Start With What


When the subject of brand vision or purpose comes up, I always point people towards Simon Sinek’s famous Ted Talk. In decades worth of books, articles, videos and blog posts, nobody has captured the subject so clearly, so succinctly, so perfectly.

Perhaps too perfectly. Since that time it seems almost every brand is now obsessing with finding its greater purpose. This in itself is no bad thing. And in the big, corporate world it’s certainly overdue. However, for businesses that are under 5 years old, and that’s most of them, there is a FAR more pressing question for them to answer.

And that’s the question of what they actually do?

To businesses that have their core competencies nailed, this seems absurd. How can you not know what you do? But from my 10 years of working with SME’s, the majority are a long way from answering this question.

It was something we struggled with for a long time. We described ourselves as an SEO agency for the first few years even though instinctively that never felt quite right. After all, Google wanted to rank the best content from the most trusted brands, so limiting yourself to pure SEO seemed self-defeating. Then when the wheels fell off the SEO industry in about 2013/14 we were focused to change, but to what? An inbound marketing agency? A content marketing agency? A digital agency?

And without understanding this, how could we build our management structure – should they be social media experts? Developers? PPC specialists?

We finally realised that were were in fact, just a marketing agency. A marketing agency that does three things – strategy, content and digital. The individual channels would change over time but as long as we had world class people heading up those 3 core competencies, we’d be in a great place. And thankfully, we have been. In fact even with the pandemic which did hit us quite hard, our customer lifetime value has more than tripled in the years since we answered that all important question.

it’s a revelation that seems so obvious now, but for our first half decade it completely escaped us. And we’re not alone. 9 times out of 10, when I consult small businesses, they don’t know the answer to this question. They come to me hoping that marketing and sales will be the magic bullet to all their problems, but actually it will just add fuel to the fire, because the foundation isn’t there. Which is why I tell them, let’s not yet worry about why you do what you do. Let’s start with what.

See you next time,