Putting Brains into the Back End

Jamie Houston the back end guy with his family

I am thrilled to be able to share this article with you from the Careers section of the Wellington newspaper, the Dominion Post, which was published on July 29th 2107 and written by freelance journalist Deb Tapp.
I welcome you to take 5 minutes and have a read to find out more about me and not only my professional career path but also my personal and, now, family life.

Please click the image to open it as a PDF, or scroll down below the image to read the text…The back end guy Jamie Houston of Honk Marketing talks about back end marketing - Article in Dominion Post Newspaper

Marketing strategist Jamie Houston helps businesses, but he gets a kick out of teaching music too.

Wellingtonian Jamie Houston gets his fair share of strange looks when he tells people he’s “the back-end guy”.

“I met this lady the other day who asked what I did, I said ‘I look after your back end’, of course her mouth dropped and she looked at me and said ‘well you don’t look after mine’,” he laughs.

“I do it on purpose, they might not remember my name but they remember that I’m the back-end guy, it’s about getting people interested in what I do.”

Jamie is no health professional, as many suspect after such conversations but he is a back-end marketing strategist.

In a nutshell, it means he specialises in helping businesses implement what he describes as sales and marketing funnels and campaigns that quickly lead to more business by simply tapping into their existing databases.

“I specialise in past client reactivation, I talk about getting that old database out of the cupboard and dusted off because they are the people who have already spent money with you, why not nurture them, engage them and find out who is ready to buy off you again?”

He believes too many businesses “flush their profits down the toilet” by spending all their marketing budgets on the front end, that is finding new leads and converting them into clients.

“As funny as it may sound, when it comes to your business, looking after your back end really is serious business,” says Jamie.

As he explains, it’s about having the proper customer follow-up systems in place to maximize the “lifetime value” of each customer so that they buy again, and even make referrals to friends, family and social and business connections.

Through his own Lower Hutt-based company, Honk Marketing, Jamie builds these “marketing funnels” by using email and web pages for his clients after several meetings about the course of action.

Right now he’s building a new marketing campaign for one client, and uses a third party email marketing platform, through which an offer is made, and based on recipients’ actions figures out who is ready to buy.

“I will be creating and building a landing page, a specific web page related to the campaign not a generic website, I will make sure all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed, I will write the email copy in conjunction with the client to make sure it’s in keeping with their language but it also has a strong call-to-action, and a deadline.”

Jamie speaks of another client who was looking for ways to utilise their company database but were unsure of where to begin.

After enlisting Jamie’s help, they dusted off their old database and got it to the point where it could be used, and then sent an email campaign making an offer to past and current clients.

“They generated nearly $300,000 in turnover in a couple of weeks as a result of that specific email campaign,” he says delightedly.

For Jamie, that’s the rewarding part.

“On one hand I’m trying to take a 30,000 foot view of the business overhead, and on the other hand I’m a details guy.

“So combining the two to build out a campaign like that, then seeing people work their way through it and my clients coming back to say they’ve got, say, five new sales they wouldn’t have otherwise got, that is very rewarding.

“It’s also exciting to see the lightbulb go off in their minds, realising they’ve been missing out on all this business for so many years because they’ve been ignoring their past clients.”

Jamie began his own business back in 2010 and almost eight years on he’s juggling it with family life and two young boys, aged eight months and almost three.

As well as being “the back-end guy”, he’s also a musician.

He plays piano, saxophone and ukulele as a “fun strummer” and teaches piano to children from his home one afternoon a week.

“I have six kids come to my house and learn piano off me, I do that to get my head out of the computer and marketing and into the creative space, and I love it.”

Jamie wanted to become a musician from a young age.

He began playing the piano at age eight and continued with the same teacher for 15 years.

“When she retired I was her longest standing pupil – I played classical but convinced her to try more pop and rock when Elton John wrote Song for Guy and I wanted to learn it.”

He discovered jazz as a student at Wellington College and learnt the saxophone as a result, as well as jazz piano.

“On the last day of school I got a message from the office saying Shand Millers musical instrument store was looking for someone to work in their sheet music department.

“I had basically wagged all my classes and just did music at school, so I was the first person they thought of, and off I went.”

Eventually Jamie took up a Bachelor of Music at Victoria University, majoring in composition.

Outside of his studies he played classical piano at former Plimmer House Restaurant, now Boulcott Street Bistro, and worked in the hospitality industry at Wilton House and James Cabaret.

An about-turn followed – he successfully applied for a job working for Wellington photographer Simon Woolf firstly in admin and then as one of his assistants (he had several!).

“I’d do BA5 (Business After 5pm) events, university graduations and weddings as well which was pretty exciting.”

After a stint overseas and working in a bar in Ireland, Jamie slotted back into his role at Woolf Photography before making a return to the music industry.

“I worked for three different musical instrument stores both here and in [Lismore] Australia over the next 10-12 years, and at that stage I was getting up to management level.

“I was doing all the marketing and advertising for each shop I was running and looking for better ways to do things.

“Eventually I got to the point where I was in my 40s, I couldn’t see a big future in staying doing what I was doing, so I started looking around for other things, which is when I discovered the online world of marketing.”

After finishing a course by original “back-end” specialist and American entrepreneur Steve Rosenbaum, Jamie took the plunge and set up his own consultancy.

“I realised this was something that businesses really needed and I could offer it, so I quit my job after 30 years of having a job, it was a huge step and it took me almost two years to get up the guts to do it.”

At the time Jamie was still living in Australia, in Byron Bay, but he moved back to Wellington soon after to build up his business.

“Living in Byron Bay was amazing, the lifestyle was amazing, but everyone there is a lifestyler so it was hard starting a marketing consultancy and finding potential clients.”

Jamie has since joined various networking groups so that Honk Marketing can gather momentum and it is.

He’s also formed an online ukulele community that has about 16,000 followers on Facebook.

“I’ve actually built a little business out of ukulele merchandise, I did it as a way to show potential and current clients how you can build a following on social media and monetise it.”

Jamie enjoys the fact that working from home allows him to also be a family man.

After this interview he was taking his wife and two boys to Aroha Retirement Village where he runs a music group for toddlers.

“I take my ukulele and we have some fun for half an hour, it’s a very special time for me.

“It’s so fulfilling being able to share my love of music with all the little ones, to see their faces light up when their favourite song comes on and watch them do all the actions to go with it.

“Being able to run my business from home, and to have the flexibility to be with my family when it counts, is challenging, exciting and fulfilling, absolutely.”



Developing Compassion for Every Person in The World

I am having a Sunday that is very contemplative, and I came across this video being shared on my Facebook Wall. I felt compelled to share it with you.

Compassion is a characteristic that is just as important in business as it is in your everyday personal life. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand what true compassion is according to the Dalai Lama. His message on Compassion is an essential read if you are looking for more clarity and understanding on this.

Please watch this video of an incredible man doing compassionate deeds in India, and then read the quote below from the Dalai Lama about compassion.

“Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress and behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences, because our basic natures are the same.

Ultimately, humanity is one and this small planet is our only home, If we are to protect this home of ours, each of us needs to experience a vivid sense of universal altruism. It is only this feeling that can remove the self-centered motives that cause people to deceive and misuse one another.
If you have a sincere and open heart, you naturally feel self- worth and confidence, and there is no need to be fearful of others.
I believe that at every level of society – familial, tribal, national and international – the key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion. We do not need to become religious, nor do we need to believe in an ideology. All that is necessary is for each of us to develop our good human qualities.
I try to treat whoever I meet as an old friend. This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness.  It is the practice of compassion”.

I would encourage you to read the whole message here.

Just Get On With It!

“Average people look for ways of getting away with it; successful people look for ways of getting on with it.” — Jim Rohn

Just Get On With It

Never a truer word was spoken. I am always so inspired and motivated when I hear the immortal words of Jim Rohn. The difference between ‘average’ people and ‘successful’ people is the way they look at, and then ultimately deal with a situation. Are you one of those who just wants to get away with it, or are you just getting on with it?

Thanks Jim 🙂

Do You Remember How to Win Friends and Influence People?

As I was poking around online, I came across this short summary of Dale Carnegie’s Book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, published in 1936.

I wonder if you can relate to these pearls of wisdom from 76 years ago?  They are every bit as relevant today as they were back then. Take a quick read and see how you compare to a Winner and an Influencer…

How to Win Friends and Influence People




Part One

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People


Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

Give honest and sincere appreciation.

Arouse in the other person an eager want.



Part Two

Six ways to make people like you


Become genuinely interested in other people.


Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.



Part Three

Win people to your way of thinking


The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”

If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

Begin in a friendly way.

Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.

Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

Appeal to the nobler motives.

Dramatize your ideas.

Throw down a challenge.



Part Four

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment


A leader’s job often includes changing your people’s attitudes and behavior. Some suggestions to accomplish this:

Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

Let the other person save face.

Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

A Cry For Help From “Orangutan Habitat for Survival Project”


The incredible work being done by Rainforest Rescue (based in Mullumbimby, NSW) on the Orangutan Habitat for Survival Project is really making a difference. They work in partnership with the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) in North Sumatra to save the Orangutan by restoring and protecting critical Orangutan habitat in the Gunung Leuser National Park. In the past financial year alone they have restored a further 40 hectares of critical Orangutan habitat in the Gunung Leuser National Park in North Sumatra including the removal of the remaining 4,800 illegally planted Oil Palms. They also work towards the prevention of further clearing of the rainforest.

This valuable project is also educating the local community on the importance of the rainforest and threats to Orangutan survival , as well as providing alternative and sustainable employment through rainforest restoration.

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of tropical rainforest loss in the world with 48% of rainforest in Sumatra destroyed in the last 25 years. This has had a devastating consequence for the Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutan with an estimated 6,624 left in the wild.As a ‘keystone’ species for conservation, the disappearance of the Sumatran Orangutan may very well contribute to the loss of thousands of other species of plants and animals within their rainforest ecosystem.

Here at Honk Marketing we want to make our contribution too. Owner Jamie Houston already donates monthly towards helping the plight of the Orangutans, but he has recently implemented a new policy that will see Honk Marketing make a donation for every new client engaged. Each donation will protect and restore 500m2 of Orangutan Habitat.

To date, Honk Marketing Clients have saved 1000m2 of Orangutan Habitat forever! (last updated 22 October 2012)

There are so many causes to support, and we want to support them all, but reality means we have just chosen one, but such an important one. We invite you to consider supporting “Orangutan Habitat for Survival Project” too. Click Here for more information…