This week on The Whin Big Podcast, Katie speaks with Flavilla Fongang, expert brand strategist and founder of 3 Colours Rule and TLA Black Women in Tech. In this inspiring episode, Katie and Flavilla talk about creating on-brand content, marketing through relationships and reaping the real (and realistic) benefits of PR opportunities.
Flavilla also talks about the magic that comes from unearthing the soul of your brand and gives a few tips on how you can discover yours.
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Getting started on the business journey
Flavilla Fongang is a London based brand expert but comes to us today from Paris, where she has spent several months staying with family after Covid restrictions kept her in France. She is the founder of two companies – TLA Black Women Technology and Three Colours Rule, a creative branding and marketing agency.
Before branching out on her own, Flavilla worked in the oil and gas industry but felt restricted in her role. She was frustrated by her job, the industry and the limitations of having a boss! Initially, she moved into the world of fashion – a passion of hers – and started up as a fashion consultant for luxury brands.
Three Colours Rule’s scope of work
The agency takes on a wide range of clients. From the mighty (ever heard of Facebook?) to the small-but-mighty, highly ambitious SME technology startups. When it comes to deciding which clients to choose to work with, it all boils down to her client’s ‘why’.
“One question we always ask is ‘why are you doing this?’ If you don’t fall in love with your mission and what you’re trying to achieve – we’re not going to work with you.” – Flavilla
Unearthing your brand soul
Flavilla’s mission is to help businesses discover their brand soul. For any small business owner out there looking to grow their brand presence, getting to the soul of your brand comes down to these four essential things.
- Purpose: what is the vision you want to create, and why does it matter?
- Plan: how are you going to get to your vision?
- Your message: why your vision matters
- Target audience: make your audience the hero of the story
- Positioning: simplify your services
Flavilla’s marketing activities
A lot of Three Colours Rule business comes from recommendations, but as a business, they do focus attention on traditional marketing activities and stick to one or two wise rules:
- Create a flourishing ecosystem: use your connections to build a strong network of people you can collaborate with and share the experience. It helps with recommendations and keeps you in good company.
- Choose your platforms wisely: Do your research and work out what’s best for your business. For Flavilla, it’s always been LinkedIn for communications and Instagram for visual representation.
- Use your content to educate: Work out what your target audience need and want to hear and educate through your output.
Using a variety of content for best results
The first rule for Flavilla and content creation is to work out what matters most to your target audience. Their audience is made up of industry leaders and CMOs (chief marketing officer). So the team focus on the types of challenges these customer types face.
The team create a mix of content formats – articles, blogs, videos and posts, but the two that give the best results are articles and podcast episodes.
After much testing, researching, and experimenting, Flavilla has dismissed using Clubhouse in favour of Pinterest, where they’re channelling new marketing energy.
“I always think about relationships in business like relationships in life. You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you if they’d only just met you!” – Flavilla
Making the right connections
When it comes to making connections and approaching people to work (or collaborate), Flavilla takes it very seriously.
Before making any decisions, Flavilla makes it her business to know more about her connections. Here are some of the key things she looks out for:
- Whether they share a vision or not
- What types of customers they work with
- How they work with those customers
- If there’s a shared audience
- If they’re motivated by money or if they care for their clients
- What kind of budget they’re used to
Table for Six: collaborations that work
In Flavilla’s book 99 Strategies to Get Customers, she talks about the concept of the table of six. The idea is that you build a small network of like-minded experts who work in the same (or similar) industries, who share an audience and can support each other without stepping on each other’s toes.
A table for six is manageable. Everybody has time to speak and listen.
Riding the waves of the global pandemic – the Flavilla way
Like so many entrepreneurs, life changed overnight when Covid struck, leaving Flavilla with more time on her hands as her travelling, commuting, and face-to-face meetings paused. She chose to use the extra time to do some of the things on her list that she always wanted to do – but didn’t have time for.
Unlike most of the world who tried their hand at baking sourdough and tidying out cupboards, Flavilla used this time to launch a fast-paced, hugely successful podcast (78 interviews and counting) and writing a business book: 99 Strategies to Get Clients.
We’ve got 99 problems, but a book ain’t one
The idea for the book blossomed from a blog article she wrote which featured 24 strategies. She thought, ‘why stop at 24?’, so she took inspiration from the Jay-Z track ‘99 Problems’; she stretched the concept to 99 strategies. That’s when she realised it would be a very long article, so the book was born.
Get vocal about your achievements.
Flavilla is a confessed bragger. She advises everyone to shout about their achievements. Her philosophy is that the more you tell people what you’ve achieved, the more people will remember you for those achievements and recommend you.
By being vocal about her successes, she was invited onto the BBC as a regular brand expert. She began on the French channel and was introduced to other journalists and invited onto other segments across the BBC. She’d never have achieved this if she didn’t network – or brag.
Being on the BBC has helped increase her profile as an authority in her field. It’s given her leverage and has opened many more doors that would have been out of reach before her BBC appearances.
“A lot of people think if you do PR, you’re going to get customers. It’s a wrong assumption. You do PR to improve your credibility. It builds your value.” – Flavilla
What’s on Flavilla’s bookshelf?
Every week, we grill our guests on the business and development books they are inspired by. This week Flavilla selected:
- *Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
- *Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- 99 Strategies to Get Customers by Flavilla Fongang
- *The 4-hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
- *How to Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff Allende
Resources & keep the conversation going with Flavilla:
* Links marked with a star are affiliate links to Bookshop.org. When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!
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