I was lucky enough to co-contribute to this article below that first appeared in The Big Smoke and published on 27th February, 2019…
Hello, Simon! You are the CEO of Marmot Inc. Marketing. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the business(es) you run?
I am a hybrid marketing guy which means I don’t just have an advertising agency, or client-side experience. I also have brand strategy, digital marketing and influencer marketing experience so when I get any kind of marketing challenge, I use all my “wonder twin” powers to give a robust recommendation and solution to the challenge at hand. I believe a good marketing person has to have empathy. I believe I have massive amounts of empathy, both for the customer at hand and the client who is sitting there not wanting to spend too much money on marketing they aren’t sure will work. I really understand this because I’ve run my own marketing businesses for nearly seven years, and I will only spend what is required to get the job done. There is no point throwing buckets of money at the problem.
How did the business get started and how did you get to this point?
I worked in the corporate world for around 20 years, at Saatchi & Saatchi in Australia and the UK and Vietnam offices. I then went client side as an outsourced Marketing Director and started Bell Direct from scratch. Marketeers, of course, get excited when they can see their ad on television for example, but when you create a brand from scratch, you bring it to life from a blank piece of paper to a successful launch. That is something that I am very proud of.
Then I was the Founding Marketing Head of CUDO which was the fastest growing business in Australia in 2011, where we grew the database from zero to a million in a year. After that, I became the Marketing Director of Mamamia working with Mia Freedman, which taught me a great deal about the influencer marketing space.
So, after making millions of dollars for many other companies, I decided to start my own business called Marmot Inc. Marketing. I figured my name is a little bit interesting since the “Marmot” is a small furry animal and member of the squirrel family found in cold parts of the world!
I’ve been lucky to have had the amazing corporate and brand experiences both on the client and agency side of the fence and I felt I could use this experience to really add value to a business. What I do well is a) have massive amounts of empathy both for the owner, Director or Marketing Manager, and b) for the customer they are selling to, because I love to buy products as well, so I can stand inside the customers’ shoes quickly and really understand what they are feeling. On top of that, I have this natural knack for creating an emotional connection or “bridge” between the two, which create ground breaking strategies and ideas that can move their customers into action.
Marmot Inc. is a full-service design and digital agency. What does this involve? Tell us the difference between Marmot Inc. and some of the larger marketing agencies?
Marmot Inc. Marketing is a marketing agency which collaborates with leading entrepreneurs and brands who are time poor and finding it hard to scale and accelerate their sales in three months.
We help brands create an emotional connection, to help them “outsmart” and “outwit” not “outspend” their competitors. In short, we make customers fall in love with brands.
Backed by a full design, digital marketing agency, we actually get things done without bogging clients down in jargon. We offer exceptional agency thinking without the overheads and do everything a design and digital agency does: content marketing and creating experiences that will blow customers’ minds, SEM, SEO, FB advertising, social media… we obviously do web design, landing pages and user experience and we can suit any budget.
We’re also big on video content creation. Many agencies say they can do it all under one roof, but they really can’t. They might be good at running social media campaigns but have no idea about brand strategy and disrupting to outsmart—versus outspend—the competition.
But perhaps most importantly, I’m an outsourced marketing director. This means that businesses or clients can hire me for one or two days a week (for example) and get a senior marketing director with 26 years’ experience with digital, brand strategy, advertising and client-side experience. In essence, they’re getting a senior CMO at a very discounted rate since I’m only working on your business part time both from a strategic and project management perspective.
Why is an emotional connection so important when it comes to sales? Do you think too many businesses focus on the product rather than the customer?
Your customers aren’t buying your products or services based on the price or the product attributes. They are buying based on an emotional connection that then tries to battle with the logical side of their brain before they actually get out their wallet and purchase. This emotional connection is the same feeling that super brands like Apple and Nike have with their customers. When a brand gets this right, we call this feeling “Loyalty Beyond Reason”, turning customers into “raving fans” who will firstly, never buy anything but this loved brand and secondly, tell their friends and family about how great the brand is at every opportunity.
Humans have three brains. The one in their head, the one in their gut (where most decisions are made subconsciously) and finally, the heart. Yes, the heart acts as another brain in the decision-making process, and when aligned with the other two hearts, a lovely moment of purchasing joy occurs, making a cash register ring somewhere. A business owner, marketing executive or directors’ job is to ensure that they engage with some kind of brand and make an emotional connection. Especially in the digital marketing world, where an emotional connection is paramount to standing out and cutting through the clutter. Setting up the brand strategy first and foremost is the keys to creating a powerful emotional connection and thus a winning brand formula for all the marketing to stem from.
You’ve been in this industry for more than 26 years. How has the marketing world been affected by the changing business landscape and especially by the influence of social media?
Wow, this question makes me feel old! The world of marketing has changed so much over the last quarter of a century and to have gone through these changes personally, it’s been incredible to be a part of it all.
I finished studying a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in marketing and management in 1989 and my first job straight out of university was selling advertising space in a travel trade magazine in 1990. These were literally the good old days, and you knew this was the case because there were no mobile phones, no emails, no conversation whatsoever about digital marketing or social media.
When I booked an ad, I physically had to write it on an order pad that had three copies of the order. One would be faxed to the client for signature and approval, one would go through to the production department and the final copy would go through to the accounts department and it was all so much fun. Then by the mid to late ’90s, everyone had email addresses and we were communicating and doing business in this new global online world. The Internet also started going mainstream, but no one—and I mean no one—knew how big things were going to become and how technology and social media were going to change the face of commerce and the world forever.
These days though, if you are not running a multi-tiered, multi-channel campaign to grow your social community, grow your database, have an automated lead nurture email funnel to grow sales and conversions of your leads, then you will be left behind. You can bet your competitors are already doing all of this and more.
On top of this, social media is like word-of-mouth on steroids and has penetrated mainstream society—as much as 69% of adults in the US are social media users. These days however, it’s all about video and authentic storytelling because the world has gone full circle and no matter what technology consumes us, this one thing remains true: people still purchase products and services based on an emotional connection. Because of this fact, we’ve seen the rise and rise of social media influencers who now outwardly get paid for spruiking their clients’ wares on their social media platforms: thus the need for organic storytelling. If it’s not believable and entertaining, then the customers are not buying.
These days there are so many avenues with which to sell in a global marketplace. Is it now more difficult for a product or a service to break through, or do the endless possibilities just make it more exciting?
Brands and senior management can’t just run one campaign across channels like Google Adwords. Yes, paid performance marketing like Google Ads or Facebook advertising works so well and definitely should be used as the first line of attack to get some fast leads and sales in the door. However, you can’t just rely on these channels alone because while on any given week one channel might run really well and produce many leads and good conversations in the sales pipeline, the other week it could dry up.
The smart businesses are using multi-channel marketing across the board, using consistent and cohesive messaging to create momentum with their audiences to produce a world of economies of scale to create a kind of marketing multiplier effect to achieve 1+1=3. My job is to sit in the middle of the marketing puzzle to act as the symphony conductor of your brand’s marketing initiatives across the board to manage all channels and campaigns seamlessly all pushing to one direction—a new lead and a new sale.