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Matt Fraser interviewed Jonathan Bird, Managing Director of Delivered Social, for this edition of Ecoffee with Experts. Jonathan discussed several effective tips and tricks to boost your small business marketing strategy. Jonathan also shared some simple yet effective tips on how businesses can maintain the personal touch with their customers. Watch now for some profound insights.
You can make the customer journey better by doing small little things like giving away a piece of paper and a letter or a stamp. You’d be amazed at the results it can generate.
Thank you very much for having me, Matt.
Oh, well, actually, I think you just did it in the bio. I was the guy who invented the Sci-fi club. So, I think I was the nerd there during lunch, trying to get people to come in and watch the latest Star Trek episodes. You might not think that would be successful, but it was. I think that the better question is how my teachers describe me. I think they’d say he turned up on something, and from math, he ran away, and for PE he couldn’t run fast enough. And I think that’s probably how that would go.
So it’s interesting. I sold my first company when I was about 26, and I woke up the following morning and essentially had nothing to do. I come from a team in the hundreds down to me, on my sofa, with my laptop. And I did this dangerous thing of going to Google board and went, what’s going on right now? What’s happening? And online dating popped up. So, I invested quite a bit of time in the online dating market, I worked in that area, and we still have elements of that business now. And I very quickly learned that in my first job, I didn’t earn any money and then I had to learn how to make money. And I started using social media as my main traffic source, and I eventually grew to something in a region of about 4000 websites, which meant at any point you had 4000 Twitter accounts and 4000 Facebook pages. Things like Hootsuite weren’t costly about the level, or they would cost too much. So, I started developing my case bits and kits of software to do it and go into the nuts and bolts of social media marketing and how they work with the networks. And then, one day, it kind of dawned on me that what I’m doing is running an agency for one. Why not take it over and do it for more? And that’s really why I got into it and how I did it.
No, not at all. We used to sell everything from prints. So, it depends. It’s a traditional e-commerce business. And it was back in the day where I’m sure there’s some e-commerce business, but it was back in the day where you really could put some on eBay, and you didn’t have to marginalize it by the penny every day to be top of the ranking. Whereas now, I’m sure everyone would agree that the margins are just trimmed and trimmed and trimmed. So, I think I probably got out of it at the right time. When you think about a highlighter, you can only make so much money. Once you ship it, you post it, and everyone can play the margin, the race to the bottom game.
I think from e-commerce, if you think about the Amazon sections, the eBay areas, that’s what happens. You know, to maintain is really good listings. And that was a time, I think, probably before SEO kicked off well. Now e-commerce can work and could use an effective SEO, but I think probably back then, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t have known or had the skill set, and it was probably easier to use the portals to grow that business.
It’s a really interesting one. I mean, e-commerce will continue to grow and grow and grow. It has to. We, as an agency, are probably doing more e-commerce sites now than we realize we’re probably doing if we worked out how many portfolios of websites versus e-commerce are going out the door. If we look at it, we probably would see this massive spike in e-commerce. I think you have to look at it. COVID is a massive driver for this increase, and no monster out there wouldn’t say that. I would say that during COVID, one of the things we did was develop an app for our local town, and we had everything from restaurant guidance to anything on it. And we did it free of charge when the retailers needed it. That app was generated during COVID in Guilford itself. Just shy of half a million pounds worth of sales for local businesses. No fees were collected, nothing like that. It was just there to use. They find it over the last six months, I don’t think it would’ve generated £5, and many of the smaller retailers have lapsed into bricks and mortar there. But I firmly believe the bigger retailers are ultimately getting their e-commerce push in and going forward. There would be multiple factors if you were to think of it. For example, there is a department store here, it will have multiple locations. They will have to review some of those for rent reasons and everything along those lines.
Where they can’t service physically by bricks and mortar stores. E-commerce is the only way to go.
And let’s face it, one of the other inventions, over the five, ten years, is there are white label distribution centers. One of Amazon’s biggest successes is essentially that centers the stock was sent out for you. There is a lot of that going on, and it’s good. It does work well. You know, I’ve got to be honest, I like shopping, I like going into stores, I like looking at things. But arguably, now I have become the person that looks and then goes online, mainly because the bricks and mortar stores don’t carry the items in the quantity variation or whatever it is that e-commerce serves.
So, we had a conference last week with my team, and we popped out to get some t-shirts. But you can’t get t-shirts in our local town in the sizes for the whole team. It just didn’t exist. So, it’s those areas there, where people instantaneously turn to e-com. Apart from convenience, speed, cost, all of that. If the offer is not there, they can’t buy it.
Oh, I would say reviews are more important than ever before. I think the companies that stood well back then had learned that. So for everyone listening, you probably had an Amazon Parcel delivered in the last couple of weeks. If you bought from an independent seller, you’ll have this little card that says, please come and shop at our actual store and would you leave us some feedback? That feedback is now vitally important to those businesses because there’s more competition, and we are now driven to look at feedback more than ever. I think it is one of the key elements of digital marketing, and we used to be prepared to wait a little bit longer. So, e-commerce now is very much apported. What the hell is it, and that’s not a bad thing. We’ve got used to a good service level, but not every business can fulfill that level.
And I think that drone delivery will be the next innovation for them. So, things like that in an e-commerce world. An independent business can’t do that. That’s not going to happen. I don’t know if you’ve tried to fly drone maps. I’d like you to try and know them over, and I’d like you to put a laptop at the bottom of it and see how much you cry. That is a completely different level of service than an independent or smaller business will be able to do. Having said that, one of the things I would say about Amazon is we potentially are in press and things like that. They get bullied for being too big for their good, that type of thing. I think we also need to look at it from a marketing point of view and sit there and go, well, actually, we do need to step up the plate because it is survival of the strongest. You must get up there and do what you can for your customers. Sometimes it’s not all about speed, sometimes it’s about the user experience on the website, sometimes it’s about the wonderful email they get, and the personal touch isn’t always just digital.
It was one of the best things I ever did when I had the e-commerce business, but it is open to everyone to do so. I will challenge any listeners who have an e-commerce store now to go ahead and do this for me. You can do it for the festive period that is coming soon. It was Christmas in the UK many years ago. It was our very first Christmas, and sales rocketed. They went very well, and the items that were selling, some of them I owned, so I picked some of them and wrote letters, physical letters to the people and said, “Hi, thank you very much for buying this particular pair of headphones. I just want to say I’ve got a pair of these too”. A) Thank you for supporting my business. B) I’d really like your thoughts on the product, so please let me know and here’s £10 spend in my store. Every one of those customers returned and spent that money and emailed me to say thank you so much for the personal touch. Now we are used that clicks that click thing. But digital marketers now talk about how they engage and create advocacy. Well, it doesn’t always have to happen on digital papers. Sometimes a pen and a piece of paper can help you get through that gap quickly.
Actually, it doesn’t take that long for hundreds, and you’d be amazed at the results you can get. Automated emails do work. We know they do. As marketers, we have to sit there and say there is a need for them. You know, we need receipts, need feedback, we do need them, to that scale. However, sometimes taking a pause and just looking at and going, how do I make my customers feel very special will help your digital efforts. Here’s why., We all get newsletters, and We all delete them. Everyone can agree on that. If you got a newsletter for me after getting an email from me where I’ve made you feel good, you’re more than likely to open an email, pay attention, and give it a read. Now, we all know digital email rates are lower and lower or lower because we’re just sending more and more and more. So, actually, how do we do that engagement? How do we make it better? Sometimes, the answer is augmenting it through physical activities as well.
I kind of can give you a really good example. So, the physical act is a great idea because it creates that you’re sending that thing out and creates that bond. And then, when people see your name digitally, they’re more warmed up to it. Like most agencies, we have an onboarding scheme with our clients, which genuinely involves a letter for me saying, here’s my mobile number. If you’ve got any problems, give me a call. A small team where we sign in, say welcome to our service, a brochure that we send out to go. Hey, you might be working with us for SEO, but did you know we do this, this, this. Even to the point that we even do that famous classic water bottles. So, all of a sudden, the clients engaged with us digitally are getting all these other bits on top of a podcast and a newsletter. So the best way I’ve seen workers is when they turn up to meetings, walk around with our logo water bottle and take that elsewhere. Now, Amazon isn’t going to start sending out water bottles with every order. Still, there is a customer journey where you can look at it and kind of go, well, can we make the journey better by doing small little things and just a piece of paper and a letter, a stamp. You’d be amazed at the result it can generate.
I will emphasize other things because I think it’s important to businesses that are inspired by this. In the real estate market, the estate agent market in the UK, what happens if you look at that model is normally a bottle of champagne, a bottle of prosecco or what they call a new starter kit. So, a couple of tea bags, some biscuits, that kind of thing. The problem with all of those things is if we do one thing with them at the end, what is that? We throw them away. Whereas if you get them two lovely mugs that aren’t branded or anything like that, it’s like a crusade every time they have that warm moment. They’re doing it with something you’ve given them. It doesn’t always have to be the logo. It doesn’t always have to be rammed down your throat. We’re the most orange company in the whole of the UK as far as I’m concerned. You know, our logo when you see it. But arguably, the feeling we want to convey is, I remember that that was nice, and it doesn’t always have to be about getting your logo out there.
Yeah, during COVID, we have an awful lot of retail businesses kind of come to us and ask these questions. We’ve been doing daily webinars with retailers. It was relentless. And actually, there are two things, in my opinion, that drive it. The first one is if you haven’t started your e-commerce, do it now. Because you have no idea whether a pandemic could come back or anything like that can happen. We’ve gone through this once, and it ripped businesses to shreds. So, if you’re not ready, be ready because you never know what happens next. Not only will you be ready, but you’ll also get extra sales. So, that’s the first thing. The second thing is this great device called Smiirl. It’s a Live counter for social media and is designed to enter a physical environment. So, coffee shops do well with that because what they do is they say to you as you’re in the queue, there’s a little sign in Smiirl that says for a free cup of coffee, follow us on Instagram or TikTok or whatever and the counter changes at that moment in time. Now, yes, you’ve just lost the price of a cup of coffee, but what you’ve gained is someone excited to engage with your brand is now part of your marketing ecosystem, and actually, you’ve had to do nothing for it and now a follower on that network. So, if you were in a bricks and mortar business, consider how you’re going to turn these bricks and mortar customers into an e-comm business going forward, and there’s not one business that I’ve come across that cannot follow that method. If we’re not actively getting people into our Facebook or Instagram pages, we’re actually doing something wrong. I’m not suggesting waiters or servers, or people at the cashier points. I’m going to ask every single time, Would you like to like us on Facebook? That would be annoying. But having something cool that engages the audience and user participation, like the Smiirl, will help you grow those numbers. Meaning that your actual Facebook efforts, if you’re a small business, for example, actually mean something to you. They’re great, they cost about 2 to $300 and I.
No, it’s a lot of cost for them, and we got one in the meeting room here, and we say while we wait, give us like you know this, there’s a whole load of things you can do. It just helps those people engage with the brand a little bit. And if you’ve got people walking into your shop and they’re walking out having done nothing for your next transaction you were doing something wrong.
Something like that.
They are great little counselors. They work really well.
Yeah, I agree. Again, I think that’s a bit about email automation. People are used to it now. It is a question for readers/listeners, how many times have you looked at a receipt and followed the company? Probably not that often.
Exactly. So, it’s our job to think of things like Smiirl to engage audiences because receipts are filed for taxes or thrown in the bin again. So, there is a need for it. There’s one thing about QR codes I think is important. The education about QR codes has exploded. People are using them more and more and more than they ever have because of COVID. I believe there’s a little bit of QR fatigue. Considering how often you were doing it during COVID to how often we do it now, I think we’re not as quick to pull out the phone to look at a QR code.
The big news is people do know how to do it. Whereas before, people were sitting there looking at them, going, what’s that funny little square?
So, the knowledge has improved. But I do think there’s some fatigue, and again, it’s just an opportunity to find new ways of doing clever things.
I guess it depends on what the niche is, and I think that’s important. So, some brands could still do very well on the big player sites. I think some would struggle. I also think there are independents. For example, they make handmade goods. That’s just an example. The chances of getting that listed on Amazon and effectively selling through Amazon will be quite tough. Whereas selling to your customer demographic who already believe in you via your platform might be better sales. I think if you’re talking about those types of bricks and mortar businesses going to ecom, you need to do it sooner rather than later. And if they haven’t done it, learn the lesson, do it, and you know it will find the money. Get on with it. Know that you’re just losing sales. It’s that simple, and then the second thing is to read, consult, and educate what the vibe is, but go and find the people that can help you identify whether it’s a good idea to put it on Amazon. Wherever you can get a sales opportunity, get a sales opportunity, but don’t work silly for something that will never give you a result.
So, we were having a really good year before, and we were starting on aggressive plans for our kind of growth as an agency, and commercially, as with every other business, everything kind of went wrong. You know, there were clients that were going under. And I do have to say, for the record, this is probably true of most agencies. They don’t want to make that phone call when you pick up the phone. They were trying to save their businesses. So, this was something that was really out of everyone’s control. And about six months before, COVID had worked on something called delivered social green. Now, if anyone is interested, I will ask you to look at talent searchsocial.com. In the top right-hand corner, there is a little green heart. We tried our very first, our first social green director, and it was an ambition of ours to open a part of our agency that works with any charity, any size, free of charge. Simple. During his first year, we decided to work with 20 charities and get our method right. Then COVID hit, and we then spent the next six weeks, probably about most agencies on the phone from 6 a.m. to about 11 p.m., speaking to our teams, our internal management, our customers, and everyone was kind of said the same thing every day, which was, what are we going to do? How are we to do this when the announcements come out? What’s happening with this? What’s happening? And we and we all fell into this trap of waiting for other people to answer the question and then for some bright spark. And honestly, none of us can remember who it was on those calls. But when we do remember that you can get broken legs, they send the following words. They said, Let’s just pull green forward. So, we did. And, overnight, we had about 320 charities just say yes, help us. We went through some great expenses on charitable giving, which is something we’re very, very keen on here. You know, it destroyed us, and to this day, for all the charities we supported, we’re very honest. They do know this; it was tough getting them through it. But for charities with no online fundraising platforms or websites, we were knocking those out for them at no cost during a time when we needed to. What then happened naturally was we got really good PR for it. So, would you want to work with an agency that didn’t give a crap, or would you want to work with the agency that did all this?
Exactly. So, in doing good, we did good, though we got looked after. Green is a subject very close to our hearts. Probably one of the things I have to say because, for those who are listening, it’s a fantastic idea if you’ve got your charity, if you’ve got you to see programs and you look at them honestly, look at the green. Very happy to talk to anyone who wants to talk to me about it because I firmly believe in it, but I’m going to attach a warning. During COVID, it was hard work for everyone. We went tenfold, which took a toll on our team and the amount of work we tried to deliver. So, whereas we’re proud to have pioneered that level of what we did, and we genuinely are, there are learning and happy, maybe not have had COVID stuck to our original plan of taking out 20 in the first year but of being better for us. But as with all businesses, COVID threw up some red herrings, and you have to go for it.
So, now we have changed our offering because we’ve had to. So, most agencies do that, they offer or they have charity support. And we wanted to be ambitious with this, and we did do that. We kept that up for about two and a half years. We’ve now changed the offering to donating £3,000 or about three and a half thousand dollars of services, and then everything’s 50% off because, unfortunately, the reality is as brilliant as it was, and we’re very proud of it. The reality was that it was definitely the smartest business move, but longevity to it probably not.
Our impact was so huge, and again, we’re very proud. We still wanted to maintain that impact, and you can’t go from we’ve done this to our looking after three charities. It’s part of our DNA here, and we firmly believe in it. One of the things we asked our clients is we would not work with a client unless they have an active CSR program. It’s that simple. So, we actively want to promote good work. I can’t say we’re as near to being in a B Corp as maybe we’d like to be, but the intention is there for us to do well with our work.
If you think about it logically, let’s pretend all 300 of those products’ were websites. So, let’s pretend for a second and automatically see in six months that it has 300 other sites with wonderful words and websites gifted by Delivered social. Now that is impressive you can buy. You just can’t buy that. So, you know, the thank you cards that arrive, the feedback notes, you cannot buy that, and it’s really important to remember that it’s still doing good. So, you get a really good buzz from it. And but like with all things, not volume, it does take a toll. So yeah, it’s great. We’re proud that we were that ambitious, and we’re proud that we delivered. If there is a health warning, Ladies and gents, it’s great if you can go for it, but you know what? Even if you did ten, that would be ten charities that I have supported before. Strongly consider it.
My head of web is over there at the moment. And one of the things we’ve looked at is whether we could do one a month. We both sat in meetings where we’ve gone, but how can we turn them away? So, when you go to scale, and then you have a charity come and say your help could help us save X. You don’t want to say no, and rightly, if you can, we should help. So, there is a balance. We haven’t found it yet. I’m glad our balance came from an ambitious story, at least now.
That’s changed between business one and Business three. That’s probably the biggest thing, right? In this inception of, yeah, you want to look after yourself, you need to look after your family, your friends. Yeah, of course, you do. But you can also do good. You can have an impact. You’ve mentioned a couple of authors. I’m going to have to drop one of my favorite ones in.
Daniel Priestley has written a series of books, and his company is called dent. And his argument is, look, if you’re going to do anything, make a dent, and we can all go to sleep at night. And in our case, that dent was those 300-plus charities. And that is a really good thing to remember on those bad days. We do have to sit there and kind of go, well, do you know what? We stepped up. We did do this. Now, you also mentioned the agencies that fell under or went down. Yeah, unfortunately, I’m not sure about any of them. If they could have been saved, they would have been saved. And this is the horrible thing. Something like COVID does change the market.
And that’s the truth. And I think the business is constantly striving right now. They should be proud of the resilience they built up during those couple of years of such turmoil. And you know what? They should take the lights off and just go, and you know what? We’ve just got through the worst period of business history other than the war in a very long time. And I’m sure we’re not all through it quite yet. I know we’re certainly not, at least for all. They’re still moving forward and pulling in the right direction.
So, I would say Oversubscribed is great. Read it. Then read Key Person of Influence, which will tell you to write a book and then the one that will make you want to hunt him down and shoot him is 24-assets. And he will know that. I will say that because we’ve spoken about it several times. I’ll tell you a little story about 24 assets. Anyone who hasn’t taken it to go off and have a go at it. 24 assets is a scorecard. It basically rates your business, and it talks about everything from what assets you’ve got, Digital, physical, everything. I’ve read the first few books, and you know, I’ve engaged with Daniel online, and you know, I read 24 assets on the holiday as I do because I read this book on holiday. Based on that idea, with my laptop next to me, I tweeted him. I took a picture of this book with my foot in the background with the swimming pool in the foreground. And I took the tweets there, and I said, Right, bring it. Priestley and I put my phone down. Open the book, and the book at the very beginning says, before you read this book, go and take this quest. And you go to the credits, and you and your name and you and your email address, and you continue on this. QUEST. The first question is, do you do this? And I’m there as a business owner, proud. I know what I’m doing. I’m like, yes, yes, of course, I do. And then question two. Do you do this? Yeah, yeah, of course, I do. TICK. But at the time, I got to question three. I started to go; I do that sometimes. At the time of question ten, I wanted to find and hurt him physically. Because I realized at that point I wasn’t as good as I thought I was always thinking. And it gives his brilliant reports at the end of courses, hey, if you want to do this, just can’t fix this really simple logic that works well. And it gave me a very simple blueprint to engage in a different mode of thinking. So, reading the book 24 assets is the one I challenge anyone to have a go at.
I would say so.
Well, the entrepreneur revolution isn’t my favorite. Sorry, Daniel, but you can read it. There are two books. So, he’s got a scorecard, one coming out, which everyone should be reading because I think if you’re in marketing, that’s a big thing. There’s another book he’s done as well, a children’s book about, but it’s not a children’s book. Still, it’s designed for children to help children be entrepreneurial to how parents’ guide their children in an entrepreneurial style, and I think that’s got to be fun to read. I haven’t done that one yet because I’m scared, I’ll get it wrong again and have to hunt him down again.
Again, the question needs to be frozen, too. Have you always been bossy and wanted to be your boss? And the answer was yes. I think my family drove me to want to do good things regarding my education. I was very lucky that I was very worldly educated. That did help me. But I joke at the very beginning, and unfortunately, I can already see eyes roll in the back of my head as I say this. I appreciate this might be films that are put online. So, you’ll be able to see this camera up when we let me do this.
Here we go, guys. So, the other thing that inspired me was that wonderful thing there, the USS Enterprise. And for 45 minutes, this crew could encounter anything and, through diversity, fix it. And I think that was probably one of the things that sparked some entrepreneurial thought, was the challenge of, here’s society and how do we get past it this way versus how it communicates this thing, I don’t know how to do this. So, I think a lot of it was down to the selective programming my family showed me, and it has now become a bit of a cult. I watch silly things as well, but I do think it helps. So yeah, I’d say I probably have.
So that’s a poignant question to ask right now. And almost a bit of a tear-jerker. I’ll tell you why. And I think any entrepreneur would sit there and say, you know, consistent learning and listening, all of the usual and the usual, all the usual is because they’re the right answer. I would say I have found COVID to be a war, so to sit in this chair and run the organization through it has been very heavy. The skill that I’ve learned or I’m learning is that it’s okay to go to battle stations, and we might still be at battle stations, but you also have to get back to normal sometimes. And we’re going through a change right now where not everyone, including myself, can step down yet because we’ve needed to chase every sale. So, I think there ‘s another skill that I’m not sure I can put into words. Maybe it’s personal growth. But if you look at the analogy of stuff needed in that war zone to survive, maybe there’s a post-traumatic argument. And I think there’s much more needed in that mental health space for entrepreneurs. I think that’s a key skill we’re all going to need to adapt to and recognize that, you know, we do not have those answers yet, and we might not for a long time. So, you know all the usual answers are correct. Absolutely. But for anyone who’s listening to it, if that resonates, I would also say pick up the phone on Skype, say hello to me, say like someone, because in business, we have gone through it, and we need to recognize that. And it’s a key thing that we’re learning at the moment.
So anyone who’d like to visit deliveredsocial.com, and my direct email address is Jonathan@ deliveredsocial.com and if you want to email me at any point or about any of the things we’ve talked about, please do. And again, just go to the contact form on the website. It will get forwarded to me, and yeah, again, very happy to hear from anyone who would like to raise a point, or we’ll discuss any of these things, especially CSR, So if you’re looking at you’re looking to engage in that in your business and want some hints or tips, we’re more than happy to pick up the phone.
Yeah. So corporate social responsibility, but essentially just doing good.
I am indeed.
You’re very welcome. To everyone, live long and prosper if we’re doing Star Trek. See you soon, be good.
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