Ep16 – The Stolen Identity and Communications Edition with Steve Bustin
James chats with Steve Bustin, a business communications specialist, helping business leaders to get their voices heard.
Through his business, Get Your Voice Heard, he works with individuals and senior teams who need to get their voices heard from the stage, in the media and within their organisation. He does this as a keynote speaker, coach and workshop leader.
He specialises in working with those in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry and also working with marketing, PR and other agencies.
Steve started his career as a journalist for BBC TV and radio news, before founding and running PR agency Vada Media for 11 years. He was named UK Speaker of the Year in 2015 by The Professional Speaking Association and is the author of two books, The Authority Guide to Presenting and Public Speaking and The Authority Guide to PR for Small Business.
He’s also recently had his 15 minutes of fame when he discovered that he had unwittingly become the face of an online international dating scam.
They discuss the dark side of social media, communication and engagement, good etiquette, going postal, how it all effects your business and its service, and how to become the lead character in a new book.
LinkedIn: Steve Bustin
Phone: 020 7183 1096
James Nathan: 00:53 Hello. Welcome to The Only One Business Show with me, your host, James Nathan, and I’ve got a fantastic guest in the studio here today and I think you’re going to really enjoy what he’s got to say. He’s been a business communications specialist for many, many years helping businesses get their voices heard. Through his business, Get Your Voice Heard, he helps with individual and senior teams who need to get their voices heard from the stage, in media and within their organization. He does this as a keynote speaker, coach and workshop leader. He specializes in working with those in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries and also working with marketing, PR and other agencies. He started his career as a journalist for BBC TV and Radio News before founding and running a PR agency, Vada Media for 11 years. He was named the UK Speaker of the Year in 2015 by the Professional Speaking Association and is the author of two books, The Authority Guide to Presenting and Public Speaking and the Authority Guide for PR for Small Business. He also recently had his 15 minutes of fame when HE discovered that he was unwittingly the face of an online international dating scam. Wow, that sounds interesting. Please welcome Steve Bustin. Steve, hi, how are you?
Steve Bustin: 02:08 Hey James. I’m very well. How are you doing?
James Nathan: 02:10 I’m very good, thank you. I’m so curious. How did you end up in a dating scam?
Steve Bustin: 02:16 Well, it completely, completely unwitting, I should stress. In the beginning of last year, in the beginning of 2018 that somebody had stolen about 25 of my Facebook photos and was using them to set up a fake dating profiles on dating websites. So I was contacted by a woman who just rang me out of the blue with the immortal line: You don’t know me, but I thought I knew you. And it turned out that she had been dating or sort of chatting to a guy online for several weeks and then she got suspicious at some of the photos he’d sent her didn’t quite add up. And she did a reverse Google image search, found my website, my Facebook profile and my LinkedIn profile. And she contacted me and we ended up going public largely to sort of to put a warning out there to make people aware that the whole problem of dating scams is a massive, massive area.
Steve Bustin: 03:10 So yeah, so we ended up, I mean, it ended up all over the national papers. I ended up doing quite a lot TV and radio. And it was, it was an interesting experience. And actually I’ve now turned it into a whole new keynote about how to protect yourself online, how to protect your online reputation and all those sorts things. Cause a lot of people just are not aware that when they’re on social media, they are in the public domain. I think a lot of people just assume that they linked in profile or their Facebook profile really is a private space. It’s not, you don’t own it you’re in somebody else’s playground playing by somebody else’s rules. So yeah, it’s been a, it’s been quite a roller coaster of a year on that front. And actually it’s, it’s still going on. I’m currently filming a documentary with the BBC on dating scams, which is going to go out to September and I’ve actually just become the inspiration for a book of all things.
Steve Bustin: 03:58 Crime novelist, Peter James who writes the Royal Greece series of novels, which are set in Brighton, which is where I live. He approached me when this went public and said, I’ve been thinking about writing a book on dating scams. Can we chat? So I can find out more. And in fact, the book came out last week, it’s called Dead at First Sight. And the major character is based on me. He hasn’t used my name, thankfully, and I don’t yet know whether I survive the book, which is quite possible I’m dead before the last chapter, which would be sort of par for the course for these books. But yeah, it’s been fascinating. And I say I’ve actually been able to turn it into a business opportunity. You know, I now get out and give talks to organizations about these sorts of topics. And I also use it as a way of telling people about how to turn a story, into media coverage. Cause this, you know, every journalistic bone in my body was saying this is a story.
James Nathan: 04:48 Oh, how fantastic. I mean, in some, in lots of ways I’m sitting here thinking, that sounds amazing. I mean, firstly, you’re obviously a very handsome guy, and you weren’t hurt in any way, which is also great because, you know, a lot of these scams are very nasty things. But talking to a PR guy about…. Including a PR guy and that sort of thing just gives you food for thought in business for years to come. Which is amazing. I guess, you know, being, you know, nearly 50 myself you know, Mandy and I, I’ve been married 17 years, we’ve been together about 20. I’ve never been on a dating site and I’m hoping never to need one. I’m just too old for that sort of, well, as I sit in my hopefully happily married situation, you know, these worlds aren’t as something I’m included in. And I guess a lot of people like that.
Steve Bustin: 05:43 No, absolutely. And I mean, you know, I’m also married and the ultimate irony is I’m married to a man. So you know, these rich, elderly widows really aren’t my type
James Nathan: 05:54 [laughs]
Steve Bustin: 05:54 When I’m out talking about it, I have to be very careful. I do play it for laughs a bit, but I can laugh at myself and I can laugh at the scammer. I cannot laugh at the women because I know of 14 women who have dated quotes me. And some of them had given him money. So, you know, I have to be very careful about, I’m very mindful of that. I mean it’s slightly odd and I could be walking down the street this morning and somebody could stop me and say, you scammed me out of my life savings and I have to prove it wasn’t me. Because I know those photos are still being used. I will never get those photos back that you know, I could ever happen deleted off the dark web. So yeah, it’s been an interesting one and I have learned so much more than I ever thought I would need to know about online security and scams and how they set up and how they identify the likely victims.
Steve Bustin: 06:43 All this sort of stuff. So it has been fascinating and I say and I’m now, it’s now actually really positive to be able to share that knowledge with other people and to tell them some of the things they should be doing. I mean, for example, one of the things I say to a lot of business leaders or people running their own businesses is do a reverse Google image search on the main face shot that you use on your websites or on online profiles. Just find out where else on the web it’s being used. And you might be surprised because it’s so easy if people just to to download a photo, they don’t need permission and then they can use it wherever they like. So do a reverse Google image search. Just check that your images aren’t appearing somewhere where you don’t want them to be.
James Nathan: 07:27 And it’s very good advice.
Steve Bustin: 07:29 Yeah. And, just, when you’re on social media, have your skepticism filter turned up slightly. Just be skeptical about what you’re seeing, what you’re hearing. Just be aware there are people out there who are faking this. You know, it’s interesting whenever somebody sends us, you know, somebody sends us a LinkedIn request, we very rarely verify that that person is who they say they are. You know, we’ll look at them and think, oh yes, I know them or, yes, I want to, you know, I think that could be a useful connection. Therefore I’ll connect. But we don’t actually go, is this the real Bob Smith? How is this somebody faking it?
James Nathan: 08:02 Well, I mean, at times you get the very cheaply crappily done fake ones where, you know, it’s very obvious that person isn’t who they… is someone made up. But like all scams, if you’re using a vehicle like LinkedIn for instance, where there’s, you know, there’s associated credibility. Yeah. We don’t, we don’t, and we’re also very careful in the media. A lot of people are very careful in the media, I guess, who believe in what they see, the number of news stories that come through the feeds these days that are from really dubious sources. But because they’re in print and people think it must be true. Absolutely. You know, and clearly it’s the view of the writer. You just have to look at well, BBC, ABC, any of the big news agencies these days and look to whether actually they’re reporting news or they’re reporting opinion.
Steve Bustin: 08:53 Yeah. I say, yeah, have your skepticism filter turned up. Just don’t accept everything at face value is what I’d say. And, you know, if you do find that your identity is being used or that people are using your online images and things don’t panic about it. You know, it’s one of those….. If I have to be moderately sanguine about it. That has happened, that horse has bolted. So, you know, if I can a, if I can help at least one woman avoid being scammed by going public with this so that they recognize those social dating sites, that’s a good thing. And I know that’s happened. I know that, you know, women who have spotted that and recognize the photos and the media coverage, so that’s a good thing. But if I can use it to promote my business, quite frankly, then you know, why not. I turned it into a business opportunity and that’s something I have no problem with cause, it’s really, it’s part of me taking ownership of it.
James Nathan: 09:46 Well, if the fact that something good’s come out of it for you, I think’s perfect and why shouldn’t you?
Steve Bustin: 09:52 I’ll let you know. As long as I’m not in any way exploiting the women who are being exploited by the scammers. I don’t have a problem with that.
James Nathan: 09:58 I started thinking about the emotional issues that those people have now gotten their trust problems that will come in the future. And there’s, there’s a lot of nasty stuff attached to what looks like. You know, ho ho ho this well known gay guy’s been, used as a female, you know, whatever…… So Steve, just moving on to something a little bit less sordid, shall we, in your world, when you’re working with your clients, helping them get their voices heard, what are you seeing as the differences these days? What’s changing for clients and where are you finding the good things that you can help them with and where are the difficulties?
Steve Bustin: 10:37 I think what’s changing, not just for clients but generally is, I mean communication is so fast these days, but also communication has changed. The very nature of communication, particularly in business environment has changed. It used to be a one day process, you used to broadcast. So you know, if you have a pacing effort, for example, that’s communication. But it was one way. If somebody gave a speech, they would expect to just talk for 45 minutes. It would be one way, right? If somebody was appearing in media, it would be one way. Just there would be media coverage. Actually, communication has become a two way process. It should be, it should always be a conversation. One of the things I always say to clients is you should be aiming to have conversations with all your audiences. Now that might be, you should be having conversations with the staff who work within your business.
Steve Bustin: 11:26 It might be that you should be having conversations with the audience that you’re speaking to at the big conference. It might be that you need to have conversations with a very specific customer sectors for example. So I mean and this isn’t sitting down one on one and having conversations, but every communication should be a two way process. So one of the things you have to be aware of is now there has to be a feedback loop. If an audience doesn’t have a way of feeding back, there’s a problem. And they will, they will lose interest and go elsewhere very, very fast. Audiences of consumers, of other businesses, whoever it is, expect to be able to feed back and communicate and converse with you. Social media is the obvious one here. You know, you should be setting out to get response to get engage with too many people’s schedule their posts on social media. And actually it’s just blasting it out there. It’s just going one way. You should be setting out to have a conversation. So that to me is what’s changed dramatically over the last probably the last 10 years.
James Nathan: 12:23 So when you talk about that, I think, you know, if you don’t mind, we’ll get back to the kind of how you do it with an audience in front of you. I’ve noticed a lot recently, I’m a…. I like to have a moan online. Like a lot of people and certainly with businesses where I’m struggling to get a response, I’ll often hit Twitter and see what I can do there. Sometimes the communication loop is nonexistent. I speak, I make it, you know, why is it so hard to get hold of you today? Something like that. And you’d hear nothing. Other times you get fantastic instant response and I’ve had that recently with a couple of businesses where they’ve reached straight out. It’s been seconds rather than minutes of response time. They’re on the phone, they’re getting things fixed. So there’s an opportunity there for a lot of businesses to improve the way they communicate and the service that they can provide using those channels.
James Nathan: 13:14 When you’re face to face, so when you, when you’re with…. When you’re in a business environment or a speaking, how can you get that feedback loop working perfectly?
Steve Bustin: 13:25 There’s a number of different ways. I mean, for instance, if you are, if you’re speaking for the stage, it can be as simple as: can I just have a show of hands who has tried this or who’s experienced that? And audiences in BD will give you feedback so you can go, oh, okay. Most people have like, oh very few of you have, and you could then change what you’re going to say accordingly. And that to me is also the mark of a good speaker or somebody who’s in the moment who’s relaxed on stage, who can ask for feedback, get it in and then say, oh, okay, I can change what I’m going to do to respond to that. Too many people just within their script and it’s like, yeah, they don’t actually care what’s said back, they don’t. They just want to say what they want to say.
Steve Bustin: 14:03 So you know, you could do it, you can be that simple. You can, I mean social media is a classic one now you know, if you are speaking at an event, every event will have a hashtag, you can see what’s going on on that hashtag. You can respond to it, whether that’s on the stage, whether that’s immediately afterwards. So it is looking for ways of getting feedback. I mean the other one I suppose actually is as simple as, are your audience awake. Are they looking at you? Are they engaged? Are they nodding along or are, or are they all on your phones? You know, they’re all on their phones now. Okay. They could be on Twitter tweeting about how amazing the speaker is that currently watching. They could well be checking their emails and looking on Facebook.
James Nathan: 14:40 That’s a funny thing for a lot of people, particularly if you’re not used to speaking to people with laptops open or what have you. You can instantly think, well actually they’re not engaged or maybe they are, but I think you can’t guess can you. You’ve got to assume they’re not. And you’ve got to do something about it.
Steve Bustin: 14:57 That sort of thing takes experience. The first time you speak in front of an audience, even if there’s any sort of small group of six or eight people, it takes a while to learn that and to have the courage to respond accordingly. It’s one of the biggest problems I see is that people aren’t in the moment, people are just in their heads, in their scripts saying what they want to say without actually any regard to their audience. And that’s where the audience will now disengage. The days of stand and deliver, have gone. They really have you know, every speaker booker now is looking for interaction. They’re looking for engagement. They’re looking for how their audience is gonna get involved. They don’t necessarily want to just sit and listen. And I think that’s something that people ignore at their peril.
Steve Bustin: 15:38 And that goes for being in a meeting with your team as much as it does standing on stage in front of two and a half thousand people. You know, I think the basis of communication is now is that you’ve got to look for this, this opportunity to have a conversation, to be getting feedback all the time. A lot of people don’t necessarily want feedback and that can be tricky. I mean, particularly I find senior leaders, those in charge, are like, well, I’m not sure I want to know what my staff want. I just want to tell them what I want them to know. So yeah, actually, but if you want to have your staff engaged, if you want them to take on board what you’re saying, what you want them to know, you’ve got to have some sort of feedback loop in place.
James Nathan: 16:12 Well, if you look at any of the great businesses and by great I mean the ones that we know really well, and there have been kind of household words or household names. All those businesses on the whole tend to work from a position of highly engaged staff. Interesting but also constant communication internally. You know, that kind of open door thing that we, people say, you know, we’re an open door business, but some really are and some are truly transparent. And when they are like that, those businesses tend to flourish. When they’re the old…. I think back to my accountancy days, which is thankfully, almost a lifetime ago now. You know, if I didn’t do something the way that a Partner wanted, I’d just get shouted at. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works anymore.
Steve Bustin: 16:58 No, I mean, you’ve got to be responsive. It’s not just about listening, but it’s actually responding. You’re being seen to respond. And I think we’re all very aware, you know, customer service now is about response. You know, it doesn’t matter how…. even if they say, Oh yes, we hear you. If we don’t see a reaction to that listening, all that communication, then we as consumers get really frustrated, really fast. We expect response. And I think it’s interesting what you said just now about, you know, how some companies can respond instantly. To my mind, it’s not necessarily about the speed. I don’t think business have to be sat on Facebook instantly responding to people, but they do have to have a way of saying to people, we will respond within 24 hours and doing that.
James Nathan: 17:46 Well I was actually, I, I completely agree with that. I don’t think I mentioned the speed because it was, you know, sometimes you just get a bit a bit flattered by the speed of response I guess. But what they do with that response is the thing, you know, it’s all well and good to say, Oh, we’re really sorry you’re having a hard time today and then nothing happens. Well who cares? But you know, we’re very sorry you’re having a hard time today and….. the last one. I was, was quite fascinating because not only did they send me a message back as a DM on Twitter but they rang my mobile. Wow. Now they always ask, can we have a number? But actually they’ve gone online, found my website or found something in my email. My phone number is not hard to find. But they’d done a very quick search somehow and called me and I thought that was great. Steve, when we talk about communication in the business, how can that fold into the service side of things? How can that improve not only the business generally, internally, but also externally?
Steve Bustin: 18:44 I think the key to me is the listening. So many businesses don’t really listen or if they do, they don’t actually hear what’s being said. There’s a… It comes process driven rather than individual driven. So I think a lot of businesses will, you know, customer rights, letting them to kind of start to complain but comment and they will just, you’ll get a bland response back or you’ll get a copied and pasted response back. Whereas actually if you take the time to individualize it and to respond properly, that customer will, or that conversation will carry on, that customer will be much happier. So I think, yeah, businesses need to be not only listening, but actually actively listening and responding to each individual. And yes, it does take a little bit of extra time. Yes. It might mean that you need to add extra resources into your customer service, but it’s crucial I think.
Steve Bustin: 19:40 I think a key one here is social media. I think too many businesses see social media as a function of their marketing department. To my mind, it’s part of your customer service department, you know, and that’s even when you’re a one person business, social media is not about advertising. Social media is about customer service. Even if you are serving those customers who are not yet your customers. You know, you gotta be able to to engage, to respond. One of the ways of doing that actually is just I think good etiquette on social media for building that sort of reputation of customer service is every time you as a business or even you as an individual go on and tweet for example. I think you should retweet or reply to at least two other posts. I think you should be a two to one. You should go out and engage on other people’s posts, at least two to one ratio to your own posts. If that makes sense.
James Nathan: 20:37 That’s a very nice little tip actually. Cause people talk a lot about engagement online and you know, you must be engaged and you must do this and you must do that. But actually giving them some processes often harder. Yeah. And so that’s a nice little kind of rule of thumb, I guess.
Steve Bustin: 20:53 Well, absolutely and I just, I think it’s about, you know, it’s about showing your customers, showing your potential customers that you care about them and you want to amplify them as much as you want them to amplify you. I think too many people are just like, oh, I’m not getting any engagement on Twitter for example. And I’m like, well, how often are you engaging other people? Oh no, I haven’t got time for that. It’s like, well, why don’t you copy a company, engage with your post and retweet it and amplify it you are not willing to do to other people?
James Nathan: 21:19 Well, there’s a lot of give and take in the world and I think you’ve got to give twice as much as you take at least. So your rule of thumb there sits. But you know, we often talk about putting effort into things and you know, there’s a really neat quote from from Gary Vaynerchuk, who some people love and some hate, he’s a bit marmite, but I like a lot of his stuff. And his quote was that effort matters more than most people want to admit. You know, and I think it’s very true. Why should people retweet? Why should people engage with you if you’re not happy to or not engage with them first? You know, we lead by example in a lot of what we do n the business world or you know, a lot of people try to lead by example or that’s a great place to do that.
Steve Bustin: 22:02 Yeah, definitely.
James Nathan: 22:03 And etiquette’s an interesting point and I think it’s the perfect word I think for it as well because we need to encourage good behaviours in every aspect of what we do. And a lot of what we do online is, is broadcast as you mentioned, but saying thank you when people retweet for you, you know, asking, you know, when you, when you ask people to help you out and they do, you know, I’ve seen this a lot recently, people said would you look at this? And if you like it, would you share it? Well, yes, of course if I like it, but actually then they’re not to come back and say that was kind of you. It leaves a slightly sour taste.
Steve Bustin: 22:38 Yeah. And also I don’t just want them to come back to me and say thank you. I’d like to see them reciprocate. And I think that’s the thing. I mean a thank you’s fine, but actually I think it’s even more useful for me if people come back and actually they start re tweeting mine, if they retweet my material, I will retweet their material and it does become a reciprocal thing. It becomes a two way conversation, you know? And it’s not just re tweeting, it’s actually replying or adding a comment to amplify things. So yeah, it is worth the effort.
James Nathan: 23:08 Well, it’s a social currency isn’t it? It’s that old thing of, you know, you guys come to my place for dinner and when I see you next week, and I say how lovely it was to see you must come again. Your answer would ordinarily be ‘don’t be silly, it’s our turn’. And it just works that way in all aspects of life. So why shouldn’t it work in the communication world as well?
Steve Bustin: 23:27 Well, absolutely. Reciprocity is a good thing.
James Nathan: 23:30 It’s a great thing. So what are you seeing? What do you see when you talk to your clients where you’re looking out into the world? At the moment, who’s doing the great communicating, who’s doing things slightly differently or in a better way that we can learn from?
Steve Bustin: 23:46 Oh, good question. Now, I mean it seems to be because my clients are on the whole large pharmaceutical or healthcare businesses. They are primarily communicating with other businesses rather than necessarily to individuals cause very few pharmaceuticals sell directly to consumers. But obviously what they do want to raise is, is brand awareness and things. I think they see though that the market is… there’s very much an international thing going on now. I mean, the companies I work for tend to have international reach. And they’re realizing though that they have to tailor their communications to their individual markets that, you know, one size does not fit all. You know, we’ve all seen, I’m sure we’ve all see adverts for the UK market, clearly using American models or clearly using imagery that’s not in the UK. Actually, it immediately distances you from them. And again, it means a bit of extra effort and it probably means a bit of extra expense but targeting your communications to your audience is, it’s just fundamental. I mean it’s just, it should go without saying, but it’s amazing how often people don’t get it right
James Nathan: 24:54 And where’s it all going Steve? Where’s the future of this?
Steve Bustin: 24:58 The future is personalization. There’s no two ways about it. You know, I want adverts and I want communication with me that is pertinent to me, that understands me as an individual. Now, some of that can be done by AI. Algorithms now are incredibly clever and actually I don’t mind that, you know, I don’t mind if you put a cookie on my system. If that means that I see messages and communications that are pertinent to me, I would rather see things that are pertinent and relevant to me than things that are irrelevant. And whether that is paid for communications or organic communications.
James Nathan: 25:31 No, I absolutely agree with you there. I think there’s a lot of people making a fuss about that. You know, if you look on one website and then you go onto Facebook or somewhere that, that drops an advert of what you’ve just looked at. But it’s very simple stuff and we can all do it with their own websites. But actually I would much rather see relevance anytime. What I don’t like, and this is just a foible of my life, I think is that, you know, something like Spotify, which I use to listen to music, we share it amongst the house. So it’s great when it starts to tell you the sort of, you know, you might like this song, you might like that one. And we all, we all enjoy that. You hear new music. What I’m getting a lot at the moment of is the Greatest Showman and anything else my daughter listens to and a 10 year old girl’s choices in songs aren’t always the same as mine. But you know, that personalization thing is…. it’s almost like we’re going back full circle, isn’t it? We’re going back to the days of our grandparents. I’ve talked a lot about that on this show, you know recently, you know, going into shops with my Nana or down to the chemist with my Dad and you know, they knew you, they knew what you liked, they suggested things that you might want. It’s not wildly different. It’s just a different shop front.
Steve Bustin: 26:41 Oh it is. And also I would don’t be scared to go old tech in terms of either…. quite frankly send somebody a letter. I’ll tell you one of the most successful things I’ve done in my business recently is I had some thank you cards printed with just with sort of a generic, so thank you card with my logo on the back. And at the end of every week I tried to think about who do I need to thank this week, who has been… who’s done something that’s gone beyond, above and beyond or who’s helped me or helped my business. And it might be a client, it might be a prospect, it might be somebody I met at a networking event, whoever. And sending them a card. I’ve had such a positive response to that because people are like, wow, something in the post.
Steve Bustin: 27:21 And I handwrite it. You know, I don’t, you know, I don’t even put the envelope back and I write handwriting. I’ve got terrible handwriting so people can recognize it straight away. But actually people really, really respond to that and it’s because it feels like part of the conversation. They have done something to me and here’s, you know, I will give them a genuine thank you back. And that’s, I say that is actually pay real dividends for my business and I would, I would really recommend it to people. It also actually, I think he’s just a very positive mindset thing in terms of who am I grateful to? Who do I need to thank?
James Nathan: 27:50 Well there’s two really great sides to that. That one is from a business perspective anyway, one is what you’re doing, which is being, you know, genuinely thankful and putting in some effort. We get back to that, of actually writing a card and taking it to a post box. But the other is how well you’re thought of for it. I know that thank you cards are a big part of what I do. And I think you’ve almost spoiled that cause I send to everybody, I do it for the show. I’ve got a great big box of them. And I use them as much as possible. I get all my clients that too, but it’s, you know, and in my mindset came from, we’ve got some really great friends who’ve moved to Somerset and don’t see them all that often. And every time we do, when they come, we see them for a meal or they come to stay, whatever it might be, Nic always sends a card and it comes through the post and it’s not just, you know, a little thing. She writes a whole side and it’s just, it’s lovely and you just think what a wonderful person, what a lovely thought. What a lovely person. And if we can get our clients thinking that of us. Well, how bad could that be? A really great, thing.
Steve Bustin: 28:56 I don’t know if you find this, one of the interesting things though about going postal is actually can be really hard to find people’s addresses these days. A lot of people don’t have an address in their website and actually they are, it makes it much harder to contact. It’s interesting how, you know, people have just almost assumed now the postal is no longer necessary and actually, it can be the most fantastic way of communicating with somebody.
James Nathan: 29:18 You know, if you look at my postbox today, I will either get a bill or a bank statement or very rarely get something nice unless it’s a birthday or anniversary or something. And even then, you know…. I took my address off my website the last time I built a new site. And I got decidedly less Christmas cards that year. Now I’m hoping that’s because I took my address off. It wasn’t that people started losing favour with me, but you’re right. Well, that drops back into a little service thing that’s been winding me up a little bit recently is the inability to phone businesses or to get hold of people having to use chatbots.
Steve Bustin: 30:00 They’re just horrible and it’s driven by people not actually wanting to communicate. They don’t want a conversation. If you’re forcing your prospects and then on the whole, that’s who this is, those very important people, your prospects, if you’re forcing them to communicate with you in a way that suits you, not them, you’re going to lose a lot of them. So by all means have a data entry form because that’s trouble. A lot of people now are very wary about those forms. Getting all you’re doing is harvesting my data, but have a phone number, have an email address, have a a postal address. All those things. Let people communicate with you in the way that they want to and then have that conversation using the methods that these suits them. Don’t try and force them into your preferred method.
James Nathan: 30:44 Do you know if you said nothing else today, Steve? I think that’s such a great thing to think about for businesses. We should allow people to communicate with us in a way that suits them and help them talk with us. Not Make it difficult or not automated to the point where it’s only the way we want it to be. If you have all those avenues available to people that choose what they like, it might be that you find that after a while you’re very, very rarely picking up anything off a contact form. But then every now and then you might.
Steve Bustin: 31:12 Exactly what I’m exactly either I probably get from the contact form on my website, I probably get maybe four or five a year. You know, it’s, it’s nothing but it’s important that it’s there because some people feel more comfortable that way. What can be interesting in then actually to track, which inquiries coming from which root convert. Actually I find on the whole inquiry to come via the contact form, very rarely convert. It’s if somebody has picked up the phone or dropped me an email, then it’s much more likely to convert to business. I think the people who are not really a position to buy are just sounding you out. They will tend to use the contact form so that it’s worth tracking to see who’s who, you know, the various methods people are using, which ones convert and which ones don’t.
James Nathan: 32:00 The contact form thing’s interesting cause I get a huge amount of spam through mine as you’d expect because that’s what it was spammers like to look at. But most people do their research, don’t they? They look up what you do. They might check online, they’ll look at LinkedIn, they’ll probably have a look at your other social media, to see what sort of person you are. They’ll have done a reasonable amount of very quick and easy research on you before they contact you. So by the time they’re ready to contact, they’re actually looking for a better communication device, whether it’s phone or email. Which leads me to the other thing about email is, you know, the number of times that I get an email through from somebody inquiring about whatever it might be, and I’ll pick up the phone and speak to them and some of them are genuinely amazed that I’d phoned. And I would say, well, why wouldn’t I phone, you’re important to me. I want to listen to what you’ve got to say. I want to understand what you’re looking for. I want to see whether I can help you. Dropping an email back is not gonna work. It’s a magic way of sending data and information and for messaging. But it’s not a great communication device.
Steve Bustin: 33:03 No, no, it’s not. It’s not. And I think too many people hide behind email. They really do. I did a big piece of work with one of the major telecoms companies a few years back and what we identified, one of the big communication problems they had was overuse of email and everybody was cc’ing everybody on everything. So actually nobody was reading anything. And we ended up instigating a rule that if you find yourself writing an email to more than three people, email was not the correct way of making that communication. And actually, it just immediately cut down on the huge numbers of emails that were doing. So that was certain within the organization. Put a lot of people, they would have an internal chat system, not dissimilar to WhatsApp but it was an internal one and actually a lot of people moved on to that and started setting up proper groups and actually communicating that way and if you like it oiled the whole communication machine. Email just gums it up, particularly if you’re cc’ing everybody and everything. You’re just using it wrong.
James Nathan: 34:03 Ah. I see a lot of people that I’m sure you do as well with these inboxes which are absolutely stacked with stuff and I work from a zero inbox and people say, how can we do that? Because I action what I see, I delete what I don’t, I don’t get cc’d on stuff and I speak to people. But also when I help people working with email internally, you know, you start to, I start talking about, you know, one subject per email and things like that and they look at me as if I’m absolutely mad. But then when they start to think about how they’re using that tool it starts to improve the speed of response, their quality of response, all the other bits and pieces that you want from it. And suddenly it becomes a helpful device rather than something you’ve grown at every time you open it.
Steve Bustin: 34:48 Yeah, absolutely. And, one of the other things I will try and do now is I will try to open an email by outlining the response I do or don’t need. You know, so you don’t need to respond to this. This is just to keep you in the loop. Fine. Or I need a response on this. Ideally by the end of the week or please can I please respond to these three points? I think that’s another good way with an emails is just to bullet point them to say, here are the three things that I need you to act upon. These are the three things I currently need and actually I find on the whole people respond to those much better than just nonspecific. Often long winded complex emails. The other thing I don’t do is I won’t just reply to all saying yes, me too. Just stop it. It drives me to distraction.
Steve Bustin: 35:38 You know who said it, I need to find out where they were. Whoever it was, but somebody said recently email is your inbox, your email inbox is somebody else’s to do this being dumped onto your desk. Because actually all those emails sat in your inbox are people going I need you to do this for me. And actually that’s their to do list, not your to do list.
James Nathan: 35:57 What a great way to think about it. It is absolutely not a to do list. It is a place to collate communication, but oh Steve, I love that. I really do. That’s fabulous. We running, I mean, when we get onto email, I jump on a high horse and I ride as fast as I can and I think we’d better stop. I’m also conscious of time as well. I’d love you to just to leave our listeners with one golden nugget, one thought, one thing that they can do in their business today and in the years to come to make it a better place. What could that be?
Steve Bustin: 36:34 This is going to sound slightly off. Be you. Be a human being. Don’t be a Bot. I see too many people who hide behind automations who hide behind auto responses and all that sort of stuff. Be you every time you communicate, make it genuine and be in the moment. Respond as soon as you can. Respond realistically, you know, don’t over promise, but I’ve just said be you. Enjoy a conversation. Informality, I think actually is often the key to a lot of this. I think people sometimes feel they need to hide behind a sort of business persona. But actually we’re all human beings. We all respond as humans better to other humans than we do to bots. So yeah, that would be my real key is just be you have some fun with it… Business, you know? Okay. It’s gotta be context sensitive. The business doesn’t have to be boring. Have a bit of personality. People will remember you far more and I think, you know, we all know people buy for people we’d like. So yeah, be you be human. Don’t be a bot.
James Nathan: 37:35 Fantastic. Steve, thank you so much for that and for all your thoughts. Great chatting with you.
Steve Bustin: 37:40 You are very welcome, it was great to talk to you.