Choosing Marketing Strategy over Tactics

Ross Munro Williams Brand Marketing, Strategy

You can have the best quality product, the best-packaged service, and the greatest idea ever, it isn’t worth much without people ready to buy it. So, how do you plant your flag in your target market’s mind? How do you elevate your brand to become top of mind? How do you create demand for your offering? Ditch your marketing hacks now and listen to the pieces of advice by Ross Munro Williams, the founder of Inversion Agency.

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[00:00:00] Cameron Coutts: A big shift in moving from being a startup to a scale-up is that your marketing tactics, you know, whether that’s SEO, Google Ads, content, etc. are actually formulated into a marketing strategy that answers the so what and where that’s going. Because at the end of the day, what makes a scale-up?

[00:00:21] A scale-up is the fact that you’re no longer just generating outbound leads and making sales yourself as the founder, but you’re starting to generate demand with your target audience and with your customers. So, this podcast is filled with a whole lot of very useful insights in terms of how to do that from Ross Munro Williams, who is the CEO and founder of Inversion Agency.

[00:00:40] It’s a marketing agency that specializes in marketing strategy for ambitious scale-up entrepreneurs. And yes, we’ve all heard of marketing strategy and there are content strategies and brand strategies before, but he gives a lot of insight in terms of what does this actually mean? Where do you start and how is this different to tactics?

[00:00:57] Ross Munro Williams: The willingness to invest in creativity is often we find there’s a misunderstanding. And it’s simply because a lot of people, they kind of see creativity as just a graphic design piece. You know, but when you do amazing creativity and amazing creative in a campaign or whatever the case is, you can leapfrog your competitors in even just one campaign. Simply because you’ve elevated your brand to a point in people’s minds that you are now the one to, you know, consider that it is worth a ton of growth.

[00:01:27] Cameron Coutts: This is The Founder Files, real stories from real entrepreneurs about the joys and challenges of leading people and businesses. 

[00:01:37] Hey Ross. Welcome to The Founder Files. It’s great to have you on the episode. It’s great to interview you and I’m keen to hear all about you and Inversion Agency and just some of the insights that you have into marketing for entrepreneurs.

[00:01:47] But you know, I think you can introduce yourself a bit better than I can. So do you mind introducing yourself and your business to our listeners? 

[00:01:53] Ross Munro Williams: Sure. Thanks, Cam. Thanks for having me. Super excited. I’m the founder of Inversion Agency. We’ve kinda been going for about eight years now. Started in my bedroom you know, kind of built it up over the years and we’re a much bigger, better place than we were when we started.

[00:02:08] I was a rugby coach for 10 years. Coached as high as Varsity Cup level at UCT. And yeah, I just travelled the world and have done a lot of many different things, and here we are today as an agency that’s, I think, on an exciting track. 

[00:02:21] Cameron Coutts: Yeah. Cool. I’m very keen to get into that exciting track just now. But you know, there’s one thing we were talking about just before leading up to this podcast, right? And that’s, you know, especially with the kinds of clients that you serve, being entrepreneurs, they often don’t change what they’re doing from a marketing perspective and they don’t see the results at their once, and they often then look straight at their sales and like things aren’t closing, things aren’t going as well, they’re not generating as many leads. And your main point is actually your biggest problem is you’re not changing what you’re doing on the marketing side, trying to change everything on like the closing points, but not at the entry points, you know? 

[00:02:52] So do you wanna just like enlighten us a bit more in terms of, first of all, what’s the difference and what do entrepreneurs kind of do wrong at the get-go but don’t really learn from?

[00:03:00] Ross Munro Williams: Yeah, it’s an interesting question. So over the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds, literally hundreds of different kinds of entrepreneurs and, you know, people in different phases of their business. And the really recurring theme that I come across a lot is the fact that a lot of companies are over-reliant on tactics and hacks and the kind of latest trends that they might have read or seen or heard. 

[00:03:25] Marketing especially is an area that is very complex to a lot of people because it is, you know, there’s no one way to do it. There is no, you know, silver bullet that just, you know, as you shoot it, you know, your business just knocks the lights out simply, you know, if it was that easy, everyone would be able to do it.

[00:03:43] So what, what we often come across is an over-reliance on tactics and a very minimal approach or understanding of actual strategy. The balance between the two really makes the difference in the long term. If the reliance is on tactics, we often see the knee-jerk effect, where it is change after change, after change without actually letting it, as we sometimes call it, marinade.

[00:04:09] What happens when you, when you don’t let it when you’re overlying on tactics and trying to kind of hack the system, what ended up happening is essentially you might see an initial spike, but essentially you go back down to zero again because you haven’t actually put any groundwork or any foundations in place. That essentially will lead to a compounding return later on. And that is the simple reality of having no strategy behind what you’re actually doing and then understanding what actually makes you special and how you should actually be putting yourself out there to actual human beings who are your customers in the marketplace, which is a fascinating area that we look at.

[00:04:41] Cameron Coutts: Can you give me an example of what you mean by, what’s the difference between like essentially a tactic and a strategy and how do I tell the difference? 

[00:04:47] Ross Munro Williams: So a tactic is really an outcome of what you’re going to be doing. So, you know, it might be a Google Ad campaign, it might be a Social Media Ad campaign, it might be Influencers, it might be Website SEO, it could be content… You know, there are multiple different tactics out there. You know, Email Marketing, you know, there’s very many of them out there that’s, you know, what we term tactics. But essentially those are just something that you do in order to achieve something.

[00:05:13] But the problem is that if there’s no underlying strategy behind it, then it doesn’t actually add up to anything. So when we often refer to a strategy, we often think of things like, have you actually identified: number one, what you’re trying to achieve, what you’re trying to be, and then how do you actually get there? And that’s what a strategy is. 

[00:05:30] So what we often look at is have you identified a problem that you’re trying to overcome in the first place? So have you actually diagnosed the problem that you actually need to overcome? Because most strategies or good strategy essentially needs to have a problem that you have to overcome and identify first.

[00:05:44] If you don’t have that, then you’re just kind of throwing things against the wall, hoping it sticks. So a strategy needs to very clearly identify what the problem is that you’re trying to overcome and how are you actually going to do that. You know, what are the actual coherent actions that you’re gonna be doing? What are the steps and processes and how are you gonna measure that? How you actually, once you’ve done your strategy, how can I actually look back and say: “Yes, we’ve achieved it.” You know, “have we actually ticked it off?”. 

[00:06:09] There’s a big difference between, you know, just trying something and hoping it works versus what is the problem? What are the actual guiding policies and this framework that we are gonna follow? And then what are the actual steps that we are going to take to do that? And then how are we actually gonna measure that, You know, And then looking back and then have we actually achieved that? That essentially is the difference.

[00:06:26] And you know, when you follow that framework, you can actually see how you can solve one problem after the next as you go through. And it’s quite an interesting aspect of marketing, business in general that not many people are aware of. 

[00:06:37] Cameron Coutts: Yeah, and it’s a very important distinction between the two. And like, I like the way that you explained it. The thing with entrepreneurs is this entire narrative and mindset (and a very valid one) about the fact, “just take action”, right? Just experiment, get in the market, see what works, figure it out, do this, and do that accordingly. And yes, that might, you know, be valid from a product perspective in terms of getting customer learnings but that’s not really marketing. 

[00:06:59] Don’t get me wrong. It’s part of marketing in terms of customer research, customer learning and customer development. But at the end of the day, you’ve gotta think more strategically about your marketing because as you said there, it’s like, well, you know, given the nature of what it is that we are doing, we need to just get like Google Ads out there. But you haven’t thought it through in terms of what are your marketing channels. How good is the experience of your website? How well-articulated is your value proposition? Because you, you know, you might show up at the top of Google Search, but that doesn’t mean that’s actually gonna, you know, lead to anything. It’s what it is that seems that you’re providing is just an answer, asking that “so what?” question. It’s like, you’re doing this, but why? Like, where’s it getting you, and how does it take you further? 

[00:07:35] So, is there like is there any point in terms of where strategy becomes more valuable than doing tactics or is it always that way?

[00:07:44] Ross Munro Williams: Yeah, interesting question. From our viewpoint, there are early wins to get. There are definitely early wins if you understand what you’re trying to achieve. If you have experience in marketing and you actually understand your customers, your category and you understand the different phases of buying and purchasing.

[00:08:00] If you have a good understanding of all of that, then it’s a lot easier to kind of do those tactics. But I could probably argue that if you knew which tactics would work, you’d probably have enough experience and strategy behind the scenes to be able to enact those.

[00:08:12] So, from our viewpoint, the strategy should always come first, because essentially you also have to understand not all companies are the same and not all tactics work the same. So if you’re a company that has launched a new category or people aren’t actively purchasing a product or service in that space, then you have to unfortunately create that demand. And a good example of that in the local market would be Luno, for example, in crypto.

[00:08:35] People aren’t actively searching for that. Obviously, there is a good market and there is the kind of niche market out there, and don’t get me wrong there, but to expand the market, it falls on someone to expand that market first and, you know, to create the trust, to create the awareness and actually convert people into wanting to dabble in crypto.

[00:08:52] And they’ve done an amazing job and have added on multiple millions of customers. The last time I read two and a half million customers in a year or so. And I think they’re sitting on 9 million at the moment. The burden lay on them to educate the market first and foremost around the trust and the simplicity of crypto and the availability of, you know, it’s just a simple click and you’ve got a local company that you can trust.

[00:09:10] Whereas, if people are in an existing market, you know, they’re looking to buy a car, for example, then it really comes down to different tactics. And yes, you can run Google Ads, you can run all the ads and be front and centre, but the problem is it comes down to a cost wall. You’re spending a lot more money to acquire those customers. 

[00:09:25] So, you can do tactics, but the problem is you have to really understand your business, your category, your customers your own budgets, your own constraints. And if you don’t understand all of those, you kind of fly into the wall head first, and you can actually come out worse than you went it. And that’s probably why we’re always: “strategy comes first”. Because otherwise you’re just running headfirst into a brick wall in the dark and, you don’t actually know what you’re trying to achieve at the end of the day because you just don’t understand all the aspects that go around things. And at the end of the day, you’re selling to people and people don’t just buy the way you want them to buy. You know, there are multiple different ways how they enter a buying cycle. And often they don’t even know that you exist, your product or service exists. And they don’t even know that they might even need that product or service.

[00:10:03] So, the strategy has to uncover all of those aspects first before you actually start embarking on an actual strategy. Otherwise, you are just, in our opinion, wasting time and a lot of money. 

[00:10:12] Cameron Coutts: One thing that you said that really stood out for me is creating demand, right? Because as an entrepreneur, even if you are in a highly competitive, highly saturated market, or you are like Luno, for example, like an early entry into a new market, do I just wanna have a startup that’s gonna survive versus do I wanna actually have a scalable business? And I think that’s the fundamental difference is, the first one is: “yes, I could do tactics, I can fight for a bit of market share, I can compete here and there”, but that’s not very scalable.

[00:10:38] To be scalable, you need to be creating demand for your business and specifically what you do. So, I mean with that, just shift in mindset, because that’s also then just a far more strategic concept because even then the return on your investments is gonna be a lot longer because you really need to lay those foundations.

[00:10:55] So, I mean, just given that thinking, where would one start in terms of trying to create demand or another way of putting it inbound leads? 

[00:11:03] Ross Munro Williams: So how we approach customers is really understanding. The first thing is what makes him special. Everyone’s got a unique proposition, they might not realize it. And if they don’t realize it, then it has to be codified first, it has to be uncovered, and it has to be well understood. But you also have to understand the market that you operate in and your constraints, I spoke about that earlier. But essentially, if you’re competing, if you’re a smaller startup and you’re competing against much more established brands, (often we encounter the ego issue of “Oh, we’re a startup. We’re just gonna, you know, they’re so old and slow.”), when you’re competing against established businesses, you are competing not against the business itself, you’re competing against your customers where your ideal target markets perceive aspects of trust. You know, how much they trust that company, how much the company’s been in action for, how much staff they have, case studies results. Whatever the case may be, is that you’re competing against a lot of things. 

[00:12:01] So the real thing is understanding what makes you special, what you’re bringing to the market, and at the same time, understanding your category and your competitors and your constraints. You know, if you are competing against bigger players, more established players, you are most likely going to have a budget issue against them. And it’s very easy for those big guys to blast the marketing message out and kind of knock you out of the water. And it’s hybris to think that you can just come in and overtake just because you have a better idea. If it was the case, everyone with a great idea would have a billion Rand company, but it’s not the case.

[00:12:29] So the reality is: you have to understand those two aspects first. You have to understand what makes you different. And we often look at things like what we call your source of strength. So what do you have in your wheelhouse that makes you strong already? And it might be that you have a personable founder, you might have a team that is award-winning. You know, you might have amazing case studies… Whatever the case is, you have something of strength and we have to understand what that is because essentially what you want to be doing is you want to be amplifying. You know, what makes you special and you want to amplify that and springboard off what you have already as a source of strength rather than just looking at, I suppose it goes back to the question as well with, you know, strategy versus tactics is that you don’t wanna always start at ground zero. You know you want to be building on things that are already there that you can then leverage off. 

[00:13:11] And then the last part of that is your target audience, is you have to understand your audience deeply. And we often find that that’s a gap when it comes to founders and sales leaders, for example, is that it’s very much predicated on they want sales, they want growth. But there’s no real understanding of what makes the audience tick. You know, why would they purchase from you now? How would you convert them to your cause, you know? And essentially those are the foundational building blocks of creating demand. Because when you get that right, everything else becomes very clear.

[00:13:49] It almost opens up, and you can actually feel the energy because the clients feel that we understand them well. They’ve now been understood for the first time. They’ve got something special. They actually do have something to offer the world. They understand that the competitors are stronger in certain areas, but they potentially have gaps in their messaging or in their marketing strategies or whatever the case is.

[00:14:08] And we essentially, you need to look for those gaps and how can you exploit those gaps and make sure that you are putting a message out there in a way that makes you far more palatable, desirable. And it really comes down to consistency thereafter. And it’s all about proactively educating, informing, and making people, you know, kind of excited to do business with you. 

[00:14:33] And so, when you talk about education, it’s also about making them aware that they actually have a problem that they might not have realized. You know, that’s often the case. Or they didn’t know that you existed or just brought awareness to their challenges in life.

[00:14:44] And essentially once that’s for, you know, not just challenges, it can also just be, you know desires. They wanna see themselves in a certain light, so, therefore, they buy that type of product, for example. That’s not something that happens overnight, and it’s not something that happens quickly. But if you get that right and you put that out, and your message and your campaigns that you’re putting out and your kind of streamlined approach to your company’s promotion is in line like that, then you start seeing a building block as I showed earlier. And what I like to say is you kind of get a compounding return.

[00:15:13] It doesn’t always happen, but it gives you a far greater chance of success because now you’ve got people that are actively welcoming you into their world. And they start seeking you out. And that is an approach that does take time, but it is a far better approach to kind of long-term growth and lowering your customer acquisition cost and scalability.

[00:15:32] Cameron Coutts: Yeah. And it really is. It’s like, it’s almost an overused statement of customer centricity or client centricity, but what it is that you’ve really clicked in my mind, for now, is: when entrepreneurs think about their competitors, they spend too much time thinking about their competitors. And actually, that’s not what you’re competing with. What you’re competing with is the fact that your target audience and your target customers you’re competing with, where their attention and trust going, right? And the point here is that instead of focusing on what your competitors are doing, I start asking why are they paying attention there? Why are they trusting them in the first place? Not because they’re spending this much money on this, this, and this. It’s about why is it resonating with them? How can we resonate further? What’s the actual problem going on there? And that’s a whole other element because again, a lot of entrepreneurs will focus on what is my specific product or what is my specific offering, and how does this solve the needs of them?

[00:16:19] But the other point in terms of how do I get them, get their attention, how do I get them to trust me more than what else is there in the market is far. It’s still a very customer-centric and target paradigm rather than it is around your competitors. 

[00:16:33] Ross Munro Williams: A hundred percent agree with that. We often find that that’s the, one of the bigger challenges is an over-focus on your competitors. I’ll bring in my rugby experience for example. You know, when you’re a rugby coach or a sports coach in general, you know, the more you focus on your competitors, the less you realize what makes you special and how you can defeat them, you know? And you stop becoming fixated on what you don’t have rather than what you do have. And the more you try to copy other people’s approaches, you know, every player is different, every business is different, every team internally is different. When you start focusing on the other, there’s always the other. You lose focus of what you are trying to achieve. You lose focus of your own vision. You lose focus on your own team. You lose focus on your source of strength. You lose focus on essentially your internal IP. And if you’ve lost focus on that, then it’s very, very easy for your customers not to know what the hell’s going on either and why they should choose you over, for you.

[00:17:27] And, it’s a fascinating energy distraction essentially. You know, you should always be aware of what your competitors are doing, but you stop innovating when you’re starting to mimic and copy. And there are always opportunities that competitors are not thinking about because you are special, you are unique. And you know, unique partnerships, unique campaigns, unique creative, unique service design, product innovations, those are the things that leapfrog you over the competitors.

[00:17:54] You know, you don’t wanna make incremental improvements. You want to be taking giant leaps forward, that’s the idea. But if you’re completely forted there, you’re forgetting about here. And as soon as you do that you’re done. 

[00:18:04] Cameron Coutts: And even for, well, I mean for everyone, right? But for entrepreneurs there, it’s this kind of, where am I putting my attention, right? Because the thing is, what I’m interpreting is like this: “I need to pay attention to my customers, obviously, and the markets and my audience, but also need to pay attention to my competitors. But I also need to pay attention to myself and my competitive advantages and my product and my vision and my mission.”

[00:18:23] And it almost seems paradoxical in a way because my intuition’s telling me to always just maintain focus on the customers. But it’s like: “yes, but if my attention’s there, where’s the attention on like the mission and where I’m trying to achieve in my scalability?” And it’s like the answer’s still there, but I still can’t really almost resolve that in my own head.

[00:18:39] I mean, do you have any input there to help like resolve that bit of a paradox of where one should put their attention, yet still achieve all of the things above?

[00:18:46] Ross Munro Williams: Yeah, it’s a challenge. I don’t think there’s any one answer. It’s a complete, you know, I’m constantly pulled left and right, in terms of I so want to build and spend time on the business, but then at the same time, you’ve gotta focus on the customers and I haven’t got that balance right all the time. You know, often I would forget about the customers because I’m too focused on building the vision and the offering. 

[00:19:03] All I’ve found is, I suppose, calmness of mind. I suppose that’s probably the biggest learning I’ve had. And you know, because I’ve worked with so many different founders and so many different people in startups and kind of high growth or at least ambitious businesses, my biggest learning over the last year or so is seeing the amount of misunderstanding of I suppose energy. And you only have so much energy in any one day. 

[00:19:28] A nice analogy that I learned about was: you’ve only got so many spoons in a day and if you overuse and you start borrowing from tomorrow’s spoons and the next day’s spoons and next week’s spoons, and the next month’s spoons essentially run out of spoons. And that’s where you hit burnout. And the more you borrow, the less your decision-making is clear and you start knee-jerking, you start trying a whole lot of things without clear understanding of purpose, and you are completely a headless chicken essentially. And I can often see when clients and ourselves, even in myself in the past, has becoming the headless chicken space.

[00:20:05] And when you’re in the headless chicken space, you actually make no progress. You literally are treading water faster and faster and faster thinking you’re getting something done. And the more you look back, you’re like: “We haven’t actually done anything, the needle hasn’t actually moved.” And that’s simply because it always feels good to do lots of things and be busy.

[00:20:22] You know, we have this kind of idea that the busier you are, the better you’re doing. It’s kind of a token of pride. You know, If I get to work super early and I leave super late, I’m an achiever, I’m doing something great, but every single successful business person that I am surrounded with, and when I speak to they are spending time at the gym during the day, they’re doing a lot of mental health work. They are taking quiet time to think about what they’re doing, why they’re trying to achieve there, you know. It’s a constant fight in your mind, especially as the founder that you know, you wanna try this, you wanna do this, and it’s quietening that mind, you know?

[00:20:55] What’s worked for me, for example, is yoga. A lot of exercise and a mindfulness approach. And what I find is that the more mindful you are of your decisions and the work that you’re doing, the more progress you start making. And then your decisions and what you spend your energy on (or your spoons) become a lot easier to understand and make sense of. And the more that happens, the more you have a kind of a clear alignment towards what you’re trying to achieve and you stop trying to be everything to everyone. And I think that’s really the kind of answer is how do you, if you can get that right yourself internally, how you spread yourself out becomes a lot easier to manage. In a sense, you’ll get better and better over time with that, with experience. 

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[00:22:28] Cameron Coutts: That’s actually incredibly insightful. And my summary or my takeaway from that is the fact that there are all these things that require your attention. That’s just the reality. It’s about where you prioritize it and how distracted you get by some of the noise and how do you maintain the right focus and the things that you know are gonna give you progress. Because at the end of the day, it’s so easy to be on that treadmill of being busy all the time because there’s always more work to do there always, like that’s never running out, but are you doing the right things? And that’s also the hard part is like having that mindful approach is that fact that I’m saying no to that right now in order to say yes to it properly later. 

[00:23:03] Ross Munro Williams: And that really takes a process. 

[00:23:05] Cameron Coutts: So part of what you were saying, you were highlighting a bit about your own thinking towards your own business in terms of like working on the business and working on your customers. So like, where’s Inversion Agency at right now? And where have you come from? 

[00:23:16] Ross Munro Williams: Very deep question. We’ve had a roller coaster of a start, and that’s simply because of my immaturity and lack of self-awareness. We started off in my bedroom. One man show, kind of selling everything to everyone and just trying to make a buck. And that’s generally how most kinds of service-based businesses start.

[00:23:33] And we were lucky enough to actually receive funding for a different startup. And we actually closed our doors for three years while this other startup was going. And we learned a hell of a lot. So a lot of my experience, in terms of VC fundraising, dealing with boards, actually drive doing marketing that needs to work because otherwise, you know, you close your doors, spending in the wrong areas, trying to replace yourself far too early when you don’t actually have a mature system or business model yet, a lack of understanding of the business model and actual areas where there is money to be made. I’ve made it all from that other startup. 

[00:24:06] When eventually, when we had both turned on a little bit because Inversion was supporting the other startup for a while in terms of funding it (which was a mistake, we kept it going longer than it should have) and that’s again, another mistake of trying. You know you get so attached to a project that this is where the hybris comes in a little bit from founders of: “it’s going to work because I will it so.” And that is a skill set to have, but at some point, it becomes a weakness. You have to just realise that look, what you’re doing is not working anymore. The money isn’t there, it’s failing. It’s okay to switch it off. It’s not an ego thing, you know, you must try lots of things and learn from them.

[00:24:43] So we opened up the agency again and lucky enough, we made some phenomenal, very lucky introduction with a massive corporate, global corporate. And, you know, we suddenly just grew from there. And we had a bit of a rocky period during Covid: they, and some of the larger clients kind of cut funding in a massive way. And there were a couple of issues with the US economy, and the US elections with Facebook. So a lot of our funding was removed. 

[00:25:08] But, you know, every challenge that we’ve ever faced has always allowed the business to reevaluate itself. You know, it’s allowed me to reevaluate myself and how we approach things and what actually we do and where we fit in the world and what we’re actually good at. And you know, it’s a constant process. And I think, over the last two years, we’ve grown a hundred percent and we’re on track to grow a hundred percent again. Simply because we’ve gotten better at understanding who we are, and what we do. And I have to really say that it’s down to the people that we have. 

[00:25:43] Yes, I am a critical part of the business because I’m the founder and I’m the talker and I do the sales side of things and the vision and that kind of thing, but I would, it’s nowhere in comparison to the people that I have that have worked with me and we’ve got a very strong team now. And they have stuck with me through thick and thin, and we’ve started attracting better talents as well because good people attract other good people. And that’s the reality of where we’re at. And, you know, I have a lot of hope for next year. I think we’ve finally figured it out and we are ready to put our hand up and take our place in the agency world, and be an agency that people take notice of over the next three to five years. 

[00:26:19] Cameron Coutts: Sounds like a really exciting time.

[00:26:20] And I’ve got two questions to follow up on that. First of all, you mentioned the fact that you’ve already figured it out, right? What have you figured out? And second of all, you said that you’re predicting a hundred percent growth. Like, that’s also often a very hard thing to do for startups and like entrepreneurial businesses is to likely predict growth. How have you figured it out? What have you figured out and how are you confident about doubling your size right now? 

[00:26:42] Ross Munro Williams: So the figuring it out process has really been an interesting one because I do the sales and I honestly recommend that founders should remove themselves from the sales and the customer process last. It’s the last thing that they should probably remove themselves because you get to have a feel for the market. You get a feel for what people are looking for. You kind of understand what the problems are in the space. You understand what people are willing to pay. You really have an amazing insight into a category or realm that you would lose otherwise if you don’t speak to people regularly.

[00:27:14] And I do find that one of the biggest mistakes founders and marketers in particular make, is that they don’t speak to their customers enough. What I’ve learned over the last years, I mean, I’ve done I think 350 meetings over the last two years with various companies booking us for a call and that kind of stuff. So I’ve had 350 opportunities to learn from different people, and as we’ve gone along, it’s been very clear that there’s a gap in what people… Our receiving is marketing, especially, -I mean, I’m not talking the big players, they’ve all got good agency, they do the right kind of approaches to marketing for the most part. But there’s a gap in the midsection that we found that they are under-serviced with their marketing channels and tactics and they’re under-serviced in the actual strategy and positioning themselves as a player in the market. 

[00:28:01] So what we’ve realized is that we have a specific attraction to ambitious businesses that are not unrealistic in their growth goals, and they realize the benefits of marketing the correct way or the right way to do marketing. The better way to do marketing, to position themselves as the category leader, as the market leader and be different. And they’re willing to take risks and they’re willing to try new things and they’re willing to experiment and they do understand the value of creativity. That’s the kind of gap that we found. 

[00:28:33] The willingness to invest in creativity is often we find there’s a misunderstanding, and it’s simply because a lot of people, kind of see creativity as just a graphic design piece. But when you do amazing creativity and amazing creative in a campaign or whatever the case is, you can leapfrog your competitors in even just one campaign. Simply because you’ve elevated your brand to a point in people’s minds that you are now the one to consider. That is worth a ton of growth if you get that right. And essentially that’s really the gap. 

[00:29:03] So that was a fascinating process that we’re still iterating on. We’re about to rebrand and relaunch in the next couple of months, which is very exciting. So that’s kind of where we are at, and that’s what we figured out. 

[00:29:12] In terms of the growth, the growth is going to happen based on our agreements and contracts and everything else that we’ve put in place. And we did it last year, we’re about to do it. We will do it this year by the end of this financial year. So it’s an exciting process, but the challenge for me now is how do we continue that? You know, I don’t think a hundred percent is gonna be necessarily the case as we grow, you know, because as you get larger, the growth goals, I suppose need to become a bit more realistic. 

[00:29:36] But you know, in terms of growth goals, I think we have the ability to become one of the medium size kind of agencies in the country within five years and that’s kind of the goal. You know, financially, I don’t what that looks like. It’s more, we focus very much on our offering and how do we improve ourselves and how do we get better, continuously position ourselves as leading innovators and experts in our space, and ones that actually elevate our clients’ brands to become market leaders. And I think the results will follow from there.

[00:30:01] Cameron Coutts: Sounds like there’s a lot of clarity and a lot of drive in the right direction. So really exciting to hear. Ross, thank you so much for the time. This was a really insightful conversation with a lot of valuable thoughts and insights that I’m gonna be taking away.

[00:30:15] I just need to ask you something. What’s the one question that I haven’t asked you that I should have asked you that you’d like to answer now?

[00:30:22] Ross Munro Williams: My knee jerk is, I think personal life. And the only reason I’m saying that is we often portray ourselves as a business person and successful in whatever the case is. But, you know, kind of in personal life I suppose the thing would be, maybe what you suck at, what aren’t you good at, what makes me vulnerable, kind of thing. I think that would be an interesting kind of question because as I said, I think everyone tries to portray themselves as super successful. And if you spend enough time going through LinkedIn for example, it’s very difficult to fight off the feelings of inferiority and, I don’t belong. And I think most founders have that issue.

[00:31:03] I think in my personal life, what I’m working on a lot is not comparing myself to others anymore. You know, very much internally focused, being very appreciative of what I have achieved rather than what I haven’t yet. Non-striving as well in terms of instead of hyperfocused on growth, rather than just hyperfocused on enjoying what I’m doing every day, making sure that the people around me are also enjoying that.

[00:31:28] How do I, I suppose, manage that process? And that’s where I think a good team around you, in your personal space, is massive. You know, cutting off negative and toxic people, working on yourself through therapy and really taking your mental health seriously. And it’s not just, you know, being happy. It’s a big misunderstanding around mental health that I think is a massive gap in the founder’s space as well. 

[00:31:51] And I think everyone’s gotta process who they are, where they came from and what challenges they have to overcome, but also realize that they are fallible, and there is kind of defences that you’ve brought up over the years and how do you break them down and make yourself more vulnerable and able to empathize with other people and kind of show your human self as well. And yeah, I think this totality, it’s kind of just re-seeing yourself in the world, working on yourself and surrounding yourself with the right types of people and not looking outwards as much as you might have done in the past.

[00:32:24] I think that’s been the biggest driver of the business’s growth. It’s because I’ve done the most work on myself over the last two years. And I think that is under-spoken when it comes to founders and the professional space. And I think that everyone’s human. And I think we forget that sometimes. And yeah, I think that’s something that I think people don’t ask enough of and maybe people aren’t open enough to speak about it.

[00:32:49] Cameron Coutts: I fully agree and thanks for being open to speaking about it because everything you mentioned I totally resonate with and… Yeah, man. Well done for bringing that up.

[00:32:57] Yeah. Ross, thank you very much for the interview. If anyone wants to get a hold of you or get a hold of your business, where could they go? 

[00:33:02] Ross Munro Williams: They can search for us on Google. They can go Inversion Agency or Inversion Marketing and we’ll pop up. And yeah, you’re welcome to have a chat with me on a Discovery call… I love chatting, you know, business and challenges and problems and marketing in general, you know. Pick me up. 

Source: The Founder Files