People often tell you to “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, and that’s the saying that comes to mind when I think of Phillip A. Jones, The Martini Whisperer.
One part of Phillip’s business ventures is Two Degrees Group, which he started in 2010. On paper, it’s a fairly typical consulting business but, scratch the surface a little and there is some really interesting stuff going on.
Phillip is the Chair of Judges for the Canberra and Capital Region Tourism Awards and a National Judge for the Australian Tourism Awards. Plus, he’s been invited to be a judge at the inaugural New Zealand Spirits Awards and the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia’s Distilling Awards in 2019, in addition to being engaged as a judge for a range of tourism, hospitality, and customer service awards programs.
Probably the most interesting element though is Phillip’s alter ego, The Martini Whisperer, which sees him being commissioned for bespoke creations, hosting events such as masterclasses, and a frequent guest speaker and presenter on craft spirits, and of course, the Martini.
In 2015, that all led to him having the honour of presenting the first-ever TED talk on the Martini.
Phillip’s journey is a great mix of being passionate and knowledgeable about something, putting yourself out there, taking opportunities as they come, and then, like most of us in small and medium businesses, taking stock after some early success and then getting way more strategic about the business.
Now, this episode is a lot longer than a normal Marketing Builder episode but I enjoyed talking to Phillip so much I just did not care about trying to keep him to a time limit nor did I look to edit it heavily to make it fit a certain time.
I trust you enjoy hearing from Phillip as much as I did.her senior leaders, and leadership teams, mostly in large non-profit and member-based organisations as well as organisations in the financial sector.
Also, be sure to watch Phillip’s TED Talk!
As part of the service, I have had this episode transcribed. Transcribing, proofing, and editing a podcast episode is A LOT of work. That’s why I use a service called REV who provide professional freelance transcriptionists who are vetted for quality. While they offer a 99% accuracy guarantee, I do not proof-read their work extensively. Instead, I simply copy and paste below and, as such, please note that this is not be a verbatim transcript of the episode and I have trimmed things like the intro, close, and mid-show ad.
Daniel: I’m guessing ‘A Martini’ would be the answer, but, what other cocktail best represents you and why?
Phillip: Well, you got to think about what is a cocktail and what’s that really about, and a good cocktail will hopefully make the world a better place, one sip at a time. It’s not about the booze paradoxically, it’s not about getting drunk. It’s about something that really is greater than the sum of its parts. So cocktails in a way, a bit like they’re quite a scientific method. There’s a reason why the combination of the flavors or the textures or the way they’re built is really quite sophisticated. I have immense respect for professional mixologist or professional bartenders because it’s easy enough for me to say master or hope to master a martini for example, and there’s only a few ingredients. We can talk long, along about all that. I’m sure we will. You’ve got to know your house recipes, you’ve got to map the ingredients quite often, you’ve got to then know the repertoire or anything else.
Phillip: More importantly, when you’re engaging with a customer, what they’re really, really doing, a really good bartender, it’s really of that place and moment and person. So they’re going to ask you, what do you enjoy, what are you used to, what’s the situation, what’s the ambience-
Daniel: Particularly if the person’s asking for a recommendation of a cocktail?
Phillip: Exactly. When I talk to a bartender, I judged the AHA Best Bartender award for ACT last year. And part of that was talking to them about how they engage with their customers, customer service clearly. Customer service is all about the so-called reading of the customer and understand the customer. So when they go to these really great bars or signature bars, they’re not just coming for a drink, they’re coming obviously for an experience. Part of it is, well, give me something new. I’m not going to drink a brandy and Coke I can drink at home. I’m coming here because I want something new and different.
Phillip: So they’ve really got to be able to have a really informed conversation with these people. So long way around. The cocktail therefore is something that’s really appropriate for that time and place, and that can really vary on the mood you’re in and the company you with, and sometimes you want something nice and reflective and sometimes you want to go a bit edgy and get your own boundaries pushed.
Daniel: You’re not letting me paint you into a corner with an answer?
Phillip: Well obviously a martini is my go to thing, and the reason for that quiet obsession is, the epiphany was this. So it was a bar in Melbourne called Bar Americana and it’s-
Daniel: I’ve been there.
Phillip: You’ve been there?
Daniel: Tiny, really tiny place.
Phillip: Yeah, like five, six people standing room only.
Daniel: It’s amazing.
Phillip: It’s amazing. They just have one gin and one vodka and it’s in decantered bottles, so they don’t even know what brand they are. No photos allowed. The deal was, every time I’d go there, basically the same ingredients, I would get a completely different martini because the bartender at the time, was just really good at just subtle variations and the ratios and temperatures and things like that. So if you have that with the same ingredients, same bar, same bartender, and have almost infinite permutations, the horizons are limitless given we’ve got thousands of gins and vodkas and vermouths’, etcetera, so it’s a bit of a Zen quest.
Daniel: So your main umbrella business is Two Degrees Group, which offers facilitation, consulting and other services, but the brand that people know you by, your alter ego is The Martini Whisperer. What came first, The Martini Whisper or Two Degrees Group?
Phillip: Two Degrees Group did, and there’s a ancestor even before that, there was a company I had called Schmooze.
Daniel: Ah yes, of course. I remember that. I completely forgotten. Sorry.
Phillip: Yeah, that’s all right. A very quick story was, it was a very innovative business, professional relations networking company. So it was lots of events and workshops and master classes, so you didn’t feel like you’re networking at all. Personalized services and it got quite big. We had like 600 members, member organizations at one point, we had a young professional crew and a student group and one chapter is in Melbourne, etcetera.
Phillip: Anyway, what I realized very early on in those sort of typical meet new business people and so however, what do you do? What I found was people were going, “I felt he was a very nice guy, but I don’t know what he does” and I read elsewhere, real important insight early on in my business career where, you had to be very clear and you as a marketer would clearly get this, who are you, what you represent, what’s the value that you bring. I learned therefore to develop good narratives in those sort of situations. The right approach, it would be, “You’re busy.” Everyone’s always busy. Well I talk about some of the work I’ve been doing and what I would do, we’d talk about a relevant example, so if I was talking to some from the government department, I talk about the government work I’ve been doing lately or non profit sector, non profit work I’ve been doing lately.
Phillip: So I came more relevant to them and it also in a conversational way, established your credentials and your business or your particular expertise. Out of that came Two Degrees Group, that was then my vehicle of putting these facilitation consultant type services and each client is a very kind of bespoke process. That enabled me to have that umbrella to then park those things under that and occasionally I would bring collaborators in if I needed like a film maker or design or whatever the case may be. So, that’s just being new all this time.
Phillip: Then we go back to 2012 now where this is a hobby and also part of my brand persona. So I’d go to these functions and events and I’d always have a martini in my hand partly for, I enjoyed it, partly for the look.
Phillip: Part of my personal branding if you like. In 2012, 2013 when they Centenary of Canberra was coming around, I put my hand up, I’ll say a tipsy Friday night drink, because I’d have a martini on a Friday night to start to work week because I worked from home and you need-
Daniel: To start the workweek?
Phillip: Well no, that came out wrong. To end the work week. So you work from home, well I do anyway and if you’re not careful you work seven days a week. My routine, ritual, on a Friday evening, to start the weekend and kind of psychologically switch off was to have a Martin or two.
Daniel: Just like when people get home from work. That’s what they do?
Phillip: Yeah, “Hi honey. I’m home” and I’d sit in the verandah with the dog. I did a tipsy tweet because they were looking for people they’ve going to use, the government was looking for ideas in the community to contribute to start the official program for the Centennial of Canberra. I said, “I’ll make the official martini for Canberra.” Says me to my 50 followers on Twitter at the time. But one of those was ST government who retweeted to like 50,000 people, “That’s great Phillip, we can’t wait to see it.” I went, “Oh heck, I’ve got to do it.”
Daniel: Now I’ve got to do it.
Phillip: So one thing led to another and the next thing you know, I created these cocktail recipes. We had an official launch to chief minister, we had a media event, we had a black tie ball at the National Press Club, had a special glass set made by a local glass artist, to raffle for the charity for East Timor. It just got bigger and bigger and bigger and it was a huge success.
Daniel: Was that the point where you thought actually this might have some legs?
Yes, because the parallel story is that I wanted it all Australian ingredients. So at the time, and we’re talking 2012, 2013, there wasn’t that many Australian gin makers and whatever. I reached out to those who were around and they all came to party so that was great. And on the back of that bit of publicity and the West Australian covered it, and this was the best thing to come out of Canberra for a decade.
Daniel: Hard to argue against, Phil.
Phillip: Yeah, because one of the gins was a Western Australian gin. Next thing I know, stuff’s turning up on my doorstep from distillers around Australia, “Could you write about this?” I had a bit of a blog called Canberra Martini and it just snowballed. And so I happened to be in the right time, right place for how this craft, spirit, boom took off. I was one of the few people actually writing about this stuff and because I’ve got a restaurant background, tourism, hospitality background, a dozen years working around the world in fine dining restaurants. So I kind of knew what I was talking about and I could write respectfully and hopefully forcefully about the spirits, whether it’s gin or vodka or whatever that came-
Daniel: And with knowledge.
Phillip: Exactly. And so that evolved. That then turned, I started working doing some consulting work in Melbourne for a gallery down there. I took the opportunity to change the brand from Kmartini to Martini Whisperer and that’s how that started. I was able to have these two parallel worlds, but they do cross over so often.
Phillip: For example, I was doing facilitation work for a large government department in Melbourne and I’m walking through with the DEP Sec and it’s all very serious doing a workshop on project management or something like that. And this voice in the corner on this big floor went, “Oh my God, the Martini Whisperer’s in the building.” And they all looked around going, “Who are they talking to?” So it was me. Every so often the world’s kind of cross over a bit.
Daniel: So what do you find difficult about marketing your business or businesses, those brands especially because it’s alcohol focused?
Phillip: Yeah. It is a challenge. If we’re just talking about Martini Whisperer now for the moment, it’s become very interesting because I use a lot of social media, so there’s a website of Instagram and Facebook in my primary channels and you’d have to do things like ‘drink responsibly’ message. So one of the things I do periodically, for example, is make messages or statements around, ‘have yes but drink responsibly and drink well and things like that’.
Phillip: Obviously there’s insurance implications for some of the things that I do. I’ve got an RSA and public liability when I run my events. I’m always very mindful while making a statement about how many drinks people are going to enjoy, offering a low alcoholic drink or no alcoholic cocktail, if I’m running a function for somebody. All these things have to come into play from the public safety point of view or personal kind of consumption message come through.
Phillip: In terms of marketing, it’s been interesting because you would still have, for example, have a plus 18, are you 18, [inaudible 00:09:25] over and things like that. I don’t need to do that so much, but I do make sure I don’t overtly encourage consumption. So the story and the narrative is, I’m presenting cocktails in an attractive way, personalities or the brands. I’m not going, “Oh, get into it and get a hog.”
Daniel: It’s more about that thing that you spoke about at the start there. More about the experience, the connection, that moment in time rather than what the alcohol does to you.
Phillip: Exactly. Exactly right. I’ve even had articles about how to drink in terms of sensible consumption or hangover preventions or in a sense practical. Coming back to my event, always making sure there’s food and there’s water and things like that so it’s all about responsible consumption.
Daniel: We didn’t often talk about responsible consumption. You used to be able to go into websites and nominate that you were over 18. There things that change in the industry. What trends are happening in your industry now that are having a significant impact on your marketing or that you think will start to come that’ll have an impact on your marketing?
Phillip: It’s an interesting point because there’s big trends in low, what they call low ALC or no alcohol. So you’ve got a whole genre now of non-alcoholic gin, for example, a nonalcoholic spirit for cocktails. Some are better, tastier than others, but there’s a real opportunity there in the marketplace for people to create these. There are people who are making low alcoholic gins since it’d been 40% alcohol but I’ve heard there might be 20% alcohol.
Daniel: Do you find that your market resonates with your market or just the general market more and more or is this just something that distillers a trying and just seeing whether it takes in the market?
Phillip: The latter or people who are not distillers seeing an opportunity in the market, but in terms of wellness, the wellness market for example, or people who just want the option. They want to go out and have a nice drink, but they don’t want to limit on bitters. They actually want a drink that looks like a drink or tastes like a drink if you follow.
Daniel: Because that connects with that moment in time, that experience not as I said before, what the alcohol does to you.
Phillip: Yeah, so it’s a bonding experience and that pleasure experience and the aesthetics come into it as well. But there’s a couple of different markets we’re talking about in a way. There’s my event client market, so if I’m hosting an event for a corporate or a private client, then as I said, I’ll always make sure I have those options available to people as a matter of course because not everyone wants a martini, they want something in between. If I’m talking about spirit education, which is the other thing I do whether it’s about whiskey or whatever, they’re less concerned about that. There are particular target market who are coming to these events to learn about gin or learn about whiskey or learn about whatever. They not so fussed, not interested necessarily in that particular incident locale. You do have to think about the message into different market segments.
Daniel: You had Schmooze, then Two Degrees Group and Martini Whisperer and it was sort of an opportunity that presented itself and you’ve really taken it on. It’s not something that, a lot of businesses sit down, they write their plan, they get everything perfect and then they launch. You’ve been doing this on the run so to speak.
Daniel: What’s something around marketing that you’ve learned along the way that you think others should know?
Phillip: The reason these businesses have evolved is that you can never really sit back on a Friday night, particularly tweet and imagine it would end up several years later doing what I do now because it’s a pretty unique proposition. There’s no one who does the spectrum of what I do, whether it’s events or consulting or advising distillers or touring the store with etcetera. I’ve been a lot more strategic in the way I’ve presented and marketed the brand over the last couple of years, because it’s one thing to have a passion project. It’s another thing to have that epiphany going. Actually this is a pretty unique, potentially international brand that I can generate.
Phillip: The lesson is two fold, I guess. One is consistency of brand and being very mindful of the tone I use and the imagery that I use, but not get so caught up in the fact that it’s me personally. So it’s a bit paradoxical because I am the Martini Whisperer, but what that’s now evolved is, it’s an event company, it’s an education, it’s a consulting, distillers and things like that, so being very consistent about that personal tone is very important.
Daniel: I can tell you listeners, Phil absolutely lives and breeds his brand. He’s come to the studio, AKA my office. I’m in jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t normally do my hair during the day, Phil, but I’ve done my hair because you’ve come to visit me. I put socks on and Phil is here in nice ironed chinos, a linen shirt, a jacket, he’s got pocket square on and he’s got his martini lapel badge and so I’m guessing, I knew you would turn up looking like this, but that is really you living the brand day in, day out, so that when people run into you during work hours mostly, and even at events afterwards, it’s a consistent look and feel for your brand because your brand isn’t a logo, it isn’t necessarily colors, it isn’t a shop front. It is you as a person. So that’s important that you live and breathe that, right?
Phillip: That’s very perceptive, and I appreciate the compliment. It’s not a vanity exercise either. I’ve tried to be as genuine as possible, but you just never know who frankly you’re going to meet. Also, if my brand’s going to be anything it’s been about, it’s really lifestyle brand. That is very, very important to do, but there’s also things I’ve got wrong. I’ve been a lot more proactive this year and late last year about generating business opportunities. So because I kind of didn’t know where this thing was going to go and how it was going to evolve. The phone would ring where you get an inquiry or can you do this for us and how about that. So now I’ve done things like I have a lot more overt information on my side about my value offering and say to events, so this is what I can do, talking Martini Whisperer, I’m talking much more about my clients so people can go, “Oh you’ve worked with them, Oh well okay, if you worked with them then you could do something for us.”
Daniel: That’s social proof.
Phillip: Social proof, exactly, and dare I say it, actually being proactive and reaching out to clients and past clients going, “Look it’s February already. We had a great experience last year. Do you want to do something again this year?” And so now I’m booked well into next year.
Daniel: The question on the events, you obviously run a lot of events at various bars and restaurants and corporate settings. You speak about spending more time trying to build the business rather than just letting the work come in and being reactive to it. How important is running an event in terms of not just delivering a service to a client then and obviously making some money out of it, but that longer term gain of continually building your profile and networking and connecting with more people and ultimately offering you future opportunities through that exposure, because I’m also interested to know how many events you actually do run a year?
Phillip: There’s a lot in that. It comes back to the original idea, but we’re talking about the experience before. So clients might be a shopping center who are looking to activate a particular precinct in the [inaudible 00:16:12] because they want to enhance the retail experience for their shoppers. So it’s not really about drinking a cocktail, it’s really about, “Come along and meet the Martini Whisperer and learn how to make a great Negroni on a Saturday afternoon in a shopping concern, so I’ve done that or celebrating the launch of a new beauty wing. You can make the trends. So marketing experiential events are really, really powerful.
Daniel: Lifestyle, aspirational.
Phillip: Exactly. So part of my value offering is to, whether it’s a culture institution. I did an event at the Mint last year, so it was a coin exhibition. So you think, what’s that to do with cocktails? Well, they had the initiative to reach out to me and so I created a cocktail party in the exhibition and I gave a talk about early stilling because of the currency about Australia, created special cocktail for any occasion, was the guest speaker sort of thing, but it was really for them, their objective that they were my client was really to entice new audiences into that space who normally wouldn’t come into the Mint or entire shopping center or a particular shopping mall and it’s a bit of a Trojan horse effect. Whether it’s a PR agency I might do something for and things like that. So one thing leads to another, so you’re right.
Phillip: The public visibility of me doing these things in public forum that often leads to private events, corporate events or bespoke venture. I don’t advertise, but every given week, I’m doing three or four, five events of different scales and stuff. Not always big ones. There could be a private tasting for six people for a ladies night or whatever or a hens party. They do that because now I’ve got the brand reputation. I’ve got the profile and people go, “Oh, I came to your thing at the shopping center. It was great. Can you do something for us for our Christmas party?”
Daniel: You offer a service through those events. Most people would look at those events. Okay. He’s going to prep before he goes. He’s going to turn up, he’s going to run it. He’ll meet some people and he’ll leave. There might be a little bit of followup and stuff like that. I know that simplifying it, but my question is, because it is a service, do you do anything significant that truly sets you apart in the lead up to that event rather than just somebody booking you and you turn up and do your thing. Do you do anything special in the lead up event to really make it amazing and connect?
Phillip: Absolutely, and this is where my consulting brain kicks in. I treat each client like a consulting project, so there’ll be initiating meeting, there’ll be a real like a debriefing of kind of what they want to get from their experience. For example, there was a leading consulting company here in Canberra. One of their marketing people had been to one of my public events. They said, “We’d love to have you for your Christmas party.” So I met them, met their partners.
Phillip: They wanted something along their corporate values. One of my key things is, everything I do is unique, so every event as far as I can, is a bespoke solution for them. I don’t just turn out the same drink every time. It’s a personalized personal challenge for me. But I will go to that. They want a cocktail that kind of looked a bit like their branding colors. They wanted something that somehow aligned with their corporate values. So I had to research all that, do a lot of experimenting and prototyping and things like that. And they were very, very happy with the way it turned out. So every single event is treated like a bespoke solution for them, yes.
Daniel: As I said, you run lots of events. You come into contact with a lot of people, so I know distillers are aware of this and they see you as an influencer, but that isn’t something that you’ve set out to be. I know that doesn’t necessarily, that label sit comfortably with you and you don’t necessarily classify yourself as an influencer because you are fiercely independent. How do you manage your standing in the industry and the community yet still take advantage of the opportunities but still maintain your independence because it’s an important balance?
Phillip: It’s a very important balance and it’s a bit of a complex answer. So bear with me because there a market of sorts, I’m talking about distilling industry and craft distilling, so as I said, was on the ground floor, as a advocate for it when it first got going. So now we have nearly 270 gin makers in Australia and counting and so it goes.
Daniel: Huge boom.
Phillip: At the time and how things were evolved, there wasn’t many voices between, you could imagine these guys are promoting rural, regional Australia, small businesses in their own right. Marketing is not their thing.
Daniel: They probably don’t have a lot of resources?
Phillip: They don’t have a lot of resources, and so they really latched onto the social media opportune, particularly of people to talk about their new releases and whatever. That’s perfectly understandable. So those people who were bloggers or whatever build up a bit of a following, they will really appreciate and needed by this emerging industry.
Phillip: What’s happened and now it’s a maturing process, they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. Some of these people who comment on their product are really, frankly not really qualified to do so. It’s a bit like giving your brand to someone to endorse or talk about it, but doesn’t really understand what it’s really about. So it’s a two edged sword, but they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. There’s even a reward program in the distill industry that distillers don’t really respect, because they don’t think the process is necessarily credible. The judges aren’t qualified enough, but they not going to say no to a gold medal or bronze medal and not talk about it. So I’m actually doing a research for an article around that at the moment. So that’s a maturation process within the industry as a whole, so in my instance, because again, I’ve got this tourism background and I’m a tourism board judge or national tourism judge, etcetera, and I’ve been doing this for quite a few years now.
Phillip: They talk amongst themselves. They’re not silly people and they make their own decisions. I never go out to people looking for bottles of booze to write about. I never solicit any of this, so you don’t get thirsty at my place guaranteed.
Daniel: We should have done this interview there. Yeah, if you going to be fair, it’s like 10 o’clock 10:30 on Monday morning.
Phillip: A bit early even for me. So they’ve sat back and watched and I’m not saying this because I’m talking myself up, but I’ve got the respect of the industry and they’ll send me things going, “Look, not for review, but for prototyping, working on this new vodka. Can you tell us what you’re think about this?” And things like that. I’ve established credibility for them, for my body of work and they can trust and respect me.
Phillip: So coming back to the notion of independence, that’s really, really key. So yes, I may have missed out on some opportunities, business opportunities, because I don’t want to be aligned. So if I work with, say, a local gin company, I will make sure I work with others or I don’t work with them too often because there isn’t that many people talking in an informed way and independent way about this business.
Daniel: Were you ever tempted because you’re a sole trader, there’s other sole traders that listen to the show or they’re generally small and medium businesses, some of them still on that growth trajectory. Were there times where you hadn’t built a brand like you have now and it’s much more sustainable, where it was growing and maybe times weren’t so great and you were tempted to ‘maybe I should just get paid to do this one’ and not be independent?
Phillip: Yes, and I won’t go into the specifics but I was mindful, I’m a longterm play guy, to put it that way. I thought about the opportunity cost to that because I’d spent so much time from a brand point of view, integrity point of view saying, “I’m independent and non biased”, there’s closure statements when I do my review, they send me some stuff, say unsolicited bottle or whatever the case may be, and to turn that around would mean all that works undone.
Daniel: Earlier on you hadn’t built that and done that much on it had you, it might’ve still been in the balance. Can this stand up by itself and be hugely successful because now absolutely, you can just be independent, but maybe when the business was still growing and it’s like, “Oh, maybe I should just take this opportunity and help grow it.”
Phillip: Yeah. I think my take for this is, and this relates back to Two Degrees Group as a positioning brand, if you like, is that, a bit of self awareness goes a long way, both as a business and you as an individual and we could talk about brand values and all those sort of things. I’ll give you another example coming another way.
Phillip: LinkedIn, I’m not on LinkedIn anymore because I’m tired of it. I used to do workshops on LinkedIn and teach people how to use it. Part of, when we’re doing career transition coaching, one of the first things I get them to do would be to redo or do their LinkedIn profile, reason being, it kind of distills down the professional essence of how you want to present yourself to the world. Not rocket science here, but you remember the time we used to have those endorsements, people did endorsements for various things, whatever. I’d get these endorsements for all this kind of skill sets and I go, well that’s not what I want to be known for, but that’s how the market sees me. Also for a really familiar vendor, you mentioned the insight, so but who owns the brand? We think we own the brand, but really our market owns the brand.
Daniel: The brand is what people perceive it to be, not necessarily what you think it is.
Phillip: Exactly right. So coming back to what we’re talking about. My realization then was, okay, this is who I’m going to be and this is the carving out. If all these other influencers, quote unquote are doing what they’re going to do and go the take the money and build up fake followers or whatever. My market opportunity in that sense is to do the complete opposite and do that and just trust that those opportunities, over the longterm will come our way and happily that’s the waste transpired.
Daniel: You’ve been in the media a lot, print TV, TEDx presentations, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you did the first ever TEDx presentation on martinis.
Phillip: First ever, yes.
Daniel: You’re a regular on local radio now, what single instance of mass media has led to a really big opportunity for you either as a one off engagement or a longterm relationship with somebody?
Phillip: I’d have to say the TEDx talk for a couple different reasons and I was thinking about this last night because I’ve been really fortunate and to be able to be invited on radio and I did a live TV cross from Channel Nine in Western Australia last year and things like that. Part of it is me again, I’m pretty lazy in that sense, I don’t push myself forward. I’ve got better at being more proactive, but the TEDx experience is a paradoxical one because on the one hand they want you to be completely natural. They choose you for your passion projects. They just came to me going, “We love what you do with cocktails. You want to talk about it?” So great love it because I want that kind of personal passion, and yet it’s a TED talk. So you’re on that red dot and you can’t make stuff up and you can’t ad lib and you can’t make up facts and-
Daniel: It’s timed.
Phillip: And it’s timed and-
Daniel: You have to practice a lot. You can tell that bit.
Phillip: I must’ve done easy 60 times and I’m glad I did because on the day, quick story is that, I was the last speaker and there’s no green room at the TED Talk so your new audience, everyone’s just amazing. They’ve done changing the world and you know, saving this and whatever. Just amazing, incredible people. I’m about to talk about a cocktail.
Daniel: Did you feel that imposter syndrome people talk about in their businesses a little bit?
Phillip: Oh yeah, and of course you’re emotionally drained by the end of the day because it’s there and just try and take it all in. And now Phillip Jones, and of course I’d lost my little cheat notes, you don’t have cheat notes anyways so I’d lost those and I couldn’t remember my talk. Dead set. I’m on the red dot and the monitor, you get a countdown monitor and you’ve got the slide monitor, they’d have half a dozen slides for illustrations, and that died.
Phillip: But because I’d practiced so much, the muscle memory kicked in. So as soon as I remember my first line, “My tales are heading in X, Y, Z.” Once I’d said that everything else fell into place so it didn’t matter, I couldn’t see my slides-
Daniel: I love a story with a happy ending feel.
Phillip: I had moving parts, I had a musician had to come on a stage at a certain time, they had to bring a cocktail trolley on from miles away from a certain time, I’m on the clock. It all turned out fine, thank goodness. Point of story, if you can do that basically you can do anything. Honestly, you get a couple thousand people and all the rest of that, and I was not shy of telling people on my website, on social media, this is what I’ve done and that gives you immense street cred. As a presenter and as a sheer confidence build, that’s really opened a lot of doors for me.
Daniel: Outstanding. You are across Facebook, Instagram, you said you weren’t on LinkedIn anymore, but in 2020 you’ve launched a YouTube channel.
Phillip: It’s a baby one.
Daniel: What’s your thinking behind that, why add a YouTube channel in now and what are you thinking success will look like for that channel in maybe a year or two. What are you hoping to build it into?
Phillip: That’s a perceptive question because I was thinking about my own consumption. For example, I watch an awful lot of YouTube-
Daniel: Cat videos?
Phillip: Strangely enough, no. I’m obsessed with this, there’s a whole genre of Tokyo bar tenders. You want an obsession about carving ice or making… They just another level. So part my own consumption, partly recognizing the mass trend of, that’s where the viewers, where the eyeballs are at. I’m very adamant that I have original content across the three channels, so I don’t replicate stuff. Very, very alert really. So what’s on Instagram is different from Facebook, different from that didn’t from my website because I just think they’re different audiences and they are different audiences, when I look at the data. Also, my longterm play is, I’m working on a TV series emerging out of all this work. So the working title is National Spirit and it evolves over a couple of years and that’s come out of all of the work I’ve been doing. Originally it was about craft distilling and cocktail culture in Australia, and how do you get from a bubbling spring in Tasmania to a corner city bar? How does that journey happen?
Daniel: Yeah, amazing.
Phillip: So lots of research and I’ve had some serious meets with proper production companies that been around the block a few times. Now it comes back to your point about advertising and alcohol. I have a mentor who does documentaries for Netflix and she’s fantastic. She was shopping around. I’ve met different production companies in Sydney and otherwise and backers. They all loved it because no one has done it. Original world first, and the reason came a long way around after she talked to some of these other international companies was, well reason no one has done it because it’s extremely hard to get advertising for alcohol and booze alcohol. There’s a wine show and if you’ll get some of the outliers, which is why no one’s done it. In the public domain here, there’s not many TV channels and they don’t have a lot of money, and so it goes. So what’s going to happen now is, I haven’t gone back to [inaudible 00:30:20] but I spent the break to recast the vision of the theory.
Phillip: It’s really going to be about innovation and creativity in contemporary Australia across a whole range of sectors because we’re going through a challenging time and it’d be great to see something that goes, “That inspires me. That’s amazing.”
Phillip: Yes, we’ll weave in, craft distilling and the guys who make the stills and the guys and make the barrels and the farmers that grow the grain to make the whiskey. We’ll weave in those stories as part of the wider narrative, and that will mean from a business point of view when we’re pitching the series again, because production comes before who can we align, advertise responses or whatever. That’ll give them a lot more to hang your coat up, whether it’s prime production or whatever. So that’s now about to go off again to do another round of discussions.
Daniel: Very exciting.
Phillip: It’s very exciting. So I don’t like talking about it too often because I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve been in enough rooms, enough people to go, “This is a fantastic concept. We love it.” It’s a question of how, not a question of when, touch wood.
Phillip: The of YouTube channel is part of that strategy, in terms of practice for me, I think I’m reasonably comfortable on camera, but you can’t do an ever enough practice and also building up a body of work. So when they reading the pitch document, they look me up and there’s me doing a live cross from Channel Nine, there’s me doing this. They go, “Okay, he’s got form.” The idea is they’d stitch me up with a co anchor, a co compare like an actress or something like that. In ballpark figures, you’re talking a million plus a series, a million and a half for a series, Netflix quality.
Phillip: So high production values, but then you could sell that, it’s a tourism angle to it, destination sell angle to it.
Daniel: Sell it on airplanes?
Phillip: Exactly right, exactly right. So there’s a few ways. There’s a lot of thought gone into this and I’ve been working on it for quite a few years now. So yeah, the idea of I’m the straight guy, so to speak, and then they’d aligned me up with someone, public would recognize and we’d go around discover and explore this places.
Daniel: I’m very excited.
Phillip: Thank you. So it is what it is. It’s frustrating. You think about TV business [inaudible 00:32:22], they fall in love with it until they don’t. And the subtle turnover, so you’ve spent a whole year building relationships and then it goes quiet and when you go back to talk to them, they’ve all moved on and you’ve got to start all over again.
Phillip: So you understand now why you hear about movies take years and years and years and serious take years and years, this is kind of why. Anyway it’s happening, that’s kind of the rationale behind that.
Daniel: Excellent. Philip, if people want to get in touch with you and find out more about your amazing story and work that you do and more about The Martini Whisperer and Two Degrees Group, what can they do, where can they go?
Phillip: So twodegreesgroup.com.au and there’s a Facebook page up there, so I talk about the sustainability issues and innovations. I call it Two Degrees Group way back when we all haven’t thought about climate change. I was a bit ahead of my curve in that sense. So it’s all about sustainable solutions and bespoke solutions for people and MartiniWhiperer.com and of course the handle on social media is The Martini Whisperer. I should warn everyone I’m a bad influence, so you will get thirsty after watching some of my stuff, just thought I’d warn you.
Daniel: It’s better than when I watch all the food shows on TV at like 11 o’clock at night, I go to bed, I’m absolutely starving. Phillip Jones from Two Degrees Group and the alter ego, The Martini Whisperer. Thanks for coming on the show and sharing your businesses journey and marketing experiences.
Phillip: Thank you Daniel. It’s been a pleasure.