Conversations: Susie Campbell, Little Black Book Marketing

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Susie Campbell found herself in new territory when she started her business Little Black Book Marketing nearly three years ago. With a list of contacts in her ‘little black book’ and belief in the power of building connections, Susie began her journey to empower Australian businesses with her unconventional approach to conventional marketing.

Tell us about Little Black Book Marketing.

I started Little Black Book Marketing to help businesses market themselves locally through connections, partnerships and other cost-effective marketing strategies. It primarily caters to brick-and-mortar (B&M) businesses – be it retailers, services such as hairdressers and clinics, or cafes and hospitality outlets. I believe businesses do better when they work together, and engaging with their community is key to their success.

Why the name, “Little Black Book Marketing”?
Little Black Book Marketing came about from my time in the Royal Navy where I became the person who would know someone and would always have a contact number in my address book (black of course!).
Hence, when I started the business here in Australia and began utilising my network, the name ‘Little Black Book’ was the obvious choice. My speciality is essentially to show B&M businesses how to create their own “little black book”. I had to add the word ‘marketing’ to the name to avoid the enquiries for escorts and the like!

How has the business name helped you in your journey?
I’ve received many positive comments about the name; it is memorable as it is different. I market using traditional methods, and the use of the word ‘book’ reinforces that. Having a memorable name can only help; nothing worse than someone saying, “I can’t remember what they are called but…”

What is something you’ve accomplished that you take the most pride in?
I think it has to be creating a growing bootstrap business. Having moved to a new country with no local contacts whilst juggling a young family with a partner who works away a lot and no money to invest, I found creative ways to achieve what I needed to do to grow and turn a profit. I started with an old laptop, a mobile and my ability to chat!  I bought nothing unless the business could pay for it and have never gone into debt or borrowed cash. I use barter, swapping, trading in many situations. Without partnerships, my business would not be where it is today.

What is your vision for Little Black Book Marketing?
To become the Australian-based equivalent of ‘Mary Queen of Shops’ – Mary Portas is a UK-based retail expert who has supported many struggling independent B&M retailers. I want to do the same here to keep Aussie shopkeepers in business, building a strong reputation locally and expanding nationwide. Alongside this, I have the vision to grow my team with people who need flexible work arrangements. I have experienced some very poor leaders and inflexible managers and know how often flexibility is valued over salary.

While juggling professional and personal commitments, how do you find time for yourself?
Ha, there was very little of that to begin with, but I knew this needed to change to stay healthy and fit for business. With a young family and no family support around, time is very hard to come by. Therefore, I set goals early on – one was to earn enough to pay for a gym membership and second was to take on a cleaner!  This has allowed me to not only have more time for myself but maintain a good level of fitness that is vital for both physical and mental wellness and the resilience required to deal with the challenges life can throw at you.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to become an entrepreneur?
First, it is important to understand what self-employment means and if you could cope with the demands, the risks and the uncertainty; it is not for everyone. My advice is, where possible, to find your first client before you commit to too much.

Next would be to know your numbers (ROI/P&L/cost per lead) from the start. It sounds dull and even scary, but you will thank yourself later for taking the time to sort this from day one.

Finally, document your processes; anything you do more than once. From how you answer the telephone, to processing an order, email enquiry or even complaints. This will pay dividends when you come to employ staff, want to identify ways to save time or money, or when valuing your business to sell.

If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change right here, right now?
Unemployment, because this leads to so many other issues – homelessness, malnutrition, physical and mental illness, substance dependency, isolation, and much more. I want to be able to employ homeless or long-term unemployed, offering meaningful employment to hopefully make them feel valued and able to contribute to a team.


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