Jess White - Outsourced Marketing for SMEs

Jess is a mega experienced event producer and strategic marketer who has spent over 15 years working client and agency side with major blue chips, charities and on well-known sporting events alongside building her and her husband’s live event business. Jess helps SME’s who need more time and resource with outsourced marketing, events and project work.

Podcast with Jess White


Tony Radford 0:00
Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Small Business Heroes podcast. Today I'm delighted to be joined by Jess white of

Jess, how are you today?

Jess White 0:14
I'm really good. Thank you, Tony, thank you for having me. It's great to be here.

Tony Radford 0:19
Great. Well, we look forward to hearing all about you. So I was just wondering if you could tell us about your business,

Jess White 0:24
I guess I can tell you about my business. And I'll give you the background, I suppose of how I got to this point would be useful.

So I've worked in events marketing, for many, many years, I've worked in agencies, I've worked client side have worked for big blue chip to work for lots of different people doing marketing and events within kind of events twist and my husband alongside this has built up his own business, which I've been helping him with and supporting him move.

So after I had my first baby in 2015, I basically decided that lots of international travel, and you know, having big team and being on call 24 seven in that respect wasn't something that we wanted to do with a young family. So I kind of made the jump and went solo and set up my own thing. So that's kind of what I'm doing today, which has obviously been building since 2015. So now I help small businesses, essentially, that don't have an in house marketing resource that needs some support to get their business moving.

And it's really lovely place to be. So I work with MDS founders, CEOs of SMEs, that just basically have run out of time, but have huge passion for their business and need help. So it's quite a varied group of people and group of industries, which I love.

And also the type of people are quite varied. But generally, the work can range from marketing strategy, to management of a plan and just getting a bit more organized, it could be delivery of something tactical, it could be creative ideas, it can be setting them up on social media, it can be improving, that it can be coming up with PR stories, delivering a one off event like it's really, really varied. But I guess my USP is that I've worked in lots of different scenarios, and to each client, I can bring something new to their table. So that's what I do.

Tony Radford 2:36
Great. Sounds interesting. So do you work on individual projects? Or do you have sort of retainer arrangement.

Jess White 2:43
So some people will kind of engage me to do a specific project. So it might be, for instance, six months, and they want to get something specific off the ground. Or it might be, for instance, I was kind of parachuted into project managers sporting event that the client just didn't have the right people in the business at the right time. But they knew I had the experience.

So I kind of came in, got an email address under their banner, I was effectively one of their employees, and I just delivered this project for six months.

And then I kind of said, buy and sold in the following year. So other people have me on a retainer basis, which might be a day a week, it might be, you know, different levels. But yes, it's varied. And it kind of it can be really flexible, depending on what the client needs, which often, you know, everyone's a bit different, they might need lots of support to start with, and then kind of get themselves to a level that they can do a bit more of that on their own.

Tony Radford 3:44
So yeah, kind of depends really depends on what your clients need, what would be an ideal size client for you?

Jess White 3:53
I think it depends. And again, because my kind of skills and experience have really varied and they're quite transferable. And I like working with the guys who have set something up on their own, got it to a point that it's starting to grow, and they've got all of the ideas, but they just can't quite tie it all together. So that might be a, you know, a small business that started off as just a sole trader almost that now employs 15 people.

But those people in the business are the ones delivering the business and you know, out there with their customers or selling products or you know, operational rather than, you know, the founders sidekick. So, often, I find myself in the position that the person who asked for my help, just wants reassurance and they've, you know, they know what they need to do, but sometimes they can't get on with it and they almost need that slight shove to, to get on with it.

And that might be that I do some of that work that they do some of themselves that we get a kind of group of specialists together, that I kind of project manage to help them Then get through that barrier, if that makes sense.

Tony Radford 5:02
Yeah, Yeah, it does. And I think there's probably a lot of value in giving people a bit of a shove as well.

Jess White 5:08
Yeah there definitely is. Yeah.

Tony Radford 5:11
What about your, you know, what sort of challenges have you faced in your business?

Jess White 5:15
I think my biggest challenge this year, is, you know, my clients aren't event clients, they're all sorts of different people, but it's getting that mindset into making them think that marketing is an investment, not a cost. So it's been a lot of academic research done on how companies treat marketing as a function.

And actually, the ones who tend to, you know, really put energy into it, even in the hard times are the ones that tend to do well, it's making the marketing seem, you know, justifying it, showing what it can deliver, being creative with it, you know, getting them on board, understand that it's an investment. And if you do it now, then actually, when you come out of this horrible strange year, then there's some real opportunity.

So I think one of the key things I've been working with a lot of my customers on is for them to understand who their real customers are. So I had a lovely lunch with a new client about two weeks ago, and he, he knows who his customers are.

But when I really got him to drill down, he found that quite a difficult process. So you know, we spent quite a lot of time talking about his customers and putting them into different groups and and then from there, we can start to build some marketing activity around those groups that really speaks to those groups that is then really useful and powerful. And so I think, for me, that's the challenge is just getting my clients and prospects to understand the marketing as an investment. And therefore, it's worth doing and then the way in which we do that to make it really valuable for them. And not too scary as well.

Tony Radford 7:03
would you advise clients to change the focus of the marketing or the messages during this period when everything's a bit upside down? Or would you have any advice on that, in general?

Jess White 7:14
Yeah, I think it's a really interesting one, I think we have to be sensitive, and, you know, did a piece with a local business group the other week, which is great, and one of the pieces we were talking about was emotional buying. So most people, they buy something, and they buy it, because they want it or they need it. But the trigger to do that is normally on an emotion.

So if you get that emotion, wrong, in my opinion, others are available at you know, the moment and you slightly get that tone of whatever it is message you're trying to say to your prospects that can be really, really damaging. So, you know, for instance, as a business I worked with who are in the event sector, so they haven't, you know, have an awful lot of work this summer.

And they decided that they had some spare time, so they would make pp. And for some of their local businesses, and it's free, it's not really costing them an awful lot of money to make it they weren't charging a penny for it. And actually, the uptake on that was really positive, because they've just done something nice.

And ultimately, I think, yeah, that completely was changing the messaging of what they were talking about in a normal year. But it's been really beneficial. So yeah, I think definitely thinking about the emotion and the kind of just the human side of things, you know, everyone this year is having a difficult time whether your business is picked up and you're online, and you're hugely busy. That's not an easy position to be in. So I think my advice is always just to kind of be kind and be considerate, and still get your message across, but do it in a way that's tailored to the the environment and

Tony Radford 9:02
Okay, thank you. That's good advice. What would be the next step? Do you think for your business,

Jess White 9:08
I kind of run my thing on my own, as we kind of talked about, but the way I work is that dependent on my client's needs, I'll bring in specialists to do different functions. So I'm not a specific expert with on Google AdWords or, you know, specific things like that. So I've got a really amazing network of other professionals in you know, different areas that I pull on when I need to.

So I think for me, it's going to be, you know, using that network a bit more. Because I'm almost at the point nearly that some of my clients are at, you know, I'm getting so busy that I need to get some more help in so having new clients brings new challenges, new work, and that's really exciting. We can all learn from that. But I think Yeah, just expanding network of specialists. And getting to trust those people and being able to, to bring a few more people in is going to be my, my position over the next year or so, which is a lovely one to be in really nice to be in.

Tony Radford 10:13
Yeah, definitely. And yeah, good luck with with. What's one thing that you wish someone had told you when he's first started out in business.

Jess White 10:24
Um, I think, you know, I'm an absolute people, person, I love people. That's why I work in the sector that I work in. But I also love working in the background, I love bringing ideas to life and not being one on the stage or on the camera, so much more behind the scenes. But I think, you know, when you run your own thing, you have to be the one driving that. So you're not surrounded by people all the time.

So there are moments of self doubt. And there are definitely moments where I'm my biggest critic, and I need to, you know, my advice to others is just to kind of listen to that, but to be positive and, and do things to keep your energy up. And I think, you know, just repeatedly, putting yourself out there is quite a daunting thing to do.

But when you do it, and it's amazing what rewards you can get back and, you know, is hard work running your own business and being accountable to your customers, and not to have that team so much to bounce off. And especially with family life in a global pandemic, which is a challenge for most of us.

And but I think it's just keeping that positive, you know, self belief and keeping that momentum up really.

Tony Radford 11:42
If somebody gave you 500 pounds to spend on marketing, how would you spend it,

Jess White 11:49
I really love to learn. So I always find, doing a course or going to learn something new or read a new book is it's not necessarily a marketing activity, there's always something really positive that comes out of it that I can use, either for my self or for my clients, businesses.

So in a weird way. For me, that kind of serves as a marketing activity. So I would probably in at the moment, there are not an awful lot of events on that if I had 500 pounds, I would probably pick a really cool conference or seminar or something that I would go and attend in person. Because I'd also get to meet some other like minded professionals, which I think we find really inspiring and engaging.

And from a networking perspective, that's always good, too. And I think if I was being old school, I might get some some jazzy business cards, because I haven't got any, and everyone tells me out to do it. And I kind of shy away from doing it, because I try and save the planet and do things a bit more digitally these days. But I think Yeah, I would probably get some business cards.

Tony Radford 12:56
So the first part of your question, sorry, the first part of your answer was maybe a course or something. And that's kind of investing in yourself, isn't it?

Jess White 13:04
Yeah, yeah, totally. Yeah.

Tony Radford 13:06
You're the first person that's ever said that, actually. So, you know, to spend that 500 pounds investing in yourself as a form of marketing? You know, that's a really good idea. What about, you talked about, you know, being kind of, you know, you're the only person I mean, do you have a support group or a mentor.

Jess White 13:25
I do. I mean, I've got some wonderful friends, and I'm part of the local business community, which I never have enough time to, you know, dedicate as much time to it as I'd like. But they're a great group of kind of small businesses quite creative, which I love being part of, and they're all very chipper and positive, which is great. And I also, you know, my, a lot of my friends and my family and my network are in, you know, we're quite entrepreneurial. So we do tend to help each other and bounce ideas off each other.

And but I did a slightly more formal mentor scheme with the Tustin Institute of marketing, which I found really, really useful. So I've studied with the test Institute of marketing gone up through all of their levels and did their, their postgraduate Leadership Program, which I finished last year. And but yes, they do a mentor program. And you basically go through and get to choose one of the mentors that you feel would suit you, and then you have this dialogue with them. And I found that really useful.

And I thought, you know, being questioned on almost it's like the mirror had been flipped. So I do a lot of this stuff with my customers and make them look at their business and what their motivations are. But this time, my mentor was like, right, Jess, what do you what do you need to do? What do you enjoy doing? What are you good at? What do you hate doing?

And just helped me focus in on, you know, the stuff that I should really spend my energy on? And it was, yeah, really, really good. So definitely recommend that and I think, you know, most professional bodies have a similar kind of setup. And so yeah, definitely recommend researching that if that's something that you think you'd benefit from. Right? That's

Tony Radford 15:09
great advice. Thank you very much. And speaking of advice, could you give us one actionable sales tip?

Jess White 15:16
It's again, it's the process that I go through with most of my new clients, which is all about getting to know your customers.

And, and I think if you get to know them really well, and you know, you answer loaded questions about what they love doing, what makes them anxious, what makes them happy, and how you or your product or service, whatever it might be, kind of talks to that, then a lot of the stuff you do just kind of falls into place. So yes, I think my one piece of advice would be Get to know your customers, put them into different groups.

Because they might be different to each other. Obviously, most, most businesses have a handful of customers in a segment your customer base, and get to know your customers at a level of detail that is beyond your current understanding, and use that insight to change maybe some of the stuff that you're you're doing isn't as successful and just change your approach and see if it works. Because it's amazing how often it does.

Tony Radford 16:23
Um, you talked about segmenting your customers in sort of other ways. Could you expand on that a little bit.

Jess White 16:31
So for instance, I would let say, a client that I met with the other week that I've already referenced, so we, you know, he knows who his main customers are. And he knows who are kind of his indirect customers, so people who refer his business there to groups, but what he hadn't really thought about was the bigger picture. So I sent him a stakeholder map, which is a bit of a, you know, stakeholder theory, if you Google, it is quite a kind of big topic on the marketing side of things. And his business is a service rather than a product. So what we have started to do is to get him to look at all of his businesses, stakeholders, and some of them are internal customers.

So they're the families of people who work for him, as well as you know, the end user of a service that he's providing. And we've just put them all in on a, you know, big list and started to look at the needs of each of those groups of people. And the kind of thing that you get out of the back of that process is lots of different ideas of how you can engage with those different groups. So from a marketing perspective, it's really, really valuable. And also from a sales perspective, because there are people who he can sell to, that he didn't even realize were people he should even be considering, just because we went through that process of mapping out all of the people who are important to his business.

So you talk about the referrals, and the kind of indirect stuff, we're going to put together a strategy of activity that, you know, makes them aware of the company. And then as they become aware, those referrals will start to come online. And so it's just going back to that, you know, segmenting and getting a detail. And rather than just doing a scattergun approach of all, I've done a bit of PR, and I've done a bit of this, and I've done some social medias, looking at why you do it, and the language that you use and the stories that you use for each of those groups. So yes, does that answer your question?

Tony Radford 18:46
It does. We're running out of time, I'd love to answer ask you more more questions about Lexus really interesting. But the the main kind of idea that you mentioned was stakeholder theory, as a model that could help people if they were to read a bit about that.

Jess White 19:01
Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, it's they're huge, great big books on it. And it's quite can be quite a dry topic. But I think just, you know, the way I use I'm trained in various theories and things and so I can bring that to the table and help people just give it a go and use those processes without all of the having to do the reading themselves.

Tony Radford 19:27
might make a good subject for a quick video for LinkedIn actually, huh. But now, that's really great. Thanks very much for everything you've said. It's all been really interesting and useful, very, very interesting to hear about your module of being a sort of, you know, an outsourced marketing department or consultant and then also bringing in all the other services.

So you've got a full range of things that you can offer people, that must be very, very useful to business, SME, you know, managing directors and so on. amazed. That's really great. So how what's the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Jess White 20:07
And so I have my website which is JW o hyphen, marketing calm. Or you can find me on various social media. I don't mean to Facebook, just because I find it takes up a lot of time. But um, so I'm on Instagram and Twitter, as at dw, a marketing, or just my personal Jess white on LinkedIn as well.

Tony Radford 20:32
Okay. Great. Just thank you so much for your time.

Jess White 20:35
You are welcome. Thank you so much for having me.

Video Recast


Published: 26/11/2020

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