Ep14 – The Google’s Go-To Growth Person Edition with Robert Craven

Ep14 – The Google’s Go-To Growth Person Edition with Robert Craven

James chats with Robert Craven, Google’s go-to person when it comes to business growth and business development.


He currently runs coaching and training programs in 6 countries under the GYDA (Grow Your Digital Agency) Initiative. Clients include Barclays, Nando’s, Google and Ritz Carlton.


A prolific author with 11 titles to his name, including Customer is King, Grow Your Service Firm and Grow Your Digital Agency. The legendary Dennis Yu (ex-Yahoo) says, “This man is the BEST at growing your agency”.


Richard Branson wrote, “Robert Craven says that ‘your whole business hinges on what your customer gets from you’. I wholeheartedly agree.”


They discuss what’s changed and what hasn’t in business and sales, buying cars, Simon Sinek, Borolo and understanding and looking after your clients.


Contact Robert:


Robert Craven www.robert-craven.com
Grow Your Digital Agency GYDA Initiative  www.GYDAinitiative.com
Twitter @Robert_Craven
Facebook www.facebook.com/robert.craven1
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/robertcraven/

Click for the full transcript

James Nathan : 00:53 Hello and welcome to the Only One Business Show with me, your host, James Nathan. And today I’ve got a fabulous guest for you. He is Google’s go to person when it comes to business growth and business development. It currently runs coaching and training programs in six countries under the GYDA which is grow your own digital agency initiative. Clients include Barclays, Nandos, Google and the Ritz Carlton. A prolific author with 11 titles to his name, including Customer is King, Grow Your Service Firm, Grow Your Digital Agency, The legendary Dennis Yu ex-Yahoo says “this man is the best at growing your agency”. That’s a hell of an accolade. But even further, Richard Branson wrote what he says: ‘Your whole business hinges on what your customer gets from you. I wholeheartedly agree with”. Please welcome Robert Craven. Robert. Hi, how are you?


Robert Craven: 01:47 Absolutely fantastic. And it’s great to be a guest on the show.


James Nathan : 01:51 Well, it’s lovely to have you. I know you’re super busy, man. You’re telling me you’ve been traveling a huge amount recently. Where have you just come back from?


Robert Craven: 01:58 I came back this morning or last night from Madrid, from A brilliant conference for the hotel hospitality in industry. We had, it was amazing. There was a Ritz Carlton, there was Hilton, AirBnB, booking.com. And then there were also the pay platforms. So it was a remarkable conference about, about hospitality and customer service.


James Nathan : 02:23 Sounds like a fantastic thing right up my street. I love talking about hospitality. I know you do. Ritz Carlton are an incredible business. What are they doing at the moment that’s different?


Robert Craven: 02:32 Well, I mean I think the whole, the whole Ritz Carlton story about how they present themselves and this thing around you, Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen, they make, they make themselves different because they, yeah, we can talk about the rubbish that’s called purpose and Simon Sinek stuff later on because I do believe that’s rubbish. Slightly controversial but, but what, what they do at Ritz Carlton is actually see things from the customer’s point of view. So they actually have this, this notion that you need to you know, predict or, or pre know or what the client actually wants before you and the client wants to know. So for example, if a member of staff sees someone walking towards the swimming pool, they’ve got no towel with them, they’ll go, ah, no towel. I’ll go and get them a towel. They have this lovely set of rules and values, including things like everyone’s able to, every member of staff is able to offer up to, I think it’s $150, $200 dispensation to a client.


Robert Craven: 03:36 So if a customer has a customer complaint, normally you go to your Chambermaid, oh, I had a bad meal last night, and she says, oh, you need to go and talk to the restaurant. You go to the restaurant. So I don’t like to be rude, but I had a bad meal last night, a funny meal, and the restaurant manager says, well, that’s the evening restaurant managers here. Okay, who do I need to talk to? I’ll talk to the restaurant managers tonight. So you go back that night say I don’t like to be rude, but last night I had a bad meal and the restaurant manager says, well, actually, I wasn’t on duty. It was the other restaurant manager. Can you come back? Now all that happens as a customer, do you get more and more angry about the whole thing? Whereas the Ritz Carlton Way is that Chambermaid, the first point of contact can say, oh, I’m really sorry to hear that.


Robert Craven: 04:15 We’ll find out what the problem was obviously, but in the meantime, here’s $150 dispensation. And it just takes all that angst and frustration of starting to feel like you’re in the wrong because you’re complaining, you’re not complaining, you’re just pointing out that you’ve got poor service. But so often other companies fail to take onboard feedback. They failed to respond and I love the way that Ritz Carlton…. It starts with the customer, what the customer wants in the customer experience. I love that they put in obsessive systems and processes meeting every day with every member of staff in little groups and huddles so that they know what’s happening today, what happened yesterday, what they need to be aware of. I love the fact that they have value. I mean my, my work with Ritz Carlton was it in Jamaica now Jamaica is known for poor customer service and yet there they were able, because ‘hire for the smile’ because of the systems and processes because of the drip drip feed of, of communicating to every member of staff what’s important. They’re able to deliver. I’m going to use the word I hate awesome service.


James Nathan : 05:31 There’s a lovely story in Horst Shultze’s, new book, which is only been out of it a while of hiring people in Jamaica and talking about that kind of pre or expectation that service’s rubbish there and how those people changed because they worked in that environment, how they’re dressed, how they held themselves, what they did next. And I think it’s just wonderful. There’s so many great stories, from it and that, that ability to just make decisions that empowerment that they give makes such a difference that takes the friction out of everything. And you know, your example there is really simple, but it must happen dozens and dozens of times in businesses where suddenly your shot off….. It reminds me of a story, actually. I’ve got two, two stories of visiting China while Mandy was…. The last time we could travel, when Mandy was pregnant with my first boy, Ben. And… I’ve only got got one boy, with Ben and she was pregnant. So obviously she was very worried about what she ate. And in China it was more difficult with the language differences. Ritz Carlton, we stayed in Shanghai. It was seamless. It was absolutely amazing to the point where if someone was smoking nearby, a member of staff would just come over and whisk Mandy away and put her somewhere that wasn’t any cigarettes smoke. Lovely little touches. To the Grand Hyatt in Xian where they fed us…..one of the meals was pork. And when we cut into the a piece of that, it was half cooked. So with a very worried and pregnant wife I said to the waiter, look, this isn’t cooked and Mandy’s pregnant when you’re very worried about it. And their response was we’ll take that section of the meal off your bill.


James Nathan : 07:17 To which I said, don’t be ridiculous. You’ve just totally ruined our whole evening. We ended up in a, almost in a conference with the general manager and somebody else explaining to us that they felt that that was a sensible response to the problem when I was saying to them, actually, I don’t want to pay for any of it now.


Robert Craven: 07:36 Yeah. It’s, it’s confusing….. It’s confusing effectiveness and efficiency. So they were, they were efficiency, they following their rules and the really bonkers thing about that story. Is that it…. They didn’t, they didn’t save if the main course was £20 and the whole meal is £50 and they didn’t save themselves £30 by, you know, by arguing about about the money or even giving you the £20. The fact is you go and tell 10 people, you don’t stay there again. The example I always get is give is, it’s kind of a flip side story really. I do a lot of work at Warwick business school. They’ve got a management training centre there. I maybe four times a year I’ll take a hundred people there for two days. That’s 150, 300 pounds a person that’s 300 people times a hundred times four.


Robert Craven: 08:29 So you can do the math how much that’s worth to them. Why do I keep going back there? Well, I have a bit of a soft spot for a wine called Barolo. It costs about 15 credit bottle. Now, whenever I go to business school under the day before a conference, I’m running Allen, the you know, the general manager though would just come up and put down two glasses of wine and a bottle of Barola for me. And that’s enough. Ironically, it’s a reverse thing. That 15 pound spend means that four times a year, a hundred people at times 300 spend time there because they just remembered that detail about me. And it makes me feel good and, you know, call me naive. But I’m not a number. I’m a person and if people can remember me, I’ll respond to that. So, yeah, I think there are, there are so many examples of where service can nudge you into staying as a very, very loyal customer. Very, very simple. It doesn’t have to be massive. And we’re also, by being mean over 20 quid, in the case of the Hyatt you’re talking about, that’s it. You won’t go back again. I mean it’s…. and I had an experience with a large hotel in Brighton that I will not return to ever, ever, ever again.


James Nathan : 09:51 And then that’s it. And it done. And if someone stays in Brighton and they say where should I stayRob, I know you go there a lot, you’ll say for whatever you do, don’t stay in this place. You know. Yeah. But I think there is…. When you mentioned the Barolo, I just start to smile, I think. Perfect. Because that’s how it should be. You know, your client, you look after them, you understand them, you do little things that make a difference and it’s only a little thing, but that’s where the difference happens.


Robert Craven: 10:19 Yeah. I think we…. There are all these lovely sort of apocryphal stories. I mean, one of my, I guess one of my challenges in a way is I wrote the book Customer is King way back and I think 2002 and then we, we revisited it, Virgin and got me to revisit the book in about 2014, 2015. So what do you want to change now? Ah, we actually changed virtually none of it. The funny bit is that the piece on it where it talks about websites and in the original book is like, so should you invest in your website and the question, think about investing in your website. Well, ironically, you know, there has been an entire generation of work has taken place. So actually that question is still valid? Cause maybe the website isn’t the best, best investment in your time.


Robert Craven: 11:13 Maybe it should be a Facebook page or it should be Facebook blog. But the disappointing thing for me was 2002 through 2014 through to now. Not a great deal has changed. There are the same blinking case studies are dragged up right here on year. You know, the one about Sainsbury’s and the bread, the one about Ritz Carlton and the kid’s toy, which got left behind. These stories are kind of, I mean, they’re almost apocryphal, but in many ways, this is, this is kind of 101 stuff. So the interesting thing is what’s changed. And the answer is everything’s changed, but nothing’s changed. So customers want it quicker, faster. Now. They want experience, they want it in front of them.


Robert Craven: 12:17 They want it frictionless. So we have this new normal, I mean, there is a new normal for, there’s no two ways about it where everything is far more customer centric. There’s far more DIY for the customer. But I think the big difference is the conversations take place. There’s a breakdown where 15 years ago the brands kind of thought they were in control of the conversation and as demonstrated by what we’ve been talking about, they’re not let me give you, let me give you an example. We worked with a well known Japanese 4×4 manufacturer. And six years ago, they had 5.2 visits to the dealership before someone bought the car. Right. I say, go along, check the door, sit in the seat, smell the leather, ask about the colour, go back again.


Robert Craven: 13:15 Take your partner with you. Maybe take the kids, check out the size, go back again and do another test drive. Go back again. On average, 5.2 times, people would have to visit the dealership before they bought the car. Five years later, on average, people visit the dealership 1.1 time. And that is because all that so-called research, all that understanding, looking at testimonials, looking at reviews is all done online. And that happens the whole way through. So whether it be a hotel or a restaurant you can see the reviews. You can see the menu, you can see photos, you can see what people like me do. People like me go there. And what do people like me say about it? And whether it’s TripAdvisor or Trivago or the equivalent for whatever industry you’re in. There’s been this shift from…. Google, call it the first moment of truth.


Robert Craven: 14:20 Okay. So in the old days, you didn’t know what it was like until you got there. ‘Til you actually bought it? And then that was the first moment of truth when you knew whether you’d like to not, and that’s been a fundamental shift to what they call the zero moment of truth or zmot, which is even before you’ve bought it, you know pretty much what you’re going to get. So, how people buy, think about how you buy stuff now. Think about the last 10 things you bought kind of, most of the time it’s not do I, don’t, I do, I don’t, you know what you’re going to buy at all and all they’ve got to do is put up the shopping cart and make it easier for you to pick.


James Nathan : 15:00 Absolutely. I’m thinking back to when you talk about the car purchasing thing and it’s you know, I’m one of those people that loves to research. I love to read everything I can and find every review and drive my wife crazy. Telling her about it too. She says, but God’s like, just go and buy the bloody thing. But it is very much a case of do I like it or not? Or is it everything I expected it to be from what I’ve read. If it is, here’s my money. And that does fit across a lot of areas. What stresses me a little is that we know that’s how it works. The car manufacturers know how it works, the dealerships know how it works. But still, when I went into a Nissin dealer a few months ago to look at a car, he stopped and started to tell me the whole background noise that I already knew. And for whatever reason he was taught to do that. Even understanding what the client knows.


Robert Craven: 15:58 Well I think, I think that part of that is the new normal. So I mean, just to kind of finish this sort of piece of mind, everything’s changed, but nothing’s changed. So nothing has changed. As in, I want to be able to eyeball you and shake your hand before I hand over a lot of money to you. Nothing’s changed. Or in fact it’s gone in reverse so that people are fleeing from Facebook. People are fleeing from YouTube and so on and so forth because they want proper relationships. And then, and then everything’s changed. Cause you sit in a tube train, you sit in a restaurant and everyone’s got their mobile’s out and there and they’re talking to some other people in some other planet, in some other space and they’re failing to do this.


Robert Craven: 16:47 So there’s this real contradiction. Now most people think everything’s changed full stop. But I actually think that some of the customer fundamentals, if we go back to hotels or restaurants, some of those who, those fundamentals about feeling important, feeling cared for is vital. And then when you put that into the marketing mix it’s not about buy from me, buy from me.com. It’s far more about people like me will buy from people like me. People, this just this whole concept of people like us. So there’s, you know, there’s more than enough customers out there for all of us. And it makes far more sense for me to focus on the people who get me and, and to ignore the people who don’t get me because the people who don’t get me, are never going to be happy. So, so why would I want to do business with them? But the people who do get me, why don’t I just focus more time having a conversation direct with them in a language that they understand.


James Nathan : 18:01 Yeah, yeah. No, I completely agree with that. I know in my own business and a lot of businesses are working as well, when you start to work more with that type of person and start to just ignore the other type of person, your business grows, you enjoy it more, you serve better. The whole things is self perpetuating.


Robert Craven: 18:21 And I struggled to understand, I mean, I think there’s just this thing about niching is really high risk. Don’t get me wrong saying we do this and we don’t do that is really, really high risk. But the benefits, if I look at my digital agency clients, the ones who are doing really, really well are the niche ones. You know, we as a consultancy now niche on digital agencies and it’s nicheing is the beauty of niching is you go, I’m going to give you a really simple example. We did two books last year. One was called Grow Your Digital Agency, target full number of the targets in the UK probably about 30,000. Okay. We’ve sold about 15,000. So we’ve half the people that have actually bought the book, we also, and it’s the only book, it was the only book at the time.


Robert Craven: 19:15 And everyone’s known for it and I’m known for it. And as a result of that, there can be an invited all around the world and it’s fantastic. We produced another book with a guy called Adam Harris. You might might know Adam and, that was called the Check In Strategy Journal, which is centrally was the same argument, which is where are you now? Where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, what are the steps on the way? What are you going to measure it? What’s the journey? What is it you want to be? What do you want to be known for? How you can make that happen? What’s the steps on the way? It’s essentially the same thing, but it was a, it was a broad based book saying hello to businesses, but on the one hand you say, well that’s much better cause there are 5 million businesses in the UK.


Robert Craven: 19:55 You’re appealing to 5 million businesses. But because it was competing with Stephen Covey because it was competing with Gary Vaynerchuk because he was competing with Seth Godin because it was competing with all the big players in growing your business. It just got lost. It never, relatively, it never got the traction because everyone said, oh this is kind of for us, but I could come talk to one of the big boys. Whereas in my niche, there are only, on the national stage in the UK, there’s probably four or five people doing what I do. And the European stage, there’s probably two or three on the global stage there’s one, who’s one of my best mates. And what happens is you’re in a small village, so you get known quicker. You’re in a small village, so you know more about the villages than they do. So you can start benchmarking, you can start specializing. One of those quotes is if you’ve got two clients in the same industry, then you’ve got a conflict of interests when you’ve got, when you’ve got five or 10, then you’re an expert.


Robert Craven: 21:07 So one of our clients specialize, a digital agency, specializes in lawyers, only works with lawyers and more about lawyers than any lawyer does. You know, the lawyers go, so tell me how much should it be costing? Tell us how many links do you tell me? How many visits should we be getting? Another agents I know only works with dentists. I’ve got…. and I think that, that, that sense of, of getting narrow and deep versus shallow and wide can really pay dividends.


James Nathan : 21:43 You said that it was a risky strategy. I don’t know if it is.


Robert Craven: 21:49 So, just be careful. It is risky. If you’re dumb enough to say there’s a hole in the market where there’s not a market in the whole. So if you decide, I mean there’s a whole bunch, you know, you and I know there’s a bunch of people out there saying you need to write a book, you need to have a niche, you need to grow, you need a website and then you can be and speak on stage. You can be reached in your wildest dreams. But if your niche is babysitting 12 year old Asian girls who are into Pokemon…. there may well be a hole in that market.


Robert Craven: 22:27 But there is not a market in that hole. You know, so don’t like the word risky cause I think what you do, what we do is… we’re not, we don’t take, you know, I don’t take risks. We think really carefully about before we invest our time and money in something. So it appears to be a risk and a gamble. But we do the research, we test stuff, we try stuff out. We create minimum viable product before we go heavily into it. So, there may be risk attached to those kinds of strategies. But especially in this day and age, you can test up a niche, you know, really, really quickly. You can see what kind of responses are. Google will tell you how many competitors you’ve got.


Robert Craven: 23:16 Google will tell you how many people are looking for those particular keywords. You can see the websites and the offerings of your competitors. You can do it really, really quickly.


James Nathan : 23:31 You mentioned Simon Sinek earlier and you mentioned….


Robert Craven: 23:34 Here we go….


James Nathan : 23:36 Well, you can’t chuck a bit of bait out like that, Rob and then say, I’m not going to talk about it. Tell me your thoughts.


Robert Craven: 23:43 God, Simon Sinek. So Simon Sinek wrote a book in about 2006 about Start With Why, which was really about personal purpose and fall goals and stuff. Then it got taken by the corporates and corporates loved it. Now I know a whole bunch of agencies that I work with who’ve got totally screwed up searching for their purpose cause they must have a purpose and what people are doing is they’re mushing up this, this thing about personal purpose, business purpose, a purpose on a global stage, private purpose.


Robert Craven: 24:21 They’re all just mushed up into the whole thing. Now let’s just be clear. One, there is no evidence anywhere to support the assumption that is put out that having a purpose makes you more profitable. That is not a shred of evidence that shows a cause and effect relationship between businesses having a purpose and then being more profitable. Yeah, lots of successful businesses have purpose, but maybe it’s kind of a horse and cart thing. Maybe they’re successful businesses who’ve just decided to have a purpose. Two, the likes of any big brand you care to mention of, any big of the big top 500 have all got a purpose and they’ve all pulled in the big consultants and given them 3 million pounds to create a purpose that everyone is meant to believe in. And it’s total utter tosh. And I know too many small agency owners who spent two or three months struggling to find their purpose when actually all they’re doing is we want to run a great business with great people and do really great stuff.


Robert Craven: 25:27 But that’s not a purpose because we’re not changing the world. We’re not donating free websites to the third world. We’re not saving the planet. And I just think that, so I go back to what I said earlier. I think about the, I’ll tell you what, the last 10 things I’ve bought, I can actually go through what they were. At the airport I bought some sandwiches. At the airport I bought myself a biro. I bought a flight from Easy Jet. I bought a hotel room. I bought some tapas in a bar. I bought a pad of paper. And finally I bought some marker pens for the presentation I gave. Not in any of those purchases, at any point did I say, I wonder what the purpose of this organization is when I consider whether I should be buying their product or service or not.


Robert Craven: 26:28 Okay. The purpose doesn’t come into my purchasing decision. Now, cool. Have a business, as a group of individuals, especially if you’re a small business. Our purpose is to change the way people buy digital agencies. Our purpose is to contribute 10% of profits. Our purpose is to have a very diverse thing, but that works either with a small business where it’s just about us and our personal thing or, and of course it works with charities large or small…. we’re here to make the lives of famine affected children better. But the idea that we have to have a purpose, it’s just, just Lord, give me strength.


James Nathan : 27:12 Do you know, it’s a refreshing view to hear. I remember having a conversation a few years ago about this where someone said what’s the purpose of your business and what I said, the purpose of my business is to keep me and my family fed and sheltered and to help other people make more money. And they said that’s not a purpose. That’s why I’m in business. I enjoy what I do. I love it. Otherwise I wouldn’t do it. I’ve, you know, I’ve chopped and changed I was an accountant, then I was a recruiter. I’ve done a few different things. I’m drawing my experience together into things that I love to do. What’s my purpose? That’s my purpose.


Robert Craven: 27:48 Well, I would argue your purpose is a relatively private thing. Cause if I’d come and I want to buy from you, what am I interested in? I’m interested in, can you help my business be more effective if I give you, if I give you a thousand pounds, will you give me 3000 pounds on my bottom line? Am I interested in how you do that? Not drastically. You know, when, when you’ve got a really bad back, you know, you’ll go and see anyone, you can fix your back. What I want as a customer is I want the, not the features of what you, of what you sell, but the benefits of what you sell. And in fact, I don’t even want the benefits. I want the benefits of the benefits, you know, and I think we just get too fixated with people, you know, and actually we’re back actually we’re back to your conversation about the car dealership that sells features that we know already. You know what I’m not buying, I’m not buying double overhead, gang shaft triples, circumvented engine. I’m buying something that makes me feel my children are safe when I drive. And I think we forget that.


James Nathan : 28:58 Yeah. I think that, that we really do. Even when I’m doing some very basic intro sales training, we talk about purpose. Sorry, which you put that word in my head. We talk about the benefit of the benefit. You know, what’s the benefit of a fire pace in a house, why do cars have ABS, all that sort of stuff. And people struggle with it. You think, come on, really. We all know this. It’s in our hearts. We just have to actually bring it to the forefront. I mean, the thing that wound me up the most about that car thing was that actually the only reason I went to the dealership was that I needed to see how much leg room there was in the back of that car because on no website and nowhere could I find that dynamic in each of the different models that were the same.


James Nathan : 29:39 And so when I walked through the door and said, look, before you start with me, all I want to see is how much leg room’s in the back of this car. And they disregarded it everywhere, including Mercedes who made me have a cup of coffee before they let me see a car. I didn’t want to see it. I just wanted to measure it. And if it fitted my criteria, which was my children are big and they’re growing, then if it’s bigger than what I’ve got now, otherwise I’ll keep the car I’ve got now. But yeah, it’s a very….. it’s a fun world to talk around. I love your views on purpose. I think it’s about time someone had a different view and didn’t pander. You work with a lot of younger people and I’m saying that as a grey head, a nearly 50 year old man. And a lot of people talk about, you know, attracting the right kind of people for your business. I talk about a lot. But then how are those people looking for businesses who have a more altruistic stance? Do you think they really do, or is that just something that you know, fits into, a narrative at the moment?


Robert Craven: 30:46 Do people look for more altruistic businesses? Do they look for businesses, which, well, yeah, I mean I think, leaving aside my minor rant, you can see by the sheer volume of vegan food which has appeared from nowhere everyone now does it. And the kind of responding to a more…. about this thing about everything’s changed. Nothing’s changed really. But people are, people want to be…. we get lost by being a number because everything gets commoditized and we want some individuality. So, if I can, in all honesty, if I can, I’d rather buy my electricity from a regional supplier. I’d rather Iwork with someone who’s about more than just the money. That’s my choice. But that may well be a first world luxury issue, you know, I may prefer to buy Toms shoes cause I know Toms give for every shoe pair of shoes I buy, they can a pair to charity.


Robert Craven: 32:08 And I think more and more people, more and more younger people are saying, I’d like some choice and I don’t just want to be part of this nasty, horrible capitalist system, but I do actually think that they’re, I guess they’re conflicted because they don’t mind using a bloody apple phone which has got titanium and zinc and all kinds of weird stuff in kids have been exploited in order to, you know, find the rare commodities that go into making the phone. They kind of blank all that stuff out. If they were really cared about workers’ rights and so on and so forth, they wouldn’t be using mobile phones. So there’s a kind of a, it’s a bit like here’s a not a white washing, but a greenwashing going on. You know, we feel, oh I’m a really good person because I keep, I saved my plastic bags, so I only use paper bags when I go to Waitrose. And the problem’s kind of much bigger than that. But they feel that they’re delivering on that small point. Oh my, I’ve gotta be really careful about my footprint on pollution while thinking it’s cool to fly to San Diego for a conference. So I think we’re quite confused and conflicted, I guess that’s where I am on that.


James Nathan : 33:35 And that’s….. we’ll get into a whole different can of worms there. I remember in a similar vein and having a conversation with an uncle of mine who was a very, very wealthy man, and he drove a big Daimler. But he was a socialist, a very staunch socialist. And I said to him, how’s that possible? You can live in this enormous house and drive this beautiful car. And he said, because I wish everyone had them. You know, and I thought, well, that’s an interesting way of putting it. You know, I want to go to Barbados, but I don’t want to do this. I think that there’s, there’s a lot to be done. There’s a long, long way to go with how we treat our planet. I think the small wins are good things. But you’re right, there is an ultra as world issue around all of it.


Robert Craven: 34:18 But if you go back to the original original point point of the question, which is, yeah I mean I’m personally, it’s not everyone’s choice, but my preference is to buy locally. My preference is to buy from local restaurants. So I run mastermind groups in Bath every month and we try to only go out for meals in privately run, locally owned restaurants. And it’s quite difficult because why would we want to give money to some chain, which is based in London or wherever it is, employing people at basic wage when you could actually keep the money in the local economy. So I think it is very attractive for a lot of people, for them to be able to feel that they’re buying from , in inverted commas, a local business, a purpose driven thing where the money isn’t just going into some tax haven or somewhere, but it’s not everything.


Robert Craven: 35:14 And I think you just need to just think about, you know, write a list of the last 20 things you bought and how many of those really were, I mean some for some people its loads, they buy their vegetables at the greengrocer they buy their, you know, they, they walk to the coffee shop, the coffee is blah blah blah blah blah blah. But I kind of I think we also like the cheap, cheap cheapness or something being commoditized because it’s the Hilton chain or because it’s Google or Facebook or YouTube or LinkedIn. So a bit of cake and eat it going on.


Robert Craven: 35:47 Is the greatest threat technology? Okay. Question, is the greatest threat technology? Netflix didn’t kill Blockbuster. It was ridiculous late fees did, did Uber kill the taxi business? No. Limited access did. Did Apple kill the music industry? No, full length albums did. Did Amazon killer retail industry? No. Poor customer service did. Let’s just be clear that there’s kind of two things going on, which is, you know, Airbnb, booking.com, hotels.com Trivago. Technology by itself is not the biggest disruptor. The biggest disruptor in my mind is that is that people are not customer centric, that they forgot to listen to the customer. 1961 Theodore Levitt wrote the paper called Marketing Myopia. Okay. In Marketing Myopia he says, yeah, the trouble is that all businesses think they’re about selling stuff. You know, and if your solution is a hammer, all problems, they’re going to be nails. And people don’t buy drill bits. They buy the holes the drill bits make so they can put a screw into it and so on and so forth. But I think that, I think that’s just really, really important to, to understand that it’s the custom, you know, it’s just not being customer centric, which is the problem.


Robert Craven: 37:13 Everything and nothing has changed. And, you know, customers, let’s just go through it. They want to be more informed, they’re more demanding. They’re more impatient. They want to go, they want to do, they want to buy, they want to get more, they want to do more. And they want that to be frictionless. And as long as that’s how customers are behaving, you know, as suppliers, we need to make a response.


James Nathan : 37:36 Our job is to serve the customer in the way that works best for them and makes the most profit as a result.


Robert Craven: 37:43 Yeah. But, but, but, but what’s happened in this blinking world of Google Ads and so on and so forth, everyone has become preoccupied with tactics. You know, and this is the point that Levitt made in 1961, you know? Okay. And nothing’s changed because now everyone’s preoccupied with, if I do a blog, if I do a podcast, if I do Facebook live, if I have, you know, Google ads, if I have a Google my business and it’s all tactics, and you go, oh yeah, of course it’s not about tactics, it’s about bigger.


Robert Craven: 38:19 It’s about the strategy and you go, yeah about strategy. No, it’s not about the strategy, it’s about the customer and understanding. So what was Levitt’s big thing was customers…. the whole thing about a business. It’s about two things, which is segmentation and differentiation. 1961 segmentation and differentiation. You segment your customer into groups of similar minded people who make decisions in similar ways about similar things. Segmentation and differentiation. You are different from the competition because of what you do or how you do or when you do or where you do in segmentation and differentiation. Marketing 101, day one of your marketing course or the university. Segmentation of differentiation is how we as business owners separate ourselves out for the customer and against the competition so that we can actually deliver and we can actually run successful businesses.


James Nathan : 39:16 Robert, you’ve given us so much to think about. Thank you so, so much. Before we wind up though, I’d love you to leave us with the one thing, the big nugget, the golden nugget, whatever you’d like to say that would help businesses be better today and better in the years to come. What would that be?


Robert Craven: 39:33 Oh, okay. I’ll go for a controversial one. Put your prices up. Why? Why put your prices up? If you’ve got a 30% gross margin, so you buy for 10 sell for seven, three pound profit. If you put your prices up by 10% you will lose customers. But the customers, you lose are the pond life and scum, the customer you lose the ones who don’t get the value, the customers that you lose, you don’t understand the value that you add. More importantly you can afford to lose up to 25% of your customers and still get the same amount of money in your back pocket. So you were working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. You now only need to work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and a bit of Thursday. So you spend the rest of the time out in your boat. And you’re still saying to me, yeah, but we’re in Scunthorpe, we’re in Birmingham.


Robert Craven: 40:21 We’ve got to put our prices down to be more competitive. If you put your prices down, 10% seven pound, three pound profit price down by 10% you need to find 50% more customers just to stay in the same place. So you were working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. You now need to work another two and a half days just to stay in the same place. More importantly, you attract pond life and scum who are buying on price, who are not loyal, who will flit and change, and they won’t help you. 99 and a half percent of businesses I come across need to, must, put their prices up so they have self-respect so they don’t feel like a whore or a prostitute so that they can do great work so that they can afford to deliver awesome value to their customers.


James Nathan : 41:08 Fantastic. Robert, thank you so, so much.


Robert Craven: 41:11 Absolute pleasure. Thank you very much myself.



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