Justin Singh is the Founder and CEO of “Outdoor Inspection Services” (OIS), a business intelligence platform currently operating in the $1 Billion a year Australian out-of-home advertising industry.
OIS provides an “advertising verification” service to companies that have paid to advertise on out-of-home media such as bus shelters, roadside billboards, and shopping center signage, with clients including Telstra, The Australian Federal Government, Uber, Optus, and Samsung to name a few.
A major element of the service focuses on engaging a crowdsourced workforce that can simply grab jobs and complete reports through the “Outdoor Inspection Services” App anywhere in Australia, with current testing in the US and UK.
Post revenue, OIS is currently in raise mode to further develop its new software and scale its offering into the $52 Billion global out-of-home advertising market.
Justin has always been entrepreneurial in his nature, setting up his first ‘fencing panel’ business aged 14.
Later in life, he went on to work in senior advertising executive positions in London prior to moving to Australia in the year 2000 to work on the Coca-Cola Sydney Olympics account.
He has subsequently established a number of businesses, including his own Marketing Agency and OIS.
What you will learn
- The danger of complacency.
- How to use a business intelligence platform to keep your advertising agency honest.
- The power of experiential retail.
- Brand building the old fashioned way.
- Why omnichannel marketing and retail is vital.
- An app for earning some money as a freelancer.
- Why reinvention is needed for business survival.
- The importance of empathy.
- Whether you should be using this non-digital approach to build a brand.
Jeff Bullas: Hi everyone and welcome to the Jeff Bullas show, today I have with me Justin Singh. Now I'd like to introduce him and then we're going to tell a story about his dog because it's such a great story. So Justin's the founder of an outdoor inspection services company called OIS which is a business intelligence platform currently operating in the Australian 1 billion dollar a year out of home advertising industry. I think I know what that means, it means that they actually inspect and verify non-digital advertising such as signs on bus shelters and so on.
Justin Singh: It's close, we audit and inspect signage. Digital signage or static actually all across the country to make sure that when the ads are actually supposed to be running or posted they're actually there and our customers are getting what they pay for. So there's a number of times you would have driven past a large roadside digital format, it's a black screen, blank. Or maybe someone's paying $10,000 a week for that or there might be another issue. We just help sort of uncover any sort of issues that can then be addressed and hopefully they get their optimal return on investment.
Jeff Bullas: Right. Now you're running your business remotely at the moment, so you've escaped to a beautiful beach side location in Australia called Byron Bay. Now Justin, in our little pre podcast chat revealed to me that he went on a road trip with his wife and a dog. So the dog, most of you don't know what Byron Bay's like. It's actually a bit of a hippy place. So can you tell everybody about like, you had a problem with your dog yesterday and had to rush it off to the vet. So what happened there?
Justin Singh: I suppose I sort of said to you if I'm looking a little bit tired there's a valid reason and it's not that I was up getting drunk excessively. We're actually in Byron Bay which is almost the Glastonbury of Australia, and some people may know Glastonbury. But not last night, the night before we took the dogs for a little walk to the beach, they were running in the bushes. We've got a golden retriever and a miniature dasch and we then went out for a couple of hours, the dogs were at home. We came back to see them and the poor miniature dachshund who's only eight months old was yeah, in a lot of trouble and we were very very worried actually. He couldn't hold himself up or his head up, he was sort of swaying from side to side, pupils dilated.
Justin Singh: Forty five minutes of a drive to the vet at midnight that night and a lot of worry, dropped him off. They checked him overnight, So in the morning, I was expecting the vet to say you know, the cause had been a snake bite or a paralysis chip or spider bite. Everything in Australia that's sort of nasty to dogs. The response we got back shocked us a little bit that apparently he'd got marijuana poisoning. So there was maybe a space cake or a hash roll in the bushes, as dachshunds do just chomped it down I was saying to you earlier Jeff, now when we look at the video. How we did not know that dog was stoned amazes us both, he's swaying, we look he's got a vacant stare. But he had a bit of a smile on his face, all those sort of telltale signs. Yeah so it was a late night and we tried to catch up on sleep yesterday. But yeah all’s well that ends well.
Justin Singh: It was a classic Byron adventure and yeah actually, probably one of the benefits of the current situation across the world whereby we can work remotely and we're all experiencing and creating new ways of working which is a positive. His name's Monty the dog and he's now known as stoner.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. Look, how did you not recognize that he was stoned, obviously his eyes were dilated obviously, he was-
Justin Singh: I know that normally happens, But I have no idea. We were watching a YouTube video before.
Jeff Bullas: He was turning up at an Uber before slightly dilated with another female Dachshund before, being a bit loose. Had left his clothes behind, that's what dachshunds do actually most of the time.
Justin Singh: Well maybe put out another video and make it available on the next podcast.
Jeff Bullas: I love it, so anyone's coming to Australia next time you can actually get on an international airplane, go to Byron Bay, go to Sydney first and say hi to me and also to Justin because he lives there as well in another beach side suburb with less hash in the bushes. But dachshund stoned, welcome to Australia really.
Justin Singh: It's a good way to start.
Jeff Bullas: So Justin it's great to speak to you, we haven't chatted before because I got introduced to you by a great friend of mine called Ben Pirrie, you notice he's got a very strange accent, a bit different to mine. So he comes from...not from the land down under, he comes from the land top under. Maybe that's not the right term either. He mentioned a term called Glastonbury which is actually an English town, is that correct?
Justin Singh: It is but I'm actually originally, I've been here twenty years now, but originally from a place called Birmingham which is the second largest city in the UK.
Jeff Bullas: Right. So time to get serious which is actually quite boring really. So let's do... you started your first business when you were 14, because this show's about being an entrepreneur, right?
Justin Singh: Yeah.
Jeff Bullas: The stories, the pain, the joy, the ecstasy. The persistence and resilience that we require to be in this wonderful thing called entrepreneurship. So you started this fence panel business, what's a fence panel business? When you were 14.
Justin Singh: When I was 14 I actually grew up on a housing commission council estate. So I was always looking to earn an extra couple of quid here and there pretty much from when I left the womb. When I sort of got to 14 actually my dad, my step dad worked in sort of like a big wood factory where they were just building stuff out of wood and he'd bring me offcuts and bits of wood back and what have you. Yeah just sort of figured out all the fences between the gardens were sort of a bit rusty and sort of falling over. Had a go, built all new fence panels, the next door neighbor wanted some, then the next door neighbor and gradually as a 14 year old I was making £150 a week. This is 85 or something like that, 86.
Justin Singh: Then I got to a point where my stepdad’s said, a little bit too much demand I think we're going to have to start paying a little bit for the wood that I was bringing back. So I had to start raising the prices a little bit. Yeah before you know it, it was just sort of in the blood really. I've actually just been on a trip whale watching with a few friends and one of my friends, he works in a very corporate role and he's saying, "Oh wow, the podcast sounds great but you know I should never be an entrepreneur, I've never had that in me." And I don't necessarily agree with that. I think certain times, certain situations, circumstances bring that out of you and it's about building that confidence.
Justin Singh: For me it sort of happened when I was very young, I just sort of found wow, this is cool. I'm doing my own thing and you can do it. It created that confidence I think at that young age, I've never really looked back. I've flipped in and out of the corporate world but I've always had something doing that's my own a little bit.
Jeff Bullas: Right, so from fence panels to the next step. So what was the next thing you sort of got into? You told me that you got into advertising in the UK.
Justin Singh: I feel like I've fallen into a couple of things, I went to university and in all honesty the reason I went to university was because I didn't want to get a job so bunked off in uni, at the end of the day you have to pay for it, you did have to take a loan. So I went to university, did business, marketing. Actually quite enjoyed that, met some very very good friends, and had great experiences. Then moved down to London, found myself working in media, media buying and planning. That's the agencies that actually buy all the space, they buy the TV space. They don't create the ads but they buy the space for TV ads, the ads on your advertising billboards and worked with some big clients. Pepsi, Kelloggs, Sainsburys in the UK.
Justin Singh: Worked for a fantastic agency at the time. That is what really started the journey, that space that I was comfortable working in and challenging and creative... That sort of advertising space. I'm still in that space at the moment.
Jeff Bullas: So how long were you in London doing that gig for?
Justin Singh: About six, seven years. It was long enough for me, London's that sort of place where you go earn your spurs, once you've worked there it creates that path forward, you've done your apprenticeship almost. It's easier to move into different markets because it's a very exceptional market in which to work, I'd recommend it to anyone in the younger generation.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah. So you finished the gig there and is that when you decided to come to Australia?
Justin Singh: I did, again a little bit of a story really. I came over here on a holiday for a couple of weeks. A friend of a friend worked at an agency, they had a job going. It was actually to work for the Coca-Cola account for the Olympics in Sydney in 2000. Probably an open letter job at the time, I borrowed a friend's suit, went to the interview with the Coca-Cola client, on the spot there she offered me the job. Which is unfortunate because I wasn't actually going to be working for her, I was going to be working for the agency, so that was a good position to be in. Yeah got the job, told that I had to go back, get my shit together and then literally I've got to be back in Sydney in about eight weeks. So that's quite a big... I didn't really have any time to think about it, then straight in sort of 2000 from February really, planning, working with the team in terms of developing what Coke were going to do for the Olympics which was an amazing experience and again, a fantastic company at the time.
Justin Singh: A lot of smarts from around the world. So yeah I was very fortunate to land that gig.
Jeff Bullas: So what did you learn from that experience more than anything else?
Justin Singh: It was a combination of firstly just the change, what I did learn was even though Australians speak English, Australia is not like England. Advertising, it was a baptism of fire. Just different states of Australia, Sydney, Melbourne, WA. The codes for example, Coke were very heavily involved in sport and trying to get my head in NRL, and it's not played in WA, I had a little bit in Melbourne. It was very hard. Then the demography and the sheer scale of the country, that was enlightening for me, it really was. Again, very lucky I was getting paid to really start to understand Australia which it is. Even the music scene is very different.
Justin Singh: Working with Coca-Cola showed me the true power of a global organization that are completely organized, the planning and the work and the diligence that goes into that business and everything they do was pretty eye opening actually, it really was. I thought I was going to come here and it'd be easy, it'd be a cruise. I've never worked as hard as I did in that period. Again, I met some great people from all around the world. Again, the experience itself has formed I suppose, how I operate today.
Jeff Bullas: I'll explain maybe to the people around the world a little bit about Australia's football scene. We're very focused about football over here, there's four different types of football. In fact, is it four? Yes I think it is. So there's what we call Aussie rules, AFL. Which is a bit like Gaelic football which the English would understand but the Americans wouldn't. Trying to explain this to people around the world. Then we've got, we call it soccer in Australia but it's known as football globally. Then we've got the NRL, the National Rugby League. Which is a version of rugby union or rugby and that's played by only two or three states in Australia.
Jeff Bullas: Then you've got rugby union which is played in only a few states in Australia as well. So we're very confused about football in Australia really.
Justin Singh: It's very complex, it really is. One thing I will say, when I came over here I watched AFL and thought what the hell is that. Now it's one of my favorite sports, I love it. Follow the Swans, go to all the games I can. Amazing kind of event. Then when you layer over the top of it cricket which is pretty much the only national sport, right, which everyone loves in Australia.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah.
Justin Singh: Sort of the glue that holds it altogether. It's quite a complex landscape so when you've got sponsorships that you're managing and planning, different states. As I say, it was a baptism by fire really, but it was worthwhile.
Jeff Bullas: We also actually do play in very small doses grid-iron, which is another term for American Football. We actually do play that in Australia, not a lot but we do play it. Americans do play rugby union, I don't know about rugby league. There is a bit of AFL in the USA as well. I don't think there's any AFL type football in the UK except for it's own version Gaelic football, I think.
Justin Singh: Yeah in Ireland.
Jeff Bullas: So anyway, that's just a quick thumbnail sketch of football globally. If you're confused, don't worry it's actually not that important except if you're a football supporter. But we're a remote island, we do strange shit over here in Australia, but it's actually quite fun. Including dogs that actually get high on marijuana. So there you go. You went out and did some whale watching as well didn't you, actually.
Justin Singh: We did yeah, just saw some humpback whales in Byron bay and dolphins, yeah it's everything that it's cracked up to be. It's a fantastic spot. Yeah we love it up here.
Jeff Bullas: Were any of the whales on marijuana, dilated pupils or anything?
Justin Singh: There were none that bumped into the boat thankfully, yeah I don't think so.
Jeff Bullas: That's good because they're actually quite large, a bit larger than a dachshund. Looking at a dachshund hitting you is one thing but a humpback whale is another. In fact there is a lady in West Australia which is a west Australian state of Australia, which by the way is about a five hour flight from Sydney or Byron Bay, she got crushed between two whales while she was swimming there recently. So yeah. Whales do look a bit cuddly but they're a bit dangerous if you do swim with them. Maybe I'd like to get crushed by a dachshund or two. But on the more serious topic, so you've done the Coca-Cola gig, you've transformed the world with Coca-Cola advertising at the Sydney Olympics. So what does Justin do after that? Does he go have a good time in Sydney?
Justin Singh: I think at the time I'd met my partner.
Jeff Bullas: What, a girl? That never happens in Australia.
Justin Singh: Yeah exactly it sounds like a cliché sort of story, but yeah you know, I knew I was staying here and I moved to a different account, moved on to a different account and the agency and I actually worked on the launch of Xbox here at the time. This is probably quite important in terms of where I am and I probably wouldn't be sitting here today, but I was planning the big national launch of advertising for Xbox and all the different mediums that would appear on TV etc etc and there's a lot of outdoor advertising that we recommended. I'll never forget, the client who is ultimately, it's their money, from Microsoft said to me, "Look Justin, I get the strategy it all makes sense but I know advertising and I drive past panels and they're not lit in the evening and this one might be broken occasionally, I just want to be reassured that all that money we're spending, millions of dollars, that we're going to get what we paid for.
Justin Singh: How do we audit, how do we verify this stuff across a country the size of Australia. I literally said well we can't. It's that moment in time, it's like a ding ding, a light bulb moment and I sort of parked it over here and then within a year I'd left and I'd set up OIS initially in it's initial embryonic early form. It was a leap of faith, just got married, just had a child, first mortgage and no job really. The kind of thing us crazies do and it either goes one way or the other. Ultimately it projected me, or put me on a pathway to other things I would be involved in, some good, some bad in terms of successful, not so successful, and it was that moment. I set up OIS and yeah, started into that business on my own. They were the early days, and in the early days we would literally go out, check sites, outdoor sites, bus shelters, roadside billboards.
Justin Singh: There'd be a clipboard, paper, a camera, not digital cameras; they were too expensive at the time. WE'd go round, record what happened, we'd type up a spreadsheet that we're going to give to our customers, the agencies, to say here's your proof, here's each of the sites. A photo, detail. I bought a scooter, motorbike so I was doing all these inspections until three in the morning doing it myself. I found people randomly in different states across the country, by hook or by crook. I'd be going to the agency dropping off literally huge photo albums of photos of each of the sites that we inspected. I would have been in big W, developing the photos. They were the early days. Honest business.
Justin Singh: It was a little bit premature, the market wasn't quite there. There was a lot of money floating around in the industry, a lot of clients said, why are we going to pay for that, we're happy. Those were those days. At that stage I'd been playing with the idea or toying with the idea of setting up my own advertising agency, or marketing agency almost. I ended up setting an agency and bringing on a business partner which was focused on experiential marketing. So to explain what that is, it's a form of event based marketing. For me I'd worked in traditional advertising and I thought well, there's got to be something a bit more engaging than people watching a TV commercial or an outdoor poster or whatever. More of a case whereby we had sponsorships, marquis at music festivals etc.
Justin Singh: It was one of the earliest businesses that did that in the world and we won awards all around the world, we were referenced in books from around the world. I suppose myself initially and then my partner really packaged it up in a very very proactive and attractive way. It was an opportunity that I saw, jand I don't know what prompted me to do it but it was probably done subconsciously and launched into that. Our first client was Vodafone, big corporate, Nokia which was massive at the time. We worked across South-East Asia with those guys. Yeah that was running until a few years ago and it was very successful called One Partners over here, it was fantastic times. Great.
Justin Singh: It's funny how I look at a timeline of what I've done, how one thing leads to another and things that you do learn, and I'll never forget with OP we worked on Nokia when it was really good, but also when the business almost died over night. Nokia.
The iPhone launched and I'll never forget sitting in meetings where we've got Nokia executives sat here, "Oh they're just an iPod. Oh now they've got a phone, they've only got one phone we've got hundreds. We've got one for everybody." They pretty much just rested on their laurels, didn't really innovate. We're really listening to consumers, what the market wanted and definitely weren't ready for what Steve Jobs did which was launch apps. One phone, mostly the same really but everyone's got different apps and it hit them hard and I think that stuck with me in terms of... Just trying to be aware, looking introspectively at your own business but also to have a little bit of that radar of what's going on around you.
Jeff Bullas: This brings us to another topic which is, we're in the middle of another huge change to the world. We're seeing people that worked in high-rise buildings that commuted to the cities into regional parts of the city. Now working from home. So you've got a digital world which has been accelerated by the pandemic. You're especially much more in a retail-consumer focused marketing outreach, is that correct?
Justin Singh: The business at the moment, so what we do is we've created pretty much a unique world-first platform whereby an agency can track all of their out-of-home, we send people there to each of these sites across the country and we are I suppose, our proposition, is to ensure that the way consumers are supposed to be seeing the ad, whether it's a digital ad on a freeway or in a shopping center or a poster on a bus shelter, they actually are, right? So it's not damaged in any way, and it can happen. It's a difficult medium, we all sort of understand that but it doesn't matter, right? A client, if they're paying for it they need to be aware. We do that through an app that we've developed which again, so we've got people up here doing it, all around the country, you just download and you can just grab jobs near you and the model is very much an A to B, you can grab any job you want, any poster. Ideally, you're on your way to grab your lunch, you do a few places, earn ten bucks, it pays for your lunch.
Justin Singh: That's on the app side, it's almost like a marketplace, an exchange that we've pooled together. Then we've got different checkers who might drive around and drive 15k to do lots of sites. But that's really what it's done and I'm really proud of that, so you could do it during the likes of COVID, whereby we're actually providing an incremental income for people who probably need it at this point in time. That's good and I love that. That's fantastic. Now that's the app side and then there's the analytics side how we report it through dashboards to our customers. But what I suppose has happened is digital out of home has really, well particularly now for example during COVID, a lot of the stuff you see is digital because you can change it in an instant. If you're in Victoria and you go into lockdown with strict stage four restrictions, well and advertiser can change their messages straight away.
Justin Singh: If it's a paper poster, they can't. It's really increased, the nature of digital out of home advertisement has become much more diverse and technology driven, as there's programmatic now. Programmatic ads are being served through a digital out of home advertising as well. So when we went into lockdown actually, it all sort of fits in nicely, the writing was on the wall for me. The first thing industry that's going to get hit if people aren't out and about is, guess what, out of home advertising. Most countries, even the big outdoor companies, Oh Media, it's a terrible challenge for those guys because it's very hard to substantiate or get advertisers to spend if people aren't out on the streets as much as they were.
Justin Singh: So that's first and I knew our sales were going to be hard for the immediate period. So my view was, right, tools down. We're pivoting, we're moving away from business development sales and moving to product development. How do we come out of this stronger than we've gone into it. That's the general thing at the moment. We're building a software piece, so around digital out of home, which is arguably a unique product now in the marketplace combining that physical verification piece through the app, people visiting. But also allowing businesses to actually measure the plays and the impressions that they're getting on the digital screens as well.
Justin Singh: It sort of came at a good time for us because we were playing a little bit of catch up. I told you about the Nokia, it sort of almost happened to myself and I spotted it, but hopefully we're moving in the right direction, so building that product helps. Again that as a CEO, make decisions really quickly and go with them.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah so we're in the middle of a huge switch into e-commerce more as opposed to shopping centers. So we've seen the rise of Amazon. You're moving into an area which was posters, which used to run the outdoor advertising scenes, now we've got huge screens which sit on the edge of freeways, public highways, roads that can be changed in an instant. So how do you see this playing out over the next few years with retail and advertising. You're dealing very much in an out of home environment as opposed to an in-home or on screen environment. So how do you see your industry and the challenges that happen that you're going to confront there, where do you see that going?
Justin Singh: Are you talking about the broader out of home industries, not what we do, the verification.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah.
Justin Singh: Well the industry, what's happening is the digitization of a lot of panels, this will speed it up, definitely. The programmatically serving digital ads, fantastic, right. So it's moving itself. There'll be a lot more programmatic advertising. With digital, a lot more connectivity with other digital channels like mobile, e-commerce, right. Out of home is essentially part of that path to purchase. You've got the big stuff which is very much brand awareness driven. You've got other stuff in shopping centers. It's actually a very broad, very flexible medium but the one thing I will say, there aren't really any true broadcast mediums as outdoor advertising there. Digital is very targeted, so to get that sense of bigness and brand, we're chopping a lot of our advertising over the last decade, really.
Justin Singh: This time, I think it's a real opportunity for “out of home” advertising. That's my view, that's just how I tend to approach things. Turning things into a positive, I think it's a huge opportunity for out of home, but at the moment it's very challenging, and very challenging times.
Jeff Bullas: So what you mean by big advertising, broadcast media. YOu're talking TV, you're talking outdoor screens, what do you mean by that.
Justin Singh: I'm talking primarily about outdoor, because even TV, you've basically got your event-based TV which might be a final of Masterchef or Sydney Swans play where a lot of people are viewing at a single time, it feels big etc. A lot of connected TV and streaming and whatever, there's timeshares, people watching when they want the impact of large format out of home, is significant. Again as I say outdoor advertising per se can be used in very different ways, it can be used very tactically, very action orientated messages. Purely because of locality, but in terms of e-commerce, I'm not completely convinced yet e-commerce will increase, but people... For the foreseeable future, people are going shopping. It's an experience as well.
Justin Singh: It's not dead, it's not dying. There's a certain role, so even in terms of actually, you can apply to the shopper marketing as well as in store etc. Look with e-commerce, all the channels are there. Targeted digital or Facebook even, Google and all display stuff. I think that's going to evolve, but it's already becoming an even larger piece of the overall marketing mix. I'm not a huge believer that it builds brands, I suppose that's what I'm saying. I think advertisers have to be aware of that, you can't just differentiate yourself from the product, there's got to be some sort of brand attribution and brand affinity. I think the big e-commerce businesses do both quite well.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah okay, so I want to actually re-track a little bit to what you initially mentioned which is experiential marketing. And we're talking where you've got online, you've got virtual and then you've got shopping experiences. Then you've got to actually walk into a store, walk into a shopping center. High street for example. We've seen a lot of people go back to buying from, in England they call it the high street, where you're walking down the road. So this is, not talking so much about what you do from an outside advertising point of view, out of home. But more experiential marketing which is what you were ign which is where you saw the challenges for actually verifying that the signs were working outside. So experiential marketing, experiential shopping where you go into a shopping center, you can try the clothes on. Where do you see the future of experiential retail is maybe the thing that I find quite interesting. Where's this going, do you think?
Justin Singh: I think we're going to see a shift, right? It's a generational thing. Having worked in marketing, advertising for quite a period of time, you see trends. You definitely go, and one minute it's digital, the next minute it's TV. That just happens. I think we're probably moving to a point whereby a younger generation is much more comfortable buying stuff online and it actually doesn't fit, they wrap it up, send it back, okay right. A lot of generations still aren't and a lot of money is with those generations that aren't. So the high street retail is not dead in any shape or form. Now whether it moves, and there was a debate years ago about basically physical bricks and mortar retailers really becoming showrooms. You go in, you try the product on, you go online and you can purchase etc.
Justin Singh: I genuinely don't think there is one single answer, and people sort of think it's going to be one or the other. It won't be, it will be both.
Jeff Bullas: It's multi-channel isn't it.
Justin Singh: It is, and people buy... Again it's so individuals as well. What you can see, you look at where e-commerce platforms have worked really really hard over the years. Look at Amazon, it's all about logistics, it's about ease of purchase. It's not marketing, it's not even necessarily the products.
Jeff Bullas: It's an experience though.
Justin Singh: It's a broader brand. So experiential marketing and then we call it brand experience. What is the experience of your brand? If you're selling your brand on Amazon, the way Amazon delivers, supply, their UX, everything, is part of your brand experience. It's all starting to come together now.
Jeff Bullas: I totally agree, I buy things I know I don't have to try on. I struggle buying clothes online, I really do. It was like on the weekend, I saw this jacket online, it looked great. It was what I'd call COVID pricing, it looked great on the model because there's all these wonderful models, a little bit younger than me. Only a little bit younger, in their mid 20s to early 30s, just a bit younger. It looked great, I went into the store because the store was actually quite close. I went and tried it on and the collar just didn't sit right. ON the model it looked fabulous. I didn't buy that jacket and I'd hate the frustration of actually getting it delivered and going, "Oh, do I actually have to send this back, do I have to drop it off, do I have to ring them up?" It's way too complicated.
Justin Singh: That's how they get you. That's how they get you.
Jeff Bullas: Well I walked out of that shop, didn't buy it. Walked to one of their competitors, they had a very similar jacket. And guess what, the collar sat really nice and I went, done. Guess what? It was double the price but I know that if I bought that other jacket for pricing purchases it would have sat in my wardrobe and hardly ever be worn. So that for me was the experience that really justified my retail... The way I buy retail. The way I buy clothes, yet the younger generation will go, oh just send it back, don't worry about it. Get on the app and do it.
Justin Singh: My daughter's 18, my other daughters 16, my sons 14. But my 19, 16, they buy their horse riding, everything and there's just packages everywhere. When they're done with them, they sell them online. I can't remember what the website is, Depop or something. Flogging it all, they've got a mannequin where they try it on. It's very very different. It's all changed but who's to say fundamentally, and again social media impacts this, popular culture, all of these things. They go retro and they're like, actually we really like going in stores and trying it on rather than trying it on at home. Who's to say, you look a number of years and I don't think anyone knows that answer.
Justin Singh: You'll hear the e-commerce, the platforms, the Amazons and eBays of this world talk it up, of course they do. But I think when you layer in a little bit of common sense like everything else, there's horses for courses and a little bit of everything.
Jeff Bullas: I totally agree with you, it's just giving you the different platforms and different ways that people can buy that's easy for everyone depending on their preference. That's what's important.
Justin Singh: Omni-channel going on, ultimately.
Jeff Bullas: Omni-channel which is a lovely word I've used for about a decade. For those who don't know what omni-channel means, it means multi-channel which means many ways to buy, many ways to distribute, many ways to market. So yeah. So maybe we just wrap it up, what your thoughts are on where we're going with advertising and marketing and maybe business in this COVID-19 world. Where do you think it's all going and what would be some of your top tips to survive as a business at this time?
Justin Singh: Look, if we're talking about COVID specifically, this time, my view was to think about pivoting. Look at your business, look at the worst case scenario and plan for it. That's it. Be smart to plan, but be really quick to act. I looked, got a bit of advice, bounced off my ideas and thought right, now's the time to pivot. We've got an opportunity here to catch-up and to create a product that's really really unique and building our existing products. Costs, unfortunately, where you can automate, automate. It's worth spending a little bit of money around automating your business and looking at your operations.
Justin Singh: Retain positivity through the business but be real, talk to your teams and talk about the realities and the harsh realities and the problems you're facing. Show a degree of flexibility with your team, with your employees, with your customers even. With your suppliers, because that sort of good karma does come back, definitely. Look at the market now. Now's the time to experiment, it's fantastic, right? Now's the time to see who you actually trust in your team to not be in the office, when you're not looking at them are they going to deliver or not. Are they working, don't penalize everybody. Do you know what? That's the problem over here, I know our team, our CTO, everyone, are fantastic and getting better results than we ever have done and we're all saving ourselves an hour, two hour commute in and out of the office.
Justin Singh: There's the social side of things which can be challenging and that lack of interaction. Hop on a call, hop on a video call you know, it's not that hard. We can still then have a beer, at the moment in Sydney anyway. Not talking about Victoria here obviously. Those guys have got their own challenges unfortunately and I think we're all thinking of what's happening down there.
Justin Singh: But you know, experiment, embrace it. It's unique in so many years where we actually if we did make a bit of a mistake, no one can say, "Oh, how the hell did you do that?" We've got a huge excuse, it's called COVID 19. So experience and experiment. That's my view.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah that's great advice, I totally agree. I think the opportunity for us is to reinvent ourselves, to use it as a point to push us into the future. I certainly am seeing businesses reinvent much more rapidly. I think what was happening... I think we've accelerated the evolution of even nations and business by maybe a decade or even faster than that because a lot of this digital reinvention was already there. For example people going, well I can't let people work from home because I can't see what they're doing. As opposed to, I've actually got to trust them and there's different ways to actually manage without having to be sitting over their shoulder. Treating them like children.
Jeff Bullas: I think we're in the middle of an incredibly fast revolution of business and humanity driven by what's occurred and as you said, I think we've got to remain positive. I think that's really important in moving forward. Is that you can curl up in a corner and basically cry and kick and scream but the reality is, it's here. We've got to make the opportunity out of this and one of the phrases I heard, especially in political circles, was don't waste a good crisis.
Justin Singh: Another thing I'll add to that I think, also just a little bit of empathy with everyone again with customers and chiefly your employees. I don't think anyone knows at all about this sort of situation can take... Anyone however strong they appear on the outside, with competitive business it's tough times and I think a bit of empathy for everyone during this period goes a very very long way. Business is important, it's not the most important.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah I totally agree with you on that, and we're humans doing business not business doing humans. We need to design work and business and life that works for us as individuals as humans. Like what you've been talking about which is making sure you're communicating, making sure you have empathy that you're actually listening. Because you're right, on the outside everyone smiles, at night sometimes they go to bed crying. It's tough, we're in a very tough time.
Justin Singh: At the same time, we all want to win so let's all play nicely.
Jeff Bullas: I think the other thing too is the people actually walking down the streets now actually say hi and make eye contact a lot more I've noticed.
Justin Singh: Definitely.
Jeff Bullas: Yeah, we're in this together. We need to work on this together to make sure we get through it in the best possible shape. Yeah it's a tough time, but I launched this podcast in March this year and I'm having the most fabulous conversations with people like yourself and dachshunds that are actually a little bit struggling with marijuana addiction. You know what, you just can't help dachshunds in this situation unless they need a little bit of outside help. So you've got to take them to the vet, the counselor who goes... I don't know who does that, I'm sure he's very very good. But look, great to chat. Justin, it's been fabulous. I am just about to leap on a road trip in the next couple of weeks to come up to Byron, you might be there, you might not. You might be doing whale watching, I don't know. Or rushing off to the vet again for another dachshund debut. We'll see. Great to chat mate and really appreciate it, enjoy Byron.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.