Empathy Meets Data: The Secret Sauce for Marketing Strategies
It was great to talk with Kevin Ly about “Empathy Meets Data: The Secret Sauce for Effective Marketing Strategies.”
Check out our lively discussion on:
+ Why empathy is so important in marketing
+ The difference between empathy and compassion
+ How we use data to guide our endeavours
+ What marketing techniques we use for success
+ Our journey on getting Ooze Studios to where it is today
Kevin: Welcome to the show, everybody. I’m your host, Kevin Ly, and today we have a very special guest with us. He’s an expert in growth, marketing and content with an incredible 15 years of experience across multiple industries, including finance, marketing, and customer experience strategy.
Jesse is the founder and managing director of Ooze Studios, an award-winning Australian creative and marketing agency. With a vision to create leaner and more effective marketing campaigns and digital products, Jesse assembled the remarkable Ooze Studios digital creative team. Over the past 7+ years, they’ve been delivering ROI-focused ads and content to a wide range of clients and industries. But it’s not just about the clients for Jesse and his team at Ooze Studios. They’re on a mission to deliver the best agency experience in the world, and that starts with the people behind the scenes.
Ooze Studios implements large corporate culture programs at a boutique agency level. Ensuring that each team member has a unique career development program, complete with hard skills development courses and soft skills mentoring sessions. Jesse believes that the heart of the success lies in their people and their culture is the core of their vision.
Without an amazing, talented team, they wouldn’t be able to achieve the incredible things they have. Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome Jesse Mullins.
Hey Jesse, welcome to the show.
Jesse: Thanks for having me. Really appreciate it.
Kevin: Thank you for making the time. We had a few hiccups earlier, but we finally got to schedule and here we are.
Jesse: Here we are, indeed.
Kevin: Okay, let’s start with your journey. Share why and how you started Ooze Studios for the audience. Can we get into that?
Jesse: Absolutely. Look, so I launched it eight years ago whilst working full-time. And look, every time someone starts to answer a question like, why did you start the business you founded? They’ll say things like, “Because I wanted to help people”, and things like that. Which I did as well, it was a big important factor for me because I’m quite a big empath. I wanted to help people. But there are also selfish reasons, right? There are reasons behind the selflessness and the altruistic, and ultimately I’m a fiercely independent human. I’ve always been like that. My parents brought me up to be like that, and that’s driven my desire to start my own business.
So there’s this like, yeah, fierce independence and also combined with I wanted to create an amazing culture. So I’ve been a part of some very bad cultures. I’ve been part of some great cultures, but they all had optimisations that could happen to them. And so, I wanted to push culture innovation in a new way and so we got that at the core of it. Combined with vehicles such as marketing services, that’s where I saw a gap in the market where I could be compassionate and empathetic to the clients, which a lot of marketing agencies are not. And I also do the same for the people, for the team members.
And so that’s where I saw a gap in the market because ultimately when you launch a business, you need to be, you need to have a competitive advantage. And that’s where I saw Ooze’s competitive advantage. The fact that, again, very easy to say that we’d have a care factor, but I felt that we have true compassion and empathy for our clients and we can really care for the results and really care ultimately their financial wellbeing, because that’s what marketing is all about, driving results and driving revenue through the door.
But ultimately it’s the selflessness. But the selfish reason is that I’m fiercely independent. And I wouldn’t say I’m a control freak, but I certainly like to be in control of my own destiny. And so that’s what spurned this.
Kevin: And I’m curious, how has your upbringing or previous experience influenced your decision to start? You speak a lot about being an empath and fierce independence, and so I’m curious about that part of the story.
Jesse: I had a bit of a, I suppose unusual childhood. So both my parents, ex-hippies. My mum’s been a painter as in like an artist, painter all over life for 50 years. Dad was a theatre director, and moved into events, but both hippies at the core.
And so up at the age of nine, my childhood was like going, like running through forests and picking asparagus, like wild asparagus. And that was our entertainment. No Nintendo, no game boy, nothing like that back in the day. And I truly believe that had a very strong impact when I was allowed to make decisions at an early age about what I could do for fun.
And I think that the freedom that they gave me allowed me to become the person I am today. So I think the correlation between parental style and fierce independence is very correlated. Now, did I have it as part of my genes, because both my parents are fiercely independent? Look, likely. Right? And then we can start this whole debate around nurture versus nature. I’ve read a report, not a report, a medical study around, they looked at 26 identical twins that were separated at birth and they analysed how much of their behaviours were nurtured versus nature.
And the conclusion was that it’s actually a 50/ 50. So 50% of our behaviours and our personalities come from nurture and the others come from nature. So what does that tell you that you can overcome bad gene? But also bad parenting or good parenting has a profound effect.
Kevin: It is such an interesting upbringing growing up in the wild, running around, picking up asparagus and this and that.
I could see how that would, would’ve shaped you as an individual being free to roam around and make your own decisions and do things. And they’re both very creative as well. So I can, obviously you’re a creative yourself, so adds that 50% into your gene and you’ve nurtured, used the environment to nurture that too.
Jesse: So to that point, I ended up going down the maths and physics route. So then, there’s, I dunno really where it came from. I think grandparents had some logic in their personality traits. Yeah, I ended up studying maths at uni and have this very strong analytical background, an analytical mindset.
But again, there is this want to be creative, but my creative skills are more, are not with drawing design but the actual finer details. It’s more around ideas, creating ideas. Different concepts together and merging it and creating in that sense, rather than the detail, which again is, I can see the correlation with the genes and the upbringing. But it’s interesting that I wasn’t like good with my…essentially I’m not good with my hands. I’m good with my mind.
Kevin: Yeah. That’s even more interesting that you, your families come from a very, how is it like a more traditional art space in terms of like theatre and arts and painting. Whereas you, you’ve gone down the route and you went into maths and physics. And so the kind of segues into a great part and through our previous emails, you’ve intrigued me with the concept of combining data and empathy for effective marketing.
And I think that’s where your unique ability of combining the two really shines. Can you expand on this for us, please?
Jesse: Absolutely. So something that we’ve been doing at work for the last year is what we refer to as empathy experiments. And so, we got the idea from Albert Einstein’s thought experiments where he would vocally, he and his colleagues, would vocally play out scenarios of complex theoretical physics situations because they couldn’t run that particular experiment, cause it’s too theoretical.
And so they would have these open dialogues of step-by-step what would happen in this scenario. So what we did is we applied that kind of concept to marketing strategies. And so how could we connect with the audience more? Using what we refer to as empathy experiments, where, I know it sounds hippy-dippy weird. But you get pretty much a group of three. The three of you do really deep research into the audience so you’re not coming in cold. You’re coming in with some idea about what, who the audience is, what they do. And you close your eyes, the three of you and one person will go through that person’s day.
And so they’re like, it’s 7:00 AM I’ve woken up, I’m feeding the kids. I’m in a rush because I just go to my professional service job, whatever. Just going through that, and then as you are building up, you’re working towards this point in the day where you’re encountering a problem that the product or the service that you’re trying to market encounters.
And so you are putting yourself in the shoes of the audience. That’s a really important part when it comes to marketing. Cause ultimately you’re effectively trying to communicate. So it’s not just about selling, like it’s about conveying a message on a one-to-one, one-to-one scale. Sorry, you’re trying to do a one-to-one message on a huge scale, right?
So you’re trying to do it to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, but you’re trying to do it on a one-to-one level. And so the more one-to-one you can connect with someone, the better. So that’s where empathy can play a really important role. When you break down a campaign, there are basically four parts to it, and in this order, there’s the audience selection, there’s the message or the ads, there’s the landing page or the destination, and then there’s the conversion event.
So the conversion event can be something as simple as buying a product or completing a form, or it could be a certain amount of time spent on the page to absorb the brand or the content. Whatever it is, there’s a conversion event.
And so that empathy really helps you drive that connection to the audience and the selection of the audience. Because the more narrow your audience is, the more personalised you can make that journey. And the more better connected you can make the audience to the ad, to the landing page, to the conversion event. And then just by the very nature of that connection, your conversion rate increases. Does that make sense?
Kevin: Yes, so I’m gonna try to wrap my head around this and going through the visualisation piece.
So do your…is that the empathy piece where you’re kind of putting yourself or in the position of the customer running through their day to understand, okay, this is what they’re going through. This is what’s happening, and they’re making decisions based on that data.
Jesse: Exactly. So not so much data because it’s at the end day, it’s our own subjective viewpoint of what that customer or audience member will do in that particular instance.
But it really helps to embody what they’re doing at that particular moment. But instead of just going straight to that moment, you actually start to build up to that moment and then so that helps you with that audience selection. And then the data part really helps with the optimisation of all campaigns as well as understanding what parts of the campaign are working and which ones are not. And because if you just focus on the empathy and you don’t get it right, or there are tweaks to be made, you’re never gonna be able to make that better. That’s actually true. Empathy is where you wanna start and the data is how you wanna become better.
Kevin: Understood, understood. Yes, that’s an interesting perspective, the visualisation piece. I love doing that practice in terms of, for my own regular practice of visualisation, like during my meditation and stuff like that. But when you talk about marketing, a lot of people create avatars or something that, of the kind of customer base that they do. But that’s a very, I guess a surface level. There’s not that much empathy in terms of understanding it. They ask a few questions, put it out, build upon that character. But I think the visualisation piece allows you to feel a lot more of what is possibly going through. There’s no 100%, but at least it gets a bit closer to there.
Jesse: Listening to an old Sam Harris podcast where he pretty much spent an hour and a half to two hours talking with his professor about the difference between empathy and compassion. And so this professor, I forgot from what uni he’s from, but he had a very strong conviction that actually empathy was very dangerous because empathy didn’t have, it didn’t. It allowed you to connect with people but not feel pity for them. Not pity is the wrong word, but not allow you to feel basically compassion.
Whereas compassion is not about necessarily the connectivity and being able to put yourself in their shoes, but it’s about feeling for them. It’s about actually wanting good for their wellbeing, which I thought was a very interesting take.
And we try and cater for both, trying to create that connection, create that link, but then also feel compassionately what would they feel like at that moment. How can we ensure that they are reaching their aspirations?
Kevin: So in this case, you guys are striving for more compassion than empathy. Would you say that?
Jesse: Honestly, I’d say both. So I don’t necessarily agree a hundred percent with that professor’s definition, but I think it is important to highlight the fact that it’s not just about putting yourself in their shoes, it’s about putting yourself in their shoes and feeling what they’re feeling.
So some people say empathy, they just think about connection rather than connection and shared feeling.
Kevin: Okay. We’re gonna change gears a little bit. Let’s have a chat about connecting company values and principles to vision and mission. Why is this important?
Jesse: It’s hugely important. So look, before 18 months ago, we, I think we were like a lot of companies, we had a set of values and principles. We had a mission, vision, purpose. We had team goals, individual KPIs, we had all these, what we refer to as company assets, non-tangible assets. But they weren’t connected, they weren’t aligned.
And so what we did is that we figured out, okay, how does everything connect? Because what became apparent is mission, vision, purpose talks about the macro. It talks about, it describes the company, but it doesn’t describe the individual, whereas the values and principles describe the individual.
And so if you think about like a Target, but the actual Target logo where it’s just a bunch of disks going smaller and smaller inwards, almost like a dartboard at the very, very outer edge. You’ve got your vision, you’ve got your singular macro target that shouldn’t be achievable. Like it should be so aspirational. That classic example is if you are a space travel company, your vision shouldn’t be to reach the moon because once you reach the moon, What’s next? Your vision should be to explore space in an economical way or whatever, right?
Something where it is actually not achievable, but continues, but pushes you to strive towards that goal. Then you’ve got your mission, essentially. How do you get to that vision? Purpose, why do you get up in the morning to achieve that vision? Right? So just going smaller and smaller. And then you’ve got your culture, in the sense of that culture drives from within outwards, but what is culture right?
So you go, you almost do an inward zoom, and then below that you’ve got, you’ve got your goals. So your team goals, your individual goals. Then you’ve got your principles. Your principles, they define some guidelines for how to be an amazing Ooze team member. Below that, values define who we are as Ooze team members, and then at the very core of it, it’s people.
And so suddenly what you’ve done is that you’ve connected your micro to your macro. So you’ve gone all the way from the person, the individual, human through to values, principles, goals, culture, purpose, vision. And so connecting them creates this amazing alignment where as soon as we did that, everyone just clicked and we all had this very clearly communicated understanding of who we are, how we get to where we wanna be, how we get to where we want to go.
Kevin: I think that’s a beautiful thing to get everyone rowing in the same direction and in sync. I think going from such a macro to the micro and being able to really tie that in, and a part of it sounds, obviously, it’s like you want everyone to go and move the same direction and do their thing together, but it’s so difficult to actually do.
It’s such a challenge for a business. To be able to get everyone to do that, whereas, but if you clearly lay out, as you’ve said, and gotten everyone through each part of the disc and so they can understand it’s easier for them to follow through. And with what you were saying like mission, vision, purpose, I think these, if you look it up and differentiate them and start putting it together.
The one thing that I often try to dig into is culture, because it’s a very ambiguous term to me. And how do you guys define culture or how do you guys work on culture?
Jesse: So for me, culture is that really important glue between the micro and the macro. So it’s that thing, it’s that non-tangible thing that connects the organisation to the individual and it becomes a really important element of a successful company. And it’s something that has become very widely spoken about, very widely understood, but I think very badly put into practice. A lot of people see it as a checkbox, not as a driving force. It should be a really, really important part of decision making and ultimately it should be an important part of leaders’ decision making, not just managers, etc.
Maybe go back a step and also ask this question every year in May, we do a set of group workshops where we work together to ask the questions, “Is our mission, vision, purpose still aligned to us as individuals, as a team and to the organisation?”
So it is not just a handful of people dictating this to everyone. It is a group discussion. It is a co-decision and a co-creation workshop. And that’s something that we’re starting to really explore and really push next year around co-leadership. Underneath that, you’ve got co-decision making, co-creation, collaboration. And so really exploring yet that, that not top to bottom decision making, but bottom up actually.
But, so how do we define culture? It’s very hard to define culture. Ultimately, there’s a bunch of different metrics that you can use to measure it, but they need to come from a voluntary aspect. We have a lot of weekly social elements to our work. So as an example, every morning at 8:00 AM is the morning huddle where we all get together and we spend the first 15 minutes answering what we refer to as a “question of the day.”
So someone from the group will pose a question, and it’s supposed to be random, supposed to be inquisitive. So recent ones are like, if you were to be a piece of furniture, what piece of furniture would you be and why? Through to, if you were to be on a desert island tomorrow, what would you take with you? You have one item.
And it just, it’s really interesting to see different people’s, different answers, and I’m a firm believer, but that everybody is interesting. You just need to ask the right questions. And we have some introverts in our team, and this is a really interesting exercise for them to talk openly about, not necessarily themselves and their feelings, but certainly to think outside the box in a public way.
But it’s been a social element, that’s the most important part because it starts the day off with everyone connecting in a new way every single day. And that forms a really important part of our culture.
Then on Thursday afternoon, every single week, we have a quiz where someone creates a quiz. Wednesday lunch we have social learning lunch, where we will watch a masterclass or something together. And that’s not including any monthly big social event we might have or any other social events like those things I just mentioned were the fixed things every week.
Kevin: That’s an interesting layout you got. Then I can see that all these bits and pieces that you’re putting together form the culture that connects, whether it’s socially or through education or through development and that kind of links together what your values are, then your principles and your vision. It kind of all ties in.
And like you’re saying, that becomes then the glue between the macro and the micro. And to further with this, I know that Ooze has its own career development program. Since we’re talking about the topic of staff, I’d love to, for you to go into this and if you could possibly share the hard and soft skill identification tools that you talk about or even setting short, medium, and long-term goal tracking, stuff like that.
Jesse: Absolutely. So this actually comes back to values and principles I was talking about earlier. So what we’ve essentially done is that we’ve identified the three values and three principles that every Ooze team member should embody. Again, going back to the values, describes who we are, principles describe how we should behave.
And from this, we’ve created what we refer to as the Ooze integration tracker. So this is where each principle and value has three characteristics. So that’s 18 characteristics. So six times three 18. And then each characteristic has got a bunch of statements attached to it, one, two, or three. So what we have essentially is we have 50 statements that describe what it is to be an Oozesome human being.
That’s what we cheesily describe it. And so we get them to self review, score themselves out of five with all these statements. And what this does is that it really helps isolate soft skill development areas.
It’s typically quite hard to identify where to start with soft skills. I wanna be a better communicator. Okay, that’s so broad. Can we dig further into that? And then it can become a bit sticky because there are no specific examples that either mentor and or individual can come up with. So we find this self-analysis tracker, this self-analysis tool, which they use once a month and they can see how they’re progressing. Creates a really good identification process for which soft skills to develop.
With the hard skill, we have what is referred to as a task tracker, so that is directly aligned with their profile description. So each profile description doesn’t focus on responsibilities because they’re abstract, they’re something that someone should be… Yeah, basically too intangible. And so we actually break it down into tasks, like regular tasks, ad hoc tasks.
And then we essentially track their progress on each of those tasks. Which again, when you look at the task tracker and or refer to the integration tracker, that forms a really important part of their career development. Because we can identify both hard skills and soft skills for them to develop. So that’s the, that’s I suppose, at the core of that identification process.
And so each person has a mentor and some, there are two mentors, myself and Dianne. And we meet with our mentees weekly, not quarterly, not monthly. It’s really important to meet with the individual weekly to essentially be that hands-on guide for them. Because without that, there’s too much of a time gap. You allow too much autonomy and most people get distracted too easily.
And so we find this really hands on wellbeing touchpoint, mentoring touchpoint, career development touchpoint to be effective.
But there’s a really important point that I wanted to talk about. So there’s, yeah. Goal setting. So when it comes to goal setting, we use these trackers to identify the two or three big areas for development. Then we work with the individual.
Okay, Kevin, so where do you wanna be in 30 days? What does Kevin in 30 days look like? What do you want him to be or be doing differently than he is now? And okay, so from that created some short-term goals.
And then we break that down even further. Okay, so what do you need to do today and this week to be able to help you get to that Kevin in 30 days? And again, like really breaking it down into micro or minute daily habits to then help you achieve that 30 day target. And sometimes out of the tracker analysis, sorry, the task tracker and integration tracker.
So the soft skill and hard skill trackers will come medium term goals, which are three month goals. And so there’ll be this cycle of meeting weekly to help you achieve those short-term goals, which are then gonna help you achieve your medium term goals. And then I suppose coming back to a bigger picture, in January we set their 12 month goals.
So new year, new you, what do you want to achieve? Let’s do a retrospective, where do you wanna be in 12 months? And we’ll help them isolate one, two, or three at most goals. And so that there, there’s always this interconnectivity between the micro and the macro. What are you doing today? What are you doing tomorrow to help you achieve or help you become that person you wanna be in 30 days, 90 days and 365 days from now?
Kevin: Wow. Okay. So that was a lot to unpack there. It starts to get a lot because of all the different tools and trackers that you guys use, and they’re all internal tools that you’ve built. But I can see how effective that would’ve been to really clarify and make crystal clear through questioning process, through the mentoring process, through sitting down individually and setting these 30 day targets and three-month goals and 12-month goals.
Having a sort of structure really gives somebody the clarity and direction of where they’re going. So okay, at any point in time, they’ll know what they need to do or where they need to refer back to, because that’s the challenge in some workplaces, right? It’s like only working. But yeah, your rough idea or the North Star kind of changes constantly.
Are you putting a bit of a predicament of what am I actually doing? Or where, what am I actually working towards? So I can see that’s quite a unique kind of structure and framework you’ve put in for the team there. Good to see you guys.
Jesse: Thank you. Thank you. I wanna add that what the role the mentor is, in this whole thing is to be the guide and to be supportive. But also to really help them work out what are the, what’s that fine balance between an aspirational goal as well as an achievable goal?
Because if the individual keeps on setting completely aspirational goals that are not achievable, they’re gonna become deflated. They’re not gonna, they’re not gonna progress. But at the same time, if they’re purely achievable, they’re not aspirational, they’re not gonna be very hungry to achieve them.
So it’s a very fine balance between those two factors and that’s where experience as well as a good mentor, I think comes into it.
Kevin: I think it’s important to have a mentor regardless of whatever industry or work you are doing, and that really helps with progression. And I don’t think we have enough of it around or have the right mentors that can help us on our journey.
And those of us who’ve had the luck to have good mentor always attribute their level of success or their level, the catalyst of their results or progression to their mentor. No doubt.
And Covid is still rampant where we’re living and it’s had another wave. A lot of staff, although the offices are back open, many are still working remotely at least a few days a week. And how is Ooze Studios breaking the barriers to efficient and meaningful remote working?
Jesse: Great question. It’s something that we put a lot of time and effort into and I think that the gamble that I took, can’t remember exactly when. Yeah, two years ago when we only had five full-time employees.
I hired a culture leader, which I think is quite unusual for such a small company. Usually, people do that a lot later stage. And I think it’s paid dividends. We’ve had a very strong focus, focus on this culture. We’ve had someone dedicated to building and developing it and that really helped us during Covid. That helped us with making sure everyone’s wellbeing was well looked after and was a major focus of our leadership decisions and our culture programs.
And so ultimately, being very focused on, again, like just going back a step to, to refer to the earlier being empathetic and compassionate. You know, if I was an employee in this situation, what would I want? And so we’re continually asking for feedback, continually engaging within individuals as well as teams and the whole organisation finding out how we provide the best agency experience in the world. Which is actually our vision.
Our vision is to provide the best digital agency experience in the world for both client and team members. And so having that at the very core of everything we do, I think has really helped drive these programs that I’ve already mentioned.
Like another one is every Thursday. For half an hour to 45 minutes on Thursday morning, that’s what we refer to as training Q&A. So everyone gets together, the whole company and people share what they’ve learned that week. And so we, you know, we have designers, developers, marketers, copywriters, all different skill sets, all different mindsets. And the cross-learning is amazing. Like when you see people being inspired by others, learning others and their learning, it’s a really fruitful exercise.
And again, some leaders and managers could see that as a potential waste of 45 minutes times the number of employees. There’s a cost to it, but trust me that you think like that and purely like that. Yeah. But you’re not really thinking about culture, you’re just thinking about the bottom line.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Now, I know how that sounded. I know that sounded quite hippy-dippy, like free love to everyone, free holidays to all, right? You obviously need to have a business case. You obviously need to think practically, but experiment. That’s what we did. Some things work, and some things don’t.
Like, another thing we did, we did for over a three month period every week. Sorry, every fortnight was have stuff up meetings. So I got this idea from a co-working space night called F Ups where entrepreneurs would come in and they’d talk publicly to a group about stuff up and what they learned from etc.
So we bought that in-house and we really wanted to create a culture where it was okay to make a mistake. It’s totally fine. We’re human. The more you talk about it, the more here, the more okay people will be with it.
That was actually really important with this hybrid slash remote work culture. Because suddenly we’ve moved from being next to each other. There’s an automatic, not micromanagement, but there’s an automatic viewpoint to be able to look after people and check if they’re okay, if they’re making mistakes, things like that. And they’re moving to completely remote where you’re not next to them and suddenly there’s this heightened requirement for trust and that they’re gonna report a mistake, that they’re not going to just hide a mistake or just not report it at all.
So by infusing this idea that mistakes are fine, that mistakes happen, that it’s better to talk about a mistake, and actually everyone around you is making mistakes or has made a mistake, and so it becomes a normal part of the conversation, which means people talk about it, which means that you can deal with them quicker.
Kevin: That’s a very interesting concept in terms of creating that kind of meeting to allow people to share their mistakes because it’s shunned quite a bit in typical culture, work culture. Because you may have said, oh no, like how do I cover it up? I don’t wanna get in trouble. I don’t wanna, they didn’t wanna be open about it because there, there are repercussions and it shouldn’t be made to be felt like that. It should be openly okay.
If there’s a stuff up, then you know, openly be transparent about it so that you can work as a team to get past it rather than feel like you have to hide it or make it a bigger problem. So I think it’s almost exacerbating as well to… not exacerbating though. I think it’s, what’s the term? It’s almost cathartic to be able to share and open up and let people know about that.
And so I’m curious to hear, you’ve had a culture leader now for what, two years or so. What are one or two insightful lessons that you’ve learned after hiring a culture leader?
Jesse: So something that we, that was very interesting that we found out from a survey. The Set of survey questions Dianne created was, what do team members value the most? So if we wanna reward them for great work that they win a quiz that they, well, we’ve got, as an example, we’ve got the quarterly quiz winner, right? So every quarter the best quiz gets voted as the winner and you get a reward, right?
But so what is that reward? So companies very easily dish out vouchers, but is that really what they want? We asked the question, do you want time off? Do you want cash value? Do you want vouchers? Do you want public recognition? What is it that really actually the individual values most?
And funny enough, it was cash.
Kevin: Give me cash, man.
Jesse: Right? That’s fine. And I totally get that. I totally respect that. Like, would I want cash over a voucher? Yes. Because I wanna be able to choose where I spend it. I don’t want you to tell me where I need to spend it. And do I want time off? I feel has enough time off that they could clearly, that they prefer the cash.
So, we changed our rewards to meet that. And it wasn’t just like a 60% trend. It was like a 95, a hundred percent trend, um, that people wanted cash at the reward.
Kevin: Interesting insight. That’s a good one. That’s a good one. I think a lot of my staff would prefer the extra cash as well. I think it’s a big driver at the moment.
Jesse, you shared with me previously that you love brainstorming or what you refer to as live open research techniques. How does this process differ from traditional brainstorming?
Jesse: So what we’ve been exploring is how, like how do you teach a junior or a non-experienced leader how to make better decisions?
And so we started to really break this down into, there’s really two major pivot points in the decision process. One is generating ideas, and two is choosing the best idea. So when digging further into Harvard Business Review and Inc. or like these big publications, there’s a clear pattern in terms of what’s referring to as open research techniques and closed research techniques.
And so open techniques are where you essentially, you almost got like a funnel and you’re trying to get as many relevant ideas into the pool as possible. And so that’s where you’ll have an open brainstorming session where no idea is a bad idea. You get everyone to do research before they come to the meeting and they discuss ideas and that’s where you might really almost like idea collecting.
Then, closed research techniques of which closed brainstorming is one is where you’re narrowing your focus, you’re taking the pool, and you are isolating the one idea that you want to choose. And so both have different objectives the second one, the closed one, is where you start to think about practicalities and where actually you need to deselect ideas because they’re impractical or they don’t meet that risk versus reward equation.
And as a side point, something that we’ve been exploring is like how do you teach a junior or a non-leadership individual how to calculate risk versus reward. And that’s something that we’re actively exploring and we’re looking to implement in January. But going back to these techniques, so something like a closed technique, for instance, is playing the devil’s advocate, right?
So you have one person in the room that’s the customer, or that’s the competitor, or that’s just an opposing viewpoint. And so they will be there in the room to think differently to push the idea in a different way, to essentially close the idea down, and you then have to surpass those arguments. That’s how you then narrow the focus.
Another one is what we refer to is a question burst. So we will, so individuals got a problem, but then they’re trying to make a decision. They go into a room of non, they don’t have to be relevant to the particular expertise. So the designer can go to marketers, copywriters, developers, and go, look, I’ve got this problem. How would you solve it?
Sorry. No, the question is, what questions would you ask to try and solve this? And so they don’t have to solve it for the individual, but it’s around asking questions that these other experts would ask to try and solve the problem. And so suddenly you’re starting to narrow down your options.
And so that’s where, yeah, it, it’s, it’s really important to distinguish between open and closed. And yeah, both have got very different objectives.
Kevin: From what I’m hearing, would it be quite logical then to go from open to close?
Kevin: Yep. So then you’d incorporate both, essentially you’d start off with getting as many ideas as you can through an open funnel, and then you have a red team that kind of shuts it down and you’d fight against to narrow down to the most viable option.
Jesse: Exactly. Yeah.
Kevin: I personally love brainstorming as well. I think it’s such a powerful tool, but I love the part of it where you can just allow any ideas to come through from anywhere. Because I think a lot of the time, personally for me, when I’m brainstorming with a team, I can see the cogs moving the staff’s head and they’re quite close-minded.
Like you can see that they’re already starting to narrow down, like you were saying, they’re already moving towards a closed research technique. Because looking at how viable the option is of where I’m just like, wait, guys, come back. I’m like, don’t think about how viable it is yet. Let’s just open up the funnel.
Bring in every idea from any industry. Any experience you may have had or somewhere you might have seen a TV at, it doesn’t matter. Just bring it all in. We’ll start finalising later. If you start red teaming it straight away. We can’t, we can’t get the ideas in the funnel.
Jesse: Totally agree because it is a very different mindset, right? With the open, you need to think big. You need to think aspirational, right? Think completely outside the box, which is quite foreign for some people. And so getting them as part of that process and getting them, developing that soft skill, but being very definitive with what it is that we’re trying to achieve.
Versus closed where some people are not very good at it, like they’re big thinkers, but they’re bad at thinking about problems or considerations, whereas people are really good. And so not only can you help develop people to become better at either of those two things, you can actually also orchestrate it so that some people are just in team A versus team B, and you’ll get a better decision making process along the way.
Kevin: Yeah, it’s great. Great idea. Team A, team B.
Um, with your experience in omnichannel marketing, and I’m curious about this for myself as well. For small businesses with a lean budget, where would you recommend them start and build from?
Jesse: So there’s multiple different channels, multiple different ways to approach this, but at the end of the day, yeah, you need to go, you need to chase the ROI, you need to chase the revenue.
And ultimately there are two, like the two best platforms. Actually, I’m gonna assume that we’re talking about B2C here because I will talk about B2B separately. But B2C, what I mean by B2C is your e-com shops, right? So they’re, you know, direct to consumer. There are really two major platforms for you and that is Google text ads.
So when you search into Google, an ad appears or Facebook / Instagram, which are all housed on the Facebook ad Manager. Again, both are very different in terms of their UI and so if you’re doing this DIY, it’s quite cumbersome to learn both.
Ultimately, the way you have to think about the major difference between Google and Facebook ads, is Google, you are essentially casting out a net waiting for a fish to come into that net. Either you’re waiting for them to make a search, and the reason why Google Ads are so powerful is because it tends to, once people are making that search, they tend to be ready to make a purchase. So your conversion rates typically should be higher, but there’s lower search volume right there because you need to wait for that person to make that search.
Whereas with Facebook, someone doesn’t need to make a search. The ad just appears in their feed. Same with Insta, they don’t need to do a particular action on their behalf. They just need to get on the app and need to scroll through. And that’s what makes it so powerful because you can amplify so much quicker.
And so really, if I was to break it down, obviously it’s case by case basis. But ultimately Facebook, Insta and Facebook remarketing in particular, which all has on the same thing. You can just learn one platform and manage all three of those big campaigns to get the quickest ROI.
Now you could argue depending on your audience, so you know Facebook is very good for over 35-year-olds. Insta is good for all age ranges. If your product is targeted under 25s, TikTok and Snapchat are really good.
Now, they all pretty much have the same concept in terms of there’s an ad manager, you have an audience setting that you choose based on interest and behaviours. You upload an ad headline image, and you publish it. They’ll function pretty much the same. But I know that typically it’s better to start with Facebook Ad Manager because it’s more versatile. There’s a lot more education around it, and that’s how, yeah, that, that’s essentially where I’d start, right?
Kevin: I think, yeah, I think those, uh, definitely the go-to’s in terms of Google, Facebook, and Insta. But if you’ve broken it down in a way that will help people guide their target audience a bit better, whether it’s a certain age group or whether they wanna cast a wider net or they wanna play with re-targeting game. But the Facebook Manager, I think, went through a revamp recently as well with the whole interface.
There are lots in the back end there for people to look at and have a play with, I think.
Jesse: And, sorry, Kevin. I also wanna add, so then you also have… So if you’re a small business owner or launching a business, you’ll also hear about SEO.
SEO is a really powerful channel that essentially builds up your rank ability and your recognition of your website to Google, and you’re driving organic traffic there. So back to that search component. But instead of the ad, people are finding you organic. SEO’s fantastic. It’s got a really high conversion rate. People are finding you at their own accord, but it honestly takes months for you to rank to get, get good traction. So if you’re just starting out where cash flow is king and you want quick wins, you have to advertise.
You can work on SEO in the background, but if you just focus on SEO, unless you’ve got the cash flow to support it, where you’re gonna be in negative or depending on the keywords you choose, it could be, it’s minimum three months, could be six, could be 12, depending on how competitive your keywords are.
And ultimately the keywords you choose and their, and the intent behind them is really important. Are they transactional? Are they informational? Are they actually gonna be bringing people that are ready to buy? Or are they just looking for information? Because the transactional keywords are the ones that attract ready-to-buy audiences.
I don’t wanna say all, but a majority of them are already being, already being recognized by other websites. Yes. Unless you created a new sub-niche category, which if you have fantastic, then you’re probably okay. But that’s quite rare now.
Kevin: And so for these small businesses that go out and they’re joining the digital game. They’re creating these campaigns or creating these ads, besides the metric of actual conversion, making money, what other ROI metrics would you recommend the small business focus on?
Jesse: Yeah, so the way that we break this down at Ooze is that there are three tiers of metrics. Tier one, the most important is ROI times revenue. And what, I actually did a separate video on this, on the fact that I believe there are actually three different ROIs that you can look at, and it’s all about the time scale. So you need to look at the immediate impact of your marketing, which is looking at the ROI in the last 30 days from marketing. And so that has that basically you can attribute to direct impact on your cash flow.
Then you need to look at your ROI based on onboarding value. So your onboarding timeline is up to you. Some companies it’s 30 days, some companies it’s 90 days, but it’s essentially from day one through to, I’m just gonna use 90 days through to day 90.
What is the onboarding value of your new customer? How are you treating this stranger that’s purchased the product from you? How are you treating them? Are you treating them like your best friend? Are you giving them an absolutely incredible personalised experience and service? Because we’ve seen there’s a direct correlation between how much money they spend with you in the first 90 days to how much they’re gonna spend with you in the first year.
So the more emphasis you put on an amazing customer journey and experience, the more they’ll spend with you and in the short term as well as long term. And so then what is the ROI based on the marketing expenses that happened that were used to acquire that customer? Which obviously fixed because there’s only a certain amount.
So once they’re required, then they go into, you’d hope to spend more over time. And so that’s why your ROI, you should see an increase as we talk about these time scales. So ROI based on 30 days, 90 days, and 12 months.
So how does that ROI change over time? Because if you just focus on ROI over 12 months, you’re not thinking about the immediate cash flow impact and you’re probably gonna be killing your cash flow really quickly.
So that first one’s really important, but you also can’t negate that long-term 12 month analysis as well. Because ultimately that’s what long-term business decisions should be based on.
Let’s just say it costs you a hundred dollars to acquire that cut customer. They spend $400 with you in the first month, so you’ve got a rough ROI of 300% in the three months they spent a thousand dollars with you. So you’ve got a 900% ROI. But over the course of 12 months, they’ve spent $5,000 with you. So that means you’ve got a four, 4900% ROI.
Alright? And so you can’t just look at the 300%, you also need to look at the 4900%.
Does that make sense?
Kevin: Yeah, I think that’s a… Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you’ve mentioned you’ve written about this elsewhere, right? Or spoken about it elsewhere?
Jesse: Yes. I made a video on it talking about these three different ROIs.
Kevin: I think it’ll be nice to include that link in the show notes. So that’s people who wanna deeper dive, they can take a look at that.
Thank you for sharing that. I think it’s very important because I think people that are moving into this game, and it’s essential, like you have to create these as, you have to create these campaigns to get the exposure out there, to get that distribution out there, or else you can’t. Everyone’s trying to create this product and their service and they, they love what they do, they’re passionate about. That’s great.
And once they get trying to get it out there, then it’s a whole different ballgame. And that’s why we need professionals like you guys to help out because you guys understand the game. Right?
Jesse: Stop it, Kevin. Stop it. Good man.
Kevin: You guys understand the psychology and everything.
Jesse: So I just touched there on, on tier one. So then you’ve got tier, which is, which doesn’t pay the bills because tier one pays the bills. That, that, that’s why it’s tier one. It’s the most important. But ultimately if you just focus on that, you could not understand what’s working and what is, what’s not working and what is working within your campaign.
That’s where tier two is about your cost per lead and your cost per acquisition. Because typically there, there could be a stepping stone of how capturing leads before you sell to them. And then your tier three, that is like your CTR, your unique link ratio, your bounce rate or things like that, don’t pay the bills.
And so they shouldn’t be, they shouldn’t be the measure of it, of a successful campaign, but they should be indicators to whether your campaign is tracking well to become a successful campaign. The only measure for a successful campaign is tier one, but tier two and tier three are the stepping stones to understand if you’re on the right track.
And so something that we calculated recently is in the eight years that we’ve been operational, we’ve done 40,000 hours worth of ads optimisation. And so we know very quickly, within a three or four day span, whether a campaign is working or not. Whether an ad or an ad set or campaign, depending on the level is working or not, and we know when to shut one down, optimise it, edit it, or to put more money behind it because it’s tracking in the right way.
But in those four days, they likely, could not have had any revenue, could not have had any leads. But we know from our tier three metrics, benchmarks, that campaign will work because it’s tracking really well. And so if any business out there, it’s really important to, to set yourself benchmark, figure out, okay, this is where I want to be in two weeks time.
Okay, so I want to have this much revenue to be able to do that. I need this many leads and I should be expecting this many visits to the website, this much bounce rate, this much cost, and things like that. Just start with some assumptions, it’s probably gonna be wrong, but that’s totally fine because at least then you’ve got some level of benchmark to then measure yourself again.
Kevin: Yeah, that’s a whole different ballgame. But a lot of my friends, they create this campaign to, they drive in blindly, give it a go, put some money behind it. But then without understanding the tier two and tier three, they don’t know whether they should put more money behind it or they don’t know if it’s to keep going or not. And so they put a lot in blind faith.
So it’s great that I think the awareness that you’ve shared and gets them thinking about it, or then they can all seek, experts like yourself. And get, man, I need help because clearly, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m trying, I wanna do it. But it’s crucial, right? ‘Cause you get to the point where you don’t know, should I put more money behind this campaign or not? And these are some big decisions for a small business because that’s their budget, right?
Jesse: Correct. Yeah. And if you’re starting out, it’s not easy. And if you’re starting out and you have no idea, you gotta really ask yourself, if I wanna do this DIY, like you gotta do a course.
There are just so many variables in there at the moment that look could be very headstrong and have a very clear idea about who your audience is and the exact messaging, and go for it. But be realistic. Set yourself as an example. You have a $200 test budget, so we’ll have an idea of a new audience or a new way to segment the audience with a new message to attract that audience.
And so we, we’ll run a campaign over a week for $200 and if we don’t see the results we want, we kill it. Don’t just keep on running the same thing over and over again hoping that things will change. We don’t see positive tier three or tier two results in a week. Something’s wrong and so restart and again, always come back to that journey.
You’ve got an audience, ad, landing page, and conversion event. So in your ads, have you got a high CTR? If you do, then the audience and ad correlation is strong. However, let’s say your bounce rate is really high. Let’s say your bounce rate’s 100%. Therefore, you know that your ad to landing page relevance is very low because people are clicking on it, but they’re seeing, the ad messaging is clearly engaging with them, but when they get the landing page, they’re not converting and they’re leaving straight away.
So that would tell me either your message on your ad and landing page aren’t matched, or ultimately the audience doesn’t really care about the message and the product that you’re offering on the landing page. So therefore you need to change the audience. You need to change the ad.
Kevin: Yes. That makes a lot of sense. Very valuable information here, that I’m gaining a lot of value from it. I’m sure the audience will as well. And then they can look up the video to understand more about the tier two, tier three that we’ll share in the show notes. Thank you.
Jesse, obviously you have an accomplished team and from the journey we’ve spoken about so far a series, like an accomplished series of events as well.
I’m sure it hasn’t always been this way. Do you have a favourite failure that has set you up for later success?
Jesse: Yes. This was, this is quite personal. No, not personal, but personal to Ooze and it’s not something I’ve talked about before, but we had a bad probation pass rate. So from new team members arriving through to the success or the chances of them passing probation were low about three years ago, so we couldn’t figure out why.
Was it the recruitment? Was it the filtering? Was it the culture? Was it, was it me, the leader? Was it the team? We just couldn’t quite work out why, and we realized it was that we hadn’t truly defined expectations of new team members and we were trying to create a culture of autonomy without any guidelines.
So we basically, essentially hired someone and expected them to start running straight away, right? Which is just not fair, it’s not practical. And so that’s where we started to really build out what the employee life cycle looked like at Ooze.
And so really building out each stage of the journey, everything from that very first touchpoint when they see the job ads and the job profile through to onboarding. Through to probation paths and then onto career development and things like that. And ultimately, we now have a really, really hands-on induction period for two weeks where there’s a really strong emphasis on multiple touchpoints every day, because most likely they’re remote. And so just making sure that they have everything they need, making sure that they feel comfortable to ask questions, making sure that they understand everything that has been thrust upon them, right?
Because as we all know, when you start somewhere new, there is information overload. And so instead of just expecting the individual to relearn everything, we make sure that the really important points are communicated multiple times because that’s the only way that it really sticks. And so making sure that they are fully integrated because only then can we truly expect them to be autonomous.
Can we truly empower them to really know and understand what it is to be an Ooze team member, know and understand what is expected from them, from the team. As well as the role itself and the stakeholder, whether it’s the client or another team member. And so that big switch of clear macro, micro definitions like I was explaining earlier through to having a really good onboarding experience through to weekly mentoring and connected to career development.
Kevin: That’s an interesting one. The lifecycle. I think it’s very important to think about actually to really consider the, from beginning to end, how they’ll be inducted in. And I think especially with a company like yours where you’ve got very clear outlines of your vision, mission, purpose, and the disks that keep going all the way in understanding and connected between the macro and micro.
It’s important that they get in touch with that at multiple points so they can really absorb and understand and as you said, understand what it means to be a Ooze team member. I think a lot of other companies can learn from that, no matter how big or small you, it’s important point to implement.
Jesse: That’s it. Like there were just what killed us, like kills not killed, that’s a bit of a strong word. But what really negatively affected this whole thing is assumption. We just made too many assumptions and instead of being guides, we were, what’s the word? Just very hands off. What’s a good word for a very hands off guide?
The opposite to a hands-on guide. I can’t think of a good metaphor. But yeah, just that, that big switch of, and again, like how, how can we present ourselves as caring when we’re not investing that time in the initial phase? But again, it wasn’t because we didn’t care, we didn’t invest the time. We just, we just wanted them to be autonomous from the very beginning, which is just a ridiculous concept in hindsight.
But the time it made sense is we hire you, you’re the expert. Run free, be well to do what it is you do best. But then when they don’t know what to do and like how we operate and what makes us individual and what makes us different, that’s very hard to do.
Kevin: That’s true. But I also think you’re not alone. A lot of companies hire people and they’re like, run with it. Let’s go from the get go with that. And expecting them that they know exactly what’s running through your mind and what you should be doing or this kind of thing. But everybody needs a bit of development because everyone’s culture is a bit different. So how you want them to run is gonna be a little bit different.
Jesse: There’s that, there’s a really, sorry. The really good employee handbook example, and that is Valve, as in the gaming developer Valve. The one that did half, what’s it called? What’s that game called?
Jesse: Halflife. Yeah. There you go.
Yeah. Their handbook is, it has been, we found through our research being pointed out a few times is a really good example of a good employee handbook. It details what you should be feeling at the beginning of day one, what you should be feeling at the end of your first month. It’s really important, right?
So short day one, it’s scary. There’s information overload. Again, that connection, empathy, relates to them. And at the end of the first month, you should still be getting to grips with all the tasks, but you should be feeling more confident to ask your team member for information and questions, right? Drill down into how.
You feel like they should be feeling to help them understand the markers?
Kevin: That’s something else that I’ll probably look up. Great recommendation. I’ll look up the employee handbook. Maybe I can put that in show notes as well for people to check out. And that’s not something that I’ve ever thought about in terms of thinking about how my employees will feel at this stage or versus that stage.
So that’s an interesting insight. Another golden nugget from Jesse.
Jesse: Thanks, Kevin.
Kevin: Hey, we’ve reached the tail end of the conversation. Normally asks all our guests a couple of questions. So here we go. Jesse, do you have any morning or evening routines?
Jesse: Yes, morning. So every morning I do 10 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of yoga, and five minutes of depending on what you wanna call it. I don’t know why I’m so anti, but the way they call journaling I’ve got a problem with it. I find that it’s got too many definitions and meanings. But what I do is I spend five to 10 minutes writing, what hurdles are in my way to help me achieve my six to three, sorry, my three to six month goals.
Because after meditation and yoga, I’m pretty zen. I’m chilled. I’m clear thinking. Okay, I think about these medium term goals that I really want to achieve, whether it’s personal or business, become a better tennis player or become better at yoga or through to land this new skill, whatever it is, what is stopping me or what could stop me from achieving this?
And I find just like writing the first stuff that comes to my head to be really therapeutic. And I find that it’s really helped me overcome any surprises because nothing surprises me. That’s a bit of a bold statement. Of course, I still get surprised because I deal with humans who always have a surprising element. Yes. But I, I find that, yeah, I’m much more relaxed around surprises because I’ve thought about these different scenarios a lot.
Kevin: That’s a great reflective question actually. I’ll definitely give that one a go. I have a play. See what comes up. Do you have a favourite book you would recommend?
Jesse: The book that started this all was The 4-Hour Workweek for me.
Kevin: Tim Ferris.
Jesse: Genius. Like that is it, was it pivotal and really important for me 10 years ago when I went put out my first business? A hundred percent.
Is it still practical for someone that hasn’t lost business? I assume so. I dunno a hundred percent sure. But the fact that it’s still selling and it’s still being talked about to me, tells me that it is. The other book that I’d like to attach to it is the Tribe of Mentors, same author, Tim.
It’s not a book and it’s more of a dictionary. It’s pretty thick. It takes a few goes, but it’s essentially like these golden nuggets from the world’s best in every single industry you can think of. And not everyone will be relevant to you, but there are just some really inspiring quotes, stories, facts, and methods that I think is relevant to everybody. Everyone from no matter what position, whether you’re working or not working, is really relevant.
Kevin: Yeah, I’m with you. That’s, the Tribe of Mentors is my most gifted book so far. Not surprised. I’d love to give it out. Yeah, that’s great.
Are there any new beliefs or behaviours that have had a positive impact on your life in recent years?
Jesse: Yeah. My morning routine, really. Honestly, I started doing that 12 months ago as part of my daily routine, and that’s had a profound effect, clear focus. There’s been pretty big things that have happened in my life that have really affected me and
I found that these, yeah, that morning routine really helps reset and something that I’m a big advocate for. And something that we’re calling our employee handbook is how to win every day. And so I really wake up with every day I wanna make sure that I smash my tasks. So I set myself achievable tasks, but also aspirational ones, but this on a daily basis. And I really like to go to bed every night knowing that I’ve done the best I could.
And that morning routine is the foundation for that.
Kevin: Yeah. And finally, Jesse how can people reach out or learn about everything that you do?
Jesse: Well look, go to oozestudios.com.au. So o-o-z-e, probably see it slightly backwards here, but find me on LinkedIn. I’ll send you the link. Like I’m very prominent on LinkedIn.
But yeah, you can also check out our website, which is like my puppy. It’s like this thing that has cultivated and grown over the years and is pretty unique and yeah, I really like how it’s developed.
Kevin: Perfect. Thank you so much, Jesse. I’ll definitely include that in the show notes for everyone to access.
Mate, again, appreciate your time. So many golden nuggets in this episode. Can’t wait to review it all and have lots to study. Put it that way. Thank you, buddy.
Jesse: Kevin, thank you for your time. Really appreciate it.
Kevin: Thanks for tuning in everyone. I hope you enjoyed the show. All the links to the show notes will be available at kevinlysocial.com, spelled k e v i n l y.
Conversely, if you have any interviews that you’d love to recommend, please send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to connect. Thank you, until the next episode.