MyPeople Meets is a series of articles featuring influential business people embracing workplace change. Uncovering their unique experiences, industry insights, what motivates them, why they do what they do and their views on team trust. This month we met Jane Stacey, Founder and Managing Director of IDEACAKE – unlocking the power of purpose and helping organisations tell their story and stand out!
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To check out IDEACAKE’s website click here
Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do…
Hello! I’m Jane Stacey, Founder and Managing Director of IDEACAKE! It’s a business branding partnership that I created to help SMEs to unlock the power of their purpose, and to tell their story in a way that is compelling, authentic and most importantly connects with their ideal client. It’s a big change from my career in corporate, but I get to use all of the experience and knowledge I have with a lot more freedom, so I’m absolutely loving it!
My background is in category management within the fast-moving consumer goods sector (FMCG), working with large grocery suppliers, supermarket retailers and global brands. My role as a category manager was a hybrid of Sales and Marketing, but with the remit to grow an entire category (i.e. snacking) rather than just one specific product (i.e. a Mars bar). I’ve done this for a lot of years, I’m won’t say how many as it makes me sound old!
Within the category function, you work with a much more holistic and shopper-based approach. When you are working with retailers on the right range of products or execution plan for them, you’ve not only got to understand the market but what makes their shoppers choose them, how they behave and what that shopper wants.
My favourite part of the role was linking a need to a solution or product. That’s when you create true value for someone. I think it can really make a difference to people’s days and even change lives. It took me a while to realise it, but this has become my mission – getting the great ideas to the people who need them.
There are so many brilliant ideas out there, and often people don’t know they are there or know that they need them – the hard part is bringing them together. The most powerful way to do this is through storytelling.
Amidst a pandemic, you decided to take the brave step of starting a business (IDEACAKE was born!), where did your business brilliance come from and what are your goals?
Ha! Well MyPeople are a little to blame for that as my first client!
I’d been ignoring the niggle in me to do something different but there were two barriers. The first, I wasn’t completely clear on my Why. The second was fear. I just didn’t feel brave enough and as I have a mortgage and 3 small mouths to feed. NOT setting up a business seemed like the sensible option!
Like many people in 2020, I became unemployed. I found myself without a job and left thinking what do I do? Right at the start of the pandemic nobody was recruiting, so the safe option that my fear would ordinarily have driven me to just wasn’t there, and now I’m so grateful for that. I needed to find something I was good at, that I loved and something I could create an income from.
I knew that I wanted to help smaller businesses but I was really struggling to translate what I’d done for larger organisations. It’s really hard to see what you can do and know what your superpowers are. I guess that was the starting point of IDEACAKE, I had to really push myself out of my comfort zone to understand my Why- now I help companies connect with theirs!
It was definitely necessity that gave me the drive I needed – however, after working with some great companies and helping them to recognise or remember their purpose and how to share it, I can see the value that I add.
What type of problems does IDEACAKE solve?
The question I hear most of all is ‘I’ve got a brilliant product – why does nobody get it?’ and fundamentally that is the problem that IDEACAKE solves. Clients that I’ve helped either have issues with finding and engaging with the right audience, or they’re failing to make the right connection in the sales process.
Our work with MyPeople is the perfect example. You have the most amazing game changing software for HR – but HR Directors were struggling to see the benefit for their organisation even though to you, it was frustratingly obvious!
Using my experience and being able to see the ‘bigger’ picture, allows me to simplify and refine the great ideas companies have and link them to what customers need. It’s guiding business owners to see their product through the eyes of the people who are buying it.
Why is it so important for organisations to understand their ‘why’?
It’s your driving force, your DNA, why you are in business in the first place, why you get out of bed every morning. From an internal point of view, it defines the decisions you make, it allows you to prioritise and you can really get pulled off track if you don’t know or acknowledge your ‘Why’.
It’s also the elusive USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that differentiates you from competitors, but so many businesses fail to understand. By being clear on your why and purpose, you can talk about your business or product in a way that connects to people, which means they WANT to hear about it.
My Why is to get the great ideas to the people who need them. It’s allowed me to create success for me and value for others, but learning how to unpack my Why took time.
There are many factors that influence the effectiveness of marketing, does this effectively boil down to getting the communication and messaging right, if so why?
Yes. Marketing is a collection of many things, tagline, branding, colours, logo, personality etc. All of these need to have consistency as an absolute minimum, but they also need to resonate with someone, ideally the someone who is going to support you with their hard-earned money.
For me, marketing works best when you’re really clear about who you are and what you stand for. Say what you’re about but tell people in the way they want to hear it. That’s the perfect balance. If you create marketing based solely on what you think people want to hear, they see through it – you need the substance of your purpose behind it.
What is the power of business storytelling?
The power of storytelling – is the ultimate power!! Think about where storytelling comes from – sitting round campfires thousands of years ago! That’s how education and histories were shared, how we learnt and bonded – we are hardwired to listen and tell stories.
In business, storytelling allows you to portray authenticity, it allows you to go on a journey and connect with people.
By telling a story, you’re taking the focus away from being just information and connecting with the heart (or the part of the brain that isn’t rational). Through stories you tap into the emotional sensors in the brain and it’s the emotional part of people’s brains that’s drives decisions.
It’s inbuilt in us to respond to stories through emotional connections rather than rational logic.
What does your customer avatar look like?
My customer avatar is a chap called Connor! Connor has a service based B2B business which he set up a couple of years ago. He now has a team of 8 and a good catalogue of previous customers, some global.
Unfortunately, Connor works really hard but he’s just not getting the sales results he wants. As a service provider, he’s got so much more to give and he knows he’s missing the mark with a decision maker or influencer but he can’t put his finger on it. He’s outsourcing his marketing to a small agency, but the relationship has been difficult as Connor doesn’t really know what he wants or what he’s about, to properly brief them.
He’s wasted a lot of time and money on communication that hasn’t worked.
Do you have a secret recipe for creating stronger connections with your clients?
Trust is the main ingredient for creating stronger connections with my clients. My secret recipe is being myself, being honest, not over promising and fully supporting/empathising with my client’s problems. I share my stories and experience and they share theirs. I put myself in their shoes, approach their problem(s) with a fresh pair of eyes and look deeply at what is at the core of their DNA.
How do you build trust, what is the critical factor?
Honesty, being clear on what you’re going to get and being clear on expectations.
What does success look like to you?
On a basic level – not worrying where money is going to come from! I’d also really like to be able to give my kids a house with a swimming pool before they get too old!
I’d love IDEACAKE to grow beyond me, I want it to be a business where lots of other people like me can help those with great ideas be seen and heard.
In 20 years’, if I can retire from IDEACAKE and hand over a full-service operation that’s grown, is employing people and helped thousands of business, that would be amazing.
I’d love to find a world problem IDEACAKE can solve.
Can you describe a typical work week at IDEACAKE?
I think anyone who is in business will find that their weeks are very varied, because I’m on my own I have to wear many different hats, which can change what I do dramatically week on week.
It takes time and patients to run a business, especially finding a balance between working ‘in’ your business and ‘on’ your business.
I read a book recently, that was recommended by someone who’s had a business for 20 years, they said they wished they’d read this book when they started.
It’s quite an old book and it’s called ‘The E-myth Revisited’ by Michael E. Gerber. It’s been a really helpful read and I’d recommend the book to anybody who is starting out. It gives you the steps to create a scalable organisation and a business that can grow beyond you.
As a mum and working full time, if I get into bed and try to read a book, I’m asleep two lines in – so audio books or podcasts work really well for me as I can listen through the day. I’ve actually really missed my commute in that respect, as that was my reading time.
Who or what has shaped who you are?
I’ve been weirdly influenced by a birthday card I got when I was really small… I can remember this card because it had the rhyme (Monday’s child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of grace, Wednesday’s child is full of woe…. Etc).
As it goes, I’m a Saturday’s child, who according to the rhyme ‘works hard for it’s living’, I can remember being tormented by this and not knowing what it meant. As a child I massively over analysed it and I think that’s had a really big impact on my work ethic and how I see myself. For better or worse, it’s made me a hard worker. It’s given me a huge amount of drive and I see it as where my success comes from. If I don’t know how to do something or I have lots on, I will work and work and work to get it done.
I wonder if I’m the only person who can credit a birthday card, maybe I should have picked my Gran!
When someone finds out what you do, what question do they always ask you?
People typically want to know it what it’s like to work for yourself or understand the mechanics behind what I do. They’ve usually decided that IDEACAKE ‘does’ marketing which isn’t the case. It’s that piece before marketing, that discovery bit that you need to understand before you can properly do your marketing.
There are so many people out there that want to do their own thing and start their own business. People who haven’t yet made that leap are always fascinated with why and how you did it.
There seems to be a need for an entrepreneur to have a massive inspiring story, even what seems like a small boring story could inspire someone else to make the leap and create something life changing.
If you’re thinking about it, do it! That tickle of an idea won’t go away, or someone else might do it!
If you could grant yourself a new skill or superpower, what would it be?
Memory! I’m always really jealous of people that can remember everybody’s name or every phone number. I studied History and I could tell you the story behind every event that’s happened, but when it came to the dates of those events, I always fell short. I once worked with a Commercial Director who had a photographic memory, I was so impressed and slightly intimidated by her!
A superpower I’d love would be to make time – there is literally not enough hours in the day! I’d love to be able to do more with the business and be a good wife, mother, daughter and friend. Oh, and maybe a bit of time for me. A spa day would be terrific.
What is the cleverest use of marketing you’ve seen?
Burger King created a brilliant campaign 2 years ago that’s had a lot of recognition recently. It started with them getting really clear on what they wanted, which was to feature in the EA sports FIFA game.
Now to get your logo on a kit in the FIFA game, you have to have your logo on an actual football team’s kit in real life. So Burger King looked at the English Premier League and went right to the bottom – where Stevenage FC sat. They knew that Stevenage would have a team in the game along with all of the expensive players higher up the league and decided they were going to sponsor the kit for Stevenage F.C.
They then linked to the game, through the ‘Stevenage Challenge’. They offered credits and freebies to gamers who shared their goals online from players wearing the Stevenage kit. This was being streamed and shared globally and completely blew up!
It worked incredibly well for Burger King as it drove a huge amount of awareness, but it was also great for Stevenage whose kit completely sold out for the first time ever.
I think it’s a really great success story showing how important it is to be targeted and have a well thought out the strategy. Funny and Clever!
Link for the video about this! https://youtu.be/7qjIcK-cvbg
I’ve also just seen Burger King’s latest advert, despite what might be sounding like an obsession with them right now, I’m not a big fan of fast food. But if you want an example of a Brand that is smashing the mix of long and short term strategy, with purpose at its core, then Burger King are it!
They have captured the mood of the moment really well and released a request to their customers to order from McDonald’s along with other competitor food chains. It’s really reminding people of the many outlets and industries that are suffering due to the pandemic, and it aims to help keep businesses open and people in jobs.
That’s something I’m sure we all want.
Get in touch to let us know your workplace interventions and how you build TRUST in your teams!