Influencer Interview with Modern Marketer: Ian Brodie

Ian Brodie headshot

Marketing surely helps you boost your business on a large scale. Though Marketing is not just about sales and making more profits but also about building relations with the society.

UnboundB2B has One of the Top 50 Global Thought Leaders in Marketing and Sales and Author of the book “Email Persuasion”, IAN BRODIE, for you expressing his thoughts and insights on marketing, sales, lead generation and much more.

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Ian, How Did You Become Passionate About Marketing? What Made You Choose This Profession?

Ian Brodie

I came into marketing pretty late in my career. Back in the late 80s and early 90s I worked in R&D building systems to help big mainframe computers to fix themselves (not quite as exciting or as sci-fi as it sounds). I did pretty well so my company sent me on an MBA to learn to become a better manager. Unfortunately for them, it turns out I was a rubbish manager. But the MBA did reveal that I was pretty good at consulting, so that’s what I ended up doing.

I did a variety of consulting roles but ended up specializing in marketing for large companies. And then I got promoted to the level where I needed to do a lot of marketing and business development for our own firm which it turns out is very different to advising others on marketing and needed a lot of adjustment.

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So, How Did That Lead to your Specialization in Digital Marketing?

Ian Brodie

In all honesty, I got into digital marketing completely by accident. I was actually sitting at my desk back in 2006 when I got a call from a friend of mine called Noel who’s a professional magician. Noel said “Hey Ian, google ‘magician'”. I did, and it turns out that he was number one in the world. Now Noel is a good magician, but he’s by no means the most famous in the world. But he had got into SEO very early and managed to get himself to the top of the rankings. 

He told me that he was now getting about 80% of his bookings from the web which was pretty amazing because back then performing close-up magic at parties and the like was almost entirely driven by word of mouth. And it struck me that if a traditionally word of mouth business like magic could suddenly get transformed by online marketing, then so could a traditionally word of mouth business like consulting.

I didn’t immediately jump straight into digital. But a year or so later when I set up my own firm to try to cut back on travel it came to my rescue. I’d done very well initially based on referrals and introductions from ex-colleagues but that began to dry up. It was then I came back to the idea of using digital marketing in what was traditionally a word of mouth-based business. And it worked pretty quickly as I was one of the few people doing it back then in consulting.

In truth though, I wouldn’t call myself a digital marketing specialist. It’s important for me. But because my clients (largely consultants and coaches) are often focused on winning high-value projects with large corporates, face to face marketing is still vital for them too and it’s something I advise them on.  

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You Are the Author of ‘Email Persuasion’. Tell Us About Your Book.

Ian Brodie

Email Persuasion came about because I got lots of people asking me how I wrote my emails and how I generated so much of my own business through email marketing.

Because of my background in winning large (multi-million-dollar) projects I was very much focused on building long-term trust-based relationships rather than trying to get an immediate sale and I adopted my email marketing to fit with that approach. I also use email to try to start real human conversations, rather than to replace them – so it’s a bit different to the way email marketing has often been done. It’s a style that “clicks” with a lot of people who recognize the value of relationships and of building credibility and trust when you’re selling high-value products and services.

So, the content of the book is all about understanding the psychology of your ideal clients and writing emails that resonate with them and build your credibility and trust with them until they’re ready to buy; rather than constantly making pitches and offers to them.

It’s not necessarily the right approach for everyone, but it works for me and others who primarily sell high-value stuff.

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Would You Say Lead Generation in the SaaS Industry Differ from Other Industries?

Ian Brodie

I’m not going to claim to know everything about SaaS because my background is in consulting and coaching. But I have studies SaaS businesses with great interest because consulting and coaching is becoming much more of a subscription type business than a one-off business. And the great thing about SaaS businesses is that they have tons of data on what works and what doesn’t which we typically don’t get in lower volume, less online businesses.

So, for me, the differences in lead generation in SaaS businesses are actually things I’m working to introduce into other types of business – principally consulting and coaching. In particular, we can learn a lot from the focus of SaaS companies on using the product itself to generate leads (product-led marketing) and quickly getting clients to an “aha moment” where they see the value of your product and become a believer.

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What’s Your Philosophy for Lead Generation?

Ian Brodie

My focus in lead generation has always been on giving value in advance to attract the right clients to you. Not only is this a very effective lead generation strategy across the board, it’s also perfect for my consulting and coaching folks because it’s something they’re good at and feel comfortable doing – unlike a lot of other marketing which they’d see as self-promotional or pushy.

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What Are Some Basic Steps Every Business Owner Can Take to Bump Up Sales?

Ian Brodie

If you want an immediate bump in sales, focus on the people you already know and think about how you can add more value to them. Your current clients, your ex-clients and the people who almost became clients but didn’t are your very highest potential prospects because you’ve already built a high degree of credibility and trust with them.

Most people spend most of their time focused on trying to get brand new leads. And while you need to do that to keep your business fresh in the long term, if you want a boost in sales in the short term it’s most likely your current leads that you’re overlooking that hold your best opportunities. Find ways to get into conversations with them about their problems and challenges or goals and aspirations by offering them value: useful information that will help them in those areas.

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What Sales Techniques Do You Think Have Gone by The Wayside Today?

Ian Brodie

You know, this is going to sound strange coming from someone who does a lot of digital marketing, but I think that we seem to be losing the art of talking to our clients and customers. It’s like we’re afraid of engaging with them.

Our marketing strategies are all about automating and scaling with online ads or auto-posted content. We follow up with automated emails or bots. We even outsource our calls to “closers” who’s only interest is selling.

If we just spent a bit more time actually talking to clients or emailing them personally, we’d understand them a lot better. We’d develop better products more attuned to what they need. We’d empathize and communicate with them much better. And we’d probably enjoy our marketing and sales more too. We can use technology to start human conversations, not just to replace them. 

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So, What is Next for You?

Ian Brodie

I’m working on bringing all these ideas together under the umbrella of “Value-Based Marketing” into a blueprint that makes it simple and fast to implement. By the time the interview gets published it should be available free over on my website at www.ianbrodie.com

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