Business Masterclass with David Schummy - video transcript

The following is a video transcript from a speech by David Schummy, Director, Fix-a-Frame, at Brisbane City Council's Lord Mayor's Business Forum on 14 October 2013. He shares his insights on digital marketing and the opportunities available to Brisbane businesses.

Julian Simmonds - Now I'd like to introduce our next speaker to you, David Schummy. He's the director of Fix-a-Frame. He's a small business owner and qualified custom picture-framer. He started up Fix-a-Frame in 1991 and has since gone on to grow the business in very challenging times and he's done it by embracing a very digital strategy which has seen him publishing books, YouTube videos and podcasts. It's led to, in 2012, Fix-a-Frame being recognised as one of Brisbane's digital champions. So please join me in welcoming David up here to the lectern.

Okay, now it can't all be set speeches from the lectern PowerPoint. So to shake things up a little bit we're going to introduce David in a bit of a Q and A style format. So just before we ask the hard-hitting questions, David, because you've got to lead into this and we want to get to know you a little bit. Many of you may not know this but David holds the world record for the furthest distance any object has been thrown, okay. So David you'd better tell us what object you threw and how far you threw it.

David Schummy - Well, thanks, Julian. I threw a boomerang of all things but a non-returning one and 427.2 metres. It has now stood - where are we - eight years and my boomerang-throwing by the way has taken me around the world on a number of occasions, most recently over to China. Then they took me up to inner-Mongolia to attempt to break that record but unfortunately I didn't do it, but I did get to sit down with the Minister for Tourism in China. They want to hold a boomerang championship there and bring the world there for a World Cup.

Julian Simmonds - Excellent. So tell us, David tell us a little bit about Fix-a-Frame? Primarily, you started it up. How did you or why did you decide to make the leap into that digital space?

David Schummy - Picture-framing is a very traditional, one of the last - like butcher shops, one of those last trade-type operations and we're only a relatively small business. We're not a massive multi-chain store. But it became apparent even though we had a fantastic retail location and a good solid business it became apparent that if we didn't actually start to push strongly into adapting quite quickly into both, just revising our website. I mean we'd always had things going on the Internet since 1996 but we really needed to modernise. So I brought on someone who came in and joined the team and we put on someone full-time who started to work with me at developing a digital strategy as such.

Julian Simmonds - So you've gone to some really technical things. You've now got YouTube videos and podcasts and all these sorts of things. For someone who is not as technologically-savvy like me how did you start? Is it okay just to start with the website? Is that a good starting place?

David Schummy - Well, I think everybody does need to have a website or even their own personal website but it's a big furphy that there's a lot of advertising on television saying, hey, just go and get a website. You see Yellow Pages, Sensis, people like that saying, oh now I can be found. Having a website doesn't necessarily cause your business to grow. You need to have the strategy behind what you want that site to do. I mean you need to develop things along the lines of am I going to build trust with the community that I'm trying to attract? How am I going to attract those people? What am I going to give? Really the website cannot be a static thing. It's like Kieran talking about the blog on Digital Brisbane. That is updated regularly and it's a changing environment all the time.

Now, there's a simple formula that we use and it's ABC and that's Always Be Creative or - and there are only two things you can do online really. There's plenty of tactics and things you can do but the two things that you need to do are either create content or curate content. If you look at all the media or the newspapers, they're curating content on a daily basis. You've either got to be original and keep producing or collect other information and make sure you keep it active on your site and then offer something back to those people that come. So I would encourage people and when you say techie stuff I'm very big on YouTube at the moment and I think the reason being is YouTube gives you the opportunity to be your own publisher and in fact the Internet gives you your own opportunity to be your own publisher.

We use a strategy of making something for YouTube and then from that original video we can then send it to a transcription service. I mean there are automatic transcription services that might charge a dollar a minute to transcribe your video into text. Now transcribe your video into text, turn that text into a book, turn it into a report, something that you give away to your clients, create an education program, take extracts from that video and make it into your Facebook content, make it into your tweets, make it into your articles that you use. So we start with video because we make it once and we make products from it so that's where I'm coming from.

Julian Simmonds - So you mentioned the obvious that a picture-framing business is a very traditional style of business. You think of it as your business and picture-framing would not jump to mind but it just goes to show you that in every business there are these opportunities, these digital opportunities. So how do you go about identifying what will appeal to the market in a digital space?

David Schummy - Well, probably the first thing you could do is Google it and by that I mean Google your type of business, see what other people are doing. Have a look at what the people - the leading people in the world are doing and then if nothing shows up then I suggest you may not have a business because Google is pretty good at finding the best or they try to find the best and this actually is another little trick. The reason we're very big on YouTube is - anything you - Google owns YouTube so if you start doing stuff on YouTube your video content on YouTube can rank inside Google.

Google gives you a quality score based on - so if any of you have done AdWords or advertising with Google or Sensis or with Google, your quality score lowers your advertising cost. So at the moment YouTube actually pays us for our content so we earn about $300 a month back from Google every month for content we put on YouTube via advertising. Now that $300 we give back to Google for paying for ads. So we have a mutual situation rather than - and our quality is going up all the time so advertising cost comes down. It's something that people need to be aware of that if you start on this - you need to find what's right for your business.

I have training courses for people who do picture-framing around the world. This weekend we ran live training and I had people in Sweden and Norway logging in to Brisbane time 2:00pm watching me live on Google and YouTube live and then we broadcast it high-definition. In fact that would be one thing that we could get better in Australia is that we have better upload speed. We could produce better quality content so one can - there's great download speed. Everybody wants to download a movie quickly or whatever, but if we had better upload speed we could be delivering content to the world. You just need to become famous in your little niche. I mean that's the key.

If you're an accounting firm you need to find a way to actually make something that people want to come and get from you and then you build the trust with them through giving them that information and it doesn't have to be something that's necessarily just tied to accounting. It might be community-based stuff, just interesting content that gets people coming into the site, building a rapport and it's just like having a business in the high street. When someone walks by you say hello. If your website doesn't say hello, I'm here, welcome, come in and deliver service. It can't be this very cut and dried thing. You've got to be an approachable type of organisation.

Julian Simmonds - So David, you’re a qualified picture-framer. That's your background. You're not an IT expert. You mentioned that when you started this journey you got somebody in to help you with your digital strategy. You found someone. How important is it to find the right people? What kind of qualities were you looking for in finding someone to help you along this journey?

David Schummy - I'm pretty lucky in life to have run across people that really make differences at different times in my life. The guy that came to my door was actually looking for the computer shop that had moved next door. It relocated and he was going for a job interview to be a computer technician. He turned around and he saw picture-framing and digital printing and he thought, well, I'm a graphic artist. So he's not a web person per se but he is 10 years my junior and he is quite techy and I said well this is interesting. Maybe let's have a chat and we struck it off well and so then I was hoping to bring somebody in who could do graphics but it turned out it became this Internet obsession kind of thing because we started to kick goals and actually start to move in a particular direction.

This is another little tip I've got for you and I don't know where I heard it but it really applies. We took imperfect action as opposed to taking perfect inaction and a lot of people sit there and go, we're going to wait. We're going to get the best. We're going to develop this big, fantastic website. We're going to do all this sort of stuff but nothing actually ever gets done. Now, we just do it. We get up we go well what's new, what's happening today?

Okay well, I recently found out that I could get live broadcasts on YouTube and originally you had to have a thousand subscribers. Now they've lowered that to a hundred. There's over a hundred people in this room so if everybody went and subscribed to everybody else's YouTube channel right here in this room you could all have live broadcasts to your clients. You might think, well look, what benefit is that? But if we film this now and we go live with it this content can be ranking tomorrow or even in a couple of hours and driving traffic based on that keyword or subject matter as the content.

So it's quite easy to think, okay well what do we want to do in business? How can we make that publicly available? The quality is there. People are going to come and start to notice and every person that comes through your door if you can get them engaged in your site and take the steps through the site because Google measures things on engagement. Recently we have got our engagement in our website up over 25 minutes per visitor. So when the average website in the world has under two minutes we've got people staying for 25 minutes. Now, it's not just in one site. It's in multiple sites in different niches that we've moved into, not just picture-framing. So once you start to crack that code you can actually grow your business.

I mean I had a phone call from my bank saying, do you know someone put through $16,250 online? What - we're going to stop the account. You're going to get - right, what's happening? What's going on? Over an eight-day period I'd supplied the American Department of Defence with product to a warship in Fremantle from Brisbane and I supplied HP from Texas into a trade show in Sydney. You know they said to me, we phoned Officeworks. We contacted Officeworks and they wouldn't process our payment. I said, give me the money. I can do it.

Literally it's only that we've been lucky in a few points but the Internet can radically change or digital marketing can radically change your business for the better but you have to know a little bit about what you want. But then you start going and going, you keep on going for it and just adapt as you go along. Don't think you have to have the best of anything, just start. This is how all these women who cook cakes become international superstars on YouTube or something because they…

Julian Simmonds - And men who cook cakes I'm sure.

David Schummy - Yeah.


Julian Simmonds - So tell me anyone who has been involved with social media knows that there are some pitfalls as well. I mean even on your YouTube video people can make comments. So there's a potential there for negative comments about your business, negative reviews. How do you navigate some of those pitfalls and what are your tips for avoiding that kind of situation?

David Schummy - All comments are good. Okay, it's a bit like no - the no…

Julian Simmonds - No press is bad press.

David Schummy - No bad, no bad press. If someone is making a negative comment they're paying attention to you. That's the first thing. So if you're not getting any comments they're not paying attention. Now, it's really quite easy. When you've got someone making a negative comment you just need to be aware because when you have a comment on YouTube or Facebook, you can set up software that lets you know that that's happened. Then you actually need to action it and you need to respond to that attack if it is.

Now, we haven't had a great deal of people who are negative. In fact some of the negative comments that we've had might be because they need product support. They haven't been able to call or they've felt that it's easiest for them to, because they've used a particular tool that we've demonstrated and they've had a defect in one they've bought, not even off us, someone else, okay. The negative comments can come just from something that you happen to have demonstrated and you have to be able to problem-solve on the fly and be sincere. Most people are genuine. There's not a lot of these people who are trolls or whatever, that go out there. I mean who would waste their time on picture-framing stuff? I wouldn't place too much importance - like social media, I think YouTube is the best social media.

Pinterest for us because we're a graphic business so pictures tell a thousand words, so pictures. Facebook, sharing pictures, yes, but we don't waste a lot of time on the Facebook and that type of social media, purely because I can't necessarily generate a return and this is something else that we have tried. We have one thing that we run on Facebook which is actually called Brisbane Garage Sales and I freely publish other people's garage sales. The reason being a picture-framer cannot attract hundreds of people anywhere because we can only attract our friends, our people that come in the shop, saying look, who is going to want to go to a particular business' Facebook page? They don't, but a garage sale people will go to and look at and share and they share pictures of the things they've got at the garage sale.

Now, I have about - I don't how many are in there, 3000 or something on Brisbane Garage Sales on Facebook and then I've only got about 180 on Fix-a-Frame but the 3000 on Brisbane Garage Sales I can say hey - now they don't associate me with Fix-a-Frame with Garage Sales. That's not it. But my local guy that does my back massage I can say, by the way David up there at Mt Gravatt does a great massage and he's got a good deal. It's only $30 this week for all the members of Brisbane Garage Sales and then those people share that on social media, go get their $30 massage and David says, by the way if you need a picture frame done down the road there is a framing shop. Here's a voucher as a thank you for me rubbing your back so you generate business by diverse means online.

Now it doesn't take a lot to test that, right, because there's all sorts of tricks and things you can do to generate people from Facebook. People make money from Facebook. But anything you do, if you write books, if you publish articles, publishing articles is a great one because someone who is looking for just that thing if you've written on it and you give them a little bit of information, not all of it, give them some of the information, a bit more of the information on your blog, a little bit more information on the website and you are part of the solution.

Then gradually that one person that's kind of read the tit-bits and followed the breadcrumbs back eventually will end up in your business or they end up saying look I've seen you on the Internet. Really I'm in Adelaide and who can you recommend around here? This is what business should be doing, is getting together with each other and saying, well, actually here is someone I can recommended. Go and see them. They're going to look after you.

The problem is people trust and this is the idea. It's about building trust, people will tend to trust what Facebook says or what someone else says, something online says over even their family recommendation. If their mother recommended them to go somewhere to buy something in the shop they might trust her still but more than likely they're going to Facebook it and say, friends, what do you think of Maggie's Flower Shop? They'll go, oh no, we don't like her. Go to this other one. So you do need to have a positive - you need to have a presence and then you need to do good things for lots of people online and it's a little bit like - it's a bit that reciprocal thing. If you like we don't - not give freely. You have to give freely online and then hopefully that translates into business.

Go back to the Digital Business Masterclass videos.

11 February 2016