EP56: How to Create Simpler, More Impactful Marketing For Your Business

Simon Dell, Founder of Australian marketplace business Cemoh (which connects businesses with marketing talent) helps to improve your marketing.

Lots of us Founders don’t grow up in marketing.  But it’s absolutely core to helping us fulfil the potential of our businesses and maximise our impact in the world.  

Bad marketing? Sub-par impact!

So what does good look like when it comes to marketing? And what are some of the simple things we can do to make our marketing better? 

Never miss an episode or a free resource by joining the ScaleUps community.

Hear about upcoming guests before others, send them your questions and access free resources to help you scale your organisation.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Something went wrong while submitting the form. Try Again

[00:00:00] Sean Steele: G’day everyone, and welcome to the Scale Up Podcast where we help first time Founders learn the secrets of scaling so they can fulfill the potential of their businesses, make bigger decisions with greater confidence, and maximise the impact they can have in the world. I am your host, Sean Steele, and my guest today is Simon Dell, CEO and Founder of Cemoh. I'm assuming that's how you pronounce it.

[00:00:19] Simon Dell: That is correct. Absolutely.

[00:00:20] Sean Steele: Glad I didn't screw that up in the first five seconds of our conversation today. And that is a, you know, fundamentally a marketplace where businesses are finding and hiring marketing experts and marketing talent are finding their next opportunities. How are you today, mate? Are you well?

[00:00:35] Simon Dell: I'm good. Yes, I'm very good. Close to the weekend. So yes, it’s good.

[00:00:38] Sean Steele: Yeah, almost there. Almost there. Well look, you know, just I guess a bit of insight into your background at a high level and please feel free to correct me, or if I've missed anything. But I mean, you had a pretty long history in marketing, probably. Almost 20 years since you kicked off as a marketing manager with Lion Nathan, which is showing your age, just quietly. That means you and I are probably quite a similar age. You've launched and sold your own agency. You've worked with clients, all shapes and sizes across all, sort of, you know, key industry types, and you've also mentored a lot of business owners through some of the Queensland mentoring programs. I know you've been involved in. You've done lots of speaking. And then in the middle of Covid, you launched this Cemoh marketplace thing right in the centre of the pandemic. And then on the side, you're also a published author of both science fiction and kids’ books. Well, I'm exhausted just talking about what it is that you've been up to. Did I miss anything that you think is key for people to know?

[00:01:30] Simon Dell: No, that's pretty much it. And in amongst all of that, I try and find, I've got two young boys as well who are six and a half, and four. So yes, I spend my time for them.

[00:01:42] Sean Steele: My wife and I were talking about the fact that now that we're getting to our sort of mid to late forties, we're quite fortunate that we actually started very early. So, ours are right on the tail end. One leaves sort of home next year, and the other one's not too far away and about to go to boarding school. So.

[00:01:57] Simon Dell: Yeah, I started very late, so they're catching up with me now, so.

[00:02:03] Sean Steele: Indeed. Yeah. Keep you busy. Well, look, I guess, context for our conversation today, I really wanted to bring you in because the reality is that Founders, particularly in that kind of one mil to 20 mil revenue category, which is typical of our audience, the vast majority have not grown up in marketing. Very few of them have secured any senior marketing talent. You know, they're often just figuring out on their own. Maybe they'd use some agencies along the way, maybe they've hired a permanent junior or two or three or four. But they often don't have like a fractional CMO type role around in terms of that kind of, maybe not grey hair, but that kind of wisdom in the room to help them on the strategic side. And so, what I really wanted to unpack a bit of today with you for our listeners benefit was, some of the stuff that you see people struggling with that prevents them from fulfilling the potential of their business, because you're going to have a really different set of optics to a lot of other people. What are some of the characteristics are of good marketing strategy? What are some Australian examples? You know, people often when they talk about marketing, great marketing or great marketing strategy, give huge US companies, as examples. And that's all great. But when you're a business running a sub 20 mil services business something, in Australia, it's like, yeah, that I just can't do anything with that. Like they've got 100 people or 200 people in their marketing department. I've got no one, trying to figure it out for myself. And then, you know, I guess practically, if you were going to share a few nuggets of wisdom around four or five things that Founders could do that would materially improve the way they market themselves, what those things would be? That's really where I'd like to go. Anything else that you want to cover today?

[00:03:37] Simon Dell: No, no, that sounds good to me. Sounds good to me.

[00:03:39] Sean Steele: Awesome. Well, so then why don't we kick straight in. What are some of the biggest issues you see Founders struggling with, from a marketing perspective that you think prevent them from fulfilling the potential of their businesses?

[00:03:50] Simon Dell: I think I wrote down three sort of bullet points here. I think the first one is, there's always this constant confusion as to what's working in marketing. You know, there's famous quotes about 50% of my work marketing is working, 50% is not, but I just don’t know which 50% and it's still true today. And all this attribution stuff and all of this things that you can do online and unless you're in a really clean kind of eCommerce business where you can go; Hey, this click did this. You know, certainly service-based businesses, it's very, very hard to tell where your customer came from unless they specifically say so and so referred you to me. So, that's a huge challenge. And even in the e-commerce businesses, it's hard now because of privacy laws and changes in privacy laws and privacy terms, conditions with Apple iPhones and other phones, you know, all those kind of bits of pieces. It's really, really hard to understand that when I put a dollar into marketing, actually what that is doing, and the frustration you find with a lot of businesses is they go, look, all of our businesses are word of mouth. And you know, they go, they'll sit there and go, why should I spend money on this when I'm getting referrals from all my customers? Or worse still, they've already spent money on something and they're sitting there going, well, my last 10 customers, 8 of them came from referrals from word of mouth. So, why bother spending money out there? So, that's a big challenge, is understanding where your leads are coming from, understanding where your new business is coming from. That's still a problem. And certainly for the size of businesses that you are talking about. Yeah. If you're a hundred-million-dollar business or you've probably got an army of people that work in it out for you. But you know, a lot of SMEs just don't have that. I think the second thing is cost. Marketing has this…

[00:05:41] Sean Steele: But actually, sorry. And just, one of the things that I notice is most, I see most Founders usually successfully get to somewhere between about 5 and 10 mil without maybe any great marketing. If they've got a good product, a good service that's kind of hitting a knee, they're great at what they do. They can usually get to about that stage. But are they going to get to 20 to 50 without then actually good marketing strategy, more sophistication, you know, real money going into it. Probably not. You know, like your ability to continue to scale becomes a lot harder.

[00:06:12] Simon Dell: Absolutely, absolutely. I've seen a 40 million electrical company who'd never had a marketer for 15 years. Growing from being built out of personal relationships and things like that. 40 million they were turning over and, and never had anyone doing it in marketing. We were the first people to go in there.

[00:06:31] Sean Steele: I bought a business doing 35 million dollars about five years ago. And there wasn't a single KPI for new business anywhere in the business. Every salesperson was an account manager and I was like, this was all existing client revenue, just do a great job, get the next thing, expand the account, keep moving.

[00:06:48] Simon Dell: And the challenge when you've got with people like that is they go, well, why would I employ anyone doing marketing? I'm turning over 40 million. And often I would turn around to them and say, well, can you imagine how much more you'd have been turning over if you did have someone doing some marketing? And you know, what sort of size your business and scale your business could have been at if you'd actually looked at that properly. And I think the thing for me is, Those businesses that are turning over 40 million and don't have anyone doing their marketing, they're balancing on a precipice every single day, is that if you don't have someone doing that, there are so many ways that you can lose that market share and you are completely indefensible, you can't fight back when you don't have a brand that people recognise or you know, or you are, you're not in constant communication with your customers. It's very easy for someone to walk in, potentially undercut your pricing, take your business away, and then you wake up, you know, two weeks later and go, hold on. What the fuck happened there? And those are the sort of things. So sometimes marketing doesn't necessarily need to be this proactive growth strategy. It can be actually a defence strategy. There's a great story I tell once about a smash repair business and he said to me, I sat with him and he goes, yeah, this smash repair, I think it was in Brisbane, somewhere like that. And he said, why would I spend money on marketing? So, they get all my jobs from, you know, all the insurance companies. And he said, they just keep me nice and busy. And I said, do you not get any business from drive pasts of customers? He goes, I don't need any, I've got all this other business. And he was on a main road and next to him were lots of other empty warehouses, you know, the kind of smash repair, just empty warehouses. And I said to him, what happens if another smash repair business opens next to you? And he looked at me and go, well, what do you mean? I said, just another one. Just like someone comes in there and buys that tendency, moves in there, does a smash repair business there, and starts going after the same insurance work that you are doing after. And you could almost watch the light bulb go on in his head. He's going, yeah.

[00:08:55] Sean Steele: That wouldn't be great.

[00:08:56] Simon Dell: So, to me, for him it was like, we don't necessarily, might not need the marketing to grow, but you do need it to defend yourself against potential competitors.

[00:09:04] Sean Steele: So, I saw this with a client recently. Obviously, there was a lot of businesses that had tailwinds coming out of Covid. And you know, particularly anybody who had anything in digital or any who was in and around, you know, people or talent, things like that. And some of them have just been so busy keeping up for the last two years that they haven't given a second thought to marketing. But then of course you get to the point where, okay, maybe a slightly recessionary environment. You know, business confidence goes down, all of a sudden people stop spending and the ones who haven't been doing any marketing, been doing no business development, all of a sudden can get caught with their pants down. And other people who've been doing it all of a sudden just carry on. So yeah, it’s never an easy balance. And, sorry, mate, what was your second one there?

[00:09:44] Simon Dell: Second one was cost. You know, everyone goes; Hey, word of mouth is free. I'm getting clients free of charge, so why am I going to start spending money on marketing when I just, and again, you know, word of mouth is never free. There's the perception that it's free because you haven't actually out-layed any cash, but there's time and effort and all these other kind of things that you spent to generate word of mouth marketing, but it's not free. And I think that I saw this, I shared this on LinkedIn yesterday. I can't remember who said it, but someone was talking about how with marketing. You turn around to someone and say; Hey, it's going to cost you $25 a click or $20 a click or $25, especially service based businesses if you lower an account, it's costing you a fortune in Google, right? It's going to cost you this amount for a click in Google Ad words, whereas it might cost you $20 to send a potential client a six pack of beer. What do you do? I mean, I'm going to send people a six pack of beer. You know, why would I not go and buy 106 pack of beer and send them to a hundred potential target clients instead of pouring money into Google?

[00:10:58] Sean Steele: Which one is going to be memorable?

[00:10:59] Simon Dell: Absolutely. Absolutely. And then I raised the point that what if your clients are recovering alcoholics? Probably not a great thing to send. But then someone said, well send them something else. Send them bubble tea or Kombucha or whatever it is. Just send them, that kind of thing where there's a gesture in there that says, hey, we're targeting you, we want to talk to you is a six pack of beer.

[00:11:20] Sean Steele: And also, you know, what you get in the mail? Is so boring. I mean, A) You hardly get an email, you certainly don't get any personal mail. Whatever you comes through your letter box is just awful. You know, it's just bills or the ones you haven't turned back dig to digital yet, and there's nothing interesting. So actually, the people that come through, I've still got two coffee cards. When I first moved up to the Sunshine Coast, I must have just gone through an open house and one of the real estate agents has kept me on their database, sends me a sort of Christmas card every year, but handwritten really nice, more than just like two words and includes two coffee vouchers at one of the local coffee places. And that person has stayed in my mind for all of those two years just because they're actually using my mailbox.

[00:12:00] Simon Dell: Yeah. Absolutely. Those kind of little things are effective. Yes, they cost money and they cost time in organisation. And the key thing is, is with things like that, it's not just about sending someone a six pack of beer. It's about sending them a six pack of beer and then giving them a phone call. You know, it's about that multi-touch strategy. And you know, just being gentle in your approach rather than trying; Hey, can I come in and try and sell you something.

[00:12:27] Sean Steele: Yeah, yeah.

[00:12:28] Simon Dell: So, those were two. I mean, and the third one I think is just the challenge with marketing is constantly changing. It's just goal posts keep moving. You know, there's new things happening. There are new pieces of software. There's someone telling you this, there's TikTok, there's Twitter, there's everything happening out there in the world. There are so many things that you could be doing, it's just this constant change. And for anyone that runs Facebook ads, you can guarantee that every week you log in, the interface will have changed or so would've been added and something would've been removed. And you know, and yes, if you're a business owner, you're not the one that's supposed to be doing that, but then you need someone there that's doing that for you. So, those are sort of the kind of three things that I see a lot of is, and that sort of, that makes people wary of market.

[00:13:16] Sean Steele: And how do you advise people when you know, they, they start to get swept into that? Jeez, you know, that kind of fomo feel like we've got to be on, everyone's on tick to, we've got, we must have to get on, we've got to be running Facebook ads. Everyone runs Facebook ads. So how do you try to guide people who starting maybe get a bit bamboozled or feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of change that happens in the channel opportunities?

[00:13:37] Simon Dell: I mean, I have a very structured approach, whether you're a service-based business turning over a million dollars or whether what you're another business turning over $20 million marketing. Marketing by, by is not really that complicated. If you follow a particular structure, you can be quite successful. To me, the message is always, let's get the basics right first. You know, let's not start mucking about with VR and TikTok, unless we can actually do the very basics right. Like do you have a CRM with all your customers details in it? No. Well, why are you mucking around trying to build something in the metaverse when you can't even get that right. So, there's some basics that everyone should be doing well, and often again, whether you're turning over 1 million or 20 million, you can walk and just go, you know, these people just haven't got the basics. You know, the electrical company I talked about, the reason we went in there was they said, we don't have a value proposition. I was like, how can you be a $40 million business without a value proposition or just a one pager that says why people should hire you? You know, so those are the kind of things I always sort of get, let's go back to basics first and get those things right and consistent before we worry about anything else.

[00:14:57] Sean Steele: I remember. I can't actually remember who it was, who first sort of challenged me on this question. You know, when I sort of grew up in sales and in sales, you know you say sales leadership, you're always thinking about, especially if you're not accountable for marketing, you're thinking about kind of lead volumes and conversion rates. You know, how many leads have I got? What's the conversion rate? And therefore, how many people do I need to kind of produce a certain outcome and how do I multiply that? And somebody said to me, I think we had like a, it was like a 10% con conversion rate or a 15% conversion rate, something like that. And they said, That's really interesting. What are we doing with the other 85% of people that say no? And I was like, what do you mean? Well, I know what all the categories are, you know, these ones were disconnected, phone numbers, these ones not interested. These ones went to a competitor, blah, blah, blah. They're like, yeah, but that's the category of where they're at. But like, but why and how are we engaging? What are we doing with that 85% of leads that we're not actually, we didn't convert for whatever reason? How much do we understand about that? And I thought, oh my God. It's just such, it seems so simple. So, to your point, it's like, well, do you need to be spending your time on actually getting more leads? Or have you actually got a whole bunch of opportunities that you're not even converting well because you haven't really thought about or understood or asked the questions of, or understood the problems of why didn't those people engage with you? Because you've already paid for those, or you've already generated that opportunity, but for some reason there wasn't a fit. And you're not going to be a fit for everybody. But there's probably a doubling of your business in the leads that you've already got, if you get close twice as many of them, you'd have a much bigger business with no additional marketing spend. So, yeah, I think…

[00:16:27] Simon Dell: And yeah, and often just slight changes in those percentages make massive difference.

[00:16:31] Sean Steele: Huge. Yeah.

[00:16:32] Simon Dell: So, if you've got a database, you’re buying, if you've got a database of a hundred people and 85 of them said, no, all you've got to do is find two or three more in there and it can make a massive difference to your business.

[00:16:43] Sean Steele: Yeah. Where the survey or the conversation where you pick up the phone and… I've always tried to make it a mandatory thing for all leaders in any business that I've run that they all have to call a customer a week. Like they all have to remain connected with the customer and ask them about their problems and what's going on and what their perspective is of us and competitors and what's happening in the industry and so on. Because otherwise you lose touch of… you might have developed, to your point, you might have worked with an agency, developed a marketing strategy, you got your positioning and your value proposition, and you feel like, okay, good, we're set now. We're just going to execute. It's like, yeah, but what if the needs of your customers change over the next 6, 12 months and you've actually stopped talking to them because you're just so focused on execution. You forgot that your job is to solve problems to your customers. If you lose that connectivity, you really miss a lot of opportunities. Actually, I was listening to a podcast this morning and I heard a great example where someone had a piano tutoring business. And all of a sudden in this kind of recessionary, low confidence environment, all the inquiries had dried up because, you know, it's a discretionary item, you know, like getting piano lessons from my kid or whatever. And it might have been something that I just like to do. And she said, well, what if you've got all these people now that are really stressed? What about if that's actually their issue? What about repositioning the piano business as a place where, to kind of get a break, to sort of relax, to get creative, to get a disconnect from your stressors and the worries of the world. And all of a sudden their marketing, they started to get cut through again just because the customer's problem had changed and they reconnected with the customer, they didn't change the offering. That’s how they positioned it. So, what about good marketing strategy? What do you think, what are the sort of characteristics then you think of good marketing strategy?

[00:18:21] Simon Dell: I think probably the number one thing for me is simplicity. And we made this mistake early on two years ago when we launched Cemoh. We kind of had all these categories of how we were going to describe the people that were working for us. And there was, you know, I can't even remember what they were now, but they were strategists and achievers and beginners and stuff like we kind of were, all these fancy. And after a while we were just like, Christ, we really overcomplicated this. You know? They were like, what we found was, people were going, I just need someone to help me with my social media. I don't need you giving me all these kind of super descriptions of who they are. Do you have someone who can help us post on social media? We're like, well, yes, we do. Here's someone. So, simplicity of products, simplicity of message, simplicity of communication to people. Just strip back all this superfluous gump that someone in a branding or a marketing agency has told you is going to help you get cut through and help you look different to everybody and help you create your own USP.

[00:19:36] Sean Steele: Why do you think we end up there? Why do you think we end up in this kind of where we overcomplicate?

[00:19:42] Simon Dell: Because normally somebody is paid to overcomplicate this stuff. That's the problem is that you call people in and they're creatives and agencies and you're paying 170 bucks an hour for the pleasure of having these people go, well, that this, this, and all the, you know, just come up with all these. You see it and you see it from top, right at the very top when you read these trend reports from people like Gartner and who are some of the big, you know, some of the big consulting companies that come up and show you, well this is the life cycle of, I always love this kind of life cycle of an entrepreneur or life cycle of innovation and stuff like this. And you just go, God, this is bollocks. You know, this is not how it happens in the real world. It's somebody being paid huge amounts of money to come up with all this kind of theory and stuff like that, you know, and innovation in my mind is, yes, there's a process behind in innovation, but there's also, you know, just wild left field shit that happens at three o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon that you suddenly go, oh, that's a good idea. Let's do that. You know, so it's just too many people in there trying to complicate things. Too many people internally as well, and a lot of businesses trying to justify their own salaries and trying to justify their own roles by creating more than the business actually needs. So, to me, a good leader, a good CEO, kind of cuts through that and goes, what are we doing here? What's the core message? You know, and it's so funny. I look at car adverts. Car adverts to me are a really good example of how we've kind of lost the point of any features in it. Nobody talks about the features in a car advert anymore. Like reverse cameras, yeah, well, they've all got that, you know. Pretty much every car has everything in it now. There's no point in sitting there going, oh, look at all these kind of, you know, and now most car adverts, and you know they don't talk about how they go from 0 to 60 anymore. They don't even talk about safety or economical, because all those things that are given now in every single car, new car that you should buy. So, most car adverts are just, here's a picture of the car, you know, do you like it or do you not like it? 

[00:22:02] Sean Steele: You want to look like the family. We're all wearing white walking along the beach because they drive this car. Or if that's who you want to be, then that's the car to get.

[00:22:08] Simon Dell: Yeah. So, it's really hard now to define and distinguish car brands. But for most businesses it's just about going, you know, just cut through everything. Just simple messaging coupled with good tactical execution.

[00:22:29] Sean Steele: Yeah.

[00:22:29] Simon Dell: And I wrote down here the classic phrase, consistency trumps creativity. You know, every single day of the week, if you are being consistent with your marketing, it will be so much better than you having these wand creative ideas.

[00:22:46] Sean Steele: And if you even thinking about that in the context of say, a content strategy, it's so easy to fall under the trap of thinking you got to be producing new stuff all the time. But then it's like, hang on a second, but that you're kind of, almost assuming that everybody who you may have any kind of eyeballs or ears sort of attention of is seeing every message, digesting every message.

[00:23:05] So if you keep sending out all this new stuff, where's the reiteration of the stuff that might, you know, you could unpack it probably 15 different ways for different audiences. Actually, it's the same piece of content being kind of reworked rather than having to come with new staff constantly, constantly, constantly. I think, we can feel a bit of pressure sometimes to be constantly adding new things. And you see it in businesses that are going through those scaling stage of like 10 to 20 million, right? They start to take on marketing resources, they start to take on sales resources, and then all these people of course, have great ideas and they start throwing all these opportunities back to the Founders going, yeah, we could do this and we could do this, and we could do this. And all of a sudden, the thing that kind of got you to there, you start feeling like you've got to feed the beast a bit. So, you then start adding new products. Maybe you go to some new customer types, you start going to new industries and all of a sudden you start to dilute the kind of core of the business.
And rather than scaling the thing that's really core and is working, you end up having to dilute your attention and get a bit distracted from the main game because you got to learn about all these new customers, you got to learn about their industry and learn about their problems. And they usually tend to keep growing to a certain stage and they just plateau out. But all of a sudden now you've got way too much stuff. You've probably got way too many marketing messages, too many products, too many services, too many customer types. Like, okay, now you have to cull to get back to the core usually, and then you get the next wave of growth that comes after that. It's really interesting.

[00:24:24] Simon Dell: And it's interesting. We've done it. We did it the other way around because we went out with all these ideas and all these products and all these things and then we, in the last two years, we've just kind of cut things out and now we sit there and go, what do we do? We find companies marketing people.

[00:24:42] Sean Steele: Yeah.

[00:24:42] Simon Dell: You know, and you can have them for three months. You can have them for six months. You can have them permanent, whatever you want. We find you good marketing people. And that is the pure single message that we do. And I also remember we had all these kind of customer types and, you know, who are we trying to go after? And there's the danger. And I've had this with my team and they go, oh, well our typical customer is this, this, this, this. And I'm sort of looking at them going; look, one minute we've got a customer who's a single person start-up and they make underpants, and the other side of things, we've got two as ASX listed companies who are turning over 600 million each or whatever, and another company over here that's a 40 million electrical company. So, how are you going to tell me that we have a particular customer type when we are dealing with all of these things, all of these kind of people successfully, and most marketing business people would turn around and say, well, let's just concentrate on the ones that are profitable for you. And I go, well, they're all profitable for us. They all make money. They're all been working with us for a long time and cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And we boiled it down to not looking at the type of business that we were servicing and not worrying about their headcount or their turnover or their industry and all those, there's a few industries we don't touch, but we generally sit there and go, let's not worry about that. Let's worry about what their problem is. Right? And that is the definition of our target market. And we have two. Number one, it's people that come to us and go, I need help with my market. Right? Those are our customers. They don't want to go to an agency. They don't want to employ somebody. They just need help. And we can give them someone that can help them. And the other customer is that I need somebody to do specific, something specific in my marketing. So they go, I need a copywriter for three months to just write a load of stuff. Or I need a graphic designer for the next six months to do two days a week, or something like that, or those kind. That is our definition of our customer base. People who ask those questions of us, right? We know that they're by asking us, they're self-aware that they have a problem, which is tick. They understand and they're also self-aware that their problem, they can't solve themselves, tick, right? And that they want to come to someone who is, knows what they're talking about. Third tick, that's our customer.

[00:27:04] Sean Steele: Beautiful. And the nice thing about that is it allows you to really sort of design the funnel, if you like, for those kind of problems very clearly, because you're really just focused on what the problem is and also how they're languaging it. So, what I love about what you just said is you're really in the mind of the customer in terms of the actual language they're going to use, which should be flowing through everything that you think about from then on, in terms of that journey for that customer.

[00:27:29] Simon Dell: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:27:30] Sean Steele: So, simplicity, clearly number one. Yeah. And I think I really resonate that, especially in this kind of size audience too. What else do you think about?

[00:27:38] Simon Dell: So, I had simplicity, good tactical execution, consistency. And probably the 4, 5, and 6 that I've written down were probably more tactical things, rather than sort of bigger picture or ideas. And again, they're nothing that hasn't been said about marketing in the last 40, 50 years. But number one is to make advocates of your customers. If what you want is your customers out there talking about you to whoever they can be talking about. So, how are you doing that? You know, what are you doing to make them into your fans so that word of mouth does grow? Because otherwise you are relying on the word of mouth being your service to that customer, right? And they may love that service and they may talk about you, but what else can you do? You know, can you take them to lunch once a quarter? Can you go and play golf with them? And I know kind of the idea of going to play golf or whatever, or can you have a beer with them or can you just sit down and have a chat with them? Or can you introduce them to somebody else that might be useful to them? Or, you know, can you help with your network to introduce your network to their network. All of those kind of things grow word of mouth, just rather than relying on word of mouth happening because of the product or service that you're delivering. Turbo charge it. Turbo charge it and go, you know, what can we do? And it comes back to that. Do I send them a six pack of beer or do we send them some cupcakes, or whatever it might be. All these kind of crazy ideas and sort of fun ideas that you could have that would be that it means that you are turbo charging that word of mouth.

[00:29:16] Sean Steele: So, when you think about it, how many people have you raved about to somebody else where they just, they might have done an excellent job, but they met your expectations and so if that's what your service does and it sort of, it's great, but it meets their expectations and okay, they might still give you a say, five star review, but that doesn't mean they're out there going, wow, like, had this interaction with Simon or you know, whoever this supplier is, and there's something that's actually been above and beyond, because that's the only stuff that you talk about. Right? Other than negative things, obviously. You don't talk about meeting expectations. Yeah, that's really interesting.

[00:29:53] Simon Dell: So, and then the last two were events and partnerships, I think are categorically the most important thing for any other business. You know, if there is a chance of getting yourself or your business in front of a room of 200, 300, a thousand people, 10 people, 20 people, if there is an opportunity to do that, do that. Whether you're piggybacking on someone else's event or whether you're creating your own event, get yourself on a stage in front of people because they will remember. And that will become an educational experience for them. And allow them to walk away with saying, I saw Simon talk at this event, but God I got so much out of it. Because that will really resonate with them. And the key with it is if you do it right, it's not going to cost you a lot of money. It's a good opportunity. And partnerships is the same thing as to work, you know, kind of fits in with the advocates and events, but work alongside people that are looking and trying to target the same customers as you. We do a lot of work with business coaches or that sort of thing. We go, they know that they're not going to get involved in the marketing and we know we're not going to get involved in the operations and HR and all that sort of stuff. So, for us it's about working with other people who are talking to the same customers as us and linking back to us. So, I mean, there's lots of things that you can do for good marketing strategy, but those are the sort of ones that I just go, Hey, just get yourself out there. Get people talking about your business and your brand. That's what you need to do.

[00:31:20] Sean Steele: Yeah. I love that. I think the partnerships is often really overlooked. Like, yeah, who are the collaborators where you clearly don't really cross swords for one of a better word into each other's paths, but actually you are working with the same client. One of the ways sometimes to think about that is, if you were to be a fly on the wall and you could see the timeline of when a customer is using your service, what are the problems when they finish using your service? Do they then face next? Okay, so they've got this thing from you. What do they then do? And then who's the next person they actually need help from? Or who's the person they went to before you that's helping them? It might not be in that specific part of the journey, but it's potentially another part of the journey. Well, that's, again, someone who's going to be probably serving the same customer, probably helping them with an overall problem that's related, but not with the same service.

[00:32:11] Simon Dell: Very quickly, I'll tell you where you see that every single day, certainly in Australia, is if you go to a small shopping centre, so down where I might go to the doctors, in that little shopping centre, there's a doctor, there's a real estate agent, there is a pizza place, there's an ice cream place, there's a Thai restaurant, there's a little mini supermarket as well. That is the basic, that's partnerships working. They're all in the same place together, and they all know that if someone comes in to go to the Bakers, they'll see all the other shops there. They'll remember them and they'll know that they're there. So, if you think how you do that from a service based business with a group of partners so that when a customer comes in to meet one of you, they're also by default meeting all of you. And that knock on effect will be massive.

[00:32:58] Sean Steele: Yeah, I really like that. It's very interesting. And so, what about, some examples then of businesses that you think are getting it right?

[00:33:07] Simon Dell: This was a real challenge because it's very easy to be really critical of businesses out there. And I was like, I kind of wanted to, yeah, I wanted to pick some that I like thought that they're doing it right because, for various reasons. So, I'll whip through them because otherwise we can go down a rabbit hole here. But number one, one of my personal favourite brands is Guzman and Gomez, the Mexican restaurant. I just think everything they do is absolutely spot on, especially the speed of the service, the quality of the food, the fit outs, the branding, the messaging. They've got it now. Yes, you've got people out there going, it's not real Mexican and blah, blah, blah, all that kind of stuff. It's like they're almost a billion-dollar business. So, anyone who sits there and goes, Hey, it's not real Mexican, he goes, screw you, they're doing a great job. So, that was one. And then my other big business that I think is consistently delivers a just a spot on brand experience is JB High-Fi, and they've also been one that I've seen that's gradually evolved over the years. They've gradually started taking on new products and different products and all those kind of things. They haven't got stuck to their guns, like the Harvey Normans of this world, which is the same experience now than it was 20 years ago. But JB have kind of really latched onto trends. They understand what's happening in the marketplace, what people want, and they're delivering that and they're servicing people and they're just doing it really well. So those are my two big ones. And I go, any business could learn from those even if you were a lawyer or an accountant, you could still learn from Guzman and Gomez sit there and go…What they're doing is just really efficient and smooth and clean messaging and all those kind of things. Then there's some smaller ones. I used an app the other week called Packable, which basically they go and buy parking spaces around Australia and then you buy them off them and obviously that's how they make a margin and things like that. And I managed to get a parking space at the Gabba for one of the T20 matches, a little church down around the corner from the Gabba, that cost me $10. And most of the other parking spaces were minimum $50. It was one that was a120 bucks. So, I paid $10. And just the service, the beauty of the app, how it worked. And then I had a query and I was going, what's the chances of me getting response from a help desk? But got a response in 10 minutes and I was like, this is from an app that, you know, whether they can grow big enough or their margins are big enough, or whether they can be a sustainable business, I don't know. But I was just super impressed by the whole process and the whole support process as well. I've got a client called Salmon Plumbing, and as a plumbing business I go, he's just got it so nailed. He's got this little cartoon salmon as his branding. Everybody knows him. He runs salmon related joke adverts on radio. You know, it's classic dad jokes, they're just brilliant. But when you go and meet his team members who've all got their own vans and they all go out and do work for him and things like that, you just go, this guy, he's got the branding right, but he's got the branding right to his staff as well. They love working there, they're all feel empowered. They all seem to be really focused on what they're doing and the brand and all those kind of things. So, he's made not just his customers, but he's made his staff their advocates. They are really really strong.

[00:36:57] Sean Steele: Interesting, isn't it? Because when you work with agencies who are helping you build some kind of a brand book and they're talking about the tone of voice and all the rest, it's all great to spend your time with an agency, come up with something that looks beautiful and it's got great messaging and all the rest. But to your point, if you didn't hit the team and the team just have a completely different style. The messaging is very different. Like you've got a really refined, elegant kind of looking messaging, and then you get, you know, really rough people who are really rude to you or whatever. Like that stuff just doesn't work. So, it's like, how do you make it authentic, but make sure that it flows all the way through to the experience. And how do you get comfort that that is going to be consistent. It doesn't need faintness, it needs consistency, to your point, it kind of comes back to your…

[00:37:41] Simon Dell: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

[00:37:42] Sean Steele: And how does it flow all the way through.

[00:37:43] Simon Dell: Yeah. And my last one with the people that did this fit out behind me. Again, small local business, I think there's what, six or seven there working there. Number one, it wasn't cheap, right? And number two, there's a massive delay in terms of timeline of them getting stuff done because they're backed up. But just the quality of craftsmanship and every step of the way. I was like even the people that sometimes when you get people to come and fit these things, you kind of spit this kind of rough chippy with smoking a diary out the front and making a mess of your house as they go in and out. But it was too young maybe mid-twenties, late-twenties, a guy and a girl, just super-efficient, super-polite, you'd have mistaken them for white collar professionals if they, if they hadn't turned up in shorts. And just everything about the service from start to finish was great. And even to the point when, you know, I think by the end of the job I still owed them a thousand bucks or something like that, and I sort of said to them, hey, look, it's going to be a couple of weeks for me to pay you. There was nobody kind of going, you know, you need a purse immediately and blah, blah. There was just polite, you know, so that kind of, all of the things, all the people sort I've sort of mentioned there, I think there's a common thread amongst them and it's really easy to buy from.

[00:39:16] Sean Steele: Easy. Yeah.

[00:39:17] Simon Dell: And that's something that I think a lot of businesses forget that they sort of go, they make it hard for people to buy from them. But when you're polite and when you're efficient, when you're consistent, and when you've got your staff as advocates, and when everything is set up properly and managed properly, it becomes so easy for customers to buy from you. They then don't care how much they don't care, but the cost then becomes a secondary problem for them. They go, I would rather pay more and work with this company than pay less and work with that company over there.

[00:39:50] Sean Steele: It's really interesting challenge, isn't it? You know, when you're a Founder, how do you get insight into the customer's journey so you can find those tension points and remove them, whether that's the style of an individual, whether it's an annoying process that you've got, whether it's a template that doesn't work, whether it's kind of clunky, disconnected text messages and emails or whatever it is. Like, I like watching those shows where the CEO becomes an employee for a week and they go undercover or whatever, and they kind of see the inside of the, because as a CEO, you're constantly running into things where you're like, I can't believe we do it that way. Like, that's just horrendous. But you know, the further you get away from the front and the business, your bigger your business gets, the more you get disconnected from that stuff. But it's like you've got to find a way to ensure that you can go through every single element of that customer's journey to your point, and make sure from the very first moment that they heard about you, every part of that experience, think of it as a series of post-it notes along a wall. Every one of them, you need to be able to take a step back and go, okay. To your point, is the message really simple? Is it really clear? Are we easy to deal with? Is it sort of an enjoyable experience? Are there any wow factors built in? Because if you can put all those things together, then you've got a really nice machine that continues to grow itself. Right?

[00:41:06] Simon Dell: Absolutely.

[00:41:08] Sean Steele: Really interesting. Actually, on the flip side of that, I saw a business that has a great model. I probably shouldn't name them. It's an app. There’s probably a few around, so maybe I can get around not naming them. My son who is 17, decided he wanted to buy a car. And I'm always trying to teach him about, you know, assets and liabilities and stuff and good debts and bad debts. I say, well, why don't you get a car that you can actually put on a car sharing platform? So, whilst you're not using it, it's actually making you money. Maybe you'll even make some money, or at least you'll kind of neutralise the expense. So, it's not actually a cost centre for you. It's at least neutral, if not a profit centre. Anyway, bought this van, put it on this Car sharing platform. And he's probably been making, I would say 30 to 40% return a year. And he's got a car that he can use anytime he likes. So, he is been absolutely loving it. The service, like the app is great. The problem that it's solving in the way that it solves it is excellent. But the service level and the support level is just so incredibly woeful. Like, it would take you three weeks to resolve a, you know, you'd get on a chat. It would take somebody forever to get onto it. They can't answer the question. They'd handball it to somebody else. Oh, they'll call you tomorrow. They don't call you tomorrow. Then you wait another day. Then you send them an email that takes three days to come back. So, then you'd be like three or four weeks before you go to resolution, it’s like, you are making me hate you so much, even though you've got such a great product, the rest of the experience is not consistent. And you know, we ended up moving away from that just because of the frustration with the service experience, which I'm sure the CEO would be…Actually, I sent him an email. I sent him a LinkedIn message. I'm like, I don't know whether you know, if you do, hopefully you're doing something about it. If you don't, you're going to be shocked about how bad it is. And they've actually had a sale and an exit and a great sort of financial outcome, but in spite of themselves because they really solved a problem well, but not because the rest of the experience was easy, enjoyable. I told everybody I could about how bad it was because it was just such a mismatch.

[00:43:15] Simon Dell: Yeah.

[00:43:16] Sean Steele: So, easy to get wrong team. Okay. So, I guess then, probably coming to the end of our time together today, but if you were going to capture five things that you think that Founders should really consider to improve the way they market themselves, what would your guidance be?

[00:43:34] Simon Dell: So, I look, these are going to be kind of repeating sort of what you and I have discussed, but I think it's a good opportunity to sum up here. And I actually had six scribbled down here. Number one is simplicity of message. Absolutely, clear that you can be understood quickly as to what you do and how you do it. So, that's number one. Second thing is get face to face with people. You know, yes there's digital, yes, there's content marketing, but content marketing where you are face to face, someone is so powerful where you can stand up and educate people. It's a massive opportunity versus just spending money on clicks and things like that. Number three would be, what I kind of said there as well is educate people. Your focus should be educating people in terms of helping them understand, you know, they've got a problem. So, help them understand the solution rather than just present the solution to them. So, it's a question to say, yes, we can help you with this and this is how we're going to do it. Or, you know, this is what we see in the marketplace. Or other people having problems and things like this, and this is where we can step in and support. So, education is key. Number four would be personality. This is something I think is woefully overlooked by a lot of businesses, is your business needs a personality and a personality that's engaging. So, that comes back to your brand. So, you can do all these kind of fancy, what does my brand stand for? And blah, blah, blah, blah, and all that mission statements and you know, accountants, lawyers. tax agents, how do you inject personality into those kind of businesses? But you can, you can absolutely do that. You've just got to be. You know, there's that level of thought that you need to put into that to be able to do that. So, making sure that there's a personality there. We talked about making your product easy to buy. I think that to me is an absolute…the amount of, I've been dealing with a lot of solicitors lately, the analyst solicitors that sort of send you a PDF and say, can you print this out and sign it and send it back? And I'm just like, have you guys never seen a fucking Panda doc, and all those kind of things. And I go, that's not difficult to set up. Just put it into a…and all that kind of thing. And probably my last thing, which would be good sort of sign off on today. I did a podcast myself for a guy down in who owned a business down in Melbourne, and he was turning over about 10 million and he was kind of lamenting or celebrating. It was a bit hard to tell, the fact that he barely did any work anymore. He said, oh, you know, after Covid we decentralised our office. We've now got eight staff in Australia versus 30 staff in Australia. Everybody else is global now. And you know, he was very sort of not very polite about Australian staff, but that's another conversation completely. And I said to him, well, what's being the biggest change in your business? What's made the biggest change for you guys? And he said, KPIs. And I sort of, what do you mean? He said, everybody in the organisation, irrespective of where they are of job title, whatever, had very clear KPIs that they needed to achieve every month. And those were so clear he said that he didn't care. The business didn't really care how people achieved those KPIs, and they could achieve them all in the first month of the first week of the month and then take the rest of the month off. It was that kind of, he said, but because those KPIs were so clear and so defined, but every single member of the team, he said, after that, it became responsibility and it was very easy to measure people. It was very easy to kind of understand who the good performers were and understand how quickly it was to get rid of the, the poor performing people. But he said that had revolutionised their business, changed their business. And he said, you know, lots of other businesses talk about KPIs and all the staff having KPIs. He goes, but more often than not, those KPIs are very ambiguous. They're easy to manipulate. All those kind of things. He said that, they'd actually brought an outside company to define all those for every single member of their staff. And I thought that was, that to me was, it's a huge opportunity for business that… look, it takes time, it takes effort. It's hard work, but the payoff will be massive.

[00:47:59] Sean Steele: I love that. And actually, you know, quite often people, if you imagine we talked before about kind of putting post-it notes along a wall, thinking about your customer journey. If you think about that from your team's side, it's like what needs to be those KPIs at every single one of those stages? And then back to the roles, it's a really, you know, start maybe with the customer the way that you actually deliver revenue, you know, deliver a service experience and all rest. Think about those KPIs and then looking at mapping back to people. I love that.

[00:48:26] Simon Dell: Yeah.

[00:48:26] Sean Steele: That's awesome. Thank you so much today, Simon, I really acknowledge the way that you've, I mean, I think it's an amazing thing that you did to start this business in the middle of Covid. And I think it's, I love the fact that you've gone from maybe complexity through to simplicity and you're obviously trying to implement all these in your own business as well, which is, well, thank you so much for your generosity of time and spirit. Where would you direct people to if they wanted to know more about Cemoh?

[00:48:53] Simon Dell: So Cemoh is CEMOH.com. So, you can find us there. Otherwise the best, if you want to reach out to me, I'm on LinkedIn, I'm not hard to find, so, come and add me on LinkedIn and have a chat there. That's pretty the easiest way of doing it.

[00:49:10] Sean Steele: Beautiful. Thank you so much, Simon. Folks, I hope you enjoyed the show today with Simon Dell from Cemoh. Thank you so much. And before you go today, if you got value from today and you liked it because. You actually love the opportunity when you're listening to podcast to step back for a moment and kind of work on your business, fundamentally, you're going to really love the Scales Roadmap program that I'm going to be launching in the first half of next year, which is a cohort-based program where we're taking groups of Founders through a process to develop their three year strategy and execution plan for their business to help them enhance their growth rates, their valuation, and their exit options. So, what we're doing is we're actually kind of tweaking and optimizing your business model as we go through the process of developing strategy. And so, if you kind of relish an opportunity to take a step back and work on your business to make sure you get the most out of the next three years, and therefore, you know, don't waste time prioritizing the wrong things. Hop over to scaleupsroadmap.com.au. You can leave your email there and we'll keep you abreast of what's going to come up in that program as we get ready to launch. That is it from me. Thank you so much, Simon. Really appreciate your time today. You've been listening to the ScarleUps podcast. I'm Sean Steele, and look forward to speaking to you again next week. Thanks again, Simon.

About Sean Steele

Sean has led several education businesses through various growth stages including 0-3m, 1-6m, 3-50m and 80m-120m.  He's evaluated over 200 M&A deals and integrated or started 7 brands within larger structures since 2012. Sean's experience in building the foundations of organisations to enable scale uniquely positions him to host the ScaleUps podcast.

Other Episodes

EP63: Strategy and Execution, Made Simple.

John Spence, Top Hunt 100 business thinker, shares the most important lesson you need to learn if you want to be a successful leader.
Play now

EP62: Developing a Growth Strategy for Your Business

Leading strategist Rosie Yeo shares the alchemy needed to uncover bold ideas and build a powerful business strategy.
Play now

EP61: How NOT to Screw Up that Acquisition You Just Made, or Want to Make - Nicola Fowkes

Nicola Fowkes, General Manager of Operations at EdventureCo, shares the best way to merge teams and manage people in an acquisition, and the mistakes leaders tend to make.
Play now

EP60: 2022 Flashback - Best Clips on Attracting, Engaging and Retaining Top Talent

SEAN STEELE REFLECTS ON THE BEST INTERVIEWS TO BUILD AN A+ TEAM • For our last episode of 2022, we look back at some of the most memorable interviews packed with sage business advice on building a winning leadership team.
Play now

EP59: End of Year Reflection Questions for Founders, For a Bigger & Better 2023

Sean runs through the 4 areas you should evaluate, to set yourself up for success and business growth in 2023.
Play now
If you’re enjoying the Scale Ups podcast, subscribe, rate and review.