Guest: Andrew Ford
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Overview: In this segment, Andrew Ford, CEO of Social Star comes on the show to promote his business and the incredible work he has done with his clients. He describes his company as an inbound marketing agency meaning that he uses the key people in an organization or business to share content such as blogs, or videos or podcasts in order to attract their key audience.
Bio: Andrew Ford is the the CEO of Social Star Proprietary Limited. He has been a leader in the digital marketing and branding industries for over 15 years since cutting his teeth in global tech businesses like Hewlett Packard and IBM. With a masters degree in Entrepreneurship and currently lecturing at RMIT and Monash University, plus being the stimulus behind the digital influencer app Tribe and many other start ups, he understands the digital marketplace better than most.
Through his company, Andrew has created a remarkable solution to the digital branding dilemma, it’s called e-ttraction – creating digital attraction. Through this 12 step process, Andrew and his team help business leaders find the most appropriate way to build their brands and assist their business attract more opportunities.
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today, I’m joined in conversation by Andrew Ford, the CEO of Social Star Proprietary Limited. Andrew joins us from Melbourne in Australia. Welcome to the show Andrew.
Andrew Ford: You’re welcome Wayne, thanks for having me.
Wayne: It’s our pleasure. Now Andrew Social Star is one of those business names that it doesn’t give it away as clearly as Fred Bloggs Real Estate gives it away. Tell us what it is Social Star does and who do you do it for?
Andrew: Great. So we work with business leaders, thought leaders and businesses on their marketing. Now we’re an inbound marketing agency, that means that we don’t do advertising and push marketing. What we do is we use the key people in the organization to share content, and their thoughts and ideas, out online and things like blogs, or videos or podcasts in order to attract their key audience. And the main reason we do it that way is that we find that when you get a referral or someone coming towards you, the closure rate is 1 in 4, when you do cold marketing it’s about 1 in 1,000. So we just find that’s a more efficient way to go and get new business.
Wayne: And are you geographically bound?
Andrew: No, we’ve got clients all over the world. We do a lot of clients in Melbourne just because that’s where I’m from, I’ve got a strong network here. But we have clients all over Australia – so Sydney, and Brisbane, and Perth and Adelaide and we also have clients overseas. So I’ve had clients from Aruba which is I had to look that one up to be honest when I’ve got that like, “How did you find me?” And they’re like, “We Googled personal branding people and your name kept popping up and so we thought we’d come towards you.” In America, I’ve had South Africa and a variety of different places.
Wayne: So the client who is your ideal prospect, how do you describe them?
Andrew: So the key avatar would be someone who is a business professional, they’re very good at what they do, they’re successful already, however they’re running out of time. So really what we’re selling is time rather than say leads. If you’ve got lots of time and you’re just starting out, then this is probably not the service for you because you need to have great thought leadership content and you’re outsourcing it to us because it’s more efficient. In addition in what we do is make a wholesales press more effective instead of you having to talk to 20 people to get an opportunity, you only have to talk to a couple. So that’s really about increasing the time efficiency of those business leaders and we’ve worked with people like CEOs, I just finished the project for the CEO one of the Melbourne’s AFL Football Clubs. I worked with CEOs of advertising agencies, a variety of different companies. I do lot in medical – physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, nutritionists, I’ve done hundreds of those because they’re all thought leaders in their space, they’re experts in their certain industry, it’s just that no one knows that and that’s the point. If they’ve really got a brand, all they’re doing is not using the brand effectively to bring in new opportunities. And it’s not just for clients, it’s a more efficient way to get staff, investment, business partnerships as well as clients.
Wayne: Right. So for those people sitting and listening to us, the people who are going to be drawn to you are those people who are doing well but feeling under pressure for the time aspect of it.
Andrew: A 100%. And also they might feel that it’s not really authentic the way they want to market by somebody putting out a Facebook Ads and sending it out to hundreds of thousands of people they don’t know. Really the people who are going to be great clients are people who already kind of know them or trust them in some way in terms of a consultancy. In terms of say physiotherapists, it might not be that case but what we do is we warm them up and those people are looking for a solution that the problem in this person is the destination. We call this whole process “E-attraction” so e-attraction is digital attraction. So it’s all about attracting to you instead of pushing out, and selling and being spammy. Our main clients don’t like that feel because they’re business leaders, they don’t have to do that. And you ask the question I didn’t answer, the reason why the name is “Social Star” is that primarily, we use social media and when we first started, I was doing a part-time while working full-time and we were doing celebrities. And we just did that because it was cool and fun and got us into good parties. So we’re doing actors, and models, and DJs and so we’re making those people big as stars because the more followers they have, the more money they make and this is 8 years ago. So this is before Instagram, this is before any of this stuff was a sort of trendy. We were doing influencer marketing before the term was around. So we now do it for business leaders because we find that there are some other people I tend to work with.
Wayne: So Andrew in practical terms, how do you deliver the service like when you say you work with people, what’s involved?
Andrew: There’s three parts of the process and that’s probably our uniqueness is that it’s not just one of these parts. So the first part is actually a whole bunch of personal development and the reason why we go through that process is that you cannot be passionate about something and fake it. So we’ve really got to dig down to their “why” and the reason they’re running the business, the people they really, really want to help because then when we produce the content, it cuts through because bland content is just wasted time whereas content that is passionate, and authentic and really strikes a chord with its end user is because it’s real. And so we have to drill down on the people’s values – their personality, their life stage, their resources to be able to deliver this and we come up with their mission from that and their mission fuels the content we produce so that’s the first stage. And not many people do that, they sort of just go straight and to build some digital tools. And the second phase and the reason I do the understand part is that I grew up a hippie with my mum. So I might not look like a hippie but I was a vegan person living in the Suburbs going to Ashrams when I was 10. And then I sort of rejected that and went off and worked in a corporate and did an MBA and earned lots of money and did digital marketing as trade. So I did digital marketing for 20 years at the world’s biggest companies and so I know how to build technology and so we build that tech for them in a cost-effective way. And then the third part is because I did sales and marketing is we trained them to do sales marketing because it’s great to have a brand but if you can’t actually talk to a customer and have a conversation so that they want to do business with you, then that’s a problem. And a lot of professionals can’t particularly the people who are CEOs and they leave their job and they want to be a consultant, they have no idea on how to convert a client and the way to talk to people.
Wayne: Well I’m struck by a couple of thoughts here. The first is that the average doctor in what works out to be about 22 years of formal education actually spends zero time studying cash flow and balance sheets.
Andrew: A hundred percent.
Wayne: So the guy who is guaranteed to fix your aortic embolism or something with consummate skill is not going to look at a profit and loss statement and go, “Oh we should increase our marketing spend.” It’s just not within their educational gambit. The other thing of course is that for me at least in my life in all my time spent in small business, the stuff that I spent most time on was the stuff I was completely hopeless at because wanting to do a good job, that felt like hard work. That felt like all sweating, struggling, trying to balance the books at the end of the month, working hard. And it’s only since I’ve got over 60 I figured out the some stuff I do that feels really easy and doesn’t feel like work but it does to other people and there’s other things that other people do really easily and I should just pay them to do that.
Andrew: A 100% on track with that, I mean that’s actually the point.
Wayne: When your mother said, “Try hard darling, you’ll get better at it,” that was just bad advice. What she should have said was, “Do the stuff you’re really good at and get someone else to do the rest.”
Andrew: Yes, outsourcing. And you do outsourcing and I highly, highly encourage all my clients. We make a love list and a hate list and our whole job is to get more of the love list working so that you are passionate, and fueled, and enthusiastic and shine because when you’re in flow, “flow” is a mental state of success and when you’re in flow, you attract more opportunities. So the attraction philosophy is not just digital marketing, it’s actually how you come across as a person because you know you’ve seen those people when you get all meeting these, people are just so inspired by what they do, you want to you want to come along for the ride and that’s the first part of the process. If you’re not inspired by what you do, no one else is going to be. So without that, digital marketing doesn’t work. I can get people to come and see you if you fall flat, you’re not going to convert. So drilling into that is super important and what you said was by outsourcing things you don’t want to do, you have more time in flow and more inspiration.
Wayne: Life is just more fun.
Andrew: Yes, correct. And we don’t do financial advice, we’re a marketing company so we do marketing advice. But we outsource that marketing so when they find it hard to do things like maintain their website or set up a shopping cart, they can write a blog but they can’t post it on LinkedIn, Facebook and they don’t know how to use HubSpot which is our CRM. We just do those technical things because then they can produce content and talk to clients which is they all need to do.
Wayne: That’s the stuff that they feel is easy to do. If you’re a brain surgeon and then the expression ‘it’s not exactly brain surgery,’ it doesn’t make any sense because you think, “Well, I’m a brain surgeon and that’s what I do and it’s not tough, it’s not difficult.”
Andrew: The difference between now and 10 years ago when I first started doing this is that when you used to be a brain surgeon, people would just look up the Yellow Pages, or ask a friend and find brain surgery. Now I had a situation, my son recently broke his arm and he went to the local hospital and basically, they stuffed it up and we had to get to the emergency and get the cast cut off and I’m like, “Right, I’m finding Australia’s leading expert in orthopedic surgery for pediatrics.” So it’s a very niche field. I did what everyone else would do which is part of what I tell people, I Googled. So I Googled that exact thing and I came up with a list of people. And I found about 4 people I’ve researched and one of them said, “I’m a specialist in children’s broken arms but I also do cosmetic surgery, and I also do this, and I also do that” and like “You’re not an expert.” And then, I went I found one guy and he looked like a good dude, looked like a guy I could talk to, looked capable and credible and he did AFL players and I’m like, “Right, that’s his company not him and he’s my guy” and I booked him in and he was fabulous. Now on reflection of that, I was thinking, “What about all the people who were like, I’m a surgeon, I don’t need to have a website.” They didn’t even appear, they might have been listed in Australia but I wouldn’t know because I couldn’t find them. What if they had at an online presence but it was so poorly constructed or out-of-date that I didn’t get to see them either and I rejected them? So everybody from a plumber, to a brain surgeon, to a rocket scientist, an accountant, physiotherapy, a marketing person – all these people need a brand. And you’ve got one whether you like it or not, it’s just whether you want to have it work for you and your business or just sit there and be reactive. And our proposition is that if you put some effort into it, you’ll get the results because isn’t it nice when people just call you up and order your product? And that’s what happens to our customers do because they can be found, they look good and they’ve got a clear path to go and talk to the person they want to talk to. So it’s quite simple but people don’t do it, that’s the interesting thing. It’s like health, it’s quite simple, maybe exercise a bit but people don’t do it.
Wayne: I’m all in favour of competition in business and exercise for personal well-being for other people. For myself, I have a different model. Time is getting away from us here Andrew. Now some of the people who are listening to us today will have heard you talking and going like you with the pediatric orthopedic surgeon, they’ll be going, “That’s the guy for me, that’s the guy I want to talk to.” How can people reach out to you?
Andrew: So there’s a couple different ways, go to my website socialstar.com.au, so we’re based in Australia. They can get a free copy of my book, “Creating a Powerful Brand” just go and put your email in there and we’ll send you a PDF version. Also, there’s LinkedIn. Now I’m a big believer that LinkedIn is a great platform, the best marketing platform we have today. Facebook is really expensive and crowded but LinkedIn is just really going strong. So contact me on LinkedIn, send me a message and I’ll get back to you there as well, there are whole bunch of free blogs and everything you can read there too. So they’re probably the main two areas.
Wayne: Andrew Ford CEO of Social Star Proprietary Limited, thank you for making yourself available to us today. It’s been a real pleasure having a chat with you.
Andrew: Great to chat Wayne, thank you very much.
Wayne: If you just joined us on Business Radio Talkers.FM, the bad news is you’ve just missed my chat with Andrew Ford and we’ve had a fascinating chat about I guess personal branding and the use of current social tools to make that all happen. But the good news is on our website, we have a transcript, you can read it. Given this is radio, you’ve probably not a reader anyway so why don’t you just listen to it. We also have an audio archive on YouTube, SoundCloud and iTunes where you can treat it like a little mini podcast and download it and listen to it at your leisure as often as you like. Now all of those resources are available on our website at Talkers.FM and head in there, you’ll see the the interview and you will also see the links to the audio and the transcript. My name is Wayne Bucklar, you’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM.