It can be a benefit operating in an industry that has a terrible reputation - Talk Marketing 022 - Robbie Mould

It can be a benefit operating in an industry that has a terrible reputation – Talk Marketing 022 – Robbie Mould

Martin Henley 0:01  

We’re recording. Good morning, Mr. Mould. 

Robbie Mould 0:06  

Morning, Mr. Henley. How are you? 

Martin Henley 0:09  

I’m extraordinarily well, thank you so much for agreeing to do this man. I’m really excited. It’s actually taken us about six months, because I had some weird tropical bug when we organized to do this first, back in March, and it’s taken us this long to put it back together. But here we are. So I’m really excited to be speaking to you. What’s interesting about this is, is I don’t really know much about you. We’ve had one conversation, I’m speaking to you on the recommendation of Jim. And Jim’s never given me a bad recommendation in his life. So I’m really excited to be speaking to you.

Robbie Mould 0:38  

There is a first for everything right?

Martin Henley 0:42  

There is a first for everything, but I don’t know, my gut says that you’re a good guy and you’ve got something really interesting and useful to share with us, that’s what I think. So thank you for agreeing to be here. As you know, there are only four or five questions and one of them is kind of like a supplemental question. The first question is how you’re qualified to talk to us about marketing. Second question is, what is it that you do and who do you do it for? What do you do to add value to the world? The third question is how do you feel about marketing? The fourth question is, what is your recommendation for people in this weirdness that we seem to be experiencing currently? And then the fifth question is, who should I speak to next? So those are the four, five questions. So where we start is, how are you qualified to talk to us about marketing?

Robbie Mould 1:35  

Well, so I’ve run two businesses now, this is my second venture, RJM Digital, which is a marketing company, a web design and SEO company. But running a company, you are in charge of marketing, you decide where your brand goes, you have to decide who your customer is, how you’re going to market to those customers, drive sales, etc. So I think actually doing it, and working with marketing agencies, and also then being a marketing agency to work with a lot of customers, I’d like to think I’m in a pretty good state, whether I do it right or wrong is a different matter, and probably something for someone else. But yeah, that’s kind of how I’ve ended up here. 

But my background isn’t really traditional marketing. So my background is a web developer at university. I’ve been in corporate sales for small startups, large corporates, etc. Run my business, before in the IT sector, but always kept up with the software development side of things, building websites, building online presence, building platforms, etc. And so now, as the sort of market evolved, where you’d have to say, arguably, the majority of marketing, the majority of sales, especially in this post-COVID world, blah, blah, blah, is that it’s all gone digital, and where I sit with that background of, in my sales and building platforms, building websites, etc, I like to think puts me in a pretty good state to help other companies, small business owners drive their marketing efforts. 

Martin Henley 3:16  

Okay, fantastic. Excellent, great answer. So you have two businesses, I’m only aware of the marketing agency, what is the other business? 

Robbie Mould 3:27  

Well, so they’re kind of both of the same thing. So my business is a company called Positive Impact Digital, so we’re only just starting it. And it helps build sustainable and low-carbon websites. So not a lot of people realize that the whole of the internet contributes to about 3% of the total carbon emissions. And that’s the same as the airline industry. And not a lot of people realize that the websites and digital platforms and stuff like that, majority of them are run on data centers, which are powered by renewable energy. And so you cater that into really inefficient, bloated websites using platforms like WordPress, Wix, Weebly. And considering the amount of billions of web sites that are out there, it is a huge contribution factor, so we’ve got some funding from the UK, also funding from the EU, we grabbed that before everything happened at the start of this year. And we’re just starting to launch that company now to build really efficient, but websites that are 100% powered by renewable energy.

Martin Henley 4:32  

Fantastic. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know it was 3%. I mean, I know that there are data centers, I know that they’re powered somehow. But that’s interesting, isn’t it? How did they manage to go under the radar like that? 

Robbie Mould 4:46  

Well, I think it’s because websites, you can’t touch it or feel it or anything like zoom. So this, you know what we’re recording on now, what we’re doing a podcast on, that is being powered by some infrastructure, somewhere in the globe that is obviously being powered. And so it’s very easy to say, Well, I’m driving a car or I’m doing this activity, I’m doing that activity, and you can attribute a carbon emission to that particular activity. But in this digital world, you kind of just go, Oh we are being powered by the cloud in some respect. But people don’t actually realize what your contribution or your website contributes to the carbon emissions. So that’s what my mission is now with this new company, alongside RJM digital is to say, Well, actually, look, you are trying to reduce your carbon emissions, you’re doing X, Y, and Z. But actually, this is some area that majority of people that I speak to, they’ve got no idea about, they have no idea about their websites, no idea how it’s powered, the data centers, etc. So it’s something a bit innovative and sort of different. 

Martin Henley 5:51  

Cool, innovative and different is good and reducing emissions is good, clearly. Okay, cool. The other part I like about your answer is that you say you are a business owner, and that qualifies you to talk about marketing. 

Robbie Mould 6:04  

Yeah. 

Martin Henley 6:05  

And I 100% believe that is the most important thing that qualifies you about marketing, you know, I get really upset. Do I get really upset? I do get a bit upset about academics who are very forthright with their opinions. But they’ve never developed a product, they’ve never taken that product to market. They’ve never used the money from those sales, to employ people, pay salaries and rents and taxes and all of those things. So I think for me that is the most important qualifier, if you have done that, if you have taken something to market, that for me qualifies you to talk about sales and marketing. And it’s interesting that you have like a sales background. Because that was my background before I was in marketing, I was in sales and the two kind of slotted together.

Robbie Mould 6:59  

Yeah, absolutely. I think also, with the likes of academics, obviously, they do great research and you can never doubt their work or anything like that. But actually spending your own money on marketing, worked in marketing agencies, doing the actual stuff, and then figuring out, after the results come in, even wasting a load of money, or, you know, just spend a bit of money going, Oh, that was amazing, that was great. You’re only really going to get experience or knowledge by doing it. You can do as many algorithms or modeling and all that kind of stuff as you want. But isn’t until you get into the field with anything in life, anything in life, unless you get out into the field, you don’t really have the experience.

Martin Henley 7:40  

100% and unless you’ve put some skin in the game, then you’re not qualified to talk about it as far as I’m concerned. Okay, good.

Robbie Mould 7:51  

Yeah, especially as a business owner as well, I think when you put your hope in a small business, and once you put your own money into it, you either can use that money to pay off your mortgage or whatever, or you’re actually invested in marketing, that’s when you really want to get the results, that’s when you really ultimately know if something is working. And that’s probably the best experiment that any business owner can do, is by putting your own money in because that’s when you know if it’s truly gonna work or not.

Martin Henley 8:19  

100%, 100%. So now we’re getting, because I think, and I tell people all the time, and whether they care or not, it’s another thing. But I think business is essentially sales and marketing. I define marketing as finding, winning and keeping customers profitably. And I wouldn’t define business very differently. You know, it doesn’t matter if you make great donuts or whatever, you got to got great IT solutions or whatever it is, if you aren’t very good at finding, winning and keeping customers profitably, you’re essentially not going to be very good at being in business. And I would argue not be in business very long. So we’re agreeing. And for me is kind of, but I don’t want to take you down what I think, I’m interested in what you think. So how long have you been running the marketing agency? 

Robbie Mould 9:17  

So we’ve run it for just over three years now. So well, if you include my freelancing, so for the past four or five years, I’ve been freelancing, just working with individual companies in London or across the globe or wherever it may be. But it wasn’t until February of 2020. When I thought, I know I’ve built a bit of capital, I’m going to move from freelancing to actually build a proper business. So I thought right really excited. This Coronavirus, I was passive guy, whatever it was, it’s February, launched RJM digital. I think I launched it on the 12th of March properly, started going to some networking pieces. And I think what, two weeks after that, we were in lockdown. So it was an interesting time. But yeah, I’ve been doing this for about four years or so, partly as a Freelancer, partly as the business brand. 

Martin Henley 10:11  

Okay, cool. And before that you were involved with, what were you busy with then? 

Robbie Mould 10:18  

So prior to that I was in corporate sales, working for an IT company, a data center management company over in London. And then prior to that, I had my first business called RJM technology, which I ran for about four or five years, which was selling data centers, servers, storage, all that kind of stuff to medium size to large corporates, that’s when I was 24. Yeah. 

Martin Henley 10:48  

Excellent. Okay, good. And I don’t want to paper over the fact that you started your business like 20 minutes before the global pandemic. So just give everyone a sense of how that feels. 

Robbie Mould 11:03  

Well, you know right, it sounds a bit scary, cries, well, How unlucky are you, but actually, it didn’t really impact me that much. Because having run a business before for this one, and that was literally, I’ve had enough, you know, I was 24, I was in a sales job or whatever, I’ve had enough of this, I want to start my business, and I literally just resigned and did it. So that was obviously lots of brilliant. You know because you just did it. But obviously, there was a lot of flaws and faults with that. So when I started setting up this next business, I actually had a business plan, I actually had a bit of an idea of when I may get sales and when I may bring on customers. And I actually had a bit of capital behind me to sort of kick things off. So I kind of did it in the right way. So in my forecasts and plan, I said between March and July, I probably won’t get much business. So I kind of forecasted nothing. And what was the interesting bit about it was that I started doing lots of networking, fortunately, was all over zoom so you could go to way more than what you could do back in the face to face days. 

And rather than going Oh shit, my business is up the wall, I may have to worry about putting people furlough and basically, business owners trying to protect their own business and their livelihoods. I was just out there prospecting. I was just going to every zoom meeting, I was quite positive, quite energetic, because ultimately, I knew I was gonna get new customers knew, I was going to get much revenue. So I just started building relationships, and just started doing some stuff for free for people, gaining the trust, you know, doing the usual sort of stuff you have to do, getting my name out there. And then it wasn’t until sort of the second half of the year when things started to get back to normal in the UK, before the second of lockdown in December, January. And actually, that’s when things started motoring along. So and because a lot of people, business owners had a lot of spare time because of the furlough and what have you and people were happy to do stuff on zoom. I was reaching out to so many more people and getting people’s attention for so much longer and so much more frequently. Had it not been Coronavirus, it worked out really well for me. So I really can’t complain in that respect.

Martin Henley 13:25  

Okay, and did you have, because, I mean, what do I think? I mean, I’m not in the game of having customers anymore. So I wasn’t as affected this time around. What I remember is 2007-2008, the last time the bottom fell out of everything. And I can remember I was being petrified, now I’d already been in business like two or three years. And that did have a huge impact on us because, you know, we were actively finding, winning, keeping customers, that’s what we were doing at that stage. So were you confident, comfortable, because you had a sense of what you were doing was going to be necessary valuable or just that you had a process?

Robbie Mould 14:18  

I didn’t have a choice, ultimately, because you start a business and no one’s employing during that time, so literally, you know, back against the wall in some respects so I think that 100% helped. It was a case of Look, I’ve started this, I’ve committed doing it. Even if I don’t get any customers for the next six months. No one was employing, especially marketing agencies because they’ve been putting people on furlough and it’s been a real shift and change in the market space for marketing agencies. I think they’ve come out better now. But yeah, it was a case of do it or, or don’t, ultimately on the main I don’t want to be too drastic by it, but that was ultimately what happened. 

Martin Henley 15:02  

Yes. Okay. So I think that’s interesting. I think that’s really interesting. I think, what I realized, I mean, I have a couple of clients and the two clients went both ways. Like one client went into overdrive, like it was coming out for Easter, the whole staff were in for Easter, you know, they went into overdraft and the other client, the first opportunity to start following people, they did it, you know, they literally opted out. And what I was saying to people, not very many people, because I wasn’t talking to that many people, was that this is either the biggest excuse you’re ever going to have, or is the best opportunity you’re ever going to have. And it’s not anything in between, because there’s all sorts of and this is what I did in 2008, I just stood up in front of groups of people. And I told them, you know, recessions are when the most millionaires become millionaires. Businesses that start in recessions are typically the most resilient because they can’t be lazy. So these things are always an opportunity. Okay, so it’s interesting. So, and I suppose now I’m thinking about, I kind of did have a choice, because I didn’t have to engage, you know, I didn’t have to engage. Okay, so it’s interesting. So, we’re talking a lot about your business and you and your situation, but I’m interested in what it is that you do with your business, who you do it for, and kind of how you add value to the world. That’s what this is about. It’s about marketing. 

Robbie Mould 16:35  

Sure, so we sort of, ultimately we build websites. And then we help manage the SEO of our websites and existing websites for our customers. So we predominantly work with smaller businesses, or business owners of companies with, say, four to five employees. So nothing too drastic. But the reason why we’ve targeted that level is one, from a personal preference, I’d much prefer speaking to business owners, because ultimately, once you get their buy in, they make a decision, it happens. So that’s what I’d like from a business level, but also the quality and the knowledge of the other marketing agencies that I compete with in this space is very far and few between so because most people want to go for the big ticket, a couple of grand a month, retainers with the medium to large corporate or medium sized businesses. And so what I did was when I looked at the marketplace and the type of customers that I look at, I go, Well, there are so many businesses in this space that marketing agencies don’t really target. But am I able to package the knowledge of what those agencies are able to give those larger customers, but package it and service the smaller companies in the same manner, but in a way that’s accessible financially, and also from a knowledge perspective and time perspective and all that kind of stuff.

Martin Henley 18:10  

Okay, good. So I don’t know when it stopped recording. So let me ask you that question again. Right, so what I’m interested to know about is the marketing agency, I’m interested to know who it is you do business with, what it is you do for them and kind of how you add value to the world.

Robbie Mould 18:30  

Okay, so you know, a marketing agency that focus predominantly on websites, building websites, and optimizing websites for our customers, and also building SEO strategies and get them ranking highly on Google. So the type of customers that we work with, as I mentioned previously, is small business owners, business owners with about four to five employees. And the reason why we decided to go down that route is that the majority of marketing agencies, they want the couple of grand, monthly retainers, you know, they go for the big ticket stuff. And naturally that falls with companies that have got a marketing manager, that have got maybe a marketing team, they’ve got more than sort of 10-15 employees. And so what we decided when we looked at the market was actually there are a bunch of these companies that are really ambitious, that do get marketing, but the majority of marketing agencies just aren’t accessible to them. So we’ve looked at how can we package the knowledge of a traditional sized marketing agency, how can we package that into building websites, SEO, all the other digital marketing stuff, package it, so it’s accessible financially for these type of businesses, and also give the knowledge and expertise but make sure that it’s not overwhelming them with all the marketing jargon that’s out there, you know as marketers, we find ourselves get into the habit of talking to and expecting that other people, especially business owners know what that’s about.

Martin Henley 20:11  

Okay, right, good. And this wasn’t a 100% conscious choice that you are going to work with these kinds of businesses?

Robbie Mould 20:23  

Absolutely, yeah. So when we looked at, what our competition is, about what we do, where our values are, etc, we just saw that, you know, putting our marketing hat on, that these type of businesses, these type of customers, they’re totally, completely underserved. And there’s so many opportunities to operate in this space, and also profitably, but you’ve got to make sure you pick your right customer, what we have to do is make sure that we pick customers that are at this level, but we can work with them to grow so that ultimately when we get sticky, for lack of a better phrase, sticky with them, that we grow with them, and then our monthly retainers or our value, our services can also grow as they grow their business as well. 

Martin Henley 21:11  

Okay, good. Right, this is a notoriously difficult market for marketing. And it kind of goes to the crux of what I’m about. I am hugely in support of small businesses. Small businesses are hugely beneficial to societies and to economies. But they are notoriously difficult to work with. Because I think there’s three things, one you’ve touched on already. So we’ll come back to that. The first is that small businesses are typically, like you say, you want to speak to the business owner, you want to engage with the business owner. But the trouble with that is that business owners of small, very small businesses are typically very egotistical. So they want to do what they want to do. And that makes it difficult. And also, if they’re having a shitty day, and you’re the person who turns up, then like you say, they have carte blanche to hire and fire. So, you know, there’s a risk associated with that. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is they’re not particularly well resourced, like you say. So, you know, they don’t have a huge amount to invest. The third thing is the thing that really interests me, is that they typically don’t get marketing. Now, for me, what this means is they don’t get business, they don’t understand that it doesn’t matter, like I say how good their donuts are, if they’re not finding, winning, keeping customers profitably, they’re essentially not in business and they don’t get that. So what I’m interested in is what you’ve said, is choosing the right customers, because these are the three huge pitfalls. I mean, any one of them are showstoppers. 

Robbie Mould 23:11  

Yeah, what is interesting in your last comment, so I would say business owners that don’t get marketing. I think that’s not just their fault. I think that’s an industry fault as well. And I think when you look at lots of marketing agencies is that we are very good at spouting out stats, you know, for example, from a Google Ads perspective, you know, click-through-rate and positioning and domain authority and all this kind of stuff but what the industry isn’t very good at and this is a marketing thing is having accountability, having accountability for our app, for our results, and that’s what drives business owners crazy is you spilled a load of marketing jargon and you produced a report, it’s got all these percentages and all this stuff. But ultimately, a business owner only cares about profit, customers and revenue obviously, so what I sort of pride myself on when I’m speaking to customers is that its result driven and return on investment. And so every pound that is spent with RJM, we look to try and have a profitable ROI on that because I think a majority of marketing agencies and marketing people, they love the creativity, they love the fluffy side of marketing and they love all the, you know, creating really good, pretty things but ultimately what they’re not very good at, and this is where my sales background comes in is, the bot helping with the top line, getting customers in, getting them to give them money and all that kind of stuff. So that’s, where I think there’s an industry problem and so I think that’s why business owners do get frustrated with marketers is because, Yes, we can’t be their sales director. But we can definitely give them solutions that will definitely help with their sales and drive revenue and guide the web where business owners want to be.

Martin Henley 25:17  

Okay, good. 100% this is an industry issue, a 100%. 

Robbie Mould 25:24  

Not all of it, but part of it is.

Martin Henley 25:27  

No I think a 100%. I don’t wanna be rude, but I do think a 100%. The thing is about sales and marketing. If what I’m saying is true, of course it is because I’m saying it, that sales and marketing is about finding, winning, keeping customers profitably, then why is marketing so bad at doing that? You know, in London, the average lifespan of a digital marketing customer is three months, you know, so if those agencies can’t sell themselves, and there is an issue here, it’s difficult to sell yourself, you know, there is a need for agency here, because there is a need for somebody to be outside of your business looking in and seeing what is attractive, necessary, required marketable. But sales and marketing is so bad at selling itself, like so bad, and sustaining itself. So I think a 100%, and you talk about jargon, but I think even beyond the jargon, like you know, I’ve got this series where I’m kind of supposed to be going through all the jargon. 

But even beyond the jargon, there’s like narratives that suggest that you shouldn’t really expect too much from your marketing, like you go back to john Wanamaker famously said, in the 1850s, I know that 50% of my advertising is effective, I just don’t know which 50%. That is kind of the thinking that persists throughout marketing, is that marketing is just this fluffy thing that you’ll probably do, if you’ve got money to burn, but immediately there’s a downturn, then or a recession, then you’ve just got to cancel that marketing spend. And that has kind of been borne out in this pandemic situation where you say marketing agencies just upped stakes, you know, sent everybody home, that’s insane. I had a conversation with a friend of mine, he is in the anxiety business, the addressing anxiety business, not causing anxiety business. And I said to him, Look, there are two things 100%, this was like three months in, there’s two things 100% that people are going to need, they’re going to need marketing, and they’re going to need support with their anxiety. Now, thankfully, you know, he wasn’t in my situation you know, but he did dig in. And you know, he’s doing really well, much better than he’s ever done previously. So that’s interesting. Clearly, everyone was going to need to look very closely at their market, and work out how they could support those people in this hugely changing situation. That’s what marketing is, you know.

Robbie Mould 28:10  

Yeah. 

Martin Henley 28:10  

And but marketing, it seemed to me, I mean, not the people I’m speaking to, but you’re saying, other people are saying, marketing agencies gave up, you know, straight out of the bat.

Robbie Mould 28:22  

Yeah. And I think the reason being as well, is not just like a marketing agency bashing, because obviously, I don’t want to completely just say that the industry is broken and those kind of stuff. But I think it’s just a mindset change that we need that we need to have as an industry. And I think we’re very good at telling companies that they need to do social media, that they need to do SEO, but we’re not very good at saying why they need to do it. And ultimately, business is business, it’s all about getting more leads, customers, and ultimately revenue and profitability. So I think that’s where the shift needs to happen, the shift that needs to happen is that, we’re not just that point before the sales team takes over. It’s not just we’re driving traffic, driving awareness and stuff like that, we need to work alongside the sales team, we need to be aligned with the sales team and be held accountable with whatever sales are doing so that we can then be contributing to revenue and to profitability. So that if there is another pandemic or everything’s sort of melts down again, the marketing agencies aren’t the first ones that’s stripped out because companies are never going to get rid of a sales agency or a sales person that is their top most performing sales person during a pandemic. They’re like, well, we need you, we need you to help us keep the company going. But marketing agencies, the ones that are just thrown under the bus straight away when the shit hits the fan, it demonstrates not providing enough value. And I think that’s probably should be the biggest wake up call for most people in the industry. 

Martin Henley 30:07  

Okay, good. I’m thoroughly agreeing with you, 100% agreeing with you, except I am prepared to say that this is a marketing industry, and it is a marketing agency issue. And if they are not delivering enough value, which I think if they’re losing clients every three months, then they’re not, you know, if that statistic is correct, or if they are delivering value, and they’re not actually able to present that value to the customers in the way that they actually value so they want to sustain them, then that, again, is really bad marketing. So I am happy to say that this is an industry issue, and where we’re going in this conversation because you are with SEO, I think SEO is the worst culprit for this. And what happens every time a marketing agency takes on a client and loses a client in three months, then they do a disservice to the entire industry. That doesn’t matter. They do a disservice. I mean, this sounds like, they do a disservice to business. Do you know I mean, it’s like, small business owners are probably the most courageous people I think in the world, you know, they don’t help themselves sometimes they don’t understand the right stuff sometimes. But what you can’t say is that they are nothing other than courageous, you know, they are doing probably the most difficult thing you can do in your career, you know, let’s just say that. And the amount of sharks out there who will undermine that by taking up their resources, their time, their energy, their confidence, their money, by bullshitting them is just frightening. And this, to me starts like right at the very bottom with whoever it is, might find you out from a local rag and demand you pay 35 quid for an advert that no one’s ever going to see. All the way to the very top of the chain, where you look at Facebook and Google, where they are taking money from people and not delivering value. And anywhere that happens, I think, in marketing, they’re doing a disservice to the industry, and they’re doing a disservice to the market. Good. 

Robbie Mould 32:31  

Well, okay, yeah, that’s fine. So let me catch up. So business owner can certainly be to blame, I think well considering they don’t have some accountability. Because yes, you can put 35 quid into Facebook and Google or whatever you want. But I think also there’s need of a bit of education from business owners, about customers, who do you want to be your customer. What is that profile look like. Because business owners in this space that we operate in or I operate in, they’ve very good technical people. And I’m sure we’ve heard all about this from business coaches, and all that kind of stuff, but very good technical people with doing what they do. So whether they’re a good accountant or electrician or marketer or what have you, but they’re not very good at all the other business stuff, so there does need to be some education there. Because I think a lot, Facebook makes it very easy to spend money and say, right, you can target everyone in London, anyone that might be female, between the age of 25 or 35. And then you just go and push out your advert without actually understanding who are the demographics, what are their interests, what are their profile, and all that kind of stuff, so I think that yes, Facebook, you could be saying are doing a disservice, but then a lot of people using these tools without any real education, or being informed how to use it effectively. And it’s the same with SEO and any other digital marketing strategy out there.

Martin Henley 34:04  

Good. 

Robbie Mould 34:05  

And then they blame the tool, and not actually because of they don’t know how to use it.

Martin Henley 34:12  

Right, this is going to be a really good conversation, I think, because I don’t agree with you.

Robbie Mould 34:19  

Perfect.

Martin Henley 34:19  

It’s like if you go to a doctor and you suffer malpractice, then you can sue that doctor. And nobody says Oh, it’s the patients that aren’t educated enough. If you go to a dentist, if you go to an accountant, if you go to, whoever you go to, if you don’t get a good service, then you can sue those people. And I’m going to push back on your idea that the business owners aren’t accountable. They could not be more accountable. You know, if their business fails, then potentially their life fails. You know, they go bankrupt, they lose their house, the effect that might have on their relationships, their family is huge. Business owners could not be more accountable. And here’s the reality of what we’re saying here is that those business owners that do get it, and put their hands up and say, I need some help, more often than not end up getting ripped off. So that has to be an industry issue. And I don’t know. I mean, I’m doing my bit, I’m trying to educate people, I’m not doing enough. But I’m trying to do much more. And like you, when I was a year into my business, I think, it took me six years to realize, I wanted to be the small businesses’ marketing champion. And it kind of took me six years to realize that they don’t really deserve one but that’s probably not fair. Because everything I’m saying now is that they do deserve one, I didn’t do the thing that it sounds like you’re doing, which is being very particular about the business, the customers that I took on, because I didn’t do as well as you, I didn’t realize that actually, running a successful business takes an investment of time, energy, and money. I gave it a shit ton of time, a shit ton of energy. But I didn’t have any capital behind me when I did that. So I was running from behind all the way through. That’s what I think.

Robbie Mould 36:16  

That’s fine. So in terms of the accountability side, is not necessarily, yeah, you’re absolutely right. As a business owner myself, yeah, I’m accountable to my employees, to my customers, to everyone. What I’m saying about accountability is about accountability of knowing, or up skilling knowledge, up skilling training, whatever it is, into something before they commit to a load of cash or commit to partnering up with someone. That’s why I say about the accountability side is that, you can’t just go into something, anything in business, whether it’s marketing or business development, whatever it is, I’m trying to think off the top my head without truly understanding all the levels, all the nuances of it, you can’t be an expert in these things. But I think you’ve got to have a decent enough knowledge of something and it takes a little bit of time before you commit to something because if you don’t, then you can’t just blame the agency, you can’t just blame the tall, you have to take accountability that I didn’t prep, that I didn’t use the tool effectively enough, or I didn’t prep the agency enough, or I haven’t truly understood who my ideal customers are, I don’t know truly the profile of my customers enough to brief the tools and these agencies effectively to get the results that I want.

Martin Henley 37:43  

Okay, I’m not rolling over. Because the thing is, like my experience was, I did this for nine years. Like I say, it took me six years to realize that I need bigger clients, with bigger budgets, with bigger commitments, with management, like marketing management, because then they had a list of objectives that they needed to get achieved. And as long as we help them to achieve those, then we were delivering value. So it took me a long time to realize this. But what I saw in the nine years that I was running my business is that so few business owners actually understand that marketing and sales is what being in business is. Yeah, and those few that do understand that and realize that they need some help with that, get ripped off, like I said before, so I go to an accountant, because I can’t possibly, like by the time I know everything an accountant knows, I might as well be in accountancy. By the time I know everything that a marketing agency should know. I might as well be a marketing agency. Do you see? So, I mean, I do think there’s issues with the small business owners. I do think they run their businesses very egotistically, very subjectively. That’s what I think. And it needs to be about what they fancy and what they don’t fancy, which isn’t the way you should, that’s not what marketing is about, marketing is about serving a market. So I do think that they have issues, they could know more. But where are they going to go? You know, who’s like you could do a degree in marketing. And I’ve had people turn up and do my half-day marketing strategy course and tell me they learnt more in that half day than they did in the four years than they did a marketing MBA, you know, so the academic stuff isn’t useful. The stuff that the industry is providing, isn’t useful, I don’t know, I think we’re gonna have to agree to disagree.

Robbie Mould 39:43  

It’s at the balance. I think, ultimately. So I’m not disagreeing with what you’re saying. It’s a balance, right? I’m saying that the marketing agencies out there, there are lots of them, as you say, do any of this disservice to the industry, but also there are business owners that are just blindly going into these things, without really sort of just having a bit of background knowledge and maybe just almost maybe trusting people too much with these things. You know, you mentioned about the accountant, you can’t possibly know everything about it. Well, if you ask Jimmy Carr, you know, his accountant said, you want to pay less tax and look what happened to him. So he’s definitely here. He’s the pinnacle as to why you should understand why, about something you’re going into that you need to understand, you need to have a good knowledge, a good balanced knowledge about every part of business, sales, marketing, accountancy, whatever, because there are stories like I’ve mentioned about Jimmy Carr that, they love bottom dollar type thing that he knows a lot more about accountancy than when he first got started. So yeah, that’s that’s how I will counter that.

But I just sort of focus and pick up on the point as well about, especially in the SEO world, that there are so many sharks out there. And SEO is in particular, that we all, I’m sure, we all get messages, emails from people saying that I can get you to the top of Google, I can do this and I can do that. And actually, this is one of the reasons why I’ve got into SEO, because you have all of these 10 terrible agencies that have got a terrible reputation, that really do the industry a disservice. If you can look different and if you can actually demonstrate some value and getting my first couple of customers was really tough, then you’re almost like this knight in shining armor. And it becomes really easy to keep your customers, to get referrals from customers, because I think ultimately, in my world, SEO, ironically, the best marketing tool that I have is referrals and word of mouth, because I’ve built that trust, its very results driven. And actually, all of those 10 terrible agencies that are out there, if the one out of 10, that’s completely different. That actually does demonstrate value, it’s a great thing for your business. If you’ve ever dealt with estate agents, you know, it’s easy to paint a broad brush and say, they’re all useless. They’re all this and the other, but that one, that estate agent that appears different that you can actually trust, you’re probably going to sell your house through them or via them or whatever it is multiple times, you’re probably got to buy out the house with them. So it can be a benefit operating in an industry that has got a terrible reputation if you do it, obviously, if you are different and actually do it right. 

Martin Henley 42:36  

Bless you, you are hugely optimistic, hugely, hugely optimistic. I absolutely love it. That’s cool. And I mean, I’m just like getting flashbacks now for times when I’ve pitched and you know, one guy said to me, we were pitching for an SEO thing. And the guy said to me, You know what, Martin, you will slide further on bullshit, then you will glass. And he was essentially saying like everyone else’s pitch for this has lie to me. So and that’s very exciting, very intriguing, you know, very enticing lie to me is what he was essentially saying. So in that case, it was probably his fault that he didn’t engage us and he probably got some, some shysters. Okay, good. Right. So you said what we’re good at is telling people that they need to do these things, but not why they need to do these things. So interestingly, why in 2021, does a business even need a website?

Robbie Mould 43:34  

Well, okay, so they ultimately don’t, not every business needs a website. Okay, that is the ultimate truth of it. 

Martin Henley 43:46  

We are dealing exclusively in the ultimate truth now, that’s good. 

Robbie Mould 43:50  

Yeah. Yeah. Ultimately, that is the truth. I mean, you don’t need, looking from a marketing perspective, you don’t need social media don’t need SEO, you don’t really need anything, you know, it’s only what your customers do, okay? If you are someone, like I would say, Okay, I’m just trying to talk about customers that really don’t need a website. I think if you’re a solicitor helping with someone’s divorce, no one is going on people’s web or multiple solicitors’ websites, and going Oh, that looks pretty or this, that they do this, or they do that. Because ultimately, you want someone that’s going to help win your advantage or whatever it is. And so you’re going to get referrals, you’re going to be looking for word of mouth, I’m going to be looking for whoever it is to say, right, Kenny, I’m in a bit of a sticky position here. Can you help me out? I’m not going to be searched on Google for divorce lawyers or what have you because it’s going to be very difficult to build that level of trust. However, the people that do need websites, I would say are consumer led businesses, potentially trades people as well. People that can provide really valuable information that can help build trust with their customers. So, you know, blogging is a bit of an old school thing, but providing online resources, whether in forms of eBooks or long format information, checklists, videos, whatever it may be, if you’re in an industry that can that can provide that level of knowledge and resources, then they’re the people that need websites.

Martin Henley 45:37  

Good. Okay, that’s interesting. That’s really interesting. Okay, so what do I say? I say, I think the reason, like because you can do all of this stuff in lots of different ways now, you know, even if you’re selling consumer stuff you can sell on Etsy, or Shopify or whatever it might be, you can sell through Amazon, you can do all sorts of things. So the reason I think people need websites is because it gives them the opportunity to do the search engine marketing thing, which is PPC, and SEO, which we’re coming to. And so I think if you are interested in growing your business, and you’re interested in doing marketing as effectively as possible, then you’d have to understand how PPC or SEO, my deliver, you know what the cost of customer acquisition might be through those platforms if you’re interested to do that.

Robbie Mould 46:31  

Only for customers are actually engaging with those with those platforms. So if you’re set up, for example, someone like this, have a look at like, handbags, for example, Louis Vuitton comes off the mind, of the top of my head. Now, if you’re flogging a couple of Grand handbag, it’s probably unlikely that you’re going to be driving your sales through the website. Now, I could be completely wrong about this. But I imagine that most people, they’ll try to buy a couple of 1000 pound Bespoke handbag or whatever it may be, your Prop, you got to have probably a website, or to showcase the latest things. But I would say probably the majority of people that go into a store, a bit like with Apple, right, its still people still love to go into store, they love to test the iPad, love to touch it and feel it and all that kind of stuff. And so that making sure that you’ve got to look at what your brand, your shopping experience is like and your brand’s experience is like. And so if you find that majority of your customers are preferring that because of your product, that’s what it needs, they still go into store, and they want to be loved by your sales people and have a great customer experience, then focus on that. But if it’s the opposite, if you’re like a coach, for example, other brands are available, blah, blah, is that you probably are going to be selling online. So actually, you need to make sure that you do have the right marketing strategies to sell a 100 pound handbag, for example. And so your website is super important. And maybe your shopping experience is less important, if that makes sense. 

Martin Henley 48:11  

That makes sense. And it’s interesting when people think of handbags that people very often think of Louis Vuitton, it’s like they did some really effective marketing or something, isn’t it? Okay, right. Good. Okay, that’s interesting. So, are you saying then I’m hearing what you’re saying? I’m finding what you’re saying, it’s interesting, because it’s not what a lot of SEO people or marketing agencies would even say, every SEO company will say you need a web presence. You need search engine optimization, you need websites. So that’s good, what you’re saying really good and true. But are you saying that divorce lawyers shouldn’t be marketing themselves?

Robbie Mould 48:51  

Well, okay, not marketing themselves, because you can market yourself in different ways. Referral marketing is key, word of mouth marketing is really important. I think this is the thing is that market is, we say, Well, everything is marketing. So we’ve got to do everything and anything and actually, that’s not as I’ve mentioned before about two examples of Louis Vuitton and coach there is you don’t have to do everything if that’s not the most profitable way of getting your customer. So when it comes from an SEO perspective, where I’ve had most success in this small business world, our trade’s people, for example, because or people that have photographers, for example, because we’ve something like trades. People will type in electrician, London or builder London or what have you. And a website is really good way of demonstrating your portfolio, demonstrating your customers, demonstrate your credibility with online reviews, you link into your Checkatrade accounts and all of that kind of stuff. So if you can appear at the top of Google for that type of service, where it’s not completely exclusive, that is not built a 100% on trust, you can build a little bit of trust automatically, digitally by appearing at the top of Google. So and there are certain industries that is more effective than others. So I would say trade that’s effective, because quite a lot of people do use, do type in electrician, London, or what have you, then say divorce lawyer, divorce lawyer, London, so that should give an indication of what people’s behavior should dictate whether you should do something or not, in my opinion.

Martin Henley 50:52  

Brilliant. Yeah. Yeah. I really like what you’re saying, because it’s what I believe. Okay, so then, okay, so I want to repeat the question now, because you do the two things, SEO and web sites. So now I need you to tell me is why people need SEO in 2021.

Robbie Mould 51:14  

So with whenever I do like a presentation for like the FSB, or whatever, demystifying SEO, the reason why I am more passionate about SEO than say social media, is that social media has now become and it’s quite a recent thing, projecting something that maybe you are or probably not or what you project, how you want to look like, how you want to be perceived. And obviously as a marketer, it’s probably ironic, I say that, but with SEO, for me, it’s about so with social media, I’ve recently become a dad in the last six months. So I’m posting pictures of me, my daughter, and we’re all me and my daughter and wife, all happy families, you know, all smiling. Everything looks like a fantastic time. But when I was tired, I’d go into Google, I was typing, why won’t this baby fucking sleep at 2am? So actually, in social media, it’s all about projecting what you want to be perceived. But when it comes to SEO, or Google, that is actually the real behaviors, or the real truth actually comes out, because I’m not saying that I was up at 2am, trying to feed her or trying to stop her crying, but I’m typing into Google, how can I stop my baby crying. So social media is about how you want to come across, and how you want to be perceived. But when people use Google, you actually get the truth, you actually get what’s really going on with that individual. And so we as marketers can exploit that by building content, building resources to help answer those queries, answer those concerns. And if you’re at the top of Google, one, you will get found automatically because the vast majority of people will click on the first one or two results in Google. And if you can actually create some really valuable content on your website that matches that query, answers that question, your brand will automatically build trust with that particular user. And I’m not saying that every single user will buy from you as a result, but you will earn trust, and you will earn credibility with that user, if you can provide some content via a website and get it found by SEO or by Google.

Martin Henley 53:41  

Cool. I also think that, I mean, it’s not what I was thinking, but now you’ve said that it is kind of like, so what I tell people is that search engine marketing is, basically what you’re dealing with is motivated buyers. Because, this is a little bit like what you’re saying, but nobody Google something for fun. Maybe they do Google, they Google things for entertainment, but by the time that you’re in, Where can I buy? Or how do I do? You know, it’s typically because they want to buy something or they want to know how to do something. So that’s an interesting perspective.

Robbie Mould 54:25  

It’s often when they’re in that stage of knowledge and understanding stuff as well. So it is important as marketers to build trust and credibility at every stage of the buying cycle. So whether it’s just the interest stage or the Knowledge Building phase, or they’re actually at the phase of buying something with SEO, or search engine marketing, you can touch every part of that journey. With building content or having a website that you can then sell your services or have a contact request form or whatever it is. You can enter any stage of the buying cycle through SEO or through digital format.

Martin Henley 55:12  

Okay, good. Yeah.

Robbie Mould 55:15  

You are saying Yeah Martin, is that because you don’t agree or?

Martin Henley 55:24  

Don’t worry, I’m gonna tell you as soon as I don’t agree is because I’m just working out if I agree or I don’t agree. What do I think? I think that 100% by the time somebody is putting into Google, where do I buy X, Y, Z, they’re ready to buy something. And maybe if what you’re saying, like, so this will be the justification for search engine marketing, which is PPC and SEO.

Robbie Mould 55:53  

Yeah.

Martin Henley 55:53  

So 100% PPC, if you’re doing PPC while you’re in the business of buying customers, which is what you should be doing, if you’re investing in your sales and marketing. So that is that. And also, I just think we’re in a little bit of daylight. So we’re aware of the customer journey, they need to get some awareness, they need to get some interest, they need to get some consideration, blah, blah, blah. And you’re 100%, you can get that all the way across search engine optimization. I wouldn’t. I mean, you can if you like, but I wouldn’t want to go any fluffier than that I would want to be saying to people, and you’re right, the difference between PPC and search engine optimization is the trust, you know, because at one time, not us, but we were working with a business and they were top for SEO Services. It was pretty hard work not selling people who found you at the top of Google for SEO Services, to sell them search engine optimization. So I, yeah, here’s what I think somebody I know described social media, as the great 20th century publishing swindle. 21st century publishing swindle. Because what they’ve done is they’ve managed to convince billions of people to become contributors for them, and businesses. And they’ve never paid a penny or largely haven’t paid a penny certainly Facebook haven’t, Instagram, although it’s changing a little bit now. YouTube have. But what they’ve done is they’ve managed to get us all talking about each other, which is what we’re most interested in. And then they’ve sold us basically our data off the back of that. So you said something earlier about Google? So what exactly is my issue? I’ve got an issue. So what do I think? I think so social media is essentially media, its paid advertisement, you know, and you can present yourself however you like because you’re paying you can absolutely do that. Google is also interesting, when I teach people search engine, when I teach people PPC, I tell them Google is after your money. So that’s what I think.

Robbie Mould 58:10  

It’s not with every business though, I’m not sure I don’t get that statement. Because every business is that we’re all after everyone’s money, really. It’s just what does that mean? It’s coming across as if it’s a negative thing?

Martin Henley 58:26  

Well, not a negative as long as you understand that if you are spending money with Google, Google is much better at taking your money than you are probably at keeping it. So for example, you know, over and so like you said earlier, like if you do want to do Google advertising, you don’t really know about it, then, you know, then you have to take part of the responsibility. But it seems to me that they are making it increasingly complicated. That I mean, don’t get me started. All of these businesses are, like you and I were small businesses. 

Robbie Mould 59:06  

Yeah.

Martin Henley 59:06  

But I understand that. If I’m going to get your money consistently, I’m going to need to deliver value in your business. Whereas Google and Facebook and those kinds of businesses really, I don’t think particularly care about delivering value at all. Because if I’m running Google PPC campaigns, and I need some advice from Google, I can speak to somebody, it’s the only people I can speak to, Google are people who will get money out of me for AdWords, or ads, as they call it now. And their recommendation is going to be run more campaigns, run more keywords, you know, don’t exact match that, like spend more money is going to be their advice.

Robbie Mould 59:45  

And you know what, I must say that whilst I am not always defender of Google when they definitely have their flaws, that’s not completely true in all honesty. They’ve actually, they’ve turn that corner a lot. So they’ve got entire inside, we call them inside salespeople, but inside campaign optimizers, or what have you, and having experienced this for my own PPC campaigns, whilst they’re not as great as doing it as third party agencies, and we don’t do a lot of PPC. So I talked from a neutral standpoint on this, they can offer some value in terms of how to optimize certain campaigns on a small level. The instant response isn’t always build another campaign, add more keywords,  they can be pretty good, they can offer some pretty good advice as to how to reduce the amount of cost per click, for example, they still ultimately want us to buy more, but it’s not just buy more, and you’ll get more successes, actually, they do provide some value of how to optimize a little bit of your campaign, you’ll see some results, and then you then gain more confidence and trust in Google AdWords. And then so therefore, you’re more inclined, obviously to spend more, but they are getting a lot better just to defend them slightly.

Martin Henley 1:01:08  

Okay, well, you can defend them. That’s not my experience. I gave up on phoning Google a long time ago, like so I haven’t spoken to Google in as long as I’d like to remember.

Robbie Mould 1:01:18  

Fair enough. It is slightly different. That is different now. 

Martin Henley 1:01:22  

Yeah, good. And part of the comprehensive reason I’m having these conversations is to get a sense of what’s going on in the world. I haven’t proactively marketed my business for like since 2014. So it’s been seven years. And I was thinking today, you know, I took the trouble to work out how all of these things worked. Because I was in the business of doing this for my customers and for myself, and I haven’t been for the last seven years, or only in a very limited way. What did I want to say about that? Okay, then, here’s the nail in the coffin for me and Google. 

Robbie Mould 1:01:53  

Okay, 

Martin Henley 1:01:54  

They used to tell you, where you ranked on PPC. And then they stopped. And this was about two years ago.

Robbie Mould 1:02:05  

Right.

Martin Henley 1:02:06  

Now, forgive me for being a cynical old conspiracy theorists. But what I always thought is that I am bidding to rank in the ad words, you know, in their ad words listing. And let’s be honest, that’s what you’re doing. Like, and if so, every month, I would do the report for my customer. And he would say, and this is your average ranking. And what I would do is I’d look at each of the campaigns or each of the keywords, and I would say, Okay, that was in 1.2, I want it in one, and so I’m gonna add, I don’t know, two pence, or eight pence, or whatever it might have been. And this one is consistently in first place, maybe I can take five pence from there. And basically, that was the one criteria that enabled you, empowered you to manage your ad campaigns. And then this is the last time I phoned Google, it’s gone. 

Robbie Mould 1:03:01  

Right. 

Martin Henley 1:03:02  

And so if they’re not only interested in taking your money, like, how do I manage that now. Like, so I’ve stopped running PPC campaigns for my customers, because what am I buying? If I’m not buying the opportunity to be at the top of Google for exactly the thing that I want to be at the top of Google for then what then exactly what am I paying? So why would they do that if they weren’t just interested in making it more difficult for you to run your campaigns effectively?

Robbie Mould 1:03:28  

So I don’t do PPC and this will be on the final question, Who else should I speak to? Because that’s kind of I feel like that’d be a great person to speak to. However, what I will, what I will say is that Google, the reason why we as users, and this has taken my marketing agency hat off, we as users trust Google, to give us the most relevant information or most relevant websites or results to our query. And so what Google is constantly doing is honoring that commitment to its users, that whatever results we put on our search results page, it is the most relevant information according to your query. And that’s why they constantly have algorithm updates and all that kind of stuff. And so providing really relevant information to a customer query, especially if it’s more than holistic stuff, like Why do this? Or how does it do that? It’s actually really difficult. It’s actually really difficult providing valuable information that is different, that the customer is going to actually engage with. Well, I would say we as marketers, but because it’s difficult, it takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of resources to do. 

And so therefore what majority of people is go I don’t want to try and do all that hard work. I just want to do a couple of fixes on my website, or I want to pay an extra five pence more on my Google ad campaign to get to the top And I don’t actually want to do the work that is actually necessary for the user to stay on the web page and actually get some value out of it. So I think we’re always looking to try and find the easy way to get around that. But Google is making it even much harder to get into the top spaces for PPC, and also from the organic searches as well. And so therefore, the people that are putting the time in, and are actually different, they are actually providing a lot of valuable information. They’re ultimately getting to the top quicker, and they’re staying there for longer. So I think that’s something that we people need to reflect on now. Because I think there’s a lot of people in the SEO world where it was build a web page, stuff, it will load the keywords in the copy, and also in the meta-tag keywords, stuff it will load of keywords that matched what people will type into Google and that was it. It was really easy. It was like, Yeah, I can earn a few 100 quid a month for doing this. But now it’s a lot more resource intensive, is a lot more challenging in order to get to the top of Google, but if you’re willing to put the work in, you will get the results.

Martin Henley 1:06:11  

Okay, good. I’m looking at I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about them taking this thing off, and I’m taking out on you, because you might be the third person that’s been prepared to talk to me about anything like this since then. So let me stop doing that. Okay, but I’m not going to stop challenging you if that’s cool. Is that cool? 

Robbie Mould 1:06:30  

Brilliant. Love it. 

Martin Henley 1:06:32  

Cool. So you’re saying they are making it? So this is an SEO thing. You’re saying they’re making it harder to get to the top of the page? And they absolutely, now because I am a cynical old conspiracy theorist. Are you cool with that? All right.

Robbie Mould 1:06:53  

Let’s switch off now. I’m probably associated with that right? I’ll be cancelled in a week.

Martin Henley 1:07:00  

So the thing is, what is the thing about that is that they are physically making it more difficult to get to the top of the page. So the top four results now are going to be paid results, then you might get some like local results, then you might get some video results. And then I’ll tell you what they’ll do, which really knocks me is they’ll put in a little snippet result that gives the searcher the answer to their question. So the reason your daughter isn’t sleeping at two o’clock in the morning is because you’re a terrible parent, you can just close Google now and go back to bed. You see. So realistically, and in lots of instances, if you are number one on the natural listings on Google, you could be the 10th or the 12th result on that page. And people have to especially on their phones have to do a considerable amount of scrolling, before they’re even going to get to you. Now I know why Google are doing this because Google want your money? So that’s fine. You don’t have to argue about that.

Robbie Mould 1:08:06  

It’s not, it’s because whatever you got on your website, Google has figured out that people are less engaged. Okay, so the adverts will always appear top. Because ultimately, Google is a phenomenal resource that we as users use for free. And so they have to make money. Yes, selling data, that’s a separate conversation and all that kind of stuff. But the adverts is always going to pay top because ultimately, that’s how they pay for this amazing resource that we all use, everyone in the globe uses. The second bit local is because Google realizes that for certain companies local is the key that people want to buy local, people want to use local agencies, or local companies, when it makes sense to do so. Then the third bit of the videos, people are naturally more engaged in videos. Yeah, this interview we’re doing. I’m sure there’s gonna be more people watching this on YouTube or on video format than if this was in a printed transcript on the blog. So that’s why Google has realized that and they’ve gone actually Well, we want to have given information in a format that’s more engaging for people. So that’s why we’re prioritizing on certain key word searches, video over written format.

Martin Henley 1:09:25  

Okay, but you haven’t answered the really challenging one, which is the snippet. They’re taking your work and then putting it on their service, so that people don’t have to leave their service to get the answer that they’re looking for. That’s naughty. Well, can we just say once Google a little bit naughty?

Robbie Mould 1:09:42  

No, no, not all because they’re given an answer to a question. Yeah, if it’s quite a deep and meaningful question, that Google’s can only display a couple of lines. So there’s still which a vast majority of people will click on that article and read more about it. What year, did England win the World Cup? Blah, blah, blah, yes. And they will just display 1966? And they’ll take someone else’s website and use that. Yes, you’ve got point there. But then don’t try ranking, don’t spend loads of time ranking on Google for the information about a question that is just literally one or two sentences, invest time answering questions that people would invest time in, will engaged with for more than a couple of minutes. 

Martin Henley 1:10:35  

Okay, cool. That makes perfect sense. I still think they want your money. So I mean, if they don’t want your money, they are remarkably good at taking businesses’ money. And this is the other point that I wanted to make is not so much about Google, but maybe about Google. Like, historically, if less about Google, but so historically, like Facebook, like the social media, they would have paid 10 or 15%, commission to the agency that sold that media. And because they cut out those agencies, you know, we should have all become millionaires, by selling this really well. So I don’t really want to argue with you about that. Because, like you say, it’s not your specialization. Okay, so how do we do it? How do we do search engine optimization in a way that is cost effective for us? And effective, you know, how does that work?

Robbie Mould 1:11:46  

Okay, so the way that I tried describe search engine optimization is that there are three pillars to it. So you’ve got your technical SEO, you’ve got your on-page SEO, and you’ve got your off-page SEO. Now, what Google is trying to do is say that, if I was speaking to you, Martin and asking you a question about who is the best person that can help answer this question, or that can provide this service, the three things almost sort of layer up to how we act as social beings. So the technical SEO is how, how you’re presented. So if I asked you for who’s the best lawyer, and I turned out with not in a suit, really scruffy hair all over the place, you know, I look a complete mess, you’re less likely  to recommend me as the lawyer, so technical stuff is basically presenting your website in a format that Google wants to see that you can search properly, that it’s all correct, it’s not a bit of a mess, then you’ve got your on-page SEO, which is actually the content that you actually put on there. So Google will actually analyze all of your content, it will use its algorithm to say, is this valuable? Is this actually informative? 

And actually, is this going to make our users engaging with it, because what Google will do on the on-page stuff is they’ll sort of play around, experiment with your web page. So it will recognize that if someone goes onto your website, and only stays on there for a matter of seconds, and then goes back to Google, and then clicks on the one below, it knows that you’ve not provided a valuable resource or answered the question. So that’s the on-page stuff. And then the off-page stuff is about credibility. So when I asked you for a lawyer, I’m gonna ask you, okay, they’re presented? Well, they’ve clearly given you a rough information, the correct information, but actually, have they got any case studies? Or have they got any references? Have they got any other credibility that backs up what they are saying, and that’s where you have to get your website or other third party websites, you have to get other people to link your content from their website. And that’s kind of it in a nutshell, those three things and when you think about it, when Google as I said before, like when Google is trying to mimic the social interactions that we have as humans, if you can get those three things right, then you’re going to be in a really good spot.

Martin Henley 1:14:28  

Okay, which spot are you going to need to be in? Because really, if you’re not in number one spot, and given that number one spot might be in 10th or 12th position already, like really being in second spot or third spot isn’t gonna do it for you.

Robbie Mould 1:14:46  

Well, that all depends, okay. So that’s why when we as SEOs when we work with a customer is that we look at keyword volumes. So we say right, how often are people typing in X, Y, Z London? Or the answer to the question, you know, whatever you put in Google. Now, if there are, say 10,000 searches, you know that probably 50, maybe 40 to 50% of people are going to click on number one, and then that drops down to like 10% for number two 5% number three, and then it’s single digits after that. But even if you’re number three, or four, and you’re getting 5% of the 10,000 searches a month, that’s still going to be a decent enough traffic. And then if you’ve got, if you do actually provide valuable information on there that people engage with and explore the rest of your website, send your contact request form, that’s still going to be okay. Especially if the value of your customer that does that is worth my fees or the investment that you’ve put into it. So if you’ve got 10,000 searches a month, and it’s really competitive keyword, and if someone’s charging you two grand to get to number third spot, and you say you get 1000 visits, but you only get a pound from every customer, then it’s not going to be worth your time because you’re going to be spending more on the agency services, than what you’re getting back. But if let’s say you’re getting 1000 people on your website, and 100 and you get 100, people spending 500 pounds a month, my agency fees become almost irrelevant, because you’re going to get that return on investment. And if you’re number one spot, fantastic. But ultimately, even if you’re number two or three, as long as you get that ROI and what we mentioned at the start of this interview, that’s ultimately what it comes down to, then that’s going to be a solid business investment for you.

Martin Henley 1:16:48  

Good. So and this to me is how I rationalize all of this is if you’ve got to make it objective, you’ve it’s got to be about numbers. So for me, it’s always about cost of customer acquisition, and then customer lifetime value and profitability, you know, can we actually generate a return on investment from each of these things? Okay, I’ve got a bit of an issue you won’t be surprised to hear I’ve got lots of issues. But I’ve got a bit of an issue with. Like, when I started my business in 2005, it was just me and I was like, also came from sales. So I was just running around talking to small business owners about what I would do if I was a salesperson in their business. And I was always the sort of sales person that had to do like self-journeys and stuff like that. So it was always like marketing and sales. And then very quickly, people want to telemarketing, so like an idiot, I provided telemarketing for a couple of years. And that’s all I did. Yeah, maybe a couple of years is long. I mean, then digital started happening. So it made sense to do it with email, and then some PPC and then social kicked off. And then you know, so that’s how I ended up with digital. So I have a little bit of an issue with people who so if you came to me in 2006, late 2006, and you said I need some help with my marketing, what can you do? The answer would always have been telemarketing because that’s what we offered. So I do have a little bit of an issue with people who say that, and especially on YouTube, people who say our Facebook is the one thing that’s going to change your business, or something else. So I’ve got an issue with people who offer just one of these things. For me, it has to be integrated, you have to test all of it, you have to know what each thing can do for your business. What do you think about that?

Robbie Mould 1:18:36  

Yes, it’s difficult to say, we’ve specialized, and we’ve been very successful by specializing, maybe if we expanded our marketing services, and I brought the right people in, as you say, to integrate all of that, that may help. But I think it’s six, a one and a half dozen or the other. There are some very broad brush marketing agencies, but they’re also some phenomenal specialist agencies as well. So I think ultimately comes down to the knowledge of the business owner. If you’ve got someone who is in their mid-20s, that is all over Instagram for their personal life. And they’re doing rails and they’re doing Tic-Tocs or doing whatever, they probably don’t need advice on social media because they’re probably going to be comfortable with that. So they’re going to say, Actually, you know what, I’m pretty comfortable with my social media. So I need someone to focus on SEO because I believe that’s another good source of getting customers. But if you’re getting someone who’s very technical, that loves what they do, but they’ve sort of a bit blinkered on the business side of things and they don’t really care about marketing, but they know it’s important. That’s probably when a fully integrated broad brush marketing agency might be really good for them. So I think its horses for courses.

Martin Henley 1:19:54  

Good. That’s a good answer. Interestingly, I think if there are three Digital Marketing things that you can sustain a business on. It would be SEO, PPC and YouTube advertising I think. I think those three things can and do stand alone. So the only issue then with SEO is it takes an amount of time for it to take effect, and for them to actually see the benefits. So how do you keep them engaged, until such time as the cash registers going insane with their amazing SEO?

Robbie Mould 1:20:29  

Yeah, so it does take time, so that’s where, so you have got tools out there and it’s just my own personal experience and knowledge about the more competitive the keyword is, i.e., the more people optimizing their website to target that keyword, the longer it’s going to take to get there. So normally, we will look at less competitive keywords, just to get some quick wins under the belt, and demonstrate our credibility demonstrate that we can actually do what we say we’re going to do, start off with those, and then work our way up to the more competitive keywords. Now, if someone only wants marketing agency London, and they’re brand new company brand new website, we will walk away  from that opportunity, we’re not just going to take a load of money because we know that it’s going to be such a challenging keyword to do. And likewise, if you went luxury handbags, and you wanted a global search, and you’re brand new handbag agency based in Sussex or whatever, it is going to be too challenging. So actually, from those perspective, that’s when we would walk away. So start off small, experiment, do some low cost testing with some long tail keywords, you know, they’ve got a decent amount of volume in there. And then slowly build up from there.

Martin Henley 1:21:56  

Okay, good. Cool. What amazes me about SEO, because we are talking about the deepest, darkest, you know, black magic secret of all of marketing, is how easy it is actually, when you just get down and do the work and how actually, like you say, if it’s stupidly competitive, because, we used to have people in 2007-2008 phoned us up, and they wanted to be number one for mobile phone, you know, so hopefully, it’s a little bit less stupid than that now. But actually, if you’re not into a competitive a market, and you can get a sustained investment, it amazes me how often this is actually really achievable and really effective.

Robbie Mould 1:22:39  

Yeah, can’t argue that. And I was gonna make some very thought provoking there. But it’s just got out of my mind, obviously. So yeah, I agree, like SEO is just one of those things where, SEO agencies love the idea that it’s this black magic it’s dark arts, that you as a mere mortal could not possibly understand how it all works. And that actually you I’m the only person that knows, but ultimately, it’s like anything in business, if you study it, you understand the mechanics, you understand that, start to begin how Google algorithm works. And then you also you see, they use sort of data driven analytics to say, well Okay, I will experiment doing this on my website, does this boost my rankings or does it reduce it? Then you start recording those activities or the behaviors that you do? And then you get to understand exactly how the Google algorithm works, because I think, ultimately, not even Google really understands how it works. It’s so big and so powerful. You’ve got these two guys that are based in Germany, in Austria, I think. And they’re meant to be the faces of SEO, to agencies and to the SEO world, but they just give some vague, sort of almost pointless answers to things, you almost just had to discredit them really, because I think either they just be really, really vague on purpose so that SEOs don’t manipulate it, or what I’m starting to think is that actually, Google doesn’t truly understand every element of their algorithm, because it’s so large and complex. And so you just got to do many experiments and see what the data shows you ultimately,

Martin Henley 1:24:23  

I’m so happy to hear you say that. You know why? Because it feels like you’re coming to the dark side.

Robbie Mould 1:24:32  

Exactly. Obviously.

Martin Henley 1:24:32  

The thing is, I mean, I don’t want to start another argument, because I know we’re right at the end of the time allotted to talking to each other. I don’t believe in these algorithms. And I don’t believe in artificial intelligence. Boom.

Robbie Mould 1:24:47  

Well that’s a bit, you are slightly overhead Martin, crankey you. Can we come back next week and have a discussion about that.

Martin Henley 1:24:55  

You don’t have to come back next week. But absolutely. You’re welcome to come back. If you could come back in my maybe a month or two? I really want to have this conversation with people because I mean, it just seems to me to be an insane situation. Like you say, Google doesn’t understand, Well, can we have that conversation at some point in the future? Because I would absolutely love to have it.

Robbie Mould 1:25:19  

Yeah, I love to explore it, I’d love to explore that as well. I think ultimately, Google does understand us. And I think, you know, we’ve all see on one side of all that, you may have seen documentaries on Netflix, about how algorithms work on Facebook, and Google, and that, actually, all of these algorithms got so much data that they know what we’re going to do before them. And that may be conspiracy theories but ultimately, we can see it happen. I certainly know that the social media platforms, in particular, Facebook is really, really good at that, because they’ve got so much data and our behavior on when we do something at a certain time, that’s going to lead us to X Y Z. So there’s a company that does Facebook ads, and they sold to care homes, that they sell their house to care homes. And what they do is that they target people that are downloading power of attorney documents, because that indicates based on the Facebook algorithm, that majority of people that are trying to download power of attorney means that they’ve got a loved one that is in bad health or potentially bad health, they come into something. And then so they know within six to 12 months, that they’re going to start looking at care homes, so they start feeding that funnel of adverts for care homes in the local area, what have you based on this data? And that is a conversation worth having, whether it’s an ethical question, or whatever it is, but that’s the sort of stuff that’s coming out. 

Martin Henley 1:27:01  

Let’s have a conversation because I really, I mean, it just shows the difference between you and I, because immediately you started saying that. I’m like, yeah, by the time you’re looking to get power of attorney over your loved one, you’re ready to ship them out to a nursing home as well do you know what I mean, so that’s the difference in our outlooks. Man, I’ve enjoyed this so much. And I know, I’ve been challenging, but what can I do? I’m gonna ask for advice, really interesting conversation, I think. And what’s the thing about it is like, it’s been so long, since I’ve heard like a different perspective, do you know what I mean, and like I was doing what you’re doing now, when I started my business way back in 2006/2005, finding ways to explain this to people that made it accessible. But obviously, things have changed dramatically since then. So I’ve also thoroughly thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed this. Now, the other questions, how do you feel about marketing? I think you’ve made it quite clear how you feel about marketing. You’re a huge proponent of marketing, as am I, you know, I think our perspectives are different, because I am, I’ve spent, you know, 15 years in the trenches. And so I understand we’re at war with these corporations, whereas you’re working with them. That’s perfectly admirable. The other question is, what is your recommendation for people in the current predicament? And you kind of started by answering that at the beginning, maybe start a business, network a lot? You know, maybe.

Robbie Mould 1:28:31  

I think ultimately, low cost testing, try everything. Do some low cost testing. So that may be a couple of 1000 pounds for your larger companies that may be 10 1520 quid for smaller companies. But try everything and let the results tell you whether it’s worked or not.

Martin Henley 1:28:51  

Cool. Excellent. So test. I mean, that is, when I teach students digital marketing. What I tell them actually is I can’t teach them digital marketing. It’s like when you teach people to surf, the best you can do is teach them how to be safe in the water, and then give them the enthusiasm and the confidence to go out and get wet a lot. That’s kind of what I tell people. And the answer to every question in digital marketing is test 100% I agree with you. Okay, cool. So then the only other question is, let me find a pen and a piece of paper, is Who else should I be speaking to? Who else might enjoy having one of these ridiculously challenging conversations? 

Robbie Mould 1:29:27  

Well, I’d love to put your wall down and introduce you to a guy that I know really well. He’s in his early 20s. He’s a super intelligent guy. I was gonna call him a kid there, but that’s a bit too patronising but yeah, super intelligent guy. He was a music producer in his early teenage years, super successful, especially with digital marketing tools like using Facebook ads and PPC and all that kind of stuff, has interviewed some really impressive guys, built a massive Twitter following, massive Facebook following. But obviously, the pandemic has hit. And he’s now gone from the music industry into marketing agency to deliver services across to small businesses and medium sized businesses. So he will probably give you a bit of a different perspective. He’ll probably make everyone feel very old. But yes, a guy called David from Sinclair Media Group, and he should be your next target.

Martin Henley 1:30:36  

Good. David from Sinclair Media Group. Okay, cool. Do you have somebody else do you think that might also enjoy being a victim of this process?

Robbie Mould 1:30:46  

Yeah, so I think there’s a lady called Claire Popplet, who’s also I know who’s more holistic in marketing as well. So she’s been marketing marketing for 20-30 years. She dabbles with a little bit of everything, everything from print, all the way through to digital marketing, SEO and website strategy. So she’s had a lot of experience covering everything. And she’s always got lots of interesting things to say.

Martin Henley 1:31:09  

Okay, cool. And will you send me some contact details or something, their name so I can reach out to this people?

Robbie Mould 1:31:16  

Yeah.

Martin Henley 1:31:16  

Okay, cool. Man, I have thoroughly enjoyed this. I have thoroughly, thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed this. I think this is kind of where these conversations are going, where it becomes more about how do people actually do things and why they do things. So I think you’re the first person that has taken us down. 

Robbie Mould 1:31:35  

Yeah pretty much, yeah. Thanks for inviting me. It’s been, Yeah, it’s been great fun. 

Martin 1:32:16  

Yeah, likewise, man. All right. Take it easy.

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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