Episode 351: Marketing With Nicole Osborne

Show Summary

Rob Cairns and Nicole Osborne talk all things marketing.

Show Highlights:

  1. Nicole’s Marketing Journey.
  2. Pricing in Marketing.
  3. Thoughts for agencies,
  4. How to stand in the world of Ai.

Show Notes

Rob Cairns here and in today’s podcast I have my guest and friend Nicole Osborne with me today. How are you, Nicole?

Hi, Rob. I’m really, really well. It’s somewhere in London. Yeah, it’s really raining today and thundery so quite interesting weather today.

Rainy weather in London, England is nothing abnormal. It’s kind of the city. Rain isn’t not.

And certainly our reputation.

Yeah, it is so true. So before we dive into what we wanted to talk about today, I thought I would ask you, how did you get into marketing and why did you get into marketing and what drives you in marketing? So do you want to kind of take your origin? Story a little bit from.

Ohh, amazing question. Thank you very much Bob. Well, so my journey back to marketing actually really started in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down in former eastern Germany. Now I remember we were all feeling super elated. But at the same time, my parents lost their jobs and it was a pretty dramatic experience. And to make ends meet, you know, to make sure we had food on the table to to sort of really develop our family finances after both of them losing their jobs. They actually started to become market traders. For a while. They sold all kinds of things weird, wonderful things. People in former Eastern Germany were really craving. And what we did at the weekends. As a teenager, I put me in charge, actually off selling sunglasses at a small seaside town. Ohh wow. Now, do you ever met? It was pretty scary because I was a shy teenager. And suddenly I kind of had to sort of step a little bit into the limelight because I noticed fairly quickly that if I could listen to people really well, understood what they needed, really have a look at what suited their face shapes their budgets, I could help them find this amazing pair of sunglasses and they would really walk away with this sort of step in there. Sort of happiness, because I’d absolutely delight at the moment. They would also send all. Their friends back. And mine has really worked for us. My parents had me on Commission, so if I did a good job. I would earn a little bit more. So it was a pretty early light bulb moment that sometimes you have to step into the limelight even where you don’t feel like it. And if you can then really listen to people see what suits them and and find something which solves their problem. And and that case, you know, they wanted to look cool with sunglasses. You could actually do really, really well so Fast forward, lots and lots of years, you know, aesthetic marketing. At a corporate marketing career about eight years ago, when I set up my own business, I was at that point again where I wanted to just completely hide away and not step into the limelight. And I went through this massive learning curve and I actually realised that people who I love to work with most. Digital agency owners really talented, do amazing jobs for their clients, but kind of hidden their own wall with their own marketing and their help and built ladders. So yeah, this is how I really got into marketing, always laughter. But it was really from the early memory of selling sunglasses relatively successfully as a child or as a teenager.

That’s quite interesting and you say. To solve their pro. And isn’t that what marketing is all about? Is solving a problem like I like to point people when we think about stuff like that that Simon said next book to start with. Why and we that’s kind of become a classic in our space and the reason why I have it Simon talks about his book is the Why what’s the problem? How do I solve it and we know that. Brands that don’t solve problems don’t do well.

Absolutely it’s this is showing how you solve a problem but also then solve it better than anyone. Else, because you know that small. Markets and there are lots of people selling sunglasses, so I wanted to attract the attention of the right people for the kind of sunglasses I sold. So yeah, absolutely. There’s so many parallels with with what marketing is all about. I couldn’t agree more with you.

Yeah, and and then we talked about, you know, standing out and it was one of the places we were going to go today. And I I think the biggest problem. This companies and even big brands, Fortune 5 hundreds are so guilty of this. If they don’t find a way to stand out and I and I was thinking, you know, before we jumped on this today about some brands that stand out and somebody said to me a colleague, what do you think of McDonald’s as a brand? And I said, you know what, McDonald’s is probably the most successful. Franchise in the world because they stand out the golden arches, the McDonald’s characters back from 20 years ago. Ronald McDonald. And I don’t know if you remembered it was a time when they had all the McDonald’s characters as a kid growing up, even on cookies. Believe it. No, like hamburger and I’ll just. So there’s there’s a brand that stands out and it’s timeless, classic. And then you look at another brand that stands out that I’m just kind of coming to. My head is. I’m a game player like I still like to get together with friends and play board games because they’re fun and we all still play monopoly. Yeah, it’s a product that’s got 50 or 60 years. Very simple game, but it stands out because of the marketing behind them. What do you think about brands like them?

Yeah, you know, absolutely. So McDonald’s, I mean, it’s obviously also their brand consistency across the globe, right? So you know, no matter where you are in the world, you’ll always have a similar experience. And you’re right, you could just see a small area of their logo and just sort of a couple of colours, you know, immediately who it is. So they must have made a really conscious decision over the years how they would put themselves back for competition and you can see so many brands that have tried to copy them, right? I mean, you could just go down our local high streets no matter where we are in the world and. They’re really invested in their marketing, right? And you know, when we see the latest sort of made. Was my feature where customers all their time and you know this whole staff, how they come across, it’s kind of such an experience. Yeah. And yes that’s, you know, that’s all well and good when you that kind of have a huge marketing battered right and you work with lots of agencies and you have huge team. But you know, I’m always fascinated. So what does that actually mean for smaller businesses? But perhaps but have to do their marketing on a shoestring budget, right? How can we learn from these kind of examples? And I think what you said making the decision to stand out and having the consistency in brand assets over time. Makes a massive difference and can only be a plus, so you know one brand I love to add to that to that list is is probably IKEA. Because I’m always.

Oh yeah, no question.

I’m always fascinated how people from across different countries are pronounced it differently. In in German, you know, I’m originally from Germany. We actually say IKEA. But you go to the store and the colours and it’s everywhere with the same kind of experience and you talk to the staff members and they have always even something like really, really helpful and you know it’s it’s just in a way it’s great because you can take key pieces and you can customise it and and remarketing ratio your all the different homes and what you can do with it. So yeah really, really clever and. Clever and stand up marketing. I couldn’t agree more. So we’ve got McDonald’s, IKEA and what was the first Fed branch you mentioned? I’m missing what up? Did you mention two brands? Did you mention?

Yeah, geez, my mind. I’ll probably go. Fine. But you get the idea. And he is funny because I’m an IKEA shopper. And I remember when IKEA’s weren’t these big warehouses, their first stores in Canada were these small little stores. You went in, you got.

Never mind, never mind.

Stuff you left. And now we’ve gone to the big warehouse. Concept and what’s happened in the big warehouse is they actually show you what to do with their products and what concepts to build in their warehouses. It’s really interesting. And then you have to walk through the whole warehouse to get to the checkout and then by the way, before you get to checkout, you have to go to the marketplace. Where they have all the cool little kitchen gadgets where you’re going to spend money, and somewhere in the middle of an IKEA there’s a restaurant, right? So if you’re hungry, meatballs, meatballs we all know. And. And the new concept they’re trying in Toronto, which is quite interesting. Again, they have these small little stores now.

How are you?

That aren’t big warehouses in downtown urban locations, so that if you’re buying stuff in your downtown, you can have the thing shipped to the downtown store and do a pick up there as well and and still get your. Meatballs, but.

Fantastic. And you know, one of the objections that must have had over the years is ohh, I don’t know how to pull things together. I look at, I look at your diagrams and instructions and they still don’t make sense. Now I’m really very lucky. My husband is very handy with that. I I have got no clue. But I’ve noticed that over the years they’ve really listened to that and. They’re they’re now promoting additional service where not only can you get it delivered to your local store, but you can also book someone to bring it to your home and and to help you put it up. So I think that’s brilliant how they they’ve realised that not everyone is handy with in terms of pulling these furnitures together, but they’re still interested in having their good qualities of, you know, low to medium price. Main phones in in their home I think very, very clever marketing, but also listening to the feedback. So that’s another good sign, isn’t it for standing out.

Yeah. So true. And then and then the other thing that helps you stand out is when you take a brand and you create raving fans and the best one in the world is a company that just passed a $3 trillion valuation and that is called Apple. Apple has Apple has made a career.

Oh yeah.

I know guys every time a new iPhone comes out, every time a new iPad comes out, every time a new Mac book. Comes up these people. Spend money on Apple Tech like guys, spend money on cars. It’s just stupid. They go out the new iPhones out. I need it today a new iPad comes out. I need it today and Apple has done such an amazing job over the years. Started with Steve Jobs and then there’s just gone on after Steve Jobs. You know, I guess he got a creating raving fans and if you can create raving fans, you’re off to the races, aren’t you?

Are completely and you know one of our key skills and my view is, is that they’re focused. Do you know when, when? When he came in, he got rid of a lot of the products and he said no, actually we’re gonna focus on this and make this the most amazing solution in in that marketing place. So yeah, no it’s it’s a brilliant story and even to the state as you. Say you you. Talk to a group of people and other apple. Friends and really raving Apple fans or an Android Android and it’s like really, it’s like I have a mum. I do love it. I hate it. It’s it’s a little bit like that. It’s it’s absolutely fascinating. And then they do their local launches. Oh my God, in London, you know. With queues and Oxford Street, and in Covent Garden very long people, even you know, they sleep overnight just to get the latest model. Wow, I mean, this is a lot we can learn for branding. Then right. Yeah.

And then we’re talking a couple of weeks ago, actually more than that now. And one of the things I always say is if you want to learn a bit about branding. Standing out, my favorite book is called the Inside Advantage by Robert Bloom, and the reason it is is Robert talks so much. About let’s not fight the price to the bottom. I’m not sure a dollar store chain that’s a different market, but generally as a rule, if companies keep fighting these prices to the bottom battle, they’re going to end up out of business very quickly. And and I really haven’t an issue with saying to a client, you know, you should cut your prices. I actually think most clients should increase their prices and take on better clients than. Then cutting their prices and taking on less clients, more clients, what do you? Think about that.

Yeah, absolutely. You know, I mean, price increases takes confidence, right? You have to sort of really consider how you’re going to communicate bad because yes, you are likely to come up against some resistance. So how are you going to justify what you’re increasing your pro? In my view, every business ought to have a plan in place for how regularly they increase their prices, because as this is, owners, you and I, we have this responsibility to our clients to have a sustainable business and increasing your prices is reflective of the. Fact that we. Learn more that we invest in new tools that we’ve become so much better in our delivery and execution over time. Because we gain all this experience that we put together and and every new client and every existing client really benefits from that. So absolutely. Well, I think it’s so important to actually increase your prices. And even though sometimes it can be painful. And you know, you you might be worried about or will I lose anyone? And yes, maybe sometimes you do lose people. But if you plan it carefully and you can demonstrate that you’re increasing in value all the time. You can do it absolutely.

Yeah. And and frankly, at the end of the day, I’d rather lose the people that want to pay to buy them basement price because they’re usually the ones that are going to cost me the. Most grief hate to say it so.

I had this experience really early on in my business journey that. So my son was really, really young. We put him into full time nursery and got full time nursery in in the middle of London is hugely expensive. So. I was very two things. I was very selfish with my time early on because you know, as soon as someone has only Carl, you’re really great at social media or you do LinkedIn. Can we just have a free coffee and can I just? Pick your brains so this happens a lot, but also and and the side of proposing my rates, I had to really learn how how to to to make them viable for. And how to increase or increase or increase them? As My Portfolio grew because I wanted to. I didn’t want to have a business that I had to work like 20 hours a day. That wasn’t my kind of vision. The reason why I had to set up my business was so, but I wouldn’t be too stressed and too tired. And I was. I was dealing with my. 2 year old. So that was a really good. Discipline and then helping agency owners to really also. Have a disciplined approach to really value your time. Be happy to some them say no and just say well look you know if you want me to help you here you can book a consultation with me. This this is this is what it’s going to. You, but it also price well so that you can invest in the. Latest tools you. Can outsource things you know you know you can have time for agency growth. So there’s so many things that are dependent on you being able to price your service as well, because if you’re staying on that one level you you, your your growth potentially can stagnate because you don’t have time to grow. Business to to do these key projects, so I know I think it’s very. Important and for for me my key motivator early on was the huge nursery bills that I had to. Sort of pay and that. Was a real good motivator for me.

I think one of the biggest problems with most agency owners and I’m I’m don’t consider the problem for me, is they refuse to outsource they they say we want to do it all in house. So it’s funny they’re going the clients and saying buy our services outsourced us but they decide they don’t want to outsource. And the problem I have. That is. First of all, you’re not doing what you preach. First of all, and second of all, you can’t possibly do it all, and that’s a problem, I mean, and I think all the agency owners just need to say, hey, maybe I should get this piece of work outsourced and it can even include simple things like their accounting internally. Or the legal stuff. Internally I have to tell you I hate doing accounting more than most people. So at the end of the month, I just hand it to my account with a box and say here I’m done, deal with this for me and he’s like, you know, you can put these entries in I say, I know, but I can’t be bothered. I can’t. There’s other things I can do to. Make more money so. Just do it for. Me and I think we won’t look at. The big picture all the.

Time. Absolutely. And I think that’s where the opportunities coming with smart outsourcing right is that you can free up your time to focus on the things that you as the agency owner add more value. It makes complete sense, but we can sometimes outside things in our house. So I’m I’m I’m laughing. But you know, if it’s certain things you really can’t stand doing when if you can get some help and and you helping that person as well and then in turn as you. Said for your. Business, you know, I love working with. My accountant because. He also shares a lot of expert. Advice of the you know when we when we yes we will. We will look at everything we will review the year we will make plans together for the next year and. Yes, I’m good for my numbers, but I don’t have that level of expertise. So by outsourcing that I buy, I buy that expertise and as a result, my business that’s better you know and and it’s the same in my content creation, I’m for my YouTube channel. I absolutely have to admit like exactly what you said about accounts. I feel the same about editing. That’s that’s, it’s just not my thing. So I choose really good editors and you know, they help me be better and they help me make it all happen. So that’s a win, win situation because. If I also had to spend time learning how to add it and probably I do sort of half hearted, really bad job, then that would prevent me from doing all the other things which can make a huge difference to my business, whether it’s being on amazing podcasts like yours. But Rob, thank you very much for having me today. Or or speaking engagement or or creating blocks or interacting. On LinkedIn, whatever it might be, you have to sort of be realistic with what time you have available and how you can spend it smartly and also how you can buy back time. I think that’s also really important.

Yeah, it’s so true. And buying back time is a big thing. So let’s jump into, you know, a really interesting topic. It’s hard to do a marketing conversation without bringing up two dreaded letters called AI, right? I mean, you know where we’re at? The world is AI craze. So before we go down that road. What I would argue and say we’ve been dealing with AI longer than AI being fashionable. So for example, if you’re a Photoshop user. I would bet you you’ve been using brushes and tools for many, many years. Well, I’m going to tell you guys that’s AI, whether you want to admit it or not. So we’ve been using some of these tools and then this thing called ChatGPT came around and it kind of ruled the world and we’ve all seen the conversations about. Job losses because of AI. I personally don’t think AI will cost jobs. I think it’s just a tool like anything else. What are your? Thoughts on that?

Yeah. Do you know, I’m absolutely fascinated about that, and I’m probably always on the late adopting side. And I was the same with AI. It actually took for me for some of my clients to really have a chat with me and to share my screens and show me how they use the tools. So whether that’s, you know, she such activity. Or or Bart or an image creation tool, or I also like lavender AI for for emails. But once they showed me on their screen and I could sort of grasp that potential, I was really happy when to start using it for my own business and I used to talk actually, you know, we are both friends with with Vito Vito, Peleg, and I know you. I think you spoke at this year as well. I did as well and I actually did this whole talk about how to.

I know that the.

How to stand out in in an age where we have AI? And how do you how do you stay relevant as an agency owner? So I thought it was a good idea to use AI tools to come up with my tox factor and to come up with some of the image. Is and what I find so amusing? It really opened my eyes about how when you’re not really advance at the way you prompt AI tools such as chat debt or bad, the output to get so generic. And it was such an eye opener for me. You know, even showed this slide saying look, this is the top structure according to. Tap TBT, but those of you who know me, you will know this is not what I’m going to use because I know this is going to send you to sleep and that’s just not my kind of style and I’m also always about sharing great examples. So for me with AI is is to really helping business to embrace. But for the things that can save them time, you know, idea generation, customer service, wherever it’s appropriate. But really knowing that you have to find a way of still making the output sound like you and and still having that unique experience, because if you’re already in an industry where there’s so many similar service providers, if you just stick to what you get. Must be. Fast output from these amazing tools Cisco revealed vanilla and and almost robotic and just you sound like everyone else and I really caught on to that. Then I chatted to tapped every. I’m always very polite because I think it needs to learn that we. All very. Polite and I asked for content ideas and across different sectors and frankly, a lot of it. Which came back was 80% of it was always exactly the same, and it was a huge eye opener for me, just for how generic. And that doesn’t even include the issue of of the information of being up to date because of what it’s based on. But now I’m fascinated by it, but I think it also has its limitations. So we need to be aware of those as marketeers. And it’s our job to to get notice, to get our brands noticed, to get our clients notice. So be aware of those. But yeah, definitely use it.

Yeah, and and it’s worth mentioning that Vito’s also partner in a company called Bertha dot AI with with another good friend, Andrew Palmer. And for those who don’t know, that’s a product that runs with him WordPress. But they’ve now got tools that will run outside of WordPress. So that’s another option. There’s a multitude of tools out there.

Absolutely, yeah.

And I agree with you, but I think AI can be a good starting point and this is The thing is, if 80% of it is the same. And you’re a business that’s not helping you stand. Out is it?

Absolutely. How? How are you going to get noticed by the kind of people you want to work with? Do you know that? I just think Andrew and Vita have done this really well and I know they have Stephanie on the case with their marketing, Stephanie Hutson, another good friend of ours. You know, there for AI has got this female persona. And I love that because, you know, you have obviously Jasper AI tattoo, BT bad. And they’re all male voices, right? So I love. It but right. From the word go, they they distinguished themselves. On that, but yeah, you’re absolutely right. When you get the feedback that you need to know, what do I going to use to stand out perhaps about specific phrases we love to mention a certain sense of humour, specific references. Figure out these. Real, practical things which which can help you to stand out. I mean, what you probably noticed about. That I talk a lot about being from former eastern. Germany and I do right and that’s been a really strategic decision because I I realised whenever I chatted to my friends very similar stories which people tended to remember and I thought, well, if it works for my friends and my peers back then at university, why not use that in my own marketing? Because frankly, there’s so many marketing consultants out there and the things I lived through, the experiences we had a lot of people find it fascinating and I love to share it. It’s it’s also laughing too personal. So my family is comfortable about me talking about these things because I think that’s also really important when you an agency owner, you need to make sure that the stories you share are you comfortable with. They show you in a in a good light, but you’ve also checked in with your stakeholders, but they’re happy for you to share those. I think that’s another really key ingredients. To to success.

Yeah. And I think stories like that and in your case, that makes you stand out the way you do it. So going back to this whole thing about being different and doing it and and it’s not about saying, you know, I lived in East Germany, East Germany sucked and that kind of thing. It’s here’s what we went through. And here’s some of what happened.

Thanks Steve.

And here’s how we can learn from what we went through. And that’s more your story. And that’s really important. I mean I. I often share the story. About, you know, I’m a marketing I’ve done. Really well, how I. Almost. And I’ve shared it with you how I said I would never be a marketer if my life depended on it. So things like that. And that’s not to be negative. It’s about sharing your journey and and people love storytelling and marketing.

Right. And and you also talk about being a gamer. You know it’s it’s, it’s great leaning into your geekiness way to say and as I was in a really respectful. Way, because if you’re at AI tools and what makes you different, you know ever, maybe you you into music or you into gaming or you into certain kind of.

I know.

It really gives you an easy way of of of standing out and and also to to live it. You know, if you and I met at a party. We probably would talk about sort of some easy topics first, like maybe I would comment on on the game you mentioned, you know you said about Monopoly, maybe you would comment on me being from Germany because both say easy topics just to build that initial report, right? And I think that’s something where people missing the trick if they’re not willing to to, to stand out and and open these have these open. Conversation openness. You know this on your social media or on your e-mail marketing. It’s tough for people to reach out, so you want to make it easy for them and sometimes showing some of the things you like is, you know, it could be quirky. You might be worried what your peers think about it, but you’re not creating your content for your peers. You are creating it for your potential customers, right? So think about what you could use to stand out, you know? Let’s talk about loving German Brexit. Not generally too. It’s like the first thing we get when we go back to Hamburg, but it’s an it’s an easy conversation to start.

No, it it’s so true. And and we got to realize that the other thing we got to be very careful about AI and I hate to go here, it’s this dreaded word called copyright because we’ve all been there. So I know from some reading I’ve done recently, Getty Images, who is probably the biggest image producer in the world. They’re on a copyright tear right now. Because AI is picking up a lot of Getty Images and these are images that they license for thousands of dollars sometimes. So they people got to be very careful, especially with the images and content of where the original source is, because there’s always that potential to copyright could be violated.

Yeah, completely. And and you know, I I only sort of scratching the surface with my, with my reading around bed, but obviously it’s really important that your hair for copyright for images. So my preference for images is is actually still taking your own photos when you can, getting a photographer to help you because as you said, you know you you have these issues. Ohh well, what if you create this amazing content and then it’s in the end it’s not your own. So yeah, that’s still kind of aligned, which still needs to be refined and that it is going to be interesting to see how this pans out. Across the world. And all the different jurisdictions? Absolutely.

And now, not only do we have copyright problems, we’ve got privacy problems with a I I don’t know how much you’ve read, but I know in Europe the you. Looked into privacy complaints with ChatGPT. I know in Canada the Canadian government is now working in the privacy complaints with ChatGPT and that could be a big issue down the road and one that we haven’t solved. And then last but not least, they hate to say it. There’s been a couple bad actors who has actually used Chachi PT to make my work. And then there’s the that other side of it too, right? So we have some issues going on, don’t we?

Absolutely, but that’s always the case for when those new developments, right? It it’s just part of it. So yes, for me the reference I usually refer to as Essie, a fellow German entrepreneur, you you might know him. Jan Koch. Yang, right. He’s lovely, isn’t he?

Yan is a. Good friend of mine, yes.

And he really at the moment helps a lot of German businesses really understand the opportunities and some of the challenges presented by AI. So when I when I want to get to go get to groups of what’s going on, what are the latest news and implications? I I usually read young newsletter. I’ll go to his website is block is amazing.

Go drive. Yeah, yeah. Yang Yang’s been on the show. He’s a dear friend and he he gets that side of it like so much so and so much that the twit network in Petaluma, which is Leo, reports tech network. They’re actually starting the podcast. That’s all with Jason Howell. That’s going to be all about AI. Believe it or not. Down the pipe. So I think AI’s here to stay. It’s how do we move forward from where we are now to using it more successfully. That’s the big key.

Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think even Stephanie Stephanie Hassell is is planning a podcast around the topic. I heard that somewhere with her dad interviewing her dad. So her generation and her dad and and talking about technologically advances and and and really explaining them to him. I can’t wait for. That gonna be brilliant.

It will it. Will be off the chart knowing Stephanie as well do so. You know, she’s she’s all in with a I, I would say I’m all in with a I have been for a long time. I’ve actually used AI to write some base content and then I go in and edit it because we all know. It’s too generic. I have an e-mail sequence I just sold the client oh for a mid 4 figures that 50% of the base work was AI based and then modified. So it’s a. Tool. It’s a tool like we use a page builder to do a website or WordPress. It’s just another tool, right?

Yeah, absolutely. I one of my service packages is wonder content that I work with client to come up with his strategy, particularly for link. And we do a strategy, a doable strategy which which really helps them to create content which engages, which entertains. I think that’s really important as well and and which converts and then on a monthly basis we create content for them and yeah, absolutely. We use AI to to come up with ideas. But it’s it’s really about digging deeper, right. And and get into a real conversation opener. Kind of topic ideas, but I think that is that is the key with tools such as that to me too that don’t just take the first set of feedback, but our small questions and ask the question we are away and and and just refine it, refine it. I think that’s something. And there you could sort of really get stuck in with rabbit hole. I think sometimes it’s really good to set yourself a. Limit. So like I’m gonna do this now for 45 minutes and that’s it. Because you know often when we have a specific time when we actually achieve what we need to achieve.

Right. Yeah. And I think I think you’re right. You know, spending some time on LinkedIn, I think we need. To educate people how to use LinkedIn properly, because we we everybody thinks LinkedIn and they think these family DM’s that every one of us got every day. That says can I sell you service? I had one last night at 11:00. First going to bed and that guy was trying to sell me, of all things Shopify. Then I might you know what? And I don’t. Do I do will come. So that’s not happening. And I finally got fed up with him. He’s like, I want a partnership. I said no you don’t. You want to make money. But if you want a partnership you can send me a check for $5000 and we’ll talk like, you know like.

Ohh you had some fun. You had some fun.

I’m at the point and, but what? It was the same when it comes to LinkedIn, you’re one of those people. That I looked at what you’re doing. You another guy is David Gearhart, who you may know and not know, just to be up adrift and Privy and is now back on his own because David can’t stop and there’s people like that that I look at and say, OK, what are you guys doing? And I I think you do link them really well, actually.

Thank you so much. I I really appreciate it. You know, I I really see linked as a sort of extension of of of real life networking and and and this is how I treat it. I I don’t worry too much about how many followers I have, how many, how many connections I have. For me it’s it’s about the conversations and the comments and then also in the direct messages and and the leads I get from it. As a result, what I find often with agency owners, they they still see linked and this is really formal platform. And it has evolved so much since Microsoft took it over in in, in 2012. And yes, in some ways people still go on there to find new jobs, but it’s not any longer just a virtual kind of resume. You you got to bring it to life. So it’s it’s that mixture between sharing your expertise and, you know, what you will know. The latest linked and agreement. All about sharing our expertise again. And so that’s still really important when also attracting meaningful comments and and and placing meaningful comments, which I always think it’s like your superpower. So I talked to agency owners a lot about that and you know I I hear this objection so loud and clear. I don’t want to use LinkedIn because I received so many spamming messages and and rob I could not agree more. There’s lots of spam. Going on, but two things is.

First of all.

Make sure you you don’t ask, you don’t add to this kind of spam which you would invite, because if you’re good communicator, you wouldn’t be spamming. You wouldn’t just send out these really boring messages which are not researched so so, so don’t contribute it. And secondly arguably e-mail marketing. How much spam do we get in our e-mail inbox? Have we stopped using emails? Because of it, no, right. So you, I think you gotta just always see it in that context. And but one thing I particularly like now about LinkedIn, if you create your own LinkedIn feed as and you you comment on the kind of posts you generally find interesting, it’s actually really fun and informative platform. Right, you, but you’ve got to put them away. You gotta like the kind of post you generally are interested in. Look at the hashtags that are relevant to you and then you can just grow this global beneficial network. And I mean, look, you and I, you know, we’ve met each other virtually at events, but it’s in the end. I think it will be contact each other via LinkedIn, right, because.

Yeah, yeah. And and that’s the value of. It is. You do what we did and you take you contact somebody and then you move the conversation off social somewhere else. And the reason for doing that is, let’s be honest, Facebook’s a mess right now. Twitter is the second mess right now. We’ve got A at the time of this record. We’ve got our friend. On now, eliminating the number of tweets you see every day, right. You know that whole spiel?

What? What about the long form content? You know, suddenly when you, when you when you paint is it 25,000 words? Surely the whole attraction of Twitter is that it’s this fast-paced music kind of environment. How does that fit in if suddenly that 25,000 words?

I know. Honey, I was having this conversation. With my son on the weekend, who’s 32 and I said to him, you stay off Twitter and he said that’s actually not true. I have a Twitter. And I hid in Twitter account that I used just to keep up with news and sport. He said. I don’t reply. It’s basically a fee and the reason is we know for immediate reactions. Twitter is still the place to go, even with other networks. I mastered on the blue sky kicking around, they’re not quite there yet. They will, I think Blue sky is probably a bigger threat there. The master, in my opinion, being. On both of them, but. But I think the the one thing I was going to circle back to is Lincoln has to change the rules very much. They’re trying to lock down the spammers, and I know this in terms of talking to people up, but LinkedIn, but they’re, they’re they haven’t really. Cut back. They’ve actually increased like you can stream live to LinkedIn right now, for example, that’s. That’s a big.

Yeah, my, my son. Explosion of tools. Right. Or you can create a newsletter from your personal feed or a newsletter from your agencies company. It’s you you can. Host or attend audio events now. I haven’t really tapped into audio events so much because they disappear and I always love the idea of creating Evergreen content because, you know, we spend time on it. So I want it to be there for longer. Yeah, I mean groups. I mean, I know you are the administrator. One of the really powerful, biggest sort of work. Less related groups on on LinkedIn over beauty of joining groups as yes you add value but you can also connect with the people in the group. So it’s a really, really really good tool. So yeah, new features are coming out all the time. You know, I I think I mentioned this to you at the end of last year in the UK we had the 1st. UK content accelerator. Program and I actually applied for it because well, why not get direct training from LinkedIn and I was chosen and we were a coat of 130 people. We had six weeks long programme of coaching and training and all of it and we even got a ground for it. I have to be honest with you. Wrong. When I sent in my application, I didn’t even know we would get money for it. I’m like, excellent. But no, it was amazing. But you know what was actually really, really nice. And I think this goes circles back to our initial. About branding and what makes brands stand out because it was for me, the first opportunity to really get to know really LinkedIn team a little bit better. So we have an office here in Farringdon and we had our mentors and it was just nice to not to see it as we speak, you know, big social media platform but actually see the teams behind her and our hardware trying to to test out new features. And and to really make it a better platform for us. So that was a nice thing to happen and I think actually guide. But when you have the experience where you get to know little behind the scenes, what these people are really like, I think that’s that’s massive. And I think there’s such an opportunity actually for smaller businesses and agencies to show actually how do they make their work.


What kind of culture do they have? Because you know, clients and marketing roles, some of the corporate jobs can be borrowing. There’s a lot of pressure. You know, sales will be on your case. Maybe the MD will say I need you to get the new agency. We’re not having what currently have us a lot of stress. So SV agencies, you can present yourself as as the people who can deal with these kind of last minute. Changers and be a friendly partner to to help the business sign and get the results they’re craving for and that’s a really powerful marketing tool and and too. Them I see with agencies and it will be great to get your take on us. I see with agencies that is all about the tech. The tech stack and as always hiding behind really fancy technical graphics, but not necessarily sharing of the teams. And I think that’s actually a lost opportunity.

I do too. I think the problem I always say the agencies don’t sell, that you’re doing WordPress for websites. Sell what you give. The clients sell the results. Don’t sell what tools you’re using to generate the content. Sell the result like it comes back and I’m I always say sell the result. The end client really doesn’t care. 9090% now there are some exceptions, like for example one of the things I do is I provide WordPress Security services director to clients and to other agents. That I have to sell as a WordPress tool because that’s very much that. But beyond that, sell and even when I market that I sell the result, what does it give ABCDE, that’s what people care about. They don’t care if it was gutsy and that’s part of the problem with websites. Right now these. People are still in this mode. Ohh I gotta throw 10 sliders. We’re still in that mode again and I gotta do this and I gotta do that. What people need to realize is how do people find you? How do people get information quickly? And if they’re looking up your website on mobile, how did they get directions, and how did they call you quickly? Those are the important things.

Absolutely. You know, Robert, it’s really beautifully said, most people in don’t know the difference between a WordPress website or weeks website. And I know everyone else does, but most normal people. Thing, and they don’t care about it. Do you know? Just to all the things you said. Also, how will they make me feel when things go wrong? Because we’ve all been in in, you know, digital projects. No fault of the agency of a client. Things get delayed, briefs get changed. Batters, badges get cap. Maybe a new senior persons. Cameron, who completely changed the script so that it’s no signal. So how’s the 80s? It going to to? To work through that and and help the client remarketing. Executive or marketing assistant still succeed and just talking about which tools you’re going to use is, it’s not going to show that. Right. So you know I, I give you an example from my from my own agency actually amazing. So our joint friend Lee Jackson, we both know him really, really well. You’ve you’ve been platform, right, but you know this event.

Ohh lovely yes.

And my my Etsy founder Tom from design books, he knew I was speaking his team would help me with my presentation and he didn’t tell me this, but he actually brought his laptop to the event just in case if I needed a backup. And I thought that was just the sweetest thing ever. I’m you know, I’ve always been very loyal to them, but it’s those sort of small tattoos. And I have my experience. Agencies really care about their clients and everyone will be able to share those kind of stories which are relatable to other marketers and and other people wanting to book agencies. So share. Them because how do you make your clients feel? How do your processes and your milestones in the deliver really help you both do a better job give their insight because you know we hear digital marketing or e-mail marketing and most minds go, Oh my God, what is this all about? That it’s so much to. So talk about it in ways as you said, what are the results? What results? Are you delivering? What? What is the transformation they’re getting by working? To you, I think that’s so important and I think that goes back to our. Original concept of. How people can stand out from the competition? It’s it’s by doing those things by knowing what makes their approach unique and and how they can make that relatable to what their clients are looking for to show their their the best solution and that there should be no one else we should be working with.

Yeah, yeah.

That is so true and also communicate as an agency your processes to your customer, because I find where agencies getting the problems is they have a list of processes. And then they break them because the customer wants them to. I’ve seen this a million times and I’m awful, and I’ll admit that. I don’t break my processes, so one of the strict processes I have and I’ll share the story very publicly for the first time is if you book generally I work better when clients book time with me and my booking links are everywhere or my clients have them. They’re in my news, whether they’re on my website, it’s easy. And I’ve explained this to clients over the years. So I had one client recently. Who went in and said oh, forget this. So I’m going to book 16 days of appointments. In case I need them in a row so they went into my schedule and booked Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday. And I went back to the client and I said, you know, you can’t do this. I’m cancelling them all. Ohh but and I and I actually was really nice about it and I sent out. I emailed all my clients and said by the way, don’t do this please. And by the way, if you’re confused about how to book time with me, here’s the link to the booking policy. Of how to book with me, I have a a link coming with. So what did the client do? They decided to create another e-mail. And tried to do the same. Thing all over again. And it’s like, OK, so we’re going and and basically the client is in a fired state right now. The for the. Because the problem is my policies are all defined, they’re easy. To get that. They’re and, by the way, the other thing you should do is put those policies in your contract, or at least links to those cases, because I don’t think a lot of agencies do a really good job of communicating the. Contract and or the policies to the client.

And also what happens from signing and then the onboarding and then such opportunity for one of my HTC owners on my Windows starts in in Florida really brilliant at this, you know, dedicated presentation, a dedicated meeting where every everyone is getting introduced and they know exactly what the key milestones. Are because it’s fairly hard for clients to understand that once they’ve. Given you a. Briefing and you’ve done the discovery face and the agency really knows what they’re meant to be doing and decide. The first concept they go into the agency goes into work mode, right? But suddenly the client is sitting. Oh my God, I’ve just paid my deposit. What’s happening next? I’m I’m kind of feeling lost. I heard a lot from them and they wanted to get my business. I heard a lot from them in the initial phases, but now everything has gone quiet. It’s absolutely natural that things get quiet. But as you said, going back to that, what what you said. Communicate that upfront as your client, but this is going to happen and tell them what to look out for, when to expect feedback. That’s the simple things like at what stage are you expecting them to sign off specific thing? You know, even for me that I’ve worked in marketing now for 23 years, I’ve worked with so many agencies. I’ve in my corporate worlds on and now I still forget that at certain status, you just sign off the content, the layout, when the specific so you need to always educate your client. And actually when you do and when like you used to set your insist on your. Processes that makes you look like the expert because you aren’t expert and that shows confidence in your way of working. So yeah, don’t. I mean don’t don’t be too flexible because there’s a reason why you put these processes in place because they work for you and you know their work for your clients, right? But you know that kind of takes the mindset and it takes confidence, right. And I think even you forever sort of. Firefighting, you’re just dealing with the next possible problem that comes up and and really focus on your client where it’s hard to get these processes right. And and then I work with my wonder stars. It’s that real. Parallel approach of yes, we’re working on your marketing and on your sales, but we’re also looking at your processes and how you make things happen because that is equally as important, right. So it’s got to be. That mix.

One of the hardest parts I find as an agency owner is the client promises. He stopped by this date. And how many times I’ve heard it? Word didn’t work properly. It ate my homework. The dog ate my homework. We we all know the phrases and it’s like. But you made a commitment to deliver this on this day. And because of that, this state and this state pushed back, and I’ve gone through it even recently with this problematic situation is they delivered five days late and I went back to home and said, you know what your schedule is now pushed back three weeks. And they’re. And I’m like, no, you made a commitment to deliver on a Monday, you deliver it on a Thursday morning at 8:00 AM. And I told you I had Tuesday and Wednesday put aside exactly to deal. With your stuff. And you chose not to meet that date so that you get reprioritized and clients don’t like to hear that. But I think agency owners need to sometimes push to responsibility where it needs to be put to, right.

Yeah, I I actually, again you see many I actually went. For example, a website project, until they have signed off copy and and I think you’re right re educating the client at all times. I found when I had my own website built and my new. And because my team, he had broken that relationship with me, I felt really committed. I wanted to be the best possible client, so I I pushed myself to stick to, to deadlines, to to make my feedback straightforward. Now I know that’s not always possible, but try and build that relationship early on because we know when things happen as a client. If you really, really want to make it happen, you can still do it it it’s it’s it’s it’s strange, but it’s just something when we have a commitment to a project. So if you can foster that really early on, really building that report and having that excellent relationship and it also kind of works both ways, that doesn’t. I know when I work with agencies in the past, I. Set out to be good clients, so I would only ask for urgent things when they’re really urgent. I also when you then sometimes the agency would be really there for me. You know if let’s say if I had this last minute board meeting and I was the marketing director and I had to like do an update on the project. I I I knew and I really needed to I could call the agency after hours at the same time and I would really respect it. So their time frame so it works both ways. Now I know that’s not always be ideal scenario. You know, life just doesn’t happen in that kind of Barbie world. You’re right. Yeah, but more you can proactively manage your clients and and make make it easy for them to understand what is required of them. And that’s what stages and really help them to deliver that for you. I think we’re better, we’re more successful. The project will be all.

Around. Yeah, I agree with you. What kind of projects you’re working on these days, you working on anything?

Well, I’m, you know, I’m really focusing on my wonder content service at the minute. So really working with agency owners thinking about what they wanted to leave on LinkedIn. You know it’s it’s fascinating when you as a marketeer work with other marketers. This, and it’s really shaped my approach. So for example strategy work we do together because if you are talent at marketeer sitting in front of me, you will buy into more of it if you do it. If you do it together. So I. Take agency owner for the step process and I and I love it because it really helps us to have these light bulb moments. And what makes you different? How can we use the? Since you have what works for you as a team. So yes, at the moment it’s it’s summer period. So I’m I’m limiting the spaces. I I’ll I’ll give away because you know we’re going into peer, but I’m gonna be in Germany. For three weeks. I’m going on holiday and and I want to really make sure I deliver amazing work for my clients, but yes, I’m I’m doing. I’m doing that moment. I’m also going to be working on my own content and I’m not really ready. To talk about about the thing I love most is it’s really, really soft agency examples. So last year I did a lot of work on what talking to agency owners across the world and finding out you know what make them successful, what things do they wish they had started doing. You know what questions they would have loved to share with their peers that you would never find on Google and I collated all this good information into a free download. It’s my agency growth eberg, and you can get it on my website, understands.com for really acting or tips about how to grow your agency ranging from sales approaches to approaches to creating. Processes to approaches to developing your personal brand. So yeah, I I found this areas absolutely fascinating to to really help people grow their own businesses and you know, giving them that confidence by often about confidence and mindset. Right. And and and.

It is, yes, so well.

Right. In many ways I I’m like a growth cheerleader because agency leadership also can be quite lonely, right? I mean, Rob, you and I both know for our own businesses, This is why we connect with our peers because they’re lonely sometimes.

They did that. That’s amazing. And if somebody wants to contact. You about work or otherwise, what’s the best one?

Yeah, but the best way is actually my website sowonderstars.com and you find all the links. All my freebies for agency owners right on there. So wonderstars.com and LinkedIn as a social media platform. Find me on LinkedIn.

Well, yeah. And I would say if you don’t know, Nicole, get out and follow her. She’s a breadth of amazing information and energy. And she knows what she’s doing. So get to know her. It’s well worth. Your time so.

I appreciate that.

And thank you for joining me today and have an amazing day. Nicole.

Thank you very much. Thank you also for the listeners. I can’t wait to see all the comments and questions. Thank you.


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