Episode 6 of On The Same Landing Page: Vanessa Bolosier Discusses Everything Branding

In this episode guest, Vanessa Bolosier discusses how brand identity is becoming increasingly important in the genZ era and how your brand could support your business through financial hardship. Discover how brand could affect your community, brand equity and your employees.

 

 

Vanessa :

Basically looking at performance marketing. And I’ve experienced this in the past. I’ve run a few experiments. You know, if you look at CPI, is if you look at CPAs, whatever it is that your your metric is from a cost of acquisition perspective, it costs less money when you’ve got brand search terms. Like it’s that simple. So if on one hand, you you’re trying to use generic search terms in paid advertising, so paid search versus your actual brand terms like it might cost you pennies.

So like it makes sense to invest in the brand because not only will the brand have an impact on your performance, but you will have an impact on your community, on your brand equity, on all the other areas of the business, on your employees. It will have an impact on everything.

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Jason:

Welcome to episode six on this same landing page. I’m Jason. I’m the marketing manager at Web Presence and I’m joined by cohost Astra. Guys, would you like to introduce yourself first of all, Astra? And then actually I’ll start to introduce vanessa  .

Astra:

And I’m Astra and I am the digital marketing manager. No, I’m not. And the head of advertising at web presence, I’m still getting used to saying that.

Jason:

And Vanessa I will let you speak for yourself of course. But I would like to just introduce how we came to be at this point. So I’m joined by, Vanessa, factional CMO and partner at Nine Seven’s consulting. Vanessa started her career in publishing on the editorial side of the luxury lifestyle publishing and quickly moved into marketing working on B2B bands before moving to the agency side where we worked together to help global consumer brands like Lipton, ASOS, American Express worked on sea level comms and campaign patient community and staff engagement with the public sector organizations, organizations such as the NHS and the Department of Health. Her most recent venture has been to join Quinn and build the entire marketing brand content and comms operation from scratch, over three and a half years. Taking it from being an unknown, beta App to becoming an award winning top ranking app for diabetes. So I’ve had the pleasure of working with Vanessa. Agency side, it was a long time ago, pre-pandemic she’s an unconventional, system wide problem solver, and she really transforms any room she enters, changes any company she’s in. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast now. I let you speak, Vanessa.

Vanessa:

I mean I don’t know what to add but thank you for having me.

Jason:

Well, it’s that’s probably the longest introduction we’ve ever done is because I know so much about you.

Vanessa:

I think it’s because we know each other, isn’t it? I’m Vanessa, I’m a factional CMO, and I live in Dubai.

Jason:

Yeah, that’s the update, you’ve moved to Dubai. How is it there?

Vanessa:

Sunny

Jason:

So. Yeah, so I wanted to bring you on Vanessa because obviously, you’ve got loads and loads of experience across loads and loads of parts of marketing. And what I mean by that is its lots of different channels that you’ve covered, but also different ways of taking brands to market products to market and a lot more experience than I have in terms of branding and what the importance of building a brand is for a company and what goes into that. The work that goes into that is so that’s what I wanted to touch on initially is about because we at web presence are more of a kind of performance marketing focus we really everything is about converting and making sure that you get traffic come through to the website, how can we turn them into leads, how can we turn those leads into customers and those customers into ambassadors and we talk about that funnel in that aspect. But I don’t spend too much time talking about, well, for example, I’ve never worked on a rebranding project and I wouldn’t perhaps understand the value of rebranding products and the importance of how that comes into every other part of the business.

So yeah, I don’t the way where you want to come into on that, but what’s your experience in terms of working on brands and why is it so important to have a brand for maybe smaller companies that might not value it so much?

Vanessa:

That’s a question that I’ve had to answer I think most of my career.

I feel like the simple answer to that is, do you want to be memorable? Like, do you what do you want people to say about you when you’re not in the room? Like, do you want them to say, oh, they’ve got a great brand, but the product’s terrible or they’ve got a great community, but such a terrible brand.

I think brand has evolved over time before you used to just be sort of like the visual aspects of a brand and logo, namely, and then so like about ten, 15 years ago, people started to think about a bit more. They started to think about other things and other aspects of brand a bit more. I think in my view, like brand is product or service, positioning people, culture, opinions, design, personality, experience, community.

I think especially now, when brands are being asked to have opinions and to stand for things like new generation, Gen Z particularly are asking brands to do more than just being capitalist and sell products. I think this is a question that people will have to ask themselves. Companies, whether small or big, more and more. I think we’ve also all of the stuff that’s happening around privacy and you know, metrics tracking, brand is going to be more important because ultimately you won’t be able to track and you won’t be able to target and market in ways that, you know, have been possible in the last five to ten years.

So, you know, it’s kind of a resurgence of the need to create brands and the need to create memorable moments. Basically like making all the promises that you’ve made and you miss culminate into something which is basically you deciding to go for something specific because you know the brand and because you’ve got some affinity to a, to a brand.

So yeah, it’s important. I don’t know why people question that.

Jason:

I think my experience of it is lazily associated with some of the more superficial things. Like, for example, my my understanding, my day to day application of brand is I have to follow the plan guidelines. So for me, it’s like image. The images have to be a certain style, the font has to be so and so and it stops there.

And I think it stops there for a lot of people to. What you just talked about, how it’s a whole host more than that in terms of culture, the approach, the maybe positioning, like how do you get all of that together? Because that’s a large piece of work, right? I guess that’s why rebranding costs so much money, but how do you go about doing that?

Vanessa:

I think it takes time and I think ultimately it’s all about the business goals. I think there’s a difference between a company that’s just here to make money and get out, you know, be acquired and even then, you know, companies that are trying to make money and be acquired as an element of any valuation that has to do with brand equity. You know, people talk about community and, you know, you can’t have a community if your community doesn’t have an identity to relate to. And that, again, is brand. So I guess to answer your question, how you do all of it is by being intentional about it, by having that in mind. And I know that not all small businesses have money and budget to invest in brand. Like, you know, multinationals, I think, you know, it can be very small things like just even like asking your team like whether they can articulate like what they’re most passionate about and what makes them come to work every day and what they think as a unit They’re good at. And what’s the company’s core genius? I think it’s it’s being intentional, actually taking the time I’m not saying taking all the time, but like having regular touch points about the things that matter because even ultimately even like just recruitment, if you’re trying to scale and you’re trying to grow, like it’s much easier for brands like Deliveroo to, to hire than it is whatever like delivery that no one knows about. Because like the minute that someone shares that job, everyone will recognize the brand. I mean, that is obviously aside from culture and what actually goes on.

But at the end of the day, like it, it radiates across all aspects of business. And I think this is there are some fundamentals. Like, you know, what your values are, what like your purpose of mission and emission, your mission, like what all these things are. And I guess there are business goals but the value proposition is quite central and like it’s quite central and fundamental to what you’re trying to achieve as a company and a brand.

But then again, you know, you have to position yourself on the market so you can decide to position yourself from only the perspective of performance and only the perspective of like the bottom line. Or you can decide to actually determine what your mantra is. And that is somehow an exercise that you can drive a brand that’s not going to cost you like millions, but that still helps everyone in the team and in the company articulate what they look like, what their work is like, what their work life is, if that makes sense.

Jason:

On that point of like principles, values, meaning and stuff like that. I saw an interesting post on LinkedIn. I can’t remember know, just scrolling. And someone said like, no one is in a shop, in a corner shop going, ‘Right, I’m going to pick those sweets because their why is very important to me and that’s a very principled and value driven brand. And I’m going to pick Colgate because I really like what their brand stands for and stuff like that. So there’s this there’s an element where you can go so far into it and talk about what is your why and your purpose at work and stuff. And a lot of it can be criticized for being a little bit like, what is this actually impacting on the terms of the customer?

So you can see my cynical approach here, but I’m doing it because I want to learn about.

Vanessa:

I agree. But I think ultimately there are things that are meant for the people that are internal to the company. And then there’s a difference between that and what you actually put out there. Like, I mean, if you look at brands like Patagonia, like, you know, people that can afford it, they do care about what Patagonia is doing for the for the environment.

These t shirts, in my opinion, I’m definitely not that target these t shirts to me like that’s it. But but like some people some people really actually do care about the environment and actually do want to associate with brands that have the sort of values that we know that they have ultimately made. A lot of decisions are are made based on people’s wallets. I think people underestimate that. But, you know, lots of decisions are also made based on like brand and the perception that we have. And there’s a reason why people prefer buying Panadol than just a cheap paracetamol at boots or do you know what I mean? Like there’s a reason why people often like fall back on something that they’re familiar with or that they know because if I’m going to your house and I’m saying I have a headache and you give me some random tablet like I want to know that. I want to know where it comes from.

And that doesn’t go for all products. I think consumers are quite smart in the way that they make their purchasing decisions. I think people underestimate how smart they are, but at the end of the day, there is an increasing demand on brands to actually not necessarily articulate what their why is, but at least have one.

Astra:

You touch there a little bit like the Panadol thing and the trusted brands. How important do you think it is to them to have like a big name? Because I’ve actually done some market research before. I’ve been part of market research. And so when I was doing branding and she obviously didn’t tell me at the time, but we had to compare these different brands and say what we liked about them, why we felt they were effective.”

And then at the debrief, she basically said that nine times out of ten people will go for a brand that they think is luxe, so like Panadol versus like a cheap boots own brand. How important is that like looks element? And because at the end of the day if something feels luxe you can charge more for it. So doesn’t that just stem back to the performance of the brand?

Jason:

What do you mean by luxe?

Astra:

So you know, like luxury or you know, seems to be of a higher quality. And like actually they’re probably still the same regulated drug, right? They’re made from the same types of ingredients and the same fillers, but you’re more likely to go for like maybe a luxury brand over a cheap one. Like, why is that? What’s the psychology there?

Vanessa:

I mean, there’s, loads of reasons why I think like generally the, , the idea is people don’t want to miss out. Humans are aspirational. Like, you know, people want to feel like they belong in a class that doesn’t necessarily by default include them. I’m and again, I’m generalizing, but I think ultimately it’s all about aspirations.

It’s about like being able to afford the little luxuries because you can’t afford an Aston Martin or you can’t, you know, you can’t eat a steak covered in gold or like fly whatever first class. So you get the luxury painkillers and you get the luxury hand soap when and I guess that’s that’s a way to kind of you know it’s just feel good.

It’s like a feel good factor and the idea that you’re not completely missing out on the great things in life but. I mean, like if you look at like medication again, like if you go back to the Panadol example, like it’s likely that you find that like the red packaged Panadol might work better or might be more effective because it’s in the red package and not blue because that’s a mild headaches, not migraine. So I think all of this has an impact and people that say that, you know, brand doesn’t matter and I beg to differ, I would love to go in their closets and, and see what they wear and like see what they drive and look at their fridge and see what they eat.

You know, I mean Lidl like there’s been a lot of examples and social experiments around that. Lidl like has proven that their wine is often better than like, you know, some expensive one. But here we are still buying the expensive wine

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Jason:

It’s really it’s really interesting, isn’t it? Like when it comes to that, I wonder as well when it comes to the people that doubt brand is like when you apply and you’ve got like a medium small to medium sized business, the most common thing we get is that they just need results next week and next month. They are only going to be interested in building a brand if they A are the owner or have shares in it or are there for the long term, probably perhaps, or unless the owner or the board of directors has said this is needs to be we need to start changing where we are positioned in the company. How do you go about… I guess what I’m asking is how do you prove return on investment for something that is so not going to give you? Like it’s one of these essential things that if you understand marketing you value it. And if you don’t understand marketing, it’s going to be hard to get them to invest in the brand

Obviously, I don’t know what I’m asking you here, but I’m just asking you.

I guess is have you had that process of trying to take someone from thinking short term to long term? And how do you take them through the value of building a brand? How do you speak to clients about that kind of thing?

Vanessa:

I think with the mindset that I have as of today, I think I don’t anymore. Because I, I just feel like you know, it’s been proven before that, you know, if you want to, if you, if you want to run the marathon, if you want to be there and be there for long, then, you know, you might want to call it different things. You might want to call it community, you want to call it education. And you want to call it whatever you want to call it. At the end of the day, you know, if you want people to be looking for you, if you want to be memorable, if you want people to kind of go for you like like you want people to seek you, then you need your money to remember you.

Like it’s that simple. Like if I go on Alexa, I use Alexa and I say, order me a bag. Alexa will give me all sorts of random plastic bags. But if I say order me a Prada bag, then she knows where to go. So I think at the end of the day, you know, either you want a brand or you don’t, and if you don’t, then I’m not going to try to convince you to do that.

Now, what I can say to the idea of like having to pitch clients and kind of like articulate the benefits of it and try to measure it, I think again, I’m like, right now, May 2022. I would say that I don’t think everything needs to be measured because not everything used to be measurable before and run still emerge and companies were still successful.

I mean, I understand the need for people to kind of see a return on investment. So what I would say to them, to answer your question, if I was to say something, is basically. Looking at performance marketing and I’ve experienced this in the past. I’ve run a few experiments. You know, if you look at CPIs, if you look at it like CPA’s, whatever it is that your your metric is from a cost of acquisition perspective, it costs less money when you’ve got brand search terms, like it’s that simple.

So if on one hand, you you’re trying to use generic search terms in paid advertising, so paid search versus your actual brand terms, like it might cost you pennies. So like it makes sense to invest in the brand because not only will the brand have an impact on your performance, but you will have an impact on the community, on your brand equity, on all the other areas of the business, on your employees. It will have an impact on everything. So like you might as well spend the difference between that like generic search term CPI or CPA whatever on brand, because ultimately you still get the results, you still harvest the results with like say, for instance, using like using paid search as an example with your cheap search terms, like your cheap performance on branded search terms.

I think that’s one way that you can kind of like show it with like hard data people. You just literally show them like the performance of the two keywords and you know, it’s a no brainer. It’s like like put these two keywords in front of them and say, look, this is what you do and how you perform. And people are actually looking at looking for you.

Exactly. You and this is how you perform when you’re literally trying to randomly pull people in. So I mean, it’s a no brainer.

Jason:

That’s a really good way of actually tying back figures to to the branding side of it, I think is really is a really key point because it comes back into what we do all the time. With inbound marketing whereby I will present a plan and the inbound marketing approach will be that you’ve got a plan from every stage of which they have a problem from the first moment they realize they have a problem and this is more in the B2B space. We do this, but we do it for a lot of others. That moment they realise they’ve got a problem, then realizing that as the solution for that exists anywhere, then the solution exists and it’s got a company nearby that does i.e. us. And then when they actually decide that you’re the best company out of the ones that they can do that whole thing is kind of what that’s getting at is making sure you’ve got time for all of it. And you can just target the people that already know by the end that are going to type in the keywords and look for a solution. But that works only for a short amount like a certain amount of time, and it becomes more and more expensive every time you run that same campaign because you’re dealing with a smaller and smaller Pond of people, I guess, as opposed to investing in if we continue the analogy, an ocean instead of like keeping the tap on at the top. I hate that analogy, but anyway, I’ve said it.

Astra:

Vanessa, have you got an example of like just does it from a personal perspective. So when he’s done a company that’s done branding really well and it can be like when you’ve worked for or just one that you see advertise to one that you endorse in and why do you think they’ve done it well? What do you think is good about it?”

Vanessa:

I don’t know. Like, I don’t want to say some random name. I like. I like, oh no. Klarna is a very good example.

Astra:

OK.

Vanessa:

I know it’s like a huge one, but I, I just like the fact that it’s going completely against the grain, like financial institutions, financial products generally are not the products that you like trust. You don’t trust financial products. I don’t think.

Astra:

That’s true.

Vanessa:

I don’t think a product that uses blue as like a colour. And that looks very different. I mean, like if you look at like all the recent fintech, they kind of broke the rules of what, like a bank should look like but Klarna has basically taken all of like the best practice from fashion and have applied it to a financial product.

And if you think about it, Klarna has to strands to it. It’s got the B2B side and the B2C side. And I hate B2B and B2C I hate using these words because it’s really business to human. It’s just the context in which you kind of applying it but at the end of the day, I think they’ve done a really good job at making people feel comfortable about like a financial product I think they’ve also done a good job of actually flipping the whole idea of like transactions on its head in the sense that like it’s really crazy that you’re actually buying something online from a lot of different shops.

Like you’re spreading your card details like, like making it rain basically. And, you know, it’s super unsafe and you also buying products without really knowing what you’re buying. And what they’ve done is they basically given the opportunity, given you the opportunity to actually see the product before you pay for it. And that’s kind of recreating a bit of like, you know, whatever you would have like in a brick and mortar shop in the sense that, you know, you look at it, you try it and then you you buy it.

Except with e-commerce, we’ve kind of lost that. And Klarna has kind of brought that back in a way. So they’ve not just made it easier for people to buy things to spread the costs, they also have kind of flipped the whole idea of how you purchase online on its head . In the sense that like, yeah, they take on the risk, they pay the the merchant, they give you 30 days to really think about whether you really want that thing and you want to spread across four different months and they give you the opportunity to send it back if you don’t like it without having to now faff around getting your refund waiting Three words three, four, five, ten, 20 working days before you get your money. So beyond just the brand and like the visual identity, the fact that they had Snoop Dogg in one of the campaigns, I think Snoop Dogg is an investor, but like that. No, really cool.

Like that pink, that cool like they’re not like a traditional like banks that just that you just don’t trust and you really like if you didn’t have it like it’s because you don’t have a choice. You need a bank. So you do it but like Klarna all the way. I love what they do.

Jason:

That’s interesting. There’s also not anymore, but lots of people that are breaking really traditional systems and industries with some really innovative stuff like that. And it’s always brightly colored. It’s, it’s obvious that it, it’s targeting younger people and a younger way of doing things right. And it’s really effective, too. That’s why branding comes into play. See, I am I’m learning. It’s kind of a segue into this, but you’ve you’ve built a brand recently and to do that, obviously it needs investment which you’ve also raised the investment for helped raise the investment is your team. I’ve never done that. And I don’t know many people that have been through that process, but I do know people will have to go through that probably if they’re in marketing at some point in their careers. What how is can you just talk me through that process? Like what is it like to raise funds for a small company that isn’t like a startup? And I might be mis I won’t be saying how they were, but how do you even go about doing this? And what are the common errors and the things you wish you knew going into before going into it? You may have done it before but anyway.

Vanessa:

Yeah. I mean, there are loads of different layers that come into play. I and I don’t necessarily claim that marketing has a pivotal role to play. I do think it’s, it helps, but at the end of the day you need to. I think what people need to understand is that process can be grueling depending on what type of business you are, what industry, who you are as an individual as well.But I think ultimately there are two things that I can see are quite key to to that process. I mean, with the little experience that we’re having, it is basically and I know it’s going to sound corny, but it is what it is like. You actually need to be useful, like you need to solve something like you need to you need to be useful. Otherwise why do you exist?

Jason:

In Terms of the product or service?

Vanessa:

I don’t or whatever it is that you’re doing, like it needs to be useful and needs to be used and useful.

In a way. So there’s that there’s that part of the equation. The other part of the equation is you need to be commercially viable or at least even if you’re not monetized, you need to be commercially viable in the sense that there is a way for people that invest in you to get their money back plus more and I think whether that’s through like like there’s lots of different models that, you know, you can you can adopt one when you do that.

But I think having these two pivotal elements kind of helps in the process. It also helps when you’re really well differentiated. And I think that’s when that’s where marketing comes in and when marketing comes all of that. The biggest challenge that I’ve identified in this process is not necessarily having to justify marketing of that sort. It’s more like, I guess depending on who you speak to, and the majority of people that you speak to really do care about numbers.

They really do care about things that, in my opinion, don’t necessarily matter, especially when you at the early stage of of, you know, raising funds, a lot of it has to do with vanity metrics. A lot of it has to do with textbook marketing. And, you know, don’t forget, like there are some very smart investors out there, but there are also some people that have, you know, just read about what you should ask a person about their marketing strategy or maybe they’ve seen it once or twice.

And for this, like it’s almost like a blanket set of questions that they ask businesses, irrespective of the industry, irrespective of the value proposition, irrespective of the problem that they saw. So I think what I find the most challenging is actually balancing truly doing what matters versus actually doing it for performative purposes. And I think you know, that’s a conundrum that most people are completely comfortable with.

I just I’m a nerd, so I like being that actually will have the impact. The thing that matters and the thing that like, yeah, I don’t want to be performing. And when I say performing, I don’t mean in the performance sense, but like in the putting on the show sense. I mean, that’s not my thing. But, you know, some people like it and if they like it, then they’ll raise the funds.

Jason:

I mean, you look at the amount of businesses that have been that I’ve had that have had funds raised for them that sound great. And I just imagine that these guys that go in and invest their money, they do real due diligence and work out OK. These guys have got this in them in their bank. The cash flows like this, and they need this just to get them over the edge but they’re a pretty safe company, but millions invested in to we work. And it was essentially turned out to be a bit of a I don’t know enough about it. Just to be clear, but I know it wasn’t as great as people thought. And there’s loads of examples like that where people just get ahead of themselves. And based on this idea of, well, it’s everywhere, so it must be good, it’s like, look how many people know about we work it must be must be worth investing in. It kind of just builds up this level and then eventually when it comes back down too paying for itself, it just doesn’t. And then people lose loads of money too. So it’s balance, right between performance metrics and kind of just knowing about it. And it’s a bit of everything. Is it, I guess in terms of like presenting for that course of money raising funds.

Vanessa:

there’s back, but there’s also a whole bunch of other reasons why scenarios like these happen. I mean, there is also a difference between building a business for profit and building a business to exit and from a valuation perspective. So you like increasing the value as you go, you raise funds, so the value increases, et cetera, et cetera, you make a big exit, you get your check and then that’s it.

Everyone cashes in, everyone’s happy. Whereas, there are people that actually building businesses that actually want to be profitable, all these other companies that we’re talking about ultimately profitable. So like I think again, it depends on the product. It depends on the founders, it depends on the leadership. It depends on the type of investors. There are investors that will also hype you up and actually encourage you to increase the valuation just so that in the end it’s profitable for them and for a lot of people.

So I’m not I’m not knowledgeable about fundraising and investment in that way that I can like for like I can express very strong opinions about it. But having been in that space very, very recently, working close to two VCs, what I do know also is that there’s a massive piece of work that needs to be done within that space so that actually they can be just great thought partners and just great investors in some businesses that might not look shiny or might not look the part, but actually could be making money because they do have something that has the ability of changing ecosystems, changing the world, and especially in the market I’m in right now. And this conversation, I’m having in the Middle East, you know, it’s really starting to look like the startup ecosystem is very vibrant with very, very early stage startups.

And there’s an opportunity there to actually like set a new standard for that, which is why it’s kind of exciting in a way whereas, you know, you do have like your old school guys that, you know, they’ve done things and they’ve, you know, we’ve done this thing, we’ve done these investments. And I was speaking to some of them, and they they were saying that, like, they will invest in hundred with the hope that one returns so much that they don’t have to worry about what they invested in like the other 99. So, if you think about like that strategy, like we need loads of startups. Do they need to go through so many so that like they can get to that one unicorn or will that one profitable one is that makes sense.”

So, a lot Of the ones that I’ve met here, I don’t know whether that’s the case in the U.S. or in Europe, but what I know is that people here, they’re like, let’s just invest, invest, invest invest and then see what happens.

Jason:

Is it different in terms of have you noticed a much greater sense of hope in Dubai in terms of like I mean, what that tells me is that people feel confidence. Business confidence and they try things and experiment with things. So that’s what I’m getting from that is that a poor read of what you just said.

Vanessa:

I don’t know, again, I don’t want to generalize, but what I do notice here is the fact that like the approach to business, like the metrics of success are much different. I think people are open to business here. People are open to having the conversations they are open to, even if it’s I think just generally the ambition here is grand.

So I think I don’t know whether it’s hope, but I think there’s some sort of don’t forget, this is, you know, in the Middle East. So like religion and faith has a lot to do with a lot of things here. People are really all about, well, we’ll put the money in and inshallah, let’s see what happens.

And I think that’s and somehow I think it’s also a great thing because it’s like that sort of risk taking element that is less calculated, but it’s not completely miscalculated, if that makes sense. Like there’s still you know, you still go through a vetting process. You still go for a number of steps. But I do think that, for instance, just looking at incubators here and accelerators like that always open.

A lot of them are constantly open. They don’t have the sort of like rules about court and these like limited numbers of like, you know, they only pick like no, they’re actually all welcoming. They’re like, you’ve got ideas. Bring them. Even if you don’t have a business plan. But if you have a fully formed pitch, come will help you develop it because they’re very like they’re doubling down on the idea that they want to energize the region.

And they want to invest in like the people that have these ideas. So I think what that how the ripple effect that that has is that like now VCs have to kind of also themselves be a bit more, you know, just like keep abreast with what’s happening, but also be less rigid, be a bit more flexible and pliable and actually just learn more about like the ups and downs and like the ins and outs of like what it takes to actually run the business on a daily basis.

Two, to be good partners to these early-stage startups. So, I mean, you know, I’m learning a lot.

Jason:

Well, this is a bit of a tangent now, but what do you think this is a bit doom and gloom too. Say there’s a recession and what do you think the impact is going to be on brand and performance Marketers a-like, and what can we do? Because we I can I can just about remember the last recession, but that’s because I can just remember I mean, I can’t remember much of is terrible.

that doesn’t say anything. But yeah, what is the what is worse? What should we do as marketers, if we’re going to go through a recession where people start doing the same thing, they do every recession, like cutting budgets, reducing that hope, reducing that confidence in the future. And not saying that you might have the answer for this, but what do you advise businesses that are thinking about, you know, about maybe looking after their cash flow?

Vanessa:

So, listen, I when I when I did my masters my dissertation was about the recession. I basically wanted to work in publishing in luxury publishing. So you can imagine that me graduating with Masters in publishing when the whole industry was being transformed because. Yeah, well, you know, we cut we’re cutting down at all budgets and me actually specializing in luxury.

I thought about that quite a lot. And having gone through that first one and with what’s happening right now, what I can say is that brand is actually more important now and in the midst of a recession than any time. The reason why is if you have to cut things down, you probably will cut things that you don’t have a lot of affinity with.

You probably cut down on things that don’t make you feel that good, that don’t give you a sense of value, that don’t give you a sense of pride. So I think, you know, if you cut you cut on what’s superfluous, like you’re not going to you know, you’re not going to. And of course, you know, there might be things that you cut that are branded.

But my point is what really matters to you, the things the brands that really make you feel like you can carry on because you also have to carry on like you have to get out of that recession. You have to get out of like these financial difficulties, but you need to still feel like a human, you know, you still want to feel like, you know, your toilet paper that has three plies instead of two and feel a bit feels a bit a little more luxurious.

You know, if what it takes for you to kind of get out of this recession position, like hold and maybe that’s what you you’ll do. So I think, you know, in all seriousness, I think, yeah, budgets are going to be cut down and, you know, people will spend less, but it’s likely that they spend with the brands that are closest to their heart so you just need to be one of those.

Jason:

Yeah. I think I want to just kind of apply it to a B2B sense as well. And we work with brands in terms of like software that we employ and some software that we use makes our job so much harder, easier marketing software and so on. And when we have to start getting rid of those massive subscriptions because we can’t afford them, your job becomes work.

And there’s also there’s that’s a performance thing, but there’s also a mental thing that we haven’t cut on a lot of different things that make our life better. And also we haven’t we’re not associated with this company anymore. And like are we alot smaller now do I need to look somewhere else? There’s an impact there as well, isn’t there, like about the value, the collective value of all the partnerships that your business has in a B2B sense that we’re affected massively by brands because the ones that have the brands, I think of HubSpot, for example, there’s a lot of agencies, the HubSpot partners, it means something to be a HubSpot partner in the sense that. Because they’ve built their brand up so well, people talent go to advocate agencies that are HubSpot partners because they know what it’s going to look like. They know that when they get there on the first day, there’s going to be a that’s what they understand, and they’ve spent time over and they understand a lot of the ecosystem of that.”

So and that comes from the branding that companies invested in HubSpot themselves. So that’s just a second step. And so I guess maybe.”

Vanessa:

Right, and I think ultimately you you will have companies that will say, OK, we can get rid of everything but HubSpot inserts, whatever like tool in there, tech stock that like they just can’t live without. So it’s just a case of having built a brand over time that’s strong enough and that’s kind of taken like lifestyle or work lifestyle, real estate in People’s Day that like they just can’t imagine not having it on their phone, on their laptops or whatever.

And I think it comes down to that, doesn’t it? Like if I’m spending like two or 3 hours a day using a specific tool and I’ve done that for the past three years, and it makes my job better, then, yeah, I’m going to get rid of that little tool that I found on obstacle with a discount that I don’t even know really what it does and why about it.

I don’t mean to say absolute that’s the one. I mean, it’s what it is. Yeah. Real estate in people’s lives, whether that work or whether that home because again, B2B or B2C, at the end of the day, you know, it’s that real estate in people’s lives.

Astra:

It’s quite nicely tied up there. Why invest in branding? Because like if you have a brand, then you could be more with something to like economic pressure when people leave and stuff that just shows the importance of it really doesn’t.

Vanessa:

Definitely.

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Jason:

Good points,I think is a good time given I think we’ve got a few minutes left to do the section two, section three, which are the fun bits. So. We need to ask you some quantifiable questions. So there are things we ask everyone that comes to the podcast. And I’m going to ask you for some definitive answers on the, on the following. Can you give me a ranking in order in terms of how you value the following things? I’m about to say PPC, Social Media (includes organic and paid) email marketing and SEO. What do you think if you had to rank them both first to last is the most effective in your experience and if you just use context of all your whole career, what have you seen be the most effective the most amount of times.

Vanessa:

I’m going to give you a definite answer. I will. I have to again caveat a caveat in the sense that like most effective for what? Like to what end? And I think that it does matter. But OK, I’m just going to answer the question I think I so. It’s very hard. I’m going to say SEO because I’m old school like that.

Astra:

As number one. Is that your top or your bottom?, Your top? OK.

Vanessa:
So I’m going from top to bottom. So SEO, social media email marketing, PPC.

Astra:

And damn it, my job’s on the line again. Everyone on the podcast puts me at the bottom. Thanks guys, recession proof.  all good Vanessa.

Jason:

The next question is how well we normally ask, how confident are you in your current content marketing strategy? Is there a marketing strategy you’re working on at the moment with the client that you could talk about? Or if not, then we can go past this like.

Vanessa:

Yeah, I’ve got two actually, so I’m fractional CMO with two very, very different companies. I’m functional CMO for luxury fashion brand. So it’s it’s an interesting one. I’m very confident about the, the content strategy, the content marketing strategy as well because I do see a difference between the two just because it’s, it’s something that this founder has been thinking about for so long and was quite ahead of her time to be fair. Like she started this business about ten, 11 years ago. And that’s also the case for the other clients that have actually but this one particularly with the whole body positive positivity movement and the whole idea of like trying to be inclusive. She was ahead of her time. And the content that we’re putting together, the strategy that we have to deliver it and the community that she’s managed to build over the last three years, especially during COVID and how we’re going to leverage it is, is going to be banging.I mean, she’s raising funds. I’m helping her with the fundraising right now.

The other one is, is different because it’s B2B and again, it’s still about advisor and consultancy. She she she’s also someone that started a business about 11 years ago and has kind of built a good network around her. And she is a genius. Like just simply put. So the reason why I’m confident about the strategy is because I’m much there is like from where it’s coming from as in like she’s an untapped source of knowledge and taps who’s a source of genius. So I know that I’m going to have so much fun with all the things that we’re sort of putting together and all the different tactics that we’ll use to kind of distribute it especially because it’s quite niche in a way, what she’s doing and she’s developed an amazing tool. So yeah, I mean, I 100% confidence with it.

Jason:

So good to say on a scale of one to ten, how confident for each other we just go your UK.

Vanessa:

Maybe eight out of ten. But that’s the thing because that’s the thing. There’s always the sort of like trial and error element to it. But you have to be bold. You have to be confident when youre marketing, you can’t just be like, Oh, I don’t know what it’s like. You could just like you like it like just like even if like the 20% you’re not sure you like it. We’ll see. And then we’ll, we’ll figure it out and we’ll iterate and we’ll make it work. But in any case, yeah, I like pretty sure it’s going to be banging.

Jason:

Yeah. You’d much rather have a marketer who is, who’s confident and willing to break a few things to go make the difference and really like there’s always that thing of I don’t want to go overbudget, but I’d rather someone go over budget a little bit. And, you know, we learn a little bit from it than not. What do you think would be the most important factor in improving that score? Is it just time to experiment.

Vanessa:

Yeah, I guess. I guess I will never improve that score because it’s my perception of the work and I’m never going to think it’s perfect. Do you know what I mean? So I have this mentality of like continual improvement and blah, blah, blah, all that good stuff, but but what I do know is time will help me identify what really works and like it will help me double down on that.

I think that’s the best thing that you can hope for time which we rarely have as marketers because everyone wants stuff like yesterday.

Jason:

I don’t know if I ever see about the Bonus Watch, did I ever talk to you about Bonus Watch before Vanessa? Right. It’s I could see is a school is it a show that was on when I was in school where they had this like watch. They could stop time and then they could just do what they wanted, which ages you obviously because you still age in that process.

I never thought about that as a kid, but I’ve never for that more than the last. But yeah, I just wish I could just stop everyone else and just have a bit of a day to get everything done. The next segment is Fake Facts. So two of these are fake. One is true. I’m going to read them out.

Are you going to guess which ones fake? Which ones are true? And then I’m going to tell you if you’re right or wrong.

Coca Cola spends an average of $3.5 billion on branding each year.

A global survey of a thousand marketing executives completed in 2021 in an agency. And they found that 70% of those marketing executives expected that any budget cuts that came out of marketing would come out of brand advertising, that’s quite a long fact

According to Hootsuite. 30% of Internet users around the world use ad blockers.

Which of those do you think is true?”

Vanessa:

How many are fake? How many are true?”

Jason:

One is true

Astra:

I’m tempted to say the Hootsuite one , especially if like all the data stuff that’s come out recently and people not wanting their information used for personalized ads. But I also think that you percent of global users might be quite low, which is making me question whether it’s not good confirmation bias tells me that it’s the branding one because we’ve done a podcast about branding, but maybe that’s just being civic or something.

Vanessa:

Yeah, I think the branding one might be the truth, but I also feel like the tendency, the reason for this is, you know, the conversations I’ve had like in the last year or so have also been about people wanting to invest in brand more. So that’s why I’m kind of like, ooh, was it in 20, 21? So maybe people aren’t saying that. I don’t know. Let’s go for the brand one. Like, let’s go like that. People will cut the budget on brand.

Jason:

OK, so the branding one is what you’re going for and Astra youre going for the Hootsuite one?

Astra:

Yeah, I think so.

Jason:

So the true one is, well, Coca-Cola spends on average 4 billion rather than $3.5 billion on branding. So even more than that. So that one’s false because it’s more than 3.5 and Hootsuite is actually 42.7% of Internet users use ad blockers, which means the second one is true. The 70% of those expects budget cuts expected to be applied to brand advertising specifically we know.

So we’re kind of just like slightly more or less so, which is a common trick. The the last bit the last segment is just the analogy. So we’re going to select a random word and then try and apply that back to some form of area of expertize or just marketing in general. So I’m going to click on the random generator.

And the word is the noun is salad.

Vanessa:

Makes you throw a whole bunch of together. You voila, something happens and it’s magical.

Astra:

So maybe like salads, like branding and like when people see you on the menu they don’t really want it. Maybe it’s a little bit over priced, something that looks more glamorous, but deep down, you know, it’s good for you.

Vanessa:

I like.

Astra:

That’s mine.

Jason:

So I would say…

Astra:

Historically, Jason’s awful at these, by the way, Vanessa.

Jason:

OK, OK. Say this is so difficult as say salads is like salads on a menu is undervalued.

Astra:

Just like you’re just copying what I said but OK?

Vanessa:

Side? I like salads. I like that team member on the marketing team, you know, like it’s like, I don’t know. Yeah, actually, it’s hard.

Jason:

Oh, here we go. So salads. OK, you with me? Its something that everyone can make it. Salads, whatever. That’s taken some lettuce, for instance, and I want it and some onion. But when you get a really good salad, so different level, different gravy, you can really make a good salad if you’re really good at what you do and if you invest in it.

Same thing with content marketing. You can just look out for you can invest in the whole content marketing piece and buy everything there is about it and really understand your segment. And that’s why it’s not salads.

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Vanessa:

Yeah. Like mine was shitty there like that. I should have thought about that. Because I was kind of like saying, is this saying that anyone can be a marketer like that way? Actually, no. Yeah.

Jason:

Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Vanessa. Is there anything I know that you’ve got cookbooks and all kinds of things that you could talk about now for the plug is there anything that you’d like to to talk about or promote?

Vanessa:

No. Actually, you know what? I’m overworked right now, do not send me work. But what I do say that I think it was really lovely speaking to you guys. I mean, Astra, we’ve worked together only have, like, for a short time, but it’s been a pleasure, Jason. Obviously, you know, you know, we, you know, you and I. Yeah, we’ve been through things and Yeah, I really Appreciate you guys having me on this podcast, having very interesting conversations and, you know, long, long lives, you know, your podcast to us, what’s the name of it, landing page.

Astra:

Work on our branding, we’re not memorable enough!

Vanessa:

On the same landing page? You OK, well, look, I’m very happy that you guys invited me to join on the same landing page. You know, honestly, you guys long lives wow.

 

 

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