Ever wondered why marketing is so complex? You’re not alone.
As CEO and co-founder of Metigy, David Fairfull explains the challenges facing smaller businesses: “Digital marketing has never been more difficult and never more critical. So we’re trying to help any SME marketer grow into becoming a great marketer… execute and grow and increase their sales performance in terms of the way they run their business”
Find out how artificial intelligence can help you and your small business become a better marketer in the future by listening to this episode of Forward Thinking.
David Fairfull’s experience and establishment in the social media marketing industry grew alongside the boost of the creative and social media marketing industry since 2011.
That was right when Instagram was born! But so much has changed since then. Among the largest of changes, artificial intelligence (AI) has increasingly become relied on. With copious amounts of information to absorb nowadays, AI is not merely a replacement, but a leverage for marketers to fulfil the easy parts of their marketing objectives so they can build on their creative strengths.
Here with Daren Lake, David explains the reliance and the large capacity of responsibility AI can hold for your business, and the small progresses he made along the way of creating the Metigy brand you see today.
For reference, while this interview by itself is very valuable, please go back to the episode from 2021 “How Metigy and Elon Musk are disrupting the future of their industries”. This will help you really understand how important technology is to solving digital and social media’s complex problems.
AI in Marketing: What you will learn in this episode
- The complexity of digital marketing and how it can be fixed by artificial intelligence
- How to pat yourself on the back for small wins
- Who Metigy wants to help
- Crystal ball predictions around the future of marketing, technology and small businesses
- David’s favorite tech tools for organisation
- And so much more!
Reach David here:
- on Linkedin
Transcript (or download the pdf here)
Daren: If you’ve ever wondered about why marketing is so complex, you’re not alone. As CEO and co-founder of Metigy. David Fairfull says-
David: “Digital marketing has never been more difficult and never more critical. So we’re trying to help any SME marketer grow into becoming a great marketer… execute and grow and increase their sales performance in terms of the way they run their business”.
Daren: Find out how artificial intelligence can help you and your small business become a better marketer in the future, by listening to this episode of Forward Thinking.
Daren: Hey everyone, I’m Daren Lake, the audio content manager, here at Metigy. Welcome to Forward Thinking, a podcast by Metigy. In this series, we speak with inspirational business owners, brands, and marketing experts to learn from their experiences on the frontline and uncover what it takes to build a world class business.
Daren: This is a quick interview from a year ago that I had with David Fairfull. David is the CEO and co-founder of Metigy and Metigy produces this podcast. David started early in the social media and digital marketing space at, We Are Social, in 2011. Yes, that was right when Instagram was born and hasn’t looked back, by starting up, Metigy, in 2015. Ironically, even though we’re talking about the past, present, and future in this interview, most everything we spoke of are applicable one year later in the present. It’s like our favorite color is evergreen or something. For reference, while this interview by itself is very valuable, please go back to the episode from 2021 titled… How Metigy and Elon Musk are disrupting the future of their industries. This will help you really understand how important technology is to solving digital marketing and social media’s complex problems.
Daren: A few things you’ll learn in this episode… the complexity of digital marketing and how it can be fixed by artificial intelligence, how to pat yourself on the back for small wins, who Metigy wants to really help, crystal ball predictions around the future of marketing technology and small businesses, David’s favorite tech tools for organization, and so much more. Let’s get into the combo with David Fairfull and me.
Daren: Alright. We have Mr. David Fairfull or Dave F, as you’re known around here, because there’s another Dave.
Daren: Let’s get into it. So, who is Dave? Who are you and what do you do at Metigy?
David: Okay, well I’m the CEO and co-founder at Metigy. So unfortunately I would say that means I do a bit of everything, right? Because when you’re a startup to scale up, you don’t really get a clearly defined job within the CEO. It really means tackling everything, trying to do as best you can at everything, but ultimately trying to be across everything and that’s usually pretty demanding.
Daren: Yeah. Yeah. I think everyone listening that has owned a business will understand that.
Daren: Who does Metigy want to help?
David: Sure. Ah, well, our ideal customer is very specific, right? It’s an SME… not necessarily specifically in any country or any vertical, anybody that’s really doing a digital transaction is our ideal customer because really what we’re trying to do is help the non-experienced marketer… which is typically any SME marketer, understand how digital marketing works, and most importantly become good at it. Right? And it’s an area which is quite complex and difficult. Digital marketing’s never been more difficult and never more critical. So we’re trying to help any SME marketer grow into becoming a great marketer… execute and grow and increase their sales performance in terms of the way they run their business.
Daren: Yeah. And one thing to kind of piggyback on that is, you’re good at your business or whatever your skill is. And then you also have to become good at marketing.
David: Yeah, absolutely.
Daren: It’s like, how do you do both? Sorry, how do you do the second thing, which is marketing, and also run your business and Metigy is solving that and is looking to help solve that.
Daren: One sentence to sum up where Metigy is at now.
David: Sure. Okay. I think we’re at the point where we’ve got a good solid product and so it is a complex deep tech product. So it’s probably never done. I would describe as being competent, but 1% built and I heard this said of Canberra a while ago as well. In fact, if you’ve got a grand vision for where your product’s going to go and you’re trying to solve a big problem, it’s only ever going to be 1% because you keep moving the goal post in terms of what you’re trying to achieve. But we’re at the point where we’ve got a pretty solid product and a lot of upside in terms of where we’re going. So we’re just busy building out to that vision and dream at the moment.
Daren: Yeah, I think that also plays again to a lot of SMEs and business owners that they… I guess another way to frame it is, every problem they solve, they create two more problems or two more problems happen. You’re just like, does this ever end? And it’s this constant nagging, but maybe when you look back, you kind of… when you climb the mountain, you’re only looking up. It’s so much more but then you’re like, wow, look how much I covered. So I guess-
Daren: Do you ever sit back and pat yourself on the back every now and then and go, look what have we done?
David: I do. And I think it’s something I can get better at. And we as a business probably need get better at celebrating the wins, right? Because I think when you start a business, particularly a technology business, you start with everything being broken and you’ve got no product, no team, no money, and your competitors are global and you’re trying to compete with that. So at the start it feels like everything doesn’t work and it’s insurmountable and you just start chipping away at one challenge after another and try and work our way through that.
And I think the one thing we should be better at doing is celebrating those wins and we’re going to do more of that in the future. And I think that’s a big part of what we try and make part of our culture as a business is celebrating things that we’ve done really well, and that some of those are hairy audacious goals and we just chip away at them and solve them. We should stop and reflect on that. But yeah, maybe not as much as I should.
Daren: Yeah. I think that’s definitely a problem with the type A personalities of business owners and CEOs. You were speaking about celebrating wins more in the future. Let’s change gears into the past. What was your reason for creating Metigy?
David: Yeah, that’s a really good question, Daren. I think we get asked that a lot because people say, oh man, it’s a big goal… fixing that issue of helping small businesses not fail because of marketing. Right? And so people say, where’d you get the idea because it’s a big problem and it’s not been solved and others in the market are trying to do it, but where’d it really come from? And I suppose it goes back to… I was partnering We Are Social, which is the largest global social agency. So we were doing solutions for big brands at scale, right… added eBay, Kia, PayPal, whole bunch of others. And there was 500 people in We Are Social globally, doing really sophisticated global social media solutions. And we looked at it and said, why isn’t anybody providing that sort of solution for an SME market?
David: You can’t do it at scale affordably for an SME because they can’t buy it, but we could use technology to solve that problem. And we had a fantastic proprietary data set, which was the key catalyst for being able to say, do we have enough data to understand why something works and is technology advanced enough in the space of ML and AI, that we could build a robust engine that did that strategy on a scalable, personalized solution.
And we thought, yes, the answer is then just, okay, how do we go about physically deploying that? But the inspiration came from solving that massive problem. It’s a niche market in a sense, because it’s a small group of customers in terms of parameter and profile, but there’s 200 million SMEs globally by next year. And so it’s not a simple little problem… it’s a global massive scale issue. And could we use technology? The answer is yes… somewhere four years into solving that problem. And maybe it’s an eight or 10 year journey to really do it really, really well, but well on the way to solving the first part of that, which is great.
Daren: What experience as managing partners at We Are Social that you brought to Metigy? Was there one thing where you’re, okay, this is the thing, like you can kind of connect the dots and that was what you brought to Metigy and brought it to where it was.
David: Yeah. Okay. I think there’s a few things that role really prepared me for, more than I knew at the time for doing exactly what we’re doing now. So I think at the end of the day, one of the things that is advantageous is deep domain expertise… understanding how does social and digital really work and that moves all the time. But did I fundamentally understand that? And yes, having a solid background makes it easier to solve the problem than if I was just a technology entrepreneur trying to resolve, how do we do this? Right. So that’s a good starting point. As an organization, that business grew really quickly. And I think it grew really quickly because it did what it did really well, but had a great set of founders and a great sort of ethos and capability and culture within the business.
David: So again, I’m trying to take elements of that and apply that to the way that we grow and do things here. I know in the Australian business, we sort of went from 10 to 55 people in 18 months. That’s pretty reasonable growth for an agency. You go through the whole process of adapting and changing and changing your processes and bringing in the right people.
But I think out that, the key message was, if you assemble an awesome group of people who are all capable of doing what they’re doing and there’s the right culture and fit and connectivity between those people, you’ll exceed somewhat and you’ll exceed in so many ways and achieve some wonderful things. And I think I’m doing that with Metigy… again, the people that we are bringing in this current sort of phase of growth are bringing a whole range of expertise and ideas that we didn’t have before.
David: And that’s contributing, even extending the people that were here before to do more they’ve ever done and do it in a more progressive, interesting way as well. And so the sum of all parts becomes so powerful by putting the right group of people together. I say this in a nice way. There’s no egos and no stars in the team. And that to me is a huge contributor to the success of where we’re going and what we’re doing at the moment. So I learned all those things from being part of that business.
Daren: Yeah, it sounds like… especially with what you just said about… if you make sure that the people are… you get the best people in the right position, then it will… that sounds similar to first principles thinking, which I don’t know if you’re familiar. And the guy who we’ve talked about a lot in this podcast, Elon Musk, he focuses on first principles thinking versus anecdotal, which is, oh that person did that. So therefore I can, or can’t do it. This next question is kind of around that. So with what you know or don’t know, the information that you have in front of you, what global innovations moving forward in the future, or changes, do you think will happen with small to medium enterprises? Quite a big expansive question. Does that make sense?
David: Yeah, absolutely. And I find this an interesting one off the back of talking about Elon Musk, because he’s a particular… I won’t call myself a fan boy, but I’m a big admirer in the sense that I think as an entrepreneur, you realize or appreciate that just doing one thing well is hard enough and how he does five or six globally changing businesses at one time is beyond me.
David: Yeah, Yeah. Interstellar, right. Not even global… interstellar changing businesses is beyond me. So you have to admire that, and he’s clearly figured out how to leverage his capability. But I think that’s a good segue to… I think at a small business level, it used to be, you had to be a big business to really have an impact… just because you needed the process and the people and the reach and the brand recognition, to be able to get to enough people as customers to have influence and to make change.
David: And I think that is rapidly changing where even a small business with an awesome idea and enough capability to be able to deploy, can shift and change people’s behaviors or consumption or experience on a global scale. So the power has shifted from being a large enterprise could dictate the way things work just by sheer mass, to a small business, with a great idea, and a clever person or a small group of people can have significant global impact and leverage change for good, in really significant ways.
Right. And that’s empowered through digital capability at the end of the day. That’s why I’m sort of passionate about being part of empowering them to deliver their message. And then the ecosystem around that means that size and scale no longer matter, because you can reach people how and when they want to be reached, in a way that’s appropriate and logical.
Daren: Yeah, well put. Where do you think Metigy will be as company because this is kind of a meta podcast. It’s like we’re talking about the future, how Metigy’s trying to help other businesses… small businesses. Metigy is a small business.
Daren: So it’s, we’re speaking about ourselves also. So where do you think Metigy as a small to medium enterprise will be in the next one, two, five years… if you had a crystal ball. Have fun.
David: Yeah. Okay. Well I think we’re going through a transition phase at the moment from being a Sydney based business to a global based business. And I say that in the sense that our customers are already global… they’re across sort of 95 countries, but our team’s been very Australian centric. And I say that we’re not actually all Aussies, which is great. We’re quite global, but we’re all based in Sydney. So we have a focus or a lens, which is Sydney based and that’s not healthy trying to be a global business and work with global customers. We’ve just hired our first person in Singapore, which is great. So we’ve just appointed a partnerships manager in Singapore. We’ve had a COO in the US for a while, but literally next week we’ll be adding our first person full-time on the ground in the US.
David: In Denver. So Denver and Singapore on the map and at some point Europe figures in that next year. So we’re sort of making that transition. I think I hope that brings another spectrum of people and thinking and ideas back into our sort of the way that we plan execute out of Sydney, if that makes sense. So we’re transitioning to be a global business at the moment. We’ve always tried to be a product led business, but I think that the new people that are coming into the business are going to accentuate that again.
And we’re really driving towards that sort of global leadership in making change in the category that we work in. That’s again an audacious goal, but something that’s within sight in the next 12 months. And we’ll go from being only English speaking in a context of product to a multi-language solution during the course of next year as well, which is really exciting.
David: And ultimately, from my point of view, we want to dominate and lead our market ship… market position in a couple of years time and have totally transitioned the way the marketing stack is connected for all SMEs and how empowered they feel in running multiple digital channels, based upon not just a budget context, but actually an investment context where a dollar spent here today delivers X dollars in sales over the next 60 or 90 days.
And they can execute that with absolute clarity and ultimately drive their business really effectively. So that’s a significant shift. And then as an organization, I don’t really have a figure around how many people that is, but I’d like to think that we are a truly dynamic organization that’s nimble and agile and capable, full of people that are empowered to do what they’re trying to do and do it really, really well.
David: At a contextual level, we probably will have hopefully got to the point where we maybe have floated the business, so again, everybody is a shareholder, and it feels like they’re part of that. And that’s a big transition for most organizations to go from small scale up to public company as well. And lots of good things in that… lots of bad things as well, but ultimately hopefully for a lot of financial reward for everybody involved as well, which would be good.
Daren: I was going to end it there, but I’ve actually got one question. You sparked my interest at our all hands. And you said something about audio. I’m being selfish with this question.
Daren: You said something about being an audio platform and I then said… and you compared to Spotify. I also say Headspace and Column, and all that… tell me more. Can you tell me more?
David: Yeah, okay. Probably I’ll put that in context. I don’t think of us as an audio platform. What I was trying to say was that at the moment we are very visual, as a tool, in terms of the way we help customers. So it’s all about video and traditional published content, which is image based. So what I expect us to do is to really focus on delivery of audio as a solution to help customers market, right? Because it’s clearly the emerging environment.
A couple of years ago, you would’ve said, look, use video is the right medium, because video will outperform an image based piece of content… 3.5. I think the data said 3.5 to one, in terms of the amount of engagement you’ll get. Latest data I’ve seen suggest that audio is probably five to six times more effective than a still based image because of the way we consume.
David: We can listen to it at night in bed. We can listen to it in the car. We don’t even have to physically watch the video. We can just consume by listening. That gives us so many more moments in our day where we can enjoy it. And I think all brands should be using it. And we’re not even doing it in terms of a solution at the moment. So I see us investing heavily in being on channels in terms of providing ad solutions and simple execution solutions for our customers. They can reach customers through Spotify and platforms like that. So podcasting is the tip of the iceberg. It should be about the micro moments and not just ads, but really talking to customers… how, and when, they want to be connected with an audio, to me is the killer of growth medium, right?
Daren: Oh, well, you are speaking a beautiful language right now. That sounds really cool. And that’s something I’ve always… this is a candid, everyone. This is something I’ve always wanted to be involved with a company that had a vision for future with audio. And now I have the opportunity. So I’m looking forward to working with you.
David: Well, that’s why you’re here to help us do that, right? I can’t claim credit because Brandon really gave me the context for audio and I didn’t really get it at the time. But part of you being involved is to help us start to walk our talk, right?
Daren: Yeah, yeah. So, awesome. Well, that’s kind of the main part of the podcast. That’s the end typically, but I like to spice it up a bit with the way I do podcast and we’ll do just a quick four fast questions type thing.
Daren: To get to know you a bit more on a personal level. So let’s get into it. Favorite tool or suite for general productivity and organization.
David: Definitely not Microsoft office. So I’m a big fan of Apple. So most Apple products, I love, but you can’t, from a business perspective, beat Google, I think, just because it’s fully integrated and easy and accessible everywhere, right?
Daren: The beauty of Metigy is that we are mostly agnostic. So we are not getting paid by any of these people that we recommend… the software would be nice. But that is a real answer. Least favorite social media marketing or digital marketing trend that you wish would end if there is one.
David: Oh, there’s quite a few. So I don’t like the concept that we keep… the experts in the industry keep pitching the new platform for the sake of it, because it’s giving them something to talk about. There’s nothing that says to me that you need to keep transitioning from platform to platform. You should be where your audience is, talking to them the way that they want to be talked to.
David: So do you need to be on a new environment like Clubhouse? The answer is yes. If your customers are there and you are ready as a business to do it in an audio format. But just for the sake of it makes no sense to me, so I hate the trend of, you’ve got to move on to the next environment. That’s not to say that I don’t think Clubhouse is huge and it will be right, but not for all brands. Or it’s not mature enough for all brands yet. For example, do you need to be on tick TikTok?
Absolutely, if you’re trying to reach the teen audience or you’ve got interactive content that makes sense for that. But otherwise, no. Why would you leave a well established environment like Facebook? So I’m not a fan of that. That’s probably my kilogrudge, I think, if anything, because experts create FOMO for inexperienced marketers and lots of pressure and hassles to go off and do something you’re not comfortable with. That’s probably the main one that jumps out for me.
Daren: Yeah. I wholeheartedly agree with you on that. And it’s one of those things just focus and yeah, just let it mature, especially clubhouse… me being an audio person, the clubhouse buzz is just everywhere. I jumped in early. I got an invite early and I literally went in and said, okay, it’s kind of like going into the building and being like, what, that’s it, and it was a whole lot of marketers marketing to marketers about marketing. And I went, oh God, here we go.
David: Yeah. So if you’re in marketing, great. But yeah, not for the sake of it. Right. It’s the same as anything, right? Why leave something where you’re already connected with customers and you’re doing it really well for the sake of a new environment where you’ve got to invest and start again before it’s ready for it.
Daren: Yep. Alright. Last one. If you had a crystal ball… have fun with this one, where do you see the digital and social media marketing industry going in the next three to five years?
David: Okay. Wow. All my agency friends will hate this, but I sort of see technology empowering most brands to do what they need to do well themselves. There’ll still be a need for career creative… because great creative is never replaceable. I think even in the context of what we are doing using AI, and machine learning to do what we are doing for customers is really about providing them with the insight to take action, but it’ll never replace great creativity. So even in that agency model where we provide somewhat overpriced services, in some cases there’ll still be a value for creativity, but the functional process stuff, technology is going to make really easy for nearly any brand to do it themselves, because in many cases, the application of handling the assessment and interpretation of data is better done by a machine than a human anyway.
David: And there’s a whole part of the industry around programmatic marketing, which to me is contextually irrelevant, when at the end of the day, consumers don’t behave the way they used to and they don’t need to, they behave individually. Programmatic doesn’t allow for that. There’s a lot of opportunity for brands to really get context and do that better themselves and technology will empower them to do that. And again there’s been custodians in the industry that have held that power, that the technology is freeing up and making available to everyone and more accessible and cheaper to execute. So technology is shifting the way that that entire industry is going to work and engage and fundamentally the power is shifting to brands to do it themself rather than rely on third parties.
Daren: Technology… the great equalizer of the world.
Daren: Alright. Well that’s all, thank you so much, David, for your time. And I’m working with you here, so all the best to Metigy… to both of us and I hope you have a good day.
David: Yeah. Thank you, Daren. That’s great.
Daren: From Metigy… you’ve just listened to Forward Thinking. Again, I’m Daren and Metigy hopes we helped you find more insights and tips into your business. To find out more about Metigy and get a listener exclusive three month free trial, visit us at Metigy.com/podcast. And while you’re there, go and check out some more episodes. If you like what you heard, please share a link to another business owner or marketer who you think could get something from this. Also to help us out, it would be great if you left a five star review on your favorite podcast app. Last never miss another episode, by following or subscribing to us on your favorite podcast player. See you on the next episode.