Change your funnel into a sales bucket to increase conversions and boost your business every day
We're Making Conversations about (sales) buckets Count!Episode 66 - Barnaby Wynter
Struggling with your sales funnel? Consider a new approach! Enjoy a conversation with Barnaby Wynter, the bucket expert and author!
Big take-away quote from this conversation about the sales bucket technique, funnels, and using a different approach for business growth:
“The journey is much more about the buyer now, than it is about the brand owner….”
Barnaby Wynter, Making Conversations Count (January 2022)
(Hard of hearing? Transcript here).
Strapped for data? You can hear a lower-bandwidth version of the episode here.)
Is there a hole in your sales bucket, dear Liza?
Every marketing expert on the planet will talk to you about sales funnels.
But very few talk about sales buckets.
We’re going to take a break from all that ‘funnel talk’ today.
So first of all…
What IS a sales bucket?
It depends what you believe when you look it up on Google.
There are many differing opinions on this in marketing circles, however for this episode we’re focusing on Barnaby’s take. And it’s a fascinating one.
He cleverly sums it up in the episode as follows;
“It’s a great way of shaping your approach to the way you turn your business to become marketing led, and build a system and a process throughout your business, which allows your business to ensure that everything you do is focused on the buyer.”
But there’s way more to it than that, and it covers a number of different aspects of marketing and sales.
Oh, and they both have something in common – a book that’s helping business owners.
Talking of, you have bought Wendy’s book “Making Conversations Count“, right?
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How does a sales bucket help determine your value proposition?
You’re going to have to listen to the full episode to find out.
However, the broad story is this.
We all have a brand story.
And we’re all super close to that story and our customers may not be as interested in it as we are.
This is why it’s important to do all your prospecting from the ‘benefits, not features’ perspective.
“People mistakenly describe that as empathy, or something like that.
But actually, when people are buying things from you, they’re buying optimism, they’re buying hope, they’re buying the future, they’re buying all that sort of thing.
They don’t actually want empathy to say, “Yeah, I understand what it’s like to not have any money, because I haven’t got any either at the moment”. “Okay, well I’m not sure I want to do business with you”. It’s a wrong match-up!”
Barnaby takes a deeper dive into value proposition and using a sales bucket to bolster your benefits instead of features marketing during the episode.
But if you’re a fan of reading rather than listening (full transcript below, or linked here) over podcasts, here are the cliff notes.
It’s based around:
- Behaviour (your brand personality – used to great effect by Budweiser)
- Benefits rather than features (not what you do, but the results you deliver – used to great effect by Red Stripe to sell the spirit of Jamaican coolness through their beer)
- Brand perception (using some of the teachings of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits”)
- What you want to be famous for? (And not meaning ‘famous’ how you think we do!)
Watch the episode promo!
Managed to catch the previous episode yet? Click play on the player below to listen!
General business success advice includes using ‘harvesting’ methods
“When I’m in a month where the income is known to be lower, for whatever reason; I’ve taken on projects and they’re still running through and all of that sort of thing, I don’t worry about it, because I know that month has already been paid for by a previous month.
So therefore, my energy in that, I don’t panic, I don’t do anything, I just see it drop below the average line. Then you go, “Okay, I’m going to maybe turn up the new-business machine a little bit harder and do a little bit more networking”, or whatever, but you go in with a very positive mindset, because you’ve flatlined the average.”
If you want to learn more about Barnaby’s methods for keeping his business in profitability using the ‘harvest’ mentality, listen from 36 minutes into the episode.
Barnaby Wynter’s disruptive marketing views
After listening to this episode, you’ll clearly understand why “Making Conversations Count” host and telemarketing trainer Wendy Harris wanted to get Barnaby on her podcast.
As a telemarketing trainer and expert, Wendy is all about having conversations that count!
And what better conversation to have than with someone who goes against the narrative of marketing on every approach?
We all need to have our thinking challenged from time to time, and when it comes to business growth and using a sales bucket to fill up with that growth, there’s no better mentor on the subject!
You’ll learn why Barnaby dismisses the use of demographics in targeting, and prefers psychographics.
He’ll explain why he feels Simon Sinek and his whole ‘why’ movement is potentially damaging to brands, and loaded with oversimplification.
There’s also his rant about why we’re all getting it wrong with our marketing.
We’re not doing enough to create focused and targeted messaging, instead all falling into the trap of ‘spray and pray’ – which ultimately becomes slower and clunkier.
Time management is an important factor in the success of any business. If you can’t manage your time effectively, you’ll be less productive and likely to fall behind schedule. In this episode Barnaby offers some tips for managing your time so that you can stay on top of your work and make the most of your day.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to time management is to set priorities. If you don’t know what’s important, you’ll have a hard time organising your day accordingly.
Figure out what tasks are the most important and focus on those first.
Another key to time management is to eliminate distractions. If you’re working on a task that requires focus, put away your phone and turn off your email notifications.
Finally, make sure you take breaks. It’s important to step away from your work every once in a while and give yourself a chance to relax.
Oh and by the way, while this episode is all about ‘harvesting’ your business so that it can work for you in the here and now, perhaps you’d be interested in learning how you can leverage some of this insight for the future?
It just so happens there is an episode all about working on your business not in it that you should definitely check out.
You can listen to it right now, here.
And here’s a sneak peak trailer of the episode.
(Full transcript of this episode here)
So, Wendy’s takeaway from the conversation in this episode about sales buckets?
“When it comes to sales conversions, the funnel is still the go-to model for most businesses. However, there’s another option that can be far more effective – the bucket.
The bucket approach involves assessing various different aspects of your offerings and then putting them out into the world differently, and adapted to their needs and desires.
This makes it easy for potential customers to see what you have to offer and makes it easier for them to buy from you.
One of the major downsides of the funnel is that it can be confusing for customers if they’re not in the particular stage of the buying process that you want them to be, and they may not know where to start their journey with you.”
Want to carry on the conversation with Barnaby?
“Making Conversations Count” is a podcast from WAG Associates founder and telemarketing trainer Wendy Harris.
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Full Episode Transcript - Conversation about (sales) buckets and their benefits for your business on "Making Conversations Count"
Making Conversations about Buckets Count
Barnaby Wynter, The Brand Bucket Company
00:02:37: Barnaby’s bookshelves
00:06:44: “The Brand Bucket”, by Barnaby Wynter
00:12:22: The real value proposition…
00:12:55: … behavioural style
00:13:49: … benefits versus features
00:19:15: … belief in the brand
00:19:59: … brand fame
00:21:05: Psychographics replaces demographics
00:24:49: Why Barnaby became an author
00:32:03: Testing and measuring
00:36:53: Financing the business
00:39:09: Time management
00:43:42: Beware of starting with the “why”
00:47:13: A living legacy
00:53:36: Barnaby’s pivotal conversation
01:03:07: Final thoughts
Wendy Harris: Thank you for joining us for yet another brand-new episode of Making Conversations Count with me, Wendy Harris, your host and expert telemarketing trainer. In today’s conversation, we’re going to be Making Conversations about Buckets Count.
“Buckets, you say, Wendy?” But first, what’s new, Wendy Woo? Well, last time I asked if you really enjoyed the show, that you would leave us a review, because those reviews help the sites just push out our podcast to more listeners that might find it interesting. So, I have a big thank you shoutout to Focus CEO via the Apple Podcast site for a 5-star review. It’s simple, I love it, it simply says, “Inciteful, great format, a ton of value; keep rocking!” Well, Focus CEO, for you we’re going to keep rocking.
Today’s guest expert understands funnels very well. There are funnels on CRMs, through the sales process, in marketing and operations. Practically every department will have a funnel to measure input versus output. So, why a bucket? Well, it’s a culmination of Barnaby’s career through advertising and branding, and how he holds onto the elements he needs to help businesses create a brilliant brand. Barnaby also shares with us his bookshelf, and he’s read them all; I know, you’ll hear me ask; and his recommendations, including Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
A sound brand is underpinned by a value proposition, but perhaps not in the way that you currently think of that. So, Barnaby explains the four Bs that build this, before you start to understand your ideal client. Our ideals on branding are challenged in this conversation, but as with all good questioning, will make you stop, think and potentially, alter your course of action. Let’s get back to Making Conversations about Buckets Count.
I’ve got two questions: have you read all of those books behind you?
Barnaby Wynter: I have.
Wendy Harris: And, isn’t it a sacrilege to have them lying down like that? I’m sure there will be people that will be twitching, you know like what’s-his-face on Strictly does on a Saturday night; Anton, he twitches, doesn’t he, because it’s not quite right!
Barnaby Wynter: Well, when you say it’s not quite right, it is my considered view that it enables me to read the spines very clearly; whereas, when they’re on their side, I can’t read them so clearly. So, I’m not sure I agree with you. I think all books should be stacked like this.
Wendy Harris: I may just have a bit of a challenge on my hands as well then.
Barnaby Wynter: You can get more books in, so look, you can see the shelves bend much more vigorously when you have them stacked like this. Also, you can just read them very quickly and go, “There’s that one there, and this one here, and that one there”.
Wendy Harris: Are you inclined to pull them out and read from X, because you know what’s inside the book; are you inclined them to pull them out for reference points quicker?
Barnaby Wynter: No!
Wendy Harris: I thought it was going to be really clever then!
Barnaby Wynter: Once I’ve read them, they go there and then, to be fair, I have to be really honest with you; all of these that you can see, I’ve read from cover to cover, and probably based a lot of my thinking on. As you get further up, I’ve started all the others, but I didn’t necessarily finish them, because they weren’t really particularly —
Wendy Harris: They didn’t quite make the grade?
Barnaby Wynter: No, they didn’t really resonate with me. So, that’s the challenge, if you see what I mean.
Wendy Harris: Isn’t it strange, I’ve got books in the loft that I’ve had for about 30 years, and I’ve put them in a box and they’re all nicely protected and everything so that the mice can’t get them; but every time I go up there, an odd book that I may have started years and years ago, I’ve gone, “I’ll try that again”, and I’ve been ready for it. It’s strange how books have those odd cycles.
Barnaby Wynter: I think you’re right in the sense that every now and then, I’m with you on that; I have a moment where suddenly I think, “Actually, you’re right, I need to do something with that [or] refer to that”, but it’s very, very unusual, me to have to do that. So, sometimes I re-read books. I’m just re-reading this one, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, so I’m just on my way back through that.
Wendy Harris: I think I might have that on my bookshelf.
Barnaby Wynter: Well, there you go.
Wendy Harris: It certainly rings a bell. But there’s always a go-to book, isn’t there?
Barnaby Wynter: Oh, yeah, I’ve got dozens of those. So, these are probably my go-to books, so The Challenger Customer, The Challenger Sale, CEO Tools, Purple Cow, Thinking Fast and Slow, new edition of The Black History Book, Seven Habits, Lean Startup, they’re all go-to books for me. So, whenever people say, “You’ve got all these books, which ones should I read?” I go, “Well, what do you want to learn?” and then they go, “Oh…” and then I go, “Well, yeah, you’ve got to start there, otherwise I’ll just give you a list of books of no use to anybody”.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, because they’ve got to come to you at the right time in your journey, haven’t they?
Barnaby Wynter: I think that’s right. But I’ve always got a book, or two books, on the go at any given time. And I only read business books.
Wendy Harris: That’s interesting, because I read Atlas Shrugged, and it is a novel, I think by a lady called Ayn Rand, and it’s about 1,800 pages.
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, I’ve got that. The Fountainhead, that’s here.
Wendy Harris: I’ve not read The Fountainhead, but the Atlas Shrugged, it’s all about the railroad. And in fact, it’s a novel, but it is very commercially and politically written.
Barnaby Wynter: A brilliant writer. So, I’ve got The Fountainhead, and I’ve got another one somewhere which I’ve also read, but The Fountainhead is the one that I was told to go to, which is about an architect.
Wendy Harris: I needed to know about that today, because I’m looking into that as a thing. So the question begs then, Barnaby, your own book, The Brand Bucket.
Barnaby Wynter: That’s book one. Book two is here.
Wendy Harris: Oh, transcripts!
Barnaby Wynter: I’ve just got to the first draft, which I’m very happy with, so that’s there for consuming and reading as a book, rather than as bits I’ve written. But that’s book two, which I’m going to try and get out at some stage in the next few months, I think, somehow. I haven’t decided how yet, but I just need to sit down.
Wendy Harris: That will take care of itself when it’s ready. So, tell us about Brand Bucket.
Barnaby Wynter: So, this book really outlines what The Brand Bucket is all about, and it’s essentially how The Brand Bucket works, how you can apply it to your business.
Wendy Harris: One of my favourite beers on the cover!
Barnaby Wynter: Tuborg or Carlsberg, which one?
Wendy Harris: Tuborg!
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, so it was used to launch Tuborg originally, many years ago. So, it’s a great way of shaping your approach to the way you turn your business to become marketing led, and build a system and a process throughout your business, which allows your business to ensure that everything you do is focused on the buyer. So, that’s what that book’s about.
I mean, some people pick it up and they literally — well, one person came up to a networking event, and he was carrying two effectively, and he said, “This is the one you’ve written, and this is me going page by page through my business”, and he’d written the equivalent for his whole business; so, it had impacted him a lot.
A lot of people read it. To be honest, Wendy, it’s a great business card. Marketing people are ten a penny, and so you say, “I’m in marketing”, and they go, “Oh, right, what do you do?” I say, “I help brands become famous” and they go, “Great”. And then I go, “And I’ve written a book”, and they go, “Oh!” and it completely changes the attitude towards you, if you’ve written a book. Then, people read the book and then they come back and say, “Okay, now we know what to do, how do we go about it?” So, the second book is much more about how you go about it and how, in a modern day.
That book was really created ten years ago and although strategically, it’s still very sound, actually the application of it has changed over the last ten years. So, the second book will be much more about the application.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, technology, social platforms, all of those things have really impacted, haven’t they?
Barnaby Wynter: Very much so.
Wendy Harris: I know certainly for myself, I concentrated on LinkedIn as a social platform, but I need to be in other places, because I’m doing other things now. So, yeah, you don’t just have to be good at what you do, you have to be good at telling everybody about it as well, don’t you?
Barnaby Wynter: I think that’s right. And I think, do you know what, it’s not a “tell” thing anymore. This is where I try to re-educate those that I come into contact with. You’re not in the business of telling a story anymore, and I think the digital knowledge economy has fundamentally changed all that, and I think that’s what has happened over the last ten years. We’ve moved from a tell environment to an invite explanation environment, and that’s strategically very different from what I was certainly taught years ago, when I came into the advertising industry, which was all about broadcast, broadcast; it’s now about marshalling people inbound.
So, it’s a very different approach now, and I think that’s where the businesses that are doing well have got that, and the one’s that aren’t doing well are still in tell mode, and we’re all going, “No, please don’t tell us anymore, we’ve had enough, we don’t want to listen”, and we just switch off. Whereas, I think once you strategically understand that the way we buy now has fundamentally changed, then you need to build the journey into your business in an entirely different way. That’s what I do with my clients right now, with huge success, so it’s great.
Wendy Harris: And it is, it’s that conversation that we need to be having with clients, isn’t it? And it doesn’t matter what form of marketing you’re in, and there are lots of people in marketing, in sales, in operations, in facilities, it really doesn’t matter what department you’re in anymore, you’re still representing the brand and the business, aren’t you, and the culture of that?
Barnaby Wynter: Very much so.
Wendy Harris: So, it has to be telling all the way through, no matter who it is that’s your touchpoint.
Barnaby Wynter: Yes, as I said, I think it’s less about telling, but it’s about engaging and demonstrating and delivering. I think that’s really where there’s a big difference now. I think, if you go into tell mode, then you will just put people off. The journey’s much more about the buyer now than it is about the brand owner, so what you’ve got to do is orientate your business so it marshals the buyers towards your business, rather than you tell them anything.
I mean, clearly if you have to answer questions and things like that, you have to give them and answer.
Wendy Harris: That’s another book favourite, They Ask You Answer.
Barnaby Wynter: That’s right, yes.
Wendy Harris: What it is you’re putting out there can answer as many questions as possible, so that they’re running out of questions other than, how can they work with you?
Barnaby Wynter: Exactly, so that’s certainly one of the changes. Although, I think again that’s changed in a much more modern day now, so I think there are some big, big breakthrough pieces of thinking. They’re in some of the books we combine now to help businesses become much stronger brands in the marketplace.
Wendy Harris: What’s the one thing that anybody starting out in business could really benefit from answering for themselves, when it comes to brand, because it is such a big topic? Like we mentioned already, we’ve got to be good at what it is that we do. What would be the best way to represent that as a brand in today’s world?
Barnaby Wynter: The key foundation stone that every aspiring business that wants to be a brand has to have in place is what we call “a value proposition”, in the sense that they must have a working tool which allows them to tell their story at every opportunity. When we talk about value proposition at The Brand Bucket Company, we mean something entirely different to what most people refer to, which is often a highly crafted, three-sentence paragraph that’s done by somebody very clever, a wordsmith, and that’s the value proposition. That is not what we mean by a value proposition.
The value proposition we talk about is a tool which blends really four sets of values. The first set of values are, what’s your behavioural style, they all begin with B; what’s your behavioural style. So, you have to define what your behavioural style is as a brand, because we buy from people we like. So, what you need to define is what your behavioural style is, because then you’re going to appeal to people who are like you, and you are like them. So, that’s the first thing you must define, that set of values.
The second set of values you have to define is how you benefit the buyer. Again, a lot of people blast out features about their business, how they might think they’re unique, how they might think they’re different. But actually, in reality, what you should be communicating is all of the benefits, rather than the features, so how you make a difference to people’s lives.
Wendy Harris: Can you give us an example, because I know features and benefits is something that I teach, and people really struggle with separating the two out. So, going back to my favourite beer, Tuborg, I’m looking for some sponsorship, sneakily! I remember having to get the caps off the bottles, and you’d get ten caps for a T-shirt. We ended up with tons of T-shirts!
But the features and benefits, if it was beer, what would the feature be versus the benefit, to be able to give a clear separation of that?
Barnaby Wynter: So, there was a very famous beer, which was slightly less gassy with no aftertaste; I don’t know if you remember it, it was called Rolling Rock, and was launched on a “slightly less gassy with no aftertaste”.
Wendy Harris: The benefit clearly didn’t appeal to me, or make an impact.
Barnaby Wynter: Exactly, because that’s completely feature based; it’s a feature-based thing. Now, what their marketing was telling them was people didn’t like lagers that were really gassy and everything, so they were trying to reduce the gas so they were more like bitters, which don’t really have any gas in. Also, a bitter lives its name, of course; so the implication was, if it was more like a beer than it was a lager, then it might be more bitter. So, that’s why it had no aftertaste.
So, what they were addressing there was this idea that people were out there worrying about fizzy lagers that had a bit of a backbite on the taste. In reality, when I launched Red Stripe lager, the benefit of drinking Red Stripe lager is that you were drinking a piece of Jamaica. So therefore, the spirit around the beer was much more about actually, you’re participating in the spirit and the life of Jamaica. So, Red Stripe is a Jamaican beer, so what we were able to do is strategically, turn it into a well-recognised Jamaican beer.
So, the benefit was that if you were seen with a Red Stripe lager, you identified with the spirit of Jamaica, and that’s the benefit. So actually then, what it did was really play on the style side, the behavioural characteristics.
Wendy Harris: I was going to say, it ties back to that behaviour, doesn’t it?
Barnaby Wynter: So therefore, the provenance of the beer is a much stronger benefit, because effectively you’re buying into the style of the beer and where it comes from and who made it, rather than necessarily what the constituent elements are of it. And again, if you look at the battle between Budweiser and Budvar and the fact that they were interchangeable, actually they started to play on different types of hops and different types of wheat and Budvar is the original, made to the European standard of making lager, whereas Budweiser is made to the American standard of making lager.
Depending on your taste preference, American lager doesn’t taste like anything, whereas Budvar has a proper flavour to it, because it’s made entirely differently. That became a battle over the flavours and what went into it and the hops and one was hops and one was rice, and all that sort of thing. But actually, if you think about what made Budweiser famous was getting into the personality of the brand, so the “Whassup?” campaign and all that sort of thing, which really put Budweiser really on the map.
Wendy Harris: We’re not going to do it, are we, Barnaby?
Barnaby Wynter: No, we’re not going to do it, no! Way too old to do it. But that whole campaign gave the brand the personality, and that was the benefit of if, that actually if you associated with the personality of the brand, then you must have also that personality.
Wendy Harris: So, a quick way to remember the difference between features and benefits is, it’s not what it will do for you, but more how it makes you feel?
Barnaby Wynter: A feature is what it is, and then a benefit is what it does for you, or what it makes you feel like. I think, if you’re talking about a computer or something like that, you need to talk about the benefits. If you go into a computer shop, you’ll see that it lists out how many MB it’s got and this and that and RAM and what video card it’s got, etc. But actually, really why you’re buying a computer is to make videos or to play computer games or to store all your photos, or something like that, and they never talk about the capability of a machine from a benefits point of view; they always talk about it from a features point of view.
So actually, you end up looking at it and going, “The price of that is £329, it gets 40GB, and then the one that’s £299 gets 35GB, so I’m paying for more GB”. Actually, you have no idea what a GB will do, so that whole market is sold incorrectly. That’s sold purely on features and it doesn’t work. If you’ve ever had the misfortune to ask somebody what the difference between one computer is and another, they tend to read the labels.
A computer has got the alphabet muddled up on a keyboard in the form of a QWERTY. I said, “I can read, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to use the keyboard on the computer, so you don’t have to read the labels to me”. Instead of saying, “Actually, what do you want it for; what’s your ambition; how many of X do you do; do you do video editing?” and then you go, “Okay, well this is the machine that’s best for you because of the graphics card [or] more RAM”, or whatever, a connection to the internet on Wi-Fi, or whatever. Then you go, “That’s the one I want”. That’s benefit led. So, the second set of benefits that you need in your value proposition to define right at the beginning is, what are the benefits.
The third set of values you need to define then, having defined your behavioural style and your benefits, is what do you want people to believe about you, after they’ve interacted with your brand? This is inspired by one of the books behind me, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: rule number one, be proactive; rule number two, begin with the end in mind.
When you’re developing a value proposition, you must define what you want people to believe about your brand before you start creating anything for the brand, because it gives you the judgement criteria to say, “When we produce this piece of communication, or this packaging, or the way we answer the phone, does it make the recipient of that message believe about our brand what we need them to believe?” So, you need to define that right up front.
Then, the final value that you really need to define is, what do you want to be famous for; what’s the one single thing you want to be famous for? And, you need to define that right up front, because that’s the totem pole around which you dance, with everything you do from a brand-building point of view. And again, often people don’t do that, they go, “Well, we’ll see what happens”. That’s when you see all your money disappearing down various holes in the marketing industry, because you haven’t really defined that.
So, the value proposition needs to have your behavioural style defined, your benefits defined, what you want people to believe about you, and what you want to be famous for. Until you define that, that’s the one thing. If you haven’t got that in place, I’m sorry to say, you cannot make marketing work, you cannot build a brand; it’s just not possible for 99.999% of businesses.
Wendy Harris: To me, it conjures up in my mind the four pillars that you would need for good foundations in most things, and if you’re going to start building on something, you need to have the best foundations.
Barnaby Wynter: Correct.
Wendy Harris: So, there’s another B-word, “best”.
Barnaby Wynter: Absolutely. From our point of view, that’s still only half the story. The other thing you need to define is who your ideal prospect is. A lot of business owners talk about demographics. Demographics is a fraud that was created by the broadcast industry way back when, and ceased to have any impact on marketing probably around 1995 when the internet arrived.
So, we moved, some 22 years ago, to psychographics. So, what you also need as a foundation stone is to have a psychographic profile of your ideal prospects. So, in other words, how do they think; how do they feel; what’s their attitude; what’s their experience of your particular product set, or your service set; what their ambitions are? You need to define all that, because that’s what you’re addressing in your marketing.
Wendy Harris: Those are the benefits that you’re going to be matching up and talking about.
Barnaby Wynter: Correct, exactly right. So then, business just becomes about matching the psychographic profile aspirations with your value aspirations. Once you’ve got those two foundation stones in place, it’s actually very hard to go wrong. I know it sounds ridiculous, but too often I get clients walking in here and they’ve got mainly neither of them. They’ve got a sense of what their value proposition is, but they can’t really define it; and they have no sense of who their ideal prospect is, and are being convinced to blast their message, tell the world how amazing they are, in a really crass way.
Of course, that’s expensive, it’s slow, it’s time-consuming, because of course you’re having to sort the wheat from the chaff all the time, rather than just only having wheat. And so, for the majority of businesses, this just becomes too arduous, too difficult, and they just give up. And as a result, they stall, because they’ve got no influx of prospects. What we do, as an organisation, is to make sure you’ve always got an influx of the right people coming in, so that the energy you place into building those relationships with those people is 100% likely to convert them.
People still don’t, which is why we have a bucket shape, because people drop out at various parts of the bucket, because life throws googlies at them; they can’t afford it or they don’t like it, or they discover it doesn’t do quite what they want. There’s lots of things.
Wendy Harris: Things change, people change, it’s come out of our control.
Barnaby Wynter: Yes, and the environment’s constantly fluid and changing. So, if you know that everybody who’s effectively coming in the top of your bucket is a really hot prospect right from the off, because you’ve created a breadcrumb trail, effectively, to your value proposition, based on their attitude towards you, it’s very hard to go wrong there. There’s no shame in losing them along the way, because it’s probably as a result of things you have no control over.
Wendy Harris: I’m guessing that that allows you the time to concentrate on the things that are important to you as well though?
Barnaby Wynter: Yes, very much so. Well, it declutters, doesn’t it? It declutters the journey entirely. And actually, the respect you get from people who say, “Look, we’ve reviewed what you’re looking for. We’re not your answer. Actually, given we understand the marketplace, this might be a better answer for you if you want to go over there”. That will get you far more business turning somebody down, because they’ll say, “I went to them and they told me it wasn’t quite right, but actually it will be brilliant for you because it is what you want”, and they become a referring mechanic and all that sort of thing.
So, having that openness and honesty in your value proposition is very, very powerful and can make a huge difference to your ability to engage with and convert people who are looking to buy from you.
Wendy Harris: We know a bit more about what you do, and of course to get to the bottom of all that conversation is really right at the bottom of it all. And I’m guessing that writing your first book and your second book, a lot of those conversations are going to come forward to mind in wanting to reach as many people as you possibly can that need to read and hear that part of your journey. Is that a good assessment of how you’ve found writing about what you do?
Barnaby Wynter: I think that’s a great observation. The first book I wrote primarily to boost my credentials, more than anything else, if I was honest with you. So, at the time I started writing the book, I was running a top-200 advertising agency in the centre of London, and I was working 17.5 hours a day, I was working 6 days a week, and I wasn’t really making any money. And we had 35 staff, we had a big building in the centre of Clerkenwell, and marketing was going through a massive, massive change. So, we’re talking 2008, 2009, 2010, was when I started writing the first book.
I made the decision that I would push out on my own and run a completely outsourced business, which is what I run today. So, I run a business that provides exactly the same services as this big, fancy agency I had, that cost me a fortune, but everything’s outsourced to best-in-class people in various aspects. So, I wanted something that, when going out on my own, I had almost as a crutch, more than anything else.
Wendy Harris: I prefer “anchor”!
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, anchor’s nice, much nicer! But I put all the thinking into this, “This is the formula for marketing success and this is what I pursue, and if you use me, then I will ensure that what’s in the book…” So, that was the first book, and I had been asked to write it by a publisher. So, I’d made a contribution to another book on portfolio working, and I’d written an article about how you build a personal brand using The Brand Bucket.
They approached me after the book was published and said, “This is one of the best chapters in the book. Is there anything else in The Brand Bucket?” and I said, “Well, actually, it underpins the whole agency and philosophy, and we’ve been developing this formula for eight years”, and he said, “Okay, is there a book in it?” So, I wrote the book really to satisfy him, to have as an anchor point and a proof of my competency, without all what I thought I needed, which was this infrastructure of having a fancy ad agency with studios and meeting rooms and libraries and staff all around me, because I thought that’s what you needed. So, the book was part of that.
It was also a ticket to get me onto the speaking stage, so I’m a professional speaker, so again it was another ticket to doing that, and it was again useful, because you could send it to people. It’s been a great tool for prospecting. So, that was certainly the first book.
The second book, however, is a sense that too many businesses are being mis-sold by the marketing industry. They are doing it wrong, and I just wanted to have an opportunity to almost rant in a positive way in the second book to say, “Listen, guys, just look around you. What you’re being asked to do by your agencies, by your marketing people, does not bear any relationship to the way people are buying. Stop and look up and look around, and stop looking at what the agency’s trying to peddle”.
What’s happened in the marketing communications world, there’s been this swing to digital agencies and the strategic agencies have kind of withered on the vine. If you go even into the big advertising agencies that I used to work for, there are just a load of kids sitting around on scatter cushions coming up with crazy ideas. It’s very short term, it’s very immediate, because the nature of a career in the advertising world and the marketing world and the digital world, you’d be lucky if you last in the job two years. So, all you’ve got to do is in two years, create something amazing that everybody talks about, and then you move onto the next bit and the next bit.
What that does though is it leaves a massive strategic vacuum for businesses. And when you look at the way businesses are structured and the way they’re formed, they’re very strategic, they’re very processed, very systems oriented. So, what we’re seeing is a divergence between the way marketing thinking is going, in my opinion, and ultimately the way business thinking is going, which is becoming much more systemised, much more processed, much more AI oriented, much more about building systems and processes that work for the buyers.
Meanwhile, the marketing world is drifting off saying, “What’s the next hot thing that we’re going to do; what’s the next influencer; what’s the next digital code that we can write; what’s the next way in?”
Wendy Harris: While, in the real world, businesses don’t care.
Barnaby Wynter: They don’t care, no, absolutely; and they’re just wasting money on all these things. So, the second book is really an attempt to, for those that are sitting there that do care about this, business owners, is for them to read it and go, “That’s interesting. That’s a way we’re not thinking. That does reflect the way the real world works; I can understand that, and therefore we need to rethink our strategic intent behind our brand building, rather than just hoping for lots of big buyers and it all becomes the talk of the town on TikTok, and that will do”. That won’t do, it simply won’t do.
Wendy Harris: It sounds to me like that needs to be brought to life as quickly as you can really, Barnaby, because my observation is that when I wrote my book, it was to try and pass on as many of the things that were in my head that I knew worked, to as many people who needed that as possible. It was in my head and I’d got a lot of the content; it just came together so quickly, to me it was just meant to be.
I think that rather than the anchor book that you had, you’ve got this probe that’s questioning, that’s saying, “Come on, what do you think too?” And, I do think there are certain aspects of any industry, not just marketing, that are very internalised and self-serving. So, these questions do need to be asked, and it does need to come from thought leaders like you.
Barnaby Wynter: I think that’s right. So, if I can make a tiny little contribution to just shifting people’s understanding, I think that’s the function of the book, and I’ve spent a lot of time writing it and I’ve tried to make it something that’s more like a strategic manual, than just, “Here’s another 150-page rant about my experience and my learning and how everybody’s doing it wrong”.
When I’m on stage, I’m a bit like that. I kind of challenge the audience to say, “Come on, guys, are you really seriously telling me that this and this, and here are some key facts”. Once you start to assimilate the key facts together, then people sit there and go, “We’re not orientating our experience as a brand anywhere towards the way people are consuming our brand, or indeed any brand globally”.
Then, what I’ve done is I’ve then said, “And, this is how The Bucket methodology can apply strategically, you can apply it creatively, you can apply it from a design point of view, design it from a process point of view”, so there are different chapters on how The Bucket has a different impact on those areas of your business. So, it becomes kind of a practical thing as well, as well as saying, “Things have changed, you need to embrace the change”.
Wendy Harris: And of course strategically, I know everybody has to test and measure, that’s a given, right, that you put your processes in place and you test and measure everything. But I see way too often that people are in too much of a hurry to measure, with very little testing. So, you do have to give time to these things to really start to see.
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, I think that’s a really great point. I think what people have misunderstood is there’s testing measurement and then there’s continuation measurement. And, what people move to is they move to the measurement straightaway, and they say, “Well, this hasn’t worked”, and you go, “Well, yeah, but you’ve been doing it for a month”. “Well, it hasn’t worked, so we’re going to stop doing it”, and you go, “Okay, well hold on. Let’s just look at all the underlying conditions around that. You’re selling ice creams and it’s January. Okay, you’re not going to sell many ice creams in January”. “Oh, but we’ve set it all up so that we would sell ice creams”. “Well, that’s just not going to happen, because people don’t eat ice cream in January”.
But actually, equally if you’d done the testing in the hottest July on record and ice cream had gone through the roof, you could build a whole business round that, and then that’s equally wrong.
Wendy Harris: Because of the weather!
Barnaby Wynter: Because of the weather, correct. I see people doing this all the time and not spending the time. If you’re going to run a business and you’ve got a planning cycle, which could be 3 months, 90 days, it could be 6 months, it could be 12 months, you’ve got to run tests for at least that length of period so you can rinse and repeat that on the next quarter or the next 6 months, or whatever.
Actually in real terms, if you don’t run a test for a year, you haven’t really got a real, true sense of how our mindsets change as we go through the year, as buyers; you haven’t got a sense of that. So, you could be making really bad decisions based on measuring, but not testing, as you rightly point out.
Wendy Harris: And I think this is where A and B — is that what they call it these days, A and B?
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, split testing.
Wendy Harris: Split testing. That’s got to be something; because, in January, if you’re moving all your effort and energy into building momentum for the warmer months, then you get the reward later. But then, of course, in July, when you’re selling loads and loads of ice cream, that momentum will fall away, so what are you going to do to replace that momentum? It just means vertical markets and different testing.
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, different usages, exactly, and have fun with it. I think the other thing is, the short termism that’s bought in by the stock exchange and by the economy, and I’ve also observed that everyone’s rushing to make a buck quickly without any sense of, “Let’s look at this as a year-long programme, or a five-year plan, or something like that, and let’s make hay”.
If you go back to the harvest, if it’s dry and sunny, you’re going to go and crop your fields. You’re going to stay up all night, work all night, and you’re going to get it done; because you know that if it rains, the crop’s going to get ruined; if you don’t get it in in time, it’s going to get ruined, etc. But you then store the crop so that you can eat during the winter months.
Wendy Harris: And it’s that sacrifice of, “It might be a nice day. I can’t do the things that I really want to do today, because I’ve got to work”. That’s part of the gig, isn’t it, that you’ve got to put that effort in when that effort is required?
Barnaby Wynter: As long as you then don’t go out and buy a fast car, or a bigger house at the end of that period.
Wendy Harris: A bigger combine harvester!
Barnaby Wynter: A bigger combine harvester, yes exactly, when you don’t actually need one, because you know that in the winter months, it’s going to be fallow, so there’s going to be no income. So, you spread the income out. And again, I see businesses making snap decisions, spending a lot of money making hay and then suddenly, three months later, coming back and saying, “We haven’t got any business anymore”. You go, “No, okay, that’s okay, because you made all that money in the last quarter”. They go, “No, we spent all that”. You go, “Okay, what did you spend it on?” “We spent it on ourselves”, “Good, okay, well now you’re going to have to starve then while you’re eating out in the fancy restaurants”!
Wendy Harris: We don’t talk enough about the financing behind the business, and it is very much like a heartbeat. There are times where I can certainly look back over the 16 years of running my business where it’s been a flatline, bring out the pads to inject some energy into the body of it. And then, there have been highs when just before COVID hit, it was my best financial quarter ever. But it goes up and it goes down; there’s no one line that just sits like a flat line.
Barnaby Wynter: I think there is a flat line, which is the planning line. So, if you said, take a random figure, say you generate £10,000 a month in turnover terms. If one month you make £20,000, that’s going to make up for the one month where you make nothing. What that does is it liberates you. As long as you think about it as, “Actually, my target, my flat line is £10,000, but this month I’ve made £13,000 and last month I made £8,000. Next month’s looking like I might make £15,000 and then the month after that, I might only make £5,000, because I’m going on holiday for two weeks”.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, the mean average works.
Barnaby Wynter: Yes, so you do an average flat line. The way I run my business, I do exactly like that, so I’m always at maximum energy. Because, when I’m in a month where the income is known to be lower, for whatever reason; I’ve taken on projects and they’re still running through and all of that sort of thing, I don’t worry about it, because I know that month has already been paid for by a previous month.
So therefore, my energy in that, I don’t panic, I don’t do anything, I just see it drop below the average line. Then you go, “Okay, I’m going to maybe turn up the new-business machine a little bit harder and do a little bit more networking”, or whatever, but you go in with a very positive mindset, because you’ve flatlined the average.
Now clearly, if that is on a continual decline over time, then that’s a challenge; but what actually happens is you become more confident. You suddenly find that flat line is going up all the time, and it may be a very gentle incline. So, year on year, “Actually, my flat line wasn’t £10,000 like it was last year, it’s now £11,000, and next year it looks like it’s going to be £12,000”. Then suddenly, your lifestyle reaches a tipping point where you can fundamentally change, because your energy is always on that flat line effectively.
It’s exactly how harvests work and how agriculture work and many industries. Any seasonal business needs to think like that, and I think you’re right, because when you’re a smaller business, you’re the limiting resource. If the resource is being used up by making money, you know further down the line you’re not going to have business coming in, because you’re not spending any time on new business. So again, I teach all the businesses I work with that time comes in three packets: a third of your time is delivering what you do to your buyers; a third of your time is the admin supporting that delivery; and a third of your time is new business. You must spend a third of your time on new business.
So, I keep timesheets, I was just pulling them out before we came on the call, and I analyse them every week to make sure that I haven’t swung too far one way and too far the other way; because of course, if you’re making hay while the sun shines, the chances are you’re letting your admin slip, and definitely your new business falls off first, then your admin slips. So therefore, your VAT return looms, you’ve got a shoebox full of receipts that you haven’t analysed, and you’re spending three nights in a row trying to do your VAT return. Well, that’s your admin catching up with your delivery, and you’re certainly too tired to go out.
Then you wake up in the morning and go, “I was meant to go networking this morning for a networking breakfast”, and you go, “I can’t be bothered, I was up last night doing the slips in my shoebox”, and then it all just unravels, the whole thing unravels. So, I’m really clear when I’m working with businesses to say, “Make sure you monitor your time, you only deliver a third of your time to clients, a third of your time with the admin supporting that and a third just new business, do not deviate from that”.
I have a board meeting with myself every year, so I write a ten-page board report, then I sit down for two hours and go through it, and on it has got the chart which shows how much time I’ve spent on client delivery, admin and new business. Honestly, Wendy, it always aligns with the success of the business, always. If I’ve let new business drift out, the turnover drops.
Wendy Harris: It’s a really good point, Barnaby, because it’s like when you hear people say, “Oh, gosh, it’s going to be Christmas soon”. It’s at the same time every year; why is it such a surprise? Or, “The kids are going to have six weeks off. What am I going to do with the time?” That’s where you plan for these things.
Barnaby Wynter: Exactly.
Wendy Harris: So, if you can be one step ahead always, you’re going to win.
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, it’s all in the planning and I think you’re right. It’s all about measuring, it’s about testing, it’s about managing the finances. They facilitate your brand. Then, having a strong value proposition, strong target market, and then having a methodology of bringing those two together, I use The Brand Bucket methodology; there are lots of ways of doing that. Then, I think you really do have a formula for a successful business.
Wendy Harris: The first B-word, that behaviour, underpins everything then, doesn’t it? Because, if you’re going to be dragged down by your time and your planning, then your behaviour is affected, then the people that you attract are affected.
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah. And people mistakenly describe that as empathy, or something like that. But actually, when people are buying things from you, they’re buying optimism, they’re buying hope, they’re buying the future, they’re buying all that sort of thing. They don’t actually want empathy to say, “Yeah, I understand what it’s like to not have any money, because I haven’t got any either at the moment”. “Okay, well I’m not sure I want to do business with you”. It’s a wrong match-up!
Wendy Harris: And it’s that belief, you need to believe in yourself before anybody else will allow themselves to believe in you too.
Barnaby Wynter: Yes, absolutely.
Wendy Harris: Because ultimately, your family and friends will always believe in you. Whether that’s misplaced or not is for another conversation, but I think it is something that you do have to look and believe in yourself, definitely.
Barnaby Wynter: Yes, very much so. And actually, one of the challenges if you’re the mainstay in your business, and for 95.6% of all businesses, the business owner is the mainstay on that, because that characterises all businesses under ten employed people; so, there’s probably just the one main founder, so he’s the epicentre of the business.
Often when people come into my office and start to take on The Brand Bucket programme, by externalising their values into a value proposition that sits in the business, it allows them to do what’s a common phrase, it’s “to stop working in the business and start working on the business”, because you’ve extrapolated the values that are within the founder, and you place them into the business, because they tend to be one and the same.
Wendy Harris: It makes it very real as well, doesn’t it, because there’s a reference point? It’s not just a wishy-washy idea that you had and you may need to jog your memory on occasionally, “Why am I doing this; what is my why?” Well, you know that, because you’ve established it.
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, and in fairness, I’m not a big fan of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. I think, when it was published in 2009, it was a great summary of the previous ten years of what we’d seen in the agency, and how brands were being created. I think it’s had a profoundly damaging affect on the mindsets of many business owners, starting with why, because it’s almost like if they get that, then that’s all they have to do, “I’ve discovered my why, I’ve discovered my purpose”.
All of that’s great, but it’s only meaningful to you as a business owner, it’s not really meaningful to the outside world. One of the flaws in that piece of thinking is it doesn’t translate into a messaging and a brand and an experience of systems and processes, how we want to narrate it; or buyers, the people who are going to give you money to sustain your purpose. And it’s been very damaging.
I’ve had a lot of people walk in and say, “Oh, yeah, we’ve defined our why” and I go, “So, why are you here?” and they go, “Because it doesn’t really work!” “You know why you’re going to work, and I don’t care! You’ve blasted me with features and your website’s covered in features and this and that and all that sort of thing, and it really is your version of your why and everything, but actually I’ve got my own personal why, and it doesn’t bear any relationship to yours, so therefore good luck and enjoy your life”.
So, there’s a real risk associated around the Start With Why philosophy, and actually if you look at the brands that have emerged in the last ten years or so, none of them have a why. Bezos is getting a lot of criticism for setting up one of the most fantastic business models possible in Amazon. His why wasn’t what it is now, and certainly I wouldn’t buy into his why. I wouldn’t want to fly into Scotland in a £48 million jet on day one of COP26. I mean, the disconnect between what Bezos is doing and sending people up in rockets for ten minutes, and sending them back down; the disconnect between that and what our real country challenges are right now is so profound that it’s almost scary. And yet, he’s got all the wealth, all the power to do something about it, and it’s completely counterintuitive.
So his why, I don’t relate to in any way, shape or form, but I love Amazon, I just think it’s really cool! I can go on and order something and it will be here this afternoon. I mean, it’s just brilliant. I think as a business model, it’s brilliant. So, I think you have to be really careful with that. What they’ve done though is they’ve built an experience around me. That’s why Amazon’s so successful, that’s why eBay’s so successful, it’s why Deliveroo’s so successful, it’s why Expedia’s so successful. All the brands that have emerged, the whole Uber mindset, all of that has all emerged because all of those brands are built around my experience, how I want to buy things.
It’s much more about “how” now than it is “why”; how do you make a difference to people’s lives; how do you make it easy to buy from you? This should all be in your value proposition. So, the whole why thing, I think is very misleading, and I feel desperately sorry for people who have found this —
Wendy Harris: They’ll stick to that wicket.
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah.
Wendy Harris: Well, I would say that you’ve taken me back to a television programme that I used to love as a kid. I’m going to really reveal my age now, and it was called How. So, a question for you, because I think I need to get onto this pivotal conversation part. What do you want to be famous for then, Barnaby?
Barnaby Wynter: I want to create a world where all brands matter. So, that’s my vision. So, my strategy for doing that is to help as many people as I can reach understand the thinking behind The Brand Bucket, and therefore enable them to perceive the world of building business and brands in an entirely sensible and strategic way. So, I want to be famous for The Bucket. I think I’ve been successful for that over the last 20 years. I think people know me as Mr Bucket, and things like that, and that’s fine.
Wendy Harris: Not “Bouquet“?!
Barnaby Wynter: Well, some people have said that, to be fair, but then that’s also showing your age!
Wendy Harris: Oh, dear!
Barnaby Wynter: And I’m known for a lot of other things as well. So, I’d like to be famous for that. I see myself much more as the civil service than the MP though. Where I get my fame from is seeing a Marie Curie daffodil, or seeing a can of Red Stripe, or seeing people listening to Classic FM, all the brands that I’ve helped make famous.
Wendy Harris: And you see it in people’s lives?
Barnaby Wynter: You see it in people’s lives, and you see the quality of their life just a little bit better than it was before their interaction with those brands.
Wendy Harris: It’s like product placement?
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, it’s a bit like that. I’ve launched over 447 brands worldwide, so it’s always exciting to go around and see how you’ve impacted on the quality of people’s lives in some way, shape or form. So, I think the fame is literally just knowing that I’ve done that and I’ve made a contribution to that, not alone, obviously with teams of people, but I’ve led that. That is enough for me. And then, obviously, to be a great husband and a great father. I think those will do me, to be honest. The celebrity side of fame is not really my thing.
Wendy Harris: So, “legacy” is the word?
Barnaby Wynter: Okay.
Wendy Harris: Part of what you’ve been influential over will still be here.
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, so I’m a living legacy fan, not a legacy fan, on the grounds that I don’t think I’m around for the legacy part; whereas, I like being around for the living legacy. So, I don’t particularly merit life after death in that sense, from a legacy point of view. I think your responsibility is when you’re alive.
Wendy Harris: Whilst you’re here, yes.
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, to impact everybody around you when you’re alive. So, the concept of legacy is not in my field of vision, but living legacy, definitely. And that’s just another phrase for making sure that everybody you engage with feels the moment, you’re in the moment, you’re making a difference as best you can, you’re doing unto others as you would have done. I sound almost religious; I’m a complete atheist. So, I sound almost religious when I talk like this, but I think that kind of philosophy of, if you get a chance to make a difference, make a difference right there and then. Don’t say, “Well, what I’m going to do is build something that makes a difference after I’ve gone”.
Wendy Harris: I agree with you 150%.
Barnaby Wynter: It makes me sound odd, I think, when I talk like this, but I think that’s what it’s about. Make it count, make it count right now. Whatever your individual perspective is on the world, whether you’re climate, whether you’re mental health, whether you’re diversity, whether you’re business, whether you’re family, it doesn’t really matter. Just make a difference in those areas whilst you can and when you’re able, and I’ve found that to be a very rewarding way of going through life, to be honest.
Wendy Harris: Making conversations count, you see, Barnaby!
Barnaby Wynter: Yes, indeed, absolutely right, very much so! Your next book is turning those conversations into actions of course; that’s the next book!
Wendy Harris: And that’s the thing, isn’t it? The conversations are meant to inspire and to get people thinking, and really then it’s about taking action, isn’t it, because nothing was made without action, and that’s what I would always look to try and influence, that people are at least taking some action, because that is better than none.
Barnaby Wynter: Absolutely. Actually, I don’t think it matters whether it’s a good action or a bad action. I mean, I think obviously, you don’t want to actively to a bad one; but if you take an action and it doesn’t go as well as you thought, for example, let’s put it that way, rather than bad action, I think it’s part of what you were talking about, it’s about your testing and measuring. That barometer’s always applied, because then if you do something and you go, “I think it’s going to have this impact. I’ll begin with the end in mind and it’s going to have this impact”, and it didn’t, well you know then how to —
Wendy Harris: Not do it.
Barnaby Wynter: — not do it that way again, and you can improve it and get better and get better. So, failing is a key part of growth and development and all that sort of thing. So, do something and don’t be stressed if you fail. Just go, “Okay, right, I wouldn’t do it that way again”, and the next time, it will be better. I think it’s a good philosophy to have, and a conversation is a great start point for that, of course.
Wendy Harris: It’s time to ask you about your conversation that counted, and everybody gets to bring one along, and I have no clue what’s coming next. So, Barnaby, would you like to just share with us what that was all about?
Barnaby Wynter: Yes. So, I enjoyed a very accelerated career in advertising. I did psychology as a degree and went straight into the advertising industry after doing a post-graduate qualification in psychology, a post-grad in advertising and a post-grad in marketing. I went straight into the advertising industry and raced through a couple of agencies, until I was working in an agency in Soho with what was called a below-the-line agency. So, they did all the promotions, and they said, “Do you fancy coming to lunch?” one day.
I went to lunch with them and they said, “Look, would you ever think of joining us?” I said, “Well, I’m a fancy brand guy”, I was well suited, took cabs everywhere, had people carrying bags, and stuff like that, and I used to go with a big idea; I said, “I don’t really do what you do. I don’t do promotions and brochures and websites, and I don’t do all that sort of stuff really”.
They said, “Oh, yes, you do”, and I said, “No, I don’t”. They said, “We’ve seen you in meetings, and you know how ideas can happen at every single touchpoint. We’ve watched you do it”. I go, “That’s not really me, that’s my current creative director that’s taught me”. They said, “No, we watch you do it. Will you come and have a conversation with a gentleman called Stuart Bull?” and I said, “Well, okay, whatever”.
So, I received an invite to a dinner at the Groucho Club, and I hadn’t really been to the Groucho Club. So, I arrived there and said, “Hello, my name’s Mr…” and they said, “Oh, Barnaby, yes. Please follow us”. So, I’m led from the reception, as was then in the Groucho Club, through the main bar where there’s all these famous people drinking, and I recognise a few of them off the telly, and I’m shown to a private room where this gentleman called Stuart Bull was sat. He stood up and said, “I’m so glad you could come, I’ve heard all about you”.
He was the owner of this agency and he said, “Look, thank you for coming, I just wanted to show you something”, and he drew The Brand Bucket on a piece of paper in front of me. We ordered drinks, and he just drew this thing and explained how it worked, and all that sort of thing. The Brand Bucket’s six steps were something he’d first created for Saab in 1985, and had used it to build a massive advertising agency, which he’d sold to Saatchi and Saatchi.
They, being Saatchi and Saatchi, didn’t want his Brand Bucket methodology, so he removed it from the deal and took it and started this agency that he was now running, and I was sitting in front of it. As he went through this, my jaw literally fell from the top part of my face to the floor, and I just sat there. After he’d finished, I said, “That is just so clever” and he said, “Yes, we thought you’d like it”, and then he explained the history of it and all that sort of thing, and how they’d used it on over 4,000 brands and Tuborg and Carlsberg, and all these ones, the AA and Esso, and all this sort of thing, to help them build their brand presences in the marketplace.
He said, “I’m 57, I’m looking for a successor [etc] we’d like you to think about that”. So, we discussed what the agency was about. He’d set up this agency called The Communications Unit. It was the first ever UK agency that did everything across the marketing mix in one agency, using this Brand Bucket methodology. He founded it in 1985, and we were now in 1999. So, they’d been running for a while, and they had been approached by a brand called E-Trade, a tiny brand in America, to launch them in Europe and help them build their franchise in America. He knew I had a load of internet experience and I was obviously quite keen on all that sort of thing.
He said, “We’d love you to join us”, and I said, “Well, what would you pay?” etc. Anyway, at the end of this conversation, I’d agreed a salary, I’d agreed the perks, I’d agreed I would join the agency, and that was that. So, I left that conversation, went and resigned. The agency that I was in, I was quite senior, so I had a six-month notice period, and three weeks before the notice period was due to expire, so that’s five-and-a-half months later, I still hadn’t had a contract from Stuart and the rest of the team.
Anyway, it arrived, and it arrived at my house in Sevenoaks and my wife shouted down the stairs, “Is that the contract?” and I said, “Yeah”, because she was obviously very nervous!
Wendy Harris: The bridge between one paycheque and the next!
Barnaby Wynter: Yeah, exactly. I was about to drop off a cliff, my whole lifestyle. It said, “Barnaby Wynter, Managing Director”. I said, “Oh, it says, ‘Barnaby Wynter, Managing Director'” and Gill Robinson, who was the Managing Director of this agency and had also been part of the interview process and everything, and in fact ran the account that I’d been present in, and I said, “Well, it says, ‘Barnaby’ –“, and she said, “Are you going to be Managing Director?” I said, “I’ll have to tell you, I never asked what job I was going to do!”
The conversation had been so overwhelming that night, I actually never asked what job I was going to do. So, I’d gone through this whole process and she said, “Well, isn’t Gill the MD?” and I said, “Yes”. “Anyway, you can’t sign it, they might have made a mistake”. So, I rang Gill and I said, “I’ve got the contract” and she said, “So sorry, lawyers, we’ve never done it for anybody as senior as this before”, etc. And I said, “Yeah, the Barnaby Wynter, Managing Director one?” and she said, “Yeah, yeah” and I went, “Yeah, yeah, great”.
So, I put the phone down, signed this document and realised that in the next three weeks, I was going to become Managing Director of a top-200 agency, and turned out to be the youngest MD of a top-200 agency in the UK for three months, until the next younger came along, I guess. But Campaign were there and they interviewed me when I arrived and all that sort of thing, “You’re the youngest MD, how do you do it?” all this sort of thing, all around from this one conversation with Stuart.
What that conversation really pivoted for me, I think, at the time was, we talked earlier about how well-read I am. I was really well-read then, I’d read lots of books, had loads of systems and processes and the way you did things, and I did psychology in a science faculty, so I’m very logic oriented, I want it all to work, I want it all to plug together and all that sort of thing. And I’d worked on the four tiers that Ford had created, and then the thumbprint of another agency, so I loved all these kinds of models.
So, what happened in that conversation was somehow, everything converged all together just in this one conversation. And from that point on, all I’ve thought about is this Brand Bucket six steps. So it’s now, what’s that, 22 years now, solidly, every day. All I do is talk about this Bucket. And it’s all from that one conversation, where Stuart presented his — and bear in mind, he’d been leveraging it for 14 years, so he was very well-versed on it. And I took it on and took the baton, and all that sort of thing.
I ended up buying the agency from them after 18 months, and started to run it on my own from 2001 onwards, and about six years later, he was walking past the office in Clerkenwell and he knocked on the door and came in and said, “Is Barnaby around?” I was there and I just dropped everything and I showed him round the agency. I said, “We’ve done this and we’ve done that, and we’ve created this and we’ve done that”. I said, “Look what we’ve done with your Brand Bucket”.
He just stopped me in the corridor and he just turned and said, “Barnaby, this is not my Brand Bucket anymore; this is your Brand Bucket. What you have done in the last eight years”, he said, “bears no relation to the thing that I sold to you. It’s much more robust, it’s much cleverer, it’s much more of the market”. It was almost the closure on that conversation that we’d had in Groucho.
So, this is almost one conversation that took over eight years. And he just closed it off and I said, “No, it is”, and he said, “No, I didn’t have that and I didn’t have that and we hadn’t interpreted it like that and we hadn’t done that and we hadn’t got that case study, and all the things you’ve just shown me. We didn’t have any of that when you took this on from me”. He said, “You’ve moved it to something that’s a mainstay of all the hundreds of businesses you’re working with now. We didn’t have it as that. We had it as a planning tool that influenced the creative work in my agencies. This is now a mainstay of how businesses should think and how they should approach their brand strategically”.
So, that conversation, for me, is head and shoulders above any other conversation I’ve ever had, that one in Groucho, because it shaped my whole lifetime from a business perspective, and probably made me who I am as well, because I live and breathe my work. I don’t make a distinction between work life and private life; it’s just my life. So, this is my life now, and I absolutely revel in the opportunity to share that conversation that I had with Stuart in Groucho with as many people as I possibly can!
Wendy Harris: What a fabulous conversation and a good reminder of what we were talking about earlier, that test and measure, that a month isn’t long enough. Clearly, that conversation needed eight years to get to maturity, and those sorts of journeys are the journeys that are worth embarking on.
Barnaby Wynter: So therefore, I think that pivotal conversation’s had many dimensions to it. It was the right time, it was the consolidation of what my life had been as a businessperson prior to that. It also had future in it, it had a future place in it, so that was really important as well. So, it was an instrumental conversation, and it was almost a catalyst for the movement in my life, and it was a catalyst conversation. The conversation remains unchanged, but the guy that walked into Groucho and walked out of Groucho was an entirely different person. And then, it remained the catalyst for all my life activities going on from there.
Wendy Harris: I’m so glad you’ve shared it, and everything else that you’ve shared today, your value proposition, your four Bs, about failing, about living legacy, your book recommendations. Barnaby, it’s been absolutely wonderful to speak to you. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom and expertise with us today, you’ve really given us a lot to think about. If people want to carry on the conversation, where’s the best place for them to find you?
Barnaby Wynter: The best place is LinkedIn, so to connect to me via LinkedIn, that’s got all my history, my background. You can see if I’m real or not, Barnaby Wynter with a “y”, just to make things more awkward if you type that in! In fact, if you google Barnaby Wynter, there is one other young musician who’s not me, but other than that, I think I’m the only one on the web.
Wendy Harris: I think if they google “Barnaby Wynter” and “Bucket”, they’ll definitely find you.
Barnaby Wynter: Yes, I think they will find me. Undoubtedly, they will find me, there’s plenty on that. And by all means, connect with me on LinkedIn. I’ll answer any questions, I’m happy to have any conversations. I enjoy coffee and cake a lot, so that’s how I maintain my physique, so yeah, just make contact. I’m happy to help in any way I can, point you in a direction that will help your business work better and be a stronger brand.
Wendy Harris: Wow! So many things to take away there. I do hope that you were taking notes, and anybody that you can think of that needs help in this particular topic, please do share with them. We’d love to hear how you get on, just having a think about those four Bs. Get in touch, let us know, it would be great to be able to let Barnaby hear some of your feedback too.
He’s got a book out. You’ll find the details on the website. But in the meantime, gosh, thank you so much for continuing to listen, and we’ll look forward to seeing you on the next episode with my good friend, Gary Outrageous.
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