Lockdown, Launch and 3 years of agency Lessons

A bit more than 3 years ago, in February 2020, I was in Tenerife on a typical winter sunshine break. Covid was on further away shores. I’d been getting a lot of momentum in the media and as a speaker. Plus I’d been getting a lot of clarity on a way forward around disability inclusion and brand marketing.

Two words underpinned my clarity – influencer marketing.

In that February I’d finally got a phone call with Arron Shepherd at pioneering influencer marketing agency, the Goat agency. That one phone call from that Tenerife balcony began a whole set of events like never before!

During March 2020 meetings and plans began for Purple Goat to launch. We distilled all of my disability knowledge and all of the Goats influencer marketing knowledge in to a proposition for brands. You know the one. 1.3bn disabled people in the world, 0.06% of ads representing disabled people, and the $8tr global yearly spending power of the community.

Meanwhile Boris told us all to stay home and help save lives. The plans continued in that warm sunny March lockdown. Until everything was set to announce PG, as it’s now fondly known within the family. In April Arron and I did a Goat internal announcement and a public livestream.

Goats ready? Influencers ready? Brands ready? (Said in the style of 90’s gladiator TV fame)

For the first 12-18 months I spoke of the business case to literally anyone who’d listen. Even those who didn’t want to listen 😂 Brands became clients. We found and collaborated with brilliant disabled influencers. We grew our team.

Everything we’d dreamt and hoped for was happening. Of course we had to be unwaveringly sure of the proposal to businesses during the launch. But when you create something that never existed before, there’s definitely some anxious days on whether theory would become practice. Fortunately they passed and the rest is beautiful history.

As we now approach our third year anniversary I’m feeling nostalgic and reflective. So here’s some key points I want to share from the PG journey so far:

– Patience is everything. Progress sometimes was frustrating over shorter periods of time, but looking back over longer periods showed huge leaps

– People are everything! I’ve always been a people person, and always enjoyed working with others. But the talent, commitment, drive and team ethic we’ve built is honestly world class. Not to overlook the forward thinking clients and genius content creators we’ve worked alongside

– The journey is never linear or easy. Whilst we’re probably ahead of my wildest expectations now, getting here required the overcoming of huge challenges, reassessing various things as we went. Nothing like a little pivot every now and then

– Purpose has power. We’re a business and so the financial necessities go without major explanation. But the fact we’re disrupting marketing representation, creating economic opportunities for disabled talent and giving disabled people role models and a true voice is just everything to me 💜

– Celebrate the good times. Everybody at PG works hard. It’s important to me that gets acknowledged and appreciated. Working remotely means we aren’t face to face every day either. So celebrating our Drum marketing award and celebrating all the little wins is very important. The header photo is from our recent social in London where could celebrate and hang out in person

With the ups and downs, the lessons and new ideas, the effort and reward – I’m really excited where PG can go from here. To think of another 3 years with the solid foundations we now have, the sky isn’t even the limit!

Through the team development and industry evolution, it’s given me fresh ideas for applying certain things to other areas of disability inclusion. Which is what Purple Power will enable me to share for the benefit of other changemakers. Whether in business, politics or culture there’s a lot I’m excited to share for the north star of inclusion.

As you’ll have seen already, the year started with two podcast episodes on tools I’ve benefited from in my personal development journey. I’m a big believer that being our best self leads to a better world. The next podcast episode moves us to an intersection of Purple Goats experience (around listening to disabled people), with the exciting and innovating democracy tool around citizen assemblies, with author Jon Alexander.

This is going to really help us pull together 3 years of PG, some ideas I’ve been playing around with, and innovative ideas from non disability conversations that we can all benefit from.

Until then, here’s to a life-changing 3 years 💜