As part of our Founders Series, we explore not only the importance of financial planning and forecasting, but all the other parts that make the journey to funding your business through investment a success.
Lucy Woolfenden, Founder of Part Time CMO is a marketing specialist in the field of growing a business' audience and making it profitable. The magic combination of financial acumen and marketing savoir can amplify business success and it's supported by a strong founder story. Lucy has this advice to share:
Let’s talk about the relationship between a founder and their community, and articulating your story.
As a founder you’re creating a product, building a brand and establishing your place in the market. Your story is woven intrinsically into the fabric of your business and it’s one of your biggest assets.
But, it takes time, effort and consistency to develop your own founder brand – there’s no getting around that. From experience, I can assure you that the payoff of a founder brand will far exceed the effort you put in.
Why do customers connect with founders?
People relate to people, it’s as simple as that.
Think about LinkedIn, where personal posts perform so much better than company posts. We love the story, the personal angle and feeling as though we are hearing from a real person.
On a practical level, businesses need spokespeople, particularly for events and PR. As you grow, you might have multiple spokespeople but I can guarantee your customers want to hear from you,the person behind the brand who can show empathy through a personal lens.
How to start developing your founder story and brand
Firstly,you don’t have to do this alone. If you have a marketing team, they can support you on this, or, you can look to external resources to develop your brand. Consider what you want to be known for and how this fits with the purpose and values of your business. For example, a straight-talking B2B fintech startup and a quirky children’s clothing startup would have differentbrand voices. Your founder brand is your opportunity to add depth and personality, but as an extension of the brand, not a different direction.
Get the basics in place. Do you have good headshots and a bio? Are your social media profiles up to date? Do you have topics to talk about prepped and ready to go? I wrote about how to talk about your business so people will listen which includes some pointers on how to articulate your founder's story.
And then just start, but make it a habit. Start posting on LinkedIn 2-3 times a week. Reach out to podcasts, publications and events every month. Interact with your community and ask them for recommendations and opportunities.
It Takes time to build. You’ll need to experiment with the type of content you post and review what resonates. But the good news is, once you get traction,your community will grow and opportunities will snowball.
Case study: When the founder eclipses the brand
Steven Bartlett is the founder of Social Chain, who put in the time, effort and consistency on social media to develop a founder brand, taking his company public after six years with a current market valuation of over $600M.
This is a really interesting case study of the importance of having an exit strategy and the role of a founder brand. Steven published a book last year, launched the podcast The Diary of a CEO,joined the board of Huel and joined Dragon’s Den. Would this have happened without developing a founder brand?
Case study: Using your founder story as brand proposition
After experiencing her own frustrations with workplace pensions, Romina Savona launched PensionBee in 2014. If you do a quick online search for"PensionBee founder", you’ll see that Romina talks about her founderstory and the reasons behind creating PensionBee at every opportunity. This puts her product in a human context with a real-life story, especially important with a typically dry subject such as pensions.
So tell me: which founder brands do you admire the most? What are you doing to develop your personal brand?