Pop Quiz, Monday with Simon Marmot

Always be up front and honest – say it like it is. When there are problems or challenges – and there ALWAYS are in marketing and advertising – it’s how we deal with them that makes a great marketing partner.

Simon Marmot

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Simon Marmot

Simon Marmot
Photo credit: Simon Marmot

What is your job role?
I wear a few different hats every day.

I am the Founder & Strategy Director of Marmot Inc. Marketing, which is a full-service Design & Digital Agency, where we also offer a Marketing Consulting service as an outsourced CMO.
I am also the CEO of new disruptive innovation (in Beta Mode) in the Influencer Marketing industry called MIKZ Alliance.
Finally, I am an Advisory Board Member of a consulting firm.

Tell us about your company?
Marmot Inc. Marketing is a marketing agency that collaborates with leading entrepreneurs and brands who are time poor, and finding it hard to scale, to sustainably accelerate their lead flow and increase sales in less than six months.

We help brands create an emotional connection, to help them ‘outsmart’ – not ‘outspend’ – their competitors. This just means that we make customers fall in love with authentic storytelling. Backed by a full design, Digital Marketing Agency – we actually get things done, without bogging clients down in jargon. We offer exceptional agency thinking without the overheads.

The MIKZ Alliance is a start-up that has taken around five years and $15M to build. We are currently in Beta mode with an official launch early next year. MIKZ Alliance is the first and only global booking engine that connects all the players in the influencer marketing industry (media buyers, Influencer agencies and networks, PR agencies, influencers, and direct clients). This booking engine allows its members to connect and collaborate, so they can reduce costs, grow revenues and free up smart brains. There is nothing like it in the world. The head office is in Sweden, and I am running the Australian and NZ markets.

What do you love most about your job?
Every single day is different. Working across various industries and verticals is challenging yet exciting because we’re tasked with solving problems for all sorts of weird and wonderful businesses. Helping brands and companies with their marketing strategy is the key to success. In many instances, businesses don’t actually have a proper strategy or any well-thought-out marketing roadmap to help them scale and conquer the world. They throw money at implementational campaigns with no real strategy, crossing their fingers and hoping something sticks.

What I love is really getting to know my clients – their brands, their competitors, the insights that make their customers buy from them – and it always starts and finishes with a straightforward question: what is the real problem we are solving for them?

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
I love to help my clients and colleagues set and accomplish their goals; to first clarify then realise their dreams. Marketing sometimes gets a bad rap as there are still some ‘cowboys’ out there. The rapid growth of digital marketing often makes forecasting results a challenge. So, I try to be a breath of fresh air to a client’s business, to act as a true partner, to keep it real, and not fluff around. Acting as their outsourced CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), I get to help them come up with an actual winning strategy, and then roll out campaigns to help them get more leads and sales, is what really excites me. Having the power to change customers’ hearts and minds, leading them to and through the purchasing process, is a powerful feeling!

How do your co-workers inspire you?
This is my favourite question so far. In marketing and advertising, there is no right or wrong answer. There is and will always be several different ways to ‘skin the cat.’ As a leader, I need to actively listen to everyone’s opinions and take on the recommendations of others with regards to problem-solving or the creative process. Through this process, I form my own opinions and make better, more collaborative decisions on behalf of the client.

One of my mentors many years ago taught me to ‘be the last one to talk, not the first one to tell.’ It was great advice that I am still putting into practice today.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
We have weekly meetings and catch-ups to discuss our wins and our priorities for that particular week. We always start off with the funniest thing that happened to them that week. Every Friday we have drinks and nibblies, and we are still up for a themed party like Halloween, Melbourne Cup, and Christmas which all give us an opportunity to splurge and get a little bit fancy. We are also fortunate to have partnerships with some great clients, who might take us out to lunch or out on Sydney Harbour from time to time.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
One of the biggest challenges is to manage the expectations of our clients. They are expecting groundbreaking sales results overnight, but it invariably takes more time than that. SEO, for example, is at least a 6-month ongoing journey before it really starts to pay dividends. Whereas a good Google and Facebook campaign can turn leads into sales literally overnight. Therefore, our ongoing challenge with clients is to ensure our strategy and deliverables are clear, and our communications consistent, up front, before we embark on the journey together.

Finding and retaining exceptional staff who are culturally a good fit for the business is also a challenge. We have a simple rule of thumb we try to adhere to when recruiting new staff – similar to that of Saatchi & Saatchi, where I worked for many years – our ‘no-d***head’ policy. While it’s obviously a joke, it does remind me to trust my intuition, and to try and look – and feel – beyond a candidate’s CV.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
Always be up front and honest – say it like it is. When there are problems or challenges – and there ALWAYS are in marketing and advertising – it’s how we deal with them that makes a great marketing partner. Don’t bring problems to the client – look ahead for a solution first, then let them know there is an issue but here is a solid recommendation on how we deal with this now!

I have been a part of several starts ups in my career. What I have learnt over the years is to save enough money for marketing and the launch of the brand and don’t blow it all on the development phase. Don’t get carried away; be wary of believing your new idea is so new, so good, so different, that it will be so instantly popular, that you don’t need to consider marketing.

This just does not happen in the real world, so make sure you plan ahead and carve out a decent marketing launch budget. And with that you also need to, what I call ‘pay it forward,’ which simply means that if you have a $10 marketing budget for the year then spend $7-8 now at launch to get you on the map and worry about the rest of the year after you successfully launch.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in your industry?
Make sure you really want to! Seriously though, I would advise people just starting out to remember that marketing, advertising, branding, and building emotional connections across various channels is FUN. It’s all about discovering the real insights that drive a purchase decision, and it is fascinating and exciting coming up with winning strategies to build real connections with customers. Not to mention creating all sorts of amazingly creative and communications like videos, ads, the content of all shapes and sizes. Move the heart and mind, and you can change the world. Emotions drive people, so get amongst it!

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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