with 🎙️ Gilles Toussaint, Founder @ GT Impact and Host of the “Mission First – Entrepreneurs for Future” podcast
💧 GT Impact strives to help Greentech companies to increase their revenue with efficient growth marketing sprints and data-driven content marketing
What we covered:
🌱 In a nutshell: the ins and outs of marketing and growing a Greentech Company
🍏 How you cannot have an impact if you don’t make a lot of profit
🍏 How profit is a key performance indicator for the magnitude at which you solve your customer problems
📈 What’s to like and use in the growth marketing world
🍎 A friendly warming on the mermaid’s song that growth hacking can be
🍏 When you shall start your marketing effort and where to begin
🍏 What framework you shall follow to feed your growth and which specific stage will be your unexpected underdog
🍎 What usual mistakes most of the companies do around tradeshows and what to do instead
🍏 How entrepreneurship timelines and tactics evolved
🍏 The 4 LinkedIn post types that will sky-rocket your reach
🍏 But also several examples of companies Gilles worked with, finding the most valuable business case, applying the same universal principles to B2C and B2B, the perks of brand and personal branding, and so, much, more!
🔥 … and of course, we concluded with the 𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 🔥
➡️ Send your warm regards to Gilles on LinkedIn
🔗 Check GT Impact’s website
🔗 Find the Mission First – Entrepreneurs for Future on your favorite podcatcher
is on Linkedin ➡️
Cheat Sheet #1: Growth Marketing on LinkedInCheat-Sheet-4-types-of-contents-to-skyrocket-linkedin
These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂
Antoine Walter: welcome to the show.
Gilles Toussaint: Thanks Antoine.
Antoine Walter: Actually, the reason why I’m using this “Bonjour Bonjour” intro, is that I noticed that we might have an influence in common, which is probably this kind of usual thing you see in podcasters, which are listening to French speaking guys, making a podcast in English.
So I would guess that you have an influence from Louis Grenier. Is that correct?
Gilles Toussaint: I love Louis Grenier, exactly!, I stole, I also do that in my podcast too, and I thought, okay, I’m coping it a bit, but at the end of the day, I was like, okay. Yeah, I think it’s because we are French speaking and it’s fine.
Antoine Walter: You know, I might have tried to be a bit creative. So I’m saying, “Hello, Bonjour and Welcome”. So I don’t say “Bonjour Bonjour”, but I get it. Let’s start with our good old traditions.
A postcard from… Berlin
You are in Berlin right now. Your french speaking, making a podcast in English. You’re based in Berlin and you’re from Belgium originally. Right? So what brought you to Berlin? And what can you tell me about building that I would still ignore?
Gilles Toussaint: Have you been to Berlin?
Antoine Walter: Yeah, I had the chance, you know, in the word before, when we were able to travel, there’s usually Wasser Berlin, which is quite a huge fair for the water industry
Gilles Toussaint: Yeah, there is probably a fair for everything in Berlin. I guess it’s a trendy city. Everybody wants to come.
I moved here eight years ago and the reason was simple. I think to be honest at the time I just needed some fresh air. I grew up in a small town village. Then I studied in Liege and new Tish. And then I spent 10 years working in R and D in the academy event, the university, and then for a big corporate company.
And just had all my friends getting married. I was going out of a breakup too, and everybody had children. Nobody was doing anything anymore. And I felt like I would have been stuck in our, I had a fantastic project in like when I worked for this corporate company developing lithium battery materials, it was a fantastic project where the chance to arrive there, which was very small, the product coming from the lab and then had to scale it up with.
Team and like, as a manager and participating with other managers. So I learned a lot and they had a lot of responsibilities at the same time. It was very exciting, but then it was the end of that project. We are scaled it up to, you know, a big industrial prototype and we had to go back to the lab.
And I’m a say, I’m always been, I love science and I, I love the part about developing a product and in digging into the numbers and everything. But I always felt that it’s not where I was best. And I like more the part about innovation and starting something and also working on the strategy and business and marketing, even though at the time, I didn’t know it that much.
… and corporate jobs!
And, you know, with these corporates, you know, probably that right from your interviews and from where you work, you know, when I asked to go into innovation department, they told me, oh, you have to go five years. You have to, you know, like if you want to do that, you first have to become a plant manager in there.
Go for, be a plant manager for two or three years. And maybe you will switch to that one. No way, I don’t want to like go this path and going back in the lab, it was a company in the phosphate industry. And we were working with lithium around phosphates for batteries, which was a great thing. Like it was a very impactful product, you know, that’d be where like potentially being, going to going to sell it to battery manufacturers, to selling the electric cars.
So very exciting project. But then the rest of the phosphates in R and D were for, you know, food industry and which is really something that I’m completely against a bit, this like manufactured food. And so, how was like, okay, I need to change something. And at the time I went to to Venus, I went to a life coach and she told me I was feeling a bit, I wouldn’t say depressed, but starting to see the slope of going, I’m not happy with what I’m doing.
Finding alignment through travels
And she advised me to actually take some holidays. And I went for the first time in like three weeks in Indonesia alone. Well, the first time there was a little in there and actually I loved it. And there I was, I took my decision. It was like, okay, I love to travel. I want to see more of the world. Let’s take a break.
And you know, everybody tells you this life coach as well which was, you know, an HR manager to told me no problem. We just see you can stop one year. So instead of traveling for one year, I said, okay, I love startups. I will I, I have some ideas. I love music. Let’s go to Berlin. And the society decided to go for Berlin for one year.
And it turned out to be eight years!
Antoine Walter: You alluded to the first part of your career where you were really working on this hardware, chemistry, side, art core, and more than hardware, by the way. And it’s quite funny to see that you ended up in Berlin, which is going to be the epicenter of batteries in Europe for the next decade with Tesla now, but you move to building for totally different reasons.
Radically changing path
So you express the, you, you, you change your path. How was it to really go to those really different areas, because without spoiling too much of your path, you are now in an, again, different field from the one which brought you to Berlin. If I get it right?
Gilles Toussaint: Yes. I mean, this is a tough parts. I’d say to change.
What I would recommend to everyone is if you have any feelings and you think you should change, you should just take your chance because I have zero regrets about making the change. It wasn’t easy, especially like I think Germany is very different depending on where you are. You know, I talked to my cousin lives in London and I think in the Anglo-Saxons countries, they are not so much into verticals.
They think that if you are a good manager in chemistry, if you can manage people in chemistry, you can manage people in finance and you can, the, you know, you can go into the finance in London and find a job, even if you have no experiences finance in Germany when arrive first. And I started to look for jobs in startups or something.
The best pass to open a sales door? A PhD!
And I said, ah, it was a project manager in chemistry. It can be a project manager for software and they were all like, yeah, but you have never done anything in software. And on the other end as well in Germany as a value, a lot of PhDs since they were like, you are a doctor, why do you want to switch to something else?
Antoine Walter: You can put it in your visit card, you know, this “Diplom Ingenieur”
Gilles Toussaint: that’s the only place where I put it. I’ve never used it anywhere in Belgium, but now in Germany I use it, they signed it, assigning it in my, you know, my signature or if I apply it, if, if I you know, what I will use to the funny part, when I worked at research gate in sales, this was the first time when actually as, so, such a huge difference in terms of results, when you were cold calling people, we allies because some of the colleagues were doing it.
How to get past a gatekeeper in German Culture
So I started to do it too. If you call a company in Germany and if you say, Hey, my name is Gilles. I would like to talk to such person, first of all, in Germany, you wouldn’t say it to such person. You would say, I want to talk to Dr. Schmidt. And the other funny thing is that I realized that if you say very brief here, Dr.Toussaint, I want to talk with Dr. Surf.
It makes a huge difference. And you go through the, what we call the gatekeepers, where you. So this doctor degree just here in Germany is so much values. So I probably drifted a bit like a sewing. Yeah. So changing, changing, it’s not easy, but at the end of the day, open to a lot of different things.
And what I ended up doing is I ended up in the startup world on one side. I mean, I drifted a bit, I still do a lot of music, but I also had the chance to focus on music for myself and work on, on songs, on songwriting, myself. And I started to, you know, go playing in the street was a street amp and having a small jobs, working in a Belgian bar, selling Belgian beers here in Berlin, and actually loved that part.
Becoming a (professional) musician…
And and at the same time, I went to the startup world where I created my own startup. Co-founded it in the startup weekend in each one. Tremendously well, and ended up like selling my shares after a few months when we got funded properly and we had to go to China because at the same time I met the cellist from my band, Natasha and I just was for the first time, it was like, I had the chance to do music and meet someone.
I mean, those are artists that I met so many great artists, but I mean, someone that I really have a connection to that believes in me that showed me that actually I can be an artist too. And this is the buzzer party where I said, okay, I sell my shares. And I only do small jobs and doing one a year and a half.
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I recorded my first album and kept on doing music and just, you know, I worked as a brake shofar as a bike taxi driver for a few months because he was allowing me to get good money and work whenever I wanted and do music. At the same time. At some point I started to have the opportunity to work part-time for research gate.
… with a sound interest for marketing, growth and business
And then the, like let’s say the, the exciting part came again because I was like, oh, this company is so exciting. The CEO was so inspiring. The impact of the company is huge and understand the pain that they are solving as a scientist, myself. And they were going into this. The company has been there for eight, nine years.
But it was the first time they started, they were starting to monetize it. And that was my first opportunity to ever they asked me if I wanted to be in the sales team, that they were starting to grow. And it was the first, I always said, never have never want to be a salesperson, but at the same time, I had read at the same time, you know, in the startup world that everybody should at least do a pure sales job for three months.
So I was like, you know, let’s take it. And actually it was a fantastic experience. And that led me to a different job after and to being a CMO and then to have the job that I have.
Going past preconceptions in Sales, Marketing and Growth roles
Antoine Walter: It’s interesting. What you just said about the, the, the sales first, because I can tell you I was on that path at some point, and I recognized what you just said, but also because you know, you’ve mentioned research music, and those are just fields where usually if you come in and say, Hey, I’m going to do some sales people, look at you.
Like you just gave you your soul to the devil. It’s like the worst thing that could happen. And maybe not the worst, because there’s even worst than sales, there’s marketing. And you thought that you, you, you hadn’t touched the bottom with sales. So you went to marketing.
Gilles Toussaint: Yeah. I mean, I personally had a worst feeling for sales and marketing because sales, I mean, as a, as a kid, I grew up in my mom and my stepdad had the buddy car garage, Carrosserie in French.
So, you know, and for me salespeople or even business at the time, I had no idea. The picture I had in mind where the, the sales representative, who would come to the garage to the shop as a company to sell the new painting products and saying, oh, you should use these sponges to clean the cars. Or, and, and for me, this, this is for me what sales was.
Recalling early experiences facing sales people
And that was like going door to door and being the, the, the annoying part of saying, and I was the one was sometimes like, oh, my parents would tell me that just go you know, because we were living there, he just told me like, just go in the office and say, we’re not there for these guys. These are knowing guys.
So the annoying let’s say role. So it was the same thing for me,
Antoine Walter: actually, I think, but that’s now a very French reference, but a full generation of people that have at least watch TV in French at some point have been traumatized by Jean Claude Convenant. It was to set this guy in a short TV show that was airing in France and which was quite popular.
And for the one that they were. So it was just the worst of all the categories of sales guys. And that was, that became so popular that I think that for many, many people, and even now today in the show is a retired for maybe a decade. When I said, I say to people, you know, I’m in sales. The first thing they tell me if they know that choice, Hey, come on.
I know what you do. You’re just cheating. You’re just trying to have a sex affair with someone in the back of Feeser. I mean, everything that could be wrong with sales. So that’s a bit, you know, in terms of storytelling, what we have to fight against. So if you, on top of that in an industry, which believes that we have such good product and solution, that if you’re selling them, it means they are not good.
That’s a hard combination.
Cold Calling at Research Gate
Gilles Toussaint: That’s how you see sales. And that’s also like, you know what, that’s what I’ve done as well at research gate, you know, being cold calling, we had these trainings with the people, or how do you pass through the gatekeepers and these tricks and how do you, so it’s true. That’s a part of sales, but what I realized as well was it, time is marketing and marketing.
There is a part of sales and marketing if you want to sell at the end. And so there a lot of psychological trick you can use, but this is a part of that love about sales is actually in the marketing. It’s a lot about humans in general, and now it’s up to you to use it in a good way, or let’s say in the worst way by taking advantage of people.
And I really think that sales, if you are there really now, when I have clients, they always say, I don’t try to sell. I say, I just want to try to find out if you have a problem and if I can solve it and if I’m the right person to solve it. And if you do that with marketing, it’s the same thing. If you find that.
Target audience you have and you identify correct is a problem they have, and you have the right solution for them. Okay. It’s sales, but it’s not about trying to sell it. It’s about helping people in that way. And this is how I see sales. And, you know, you asked me, you were talking about the R and D and music.
Marketing and Growth have a bad rap too
It’s the same thing that on marketing has a very bad reputation because people think, I think for two reasons for me, or let’s say three reasons, I was thinking about that is first when you are in R and D or in in music, it’s a very technical field or challenging field. And it’s something that, to be good, you need to be passionate about this technology or the music field.
And you have to spend a lot of hours practicing your craft or doing that. And because of that, you also, you want to be like seen as that person and not as a person who is trying to sell something. But at the end of the day, I think for R and D or for the entrepreneurs who are trying to develop the things now, especially in the very tech field, we can talk about it, but I think things are changing right now because they.
Like, especially the younger generation. They know that exactly what we just explained right now that they need to solve a problem for someone when they develop something. And at the end of the day, they need to be able to sell themselves because if they don’t do it, another company with a similar product, which may be even worse than theirs are going to come up.
And if they have a better marketing strategy, people will hear about the others and they would consider the others. Instead of working with the elders instead of themselves,
Mission First – Entrepreneurs for Future: Gilles’ Podcast (a must-listen)
Antoine Walter: the shift you’re mentioning is a very important shift. So I’m going to start with that in just a minute pictures before I’m going to put that here, if people like your radio voice, because in preparation of that interview, I listened to a couple of years.
Podcasts. So I’m mission first entrepreneurs for futures, which now suppose you a bit the direction, which we are going right now. And I really learned quite a lot of things. So, we’ll come back to your podcast, but I just wanted to put that here so that people that would stop listening after 15 minutes thinking, Hey, oh God, that was to ever French accents.
I don’t listen to that, that they, that they know that you have an excellent podcast and that I would highly recommend I’m coming back to my idea of this, this shift. And that’s actually a point I was discussing with Alice Schmidt and Claudia Winkler that just wrote a book, the sustainability puzzle, they were explaining how we are switching currently from a shareholder economy to a stakeholder economy.
So in the shareholder economy, you do whatever you can to maximize your profits in a stakeholder economy. You’re trying to find a problem exactly. As you described it just minutes ago, you find a problem you solve for that problem. And then if you do that, right then profit is going to be a consequence of that.
Who are the entrepreneurs for Future?
That sounded like something which really aligns with what you put on your website. That’s, you’re aiming to help the entrepreneurs for future. Is that a right interpretation from my end
Gilles Toussaint: of the entrepreneurs for feature who they are
Antoine Walter: and also the people that you’d like to
Gilles Toussaint: help. Yeah. Yeah. And the people that I like to work with as well, I think the guests on my podcast are people that I take that are able to inspire and to.
Teach on it, say not teach, but to help us entrepreneurs learn from them. And for me, the criteria is always that they care about the mission. First is why I called it mission first. And it doesn’t matter. They can be profit or nonprofit organization. The criteria that I have is usually that they have more than three years with their companies and more than 15 employees so that they are already in this, you know, they found product market fit and they’re already scaling up.
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Scaling up a Greentech Company
So they have. Things to share about this product development parts and the team management culture organization. And then usually sometimes when they are like far enough talking already about growth and scaling up, this is how I see it. And this is how I liked the podcast. I liked it’s long interviews.
Somebody described it, actually one of the listeners as a, as a masterclass in entertainment, we talk about the stories of the founders, but usually we have a clear topic you want to talk about, for example, how to bootstrap your company. And then they come up with do’s and don’ts every time to basically have a thread in there, start by answering directly like hands-on advices.
And these are people that usually are really committed to the mission. And of course, what I realized is that okay, because non-profits a different story, but when you start a for-profit organization, lots of them want to have an impact care about the impact first. But what I learned from all of them is that you cannot have an impact if you don’t make a lot of profit
and this is a part about to be successful in terms of impact. You need to be able to build something economically vital. So you need to be able to make profit. You need to find out the right product in order to make a lot of money. And at the end of the day, the difference is compared to let’s say traditional, you know, Silicon valley entrepreneurs who want to become rich.
Cheat Sheet #2: You Cannot Have an Impact if you Don’t Make a lot of Profit
Generating Profits that lead to Impact is different from “just” ambitioning becoming rich
They don’t want to become rich. They, they, they age probably is their world probably, but the goal for them is not a quick exit. They might have an exit, but if they have an exit is to be able to work on their next project. And it’s also to be able to sell that company to the right company will take care of where the same values of them.
I think that one of the episodes, the founder of handout here in Germany, like a solar company, you know, he was actually saying he doesn’t want to sell his company. What he would like to do is like arrive to the point where they can go like do an IPO. And he says in the green tech field, Especially in Germany, he was saying that lots of companies should be aiming more at like, you know, going through IPO’s and then keeping the control of their company instead of trying to exiting it too quickly.
And so these are the two people that I tried to interview with people like that who really want to have an impact and develop a company that is sustainable on the long term.
Dealing with Start-Up Exit as a Founder
Antoine Walter: Is it that they are seeking an exit or that there is no other choice because that’s one of the thing which I haven’t solved yet by discussing with many people, I don’t know for the full green tech sector, but I can tell you in the water sector is that there’s a high investment part and there’s a high, you know, access to market and time to market.
We had that deep dive with Paul O’Callaghan, where he was showing that a successful technology coming to the market. So I’m thinking it’s successful. It’s already with a survivor bias, built in, it takes about 30 to 40 years to reach mass market. So if you’re a startup and you’re a bootstrapped, you have to be very, very, very, very sure about what you’re doing, because that means you’re going to spend your full life, professional life, developing something, and maybe the second or third generation of your children or the people that take the company after you retire will experience mass market.
So it’s not like building Skype. That element is very potent in the green tech. Do you think that that has an influence on, on the path we see and the reason that there’s still this, this element that at some point you need whether to have an exit or to have a big company taking you on board or this kind of M&A moves.
A shift in generation and mindset
Gilles Toussaint: It’s a hard question. I think that like, I cannot answer it because I’m not in the field first as an entrepreneur, myself developing this kind of technology. What I can say is I think. The generations have changed as well. Like we are more impatient than before, and it’s hard for us to, to imagine like spending 40 years on something where lots of our companies and our parents were doing that before.
Not a lot of our parents could become entrepreneur on a daytime the way it is right now, it’s way easier. But you know, the company I worked for for chemical company, it was a family owned business. And still like, even the owners, that’s not still not there anymore. It’s still a very family owned business, even though it’s a corporate with 2000 plus people.
But at the time they were, they were fine developing something that they know it will stick to the next 30, 40 years. So I think one of the reasons is it’s probably harder to imagine now for someone staying in that, and also the corporate world has such made that the companies are just putting such a big amount of money in front of the founders to acquire these companies.
If you target impact, you may think twice to exit
That at some point you’d like, yeah, even if it’s my baby, even if I want to have an impact. If I can sell my company now after 10 years after seven, eight years and get, let’s see, as a founder, you know, 15 million Euro in my own pocket, will I have more impact with this 15 million Euro? And now being able to start five of the companies, or will it have more impact by keeping on developing that?
I mean, I’m not in the situation, but if there would be a situation I would also think about, it’s not about the money about, yeah, of course. If you have 50 million Euro, for sure you can buy a nice house that you wanted to have with enough space to raise your children here, gonna even here in the building.
Whereas the market is completely crazy, so it’s attractive, but I think even the long-term, you can have a bigger impact by selling your company. But I think it’s, it’s, it’s really hard to answer that question. Something I want to add on that is I still think that this is changing. I still think that the young generation is going to come up.
Elon Musk still runs Tesla and Space X
There will be parts. You see it with like Elon Musk and they’re going to be, they’re going to have other Teslas in the water industry and in different things as well. I think you’re going to have some people who are gonna, you know, Elon Musk is still having still on space X and is still on Tesla and is still on the other companies.
And you’re going to have some funders at some point who have the young generation will say, fuck you to the big corporates. I don’t want to sell it. Maybe I’ll sell it to a smaller one. And I stay on the board and I will have the main, still the main, let’s say decision-making power on that company so that it stays on track.
And I really think that this is going to change it. We will have some
Corporate Business can bring Marketing and Growth accumen to technical start-ups
Antoine Walter: the next year’s actually, if there’s one thing that usually. Big corporates bring to, to these founders for the best or the worst is that at least in the water field, usually the one creating a startup come from a university or from a very, very, very technical backgrounds and not all of them have the brain flexibility that you, you had to switch from hardcore academia to the world of business, and you can have a really, really cool product.
And still, if you don’t know for whom it is. So if you really lacking these marketing elements, chances are that you’re going to fail. And that, that is kind of a lose lose. If you think that your product may have solved some major issues. So I was seeing that as a potential. A reason why you were wrong and as a potential reason, why you, you bring value in that sector, but that might be wrong.
So what are these entrepreneurs that, that you help in terms of marketing with your company at which stage are they on their path to the unicorn IPO, or simply of having an
Gilles Toussaint: impact for me the stage where they are, doesn’t really matter. I work with some companies who are a bit more advanced. I don’t work with corporates yet that I’d be also happy to work with corporates.
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Adding a marketing and growth kick in early stages
It’s the right mission and the right project. It can be at the very early stage, whereas they need, you know, the basic is a problem I’m solving was a company that I’m working with is there are usually in the green tech sector because in the green tech sector, or let’s say a very technological products, because in that case, usually the owners are usually very technical and they don’t have the, the marketing that senses and affinities and skills.
And this is a part of where was my PhD, because I love to dig into complex things and to try to extract. From that complex product. And from that complex solution, try to think about the, put myself in the shoes of the audience and then be able to transform or to convey a message coming from this complex product, into a story that we can share to their audience and knowing exactly to identify what is the problem you’re solving, how should you talk to them?
And in that case, I think my, my, my PhD, the fact that these founders are very technical, they like the fact that I can relate to them very easily and that I can relate to the audience. So I’m I’m in the middle for them. And the way I do that through getting the stage of solving two problems for them, usually as either didn’t have the right experience in digital markets.
Testing stuff and finding a path for growth
And in that case, what I do, you know, for example, either they don’t know anything or they are doing things, but they cannot build something. Reproducibles no, sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t work and usually they don’t have the time to learn everything, even though they might have some marketers inside that are really good and know us Facebook advertising, or they cannot hire senior marketing expert from scratch and build a whole marketing team when you’re still building your product.
And so in that case, I joined them either as a consultant, what I call interim CMO. Or I offer them workshops where I use collective intelligence. I think, you know, we’re familiar with design thinking as well, then thinking methods where we do these, these brainstorming workshops where at the end of the day, whatever, I’m a consultant and I use the workshops, I help them find the most efficient growth strategy using content, valuable content marketing for the audience, and to disseminate it promoted on multiple channels.
And that includes doing the strategy, doing the budgeting, defining which resources they need in terms of like in a house or recruiting freelancers. So that’s one of the things I do for them. And then the second thing I say, we can talk about it later, but I, I focus on the professional level and very much into LinkedIn since a year and a half now.
So with them, I help them to grow the business, both in B2B, B2C by using that personal branding. And so I help them to tell their story and to grow their audiences. And like basically, you know, find more investors, find more clients by using LinkedIn efficiently. And I do that as a with advertising or personal branding workshops and growth automation, because you might talk about it, but you can save a lot of time by using growth automation without being.
Obsess about growth and market from the onset!
Antoine Walter: Don’t spoil that part. We will come back to that just before you mentioned design thinking, design, thinking to my understanding comes or shall come before you have a product, because it’s actually your customer telling you the problems they have so that you can come with the suited solution. But it also said that sometimes people contact you when they have a product and they start thinking of how to push it to the market.
If you had the chance to have like the perfect setup. And if you were to give an advice to all those founders out there of green tech companies, when is the right point in time where they shall start thinking about market.
Gilles Toussaint: From the very beginning. And you have founders who get that from the very beginning and they grow way more quicker than the others.
So, you know, they are building at the founder Institute, they are coming up with an idea. They don’t even have sometimes the right funding team, but some of them already start to tell their story on LinkedIn, tell their story on social media and they grow with that. And you can save, for example, a super other example.
Growth Case-Study: Kati Ernst from Ooia
I had recently in my podcast, Kati, and the co-founder of a brand of underwear for women like with their periods, super interesting CEO, inspiring CEO, but she also did the same thing. You know, when people told you, you need to raise funds, And she had a funny story, not a funny story, but actually like a weird story and a sad story.
The fact that like, you know, as a female founder and developing female products, she couldn’t find investment at the beginning. If we couldn’t find,
Antoine Walter: when I listened to that episode, which is by the way you have such a writer, fantastic episode, it reminded me of something. One of my guests Orianna Bretschger on that microphone once gave me that statistic that in the venture capital world, 1% of venture capital goes to female founded businesses.
Factoring in Gender Inequity
And I know that it’s like 50 50 between women and men in the founders word. So that means if you’re a female, it’s not even a wall, it’s a mountain that you have to climb. So, so yeah. So, sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt you, but just to say that that was the first thing that crossed my mind when I listen to you or to you.
Gilles Toussaint: Yeah, and it’s very unfair. I mean, I’m not the right person to talk about too, because I’m not a woman here. So, uh, let that just talk about it today. It’s really unfair and that’s, that’s very sad, but the fact is, so what she did the way she grew the company, it was a co-founder. They started it. And what they started to do is doing two or three months, they went to all kinds of fears to talk about the product when they didn’t have it yet talking about the idea of what they want to do.
And every time they were doing that, they were also doing everything in parallel to Instagram. So as soon as I started to talk about this experience to people to gather ideas together, feedback, I think they were doing like live on Instagram every day, sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for longer.
Building and Talking to an audience to plant the seeds for growth
Everyday during three, four months. And like that the grew new agents have a couple of thousands of people before they actually started a crowdfunding campaign after three or four months, that quad funding campaign went through the roof. They had 15,000 Euro in the, in the, in the first days. And so they, they achieved the objective very well from that on, they went to look for investors that didn’t believe in the products.
And then from there on, they say, okay, fuck it. We’ll bootstrap it. And she explained that very well in the podcast, how she bootstrapped it. And now she has a community of 70,000 people on Instagram. Just because she tells her story as a founder from the very beginning. So I think marketing wise, it’s in your own interests as a founder to start doing it from the very beginning, you don’t have to go in all directions.
That’s for sure. Like she chose to go only in Instagram. She’s not a LinkedIn, that’s a choice. And that this is something when I’m happy to help and to give feedback and to, or to accompany some entrepreneurs. But I think you should consider it from the,
Shall Marketing & Growth come even before having a product?
Antoine Walter: but even there, if I was to be the devil’s advocate and to go even further in your direction, that marketing should come first.
I don’t know if you read the book, the mom test by Rob Fitzpatrick. He’s basically explaining that if you come and say, Hey, I have this ID and you tell that to your mum, it’s embedded in her. She has to tell you it’s, it’s a wonderful idea, even if it’s not. So what is saying is that you should always look for the problems and never, never, never, even in the earliest phases, start talking about your solution, but that’s counterintuitive.
You, you start. Walking around and asking people for their problems, is that idealistic and not possible in the real world? Or would you even advise to go to that level of perfection in terms of, of the order of things? I’ll give you an example I had on that microphone, a fantastic guy called Sreenath Bolisetty, that was in season one, he had product, which I do believe brings so much in terms of added value.
And he was struggling because he developed that product for four years and he didn’t find a market for that because he’s the pure technical guy. And all of a sudden he has to find a market for his technology. And I was just wondering. Could he had just walked around and asked people is arsenic a problem because his solution was just solving the arsenic problem in water.
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Getting a sense of growth is tough when your a technical founder
And if he had started walking around, he would have found what is the market sector, who was the most potent problem with arsenic. Whereas now he just has this, this quite a vague intuition that in all the possible verticals, there is to a certain extent and arsenic problem. But to whom is it the most problematic?
Who are the people who are really dying to have a solution? And I said that as a, as an expression, but actually people are really dying of the problem of arsenic when it’s in their drinking water. So I’m wondering if you can advise to such a guy who’s a, a researcher, the most advanced technician, there is on earth in that very specific section to say, Hey, hold on, put all your research on ice and go out.
And discuss with your market.
Discuss with your audience
Gilles Toussaint: I really believe that you should discuss with your market and you should discuss with a potential audience from the very, very beginning. I mean, I think there are two different things here. There’s a part about marketing that we say, you know, promoting what you’re doing. And in that case, I can understand that some people don’t have as, as a skills or the will or the time at the beginning to do it.
And so you don’t have to do what Kati has done and go on Instagram from the very beginning on and tell your story and explain your problem. Life is that’s not what you want to do, but talking to your potential audience, you have to do it from the very beginning. Otherwise you’re going to waste a huge amount of time, not every single bit on in terms of design sprints.
Are you, I guess you’re familiar with design. But the methods where you can actually do the ideas, you can test any ideas within five days with your audience. And I think with some of the more technological, like problem, it it’s way easier to do with the software. Of course, when it’s more technical, it goes to different, but epi shine and one of the guests of my podcast, which also one of my clients, now they explain it very well.
Building the Business Case by iteration to trigger growth
You have to find the right business case is that developing, you know, they can print solar cells. So they use these organic fellow cells that they can like print on an enhance, very thin layer and use these layers. And they could have used for a lot of different business cases. And even though they have the product still being developed and optimized in the lab because of develop it during several years in the lab in Sweden, the founder went everywhere to talk to the different businesses to see where is the biggest.
Approach. Where is the most interesting market and business case for us? Is it an electronics for consumer electronics? Is it is it for sensors? And so you have to do that from the very beginning. And when you talk to these corporates or other companies or clients, if it’s B2C, you have to figure out where is the best case.
You know, Marty has been there, but he has a saw a very, like he has a vision to become the next Tesla, like to, to have an of high-impact as Tesla will have with this with the solar cells, because they can, with a revolutionary production process, they can produce like millions and millions of of cells very easily.
So it has a huge potential impact, but he says, you know, we have to see first find the most valuable business case basically in this case. So instead of MVP, it’s the most valuable business case before to be able to nail that one. And then when you can, you can go to two bigger, like orthopedics.
Marketing is more than business cards and powerpoints
Antoine Walter: The reason why I’m insisting so much on that, on that stage of marketing is that spontaneously.
When you talk to muggles, I’m still a muggle I’m reading books because I love the fields, but I’m not a marketing expert like you are. And when you speak with marketing muggles and you tell them, Hey, I’m working in marketing, what they see is brochures, PowerPoints, maybe trade shows, and that full element, which comes in, in the early stages of a company life of a product life, which is finding the right market, which is somehow the definition of marketing.
That’s always, if I say the hidden part of the iceberg, I think it’s still not describing it because they didn’t part of the iceberg. You know, it exists. You don’t know what it is, but you know where it is. And that’s really the part many people ignore. Is it really me from my medical point of view? Or do you really still meet people for whom marketing is this brochures and PowerPoints?
Gilles Toussaint: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s still a thing. It’s a common thing and theme, you see. Especially in the B2B world and especially in the corporate world. So, you know, you have these, you know, these big companies in the corporate world, we still believe that like marketing is done like 20 years ago and that th that’s the way to go.
Marketing has changed in 20 years, and “Growth” has become potent
And I mean, I don’t, I don’t blame them because, you know, they are probably like like the, the people at the top, the top level of managers are probably 55 plus. And at the time they were probably also very much into production or let’s say technical thing and didn’t care about the marketing because the B2B world was made that way in the past.
Again, everything is changing now. I see some companies you can see like take planet a, they are the name, the hottest startup in Europe right now. And it’s the sustainability SAS software as a service. They are doing fantastic job at the marketing. Their founder is doing exactly what she needs to do in order to push the word about the company, also their mission and what they want the impact to be.
But I think it’s. Don’t get me wrong. I think that for example, trade shows in brochures are still the way to go, but what I found stupid and that something we’re already seeing at research gate and when we had clients who would start to work with us research and we would manage to convince them because they were the one who was most difficult to convince, like, you know, these old, sometimes family business, corporate business, who actually are only going to trade show and you ask them, but do you know how many leads you have from trade shows?
Growth Case Study: Optimizing Trade Shows
Oh yes. We have like, you know, we get 50 business cards, but and from these business cards, how many become client? Oh, well we don’t know. And this is what’s crazy right now. I really think, yeah, you should go to these trade shows. You should go. That’s definitely like the way to go to get leads, but what’s, it’s usually costing you 5,000 for bigger companies.
Sometimes it’s been one. I don’t know when your company, how much do you spend to go to a trade show? When you send a team there, like a few dozens of thousands, 50,000 Euro,
Antoine Walter: I would say much more!
Gilles Toussaint: You see, like, you know, when you have, and what I find creatives, when you spend 50,000 Euro to go on these trade shows and lots of people there, but you don’t spend at least 5,000 Euro in digital marketing in parallel because you go there and then you, you have no idea how it went.
You just have to rely to the gut feeling of, you know, how much champagne you had and how much good like chats you had with other people. That’s how you rely on it. And it’s part of the business. But if you spend 5,000 euros extra in digital marketing, then was this $5 on Euro. You can raise awareness and your brand with digital campaigns, you can target people like that goes to that event.
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What to do before and after the trade show, online, to foster growth?
Before the trade show, during the trade show, even in that location with Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, you can help them to know about your brand share content. They would be interested to get the email address, then retarget them and have them to book an appointment with you. And they come super hot. Like warm.
It’s not hot as a show to have like to be with you when you can’t have your full agenda packed with pre-booked meeting from people who are already interested about your brand. And afterwards, if you have installed the tracking properly is there is a chance. Or even if you do it manually with the right team agile process within your team, you can actually measure how much you’ve converted to clients.
Antoine Walter: Two questions here. What is the coolest activation campaign you’ve made around a physical evidence in the digital world? And second, what would be the balance you would put between your investment in one and.
Gilles Toussaint: Do you wanna say the first question? That’d be honest with you. It’s something that I know only from managing events and mice on my own.
Setting the Date for a future Growth Case Study: Gilles will come back!
So I’ve never done it with clients. This is something. If somebody is listening to, I’m happy to have my first case study with them, please contact me because I know it’s working. I mean, I know from, from other marketers, I’ve done it with, I know from having like clients selling tickets for clients of events, this is how it works is how is this just easy to do?
And it’s just about applying what we’ve done for other campaigns to that topic. And that’s that project let’s see. So it’s totally possible to do it. So I’ve never done it really, but in terms of budget, it’s very easy to stick. I would say, you know, with a few thousands of funerals, It’s enough money to just raise, you know, it’s very easy to calculate on LinkedIn.
You get people in the best case and are your four. You can have people learning about your company for one to two Euro. So if you, if you spend, you know, let’s say if you’ve been 50,000, year-old on your booth and you spend 5,000 Euro, you can calculate how many potential visits you will have on your website.
Rule of thumb: spend at least 10% of your marketing budget online
For that you can calculate how many leads you will have from this. And the leads are going to be like cost you for no, from 20 to 50 year old, depending on the kind of product and how good you are at converting them. And so if you spend 50,000 Euro in offline marketing, you spend 10%, at least in digital, and this is how we spend it.
And the good thing is you can measure. And when you see it’s going very well, maybe you spend 20 or 30%,
Antoine Walter: what you’re describing here sounds like the archetype example of growth hacking or growth strategies.
Let’s say you mentioned growth. I’m not sure you mentioned growth hacking. So maybe it’s me adding the hacking. When I hear growth or growth, by the way, both of them growth, marketing growth strategies, growth hacking. I see, you know, Dave, McClure in this, a YouTube video, just making his AARRR sounds just, just to, to introduce this framework, AARRR and it has this, you know, a bit, especially when you say hacking, there’s a bit, this shady element are you hacking people’s computer, are you hacking people’s minds?
And the way you explain it, it makes a lot of sense. It’s instead of targeting Germany, let’s target the cities because that makes more sense. Like, let’s look at the KPIs and the ROI and let’s look the thing that works the best, but there’s still the stains. Is it something. You see as well. And what’s your, your counter-arguments to this shady side of things?
Is Growth Marketing shady?
Gilles Toussaint: Shady side of thing is I think it’s, it’s kind of, yeah, that’s, that’s normal because you hear, I mean, that can be very shady and that you can do with things that are completely legal. Because of, you know, this is a tech, this is a site about digital marketing. You use tech now at the end of the day to say that, but at the end of the day, it’s like, you know, if you go put posters of your company somewhere, it’s the same thing, right?
You can pay a, like, she don’t have enough money to go through that. Or you can ask her, go put your posters with yourself on, you know, on boards and build boards yourself and put them there. And if you want to do that, normally you have to ask permission. If you can do it, put it on the board, you can put it on us on any Paul’s in the street.
You have to define what you have to put it. So that’s also kind of shady is as about in that case about the brand, do you want to do it that way or not? And in terms of tech, it’s all about the same thing. How do you want to use the tech? Because growth marketing growth hacking. I personally don’t like growth hacking.
Understanding the nuance between Growth Hacking and Growth Marketing
I don’t like the term growth hacking and I don’t like the mindset. Let’s try to define bows first. Okay. Like growth. I think for me, the best example you can think about is the famous Airbnb hack.
Antoine Walter: I was going to say that it’s usually the one that people take because it,
Gilles Toussaint: yeah. Yeah. I mean, what they, what they said is like, you know, they had no marketing budget and they were like, how can we promote all company better?
And then they thought about the referral and growth hacking is about what is the minimum thing we can do that can have the biggest impact. And in that case, it’s also a lot about thinking you have your growth funnel, you know, that goes, you said this. So are so awareness, acquisition, activation, revenue, retention, referral, and rifle.
Growth Cheat Sheet #3: The 95/5 Secret
Retention: your Growth Underdog
Usually it’s something that is underestimated, but usually if you increase by 5%, the referral rate, you can have an increase. It’s proven you can have an increase of 95% up to 95%of revenue so referral is one of the first thing you should work on. So how you can get the people to talk about your brand, to amplify your brand or your product.
And so what Airbnb did on that time, they said, okay actually Craigslist in the U S had an integration, an integration option, and they, after people publish on the Airbnb platform, they they add, they say the other, a small new window, new page that says, do you want to promote it on Craigslist as well?
You just have to click these two clicks, select a location. And then it’s automatically on Craigslist in San Francisco with millions of views. And so of course, like it’s really exploded the amount of views that they had and the awareness and the brand, because all of a sudden Craigslist was flooded with Airbnb.
So this is a hack they use, but the thing is what I don’t like about growth hacking is that people think that they will find that trick and they all try to find that trick for them. What can we do? And of course it can go shady because you can use technology to create, you know, email addresses dramatically on LinkedIn, on Google.
The shady side of a brilliant growth tactic
You know, you can take any website and there are tools to do it. You can also, you know, pay someone, a developer who can, who can do that. But now you have to be very careful, careful. First of with GDPR, this is one and a half years. I would be very, very careful. I’ve never liked that my previous CEO was like, yeah, you could do that.
I can, I can find it. I know an engine developer, and then we can do that. And I’m always like, you know what? I’m not a big fan of that. You can always do it, but you have to be very careful. What I prefer about the growth marketing is growth marketing is for me, is taking the mindset of growth hacking, try to get the best, be creative and get the best impact with the minimum effort, but with a long-term plan and long-term plan.
Meaning that case, think about your brand as well, because growth hacking don’t care about you. They don’t care about it. All they care is about growth and trying to find a way to get a lot of users. And if it piss off a lot of other people, because of the way they do it, usually they don’t care. This is why I don’t like about it.
Caring about Brand makes a big difference between growth marketing and growth hacking
So instead in growth marketing, you try to do the same thing, but you think about your brand and you think about the customer service and the customer experience. And the way I like to say it, the analogy I found yesterday, thank you very much for making me think about that because I found the best analogy I could find is you can choose to take shortcut.
But if you try to take shortcuts all the time, there is a moment where you can get lost and you don’t read the end. You reach your destination where after others who took the long road, and this is the, you know, you probably have been there, you like it or been with friends were like, yeah, let’s try to cut there.
And then they try to find the shortcuts so much that at the end, they arrived after you at that place. And this is why I like growth marketing. It’s about choosing the longer road, but then you have a road that, you know, will lead you to your destination at that longer road for me is to understand your audience, position yourself, well, provide value to them with content that they’re interested in, get them to follow.
Taking the Long Road can be both faster and safer to reach destination
You become a lead, then nail down your USP and your conversion strategy to convert them into from followers to clients. And that’s your destination. And when you know that road very well. It’s actually very easy to push on the accelerator and to get very quickly to your destination. And that’s what you do, you accelerate, or in that case, it’s optimizing your campaign, knowing which one works well.
Having always a strategy on how you put the campaigns, how you test them and how you decide which ones you should keep having an agile process in-house to create the content and to warm up your leads with automated email marketing, and include the feedback from your clients, for example, and get them to refer to others.
So this is the way I prefer it is that takes a longer road to try to understand it very well. And then you can accelerate.
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Does Growth Marketing apply to B2B?
Antoine Walter: Now I have to be the devil’s advocate. Again, you gave the example of Airbnb, which is B2C. The other usual example I see quite a lot is dropping. Dropbox was playing a lot on the referral level with you get more space.
If you invite your friends. And again, it’s B2C, does that translate really? To B to B? I am fully B2B. If you’re in what, in the water industry, you have to be fully B2B. You’re not really selling a 12 million waste water treatment plants to an individual end user. Does this kind of strategies and approaches apply exactly the same between B2C in B2B.
Do you have to adapt it or does it simply not fit?
Gilles Toussaint: I’ll ask you a question. Like if you get a referral from Dropbox, from a friend I’ve been there, I’ve done that after. I remember like adding lots of friends, increase my space. I didn’t have money at the time to increase my asthma, my Dropbox space. We’ve all done it.
Antoine Walter: I have it on my Dropbox. I have three terror octet. 200 mega just because these 200 mega are still, there is all the people that spammed with it at the very beginning.
References are the B2B version of B2C’s Referral!
Gilles Toussaint: I mean, we’ve been there, we’re probably the same age. So we were at the university and like, uh, so, but you get these referrals from Dropbox, but how do you choose your partners or your companies when you’re in the B2B sector?
Are you using only Google or are you using only like trade shows or do you rely on referrals of others
Antoine Walter: out of habit? A lot trade shows quite a lot as well, but I think you cracked it on every tender. You have to give reference.
Gilles Toussaint: I mean marketing at the end of the day, it’s the same thing in B2C and B2B.
The concepts are the same. So referrals for example is the same. So if you take care of your brand, well, if you have a great experience with your customer, the riffle will works better. This is why, I mean, it’s not only about growth hacking. It’s about branding, which is part of marketing as well. And to answer that look, the three arguments that have to convince you that like B2B should actually change and be more marketing focused is look at the brands that are doing well in B2B.
Do online and offline businesses work differently when it comes to growth tactics?
I can send you some links, you know, Adobe marketing cloud as awesome, because I’ve counseled a lot of ads for some, like when we have to create content,
Antoine Walter: but the market cloud that you said cloud, it’s a fully digital.
Gilles Toussaint: Yeah, it’s a fully digital one. Yeah, I agree. But they have a very, very funny like, advertising when I saw it.
It was like, man, he’s really good in that case. That’s B to B the part selling and I think in marketing the Adobe marketing cloud, but think about NGOs as sort of really cool, like a COVID prevention video. Last time I can also send you the link, but it’s called, don’t be a covered idiot, but that’s applied to NGOs again.
Growth Case Study: Boston Dynamics
People would say you would NGO as they cannot do what you know, it’s different. Okay. This one is B2C again, but think about Boston dynamics, even by Boston dynamics, robots, you know, You probably knows them. So if tomorrow, if tomorrow you start a company and you need to have one of these robots helping you with something, you will think about Boston dynamics, the, the brand at the top of your mind, and who come with the Boston dynamics and, and sure that now there are tons of other, not tons, but probably a dozens of other companies who are developing robots.
But if you are in the sector and you start tomorrow, or if you’ve been there, the first brand you will think about is Boston dynamics. And then in terms of storytelling, think about Elon Musk. Like nobody would think about, you know, okay, Tesla is B to C, but space X was B2B. PayPal was B to B and it doesn’t have to be about storytelling and big, you know, ego.
Maniac CEOs you think about help scout? It’s a, the two that I was using for my previous company in customer support, when we had to do the benchmark, we looked at the different options and they have found them re as a blog. And that an amazing using blog is an amazing newsletter about customer support and almost every week doing back weeks, I’ve opened the email because every time I was learning something about psychology of customer support.
Yes, Growth Marketing works for Offline B2B Businesses
And so that’s B2B and that’s niche, but it worked for me because I chose say products versus others because they were educating me. And when it comes to LinkedIn, the two other arguments I have is when it comes to LinkedIn personal branding. And if you don’t do it, the upcoming young competitors will do it.
This is the truest thing that I want to add is everybody in terms of personal branding, everybody should tell this story and build their brand. And it’s not about sometimes people think about the founder, but it’s not about the founders. Think about you as an employee, as a business developer, If you build your brand using LinkedIn now, using Instagram, doesn’t matter, you will find your next job more easily.
A good point in time to think about your personal branding as well
You will find investors more easily. If you’re an entrepreneur, you wouldn’t find talents or co-founders or partners more easily. When you decide that you need to change to start a new projects. And the last thing was, if you don’t do it, the upcoming young competitors will do it for the corporates.
That’s what I want to say. You will lose market shares. It will be hard to catch up. Once you will see that somebody who was a same product of you and in the watcher industry, you’ve sent me some examples. I think they’re doing great job and you will have more and more of these people that are new entrepreneurs will come up with products and these big companies will think they can acquire them, but this might change too.
So it’s better to catch up the train and to get to, to jump on the train. Soon enough,
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Can Personal Branding be scary for the C-Suite?
Antoine Walter: but to a certain extent, what you just said can be very scary if you’re a C suite executive of a larger group or B2B company, because I can hear give you my, my very personal example. When I started out this podcast series and we started pushing some content on LinkedIn, the first feedback I got is, Hey, you’re looking for a job.
Yes. And you just said it for sure. I’m not going to lie here. It’s going to be much easier for me to find a new job. If I was to look for a new job, just because I’m visible and that was building my personal brand, but that’s still not the reason why I’m doing all of that and doing all of that because I wanted to position the company I’m working for, which is a 216 years old company, as someone who is also playing on that field and who was not visible before.
But you are meeting a field. I mean, it’s hard for an employee to do it’s personal branding on the trade show is on the middle of the booth branded with the company he has to suit that the company decided him to wear. He has the badge that the company decided him to wear. It can be scary to see that now there, all those people are out there in the field and they can do social media on their own.
They can be of the brand on their own, and maybe they tell a story. You don’t want them to tell. So how do you prevent that?
Managing means, balancing risks
Gilles Toussaint: You mean from the company side? Yeah. You can’t prevent them. You can’t you know, of course you can prevent, you know, there are some secrets you cannot, you’re not going to start to talk about technology behind what you are, you’ve attended.
And you have the NDA that you signed and you have agreed to when you work for your company, but regarding the company and talking about building your brand is something you can’t prevent from the employees. Now I never remember jokes, but I had this joke that I always remember about the CEOs will always carry about what the employees could do and how much training they should give to the employees if they leave.
The joke (that may be a Steve Jobs quote?)
So it’s the same thing here about personality. It’s about personal branding, you know, and this joke I always remember is like, you have this CFO comes to a CEO and he tells them, oh, all employees want to have that training. And it costs you 10,000 Euro. What should we do? If, what if we offer it to them?
And they leave, leave the company. If we train them and we get them way better and they leave the company and the CEO. In that case, a smart CEO says, yeah, but what if this tea and we don’t do it.
Antoine Walter: It’s funny because we present that as a joke. To me, it was a quote from Steve jobs. And I know that everything which sounds clever is usually leveled from Steve jobs on the internet.
Gilles Toussaint: Still, same thing here. So I think like it’s hard for, I mean, first of all, it’s hard to do personal branding. It’s true, especially for these corporates understand, but at the end of the day, I think your job as a company is to make sure you treat your employee as well as possible. You motivate them with your mission.
Where’s your, the flexibility, the environment, the culture you’re creating, that they want to stay. You cannot prevent them from leaving. And then in the second thing you can do these personal branding can amplify in an organic way. Your company for sales, for marketing right now, LinkedIn is booming like since a few years already.
LinkedIn: a Platform for Growth Marketing and Personal Branding
And you don’t know how long it’s. Last, you know, Facebook eight years ago that Facebook LinkedIn was, we say, you know, like if you listen to Gary V what we says it, you know, LinkedIn in such a stage where it, Facebook was eight years ago and Facebook, and a few years ago, even like five, six years ago, you could put something on Facebook, all your friends would say, And then if you were an artist, you would put your music out there.
Everybody would flexi see the post. Now it’s impossible. And Facebook because it relies so much on advertising. The reach is almost nada. If you don’t pay LinkedIn, now we have the chance. It doesn’t matter how many people are following you or your connection you have. If you put something interesting, you very often will get a reach, which is way past the amount of followers you have.
I have 3,500 followers on LinkedIn, or like connections on LinkedIn. I have a post to 1, 2, 3 times a week, and I have very often 30,000 plus views of people who, so my posts, which is 10 times a mile exam on the connection to have. So if you get a team of, you know, you have your top 10. Employees who care about the mission, like the company right now, and you teach them how to build their personal brand.
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Did you get it yet? Built your Brand!
You tell them it’s fine, build your brand. You know, it’s it’s and, and building your brand. In that case, it’s not about talking about the company all the time. It’s about talking about yourself, talking about what you’re learning at the company, what your values are, or they can be aligned with the companies.
And then the overall effect will be that people will learn about the. And if you do that with your, with your, with your people, now you can have free promotion of like hundreds of thousands of people who will see your post and hear about your company. And this is how powerful it is right now. So I really think that companies should be doing, and it should be pushing the employees to do it.
And by the way, this is also why. Now I started to work. I wasn’t doing this LinkedIn. I was doing any advertising before, but now it’s starting to I, I’m working at my first workshops with with their P shine. Once my clients with actually I do workshop with all their team. And we’ve been August where we basically gonna have a workshop with all their team where we going to create, like, we’re going to give them the codes and use these design thinking methods to get inspiration from what others are doing.
And then everybody will create their own content for the next month to share. And I think this is something that all companies should do with employees, especially when they have a mission that people care.
Protecting your Brand & Growth, regardless of platforms
Antoine Walter: There’s so much to unpack in what you just said first. I can still have my devil’s advocate hat on for last time and say, yeah, but now you’re dependent on the platform.
What if the platform disappears? I mean, you’re still a musician. I’ve been in music myself, and I can tell you how much I invested in my space. We had most beautiful my space ever with my band. And one day my space closed and we were all crying. So let’s bark that, but I think it’s still a risk. If you put your eggs in one place, the second element is you have to know what you’re doing.
You get these 30,000 reach on LinkedIn. I can give you several examples and much more examples of people that just get family and friends, because if you start your LinkedIn post with, Hey, I have the coolest product in the world. Well, already gone. Nobody’s. Be interested in that you have to tell a story, but you also have to, to catch people where they are and not to use all the buzzwords, but where we copywriting is something important there.
So that means you have to skill up if you want to play that game. It’s not just like a, Hey, I go out and I mean, Facebook, 10 years ago was still, I put a picture of my cat and I’m going to get some, some likes, which brings me to my last element. I’d like to unpack in what you just said is that it sounds to me when I listened to you, like content marketing is really the field where one should invest all your examples, the emails you were reading every day, because they were full of gems.
That was companies, which you got attracted to their brands because they were giving you a wealth of information. All of that goes into the direction of content marketing. So that’s three in one question, I’m sorry. I put a lot into that.
Build up your Growth Resilience
Gilles Toussaint: First the channels. It’s something, again, you cannot control that.
What you can do is to decide on which platform you should start now, mostly because you can start on a few of the same time, or you can start that focusing on one, for example, you know, if you’re in B2B, definitely won’t be on LinkedIn. If you’re on B2C, you can be on LinkedIn and you can get an Instagram as well.
The both of them have different pros and cons and that’s something every, you have to think about your audience and thing, where it makes more sense and the time you want to split. And it’s also depends on what you’re good at because different media have different values and different channels. So for example, people, you should not try to do videos if you’re not good at videos, or if you don’t feel like doing it, you’re doing a podcast, you know, like you, you really good at interviewing.
So like some people, and when I see all the amount of preparation you did for the interview, like kudos, because I feel like, okay, you really doing that very well and I can feel you are well prepared. And the questions you ask are very relevant. So. Find out what is the thing you’re good at? And then you can give up a podcast and you do, you can decide to do blog articles.
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Find your sweet spot…
You can do videos. Maybe you are good at designing pictures or funny pictures do means do memes about, you know, if you are someone very funny, do you mean about the values and the stuff you’re screwing up or stuff? The industry is screwing up. You don’t have to do what everybody’s doing. Just have to do one thing that you like to do, and that you’re good at.
And then the good thing is about, if you do it on one channel, if you learn it hard to nail it, you just have to learn how to nail that. And then it doesn’t matter. You know, if you’ve done all the work on my space for your band, it doesn’t take you a lot of focus. Yeah. It’s a lot, there’s always efforts.
But if you, you, you probably know how to build a new audience. If you know what to do that on one channel. If it takes you, let’s say the thousand hours doing the MySpace to find out what was really the trigger, how you could convert your origins, how you could find new funds. The next time you will do it on the next channel.
It won’t be a thousand hours. It would be maybe, you know, 10 to 50 hours because you know how to do it. So you can do that on LinkedIn right now. And if you learn how to do or to tell your story, or to use personal branding or to use content marketing on LinkedIn, you can do it on Instagram. You just have to adapt it.
… and build up your skills
And on the next channel that will come after. And so that’s for the first channel. The second one, how to nail it. It’s about there are, and that’s what I’m working a lot right now by analyzing others, doing it. You can find very quickly. What are the different things you should talk about? So for example, you know, LinkedIn is very clear, the four or five types of content that worked very well is for example, you create content and you offer it for free initiative, comments and likes.
It’s still something that it works very well. You see that on LinkedIn, you create a you know, a list of adeno what could be the water partners that could be a, that could be all the different podcasts or the resources that you should all listen to as a people in the, in the water industry.
And if you exchange that you’re afraid to send it to the people in the, in the mailbox, on the LinkedIn box, by just exchanging against the content. It’s something that will work. Other thing is I need your opinion asking people’s opinion and people love to talk. That works always very well. He was what I’m working on, and here is what I’m struggling at, or here is what I’ve done here is what I’ve learned.
And celebrating success for example, but explain the story behind the little say, yeah, we reach a thousand customers that say, oh, we reached a thousand customers. This was a long road. And I’ve learned that the most difficult part while this and this and that, then that’s. So basically you have a framework of different content you can create and you just have to learn that.
Strive to get better every day
And then you will find your favorite ones and you will test them. And so that’s how you get better at it. And what me, what I do with, with the people now I work with is I can help you find inspiration and give you guidelines on how to create it. At the end of the day, you have to create it yourself. And then the last question was content marketing, yet content marketing.
I just, I just believe that’s the way to go because now everybody’s offering content and everybody’s offering content for free. So the ones who will be noticed more are the ones who offers the best content for free, at least to raise awareness and to show thought leadership. And then after a project we’ll make a dance.
Antoine Walter: I sneak in last question here, because I have to be cushy of a time at some point, but I could just spend one more hour on that topic. So I promise you, I stick to that last one. You mentioned email marketing. And to me that is, if you, if you make a Venn diagram between common strategies in the 21st century and marketing strategies, as we used to do, the only intersection is probably email marketing.
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The overarching importance of Email in a Growth Strategy
So that’s probably the point where those two words may be eager to meet. And that’s also a point where once you, you, you own your email list, you own it. If the company disappears, you don’t care. I mean, if LinkedIn dies tomorrow, you still have the emails is email marketing still as hot as it sounds or is it’s a field that you would really put at the very least.
Gilles Toussaint: No, no. That’s I think that’s a, that’s the most important one that you said it, and I forgot to say it. We get into channels at the end of the day, you should try getting followers is one good thing, but you should all try to get, to build your email list as a company or as a personal brand or something.
It’s so whatever you do, even if it’s not a company as such, but your, your, your small little projects on the side, you should try to get people’s emails because then it doesn’t you own it. So I really think that now, SEO, it’s not something I’m specialized on, but I think if I build a company right now, the two things you should focus on is SEO.
Content Marketing relies on many pillars
And for SEO, you need content of course, content marketing again, but SEO is critical NASA, best ROI on the longterm, even sort of effort at the beginning. So SEO and email marketing is still very hot because it’s like referral, right? When you reached that point with a client upselling nurturing the clients you have is the best thing you can do.
So email marketing and having an, having an smart email marketing strategy. So, you know, knowing now, for example, not only doing email and emailing the tens of thousands of people you have on the email list, but using the smart email marketing tools where you can manage to know, for example, you knew a podcast.
If I sign up tomorrow, afterwards, or my podcast, I don’t have the time. I would love to come at some point, but your podcast, the way you can do spot email marketing is, you know, you send an email as soon as I’ve signed up from a specific page from your podcast, you can send me an email was saying, Hey, these are three different episodes from really three different topics.
And here are a small description of the topics. I hope we can help you have a last, like, listen. And then if I click on a specific topic, then I’m tagged automatically liking that topic. And then the next time an episode, when you w when you publish an episode about that topic, you can send me an email about that.
Some additional growth hints
I mean, maybe a personalize like a message saying, Hey, I know you received the emails about the other podcast episodes, but this one is specific one about that. So this is what I mean about email marketing. And now it’s, you know, in companies when they actually hire the first thing I would hire in a company find loads of maybe it was the first thing, but I think the key persons you need in an company is the SEO manager and an email marketing manager who knows about these all like these lifecycle emails and email marketing automation, when you can actually set up the whole marketing automation so that people receive emails.
Antoine Walter: So. you’re saying that marketing should come first, as you said before, but even if it comes first inside that field, there are sub categories which come even first and that’s SEO.
Gilles Toussaint: That’s what I would do in a house. Yes, definitely. I mean, for me, like, I think you can outsource advertising. You can also digital advertising, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising, even kind of like, you know, creatives.
But I think, SEO you should have and content, you should have someone in house who knows your business very well. And if not the same person, you should have a person who can take care of email marketing as
Closing our growth deep dive (for today 😉)
Antoine Walter: well. Okay. At that stage, as I said, I have to be cautious of your time. So I’ll park it here for the deep dive.
I would have so much more, I mean, addressing hypergrowth, addressing, because we talked about a lot about inbound marketing, but I think outbound is probably not dead. And I took a mental notes that after listening to that podcast, many people are going to reach out to you and try to see how they can bridge this digital and and trade show approach.
And to be honest, today, you have a case study on that. Incredibly happy to have you back on that microphone, because I think that’s really one of these blind spots at least of the water industry, but of many industries that that’s still heavily reliant on trade shoe. It’s exactly as you described, I mean, you, you nailed it.
You have this 1000 leads out of which 9,900 of people you already know, 50 are students. And the other 50 are just walking around and are so cold and you’re, it must be a miracle if you convince them to get to link with your company, but let’s use that as a teaser for a future discussion. And if it’s fine with your proposal to switch to a rapid fire questions, yes.
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Rapid fire questions:
Antoine Walter: So in that last section, I tried to keep the question short. If you can keep the answer short, that’s cool as well, but you’re going to see that I’m the one side tracking. So no worries. First question. What is the most exciting project you’ve been working on?
Gilles Toussaint: It’s not related to what I’m doing now.
I would say as a thing as was the most exciting and that I had the most fun with was answering my PhD. I was an assistant professor assistant. So you have to do some tasks for the university teach. And I was also in charge of like, uh, Participating with the science expo exhibition. So we would like, have a theater.
And every time we would have people from the last year and their high school coming to the university, and we were presenting that the first year we did it, you know, doing it the normal way, that traditional way, where, Hey, this is two chemicals. We mix them together. This is what happens is the theory behind it.
Getting influenced by CSI
And we found that very boring with the team of the. Like your assistants who were there. So one time we had a beer and an evening, and then we thought about how we could reorganize that. And we actually turned that we revamped the whole exhibition, taking into account, making it the first year, like CSI, the, you know, the, the experts is like a TV show that it was really like trending at the time.
And so we make it about how can we, like let’s make a scenario. There is a motor of the university. And then we just think about all the different experiments we could show related to the experts, fatties, the CSI show. And then we really had a build up a scenario and we were coming and we had like a real like jackets from the, like this FBI jacket in Kevlar.
And we had a. Scenario that would be built. And so we were acting as well as explaining. And so this was super, super exciting. And the impact it has on student was huge. Like the students were like you know, the old conservative ones when Charles X, Paul was like sedition, we’re like, yeah, we can’t do that.
Getting influenced by Edutainment
You know, it’s more like acting and it’s not really science, but then the successful sweetie, huge, we had people who like kids who would talk about it to the parents who were journalists of the national television and they came and then it stayed. So every year we had a different, and we had a theme about, you know, Harry Potter and the matching behind it.
So, and I think that’s the way to go. It’s the same thing. Basically. It’s content marketing for science. You make it attractive for students. And then like people, like instead of having students half sleep, We had every time, a mixture of like 10 minutes acting playing, and then 20 like 15 minutes, 20 minutes explaining.
And they were reading.
Antoine Walter: I was going to say exactly that you said it’s a non-related fields, but it’s edutainment. And that is the root of marketing. It’s how to take people where they are and to start by attracting and catching their attention and then do something about it. So to me, it’s exactly the same field.
Yes, actually. It’s good. Yeah. There’s a pattern in what you’re doing.
What’s your favorite part of your current job?
Gilles Toussaint: And free to do what I want. This was the best decision to leave my, my, my employee job. One more time, tough decision, but I don’t regret it at all because I’m free to organize my time as I want to take the decision that I want.
And then we’re getting the job itself. I’m really exciting to work with like Sam, Jack coding, like AP shine as a client. Now having these super inspiring teams who are having an impactful technology and Working with cross functional team to work on the marketing thinking about the, bringing everyone together and realizing that you actually get way more out of it than having just, you know, a discussion or a brainstorming with the marketing people.
There is what I really have.
Antoine Walter: So if I was to use your terminology in your own podcast that would be a do and the do would be dare to take your freedom.
Gilles Toussaint: Yes. Yeah, yeah. Definitely like,
Antoine Walter: yeah. Sneaked again. How cool your podcast is!
What is the trend to watch out for in digital marketing?
Gilles Toussaint: I hate trans but I would say it’s, it’s getting there.
You can’t avoid it. It’s specific automation combined with personalization. So with all these, like, the rise of, you know, AI and all these tools, marketers will be all about being able to create great content that at the same time, being able to understand what you can do to personalize experiences.
With the tools you have and automate that while keeping it as human and relatable as possible,
Antoine Walter: I’m going to make a very boomer remark here, like really boomer. What in this word will remain human because, you know, usually, I mean, I slightly adapt to the question. Usually I ask the trends in the water industry and the answer is always digital AI machine learning, not always, but quite, quite often.
And I do get it. And honestly, I’m the first one riding the trends and loving that wave. But I guess someone must set limit somewhere
Shall we be scared of technology?
Gilles Toussaint: and it’s scary at the same time. As much as I love technology, I really am really scared of being, you know what, this movie ready player one. Where they live, you know, in a, in a, in a distant world where they just wake up and then just go individual world the whole day.
And I’m really afraid of that because that’s a direction where I can see coming with virtual reality and then people, and especially that the fact that people have boring life and the economy doesn’t have like lever, like SPCs are going extent. So the possibilities to go in the natural world seems to be disappearing.
And it’s very scary. So I don’t know what we’ll stay as, as human, the human side. I just say that like, you can’t avoid it right now. And I think, I hope that humans going to the wall at some point will react to avoid being actually too much, you know, robotic and just hold that hope. And I just hope as a, as a, as a marketer, just be aware of these techniques, be aware of these methods, try to jump on them, but try to master them.
In a way that stays as human as possible. And, and this is Siggy. It’s like the growth automation on LinkedIn, you know, you all received, I’m sure you receive a tug and a message from companies, from people who can build it, your website or LinkedIn. And these are all automated to SIM bullshit message to everyone and, and, and, you know, growth information.
… or take the best out of it?
And right now, when I, I, at the same time, when you combine it with content and you make it, content-related. Me, what I do, if someone really is my podcast, I have 90 likes or comments on my post. I used to just click on the people who like to post and then send them a personal message saying, Hey, I saw you like my posts.
I’d be happy to connect. And then, basically they will see my LinkedIn feed after, but it will take me hours. Now I use the automation tool where I do that. And actually you combine it with content marketing. So I don’t spam people. I have like basically 80% of the people that send a request to are accepting it.
But now I do make a do my content at a, as a share content for a month. Then I take all the different posts that I have put them there. Then people will receive an automated, personalized stuff. Okay. I’m not really talking. It’s true. I’m saying it’s not me wrote the personal message and I’m saying hi or Twan, then it’s linked to exit.
This tool takes your first name. So I don’t put it, but actually it’s still a personal message for me saying, Hey, I’ll try it. So you liked that post about that. I’d love to connect and I stop there. I don’t send a message after, Hey, check my podcast. No, they will see it on my LinkedIn feed. And it was a content that I create.
And for me, that’s a way of saving tons of hours as a marketer or as a salesperson. It’s amazing that, and still keeping it personal.
Personal Growth Case Study: LinkedIn
Antoine Walter: I think it’s an interesting tip also because I can give you the example you mentioned in one of this LinkedIn type of posts where there’s the like, and the comments.
And I did that for the book of the season two, which was taking all the, all my guests from, from season two. But the point where I’m stupid is that I didn’t use any tool. So basically people would comment. Try to put all the time different comments in answer to them to say, Hey, thanks a lot for reaching out.
I’m glad. And to find a joke on each of them to say, Hey, so it was a fun thing for me because it had a lot of success. But on the other hand, I think I did only that for a full weekend.
Gilles Toussaint: So yeah, I mean, I mean, when you automate, there are some fun parts and not some fun parts are appearing. I mean, I, by using these tools, I made mistakes too.
And I had people saying to me, Hey, I’m not blah, blah, blah. Or with people I knew or would get the wrong message. So you learn from these things. But at the end of the day, you like by, by learning, you can do it
Remember: Humans don’t change as fast as growth trends (so maybe, beware of the trends!)
Antoine Walter: properly. There’s also something interesting. You said the very beginning, which is that you don’t like trends and, and that is also something, but again, if I sidetracked you here, then we are back to one hour because if there’s one thing, you know, people say, Hey, no, that that’s changed.
That, that Shannon wasted humans. And we didn’t change that much within five years, 10 years, we change. On the timescale of centuries of millennia. So probably if you have, if, if you step aside from the tactics and you, you go to a thinking long, you’ll see patterns, which don’t change that much. So I, I share you your opinion on trends, but I said, I don’t sidetrack you here.
Let me move on. What is the thing you care about the most when you’re working on a new project and what is the one you care the least about? I don’t
Gilles Toussaint: know if it’s caring, but I say lacking, maybe starting. I love starting a projects. Usually there’s my personal it. You probably see it from my background and my, my experience, but I love the challenge, the complete understanding, the challenge, complexity, finding solutions, you know, understanding, getting to know the people I work with.
That’s what I prefer. And the thing I liked, I liked the least is finishing going. You know, I I’ve done a PhD, so I know how to go to the details and I can do it, but it takes way more effort for me than, than starting over.
How do you keep track of the market bills, the trends? What are your sources? Where do you go?
Gilles Toussaint: I mean, especially following a lot of people on LinkedIn for me, it’s if you just take the time to follow the people who are interesting, this is for me, like a natural thing. So I just, on, on LinkedIn, I follow people who are in the marketing side that I really like, and then they share content and regularly.
And then I use notion I use notion and Astana to to gather all the content together and to like categorize it sometimes for listening. I really, like you mentioned it already. Every everyone hates marketers from, from the week on year. I think it’s a fantastic podcast. So that’s that’s maybe.
Antoine Walter: So when you say reading, it’s reading content, blog posts and, and, and Boston on social media.
Do you also read books?
Gilles Toussaint: Books? Yes. I read a lot of like read a lot of books. So like marketing or not related to marketing. One of the last, most important books that are the change. My, my, my view is called humankind and it’s fantastic book that shows actually that I’ve always been very pessimistic about like I’m an optimist pessimist thing that like sees a positive side of things, but I’m always thinking that we’re going the wrong direction for a lot of things.
And and this book’s actually showed you that everything you think about. The bad part of human humankind has actually been shown that way because of our, like, what journalists have chosen and what history I’ve chosen to focus on. And if he takes a meal experiment, for example, let me grab experiments about, you know, people like doing torturing people for, for that, the guys with a lot of resources.
And it was a lot shows up that actually there were lots of things that they didn’t talk about in this experiment. And he does that for a lot of different parts of the human history. There are examples of positive. Attitudes and people helping each other. And there are lots of example of fundamental self organized structures now, which are very trendy, like, which I really believe it’s it’s it’s coming up.
So this book is really good.
Antoine Walter: I just Googled it. It’s by Rutger Bregman. I’m going to put the link in there in the comments. I didn’t know that the, the book, but
Gilles Toussaint: impressive. Especially like it’s very inspiring, but you can see the guy as a very, like a resources are behind it. It’s it’s not like someone who just extrapolate based on one or two facts.
Do you have someone to recommend to come to that? Very microphone?
Gilles Toussaint: Yeah. I mean, the thing is like, as I said, I’m not into the water industry, so it’s hard for me to find someone. I mean, the two things I can think of two persons that I’ve interviewed, that would be probably very good to talk about water in general.
Even if it’s not water management, the one is like captain Watson, I’m sea shepherd, obviously. And the second one is peer Heath. Pasley from not
Antoine Walter: well, thanks for that. For those two suggestions. If people want to follow up with you aside from your, a mission first podcast, where shall we redirect them?
I would guess LinkedIn.
Gilles Toussaint: Yes. I mean, yeah. First thing, first thing, LinkedIn, probably my name normally is used to sign with lots of people cannot write it. So I guess we’ll have some links in the, on the page. Otherwise more easily is my, my website GT impact.com. So GT impacted.com and yeah. And there you can, if you contact me via the form there we’ll have my email or you also have the link to LinkedIn there and to my podcast mission first, directly on, on that page, it’s been
Antoine Walter: a pleasure to cover all these topics with you.
I’m really sorry that we took much longer than expected, but I think you had so much value to share that it was worth to, to dig in it. And as I mentioned, there’s still a ton of things that’s we could add to, to that episode. Any point in time in the future where we can make us sick. We’ll do that one.
The mic is open whenever you want. Thank you
Gilles Toussaint: very much. Thanks for listening to don’t wastewater. This podcast was brought to you by GF piping systems. Love this episode, head over to apple podcast, to subscribe, rate, and leave a review. See you next time.