Tracey [00:00:14] I am here with Robert Cairns, who is the CEO and creator of amazing ideas for Stunning Digital This is a company that focused on digital marketing for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. And Robert is in Toronto.

Tracey [00:00:34] Good morning Robert.

Robert [00:00:37] Good morning Tracey. Thank you for having me.

Tracey [00:00:38] Well thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed.

Content Creators Facebook Group

Tracey [00:00:40] What our listeners should know is that Robert and I are both members of a Facebook group called Content Creators and that’s how we met. So I just did a shout out “are there Canadians on the list” and then Robert was one of the people who agreed to be interviewed. So that’s awesome.

Robert [00:00:59] It’s a great group.

Tracey [00:00:59] It is such a great group. Anybody out there who is a content creator of any type I highly recommend this. It’s so much fun. And the people who are there are just wonderful. And that’s why I really wanted to interview some of the Canadians. So Robert why don’t you tell me a little bit about your company.

We were just talking off-air about why you branded yourself “chief creator of amazing ideas. So, maybe we can start with that.

Robert [00:01:30] I spent a large portion of my career in the corporate world. So I was in health care for 18 years. Eight years ago, I got that uneventful call where the director called me in and said “by the way, we know you’ve been here 18 years. We know you’re a project leader. We’re packaging you out. Goodbye.”.

Robert [00:01:50] And at the time my dad was dying from cancer. My dad had pancreatic cancer and had months of illness at the time. There was a lot going on in my life so I was already transitioning part time into doing web design.

So I was working now probably 55 to 60 hours a week. I was up at Sunnybrook Hospital, which was one of the big three hospitals in the city. And then I was doing work on the side.

Transitioning became really easy when you were doing that already.

I was a web designer only part of the time and in marketing your business, you have to do more than that. So I took it up a notch and got into a full fledged digital marketing agency.

Ontario Police Memorial

Tracey [00:02:50] I was fascinated with the show you sent me. I asked for two different projects that you work on and one of the ones that you sent me was the video project that you did with the Toronto Police and the Ontario police memorial, which is a fascinating project. You basically arranged for the full ceremony to be recorded live.

Robert[00:03:15] Yeah that’s one goal that’s been going on for a number of years. One of my good friends is Constable Scott Mills. Scott is a social media officer for the police and for years we’ve been live-streaming the memorial. We actually started live streaming, believe it or not, on Web cams and we’ve done that for years and years.

This year, dynamics changed we managed to have the whole production company at our disposal, which was quite interesting.

[00:03:48] I actually donate the Web site because I believe in giving back to the community strongly. It’s a really important cause for me. I’ve lost friends in the police force in the line of duty. People who are involved are great. The exchange is great. And this year, the quality we had was the best-ever because we had a full production team at our disposal. It did a lot of the heavy lifting. We did a lot of the planning. It was more planning this year than ever.

Tracey [00:04:30] Well just for anybody who wants to take a look at it I will put the link to it in the show notes and I highly recommend it. There’s a memorial wall and they put the names of police officers who died on duty and they say how they died.

[00:04:54] And it started back hundreds of years ago and goes out to the Navy.

[00:04:59] So if any anybody wants to see the memorial wall it’s located at the corner of Grovenor and Queens Park Crescent in Toronto, right across from Queens Park on the east side.

[00:05:15] Oh OK.

Tracey [00:05:20] I used to work in that neighborhood and it wasn’t there then. When did it go up?

Robert[00:05:24] It’s been about 10 years or 12 years.

Tracey [00:05:27] I’ve been in Montreal for 20 years.

[00:05:32] I highly recommend go take a look at that.

Robert[00:05:35] And another tip is if you’re ever in Ottawa, the National Memorial Wall is on the west side of the parliament buildings. The national ceremony was actually last Saturday. And that was live Scott streamed it himself and he had over 30,000 viewers on the live stream live at the national ceremony. And that wall’s just as impressive as it was every officer who’s ever died on duty in the country.

Tracey [00:06:10] Well and if anybody is ever in Montreal there is quite impressive mini garden at the Botanic Gardens in Montreal.

[00:06:27] So when you pick these projects, you’re picking things you really care about, right?

Actively Give Back to the Community

Robert[00:06:33] That project was more …I like to take stuff I do professionally and give back to the community that way. So like I’m at the point where I don’t like to I’ve been involved in community stuff outside of work for years. I’m at the point where I don’t want to be on the committees, I just want to be a doer. So give me something to do and I like to give back that way. So I have a couple organizations where I’ll actually do web stuff for pro bono just because they’re doing good stuff for the community so I’ll help them out and things like that. And that’s a good way for anybody to give back. And and you don’t want to create something just give some of your time. Most media groups gladly appreciate it and I’ve always believed you have to make a difference.

Tracey [00:07:23] Well I I’m I’m actually part of a nonprofit co-op and part of a nonprofit OBNL. I can definitely say that every organization that’s a nonprofit needs all the help they can get pretty much all the time so whatever you’re good at, just reach out to the people in issues that you care about and I’m sure they’ll give us names.

Robert [00:07:47] I mean you meet amazing people and that translates into friendships or in the case of Scott, maybe potential work down the road. I mean that comes your way. People like people who get involved and care.

[00:08:05] And I don’t think you can fake that it’s just about being genuine in who you are and doing what you like to do and you know. As I say, I’ve done the Police Memorial for ten years. It’s the first Sunday in April if anyone is interested.

Facebook Advertising

Tracey [00:08:25] So next year. Okay perfect. You. And. Your regular work. You also mentioned that you did a really interesting B to C campaign for a client on Facebook.

RobertThat is correct.

[00:08:50] So there was a black and what was interesting about this one is it was a black and white campaign.

Robert[00:08:55] And the reason I did a black and white campaign is I was trying to stand out. Because you got to be very careful with a Facebook spend because the minute somebody clicks on the ad you get charged for the ad spend. So whether they convert or not. But by doing a black and white campaign, we had more clicks, which actually translated into more of an ad spend, which in this case translated into a whole whack of money. So it was it was well done. It was kind of a takeoff, if you’ve ever seen companies occasionally do the upside down billboard routine where they’ll put a billboard up. It’s the same idea. I was thinking outside of the box and thinking “how do I make this stand out and how do I make this go?

And the other thing about Facebook is that if you’re advertising specifically doing what we call B2C, business to consumer, you can’t avoid Facebook. There’s a billion users. The active is somewhere between 700,000 and 800,000 users.

And then Facebook lets you drill down based on demographics so like it’s really hard to find that kind of compelling group of people, if you want to call it that. So yeah yeah.

[00:10:13] Well there is now the demographics of Facebook has also changed, in that it’s a slightly older clientele than with Instagram. [00:10:23] I mean a combination that could be quite compelling.

Robert [00:10:29] A lot of social media depends on your market too. Right.


[00:10:32] Like you know if you’re a jewelry store, the other great place to be is Pinterest because the demographic there is typically young females with disposable money between 20 and 35. You know they spend their money. So you know you’ve got to kind of look at the demographics and say OK we’re at my best putting my advertising dollars or my time, if it’s just time. Right.

Tracey [00:11:02] Yeah yeah well yeah I mean all these social media outlets take time to learn and take time to perfect. Just putting out campaigns even if they’re not paid takes the time to create.

Robert That’s true. You can spend hours.

[00:11:21] You probably have. Can you give me some idea of the kinds of when you’re trying to strategize this kind of know what you go through clients sort of show.

Advertising Strategy

Robert So one of the things or to sit down with the client and say OK first of all what’s your adspend? How much are you prepared to budget? Because the reality of it is when you run a new campaign, just to test the campaign you’ve basically got to spend 50 to 100 dollars a day for three to four days just to see if it works. And if you’re not going to do that, there’s no point in putting skin in the game.

A lot of people like to throw ad money out there and say, I’ll spend twenty five dollars a day. My opinion is don’t waste your time. You need to derive an advertising budget. Most of my regular clients, they have advertising budgets because we’ll sit down and derive them. So for example Christmas season is coming. We’re already in the Christmas advertising. Believe it or not on October 4th. If you wait till November is too late.

Then you sit down and say OK what’s the time when we’re on the campaign and what’s the goal? What do we want to achieve? Do you want new customers on a mailing list? Do you want to translate this into sales? This jewellery one was just translate into sales and what kind of demographics do you want to target?

So what I can tell you and I know I didn’t share the ad and normally I would but the client asked me not to share this one, so I respect that a lot. What I can tell you is this particular client, 70 percent of what he does is custom work in his store. So you can walk in that store and be there all day and I have been and it was quiet and all it takes is one right client to come in and say OK I’m picking something up. I’m dropping something off. I want this done. And that’s the nature of that business.

That’s what separates small jewelry store from the people you see in the malls like the People’s, the Birks etc. They’re all about volume. They just sell sell sell. I would bet you this particular client, by the first or second week of December, his Christmas stuff is done. But he doesn’t do a lot of the last minute rush because knowing his business is mostly custom orders and the orders have to be in.

And any other thing you have to do is understand the business, Tracey. A lot of people who are doing marketing don’t understand. They’re good marketers but they don’t understand the business that the client’s trying to do.

And if you don’t understand the business, it’s really hard to market and understand what people are doing.

Tracey Just give me a precise example of what you mean.

Understand Industry to Advertise

Robert If for example this particular client, I can walk into a store today I can tell you, looking at the showcase, what rings are what, what the quality of the rings they are. Say it’s a diamond. You know all diamond rings aren’t the same. There’s different quality diamonds and the different qualities of diamonds impact the price. So that’s that’s an example. So if you were trying to run an ad, you have to do something that’s cohesive with the business. You wouldn’t run something that’s far out there that the type of clientele in the business wouldn’t attract. I’ve been in this particular store enough during the day that I know most of his regular customers too. So I just because I’ve been there so much that I can tell you almost what they are looking for. What types of things I want. Yeah.

And you said you talked to people like you say you know people don’t get it that you talk to people and you’ll be talking about their day or life but whether or not that impacts what they are by and match what people understand so you have to understand your clients in the business and what they are asked to earn and what stuff sells short and you know understand what the profit margin on custom work. The profit margins in the jewellery business are pretty high. But it’s a high turnover business.

Tracey [00:15:50] And so when you’re bringing in your expertise, it’s primarily digital marketing. So that would be social media, videos?

Robert[00:16:01] Also, his web site, which is WordPress based. He’s really lucky right now. He just hired a new part timer who’s like an Instagram whiz and like she’s amazing. I did the interview with him and she’s actually an Independent recording artist. She’s writing his Instagram. She worked for him like on weekends and stuff and she’s really good so that helps. So they’re sacked and they’re sitting down and strategizing and saying where do you want it to go. He doesn’t do a lot of e-commerce. Believe it or not. Jewellery is one of those businesses were you you have to work at. It’s one of those things it’s hard to sell online as far as I’m concerned.

Tracey But you also do e-mail campaigns.

[00:16:57] Yes we actually e-mail campaigns and web design. So a little bit about WordPress security and some of the most of your WordPress most of your web design is on WordPress.


Robert[00:17:12] All of it’s on WordPress. Typically we use the Evata theme by pagebuilder. Page builders make it easier.

I think we’re away from the days of buying frameworks like the genesis and this is the headways of the world. There’s a name from the past. They thrive in whatever you like I mean people are you up and down and say things better or this team has big overheads. There’s a couple of things.

Web Site Tips

We’re talking security number one. You need to get a good WordPress host so you need to get a host that plays nice. The first recommendation I always tell people, stay away from anything from the Durant international group.

The second thing about WordPress security is don’t trust your host to do backups. I have a multitude of clients one of the big parts of my business is to do the backups or get the clients to do them themselves.

So don’t trust them. There was a well known Australian Post about five years ago. They had their backup server hacked and then their main server hacked. So yeah. You know and I don’t I’m not going to trust my webhost.

[00:19:06] Never trust anybody outside.

[00:19:09] And if you’re around shared hosting shared hosting plans, I’m sure not paying for the backup. If you read your contracts, a lot of them won’t back up your sites once a month or twice a month. So figure out is not enough not enough.

I recommend weekly backups. I recommend weekly software updates you know. So that means the WordPress version that eats the theme. That means the plugins which are basically all programs that help make everything work. That’s a good way to describe a book and do those on a regular basis.

They kind of if you do that you’ll never stopped your site from ever totally being hacked. But I have a little phrase that my business is not when you’ll be asked if you’ll be hacked, but when, and how quickly can you recover? It doesn’t take long to recover. And there’s a multitude of backup plugins.

I mean you can go and buy something like backup buddy, you can use duplicate or you can use several others. Choose one. But also when you run that first backup, test and see if you can actually restore that back up. Don’t just run the backup to restore.

That’s a big mistake that people make. They don’t test restorers.

So that’s if you do those things and then you run some security software and you know optimize that a little bit. One of the things I’d like to do is I like to change the word press back.

Any kind of mindless running of WordPress with the admin username usually hears from me pretty quickly. That’s why you use a strong password.

And I don’t think people are getting the password model. I mean look what just happened with Facebook recently and the things your password generator basis. It’s common sense that people have been talking about for years.

And by the way if you don’t have the knowledge, pay somebody to do it for you. And I’m not saying that just from a business standpoint, but if your core business is better off running your store running your business for free to pay you know to keep your web presence running well and then in the comments a little bit about why it’s important to have your own website.

Tracey [00:21:39] I think people are you know I don’t know how many businesses I’ve seen lately just having one Facebook page or you know something that’s owned by other people.

Robert [00:21:48] Yeah it’s a bit of a problem I think. I always tell people you’re your web presence your social media presence drives back to your Web site. Couple reasons:

1 Own your content and then share to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Tumblr. They can change their rules tomorrow. You can say goodbye and you still have no contact. I mean that’s the key thing, right. And by the way, believe it or not, websites after SEO Search Engine Optimization optimized better tend to rank higher on Google than a Facebook page.

[00:22:23] Yeah I’ve noticed that as well. I mean I’ve noticed that if you have a presence on many different places usually your own Web presence is first thing.

Google Business Pages and AMP

[00:22:33] This is a little bit of a tip for any listeners. Get a Google my business page. That will usually outrank everything. Google likes my business pages.

Tracey [00:22:45] Oh that’s good to know. Actually.

[00:22:48] I remember arriving home I didn’t say that I know I have a profile on there.

Robert [00:23:04] There’s no no question Google helps. Google Plus still matters that are not for SEO purposes so if you’re sharing post you need to share those photos on Google Plus even though really only the geeks are there.

The other tip out there is if you’re reading blog entries you need to look into what’s called the amp app. The new ones simply have never been written. It’s Google’s new app format and basically it’s a condensed mobile format for your pages and it impacts SESI on a great basis. Just plug ins.

[00:23:40] There’s also employment that you never actually get it done.

Tracey [00:23:45] Oh that’s awesome.

Robert [00:23:48] Anything that give you a chance to stand out is really important to do well.

[00:24:00] Tell me other ways that stand out as an individual different than other.

[00:24:05] When you look at it you know how many people are out there doing digital marketing and web design and branding. You know how.

[00:24:15] One of the reasons I do is me. I know that I’m not the right person for everybody so I accept that right away. First of all the other thing I do to stand notice. I try and keep myself in the top percent to 2 percent of knowledge base so I’m a morning junkie Troisi. I probably figure if you want to stand out and you want to make your business thrives you got to go wiil or Nidhal not a know it all. You kind of heard that term basically means tactic.

[00:24:53] You basically means you keep warning him. I’m probably a guy who was sensitive five to 10 castle. One more thing I probably read a book we tried to read every week with him probably every couple weeks. Now I do audio books.

Insider Advantage by Robert Bloom

[00:25:09] Robert Bloom wrote a book called The Insider Advantage. One of my mentors recommended it to me about three years ago.

[00:25:22] I think the book’s about eight or nine years old. It’s a big red cover it’s about 35 bucks hardcover on Amazon. What Robert talks about is making your business different than your competitors and not assigning everything on price.

If you walk into a real estate broker, you know if you’ve ever walked in one–my mom’s been in that business for probably 40 years–is all the advertising looks the same. Because they all use the same templates, they’re the same.

So how do you know unless you for what agents spend or what each in is really better. Think about it right.

You got it make yourself different. Why do you think companies like Amazon and you know the other company also cannot last night only because I’m looking at buying something that comes to mind is a company called Casper or a mattress company online. Probably the biggest seller of online mattresses.

Why do you think these guys are known? Because they stand out. They’re different and that’s what makes them succeed. Right. I mean look at the run of the mill companies. We all know what happened to RadioShack in the States and in Canada they’ve gone kind of elbow up years ago. Even though there’s a new incarnation called The Source, you hooked it. What’s gone on with Toys R Us. What’s gone on with other big companies that are in financial trouble because they’re not any different. And that’s that’s a problem.

Tracey [00:27:11] Yeah yeah. Seth Godin calls it the purple cow.

Robert [00:27:25] I mean it’s not just your logo and your branding it’s who you are how you act how you behave how you talk to people.

You know one of the things I always do when I walk into a meeting is I always have a sketch pad in my back always always because I’m the visual guy and I like to draw. So I’ll sit down with a client and I’ll start drawing.

Tracey We’re perfect collaborators then because I’m a writer so I don’t find it.

[00:27:53] Actually we’re so I’m sure I’m sure we’ll end up with collaborating in all sorts of ways. Anyway that’s.

[00:28:04] One of the questions that I always finish off my interviews with the Canadian side. Do you consider yourself to be one? If so what does that mean.

Canadian Nation Anthem gives a Chill

Robert[00:28:13] Oh I do. I was telling your friend I was born in Montreal and in the Toronto since 1983. My dad transferred due to the political stuff from Quebec. We all know that situation. I don’t want to get into it now.

And I do consider myself very much Canadian. I’m one of these guys. As a sports fan, it’s one of the things that I like. I know when I go to an international event or I see something on TV and I hear the Canadian national anthem I still get that chill down my spine. Very much so.

[00:28:47] I’m proud to sing the national anthem I’m proud to be on Parliament Hill.

I’m proud when I when I go away. We were in the Dominican in January. I’m proud to tell people I’m a Canadian. I’m not not an American. I know a lot of good Americans but Canadians are kind of different in the world. I can remember going to Florida a lot.

A lot of Canadians go to Florida from Toronto. When I went to my grandparents. We used to go and, being up in Orlando one day on New Year’s day to watch a football game and someone gave us a meal when they found out where we were from. Nice. And I compared it with my family. And I was 21 or 22. You know Canadians are held in different in Europe. Very much so because their involvement in World War 1 and World War II.

We were revered in Europe you know.

And I actually come from a family where my makeup originally is Scottish. Believe it or not. Yugoslavian, which would be Serbian. My mom’s parents were from Yugoslavia. My grandfather came from Yugoslavia when he was young. He had two kids born in Serbia and then the rest of the kids born here. He was proud to be Canadian so was my grandfather and so my people need to love this country and respect it. We have a lot to offer and this special place so is there a particular value that stands out for you when you think of Canadians.

[00:30:23] If you look at the world stage we’re one of these countries you know involved in NATO are involved in humanitarian causes are involved in the U.N. We’re kind of everywhere. It’s you know I mean you know I know it’s attacks even on US financial aid but look at all the stuff going on with the refugees and getting that we really haven’t turned anybody away. Lately.

Tracey [00:30:47] And that makes you proud.

[00:30:49] You know we’re a caring country. There’s no question.

[00:30:53] I love that word caring. Was there anything that I didn’t ask you that you were hoping to talk about.

Robert [00:31:04] No. That really covers that I think.

If you’re doing something important, find a way to stream it, even if you set up a Web camera do it off your smartphone/

The other thing too is think about your digital marketing efforts and think about how your company succeeds.

Remember there’s no more yellow pages anymore. Google is your yellow pages today. People need to realize that.

And the third thing to kind of go with digital marketing is, remember if you’re not getting good results, you could pay for ads to buy and sell traffic. And that’s what people forget.

Tracey [00:31:48] So right. Oh thank you so much Robert, I really appreciate it.


Tracey Arial

Unapologetically Canadian Tracey Arial promotes creative entrepreneurship as an author, cooperative business leader, gardener, family historian and podcaster.

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