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Your Brand Matters: Lessons from over 20 years in Advertising
Season 1, Episode 2
In this episode, Ben Amos interviews Michael Molloy, the owner of DTB Advertising, about his experience in the advertising and marketing industry on the Sunshine Coast.
Michael and Ben discuss the changes in advertising and marketing over the past 20 years, the importance of branding, and how businesses can adapt to the rapidly changing landscape.
Michael emphasises the fundamentals of marketing and advertising, such as knowing your customer and creating compelling messages. He also encourages businesses to embrace technology and seek help from experts to stay relevant. Overall, the conversation highlights the importance of being authentic, telling stories, and continuously learning in the world of marketing and advertising.
- The fundamentals of marketing and advertising, such as knowing your customer and creating compelling messages, have not changed in decades.
- Branding is crucial for businesses to differentiate themselves and connect with their target audience.
- Businesses should embrace technology and continuously learn to stay relevant in the rapidly changing marketing landscape.
- Authenticity, storytelling, and personal connections are key elements of successful branding and marketing.
00:00 Introduction and Background
03:44 Starting and Acquiring a Business
05:06 Changes in Advertising and Marketing
10:56 Fundamentals of Marketing and Advertising
18:41 The Importance of Branding
22:31 Adapting to Change in the Next Five Years
28:44 Wrapping Up and Contact Information
Note: the following transcript was generated by AI and therefore may contain some errors and omissions.
Ben Amos (00:00.098)
Be personal, be real, be authentic, tell stories. And that’s what branding’s all about.
Ben Amos (00:20.042)
Michael, thanks for being here. Great to be here. Very exciting, Ben. Well, the Coast and Commerce podcast is all about bringing people who have been doing business on the coast for either a short amount of time or a long amount of time and bring some inspiration and some knowledge and some ideas to our listeners and viewers of the show. So you’ve got that in spades, I think. So that’s why I invited you on. But for people that haven’t met yourself, Michael, or come across your company DTB here on the coast, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Sure, love to. DTB advertising, it’s been on the coast since 1991. Myself and my sister have owned and managed DTB since 2003, so pretty much 20 years. Prior to DTB, we both had spent time in other markets. My sister spent a lot of time over in the States and I pretty much worked around Australia for a couple of major companies, namely Mars.
and Lion in various locations. And we came to the coast for lifestyle and also to own and operate an advertising agency. And it’s been a wild ride. It’s been a wild ride through many things, changing media space, changing marketing space, changing Sunshine Coast. And through GFCs, pandemics, you name it, we’ve pretty much faced it all. Yeah.
Yeah, a lot has changed and we’ll dive into that a little bit as well. But I’m interested when you, you moved to the coast and you decided to start a business or acquire a business with your sister there, was that, was that your first like foray into like owning your own thing, like privacy previously, you just worked with others. Previously. Yeah. Worked for pretty much, uh, others in terms of big business and, uh, wanted to get off that treadmill, so to speak. And at that time.
Myself and my wife had two young kids. We had a third when we moved to the Sunshine Coast. So I wanted to give them better lifestyle. And I wanted, particularly myself, wanted to be more involved with them. So it was very much a lifestyle decision moving here. And it was pretty much the decision was made first to move here. Then it was, wow, what are we gonna do once we’re here? And DTB, the opportunity for DTB came along. So…
Ben Amos (02:46.838)
It was a big step moving from working in a big business, which pretty much you play more at times to be brutally honest, a maintenance role in a big business. You maintain the momentum, etc. and to work in your own business where it’s very much more hands on. You’re dealing directly with customers. And that’s one thing that we like about DTB in that we haven’t wanted to become too big.
We wanted to always have that direct contact with customers and be the lead, play the lead role with clients. And we’ve maintained that over 20 years quite closely. And that’s one of our key differences, really caring and supporting and nurturing our clients. Yeah, cool. So tell me about the decision to buy an existing business, which DTB had been on the coast for how many years before you bought it?
Well, pretty much 12 years on the coast before we bought it. Initially, we didn’t go in with a view to buy it. Yeah. Initially, we went in with a view to become a partner with the guy who founded it, Mark Tolley. And one thing led to another. I think Mark had got to the stage where he wanted to go and do something different. My sister was in the States, and it was a little bit of time just after 9-11 over there.
She was in New York, so she wanted to pretty much come home after being 10 plus years over there. So the planets aligned and things just happened and so we decided let’s do it. Jumping away from being the client onto the agency side was a step for both of us and it’s been a rewarding step because we get the variety of working with different clients, working on different projects.
So not every day is the same, which is good. And you’re not just dealing with the same business day in, day out. So you’re dealing with a variety of industries, a variety of clients, and a variety of work within those clients. And that work has very much changed in 20 years from when we first came into the business. Yeah. Well, let’s talk about that. So
Ben Amos (05:06.638)
A lot has changed in 20 years, both culturally and around the Sunshine Coast and around the world, right? But what’s changed in the work that you’ve delivered for your clients in the advertising and marketing space? Because I think a lot has changed. A lot has changed. Back in 2003, it was very much traditional media. It was television, radio and print. And very much, I’d say that small to medium sized businesses were locked out.
of advertising in those traditional medias, because it’s way too expensive for them. And they couldn’t get a return on that investment. So small to medium sized businesses very much invested their marketing, their annual marketing budgets into things like Yellow Pages, which seems crazy now, but spending 10 to 15 to $20,000 on the Yellow Pages ad. And if they weren’t in it, they weren’t happy jams.
And the yellow pages back then was the Google search for people, for businesses, business to business, for customers looking to use services, buy products, et cetera. Let our fingers do the walking. Let our fingers do the walking and networking. And that was pretty much it. So it was very limited. And really the knowledge of their customer was quite limited because we didn’t have the data that we’ve got today.
So things very much changed and we didn’t have social media as well to the same degree that, well, so we didn’t have social media at all, but definitely not to the same degree that we’ve got today. So it was a very different space and a lot of the work back then was very much traditional based. It was very much in terms of locally on the Sunshine Coast, very much property, tourism and retail. And
not a lot of other industries because things weren’t growing as things have in the last 10 years. We spent, as a result of our backgrounds and the way the coast was developing or not developing at the time, we spent a lot of time with clients off the Sunshine Coast, particularly in Brisbane and further south and even north into central and northern Queensland, which we still do today.
Ben Amos (07:31.382)
But in terms of the work itself, work has changed dramatically. And the type of work, the type of clients have changed locally on the Sunshine Coast. So a lot more creative industries, professional services, a lot more food businesses as well, a lot more clean tech businesses as well, a lot more education as well. Health as well, right? Huge. Health is huge. You know, in 2016…
It was only 2016 when Sunshine Coast University Hospital came about and we had a bit to do with that, particularly with Council and particularly with developers around that Patina site. And that was really a game changer. The development of the Sunshine Coast Airport, the development of Council in terms of their plans to grow business, to grow people’s incomes, etc. on the Sunshine Coast, changed the dynamic.
how people worked as well, where people could start to work remotely and enjoy the lifestyle here. And that’s accelerated even further in the last two to three years since COVID, of course, where the days of big CBDs seem to be behind us and it’s more polycentric type of development of regions where nodes, hubs, et cetera, are developing, but as well, people working from home. And…
And having a lot more access, particularly small businesses, having a lot more access to promote themselves, particularly through digital, particularly through Google, particularly through social media, and developing their own content, developing content with people like yourselves, and pretty much activating that content, amplifying it through various channels, and not just traditional channels anymore, but new channels,
where they can have a more targeted approach to their customers, understanding their customers a lot better with the availability of data, whether that’s data available through Google, through your social media, whether it’s through purchase behavior, data, et cetera, having an understanding of knowing your customer. I think we now know our customer better than we ever have in terms of their age, their gender, where they live, what they consume.
Ben Amos (09:57.418)
what media habits they have, et cetera. So we’ve got a pretty great starting point for knowing our customer, which then starts to, which really then starts to look at the message we need to create to pretty much promote to that customer. And they influence the messages we develop to create. So creating the message, knowing the customer, and across different types of media has been very different.
very exciting, very innovative, very creative, and coming up with new ways, because of course, there’s a lot more people doing it now. So it’s very crowded. So developing the right content that cuts through, and people, through advertising, interrupting people’s day, and what message, what content, what style of content is needed to cut through and grab their attention.
Yeah, yeah. So I’m interested, you know, as we’ve seen, particularly in, in the Sunshine Coasters, you talk about the, the shift in, in marketing channels, right? Ways for advertising, ways of getting your information and your message out there as a brand has changed. And obviously you as a, as a business and DTB there have changed the way that you’ve helped your clients over that period of time, but, but what are some of the fundamentals of marketing and advertising and branding that you guys are deep into that?
haven’t changed regardless of the channels. Can you talk us through those sorts of things that even though the channels have changed, some of the things that you need to do as a business haven’t, right? Oh, absolutely. Marketing, branding hasn’t changed in decades. The fundamentals are very much still the same. And in terms of your brand, who are you? Whether it’s your personal brand,
whether it’s a product, a service, a destination, an organisation, who are you, what’s your point of difference? Why should people like, choose, come and shop with you, come and visit your destination as opposed to going somewhere else? So what is it that you do is tremendously important. But people wanna understand why you do things as well. So, you know, we are often here, you know, what’s your why? Why do you do what you do?
Ben Amos (12:22.09)
And why is what you do what you do important to your target audience? What value will you provide them as opposed to your competition? And understanding that, and you hear marketing jargon, unique selling propositions, USPs, but what is your claim of distinction? What sets you apart? And that’s probably one of the fundamental and one of the first questions when we sit down with clients.
When we ask them what they do, they can rattle off that they’ve been around forever, they do this, they do that. But what makes you different? And why do you do what you do? Why do you do what you do? Why is that important to your target audience? And so understanding that and then creating key messages to appeal to that target audience by understanding who that target audience is. So you’ve got to know your customer. What does your customer like?
What are the pain points? What are the things that they’re currently missing out on that your product, your service, your destination provides them and, or pretty much addresses that problem they’re having. Yeah. So that pain point. So knowing that customer, as I mentioned earlier, the amount of data that we’ve now got available enables us to understand that customer. And then really, so creating it,
getting your messaging right, knowing your customer, developing your advertising in terms of what do you want your advertising to do? Before you get to choosing what medium, whether you want to use traditional, digital, social, or a mix of all of the above, but what do you want your advertising to do? Do you want your advertising to build your brand by making people aware of what you do? Or do you want people to engage
and respond to what you’re doing. So do you want to create a greater sense of urgency where you’re after lead generation? So you’re basically wanting inquiries and therefore you’re probably going to have a stronger message. You want people to react to your advertising. You want people to do something. So you very much need a call to action, a strong call to action. So whether you want them to call you, whether you want them to visit you, whether you want them to go to your website.
Ben Amos (14:49.194)
your social media for more information, et cetera. So really, you want people to do something. So we’re being targeted with our messaging, our customer, our audience, and then we want to measure our advertising. So we have everyone, no matter how big, small or big you are, everyone’s got a budget. So how do we make that budget work? So based on what your goals are, what you wanna get from your advertising,
market is, where your audience is, where they are, then we work out the media in terms of what media could best work for you. So if you’ve got a limited budget, like those businesses 20 years ago who could only afford yellow pages and not much more, with a budget like that, we’re probably going to look at a bit more digital, a bit more social activity. In a Sunshine Coast marketplace, in a regional marketplace, traditional media can be quite affordable.
So TV, which is still quite popular, still gets a lot of eyeballs on the news and a number of shows, radio as well, and even some print publications, not so much the daily newspaper anymore, but whether it be magazines, et cetera, or even signage on transit, on buses, on billboards, et cetera. So we look at all of those opportunities and…
in terms of planning and what’s going to work best in terms of where that audience is, how you want that audience to respond, what messages we want to put out there and the consistency of message, the repetition of message and the length of the campaign. So we want to be out there for a period of time in terms of affordability month on month. So with our clients, we want to really work with them for a three month period initially. So
We’ve got a good gauge of what works, what doesn’t work. With digital, with social media, we can have live dashboards. So we’re in live time. So we know what’s, we don’t have to wait till the ad has run on TV or radio or in the newspaper. We don’t have to wait till the end of the month. We can look at what is happening day to day with that activity we’ve got out there in the marketplace. And if it’s working, great.
Ben Amos (17:14.662)
If it’s not working as well as we had hoped, we work on updating the message, changing the message, even changing the media. Some media may be working better than others. Social media may be working better than digital. Traditional may be working better than either. So we can work with our clients through live dashboards to really be measuring.
and understanding what works and what doesn’t. But the fundamentals, as you mentioned, Ben, they haven’t changed in decades. And if you haven’t got that messaging right, if you’re not knowing your customer, if you’re not fulfilling a need, and if you haven’t got benefits of what you’re doing, then you’re probably wasting your time. Because no matter how much you advertise, people aren’t buying.
So you’ve got to give them a reason to purchase what you’re selling. Yeah, that’s great. And underpinning all of that is that idea of the brand, right? And you mentioned that right from the start there that, you know, even, you know, 2003 and much earlier than that as well, I get the brand was critical to actually underpin what it is that you’re wanting that message to come across as for that business. And branding now people are
People are wanting to know more about brands. They wanna know the origin of brands, even the food they eat. They wanna know where it comes from, who grows it, et cetera. And that’s a brand story in itself, telling the story of your brand. So if you do run your own business out there, no matter what type of business across whatever industry, people wanna know who you are. So make it personal and be real, be authentic.
People buy from people they like, no matter who you are. So they gotta like you. People buy from people. Not brands, not a logo. You don’t buy from a logo. No, you don’t. If you’re a small, medium-sized business, you’re not some faceless, big corporate that people don’t know and people can’t get in touch with. Be personal, be real, be authentic, tell stories. And that’s what branding’s all about, telling your story.
Ben Amos (19:39.446)
who you are, why you do what you do, interacting with your customers. Your customers are the best source of some of your stories. Your customers will help tell other people about how great you are. Keeping your current customers happy will find new customers for you. We talk about word of mouth advertising being the most potent advertising. Reviews, people don’t ask reviews for no reason. People look at reviews.
They want to know what people have experienced in terms of dealing with your business. So encourage people to review your business. Sure, you may get some reviews you’re not happy with, but if you’re confident, most of your reviews will be four or five stars and help you sell your business. And using those testimonials, asking people to put their name, put their face to your
videoing them, their experience in dealing with you. Content is content marketing. Again, hasn’t changed but has developed so much over the last 20 years in terms of engaging, exciting, educating your customer, your client, and there’s no better way to do it now. We all walk around with cameras in our pockets, in our hands, whether it be…
still images, whether it be video images, if we need to bring in professionals to help us develop that content. But developing those stories, selling your stories, telling people about your brand, if you’re local, your family history, your family story, profiling your staff, we find with our clients, we can tell them all about how great the business is, the venue is, etc. But when we…
profile staff within that business, whether it’s a hospitality business, that’s what people really gravitate towards because they’ve had experiences with that person you’re profiling and they comment on it. You know, that person was great, they served us the other night or whatever it may be. And that’s how people start engaging with you because they can see people, they understand people and they engage with people, not businesses so much.
Ben Amos (22:03.498)
Yeah. So I mean, the, the landscape has definitely changed over the, over the 20 plus years that you’ve been in advertising and marketing here on the coast. The channels have changed, but the fundamentals are still the same as, as you say here, but I’m interested to explore as we wrap up here, Michael, it continues to change, right? I think the, the rate of change over the last, I’m going to say 12 months has been significant in technology, in artificial intelligence, in, in platforms and marketing.
and channels that we have the opportunity to get our message out on. So for businesses, like we just really nicely talked about the idea that the fundamentals haven’t changed in the last 20 years, but how do you think businesses can approach the next, let’s say five years with so much change here so that they don’t get left behind, so that they can adapt and stay relevant in the market that they’re playing in today? That’s a great question. And I think one, people, you’re continuously learning.
No matter how long you’ve been in the business, you continuously learning, you continuously need to adapt, you need to be flexible. You can’t continue to do things as you’ve always done. Otherwise, we know it will always get. So the opportunity to continue to learn and continue to reach out to others that are in your market, are in your space and learning from others. Learning from people may not be necessarily in your industry.
But people who may be doing something different, and you see that reaching out to them and meeting up. And again, technology allows us to do that. Linking up with people is a lot easier than what it is. And really very much learning from their experiences, but also looking at if you’re not comfortable with the technology that’s evolving, as you say, at such a pace, reach out.
and catch up with people who work in that technology, who work in advertising, marketing, video content marketing agencies and spend some time understanding and how you can improve, how you can learn from that and catching up with them. So reaching out to people because it is changing and we know that people are so busy now working in their own business. It’s like anything.
Ben Amos (24:29.066)
If you need help with finance, you’re not a finance expert. So you reach out to get help from a financial expert who’s in that space 24 seven. So reaching out to people who work in that space and who can help you with that space. Learning from young people is also, I always find keeps you young. And young people may not have the worldly experiences that us older folk have,
from a technical point of view, they’ve grown up with the technology. You know, I’ve got two 20 something year olds and a late teen, and they very much leaps and bounds ahead of me in terms of using the technology. And there’s young people who you can bring into your business. And we’ve got access to a fantastic university here on the Sunshine Coast. And there’s kids screaming out while they’re studying.
for work experience, for internships. Or instead of them making coffees or flipping burgers, get them into your business for hours a week. And the energy, the excitement, the knowledge they bring into your business, how to use social, how to use digital. And you help them, you mentor them in terms of the stories, you give them the marketing, the branding that hasn’t changed in decades. You give them that knowledge.
and they then apply that knowledge to the pretty much the technology that’s available. And they can develop vigils, real stories for your business that you can only dream of. So it’s keep yourself young by always updating your skills, always looking for new ideas, engaging with other people, but also looking at young people within your business and not just looking at them as inexperienced people.
because they’re well experienced in technology, which is where we’re heading. And in terms of how to overcome some of maybe your weaknesses or your lack of understanding of how technology works, they will quickly help your business. Yeah, I love that Michael. I love the idea of moving with the times, adapting, but getting support, bringing people into your business or.
Ben Amos (26:53.282)
consulting with your business or embracing the younger generation as well, who maybe some of these comes more naturally to as well. But I just want to say here as well, underpin all of that with the fundamentals, right? The, regardless of the platforms, regardless of things that have changed a lot hasn’t in growing your business and marketing. And I don’t think that will change. We may be doing it differently. We may be like relying on AI and chat bots and all that sort of fancy stuff, but if we haven’t got our brand right.
We don’t know who we’re talking to, the audience. We haven’t got clear goals for our marketing and our advertising, then we’re probably just gonna be wasting our money, right? Wasting our money, absolutely. In the 1950s in New York, the godfather of marketing, David Ogilvie, said, if advertising or marketing doesn’t have an idea, it’ll pass your customer like ships in the night. And that was in the 1950s. And if you’ve seen this show, Mad Men, that all came out of that.
Madison Avenue, all that type of stuff, and it hasn’t changed. And really, people come to us, no doubt people come to you for our thinking. They probably can’t do it themselves, they can’t, what’s the value that you provide them? What’s the idea? What’s the thinking? Why are we doing this? Because if we can’t answer those questions, then we shouldn’t be doing it. So
If you want to go out there and advertise, don’t just advertise for the sake of it. Don’t just put yourself on radio because everybody else is doing it or you think it’s a good idea. Ask yourself why are you doing this and what do you want to achieve from this? And therefore, by answering those questions, understanding your customer, getting your brand messaging right, then you’ve got a much greater opportunity to get a greater return on your marketing, advertising investment. And that’s a beautiful spot to wrap up here, Michael. Well said.
So Michael, just in closing here, for those listening or watching and they wanna reach out to you, maybe get some help with their marketing and advertising, where would you like people to go? How can people reach out and find you in DTB advertising? Well, DTB advertising, down to business. So let’s get down to business. So if you’re wanting to catch up, there’s no cost in meeting up and having a chat in terms of where you’re at, what you wanna achieve. And from that, we can outline a plan and approach.
Ben Amos (29:14.394)
and pretty much no obligation. Come along, have a chat to us, contact us through our website dtb.com.au and we can go from there. We’ve got a brief on our website so you can fill out what you wanted to achieve, what media you’ve been using, a little bit of background, etc. We can then meet, have a very constructive catch up and give you something that can add value to your business.
No matter what that business may be, we work across diverse industries, diverse sizes of businesses as well. So no jobs too small. And really, we really want to see people getting real return on their investment. Too many times we see people who have spent good money after bad by not getting it right, by doing it themselves or doing it with whoever and haven’t had the fundamentals.
put in place. So the foundation, we need the foundation as you’ve said a number of times Ben, we need to get the marketing strategy, the brand strategy right, the messaging right, the knowledge of the customer right and then we worry about where we’re going to put that messaging in terms of the media, the advertising. Sometimes people do it the other way around. They start with, I’ve booked X amount of dollars worth of radio or TV, what do I do now?
and they don’t get it right and guess what? It doesn’t work and they’re just wasting their money. So in terms of getting better media, better marketing, better advertising, let’s get down to business, dtb.com.au. Michael Malloy, thanks for joining me on the Coast and Commerce podcast. Thanks, Ben, it’s been a pleasure. It’s been fun. And for you guys, if you enjoyed this episode, subscribe so you can catch the next Coast and Commerce podcast episode, whether that be on your podcast player or on YouTube. So we’re in both places.
and we’ll be back with you with another episode real soon. See ya.
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