In this article, David Finch from Purple Frog shares his content marketing journey and how you can grow your thriving and sustainable business.
Here’s the outline of the interview:
- Q: How did you get into strategic marketing?
- Q: What is Purple Frog about?
- Q: In terms of execution, what processes do you implement to onboard and bring value to your clients?
- Q: Can you share more about the financial lifetime value?
- Q: What does it look like to double your business? What are your responses, and how do you work them through?
- Q: Can you share a little bit about the applied thought leader?
- Q: What trends do you see happening in the next few years?
Q: How did you get into strategic marketing?
I started life as a chartered accountant, and I still want. People think Accountancy is boring, which is pretty true most of the time. But really, that gives me a grounded understanding of how businesses work and how the finances and the business can help drive growth and sustainability.
But the interesting thing about it was that at the time, I worked for Grant Thornton, which is a worldwide firm of accountants. And in the mid-80s, they allowed accountancy practices to start advertising and marketing themselves.
Prior to that, you were not allowed to, and it was very much one of those staid old professions. They got involved in the marketing market in hopes of how do we market this; this strange thing is called a firm of Chartered Accountants.
That’s really where the interest came. So it was like, wow, here’s a real opportunity to drive interest in a profession, and in a way, those times were a sort of disparate group of different offices in many respects.
How do you get it? How do you promote those and make them stand out differently from the competition?
Q: What is Purple Frog about?
We focus on helping our clients understand how they can help their prospects and their customers buy from them. So they have to sell less because, in the world, most people hate selling, and most people hate being sold to.
If you think about most marketing, most marketing ends up because people think, I’ve got to sell something to somebody.
Most marketing, whether advertising or content generation, ends up being too salesy because people still think the end game is to sell. If you think the end game is to help people buy from you, then the way you frame everything changes.
Q: In terms of execution, what processes do you implement to onboard and bring value to your clients?
The way the world is gone with digital is that the number of marketing opportunities has increased dramatically. So while we would call tactics, i.e., the inflammation of things has grown.
So there’s so much of it that most people, even in large businesses, hear lots of information being thrown at them, and they think they’ll give this a go.
So whether it’s promoting yourself through LinkedIn, because you’re a B2B, or you’re doing something on Facebook, or you’re doing Google ads, or whatever that is, there’s a tendency to think I must be doing it because everybody else is doing it.
My competitors are doing it. Therefore I mustn’t miss out. That’s what tends to happen. So we tried to take people right back to the beginning and advice.
People run away and hide quite often when you talk about strategy. It’s sort of a thing that they know they should do, but they don’t want to think that they have to do it. They’re also impatient.
So the thought process of spending six to 12 weeks to really work through and come up with some solid foundations as to where they’re going that sort of worries them that they should be doing something now rather than thinking through the way forward.
We tend to try and break this down into three key areas. So one area around this word we’ve already mentioned is remarkability. It’s about running workshops and getting diverse opinions from people throughout the whole business.
If they’ve already been around a while, and they’ve got some clients and customers is actually reaching out to the customers and talking to them. And actually asking them questions that probably most people don’t ask, or don’t ask often enough, which are the questions of why people won’t buy.
Because if you want to help people buy from you, you need to understand the barriers as to why they don’t buy. So that’s one of the things you do.
The other thing with remarkability is what a lot of businesses will say; we’ve got a unique selling point; our unique selling point is this. One of the problems with the word unique, which I’m sure the listeners will understand, is that nothing’s unique for long because somebody else will copy it.
Now you don’t have a unique selling point. Where you have those are remarkable is what people say about you, your service, you, and your products when you’re not around. What do they say to their friends, family, colleagues, and networks?
Remarkability is something that really helps position you as to why people buy your product, what they value about it, your service, and it might be something really small.
So the proposition, the messaging they’re sending out, tends to be inward focus about we’re brilliant, we do this, we do that, but actually, people are buying something completely different.
So the point is, the first stage is what is it that people value on why the wider the people currently buying it and then turning that into some top-level messaging, which resonates very clearly, and explains what happens in the process of buying.
Again, very tactical in the weather, what they haven’t done is they haven’t sat down and worked out the personas of the type of people they’re selling to, what type of communication would benefit certain people, and encourage them to buy more. They just blanket hit everybody with the same thing.
Q: Can you share more about the financial lifetime value?
I think you summarized it perfectly there. I think the bit that I would get people to think on a bit harder on this thing about thinking strategically.
If you think tactically, annually, and quarterly with your numbers, I’m not saying you shouldn’t think that way; in essence, you’ve got to set yourself some targets.
So if we were to work with any business, and we worked out, let’s say they’ve got to get 1000 clients over the next X amount of time, of a certain value. Clearly, there will be a timeline put together, which says, This is how it’s going to progress over the given quarters.
But the point is, it’s progressing over the given quarters, that is a mile their milestones; it doesn’t matter in this if your aim is to double your business in five years. That is the aim. What does it mean is that when you’re behind the curve, after three months, you suddenly panic, or if you’re ahead of the curve, after six months, you rub your hands with glee and think you’re going to triple your business?
Because of the problem with these caught and large PLCs in the UK, America, in particular, they have to report to the stock exchange, making tactical decisions over and above long-term strategy to all in order to be able to get their share price stable every quarter when they’re reporting.
So they’ll take on businesses bad, they’ll discount, and once you start discounting, then you’re in a never-ending spiral of Well. Why would a consumer not wait to give a discount?
So I think that’s the bit I would want people to think is it’s about patience. But being patient while always experimenting, learning, discovering, and understanding that there are other opportunities.
Q: What does it look like to double your business? What are your responses, and how do you work them through?
I think one of them, they’re going for gold, and whatever the concept of growth to double, is quite hard for many people. The reason is quite hard is that they look at it from the wrong angle in many respects, so they don’t look at it to say.
So I would say I would always argue that if you’re doing 5 million, and we use small figures because my brain can only do small figures. But if you’re doing 5 million and making half a million net, when you’re doing 10 million, you should be at least making a million net.
People try to grow at the expense of the bottom line. So it’s about getting people to understand and get clients to understand how you take this process and make it work sustainably to create sustainable growth. So growth that sticks is not accidental.
You know, I’ve been in business, and I’ve run over the years. I’ve had some years where you think that was a good year; when you look back at it, it’s just because somebody gave us a nice random piece of business that made money, but it isn’t our core business if that makes sense.
So and you can look at the people, businesses are done well through the pandemic, compared to those that haven’t. The fact that you do well in the pandemic doesn’t actually mean that you’ve got a better business model than anybody else. It just means you are the right person in the right place at the right time.
One thing I want to mention, and I think this might help frame it for people because it gives them a reference to go elsewhere, is what I’ve mentioned before to you guys about applied thought leadership. So one of the big things that a lot of businesses try and do around content is to say, well, they’re going to be the thought leader.
Now I’m not a thought leader. I’m what I would call an applied thought leader. And when an applied thought leader does take a lot of stuff that’s out there in the world and try and make sense of it to people who can’t understand all this stuff.
Q: Can you share a little bit about the applied thought leader?
I think what you said here is what you can do is make a complex world easier for people. And this comes back to your persona’s design frame. The challenge that they frame is an illusion that you have; that is even the wrong way to look at it. You have understanding in a world that they don’t understand.
What you need to do is frame that understanding in a way that they can apply that in their head to their problem. If they can see that your product or your service will solve their problem in their world, then they will feel more comfortable buying from you than they would somebody who’s just telling them the theory or telling them the benefits and features of a product.
So applied thought leadership is taking ideas from around. It’s about showing people how those ideas or that technology or that innovation will impact their world. So when you do a lot of persona research, it’s a top-level persona and its marketing.
Q: What trends do you see happening in the next few years?
Technology is moving on at such a fast rate that no doubt something’s going to occur by the end of 2022 that we don’t even know today. I would throw to everybody go back to the beginning of this conversation. Go back to your strategic thinking, go back to the I wouldn’t even use the word goals, I would use the word ambitions that you’ve got. And in this new shiny thing comes on, is he going to help you get where you want to go? Because if it doesn’t, don’t do it.