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  • Writer's pictureCraig Thatcher

Paul Harris of REAL Success talks to Craig Thatcher about B2B rebranding

REAL Success was founded over a decade ago by Paul Harris who is very well known and highly respected in the agricultural industry. An international speaker, he is also the architect of Vita Profiling. A simple psychometric diagnostic tool. He helps build harmonious high performance teams for progressive farmers seeking sustainable futures.

I'm Craig Thatcher and today I'm talking to him about the rebranding of his company by asking these questions.

  1. What prompted you to embark on re-branding your business and what has the impact been?

  2. What did you think of the process and what were your greatest discoveries during it?

  3. What were the biggest challenges that you’ve overcome?

  4. What tips would you give to other business owners who are about to re-brand their companies?

paul's tips and ah-ha! moments

Discover what Paul's tips has for you and his ah-ha! moments from re-branding his company.

Thinking of Re-branding?

Read the REAL Success story and case study. Here are Craig's Top 10 Tips to ensure your branding project is a success. Not sure where to start? Try here first. If you are wondering whether B2B re-branding is worth it or have some specific questions, then contact Craig today.

Transcript of this interview

[00:00:26.930] - Craig Thatcher

What prompted you to embark on the rebranding of your business?

[00:00:31.440] - Paul Harris

Okay, great place to start Craig. I suppose the rebrand of my business was really about needing to expand the business and generate new leads. I've been in business for 13 years and it was about growing the business beyond me. So the original branding was done when I first started the business. It hadn't changed at all in 13 years, but actually my business had changed quite a lot and particularly the clients who we were dealing with had changed a fair bit, a lot actually since I first begun. So it was about reflecting the brand, reflecting the clients that I was now dealing with and the business looking more than just Paul Harris, I guess, yeah.

[00:01:14.970] - Craig Thatcher

Excellent. Okay. What would have been the greatest moments of realisation or discovery, would you say, during this process?

[00:01:23.390] - Paul Harris

Well, it definitely was one significant A-ha! Moments. There were lots of smaller A-ha! moments. But one really significant one was that really my website in particular and my branding and the messaging that we give is not about me or not about us, it was all about the client. The marketing isn't just telling clients what we do, it's connecting with them where they are now that maybe just saying it glibly. It doesn't sound like a particularly massive A-ha! moment but I think for many of us in smaller businesses, when we start our businesses, we tell everybody what we do because we want them to know what we do when they come onto our websites. The problem is not many people come onto our websites so we've got to have a website where actually when they arrive at our website they see themselves rather than seeing us. And that was the massive sort of realisation and discovery that I came across. Really?

[00:02:22.310] - Craig Thatcher

Okay. I do remember when I was reviewing your competitors, I got excited about the potential of repositioning your business because the others were by and large just talking about themselves all the time and they weren't talking about what impact they could have on their clients. So I'm glad you picked up on that.

[00:02:40.330] - Craig Thatcher

And what would you say with the lowest points? Because there are always low points in any project. It's not all high high, what would you say?

[00:02:50.070] - Paul Harris

Yeah, I wouldn't call them low points particularly. I think the hardest point is a better question really was about letting go, and the need to be in control when you've run your business yourself for quite a long time and you've written everything and you've done all your own copy suddenly to have to let go and let somebody else write about your business was certainly one of the challenges. And then this sort of thinking that others won't be able to describe what I do because only I can describe what we do. And then realising, of course, it wasn't about describing what we do. It's about reaching into the client's psyche and being able to articulate that, I guess. And the other one really was having to let go of this desire to tell people what we do. I remember having a fascinating conversation with my brother, actually, and he said, with Andy, and he said, People aren't sitting at home thinking 'what I need is Vita Profiling' because I wanted to put more information about Vita Profiling all over our website. He said, no, they're not sitting there asking that question. They're thinking, how do I get some help with my people?

[00:03:59.260] - Paul Harris

Where do I find someone who can help me with recruitment? And it was letting go of that need in a need, almost. But I need to tell you everything that we do. That was probably the hardest transition, really. And the second one being and that somebody else could actually be able to articulate what we do, or at least articulate what the client needs better than I could.

[00:04:20.390] - Craig Thatcher

Well, there's two points there. One is VITA profiling, which is your very simple sort of psychometric testing tool, which you develop yourself. And I do understand what Andy is talking about, because, one, they don't know what it is, and two, they don't know what it can do for them, but they know they have a problem. And secondly, the point you're referring to about talking about what you can do or somebody else doing it better is actually, it is often easier to write about somebody else and what they do than it is to write about yourself and what you do. So that's what I do all of the time, really. One of the things I enjoy most, actually, is working together as a small team with you and with Alex and Phil and with Andy. And I think you've blended the skill set of SEO, CRM design and my specialist skills in branding and copywriting and, of course, Andy supporting on the financial side. And I think that's been really good and I think you've got the best out of all of us. What did you think about the rebranding process as we went through it?

[00:05:31.090] - Craig Thatcher

Because it's not something that people go through very often, but it's something I'm very keen to help people understand because the concept of Continuous Branding is something that all businesses should have in their minds. I'd be interested to know what you felt as you went through. And now, actually, looking back, how you feel about the process.

[00:05:56.320] - Paul Harris

Do I feel about it? I mean, I think the first thing was once I let go of what we talked about before, the need to control everything. It was then to trust the process that when you engage somebody who's a specialist, or phrase I don't really like expert, but if you use an expert or a specialist to trust them, that they know what they're doing and what they're talking about. So I think I had to let go quite quickly and trust in Phil and in you and in Alex and Andy that we were all good. You knew what I wanted, you'd understood my business. And then it was trusting that process that the specialists that were there to help could help. And then what I also liked about the process was that when I was getting in my own way or getting in the way of the process, the people were prepared to tell me, we're brave enough to speak up and say, yes, Paul, but that's not what we're doing here. That's not going to achieve the desired result. When I was getting uppety about colours or various minutiae, really, I just have this lovely knowing look on the zoom, meeting with the experts going, yeah, okay, Paul, but that's really not vital at this stage.

[00:07:02.610] - Paul Harris

Don't get hung up on that. So I think what I liked about it, was that it was a staged process. You came and asked me for some information, you asked me about what the market was and who my clients were, and then you went away and worked with Phil to produce that in visual and copy form. And then when the first iteration of the branding came back, it was, oh my goodness, how have you got all that? Just from the odd conversation with me. And I guess it was a really interesting process and seeing the brand develop in front of my eyes. What I would say to anybody else is that it's really easy to get hung up on things like logos. And I remember having a few conversations at the beginning about logo and actually you saying quite clearly that logo is part of it, but let's not get hung up on the logo. It's the messaging that's far more important. And I think that was a really educational process for me that we did end up with a logo that was really pleased with. But it's very easy sometimes to get obsessed with things like colours and logos when really what you need to trust in the rebranding is what is the messaging you're trying to get out to your target client.

[00:08:22.130] - Paul Harris

So I think that process of digging in deep into what the client is really looking for was perhaps the best part of the rebrand, rather than what it looks like. I'm really delighted with the colours and how it looks. What I'm more delighted with is how we now express what the business does. And that was for me, the rebrand for me wasn't really just about colours and logos, it was about expression and description of how we talk about what we do.

[00:08:52.710] - Craig Thatcher

Yeah, I'd agree with that. I know you played down my questioning, but I know what questions to ask. And actually your answers were very thorough and very deep and actually, that's great to work with. So that's how we got to where we got to really and actually, the rebranding the most fundamental part was actually working out your new value proposition. What was it that made you so unique from any of your competitors and so compelling for those farmers, the progressive farmers, the ones that are looking to the future, the ones that are open to new ideas, the ones that are clamouring for help, to help support their businesses? What was it about what you do that really helps them? And it was simply a matter of uncovering what that was and making that clearer and repositioning you in your market.

[00:09:57.700] - Paul Harris

I just wanted to add something to what you just said. What you said is actually really important. Is that I think. Again. When you're trying to grow the business. Which is what this rebranding exercise was really about is you also have to move as a smaller business owner away from the our market is everybody. Even in this case. Although I work in a niche market. Which is agriculture. And within that niche market. I niche it down even further to primarily dairy farmers and arable farmers. Within those sectors, you can even niche again. And we've talked a lot about niching in marketing terms, people often get frightened of it, but it's not necessarily excluding people, but it's clearly identifying who our target, absolute target market, our client avatar, if you like, was. And you really helped with that, Craig, in terms of narrowing down who we really want to speak to. So that the copy that you then prepared was very much speaking to that niche of a niche of a niche rather than a generally set copy, which is what you tend to do when you're writing your own copy, because you want to appeal to everybody. And you clearly helped in terms of the branding, re-proposition, clearly identifying who is it that is your target client.

[00:11:17.670] - Craig Thatcher

Yeah, that's spot on and I'm pleased that that's come through. And clearly it's resonating with your targets. So what's been the biggest challenges that you've overcome with this project, then?

[00:11:34.950] - Paul Harris

We're still working on it. One of the challenges is it's not finished. Often you think, okay, the website's done, the business cards are ready, the logos all sorted.

[00:11:44.830] - Craig Thatcher


[00:11:45.370] - Paul Harris

Job done. Clap your hands and say it's finished. It isn't. It's actually just the beginning. That's what I realised, is that having a new brand, a new website, and a new look and a new set of messaging is just the beginning of the process. So what we've then done is we've been integrating a CRM system called HubSpot into everything that we're doing, so that we're driving traffic now back to our website. And for me, that was a technological challenge, using new bits of software. That was where the help of people like Alex Morrisoe was so helpful. And he's still being helpful in terms of integrating SEO, email marketing. So they all drive traffic back to the website. Having spent money on the rebrand, that's where we want people to land. And often there's a feeling of, well, I can just post anything on social media. Well, no, it's this integration of bringing everything back to the people land on the website. And I think that's a fantastic challenge that we're now seeing the fruits of. I was looking today in terms of the increased leads that we've had, the increased downloads off our website, the traffic we've got, the profile that we're now getting, all because we're driving all of our comms back towards the website.

[00:13:01.390] - Paul Harris

So that, to me, has been the biggest challenge that we've overcome. We're still working on it, still want more work to do. But having had a website there for 13 years that had very little traffic coming to it, the biggest challenge was to get traffic to the website. And we're now achieving that, which is fantastic.

[00:13:19.210] - Craig Thatcher

Well, that's brilliant. That message about, okay, the end of the rebranding is only the start of the next phase, is not something that clients like to hear when they're in that process of change and all the rest of it. But you're absolutely right, it is the start, not the finish. So I'm glad that you've recognised that and I'm also glad that the impact that the rebranding is having. So that brings me onto the relaunch itself. And I know we're only sort of weeks away from it, so I'm talking like it was in the past tense of years ago. But the relaunch was especially successful because of the white paper that you drafted in response to the government one about labour shortages in food and farming sector. So I just wanted you to explain how the idea of that white paper came about.

[00:14:13.930] - Paul Harris

It's interesting. I was thinking about this and actually wondering whether I could remember where it came from, but I think I'd seen green papers and white papers and people that issued white papers. So I had this idea of writing a white paper to the industry about the factors that I believed, a bit like the Emperor's New Clothes. The industry wasn't talking about they all knew there was a problem, but they weren't talking about the real on farm problem. So one of the biggest issues that agriculture has in the UK in 2022 was post Brexit not having access to Eastern European labour. The challenge is that's not the root cause of the long term problem that the industries have in attracting labour. It's actually much more to do with the ability of the farmer to attract and then retain staff on their farms, from the basics of working conditions and hours to how they manage people themselves, how they communicate. And the Government white paper, wasn't talking about that, but it was you, I think, that says you need to respond to a government document. And I think you'd seen a couple of documents in the press and you say, why don't you respond?

[00:15:20.650] - Paul Harris

You get your white paper to respond to the Government white paper, which of course, gives it a lot more credibility. It's not just me spouting into the ether as to what needs to be done, it's actually saying, look, the Government have said this and they were saying, essentially, we need to improve the visa scheme and make it slightly easier for us to get access to overseas labour. Very helpful to the horticultural end of the agricultural market. Wasn't going to actually deal with the on farm issues that the farmers could deal with. So we basically then tied in my white paper as a response to the Government white paper. And I was looking today, we've had over 300 views of that white paper on our website that's traffic because we've had a lot of press coverage as well. So we were able also to go out to the press, to the agricultural press, and say, look, we're writing this white paper in response to the Government. And as we all know, magazines are always desperate for content. And they picked it up, the number of the publications were some of the leading publications in agriculture picked it up and did a precis of the report.

[00:16:24.900] - Paul Harris

And all of that is great exposure. And as long as they just mentioned my company name and people Google my company name, it will once again drive it back to the website. And we've seen, as I say, 300 people have actually looked at downloading the white paper. And I also looked this morning, 40% of those people who've looked at the white paper are not existing clients. They're not even in our database. So in terms of generating leads, 40%. And we've got to follow all those up now using our HubSpot system that we've now got, and we're looking at autoresponders and things like that, but as a method for generating interest in what we do. It's been a fantastic tool and it was just an idea, which you then helped me shape into how we could actually tie into something that was already out there in the marketplace and people were talking about it.

[00:17:25.250] - Craig Thatcher

Well, I'm glad you said that, because it struck me that whilst we're excited about launching your new website, all those busy farmers are not sitting at home just desperate for the launch of your new website, but something like a white paper addresses the issues that they're facing, so they're far more likely to show interest in that. So well done on that. And finally, the last question I wanted to ask you is what advice would you give other business owners or managers of companies who are perhaps facing similar challenges to yours. What would you say to them about embarking on rebranding?

[00:18:05.990] - Paul Harris

I think a number of things, a number of answers to that question really is be sure you've got a reason to do it. So in my instance, it was strategic. I just want a pretty new brand or a pretty new website. There was an intention behind which was to significantly increase the size of my business and there was a strategic reason for wanting to do that. So the rebrand wasn't something that was a nice to do, it was an essential to do if we wanted to deliver the strategy of growing the business significantly. So have a really compelling reason to do it. It's the first thing I would say. The second one is get out of your own way. Use people, use experts. I mean, some of the areas where you added most value, Craig, were just the brevity of copy. I think you have a real tendency, when you're talking about your own business, to want to wax lyrical about what it is that you do. And using somebody externally who's more objective has a much more brief and to the point of view, and particularly if you're a bit verbose like, I can be.

[00:19:12.230] - Paul Harris

The value that you brought was also mapping out the website. Again, having that one step removed. Having somebody who's one step removed means they can look at what you do and map it out differently. So you come up with a whole map of what the website would look like as well. And then worked with Phil. Couple more things. I would say this is a phrase I wrote down, actually. Forget about who you are and what you do and focus on who your client is and their challenges. Now, what I mean by that is you don't completely forget to talk about what you do, but the starting point is the client and their challenges, rather than who you are and what you do. Again, if I can express it no more strongly than that was my biggest a-ha! moment, and then drop the defensiveness, the classic, yes, but that won't work for me and that isn't how my market works. And all those yes, but you tend to come up with and what was lovely about the team that I had, including yourself, Craig, is you gently would just push back on that and say, yeah, everybody says that, Paul, but this is why we're going to do it.

[00:20:14.500] - Paul Harris

So be prepared to listen to the expertise that you're paying for. There's no point in asking people who are good at this stuff to then come back at you and then say, yeah, but I know better than you. I know what I do really well, I know my business really well, what I don't necessarily have the expertise is how to express that to the outside world. So use experts, get out your own way, don't be defensive and forget about who you are for a while and focus on what the client and what their challenges are.

[00:20:49.170] - Craig Thatcher

I think that's a very good summary, actually. I'm glad you finished on that. So thank you very much.


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