Caveat: I always had the intentions of this blog serving the needs of the business first and foremost. I don’t think blog this serves that purpose. It’s personal and won’t give my target market any business advice.
But, I also think that sharing my story along the way is important.
The day I’m writing this is the day after A-Level Results day. Yesterday, Twitter was awash with people’s takes on Jeremy Clarkson’s now infamous ‘A-Levels’ results day tweets. If you haven’t seen it, each year he posts a variation on the following:
Now, I don’t yet have the pleasure of choosing between Range Rovers. To tell you the truth - I’m at the sharing-a-Toyota-Yaris-with-your-girlfriend stage of the Jeremy Clarkson spectrum of success. But this blog isn’t about bragging about where I’ve come from and where I’ve got to, it’s about where I am now. It’s about my situation as I start from nothing. I don’t have the benefit of telling you something bad only to follow it up with a story of how great I am now.
Right now, my business life is pretty much in its infancy. But I want to share it with every other person, in real time, as it grows, thrives - and the struggles too. There’s nothing that inspires me more than looking at where people I admire began. I hope one day I’ll inspire someone else in the same way others have inspired me. They
Anyway, enough about why I’m writing this blog.
Like many good children (myself included - that’s a story for another day), Wunderkind wasn’t intentionally conceived. I’ve always wanted to own a business. I’ve worked with startups for a long time. My hope was that by surrounding myself by problem solves, a problem would arise and I’d build a product to solve it.
But that never happened. No bright idea for an app, no business process I could replace with a SaaS that hadn’t already been done…
But! I did encounter problems. Like...
From this point forward, assume that every business I’m speaking about is a digital product business of reasonable scale - post product market fit, enough funding to be considered a serious business. In the UK, the word ‘startup’ tends to mean ‘a very small company’. Unlike in the UK, where they can be turning over 10s of millions…
When you’re this sort of business, the factors that make a good marketer:
It’s impossible finding someone that ticks all of these boxes, let alone a whole bunch of them. Maybe there’s enough for 1 or 2 exceptional teams, but there’s more than 1 or 2 potentially exceptional businesses that need them.
There’s nothing more tragic than unfulfilled potential. Wunderkind is named as such (it means wonderkid in German - a term mostly used to describe high potential athletes) because I believe that young professionals entering the workforce, especially in my experience with marketing, aren’t given the correct development opportunities to reach their full potential.
Because good marketers are hard to find and expensive, founders will often hire someone junior.
In doing so, this sets off a cycle of failure that results loss in the founders loss of confidence in marketing, and the marketers loss of confidence in themselves at the most important part of their career.
Founders are enthusiastic, and they’ll sell you a story of riches and potential. But they’re also busy, and they’ll usually not know the faintest about marketing and what good marketing takes.
Marketing also gets undervalued. One marketer is never enough to do design, SQL, analytics, video, development to a reasonable degree, but that’s often what will be expected of you.
The result is that you become accustomed to failure, the self-doubt sets in and you begin to think that marketing is a profession of limit scope and riches. But that’s not the case - good marketing is often a considerable revenue driver, an unquestionable function with the potential to be an extremely lucrative and fulfilling career, but only when it’s done right.
Considering all of the above, I had to ask myself: what’s the best solution to this problem?
The North of the UK, for all it’s promises of the Northern Powerhouse and desires to be a serious tech cluster falls quite far behind in most global indexes. There’s simply not enough talent to go around, there’s not enough belief in marketing for founders to hire whole teams yet not a single person who can fulfil the needs of an entire marketing department. This isn’t just in terms of software companies either - the majority of media spend in the UK and the E.U has always gone through 3rd parties, as opposed to the US where it’s handled in-house.
To give businesses the best chance as possible at succeeding, to give young professionals entering the profession the best chance possible at succeeding, and to scratch my own itch at solving a problem at scale, the answer was obvious.
I needed to create an agency. But technology has changed the business landscape, and there’s no reason why creating another web dev/media/design agency was going to allow me to fulfill everything I needed to.
There’s a vast ecosystem of consultants, agencies, and other middlemen who are highly incentivized to have you spend £ and effort on non-ROI/non-performant activities. That isn't us. We're about moving the needle - that means users or revenue. Not impression. Not clicks. Just the numbers that make a real difference to your business.
I’m a very firm believer that effective marketing programs are built on a foundation of data and analytics skills. And I don’t mean Google Analytics. I mean people who can tear apart a business model, product, customer, marketing and sales data and diagnose where the problems/bottlenecks that need addressing first are.
So that’s going to be the foundation of the business.
Next, because the businesses I work, and want to work with, are disruptive and different, they need to write their own rulebook. So creative strategy, informed & directed by data is the second column of which we’re going to build the business on.
And finally, I’m of the impression that there’s no better way to distribute and grow your business than through building an amazing product with distribution built as part of it. As such, product skills will make up the third column.
I’m sure it’s going to be a bumpy ride in the early days, but I’d much rather endure creating something new than carry on beating the same old dullen drum.