Fabri, what do you do?
Whenever I meet someone for the first time, it’s common for them to ask me the question: “what do you do?”. For most people, it is easy to explain their job and function within society. Just read what your contract says and most interviewers will be satisfied (I’m a: “junior analyst”). In some extreme cases you might have to spell your employer’s name out or point at a competitor to quench their thirst for knowledge (I’m a: “junior analyst for Company X, we are like company Y, but specialise in Z”).
I’m an entrepreneur, I write my own job specs. And like many creative business minds I usually can’t explain myself simply enough to be clearly understood. This is a problem every innovator faces. The impact of our ideas is limited by our ability to explain them.
In the past year we’ve grown CC Partners from just an idea, and not even a clear one. With lots of hard work we made a name for ourselves and understood there is potential to expand the business beyond the simple structure we have adopted till now.
In order to grow the company, we can no longer be “the guys that help companies talk better about themselves” (pitch as of September 2016). We need to find a clear and simple way to explain what it is that we do.
After inflicting ourselves what we perpetuate to our clients, we finally came to terms with our ideas and distilled them in a digestible format. Now whenever someone asks me what do I do for a living I can say:
“I run CC Partners, a company that is developing a new business model for marketing and communication services”. We are not an agency, we are not a consultancy, we are not content gurus, we are not cowboys, or Pokémon, we are pioneers.
“What’s wrong with the current model?”, you might ask. The problem is that current marketing and communication services were developed to support the way value was created during the last century. In fact, the main driver of economic growth of the last hundred years or so has been the mass production, distribution and consumption of goods. The industrial revolution created tremendous wealth through consumption. Find a way to make soap cheap enough and many will be able to buy it. More sales, more profits.
Clean people don’t only smell better, but also live longer. Longer lives, more time to create wealth. And the profits made from soap bars don’t just create wealth for the owner of ‘the means of production’, but also for the people that work in making and distributing the bars. Repeat the process enough times and you will drive distribution of wealth across millions of people.
Wealthy people make for great targets of educational products. They will make sure their children will attend the best schools, and never have to endure the struggles of the working class. Some of those pupils, freed from the haunting thoughts of famine of the farmlands and production lines, will dream bigger than their predecessors and build great things.
Eventually, all of those newly minted ‘knowledge workers’ thought of innovative ways to progress our society, creating tools that lower the barrier to access information. Some people call this process ‘the information revolution’, my mum calls it ‘Google’.
Democratisation of information, to the extent of what we’ve witnessed in the last decade, has in turn lowered the entry barriers to many markets. And the companies born out of these conditions are fundamentally different from the ones of the industrial model.
As an example, UBER and GM both solve a user problem of getting something or someone from A to B. However, UBER leverages existing resources to reach the outcome of their solution, on the other hand GM sells products that require resources to solve the problem. Moreover, GM markets their products amongst competitors that sell a similar type of product. It is relatively easy for GM to market and communicate the purpose of their products given that users are already familiar with the concept.
UBER doesn’t have it as easy. It needs to communicate the idea first before it can start promoting the solution. UBER, just like GM, needs widespread adoption of its solution in order to make it viable. However, UBER has a much more complex task than promoting a better version of a well known product. This is a challenge for most innovative companies at an early stage (you can substitute the names to Airbnb and Hilton and the above paragraph would work just fine).
If you are a pioneer, who has no leverage in referencing competition, promoting your solution alone won’t be successful, because it requires market conditions that you simply can’t dispose of. And if you don’t need to explain your idea, you are not innovative so old models will apply just fine.
This is the reason why marketing and communication services of yesterday can no longer provide for the needs of the companies of today.
Moreover, the whole industry has been shifting form considerably. A plethora of new companies are changing the way products and services are distributed and sold. Which in turn influences the way products and services are marketed.
New business models like: Facebook, Amazon, Google, Spotify to name a few are changing the game of advertising practices. Like our mentor (he doesn’t know) Prof Gallo says: ‘advertising will become a tax only poor people have to pay’ an entire industry will implode in the coming decades. The big players of the old model (WPP, Omnicom, Publicis) have been playing this game for far too long (in order: 1985, 1986, 1926) their businesses are now too complex to change. They will have to be revolutionised. Or, as like we say in startup-land: Disrupted.
How To Disrupt the marketing and communication industry:
- Create a method by which innovators can get to explain themselves clearly.
- Use what you’ve learnt to populate a database of rich qualitative data.
- Extend such database with cheap quantitative data.
- Create a platform that combines all the insights and highlights what the traits of a successful strategy are.
- Give access to the platform to anyone, effectively lowering the barrier to the industry.
- Wait for the last economic cycle to end and the new one to take over
- Get big
- Be disrupted
It is going to take years, but we have a plan.
To start, we won’t be charging retainer fees. Otherwise we will eventually become an Agency, the incumbent. And we won’t tie our reputation to a specialisation. Otherwise we will eventually become like any other consultancy (while there is no threat to being a consultant, we are trying to achieve something bigger).
We are going to develop what we call a Partnership Consulting practice. Clients go through the CC Method, guided by us, and get from 0 to 1 with their own resources. Once the team is fluent in their strategy, access to reports, deep dives and executive briefings will exponentially expand their knowledge and sharpen their output.
In a nutshell: first we apply the CC Method (providing the fishing rod) and then we give access to the CC Index (a live map of latest and greatest fishing hotspots).
In the coming months Matteo and I will continue laying the foundation to build this vision. First step is to scale the Partnership Consulting Practice that we started a year ago, this will help generate the expensive qualitative data we need for the CC Index at a reasonable cost. The rest will follow.
I am so proud of how far we’ve come. However, I know very well that this is just the beginning of our adventure. We won’t be doing this alone either, more smart and creative minds will join the team in the coming months. You will know more about 2017 when we get there, till then/ a presto.