Marketing isn't always super glamorous. Especially when you're marketing unsexy, technical products in the B2B industry. But create a solid strategy, and you can do great things.
In this episode of Business as Unusual, Andi Jarvis from Eximo Marketing delves into his top tips on how to market ‘unsexy’ products and brands. From kicking tyres to immersing yourself in the product to find those unique selling points, Andi brings the inspiration to help you get excited and find the 'sexy' factor.
[00:00:00] Jon Payne: Hi, welcome to Business as Unusual. I'm Jon Payne, founder of Noisy Little Monkey. And this is a webinar where we help people do better marketing, better sales and grow their business or their employer's business, if you're like most of us and you have to work for what we call "the man". I'm joined today by the fantastic Andi Jarvis, who is the founder of Eximo marketing or Eximo marketing.
[00:00:26] Andi Jarvis: Both, either. I go Eximo or some people say Eximo, I'm not like a Maximo Park who got really upset if you pronounced it badly. So I'm fine. I'm just happy talking about me.
[00:00:36] Jon Payne: He's the founder of Eximo marketing and also is the host of the Strategy Sessions podcast, which is really good, very worth the listen.
Every fortnight, I thought it was every month. No wonder. I'm so far behind
[00:00:47] Andi Jarvis: Every fortnight.
[00:00:48] Jon Payne: And Andi's going to talk to us. We gave him the, oh no, actually Andi gave himself the difficult title of 'Marketing Unsexy Products'. Andi, tell us, before we jump into how you market unsexy products, tell us about Eximo marketing.
[00:01:00] Andi Jarvis: So right. Look, my favourite thing is talking about me. So let's give you a quick dance through how we got here. So Eximo marketing is a strategy consultancy, so we're not an agency and we're not trying to manage your ongoing SEO, write your Facebook posts for your blog, shoot your video.
It's more about answering the kind of key questions to markets in segmentation, targeting, positioning, those sorts of things. And giving your company the best chance of success that often leads from strategy into create marketing plans. I can bore you with the difference between strategy and a plan, but generally speaking a marketing plan to me has a strategy, tactics and a calendar. If you've got those three things it goes from being a strategy to being a plan.
So I often create a strategy for clients and then write them a marketing plan and then maybe work with their team or their agencies to help them deliver it. So that, that's what I do. And I work with what I would class as a lot of un-sexy clients. I also work with some sexy ones. And the reason is I work across a number of different sectors. In the last couple of years, I've worked in alcohol marketing for two whiskey brands that you've probably heard of if you're a whiskey drinker, you've probably drunk at least one of them. Can't talk about it with the NDA, but I can definitely say I did it and it was great and sexy and fun.
And I'm currently sat in a client's office who sells technical building products. Most of which live inside concrete, inside big buildings. Very unsexy. Cracking place SVG in Armagh and Yeah, we're doing lots of stuff.
The reason I do that is you learn lessons in different sectors that you can bring in and spread around. And when you're looking at segmentation targeting positioning, you're answering the same questions, really. I think when you get a little bit downstream into delivery, that's where you need to be a bit more specialist. But I think from a strategy point of view, yes, absolutely, you can do just alcohol marketing strategy.
I like the variety because it brings you and forces you to think differently and go, okay, in this industry they do it like this. What can we learn from that to bring into there? So my background to very quickly go through that, I worked in digital agencies for the best part of 10 years, working on some very sexy things.
But in one client, in one agency, we had Expedia as a client. And we also had a company that made rubber floor tiles. So you would jump straight from one call talking about holidays to New York and then straight into another call talking about square meterage of rubber floor tiles and how many mills thick they were. It's an interesting world.
I've also worked in TV marketing. I've worked in sports marketing for the Durham county cricket club. So I've done some great sexy things, sorry, great sexy marketing products. And I've also worked with some very unsexy ones. And finally, the podcast is out every fortnight - I'll pop a link in later on so that you can sign up and have a listen. I interview great marketers from around the world to pick their brains, basically. It's an hour-long, long-form discussion. You learn loads about marketing. It's not one of those podcasts, where the podcast host gets a company on in the hope that they'll go, wow, this guy's really clever. Let's work with him.
It's not one of them. You can spot it a million miles away and they're really boring. This is great, interesting, I find it fascinating. And the next one has Harry Cane, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxley Chamberlain on the promo. And we actually have the right to use that as well. If that doesn't tickle your fancy and tell you that one's a sexy product. I don't know what does.
[00:03:58] Jon Payne: Nice. Nice. And how did you get into marketing, generally?
[00:04:01] Andi Jarvis: I did a sports management degree. I actually went to uni to be a PE teacher. And halfway through uni, I realized I hated being at uni and I hated teaching people. So I hate children anyway. So I decided that wasn't for me, flipped my degree into sports management and ended up getting my first marketing job on the back of Durham county cricket club.
And that were five of the best years of my life in terms of learning, developing, and some of the things that kind of hold that hold true to this day, I learned back then to focus on customers and put value into things. There are a lot of great lessons I learned there. So that's how I got into marketing.
I've since topped that up with an MSC from Ulster University. And yeah, so I (God, I'm getting old now) 20 years or so in marketing. And currently splitting my time between Belfast, Bangor, Northern Ireland and Liverpool as well. So I am based in those two locations.
[00:04:54] Jon Payne: Cool. So we're like we should get onto unsexy products.
It looks like most people have or would define the product or service that they sell in the chat as unsexy. Thank you everybody for putting it in. Although we do have some people who are doing both, I wonder if some of those are agencies, I guess a lot of them might be agencies. And then there'll be other people with probably a... we've worked with clients before who've got one sexy looking product, which doesn't sell because no one actually wants it, but it looks cool. And then a really boring one which actually sells and the directors always want to be famous for the sexy looking one and they don't get famous for that because it's rubbish.
[00:05:30] Andi Jarvis: Listen, I don't understand that either. You say, oh, let's just look at what's got the pound sign before it. And let's worry about that. The big number with the pound sign, not the little one. Forget your ego. Look at the cash. That's the important thing when it comes to business.
[00:05:42] Jon Payne: Love it. We talked, when we were talking about this conversation, we talked about defining sexy products and I think you did it really well. So let's start there and see where we go.
[00:05:52] Andi Jarvis: Yeah. So we came up with a title and then I realized we are going to have to define an unsexy product. And I suppose this came from Stacy McNaught, who is one of my heroes and runs McNaught Digital in Oldham. And she did a presentation at Brighton SEO a few years ago.
It was just after upload launched the new handset and you saw all the stuff, all the idiots going out queuing to get the very first one. And she just made this great point in the way that only Stacy can. And she went, nobody queues around the block to buy a new washing machine. And actually, there's a lot of sense in that.
So one of the definitions I worked out with an unsexy product is no one's going to queue up to buy your product. I've worked in professional sport - people go crazy and join queues for that. I've worked on holidays, alcohol. People queue, literally, to get into nightclubs or queue to get on aeroplanes. People queue up, to get this product and they love it.
Is anyone actually going to queue up to get your product unless you're giving something away with it? So I'm in the building trade at the moment and there's a lot of the time you will get big crowds to turn up at building events in the building trade because they're talking to you about a product. Oh, so people are queuing up... No, no. They're queuing up for the free bacon sandwich that you're giving them. That hooked them in. The product itself hasn't hooked them in. So maybe that's an unsexy definition.
I also worked on another definition and they both kind of work well together. Nobody naturally talks about your product on social media, unless something goes wrong. Now that to me almost was a better fit. So again, building products, you've got, someone's mentioned them for a law firm. Rarely, do you ever see anyone tweet about a law firm? Or put something out like, "I use this law firm. I had a wonderful experience with them." No, when shit goes wrong, that's when people start ranting on social media. So is anyone going to talk about your brand on social media? Unless something goes wrong. If we have one of those two definitions, this isn't an academic definition. You're not going to be flicking through the pages of Kotler and find this definition of an unsexy product in there.
But I think either of those work or both of those work together. Is anyone going to talk to you about you on social media, unless something goes wrong or is anyone going to queue up to buy your products unless you're giving something else away with them?
[00:07:48] Jon Payne: Yeah, I love that. Oh, I love the talking about it on social media.
Yeah. Your example of a law firm or a builder's merchant - no one is taking a photo of themselves outside influencer style rather than go to the Burj Khalifa.
[00:08:03] Andi Jarvis: That's it. Heads are pushed forward slightly so you don't have any double chins. Toes pointed in, so you get the funny influence pose that everybody seems to do.
Nobody does that when they're waiting outside of a pig feed factory. Oh, look at me. Just picking up another lorry of pig feed. It doesn't happen. So let's stop pretending it does. And start resetting our ambitions, particularly with social media, about what that means for our marketing and how we're going to do it.
And I think one thing about today that I'd like to get across is that it's not just, there is B2B marketing or 'boring-to-boring' marketing - I often refer to it - as is full, chock full of unsexy products, right from ball bearing suppliers, printer, cartridges, cables, lights, right? Almost everything in B2B is unsexy.
And there are a few brands who try and make it interesting and fun and sexy MailChimp for example. But a lot of B2B marketing is boring, becomes, as I said, I refer to it as boring-to-boring because B2B marketers then make it even more boring by the way they go about it. But this isn't just the B2C world.
We've got a law firm, there are a lot of law firms, most generally a B to C irons, people who make white goods for kitchens. There are a lot of C products as well, probably quite unsexy.
[00:09:12] Jon Payne: Yeah. Yeah. So why? I think I might have an answer to this. But it's my answer. And so, therefore, it's not as interesting as yours. Otherwise, it would just be me speaking to a camera with no one attending.
But I guess the question I've got for you then is why unsexy products, because I know you quite, we both quite like working with unsexy products or unsexy services or unsexy clients. Why?
[00:09:40] Andi Jarvis: So I love it. And so firstly, never, if you're consulting, if you're an agency, never rock into someone's business and when they're telling you about it say 'yeah, you got some really unsexy products here because that's often a really quick way to be shown the door and got rid of . It might be unsexy but you could be in a business that could be turning over hundreds of millions of pounds, making little plastic modules. The people who invented them, love their product. People love and care about it. It's a lesson. I do some lecturing, at Jon Moore's university. And when I talked to the students there, they, all, everybody wants to go and work at Boohoo, misguided, Nike, Adidas, places like that.
And I say to them, I was like, go for those jobs. Dream and have those ambitions, but be aware that more than half of you are going to end up working in construction, in boring-to-boring marketing jobs. Once you get over the ego bit of 'Oh I'd rather much rather tell all my mates, I work for this fashion brand.'
There is so much great stuff to do. You get so much I don't believe that any old idiot can sell branded t-shirts right. It's much more difficult than that. But when you take, when you come up with a campaign for something that's quite technical, there's one of the things we do at SDG. Lifting hooks that sit in concrete, right?
It's incredibly boring. But when you do a campaign for something like that actually have to get your creativity flowing, not necessarily the creativity in the visual of it, but how do you reach the people? How do you convince them that your commodity product is better than someone else's commodity products by the very nature of a commodity product, maybe they are quite similar?
So how do you, where's the business model advantage is where can you compete on different factors? And when you get all those right. And it works, there's no feeling like it, right? Because, oh yeah no. We took 0.2% on Nike's trainer sales and it added 2 billion to there, We got 35% increase in sales for this one thing.
Just I love that sort of stuff. I love these products and the people who you work with. Love them too. So if you find the time to embed in that, understand the product and not just understand the product, but understand the business, the model, the market, you start to get a real richness to it. And that makes the job really sexy.
Even if the product is unsexy.
[00:11:43] Jon Payne: Yeah. Yeah. And it's that thing about sometimes, particularly when I think when people are in house, when I've spoken to them, they are so drained by the fact that they haven't been able to find them fascinating. It's how we talk about it, find the fascination in each thing, and there will be something that's fascinating about everything.
And once you've found that one thing, then it's much easier as you say, to start to become creative and all sorts of other ways. And you just, you bump into people who've just lost that and they've gone 'Look I feel like I'm ground down and I don't really know what to do'.
And it's you have to go a bit back to basics, but basics. I think the other thing that we both agreed on is often there's a really interesting business model behind them. And once you get into that, it lets, some often that the kind of the germ that started this un-sexy business, that's making millions sometimes tens hundreds of millions.
And then you can, again, once again, it ignites that sort of fire and that passion for. For otherwise, what would appear something quite dull and boring? The little wedge here, we used to work with a double glazing firm. And they didn't even sell it. They sold it to the people who sell you double-glazing and they just, they extrude the plastic.
And it was the most once, once we visited the factory, everybody was like that this is insane. They're producing 12 miles of this a day.
[00:13:00] Andi Jarvis: You've got to go. You have to go and visit the product when you're doing unsexy products. You have to go on-site right. You can sit in a meeting room, you can have a zoom call and all you like, you have to go kick the tires, pick it up, feel it, see it stand next to, and it is usually a guy, but stand next to the guy, dragging the plastic out and doing all those things.
And you get a feel and a sense of the industry. But the other thing I would say is with unsexy product is when you're doing something that people will queue around the block for marketing can often become the promotional element. They, it, we just need to tell people these things over and over again.
It's much more important when you're in an unsexy product world that you have to go for a full marketing view of the world, product price, place, and promotion. Because if it's a commodity product, price is probably the most important factor you can, your campaign can be as brilliant and as clever as you like, if your price is miles out of kilter, unless you've invested in the brand, which we'll talk about later, then you're not going to get the sale.
If it's about a, you've got to understand the product, you've got to understand like the logistics and how it gets there. And do you have an advantage there? Can you ship overnight when no one else can do that? Once you get all these bits together, it's really important that when you're looking at unsexy products to do that full product price, place, promotion, view of marketing, not just we are the promotions department or the colouring in department and that sort of thing, you the ministry of pretty pictures, you have to really get involved in every aspect of the business and understand all those parts of it.
And to do that, you've got to get on-site.
[00:14:26] Jon Payne: Yeah. Yeah. Which has been hard for the last two years, but it's fairly difficult getting back out there. So yeah, w we've defined unsexy products, we've talked about how actually you can begin to, and I wholeheartedly agree with that, the creativity comes from understanding it and doing the whole thing.
And again, people in agencies (us included) we will often get annoyed that we're not doing the really cool 'marketing', but as you say, normally that product's already marketing itself and all you've got to do is a bit of promotion. It working on the whole thing is where proper marketers really cut their teeth, I believe.
So how, where would you start, if you've got an unsexy product, where would you, where or a client with an unsexy product where would you start? I think you've already started to make it sexy because you're getting involved and you're starting to find the beauty inherent in, in, in what they're trying to flog.
So let's not talk about them as unsexy products. I
[00:15:19] Andi Jarvis: feel bad. Yeah. No. I'm saying as long as the products aren't listening, we'll be okay. So I think I would start by. And look, a lot of these things that I'm going to say is just, you might be sitting in listening, thinking this is just bog-standard marketing 101, Andi. And I would say that 85% of my consulting work is going into places and doing marketing 1 0 1 stuff, because people got all, this is the basics of it. All right. Are you doing them properly? Are you really doing them properly? And then they go, oh, we know, let's do them properly.
And you'll be amazed at the transformation. But look, I'd start anything by talking to your customers, it is a fundamental underpinning concept of actually hearing firsthand from them. So I go into a lot of places and people you say about what have you heard from customers? And they'll give you the NPS score or they will give you their customer data.
Or we've got some quantum research. This is good, right? I'm not here to criticize point research. I love it. It gives you scale. It gives you depth. It gives you something you can look at fantastic, but I want to hear what's the next step. The next step, sometimes we read all the, I call them the colour comments.
The second question where the NPS, if anyone fills that in, you get a lot of information from what people write in there. Fantastic. Oh yeah. The free text bit, yeah, so you get the black and white, what's the number. And then you get the colour when people tell you a little bit more about it. So you read them or I read the customer service emails, or we look on the website and we look at the failed searches and stuff like that.
So we get a view of what the customer thinks and feels from this and that's fantastic. I absolutely love it. Or they'll give me like they would've devoured a report that an independent researcher will have done for them. We focus groups, we spoke to 50 customers, or we have this done fairly regularly and this is the insights that they give us.
They give us these six pillars that work out and I love this. Absolutely love this. Have you ever actually spoken to a customer firsthand?
What do you mean firsthand? Sat in front of them and said, how are you? My name is. What's your view of this business. Don't know about that, but actually talk to them. You could lift the phone and ring them up and go, hello, Jon, my name's Andi Jarvis. I'm calling from this company, come and talk to you about you.
Why would you do that? I'll just get off your ass and go and see them in person. I'm like, I'm amazed how many marketers have never, ever not once spoken to a customer firsthand. And it just astounds me, like genuinely astounds me. Now there are some of my clients may be watching this.
You've never spoken to our customers on a day and it, yes, that is the case. But we're planning to rectify that. Sorry. Look, the way I see it is you've got to get off your ass and go meet them. If they're on your site, talk to them there. If you can go to their site, talk to them there. If you can't go on-site because they're international or there are COVID reasons or whatever, zoom call or phone call, but talk to them firsthand, right?
Ask some questions and then shut up and listen. Alright, and just ask open questions. Things like, what would be the impact on your business if this product wasn't available, things like that. So let them talk to you about what would they do if your product wasn't available? I would just go buy this product.
That's interesting. That's a competitor you need to go and look at. Oh, production had shut down because we need that product to do. Okay. There's a cost implication to that. Ask a question, shut up and make some notes. Okay. What about do you use anything else if you can't get our product or what did you use before our product came along?
It depends on where your product is. Is it new? Is it established or what is it? What those sorts of things are. Do you, whenever you run out, do you always come back to us or do you come, do you go and look around or shop around? Just ask some fairly open questions and shut up. Let them talk back at you.
And write it down. Now, one customer should not change your whole marketing strategy, right? But that's why you need the quantity. You need to triangulate. You need the research. I am not criticizing quant research, but marketers these days are data-obsessed because we can see that with data and numbers, you can argue with finance and finance are the bane of all marketing departments, right?
They're like, Nope, you can't do that. You can't prove it. And they go, nah, we can prove this. Now we've got all the numbers in the world. You need that to have the argument, but you need to mix the black and white and the colour to give you the full story. And you need to hear that firsthand. So read the reports from your researchers, go and listen to the focus groups back if you've been recording, but talk to customers firsthand and hear what they have to say. You'll be amazed what you find out and those lines, those testimonials, those little bits can filter the way into your marketing material as you move on. So just talking to your customers is my first piece of advice really
[00:19:46] Jon Payne: The funny thing is we were talking about, in lockdown one the beginning of the pandemic, we were talking to Ayat Shukairy from Invesp. And she is super hot at CRO. She's written a book called hope is not a strategy, and I love that line. Yeah. Yeah, love it.
But one of the things that she was saying was one of the first things we do is we know we've got all of this... people, don't call us unless they've already got data telling them they've got a problem. But one of the first things we do is go and speak to customers who did purchase a service or repeatedly purchase a product or service. And we just ask open questions and it's the open questions to existing customers is... So I'd like to think I'm all right at this.
And you mentioned that to me the other day, and I'm like that. I haven't done that for ages. I haven't just got on the phone with our clients and gone, why the hell do you use us? I think it's going to be scary, but transformative.
[00:20:42] Andi Jarvis: I am a small consultancy. There are two of us. And I always, where possible, go around and deliver Christmas presents to my clients in person (it's not possible for every one of them) and sit down and have a coffee and a natter.
And that's not even, that's not this, right? This is something that looks slightly different. And you just go and sit down and you might get an hour. And I look at my diary, I'm like, oh, I'm really busy. I can't commit to those two, three days, oh God. But it's the best three days of the year.
Sometimes people just tell me about the kids, they tell me about the problems, and they tell me about the changes going on in the organization. Other times they're like, oh yeah, give us a ring in January because we've got this thing and you look up, but that's not why I'm doing it, but listening to those things.
And then you start to think, all right, actually, I could get a guest to talk about that on the podcast. Just listening to people. And I look, I struggle with a shut up and listen a bit, but I really do. And I work really hard on it. I'm actually working with a coach at the minute who tried to, and he did it quite well.
He puts it into a financial value of how much he thinks I'm losing on a yearly basis by not being able to show up a top sales tip, just that Jon you'll know this you've done years in sales, but when you pitch a number to somebody, when you are pitching your agency or your consultants or whatever, and you go, this thing's going to cost you X thousand a month.
Sure. The next person who speaks in that little exchange loses generally. So if you pitch it and then you say something like, But what we might be able to just, share a bit... straight away, they've got your, and your price is coming down. If you just shut up and look at them, they'll speak first. And at that point, you hold your price.
And I'm a killer for just 'blah blah blah' straight into it. And he asked me about one client, I told him all day, and he was like this is what that's cost you your last year by not being able to shut up. Since he's put it in those terms, I've practised shutting up, Jarvis. Anyway, we have a question.
[00:22:22] Jon Payne: My first, although I'm not gonna shut up now, my first boss in sales used to put it as once you've given the price, the next person to speak loses, and it just works really well for a competitive person.
Because you're like, I don't even care whether they buy or not. Now I know the next person to speak loses, and it's just a little game in your head, but it shuts you the hell up. So lovely... I don't know whether you are, Lucy. I assume you are (lovely). There was no need for me to use 'lovely' there, but let's assume you are.
Lucy has asked what's the best way to gather qualitative insight from customers? Well done for spelling qualitative as well, Lucy. I struggle with that one. We often find it difficult to access senior customers, and sales, perhaps reluctant to share their target audience and our surveys are going to approach market research agencies.
What's worked for you in the past.
[00:23:04] Andi Jarvis: I, again, I say qual because I even struggled to say it nevermind spell qualitative so I have gone on a journey from despising net promoter score to loving net promoter score. In the last few years. It has issues. It has problems and there are various things. The one thing I like about it is it's bloody simple, right?
And people are really used to it now. So you can often get lots of data points from people by sending put a net promoter score, because they can see that and they go, oh, look, I can give you an eight or a six or a seven or whatever it is, doesn't matter what the score is. Please don't try and cross benchmarks.
"Oh, our net promoter scores is 12. What's yours?" Doesn't really matter. What you want to do is have a look at what it is in the direction of travel. That can be really good, where you send people a two page survey, you're immediately going to go send it to a hundred people. You might be lucky and get 10 back.
But if you send an NPS survey out, you send it out to a hundred people. You might get 50 back. I'd rather have that to work with. If you've got the budget, market research agencies with a properly commissioned survey, like the build properly and do well. And when they go after your customers, cause they used to getting sold to... what did the military say?
Foxtrot Oscar when people bring them up. They're used to that and then can, you can set them targets and say, we need 300 responses to this and that's their problem to go away and sort out. So it's budget dependent.
But I think if you want to get an early entry into this, I would go a net promoter score. You get the black and white of a number, which you can then track and then you get the colour response underneath when people give you a little bit more detail. I would then pair that with phone calls to people and get that firsthand. Sales, I have say the relationship between sales and marketing and PR for the unholy triangle of people who sit around the table, throwing shit at each other, going 'We're more important, we're more important.' It drives me mad, right? We're all trying to sell stuff for the business, just in a slightly different way. I feel your pain. If your sales team are a bit like that, what I would do is I would take the same approach to your sales team. don't ever talk to them as a bundle because they then hunt in a pack and no one ever wants to give. Grab one of the sales team and take them for a coffee.
Why is it that no one will give us the sales data, is it because they don't want to share? You find out why. It's often money-related with salespeople. In fact, it's always money-related with salespeople. But yeah, I would say the same approach. Talk to your salespeople over a coffee, over a tea, over a pint, whatever it is, pints are best if you're a drinker... erm 'truth serum', as it's also known. Once you get past three, you get all the honesty. So if you can take them for pints of truth serum, do take them there as well.
[00:25:26] Jon Payne: Yeah. The sales are typically terrified that when you talk to them, you're going to screw up the relationship so badly that they will immediately start to lose commission.
[00:25:34] Andi Jarvis:
The relationship that was so wonderful that person hasn't bought anything in 19 years from them. But you can't talk to him cause you might mess it up.
[00:25:41] Jon Payne: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. We used to do it probably, it might be worth asking you Lucy as well over that pint. Once you start to build a relationship with one or two salespeople is to ask if you could go for a ride along or jump on some of their meetings just to take notes . And that, that will give you the opportunity to hear stuff firsthand from the customer and maybe even ask to take the customer for a coffee as well.
[00:26:02] Andi Jarvis: Absolutely. Absolutely. And if you do that top top bit of advice that I learned the hard way. Do not say anything unless you're spoken to in a sales meeting. Just sit down. If you're there on a ride along and the sales person is selling, make sure that's explained when you get there. A bit like if you've go to the doctors and they've got a student with them, if the students started elbowing the doctor out of the way and went it's all right, Mr. Jarvis, I'll just come in and check this in your eye. You'd be like, "I'm not comfortable". So if you're there on the ride along, make sure it's explained at the start and that you do not say a word, you just sit and take notes.
Unless someone asks you a question directly, answered directly in the quickest time possible and then shut up again. It's the best way to do it.
[00:26:37] Jon Payne: Yeah. Cause they have definitely got a plan. We might look like chaotic wankers, but there is a plan when we're in that meeting, lads. Brilliant. So talking to your ,customers wow.
We've really bottomed that out. I think Andi, it feels like we've talked to most of the customers available. Yeah, what's next? Where do we go next?
[00:26:53] Andi Jarvis: This is a little broad and needs a bit of qualifying, but I am going to say invest in your brand. And it is one of those marketing
[00:27:00] Jon Payne: buzzword bullshit.
[00:27:03] Andi Jarvis: I was going to say it's a marketing wankery term. But let's just step back and understand why I'm saying this.
So if you think of unsexy products, Typically can be specialist products, technical products, commodity products, that sort of thing, or distress purchase products. So law, for example, is a classic distress purchase. Nobody wakes up in the morning, " what are you doing tomorrow? Jon? I'm going to search for a law firm for next time I move house."
When are you moving house? I have no idea. Nobody does that. You go," when are you getting divorced?" I'm not currently, but I'm going to look for a law firm just in case. What happens is...
[00:27:38] Jon Payne: Well, that's not a bad shout
[00:27:41] Andi Jarvis: Having met your poor, long-suffering wife, I could understand why she is currently searching for a law firm.
What is the distress purchase? She's just decided, right this minute, I want to get shot of him. And so often at that stage, people are looking for an answer to the problem really quickly and trying to move through that. So it's a distress purchase. They don't really want it. They have to go and get it.
So there may be a search for divorce lawyers in Bristol. I'd probably move away from this analogy. And I see divorce solicitors in Bristol right now at that point, they're served with a page full of results on Google. Now they may have spoken to a friend and maybe got some things recommended, but what makes those results stand out? Between Dave's cheap and cheerful divorce solicitors, Andies' divorce solicitors will do your two for one deal or 'solicitors brand' that you've spent the last five years occasionally hearing on the radio sometimes being on the TV.
You've seen them on the paper because they sponsor a local kids' footie team, they put out interesting stuff on social media. They've been pushing and pushing up. You may be seeing it. So you see this type of thing and you go "I'll click on that one first" and it's an intangible, right?
So we'll come to brand awareness in a minute because I really want to Savage that concept, but it's quite difficult to put into a value, but I think investing in a brand is useful. And if you look at more commodity products... if you've ever been to buy a pen. How much is a Parker pen? Somewhere between five and 30 quid, depending on which type of pen you want. Or a Pilot pen.
Now pilot's probably more interesting. You get three pilot pens for five quid. At least with a Parker pen, you might look and you think, oh, this has got a bit more construction to it. A pilot pen is pretty much the same pen with a few slight differences as the ones you buy 50 for a quid, but they charge five pounds and you get three.
Why? Because they invest in the pilot brand. So you look at that and you go pilot pen, where do I know of them from? You just do. I can't point to you the time I've ever seen any ads. You just know.
If you invest in a brand, it gives you the opportunity to stand out in a place where everything can look quite similar. Commodity products, technical products, if you're selling technical products, why do people trust you?
They took the interest. They trust the sales person. They trust the brand. So how do you build it? What was every company that sales orientated worried about? The sales person leaving. How'd you get around? That invest in your brand. So investing in brand, I think is really important, even though it does sound like it's marketing wankery and you can't just go to the boss, we need to invest in our brand because Andi said yesterday.
But what does that actually mean? You have to a define what that means. What does your brand mean to people? Often you can find it written on the walls in an organization. I am in an organization at the minute where it is written on the wall, but the one thing I love about it here is that it actually means something and the CEO references it, people reference it and it runs through the whole company. So I love that.
But in many places, just walk into the reception, look on the wall and be some stuff written there. That's supposedly what your brand means. It probably doesn't but really define what you want your brand to mean to people. And then you can start to ramp that up and use it through your communication.
So when you start getting into social posts, when you start getting into this, use that in everything you do. Push that brand piece, push it all the time. Be really picky about how your logo is used. You've got Noisy Little Monkey on your chest. I love it when I go places and " oh, you can't use our logo like that."
I love that because you say, no, this is sacrosanct. This is what it means. So technical equipment like that technical service businesses, commodity businesses, the brand bit is the bit that can make you stand out .
Now I'm going to pause for a second because I know a questions come in. And when we come back after answering that question, I'm going to talk about things to watch out for and how to avoid going down the death hall of marketing wankery, which I think we've just rebranded.
Okay. We've got a question from Kelly. They ask, we manufacture fairly technical equipment. Most of our clients work under tight NDAs, which means we struggle, obtaining case studies. Do you have any tips or ideas of marketing with limited case studies?
When I saw tight NDAs, Jon, I thought she was talking about your underwear. Yeah. Thank you very much. I'm here all week. Try the veal, et cetera, et cetera.
Couple of things, first of all, I would say Kelly, and it's easy for me to say this side of the microphone... have another go, right? Genuinely. So there's a lot of sectors where companies work under really tight NDAs.
I've done some work in alcohol marketing (tight NDA), finance sector, all sorts of stuff. But there are companies that work in marketing for banks or marketing for interesting financial products or gambling products and things like that, where the NDAs are ridiculous. And they still get a case study from them. Because you think, oh, the case study has got to be so generic because we can't talk about it that is there any point doing it.
And there is a point where you don't want to have something that says we worked with 'a business' in 'a sector' and help them grow by an amount we can't tell you about because that's useless to anyone. But what would say is with that. Flip what you need by a case study. And if you think of a continuum between a quote at one end and a case study at the other end with a testimonial in between about here, right?
Think about where on that continuum. You will get something from somewhere along that continuum. You're probably just a lot further back where you might be able to get a quote that's talking about how your company delivers your service or what the reasons they love working with you. So not so much about what you did, because that might be difficult to discuss without everyone knowing about it, but about how you did it.
Working with noisy little monkey was fantastic. They brought a great energy to the process, they helped us achieve our sales objectives and the account manager that they're put on the team, Andi was fantastic and Andi really helped us doing what we needed to do. So something like that is really useful for your business, but doesn't actually say anything about the service that you did for them because it's tight NDA-ed and even the name underneath it might just go, current client in X sector. So the more you can get the better, but it's difficult. And I know it's difficult. It's all right me saying, I'll just go on up another go, but it is a, it's a tricky one.
There is to give a shout out to Joel Klettke. A Canadian man with a German name. If you Google 'Case Study Buddy', which is one of his businesses. They basically do case studies for companies and they have a whole little section or a blog or something like that on that website, which talks about how to do case studies in tight NDA organizations.
So have a look at case study buddy, and see if you can find anything from there, Kelly.
[00:33:48] Jon Payne: Cool. We've got a couple more questions come in. Do you want to finish where you were going before and we'll come to those questions towards the end.
[00:33:56] Andi Jarvis: So two things, first of all, brand awareness, right? We all broadly know what the concept of brand awareness is who knows you're about your business, right?
Step number one, for me, marketing. No one's going to buy from you if they don't know about you. So brand awareness is a really important concept. In 20 years, I've worked with three businesses, maybe four businesses, that actually measure brand awareness properly. That pair the money for the tracking survey studies and understand the impact of their work on brand awareness.
Lots of companies do it. They tend to be big companies with bigger TV budgets, right. By and large, if you're not doing that, you're probably not tracking brand awareness. You might be tracking direct visits to your website. It's an OK proxy, but by and large, when I go into places and I sat and I'm like, oh what happened with this campaign?
Oh, we got great brand awareness from it. Usually when people say that, what I hear is the campaign was a complete shit show. Didn't work to do anything, never sold a thing. So we're going to try and defend the pile of steaming shit by saying we got brand awareness from it. That's usually what people mean when they say brand awareness, right?
So let's step away from that. If something fails and is a complete mess, put your hand up and go, this didn't work. Here's what we learned from it. And here's what we're going to do different. Next time. Let's do that. Instead of saying it was brand awareness, because you'll never get anyone to invest in brand awareness if you just put in vague bits of shit at them.
The other thing I would say is be careful with brand purpose. I love brand purpose as a concept. I love it when it's done well. I hate it, absolutely despise it, when it's been done badly. My favorite example is when I saw a Cadbury's dairy milk in India who 'solved' racism by creating a chocolate bar that had dark milk and white chocolate in three rows, three rows and three rows, and sold it as the 'Unity' bar in India.
Oh man. Look, racism solved in India. Tah dah! Thanks to you. Thank you, Cadbury's. You've done a wonderful job.
Look at the history of Cadbury's, right? They were formed by the family... was the Bournville family and it was a collective, it was a place that developed a social enterprise effectively before anyone even did that for them. They built schools for the kids. You don't need to go to the..
[00:36:08] Jon Payne: They built cities, Bournville!
[00:36:09] Andi Jarvis: Cities, yeah, Bournville . You do not need to make up crappy chocolate bars, reconfigure your whole production process and spend millions at it to create this thing - that they had to pull within a day because everyone thought it was a joke - when you've got this great heritage to build on. So I don't get that. But let's be honest. If you're making ball-bearings for somebody or does anybody really want to buy a bleach that's going to teach the world to sing? Nobody cares.
So when you're doing unsexy products be careful how you use brand purpose, right? Be ambitious with it. Shoot for the stars with it. But ground it in practicality. To a lot of companies that sell unsexy products, what brand purpose means is understanding what the key elements of the brand are, and then finding a charity of the year that you can really get behind and really support and let that do it for you. So don't get blinded by brand purpose, too much. Find something practical and set some ambitious targets for it. And then just run at it and go for it.
[00:37:09] Jon Payne: Yeah. Yeah. The no one cares thing reminds me of Steven Bartlett who came and spoke at one of our conferences years ago. When no one knew him, I liked him. I liked his early stuff.
[00:37:19] Andi Jarvis: Before he turned into a bell-end,
[00:37:23] Jon Payne: He was on the way then, but as I say to everybody who we had, he gave us a little bit of a difficult time. But if I was 21 and that successful, through what looks like sheer hard graft... well, I was 21, not even a 10th as successful, and I was a total asshole nearly all the way through my twenties.
So yeah, no, he was a lot nicer than I've ever been. He was a little bit difficult, but yeah, he said something really interesting about social media. If you're a brand, almost any brand, even if you're selling ice cream, no one cares. No one cares about you. And yeah, it's the same with that brand. Particularly that inauthentic brand purpose when people are passionate about ball bearings and their ability to smooth the wheels of trucks. And you're like that: "you're not passionate about that". You might, in fact, you might be, but no one cares, no one else in the world. Maybe one nerd.
[00:38:10] Andi Jarvis: My issue with Bartlett is he seems to be trying to take over Gary V's role as village idiot, for some reason .By putting out some semi-prophetic sounding nonsense every day, most of which is just utter bullshit because people seem to click 'like' on it. But anyway, he's making a fortune going around and talking which is something I'm not doing. I'm probably just jealous.
But I think one thing, great segue into social media though, because one thing about unsexy products is you've -
You go to a social media event. You go to learn something about social media. They'll tell you about making it interactive, about having discussions, about inviting comments and asking questions with your social media to make it a two-way discussion. It's social, remember. It's not broadcast media.
Go back to the definition of unsexy product. Nobody wants to talk about your product on social media, unless there's something wrong. So turn change a gear in your mind and just think let's embrace broadcast, right?
Let's broadcast some interesting things about the brand, about the service that we offer, about the product that we offer and hell, let's try and sell as well.
You know where I am at the minute? SDG, I don't know how much I can say, but there's product posts have been put up about a certain product that we have here that can really help with vibration and acoustics. And that has sold products now because it's been on social media. In the tens of thousands of pounds worth of product sold.
[00:39:25] Jon Payne: Wow, nice.
[00:39:26] Andi Jarvis: Via Facebook posts, organic Facebook posts, right? Because we talk about the problem that this thing solves for a client. So by doing that, we're opening the door.
So don't worry . Don't sell all the time, but don't be afraid about selling on social media. People aren't going to jump on and tell you how much of an amazing time they've had or here's my new Nike's. Oh, here's my new ball-bearings. It doesn't happen. So let's just, broadcast, talk about what the key things in your brand are (that you've already defined, cause we've talked about brand) and sell a little bit as well. Not salesy, but don't be afraid to sell. Don't be afraid to try and generate leads. It's got to be there.
[00:40:02] Jon Payne: Yeah. Yeah. We've got a couple of questions. We've got one from Andy, who works with me and says, "if we have difficult bosses..." is how he opens his question. I find a little bit strange, Andy. We're going to have a meeting after this where I discipline you (we're not obviously).
If we have difficult bosses, how can we justify a day on site instead of doing "proper work" marketing? Is it just matter of making quick customer calls in between other tasks?
[00:40:28] Andi Jarvis: A great question. I hate it when people say great question on lives, but yes, it is a good question, right?
Depending on geography, cause this can take all sorts of different forms, but if the customer is local, start off with a half day, and sometimes you've just got to end up doing the spadework work in your own time. Maybe, getting back quicker. It's awful that you have to do that.
But whenever you can get onsite with somebody, just write a little one-pager. This is what I saw. This is what I learned. This is what's new. This is what I'm going to do with that information. Ping it to your boss. Saw this, this is fantastic, I'd really benefit once a quarter, being able to go and spend a day on site. Let me tell you that the the senior team at Curry's one of the biggest digital retailers, digital products in the country, every year spend about four days in store helping customers buy computers and stuff like that.
Why? Because it's really important to do. I would try and get any time you can on site, write a little one page report about it. Send that to your boss and then ask for some more time again and try it that way.
[00:41:25] Jon Payne: I think it's less so with services, but definitely with products it's almost essential, I think to try and do it. I really like your advice about start local even in your own time and that one pager. I should just point out that one of Andy's clients is in the Black Forest in Germany. And they are an ERP consultant, which is very not sexy. But Andy, you just to be clear, you cannot go to the Black Forest for three or four days to have an enjoyable time with one of our favorite clients. As much as I would like.
Aseem, and I will call him the lovely Aseem because I know him, has asked what's the biggest issue or setback that you've had when marketing unsexy products, and how did you overcome it? Can you tell us Aseem's got his own podcast? That's better than any question I've had written down in the last 20 episodes of this thing.
[00:42:08] Andi Jarvis: What's the biggest problem with unsexy products? A lot of B2B unsexy products have sales teams attached with them and sales teams are target driven, do things a certain way and generally achieve target otherwise they end up out of the job. It can be quite difficult to introduce new thinking into it so sometimes you just have to change your ambition a little bit, get some small wins to build trust, and that gets the sales team on side with you.
Every sales team in a B2B organization will always view a marketer, a new market, especially an outside consultant until they start to build trust by showing them some wins along the way. Once they've got some wins along the way, they then start coming to you and going, how do we how do we get more of that? So sometimes it just takes a little bit longer than you think.
[00:42:50] Jon Payne: Nice. And Alex has said, and this might be about Alex's particular product, maybe. How do you put personality into an unsexy product?
[00:42:58] Andi Jarvis: So two things, first of all, you can take the MailChimp approach of creating a character. And there are some interesting case studies other than MailChimp, where you can put a bit of personality into a character. It's a very SASS sort of thing to do, but it does have a bit of a history. If you think of like the Marlboro man going back through the years. Characters like the Michelin Man as well, cause you can give them their own little personality, but it's a multi-year thing to do that. And you've got to get buy-in from the top because it can't be a marketing thing. It has to be a company-wide thing. And how are you going to do it?
The other thing to come back to a presentation I made for that awful online conference... Digital Gaggle that's what it's called.
[00:43:34] Jon Payne: Never heard of it.
[00:43:35] Andi Jarvis: Which I'm sure Jon will put in the show notes, if it's available.
A lot of unsexy products that are technical end up being quite feature driven in marketing. When you write the content you've got, say your features, so this product does X, Y, and Z. Ask yourself the question: "which means that".
This product is a double-walled water bottle, "which means that...". And then answer that question. "Which means that"... it keeps your water hot, or it keeps your water cold. Then ask yourself that question one more time: "which means that" you can always get a refreshing drink at anytime of day. Ah, wonderful.
Now spin that round the other way. So instead of going, "We have double-walled water bottles at 50p a unit", which is all that you see in commodity product world. You see, " Get a refreshing drink anytime of day or night because your water stays cold for 24 hours due to our double-walled water bottle." Start with why and go through that. But what you don't ever do with "which means that" is write that in your copy.
So start with feature, "which means that".
Advantage, "which means that" gives you a benefit. And then spin it round and tell the story from benefits, advantages, and features. But the key thing is don't write, "which means that" because otherwise it looks like it was written by a serial killer.
We do this, which means that, we did this, which means that... you're like, whoa, who wrote this copy! AI taking over. So yeah, "which means that" is the answer to that question. So either have a mascot or ask yourself, "which means that" (twice).,
[00:45:03] Jon Payne: "Which means that" twice. That's, again, an old sales thing, but it was always the once. Doing it twice just unlocks it and then spinning it round is just a thing of beauty maybe.
[00:45:11] Andi Jarvis: Yeah, absolutely. So Features, Advantages, Benefits = FAB, and then you'd tell the story: BATH, but if you remember FAB, go with that. And if you can't remember it, give us a shout and I can send you links to either that Noisy Little Monkey presentation or something else.
[00:45:23] Jon Payne: Jill's asked one final question before we bail. If you want to scare yourself about GA4, go and watch a webinar from last month on the website - it's really useful. She's not scary. GA4 is terrifying. If you've not used it before and you need to look at year-on-year data, go and install it now.
Do you, or does anybody, also use pass problem aggregates?
[00:45:45] Andi Jarvis: It's not one I've used, but there are different ways of tackling it. What I like about FAB and "which means that" is people get it really quickly. Even, non-marketing salespeople, everyone gets it. In terms of staff are doing case studies, situation, task, activity, result. Is it? And things like that. So there's lots of different ways.
And I think it doesn't really matter. Find the one that works for you, because if that makes sense and you can explain it well, it carries the room. And that's all that really matters is the room comes with you when you're doing it.
[00:46:14] Jon Payne: Excellent. I think we're done. Thanks ever so much for coming everybody. Thank you so much, Andi, for the thought and preparation you've put into this and giving us so many good ideas, as always. And just being one of my genuine friends in marketing, although we've only ever met once. So I think Andi probably doesn't think he's a genuine friend of mine.
[00:46:32] Andi Jarvis: It was a lovely time as well, but, and thank you. And please do download the podcast strategy sessions, download the podcast. It would mean the world to me.
[00:46:39] Jon Payne: We will put the podcast, your business, and anything else that we can in the follow-up email so that everybody gets it. Even those of you who are watching it on the recording. Thanks everybody. Bye.
[00:46:49] Andi Jarvis: Bye!
Founder and Technical Director of Noisy Little Monkey, Jon blogs about SEO and digital marketing strategy.
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