from us, rather than the warm list of people who have bought for us over the last 20 years. The relationships with those, let’s say 1500 people, is brilliant and we’re talking to them and they’re ordering, we’re not really actively pushing to anyone else.

Martin: Okay, so that makes sense. There’s two things that we’ve got to cover here. The first is that you say that leads have always come in, inquiries have always come in, sample pack requests have always come in, emails, telephone calls, whatever – that’s always come in. For me that is the result of marketing, so there must have been some marketing going on to generate those leads and those inquiries. The second thing that we have to talk about is in March, of all the people, of all the stuff, that I saw going on I thought your response was the best. The third thing we have to talk about is you say you’re not a salesperson but you are a sales organisation, you’re selling all the time, and so I think that goes to this thing that that I’ve got an issue with which is people have a really shitty opinion of sales people and a really shitty opinion of marketing people. Because of the way sales and marketing people go about it. Is it that you don’t want to be perceived like that so you don’t market or you don’t sell. You clearly do marketing and you do sell, marketing is definitely going on, so I think you’ve somehow rationalized that. So that’s the third thing.

Right, so let’s do this COVID thing first, because your response in March was the coolest thing that that Is aw happening. I’ve got marketing clients, I’m being paid to market them and I didn’t have a clue what to say. You were immediately there. What were you doing in March and April to support your market or customers?

Jim: That’s what it was like. We know you don’t want to hear from us, you don’t want us to sell to you, but here’s some tools to help you get through. It was more, you know we’re all screwed, let’s just help each other. It was really about that, it was really about supporting and just letting people know we are here and this is what we’re doing. We were spreading news about where you get funding from and all sorts of stuff.

Martin: Yes. Now for me that’s what you did specifically. I saw specifically there was a message that you put out that was “adapt and market,” that was the message that you were putting out. Behind that, or running parallel to that, you started running an all-day Zoom group that people could join at any any time of the day. I know a lot of your market locally are  small, one-man bands and those people obviously were especially isolated. You’ve been in business for 20 years, you didn’t know what to do, I’ve been marketing for 25 years I didn’t have a clue what to do. But you were right there saying we need to support each other. This Whats App group, or this Zoom chat or whatever is it was,  is available all day and anyone can come and chat and let’s schedule some chats.

I joined in on some of those chats just because I was interested to see what was going on and people were turning up. For me the most effective marketing hasn’t got anything to do with this shitty notion of sales, or the shitty notion of marketing, it’s really about finding ways to add value to people’s lives and in our cases in their business lives. You did that, you were straight there. When I saw that email i was seriously impressed and I thought that’s exactly what people should be doing now. I wasn’t in a position to do that necessarily, other people weren’t in a position to do that, but what you did at that point, when no one knew what the fuck was going on or what the fuck people were supposed to be doing, is you stood up and said the bare minimum we can do is actually support each other.

Jim: My point behind that was that all my staff have gone home, I’m living 200 yards away. I couldn’t work from home because the infrastructure wasn’t there, so I’m walking over the bridge to the office. I’m sat in the office every day, nothing’s happening there’s no one in the office, there’s no phones going, there’s nothing. It was like well, I’m not I’m gonna sit here but at least there must be other people like this. It was really a case of don’t be lonely, don’t be sitting there doing nothing, let’s have a chat and see what we can do to support each other and that was really it.

Martin: Yes, but I think that was precisely the right thing. I think that was, like I say, that was, of everything I say, that was the best that I saw. It felt like the end of the world at that point, it really did, it felt like the economy was going off a cliff, it has gone off a cliff. But you were still able to put yourself and your business out there. For me the message was literally how can we add value to each other’s lives, how can I add value to your life. Then you  so had this “adapt and market” thing going on. You did adapt.

Jim: It’s become pivot and switch but adapt to the market. Let’s take what we did. There’s no print going on, I’ve got a customer Simon with the Indigo go restaurant he’s like “Jim”, I need to start selling, you know doing takeaway food, can you help me?” I sat there and I looked at it and was thinking about how can I do that. I found this little app called, well it’s basically a food app, an online food app, and within a few hours molded it so it worked for his business. It basically didn’t cost anything in this system, and it enabled a restaurant to sell whatever they wanted on take away or pick up. We found a solution, so we did that and then we started pushing out that to all our restaurant customers, so at least if they can’t have people in the restaurant they can at least set up a delivery and takeaway service.

So we’re pushing that out to our restaurant customers because no money was coming in, no-one’s buying anything, but people still need to be trading, so let’s help them. So that’s what we did.

Martin: Yes and then from a marketing perspective, from a more cynical marketing perspective, you were finding ways, and significant ways to add value to the lives of the people who are your customers. Restaurants are your customers, they buy menus they buy posters, they buy all of those things.

Jim: Yeah, there you go, if we can help you now then when we come out of this shit storm we’ll be there for you and you’ll remember us, and you’ll use us yes.

Martin: I think that’s absolutely true, I think that is absolutely true. So here we are, we’re six months down the track, it’s coming to the middle of October so we’re six and a half months down the track. Has it been the case? Have people remembered you?

Jim: Yeah, absolutely they have. We must have about, I think, 200 restaurants set up through that system. One of the side effects was that the system, although it’s very easy to do some people just haven’t got the tenacity to do it. So they paid us to do it, so I think we set about 20 a month, they paid us to do that for them. That was a bit of a life saver as far as money goes.

It’s a different situation now. Restaurants did reopen, or have reopened so now they’re doing a bit of a mix, they’re getting people in sitting down and they’re using the app. We had had a few weeks where we were on top of the app and then the likes of Deliverer just started pushing that out to everybody, it’s all down to commissions. Our system didn’t charge any commission, potentially it could do the whole thing free. The Deliverers and the Just Eats, they’re taking something like 25-30%.

Martin: Wow So are people staying with your app, or are they moving on to the more established deliverers. I suppose the Deliverers have the audience.

Jim: That’s the issue, the restaurants are not necessarily geared up for it. Where we were able to sort of win. With the established delivery systems you need to be able to take an order, prepare the order, and deliver the order within 45 minutes. A lot of restaurants aren’t good at that, they want to take the order like on a Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday, take the order and then deliver on a Friday, so they’ve got enough time to work out how many lobsters they need, how much they need to cook, plan the delivery route. Then on the Friday they’ll go and deliver to their area, that’s where we that’s where we’re seeing our system working.

Martin: Right.

What I also saw a lot of is people saying “Okay everyone’s going to need hand cleanser, or everyone’s going to need masks, or everyone’s going to need that sort of stuff.” I know you dabbled in that a little bit.

Jim: You know, I did that. I could see that there was a need. When this first happened we conversations about “let’s get some sanitizer ” but the cost was ridiculous. I did eventually get some and I had a whole plan to roll out to businesses, let’s say there’s five six different sectors you’ve got education, you’ve got factories, you’ve got co-working spaces, all these different sectors of employment, or office, or workspace. We planned to roll out these advice sheets, what the government said you needed – here it is in black and white. This print, that print, this sticker, this windows. I had it all planned, took me weeks and weeks to get it going and we never launched the product. I had a thousand pounds worth of stock, thousands of pounds worth of copy writing in and was just getting everything ready – artwork. And then never pushed it out because I didn’t want to, because I wasn’t comfortable making money off people in this situation. So it’s gone yeah, I’ve got 16 or 20 boxes of goo out there, it’s not going anywhere I’m going to end up giving it away because I haven’t got the heart to sell it.

Martin: Why haven’t you got the heart to sell it?

Jim: I don’t, I just want to sell print. Just take me back to normal print jobs. I don’t want to sell fucking PPE, forget that I’ve spent a few grand on it and I can’t shift the fucking stuff. Also because of the the way that the sort of stuff is sold. There are economies of scale you had to buy at this something stupid, I bought a four litre bottle you can buy in Tesco’s now for 1.99 why are people going to pay me more than that?

Martin: I think that was the issue at, the time everything thing was so fluid. I know you had this whole back to work pack that you were putting together, all of the signage, all of the notifications ,documents they had to sign. I suppose you’re better off now that that didn’t happen, because the government is all over the place in terms of what the rules are, so you can’t print rules and put them on the wall because in 20 minutes they won’t be the rules anymore.

I understand how you feel about  taking advantage, if people have to buy stuff then you don’t necessarily want to be selling it to them. So where are you now, six and a half months later, are you somewhere back to where you were in February and March?

Jim: Yeah, we’re at about 40-50% of where we were, where we need to be. We’re okay, we’re living, we’re surviving. Of course it could be a lot better. We’re a lot more proactive, we are talking to those clients, that client base of ours who have been ordering with us for the last couple of years. I haven’t done anything with the historic stuff, I mean to and I’ll get there. Right now we’re just there for our customers, and of course networking. You know we’re right on it as far as networking goes and that was part of that this whole philosophy. Here’s a zoom, here’s the address, just join me, we’re here for a chat. All the networking’s gone online, it’s gone into Zoom meetings and similar stuff like that. Actually, it’s not bad yeah it gets a bit heavy and if it’s bloody boring or monotone speakers and shit, it’s like oh get me out of it, but do it right and and it’s really good. 

Martin: You see, that’s the thing, I think, about this situation, this particular this virus, is that it’s  turned people against each other, or it’s made people scared of each other. That’s the scariest thing about. I think what you did cut through that idea, we can still be in touch, we can still support each other, we can do that.

Okay, so this brings us to point number two which is you’re not doing the marketing that you should be doing probably because you’ve got some feeling that it’s dirty or nasty or there’s some reason that you don’t want to be marketing. So where are these leads coming from? You say the leads have always come in, and you’ve just always dealt with them where on earth have they come from if you haven’t actually been doing any marketing?

Jim: Yeah well like I said we used to cheat at SEO. Going back to the start we, I mean my business, is built off Exchange and Mart adverts for printing, sample packs. The phone would ring, you’d send a sample back out to Kent or London or something like that and then you’d follow up and you’d get orders and you’d deliver and you’d advertise all the time.

Exchange’s Mart, little advert used to run there, flyer printing, advertising leaflets and that’s how we started. Then one of my customers, 24/7 spares, I’m not sure he’s still about, Imran, but he was like Jimmy, you know there’s this cool thing it’s called Ad words and you can do the same as we do in Exchange’s Mart and then they click onto this thing and they fill out a form. So we built a little form thing, started pay-per-click marketing and getting requests that way for sample packs and that got us into the whole online print thing right back at the start, you know so when was this was new, this was back in 2000. 

Martin: Okay, so you know advertising is marketing?

Jim: Yeah, but it’s not real marketing, real marketing is what you and Ed do. I mean listening to Ed’s thing, this is lead generation this isn’t necessarily marketing, this is just lead generation. Some people call it marketing, but in reality it’s lead generation. 

Those little adverts on Exchange’n Martin exchange for a phone call that was all lead generation wasn’t it? 

Martin: Yeah it’s lead generation but for me marketing is lead generation. I think what Ed’s talking about is the monoliths, the Coca-Cola’s and the British Airways’ and they’re thinking about changing people’s psychology to get them to buy from them. I think he’s talking about marketing being that thing but I don’t. There was a guy, who was the guy? He was an accountant and he used to be on the network? Hop wood, Paul Hop wood. Do you remember Paul Hop wood?

Jim: Yeah.

Martin: A couple of years in, when I was really busy on the networking and blah blah blah I saw him somewhere and he’s like “how’s it going?” I’m like “yeah, it’s really good, I’m getting people really excited about marketing”. And he’s like “here’s an idea for you, why don’t you just find the people who are already excited about marketing?” That was  a revelation to me because I come from sales, like proper sales, cold calling people and selling them stuff. That was a real revelation to me because obviously the energy that I was putting into getting them excited about marketing, I wouldn’t have to spend if they’re already excited about it. I could then put the energy into convincing them that I could do the job for them you know. So that was a real revelation I think that’s the difference between what Ed does and what I do. I position my clients for people who are looking for that service already. When people are looking on YouTube, or they’re looking on Google, or they’re looking on Facebook or wherever they look, they find us and we look like the people they want to talk to. That’s the difference between me and Ed and I think when Ed talks about that type of marketing he’s talking about the people who are trying to change your psychology to get you to buy. I would say you’re more in the Ed camp because you’ve always invested in brand, you’ve had a few brands and you have a few fingers in the pie every time which I think is really cute. If people are in the market and they’re looking for print then they might see three or four face media groups without realizing they’re all the same face media group. That’s what the really big brands do, PC World and Curry’s and those places, it’s just different faces on on the same stores. You come from design so brand works really well for you, but I think marketing has to generate leads so I don’t really understand that distinction. I’m talking too much.

Jim: Yes

Martin: Okay good, so you’re dying to tell us about this SEO thing.

Jim: When we were little print company this fella Imran’s like you know “look at google Ad words” we looked at that, got a little holding page up and it started to work. Because no one was really searching for that  stuff, the people who were, they really wanted your service, it was an easy sell. No-one was selling print online, so it wasn’t like you could buy 5,000 flyers for 89 quid because you simply couldn’t. I mean you couldn’t, everyone was selling 5000 flies for 300 quid because that was the cost to do a set of flyers on a machine that’s what it cost. Nobody was jobbing up, so on a set of flyers a6 flyers you could fit 16 a6 flyers on an a2 sheet the guy down the road would charge me x amount to print the a2 sheet we’d cut up the 16 sets of flyers put them into 16 separate boxes and send them to 16 separate addresses and make some serious money. We were doing that once, twice, three times a week. That’s how it all started.

This is before all these big bloody print firms are out there, we were doing that and we were doing it well. It really came to a stage where it was all about the website, all about SEO, all about getting traffic. So that’s what we did, we got on a mission, we built a website, it was click-to-basket, it wasn’t too clever but it took an order. It was okay but we were pay-per-clicking, so we were paying Google three grand a week to get the leads in to do the runs, then we looked seriously at the SEO side of things. We went and found an SEO guy, paid him a shitload of money and we were number one for everything with the word printing in it, wow. That lasted, that was like a two-year ride, it was like riding the waves, it was amazing before any of these other big boys were about. There we were and I remember I got a call from a dutch guy called Hans and we were in Brighton and I went to see Hans in a pub, I think it was Grand Central, just to the right of Brighton Station. I sat in this pub with Hans, he’s over from Holland, he’s like “right, you’re the biggest in the UK, I want to come into the UK I just wanted to have a meet with you and blah blah. Hans. I met him at a conference in Germany a couple years ago he is now CEO of a company called Hello print, they’re a brokerage, a totally digitized brokerage doing 60 million quid in printing. There’s Hans “alright Jim, I remember you, remember we met that pub?” Like okay, the difference is that he was on this mission, he’s doing it, he’s got the whole of the whole of the of Europe, I suppose, access, We were doing what we did, got in a bit of trouble we didn’t, we stopped investing in the website side of things, or in the print side of things as far as the print and web. You know, I wasn’t just number one for the word printing we were number one for all sorts of shit, and because we were good at SEO we took advantage of that and that’s when it all went wrong. Because we were number one for the word mortgage on the back of the face media group website, when you’re number one for the word mortgage and you’re taking people’s details and selling them to finance companies it’s a bit abnormal.

Martin: So that’s what you were doing? Yeah okay, so you were generating leads for mortgage companies.

Jim: Because we could. Well because we were, we’d found this, we were very good at SEO cheating. It was the old link churning and shit like that. You could do really naughty things and get away with it and we were. It got to the stage where we were, I mean I was involved in a stag night company, nightclubs, restaurants, all sorts of stuff.

We were number one for everything, stag night, mortgage, printing just like money coming in like that was ridiculous then one day it all stopped because they,Google, changed their algorithm the link journey stopped, everything stopped. We 60 people on payroll, it was just an absolute nightmare. We had to stop and my partner at the time just went right print, I’m just going to concentrate on print, because I know people are buying it and we make the margins in it everything else that let’s beyond my reach.

My game is print.

Martin: Right in 2006? So what’s the thing about that, so do you do pay-per-click now?

Jim: No, haven’t got the budget for it. You know, it’s hand to mouth nowadays. We were throwing serious money there, getting great returns, but you need to throw serious money in it. Now, business cards as a search term is 12 pound a click and there’s not 12 quid in it. You’re selling for 15 quid and you’re paying 12 quid to get the customer. Yes, in the scheme of things the customer’s worth three grand in print, if you can get a customer on board they’re going to be with you for three years, they’re gonna spend three grand so the cost of acquisition is ok. But its only 12 quid for a set of business cards and off they go, they’re so fickle aren’t. You know what I mean, they’ll buy some from somewhere else next time so that 12 quid is wasted.

Martin: Yes. So you got priced out of it. So you stopped with the PPC and went whole hog into the SEO, then you got found out on the SEO and then it was finished. Okay.

Jim: How we got around the SEO, let’s say a year after the split we were still in trouble as far as SEO goes. One of my guys went off to the New Orleans Web, you know the web summit, I can’t remember what it’s called? Do you remember what it’s called, you could go to them. I never went there but all the SEO guys used to go to it and there’d be some Google people there. Chris pulled this guy, a Google guy aside, and said “look mate we’ve been doing this dodgy shit, well we used an agency and they did this and the other we’re not doing it anymore, we’re totally clean, with nothing going on dirty, can you help us? The guy’s like “Yeah, get back to the UK, drop us an email” and within about an hour of that email going we were back up.

Martin: For the print stuff?

Jim: Just for the print, because we’re not doing anything else, I’ve walked away from all that.

Martin: Right, right, right. OK.

Jim: But to stay there it needs work, you can’t just stay there can you. You have to be doing stuff and we didn’t have the money for that.

Martin: Right man. It sounds like you came really close to making like 60 million dollars a year or 60 million euros a year? 

Jim: It would be nice but that’s down to technology and because of what happened after that we stopped. We basically had to phoenix and start again and come out the other end but we were now web, graphic-design, print because we had to adapt then to keep my new business partners happy. Because I’d brought partners in to survive and that’s when my foot came off the pedal as far as print goes. I went on my journey with my new partners, we didn’t invest in print.

Martin: Okay, so then you went into branding and websites and all of those things. Were you offering marketing services at that time? Was it like here’s a website and it will generate you this many leads? Or was it, here’s a website and it will look like a website?

Jim: Yeah, it was the the latter. It was, let’s build your pretty website and we started off using us an in-house system, we wanted to be like Moon fruit, we wanted to kick out a million sites at 300 quid and it was not possible. You know the amount of work that a 300 pound website needs, the amount of work you have to put into a website that you’re charging 300 pound for is ridiculous.

Martin: You’ve got to be charging proper money.

Jim: Yeah but the idea at the time was knock them out cheap and often.

Martin: Yeah, and live off their hosting fees like every man and their dog was. Okay, so it’s  interesting so do you know that you can’t afford to be doing more marketing, is that how you feel about it.

Jim: I’d like to actually get a return. 

Martin: So the question I really have is you were swimming in money and it came to an end and then you say you didn’t have the money just to to get back on it or to sustain it is that because the money went out of the business or is that because the big guys who came in actually have more money than you generated in those two years?

Jim: Yeah the big guys were able to throw real money at their solutions. When we started printers were, the beauty of printers, they were fucking idiots and they couldn’t market themselves out of toffee. All those old printers have been at it for years and their Dad’s been running it and they were crap at marketing. But then surely, even you know slowly but surely, the sons have taken over there’s something like “here Dad can I’ve got this idea, let’s do this website, let’s do this. I mean let’s take Solar Press for instance. At one point Solar Press were just a press and then the son and his mate got involved. They were into nightclubs and they changed the whole thing, and bang here we go,Solar Press sold for 20 million quid to a German outfit a couple years ago. I went out to Germany to do an online print conference. I stood up and spoke in front of 400 Germans, very strange experience but when I’ve been to that show, I’ve been a couple years before as a guest with the MD and I got invited to speak. The thing was, it’s like you know you’re an online printer Jim, that’s why I want you to speak. But when you get there and you listen to these people with these mad 60 million pound stories, I’m like I’m not an online printer, I’m a reseller. I mean, I was an online printer back then but taking your foot off the gas, 10 years of not actually investing in online print you’re not anymore, you’re just this guy who sells print to a few people.

Martin: Okay, so you were also early on the social thing as well, social media, 2008-2009 you were building audiences you were having audiences?

Jim: Yeah. 

Martin: So you are like an earlier adopter. You do marketing that’s my point, you do it. But it seems like but you don’t do social anymore. I saw you advertising somewhere, where are you advertising? 

Jim: We do we re-market. I’ve got one of our SEO companies that we used a few years back said here’s a great idea, why don’t you build these pages colors beginning with … okay, colors beginning with. So we spent a few thousand pound on that, five six years later we’re number one for anything with the words“colors beginning with.”

It’s been pointless because nobody’s searching colors beginning with who’s buying print. We get literally 3,000 people a day on the website colors beginning with from all over the world but you can’t monetize the shit you can’t get a penny out of them, because they don’t care. We ran this chat campaign, you know live chat, what the hell are you doing here? And they’re like, you know oh I’m in prison in America and I’m writing a poem, I’m looking for a color that rhymes with …. you know. You can’t monetize it so we’ve got a form on there now invent a color and you can have a t-shirt printed with I invented the color on it.

Martin: They didn’t buy that, right?

Jim: We’ve got Ad sense running on it so we use that money to do re-marketing. Ignoring the people who came to the website for colors beginning with, we re-market anyone else who hits the website so at least they still see it, so you might have been to the website if you saw an advert. I haven’t touched it in years, it’s just running but it is there right?

Martin: I’ve made a screenshot of it I saw you on YouTube, I think is where you are. It’s definitely a Google Ad? 

Jim: I don’t really know why, I don’t really know what comes off it.

Martin: The thing about you Jim is that I’ve been tempted to say let me help you and then we’ll be about a minute and a half in and i’ll turn out you know 15 times as much as I do about it. And all the time you’re passing yourself off as like someone who doesn’t know anything about marketing and you’re doing it.

Jim: I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it myself.

Martin: You don’t want to do it yourself no.

Jim: I’d love to have the time to get this re-marketing right because if someone looks at menus on our website I really should be sending them re-marketing about menus, but I don’t know how to do that. So all they see is “talk to us about your print partner,” it’s not targeted, it could be so much cleverer.

Martin: A print partner who needs that, I don’t need a print partner I need a menu or I need a business card or I need a whatever, it is not a print partner. Okay, good. So early on you did PPC – rinsed it, early on you did SOR- rinsed it. Early on the social, 14,000 followers or something like that?

Jim: Well I used to just, at the old office, I used to go out the back on the on the veranda, have a cigarette and just be on Twitter. Then, when I gave up smoking, I stopped. I’m smoking again now but I’m not on it all the time. You know. I think you get to a stage with social media, you follow too many people, you can’t make head or tail of it and then you’re just talking to no one because you can’t see anything. That’s the wrong way to do, it isn’t?

Martin: Yeah, but my argument would be that it’s changed and it hasn’t always changed in the healthiest way. PPC has changed, in the beginning PPC was like turning on a tap, you want to sell business cards, turn it on and stand by for the calls.You know what I mean? You want to sell windows? You want to sell cars?You want to sell anything? Turn Google Ads on and stand by for the for the calls. I think you’re right, the the balance is gone, the return is gone. Now you’re saying it’s 12 pound per sale or 12 pound per click?

Jim: Per click.

Martin: So if you get one sale in a hundred you’re 1200 quid in for a 15 quid business card sale?It doesn’t add up anymore. I think the same for SEO,  and I think the same for social. Social was actually social at one point, since they’ve started manipulating what people see it’s not social and the only way to really get any benefit from it is to pay. We’ve seen where that model goes on PPC, and on SEO, and on everything that you pay for, the costs go up.

So maybe you’re in a really sensible place now, you’re clearly still doing some marketing, the phone’s still ringing, you’re still getting orders, you’re still getting sales, but you’ve  moved through those things like I did.

I did a training, an in-house training for a a multi-national corporation to their whole digital team, it was like 35 people. This girl stood up and took great pleasure in talking about how one of their customers, or someone who was interested in buying their stuff, came on and she chatted with him for an hour and a half on Facebook or whatever it was. That’s not the point of being in business, if somebody on my team said yeah I wasted an hour and a half, I was worried this guy might be lonely: well that’s absolutely fine, you go do that on a Sunday afternoon, on your own time. It seems to me, it really feels to me like that that the whole business imperative of being in those social media places might have gone. I think people are so much more immune to what they see on on the internet or on social media now. It was an amazing thing and it got broken, all those digital marketing platforms  PPC was amazing at the beginning, SEO was amazing at the beginning, social media was amazing at the beginning. I’m not sure there’s really been an innovation since then, in like, the last 12 years.

Jim: Chat. Chat is amazing. If it’s manned right, that little chat box in the corner that’s such a …

Martin: Yes, so you do that as well?

Jim: We do. I mean we did it. It was something I wanted to try when I had partners. We did try for a bit, they weren’t really keen on it so we didn’t keep it up. Once I was free and able to do it, first thing I did was smack it back on. It got to the stage where a company called Tawk, t-a-w-k, and for one dollar an hour you can have them 24 7. We’re like fuck it, let’s give that a go. So we did and basically you’re on boarding is, right guys what do you want I want? Just get us information and as soon as someone hit the site they would then take over and initiate a chat or if someone chatted then they would talk. It’s not run by a bunch of Latvians, but it’s basically a bunch of Latvians, it’s basically just someone in every continent, so whatever the time of day you’ve got your thing manned. We were finding it was good, the first couple of months was excellent. But then they started to get lazy, giving us some bad agents rather than good agents.

They suddenly started to try and answer people like do you do metal business cards? No we don’t do metal business cards. Right, dude, stop. Just because that page says we don’t do it that’s not the core of us you don’t say no, everything is yes. We ask what’s your name and, obviously, number that’s it, give us your data, let us know what’s wanted, that’s all I wanted off them. It got a bit like they were saying no to too many things, just because they couldn’t see it on the page that the customer was visiting. So I had to turn it off, but we’ve go it on, but now we set it so we run it nine till six every day, and within a few seconds one of the guys will jump on it and start having a chat and there’s a real person, with real print knowledge, chatting to them, that’s amazing. That’s such a good converter, really.

Martin: So, do you know the numbers, do you know what sort of conversion rates you’re getting.

Jim: I’ve got no idea, all I know is we get about three or four chats and they’re jumped on and they very often lead to sales.

Martin: Right, per day?

Jim: Yeah. It’s also a really good tool because you know some people just don’t want to ring up, pick up the phone, they can’t be bothered to wait for an email, so as a customer support thing, the same chat is there and the same guys have access to the same systems, can answer people’s questions. If you want to change the delivery address, you can do it in the chat do, anything. It’s really really good and that system from Tawk is free, it’s funded by the people who are paying one dollar a minute, one dollar an hour sorry, that’s how they solve it. The philosophy behind them, we did it for a few months but that wasn’t for us, but the actual being there is, I’d love to go 24 7 but have real people doing it but you know that stuff you’ve got to pay for that. People have a life and watch Netflix.

Martin: Yes. So here’s the thing, if I were being harsh, I don’t want to be harsh, if I were being harsh, I would say if you knew the true value of these things then you might be motivated to persist with them. If you’ve got the numbers right on the PPC and you knew where you were every month,PPC doesn’t work in every market but it’s like an equation, you need x amount of clicks to get x amount of sales to get x amount of revenue so you can say literally it’s costing me x to acquire a customer. If you were doing that back in the day, if you saw exactly what you were getting into in spending on SEO and seeing the return, and the social, and the chat, and whatever else has gone on in the meantime, the email, the whatever it is – then you might have been motivated to persist with it, you might have seen the value in it. I think this is something that goes on, people don’t really record the activity and the outcome, and they really should record. Clients don’t want a report, i’ll take on a client and they’ll ask how much is, it’s this amount to do that work, this amount to do that work, this amount to do the other work and this amount to produce the report. They will insist that we don’t need the report but of course 20 minutes later they’re bored because they’ve got no idea what’s going on. 

Jim: Hmm, yeah. The revenues from those callers, the colors beginning with …. generates enough Google revenue to do the re-marketing, so the re-marketing is cost neutral.

Martin: Yeah, but maybe you’d be better off just taking the money from the Ad sense.

Jim: Yep, who fucking knows. I don’t know how to get into it, it’s all changed, I don’t know how to look at it. I don’t understand it anymore. You can go into your ad, I’ve got a book on Google Analytics, I read the book, it’s outdated. You’ve got no idea what’s going on now, I’ve just heard they’ve just updated Analytics again, oh my god I’ve got to learn that again. These things change and access, like the Facebook Pixel, I was all over that shit when it first arrived, I’ve got no idea how how to do it now because it’s all changed.

Martin: So do we think that this is their strategy, to confuse? Because you know I’m a little bit of a conspiracy theorist. I feel that as well, like you, I’ve been all the way through these things but when I teach, I teach the principles. The principles don’t change. They might change the buttons, they might change the look and feel, this to that. You know what they did on pay-per-click, they took your ranking position off. At the end of the spreadsheet, the last column used to be your average ranking for the month. I would look at that and say okay I want to rank in first place how much do I have to spend to rank in first place and then at the end of the month I go back and say okay on average I was on 1.2 I’m gonna put another few pence on to that to make sure I’m number one next month. Well they just removed, and that’s what you’re paying for, you are paying them literally to be in that position and they don’t tell you what that position is anymore. They actually said to me go back to keyword planner because keyword planner will tell you how much it cost to be at the top of the page. Well my experience of that is that that was always 30% over what it would actually cost. Of course it would be, if you’re looking to start an auction then you’re going to tell people things are more expensive than they need to be, do you know what I mean? It’s like start your bidding at 30% more than we’re getting now. Which is why we’re in the situation where it might cost you 1200 quid to win  a business card sale. I think they they’ve broken it and I think the social guys have broken it themselves as well. It’s when they decided they knew what we wanted to look at more than we did. I remember sitting down with Facebook and I would literally sit there for an hour and read until I started reading stuff that I’d read before. Whereas now I don’t turn Facebook on anymore, but if I do I’ll guarantee you the fourth post in I will have read before, so I stop. 

Jim: I think that’s  interesting. We haven’t done it you know, we haven’t done SEO in an age because the last SEO agency we were using was three grand a month, we weren’t getting anything out of it. It’s long tail, and you’ve got to really put the work in, I’d be better off just hitting the customers that love us already yes.

Martin: You’re definitely right because you’re up against, search for anything nowadays if you want information, you can’t get information on Google anymore, it’s all sales based adverts and just crap, and then you’ve got the shitty websites that are just filling. You can’t find anything useful anymore. Do you know what the work is now, what it is that you should be doing?You say that you could spend three grand on SEO, you’re not gonna get a return, but do you know what work you need to do?

Jim: Oh yes, but I’d rather be smaller scale back and do what we’re doing and network. You know that  stuff worked. When that realization landed, that we’re not an online print firm, stop charging like you are, you can’t be giving shit away. It’s not a price that works for us, you know it’s priced to drive to the bottom, it’s just not good. If I’ve got a customer and they’ve found it somewhere else for less than fuck off, because I don’t want you, you tight ares. I want someone who appreciates what they get, appreciates customer service, appreciates quality product. You’ve got that added PDQ, do you know about that?

Martin: No.

Jim: Price, quality and delivery. You can’t have all three of those things man. You want it cheap, but it ain’t gonna be quick, and it ain’t gonna be amazing quality. If you want it quality it ain’t gonna be cheap, and it ain’t gonna arrive fast. You want it fast and you want it cheap, that doesn’t work man. PDQ. You get those clients who want it, yeah brilliant, yeah. Can I have it cheaper? Yeah, all right yeah, you can, you can have it in 10 days and I’ll give it to you for half the price. Some of them will go yeah all right, I’m fine, that’s fine, because I’ll still make my margin, others will I’m going to buy it elsewhere from someone who’s doing it for the 10 day price.

Martin: You see this is the issue in your business, that it has become hugely commoditised. It literally is about price very often, and I don’t want those customers, you don’t want those customers, nobody wants those customers, but I would say you don’t really want to be in that industry. But what are you going to do? You have 25 years, 20 plus years in that industry, what are you going to do?

I think maybe you’ve got to the right place, you do database stuff, you’ve got all your data, I think you do more marketing than you let on. Why are you lying about how much marketing you do?

Jim: Because I physically don’t send any spam emails to anybody, because I fucking hate it.

Martin: Why don’t you think about all that stuff that you were doing for your network, advising people about the grants that are available, why didn’t you just do that to your email database?

Jim: Well we did, we did. Then you get a bit of overload, then everyone was doing it. I was there at the beginning of that and that’s it, I didn’t want to be doing that reminding people how fucking shit life was every day, you no you gotta let them go so.

I think the last email I sent was probably in April, I haven’t done one since because I’ve got no message to tell them, I’ve got nothing. The customers that have worked with us, yeah I’ve been speaking to them, we’ve been calling them, making sure they’re all right, I’m not selling to them. Literally just “you okay” and that email was beautiful, and you get some proper responses back, because you know them, I don’t know 35 000 people, but I know my 1500 customers. 

Martin: So is that your message then, to scale back, is that would you recommend to other people?

Jim: I recommend businesses to stop going for the new business and cultivate and build relationships with the customers who do love you because it’s easier and it makes more money.

Martin: Yes. There was a thing that Business Link did, do you remember Business Link back in the mid 2000? Where they went out and employed loads of middle-aged white people to go around and talk to people about what’s happening? 

Jim: No. 

Martin: It was a government initiative I think, they might have been based in the Chambers of Commerce. Anyway, they did a survey apparently and they found that it’s 17 times more expensive to find and win a new customer than it is to sell to an existing customer. This was interesting because people would come to me right at the beginning and they’d be like I need new customers, and I’m like well what’s the issue with your old customers?Well they’re all shit, I don’t want those customers. The thing is that they’ve done a shitty job for those customers so they weren’t buying from them anymore.

You’ve gone up in my estimation, I think you might be more sensible than I thought.

Jim: When I’m talking to a customer about his print I don’t just about print. I’ll talk about what database you got, what information have you got, have you got their addresses, we can do some direct mail, we can do this, we can do that. Talk to them and they soon, very soon go oh yeah okay, because that is the best way to make more money.

Martin: It absolutely is. This comes back to Paul Hop wood. I didn’t expect him to be a feature of this today. I built a database, I don’t know 40, 50, 60 thousand, whatever it was, and I was hitting those people every week but he was doing much better with his small local database of 1600 people that he actually knew, than than I ever was. So I think what you are saying is hugely correct.

Jim: Adrian told me a story, do you remember Adrian Swain?He told me a story about a a kitchen fitter, kitchen cupboard fitter, and that kitchen cupboard fitter wanted new customers, wanted more money. He told him to go back through his database bring them all up and check that their cupboards are still working. The guy did it, and he had fitted your cupboards a year ago and he went back to ask is everything all right – yeah, cool, okay, bye. Off the back of that he got so much work, because of that phone call, maybe there was some who had a hinge fallen off or something, but the fact that he’d done it and communicated that he cared generated so much more business, repeat business, or referrals. The guy didn’t need new customers because he did that.

Martin: I thoroughly believe, I thoroughly believe in that and I think maybe the internet and digital marketing is is too much of a distraction, it’s like if you’re not investing in digital marketing then you’re not being successful. Do you know what I mean?It’s like the shiny toy people want to play with. The way to really have an effective business is to do a great job for your customers, get to the point where your customers can’t shut up about you, so if anyone mentions the word print they’re like, you need to speak to Jim. I think that’s been undermined a little bit by the internet because now people won’t even say like I need a printer, they’ll just Google it. I think that’s the sensible way to run a business, doing an amazing job and taking great care of your customers.

The whole referral based, recommendation based marketing. That’s networking, networking is building relationships and getting referrals.

Jim: Yes.

Martin: And you are an inveterate net worker, so tell us about the value of networking.

Jim: I’ve been doing, you’ve heard of BNI? I’ve been doing BNI for 15 years. BNI’s got a philosophy called givers gain, and if you look more carefully into what that is, it’s basically just be good to people. The whole being available during the COVID thing came from givers gain. I’m giving you my time, I’m here for you, I don’t expect you to reward me but karma is a bitch and you know it will spin around and feed you. The more help I can be to everybody, that’s my whole philosophy. Give, give, give because if I can help you, you’ll remember that and it will come back to me. Whether it comes back to me from you or from the next guy or from someone else doesn’t matter. I love that.

Martin: Right and do you get upset if you don’t get it back?

Jim: No. You can’t be, because it will come from somewhere else, don’t worry about it. What does piss me off is when you’re giving someone advice and they go and Google it and buy it somewhere else. Then you see an Instagram post and they’re wearing a cap that’s got a logo on it – I didn’t print that, fucking bastard. That’s shit, but never mind. You know we’re not the cheapest are we, you put an idea like yeah branded hat, you can buy that anywhere, fine, it’s just that’s a bit of a sitter.

Martin: But you’re still giving aren’t you?

Jim: Yes.

Martin: And it makes perfect sense. I’d like to be that generous, but I’m not that generous.

Jim: Your what the fuck videos, they’re giving information, you’re not getting money for that, you’re not charging for that?

Martin: Exactly yeah, and I don’t want clients but I definitely want to help people. I want to help people see through this marketing bullshit so that they can be more successful because after the 11 years that I was running around talking to small businesses and seeing the state of small businesses and the difference that some marketing would do for them and the only thing that was holding them back was this this marketing jargon shit. If I can help people with that then I really want to do that.

But marketing is the worst because they invite you in because they haven’t got a clue and then you tell them exactly what needs to happen and then the second time you go back like they’re the world’s leading authority on marketing. Then they don’t want to do any of the stuff that they thought was brilliant like a week ago, they want to do all the stuff that they’ve now googled or their friends have said to them or something else. I think marketing is like gym membership, like I said to to Ed, people are all excited and then they don’t have the legs to do it.

I think your approach for me, for a small business, you’re a small business doing what marketing you can. I think this is where marketing agencies go wrong, like you have to do Facebook, and you have to do Twitter, and you have to do SEO and you have to do PPC, you have to do all of these things and the truth is small businesses can’t keep up with all those things, they’re all changing every 20 minutes, you can’t do that.

So what’s going on around you, how are your competitors doing, are you hearing much about that? 

Jim: It depends what you mean by competitors? Online printers, they’ve got their coverage sections of their websites, they’ve got this and they’re all doing fine. The presses that are facing problems are the ones that have no online presence. Customers are getting smarter, you can’t rely on that customer you’ve had for 30 or 40 years anymore because someone like me will come along and tell them the have been ripped. We can do that for this much money and we will do that. Because customers don’t want to go Googling, they just want a fair price. We’ve seen customers who’ve been charged 120 pound for a set of business cards and then you see the card, you look at the spec,and that’s a 12 pound set of business cards. You’re paying 120 pounds because the press technology’s moved, on he’s printing things cheap but he’s not passing the savings on, that’s just robbery.

Martin: So what’s your recommendation now for businesses, it’s looking pretty grim there in the UK, it is locking down in the north and bits of the south.

Jim: I don’t know. Within the next day or so we could have another lock down in Brighton here. At least people are spending money, it’s not like they’ve stopped spending money. Even if you went into another lock down it wouldn’t turn everything off, it wouldn’t be like it was the first time because you know you’re going to come out of it. Then we didn’t know what the hell was going on, we were dead, no-one was spending anything. At least now you’ve got the restaurants and there’s ways that they can sell stuff. The tech that’s in place has just saved a hell of a lot of people. I got up today and I got bereavements breakfast delivered, you know full English breakfast from a little cafe down the road, it’s amazing.

Martin: I really like a full English breakfast.

Jim: You should go, oh you’re not in the UK.

Martin: Okay cool. Did we get to the end?We started about an hour and 15 minutes ago. 

Jim: I’m sorry a lot of editing there, might have to take the swear words out. 

Martin: We haven’t spoke about networking really.

Jim: No and that is that’s one of my passions. For me, around here, where I am, I’m on the scene and I’m visible and that’s really where my local business comes from now. 

Martin: Right.

Jim: Even then I’m not really selling myself. I’m this guy who wears white shoes and crazy trousers, I’m at most networking events but after people don’t know what I do because I’m not that pushy with it.

Martin: Right. The thing is, I think, in a commoditised business like yours there’s also a trust thing. I used to buy from you purely for the fact,  I knew about the online options what were they called aubergine or cucumber or some …. 

Jim: Aubergine.

Martin: Well that’s fine if I want to do the artwork and send it off and be confident that the artwork’s right then that’s fine, I can get it for half the price. But if I have to send it back to get it done again then it’s going to cost me the actual price, if I have to send it three times it’s going to cost me 50 percent more. that

Jim: That is where we win, that is that is where the resellers win because we know what we’re doing, we’re not gonna send your shitty artwork off, we’re gonna make sure it’s good.

Martin: Yeah and that’s really that’s where the service is.

Jim: So use us and we’ll make sure it’s right the first time, it won’t be a problem. My job title on my business cards is Head of Customer Love, not director, it’s head of customer love. Because it’s all about the love you give to customers, it’s all about treating them right, making sure they get what they want, and it’s all about having something in the bank. I know the business well enough to know that you can love your customers as much as you like, things are going to go wrong from time to time, you have to have that credit to see you through that blip. No matter how much you try, some jobs, some customers just have a shit time because something goes wrong. When you’re when you’re brokering or reselling you know you’re relying on the press, you’re relying on the factory, the courier service and often it’s the bloody courier services. You do everything in your power to get out the factory on a certain day and then a courier delivers it to the wrong place or it goes to Manchester instead of Mother well. Shit happens and you’ve got to be prepared for it and and the beauty is that when you’re dealing with us we’ll put it right no matter what it is, as long as it’s not your fault, we’ll put it right. That’s what I think’s is really important

Martin: Yeah, me too. I think the important thing is that if you are in a commoditised industry, print is super commoditised, you can see 1500 print prices in the next 10 minutes if you’re on a mission to get a good price; then that you have to add something and the thing that you add, that sees you through, is that relationship. When I was in sales, I was never selling print, I was selling big end IT solutions, but a good meeting for me would be where I’d sit down and we’d talk shit about their family, and the football and at the end it would be – okay this and this and this needs to get done, it’s like cool I’ll see you in six months. That’s that’s the best relationship, that’s where you need to get to, especially if you’re in like a hugely commoditised industry.

So, do you have faith in in what’s going on with the economy, is it going to get come back, is it going to get well again?

Jim: God knows, but I have faith in me, I have faith in what my team are doing. We make sure we do well for our customers. We’ve got a couple of projects, you know we sell print but we also have a project called On Brand On Time, it’s a template system for multi-site companies. One example is Prestige Nursing who are a client of ours, they’ve got 34 branches, 34 branch managers users. It’s a user system, a branch manager logs in orders leaflets, flyers, a whole load of branded material, key rings,  stuff like that, we’ve got a factory down the road or a warehouse that they order that from and it goes straight to print and it’s always on brand because we don’t let them fuck up the fonts and the colors, it’s on time because once they’ve clicked it, it will be delivered. On Brand On Time, that’s a perfect angle for us because their market departments can be very hands-off and just let their end users or their branches do their thing and they trust us enough to not to fuck it up and get it delivered. Because they’re in the system, because they’ve done that work, they’re very hands off.

We don’t have to get involved. It’s in the care industry, so the care industry, those branch managers, they don’t need to know anything about marketing, they’re just running their their branches. So we give them all the tools to produce whatever print they need whenever they need it. I want more of those, more of those customers.

Another thing we’ve been working on is Jam Roll, we sort of fell into that a few years ago. We were doing school leavers hoodies and trip hoodies and if you talk to anyone who’s in that game,or any school that buys that stuff it’s an absolute nightmare. They’re walking around after school with the parents arriving – right Mrs Miggins, David’s hoodie, what size,  what color and have you paid?That whole process is really painful and we’ve managed to take all the pain away by building a form that the school push out to the parents. The parents visit this form, they fill it out, they choose the size, put their name in, they pay, and we give the school access to see who’s paid and who hasn’t, totally hands off. We do that and there’s you know with those  leavers hoodies, trip t-shirts – there’s some good margin in there and we are taking the pain away. We’re finding that’s really, really working so we’re that’s another avenue for us. So we’re looking for PTA people, people in schools who are responsible for buying that stuff.

So that’s just two different parts to the business, we’re still a print firm, and we’ll print your business cards and flyers.

Martin: These are two different brands, is that right?

Jim: On Brand On Time is a brand and this Jam Roll thing is a brand, yes.

Martin: You see, this is what I mean, you do brand, you do brand a lot.

Jim: Yeah, yeah yeah. But you know, let’s go back to 2006. I had 10 brands out there selling print. When I took the partners on and we stopped, we stopped all that. Now we’ve got brands that haven’t put an order through in years, because the website’s still there but we don’t market that brand.

Martin: Right.

Jim: I want to get back to that.

Martin:  You need to be able to see where that money’s coming from.

Jim: At the moment everything comes in here, we don’t really know what to what to put it against. We are doing a bit of a restructure at the moment so we’ll know what Jam Roll’s bringing in, we’ll know what On Brand On Time is bringing in. We’re going to launch a specific brand just for hospitality because we used to do that and we haven’t done it. We’ve got a huge database we just need to segment it and know what we’re doing. Then hospitality through that one brand and see what’s coming through it. At the moment it’s just one big mess.

Martin: Yes, I think that would be my advice to you, you need to get some  transparency, you need to get some feedback, because the danger is that you do what lots of businesses do, which is put money in the wrong place. If something’s working, you know you have to do it. Your intuition, and intuition is shit in these situations. You really want the Jam Roll thing to be doing really well so you invest more in that when actually it’s the other thing that’s generating the return. If I’m taking anything away from this conversation it’s what you said about three minutes ago,you need to get clarity on what’s actually working.

The thing is you did not think that all of these different brands were working because you weren’t measuring their affect.

There was a time in SEO that you’ll remember, where it was entirely about your domain name. If you had your keyword in your domain name you were top. We went around and did the keyword research for all our customers and created 60 landing pages against these 60 domain names. Then Google did, which is, I think the thing that Google does which is the thing that makes it damaging, they changed the rules retrospectively.You were perfectly allowed to do this yesterday but today it’s against the rules. That’s the thing that makes Google not a bad bet. I used to tell people that SEO was a long-term investment and around 2012 google made it clear that actually SEO is not a long term investment,they want you spending money.

The thing that I’m taking away from this is really about focusing on and understanding the value that comes from what you are doing. Actually I’m taking away a number of things. I’ve always known you have to find ways to add value to people’s lives and for me that gets me away from feeling bad about being a marketer or being a salesperson. If I know what I’m marketing, what I’m selling, is going to do them good in their lives then actually I am really happy to market it and sell it. The trouble is that marketing and sales, especially in the UK, has got such a shitty reputation. People actually think the job of sales is foisting product on people who don’t want it, that’s what they think. Ed was saying that we are probably going to do the very best for them, that’s  my approach to marketing is. I’ve sold all sorts of stuff, in all sorts of, hardcore sales environments but for me finding ways to actually add value to people’s live is the only sensible thing to do. If there is no market, then don’t be in that market is what I would say.

Jim: Do you think, if you go right back to the start of your working career do you regret not doing something that was consumer based?

Martin: No.

Jim: Because if someone had pulled me aside at the beginning of all this shot and said Jim, just do something that everybody needs, everybody. Then it’s been totally different kettle of fish wouldn’t it?All these people who have done something during this lock down and gone and started something new, it’s worked for them, it’s all consumer based. Because everyone needs it and everyone who is stuck in their homes needs it. Not businesses, businesses don’t need to buy shit over the last few months. Over the last 20 years you might have sold millions. It’s bloody hard selling a set of business cards but if you sold I don’t know, a button for a shirt, you’d be selling millions wouldn’t you? 

Martin: The thing is that it’s not necessarily easier. What are you going to do?Go into retail when we were 23 or whatever, we’re going to go and get a retail job so that we’re selling to consumers.

I’ll tell you the one thing that I wish I had known and I would have invested in is the real commodity stuff, like finance. I had no idea how rich finance people were going to be but the school bully ends up being a financial advisor. I had no idea how much money was available in that, or even selling telecoms, or photocopiers to businesses. I had no idea of the residuals in those things. I wish I’d known something about that 15 or 16 years ago. 

I’ll tell you what my regret is, my regret is in 2015 I was doing YouTube. I’ve been looking back through my old channels today, my regret is stopping it then. I’m five years behind where I could have been. If I’d continued with that then I’d be in a much better position than now but, you know what, I’ve got the time to do it now so that’s also good.

Jim: I’ve got no regrets but, except for doing something that everyone bloody wanted like, you know, washing powder. I don’t know what the fucking answer is but this isn’t easy, it’s hard, and I’m tired.

Martin: Right but you think it’s easy. I don’t even know what the washing powder brands are called now, but if your Persil it’s easy to sell washing powder for the other it’s difficult.

That’s the difference between you and Pronto Print or whoever they are, Go Print, or Easy Print, or Jet Print, or Internet Print or whatever they’re called.

Jim: What’s happening, why are you bringing up my competitors names?

Martin: Sorry man, the thing is that they’re all shit, customers need to come to you for a relationship. That’s the truth and that’s the value that you’re adding to your customers. Sometimes that’s very practical; if you’re color blind like I am it’s worth paying to know that’s its not going to come back a stupid color.

So every time you give your business card to someone they’re going to say did you really decide on puce for your business card and there’s the relationship. This is what the internet has done for people like in banking I used to have the telephone number of my bank branch and if I had an issue I could talk to them. For a long time, I had to wheedle my way to getting it because all the call centers came in and they didn’t really want to be talking to me but I would stay friends with my branch because I’d want to have that conversation, I want to have conversations. I think people want to have conversations but the internet is making it more and more difficult for that to happen, that’s what I think.

So I think, if that is your proposition, chat to us, know our first names, know the football teams we support, we’ll know the football teams you support and we’ll know about the order five times ago when it didn’t go quite right so we need to put an extra instruction, do you know what I mean?

That is real value in 2020 and I think especially with what’s gone on, people are so far removed from each other and that’s the really scary thing about what’s going on is that people are actually scared, I don’t know if they are scared of each other but that’s the official line – you need to be scared of each other, you need to stay two meters apart or in groups of less than six or not with other people from other households. That’s the concern.

Jim: This is the fix, this is the fix. In the business community, there’s no face to face at the moment so this Zoom is all there is. There’s other brands I suppose you could be used but as far as networking goes this is what we’ve. You can still do your face-to-face stuff, one-on-one if you have to, but as far as getting 20 to 30 people networking in a room this is the way to do it.

Martin: Yes. I sat in one of your networking’s, it wasn’t too terrible.

Jim: No, quite fun isn’t?

It’s quite fun yeah, it’s got to be fun otherwise what’s the point of any of this what’s the point anyway.

Martin: Okay listen, we’re gonna have to draw a line here because my camera’s just died again but this has been an absolute pleasure. I knew there’d be something that I could learn from you and I hope everyone watching can learn from so do you want to give everyone a little plug of your business?

Jim: Not really. I’m not saying to do business with Jim Cunliffe. My name’s Jim and you can find a website that we look after called

Martin: They might find you networking around Brighton in your white shoes.

Jim: Yeah, I’m in Brighton and Worthing area, wearing white shoes and stripy trousers, I’m overweight, coming up to 50 years old, got no hair, got glasses – if you’re in that area and you ask people about Jim the printer then someone will know me because I’m a bit famous. I’d love to help you, you know I love talking business, I love engaging so that’s cool.

Martin: Alright brother, thank you so much for your time man and I will catch up with you really soon, you take care, love you, man.

Jim: Thanks bud, bye-bye.

Martin: Cheers, 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  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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