Embracing Marketing Mistakes

How to build an award-winning global brand in a commodity market

November 21, 2023 Prohibition PR Season 1 Episode 13
How to build an award-winning global brand in a commodity market
Embracing Marketing Mistakes
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Embracing Marketing Mistakes
How to build an award-winning global brand in a commodity market
Nov 21, 2023 Season 1 Episode 13
Prohibition PR

Ready to step into the world of unbranded products and discover how a brand was built in a commodity market? We are excited to bring you an interesting conversation with Jack Sutcliffe, founder of Power Sheds, a game-changing company that's shaking up the shed industry in the UK all from its heart in Yorkshire. Jack shares his fascinating journey of rising to the top of an unbranded market, how his company emerged as the 20th fastest-growing in the UK, and his plans for global domination. Hear about their unique modular design, their commitment to sustainability, and the marketing secrets behind their impressive success.

How do you market a shed? Well, sit tight as we dive deeper into the interesting world of shed sales and the marketing strategies that work in this sector! Jack gives us a peek into how Power Sheds successfully uses PPC, social media, and even TV advertising to rake in sales. He sheds light on the importance of customer reviews, the value of an engaged community, and why prioritising customer service is pivotal. Will and I also ponder over intriguing decisions like launching in Germany before Ireland, and the exciting prospects of working with influencers in the right manner. 

Would you like to know if your social media and content strategy is perfect for this year? Book a free 15-minute brand discovery call here with Chris, and we will help you grow your brand today. And if you like the show, please leave us a review, or even just a thumbs up. It is very much appreciated - we want your feedback.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ready to step into the world of unbranded products and discover how a brand was built in a commodity market? We are excited to bring you an interesting conversation with Jack Sutcliffe, founder of Power Sheds, a game-changing company that's shaking up the shed industry in the UK all from its heart in Yorkshire. Jack shares his fascinating journey of rising to the top of an unbranded market, how his company emerged as the 20th fastest-growing in the UK, and his plans for global domination. Hear about their unique modular design, their commitment to sustainability, and the marketing secrets behind their impressive success.

How do you market a shed? Well, sit tight as we dive deeper into the interesting world of shed sales and the marketing strategies that work in this sector! Jack gives us a peek into how Power Sheds successfully uses PPC, social media, and even TV advertising to rake in sales. He sheds light on the importance of customer reviews, the value of an engaged community, and why prioritising customer service is pivotal. Will and I also ponder over intriguing decisions like launching in Germany before Ireland, and the exciting prospects of working with influencers in the right manner. 

Would you like to know if your social media and content strategy is perfect for this year? Book a free 15-minute brand discovery call here with Chris, and we will help you grow your brand today. And if you like the show, please leave us a review, or even just a thumbs up. It is very much appreciated - we want your feedback.

Follow Chris Norton:
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TikTok
LinkedIn

Follow Will Ockenden:
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Follow The Show:
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YouTube

Chris Norton:

What's the most pimped shed you've seen?

Jack Sutcliffe:

I've seen all sorts of sheds. We sold a shed a couple of weeks ago to Gemma Collins, so that was a oh.

Willliam Ockenden:

God, she put that on Instagram.

Chris Norton:

Tell us about that so what's the key to the growth then? How did that happen? You went from 13 in a week to 300 in the first stage of growth. How did you get? How did you do that?

Jack Sutcliffe:

Marketing-wise, because we'd worked in the industry for a long time. We knew literally every complaint someone would have about a shed. So when we wrote them all down and redesigned the shed we tried to make sure we ticked off every one of those complaints so we'd never got to get a complaint.

Willliam Ockenden:

Launching a branded and unbranded market. I'm immediately trying to think of other. There must be a ton of sectors, with you know, that are dominated by unbranded products.

Jack Sutcliffe:

So that's I think it's things like what people would describe as a commodity, like a radiator. No Capit, you know there's not really big brands out there, but if you can brand the biggest commodity in the world, such as water, why can't your brand a shed? And that's what we're setting out to do.

Chris Norton:

Welcome back to Socially Inacceptable. This week we've got a brilliant episode. We've got somebody called Jack Sutcliffe. He's an entrepreneur who's set up a company that's become the EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. He's a two-time Great British Entrepreneur Award winner and he's the Lloyd's National Business Award winner. He even won an eBay Award for innovation. The brand's called Power Sheds. They're the 20th fastest growing company in the UK, according to the Sunday Times. So Jack has built a disruptive business where there was no brand before. It was all just owned brands. And Jack talks us through how he's done that, how he's grown it from nothing to 300 sheds a week, an 80-people business and a business that's widely known in the UK as one of the fastest growing companies. So yeah, sit back, relax and let's listen to what Jack's got to say.

Speaker 4:

Welcome to Socially Unacceptable from F*** Upstaffame, the marketing podcast that celebrates the professional mishaps, mistakes and misjudgments, while delivering valuable marketing and life lessons in the time it takes you to eat your lunch.

Chris Norton:

Thanks for joining us and welcome to Socially Unacceptable. This week, we're very lucky to be joined by the amazing Jack Sutcliffe, who's here to talk about his business Power Sheds. He's been listed as entrepreneur of the year, he's been a two-time Great British Entrepreneur Award winner and there's several awards that he's won, and he's here to talk about how he's grown his business online and obviously tell us a few bumps and mishaps on the way as well. So welcome to the show, jack.

Willliam Ockenden:

Thank you. What do you start by? Telling us a little bit about the business, and I'm particularly interested in the name Power Sheds. So how did you come up with that?

Jack Sutcliffe:

I think I took a bit of inspiration from someone like Simba Mattress. So Simba Mattress has a domain name Simba Sleep. It has Simba as the brand. Everyone knows it's Simba Mattress' is. So by picking what I thought was the strongest brand name possibly in Power, the actual domain is powershedscom the brand's Power, but it allows us to create sub-brands under that in the future. So there's Power Sheds, there's Power Cavins, there's Power Deck and there's Power Play for Play Equipment. So we're looking for the strongest brand possible which has global sort of scale and ability. So Power could be translated in different countries, not just in the UK. So where about you based? So, based in Bradford? Right, we deliver across the UK.

Chris Norton:

Yeah.

Jack Sutcliffe:

We're a month away from launching in Germany and we're two months away from launching in Ireland. You might wonder why we did it that way around, but we'll come on to. But yeah, started in Bradford, but deliver Sheds nationally.

Chris Norton:

OK, that's so, and what I read when I read online about the business a lot of it's sustainable wood, right. So how does that work? How do you get sustainable wood? I mean, I'm interested in that. Everybody's talking about sustainability, obviously.

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah, the Sheds are made from sort of timber which is responsibly sourced, so the forestry's will actually plant three trees for everyone that's cut down. The Sheds sent on a recycled pallet which is predominantly packaging free. So timber obviously stores carbon rather than, say, a plastic or metal shed, so it is generally a better product that people like to put in the garden.

Willliam Ockenden:

And what kind of Sheds do you sell then? Presumably all sorts.

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah, well, how we started was that if you imagine the most popular shed in the industry might be an 8 foot by 6 foot shed, you have an 8 foot side and a 6 foot side, so we tried to make it an easier process to manufacture and deliver. So, again going back to the mattress analogy, which is mattresses were difficult to deliver. Someone brought them out a mattress in a box, really easy to deliver. We did the same by bringing out a modular shed that fits in a pallet. So every one of our Sheds we've got a thousand different skews, but all made from 4 foot or 2 foot components. So they all fit on a pallet, which means we can send it out through a pallet network. And that means you don't have to wait six weeks for a shed anymore. We can deliver one next day, delivery nationwide, because we send it through a pallet career.

Chris Norton:

So I get a power shed delivered to my house, Is it? Do I have to build it?

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yes.

Chris Norton:

Oh, my God.

Jack Sutcliffe:

But if you bought some from IKEA, you'd have to build it as well.

Chris Norton:

Yeah, yeah, true.

Jack Sutcliffe:

You get instructions, you get video instructions and we also have an installation directory where you can find an installer in your local area.

Chris Norton:

So you've been going four or five years, is it?

Jack Sutcliffe:

Four and a half years we started.

Jack Sutcliffe:

So, we started with just the two of us. So there's me and Simon. We worked for another shed company. We decided to leave. We had a little bit of money saved up when we leased a small factory in Bradford and we bought a second hand machine off eBay. In that first month we sold 14 sheds Right. We then thought we're going to need to employ someone, so we got a member of staff. After a year we're up to 300 sheds a week with 36 members of staff Outgrew the premises that we were at so we leased a larger factory four times the size, 44,000 square foot just down the road in Bradford, retain the existing site and we got up to 18 members of staff producing 700 sheds a week and with the old site, started manufacturing log cabins for home offices or gyms or garden bars.

Chris Norton:

So what's the key to the growth then? How did that happen? You went from 13 in a week to 300 in the first stage of growth. How did you do that?

Jack Sutcliffe:

Marketing-wise, because we'd worked in the industry for a long time. We knew literally every complaint someone would have about a shed. So when we wrote them all down and redesigned the shed, we tried to make sure we ticked off every one of those complaints. So we'd never got to get a complaint. So we had a product which was good quality, reliable. We sent it on a through a pallet delivery network, which meant it was a reliable delivery service, delivered on time, delivered quicker than everybody else. We started to pick up really, really good reviews. So we're one of the only companies in the industry with a good online reputation. We have a brand that stands out, I believe, in the marketplace and we just generally snowballed into rapid growth.

Willliam Ockenden:

And I mean I was quite interested to hear you talk about Simba and some of the mattress in the box companies. They're obviously challenger brands. They've entered an existing market, they've disrupted that market and they've absolutely flown. Did you always set out to be a bit of a challenger brand, offering something a little bit alternative in the market?

Jack Sutcliffe:

We tried to be a brand in what we believe is still an unbranded market. So there's no big brand out there in Sheds, Whereas mattresses which is 10, 15 years in the future where you've got Simba, Casper, Eve, Emma, you've got some big brands.

Jack Sutcliffe:

See you and I'm sure there's many more. But in Sheds you've got Buy Sheds Direct Garden Bill and Sheds Direct Sheds Store things that you'd probably searched from Google 15, 20 years ago, so a name that was based on an SEO term. So we've we've having a branding, unbranded market to try and change that, that industry, up. That's what we're set out to do.

Chris Norton:

And the way that you. How do you buy it? Is it all online? Is it? Is that how you've done the business?

Jack Sutcliffe:

So you can buy it online. We've got a website, but we also sell through the trade. So we sell through Wix and Travis Perkins and Robert Dias and Wayfair and what the difference is between us and other Shed manufacturers is that other manufacturers that sell online under their brand if they sold it through a garden center or a trade place, like like a Wix, they'd change a brand or sell it as unbranded Because they're worried that that a Wix would be worried that a customer would go directly to buy and they'd lose out on that sale. Whereas to grow the biggest brand, we want our brand everywhere. So we've kept the same brand everywhere and we have a pricing strategy where, on our website, we never undercut that trade customer.

Willliam Ockenden:

So launching a branded and unbranded market, I'm immediately trying to think of other set. There must be a ton of sectors, with you know, that are dominated by unbranded products. So that's that's.

Jack Sutcliffe:

I think it's things like what people would describe as a commodity, like a radiator or carpet. You know there's not really big brands out there, but if you can brand the biggest commodity in the world such as water, like at your brand a shed, and that's what we're setting out to do.

Willliam Ockenden:

And what I'm interested in it's you know it's not your classic kind of glamorous sector, is it? You think of kind of challenger brands or disruptive brands and you think about things like cars or fast fashion or Easyjet. Yeah, airlines or tech, but sheds. But you've clearly done that and I mean you've, you know the, I mean you've, you've won all sorts of awards for growth, fast growing company.

Jack Sutcliffe:

So got the an eBay word for innovation. We were listed in the Sunday Times fastest 100 companies. We finished 20th in that. So you know, with the growth that we've got, it's certainly recognized. The ward had a way do it based on company's house records. It's it's factual rather than subjective.

Chris Norton:

And that's when the top in Yorkshire yeah, which is amazing, which is obviously you know we're based in Yorkshire, that's what I thought you were a great brand example to get you into to hear about it. So I suppose then, with that sort of rapid growth because you surely have had growing pains with that, because you can't go from like 14 people, one machine in your back garden, to 300 people How's that been in terms of growth with people? How have you, how have you scaled so fast?

Jack Sutcliffe:

I think having a modular concept makes it scalable, because we only have we might have a thousand skews, but we only have 50 components to make. So, manufacturing wise, it's been quite easy. But a lot of people attribute the growth to COVID, which helps from a sales perspective. But then from a purchasing perspective, it was really, really challenging. So you've got as many sales as you possibly ever imagined, but you can't buy enough wood and the wood prices are going up and up and up every month. So what you found? That most companies in the industry sold as many sheds as possible and built up 26 week plus lead times in the middle of the pandemic, whereas we didn't want to put ourselves at a risk of having such a long lead time. So we had to slow sales down.

Jack Sutcliffe:

So, what we did is we turned off the website, which not many people would have done. When you've got all these sales, we turned off the website.

Willliam Ockenden:

Literally turned it off. That's a brave decision.

Jack Sutcliffe:

So we chose to keep our trade customers happy. Some of them are garden centers who had had to shut down themselves and sell them remotely. Keep them happy, keep the lead time down. Those companies that had sold the shed on week one came to build it on week 24, ended up selling it at a loss because they ended up making it at the timber price of bought it then, rather than the timber price of what it was 24 weeks before.

Jack Sutcliffe:

It's like you've got to hedge your price of materials and nobody knew at that time what was going to happen in the pandemic. So by restricting our lead time to six weeks, keeping trade customers happy, which meant they were happy with us. So we built up a long term relationship with them and we went for that rather than building up a short term Online.

Chris Norton:

Yeah, one off sales basically, Because, yeah, because it must be. The lead time for a normal purchase for shed must be like one every 15 years. So you've only been going five, so you're going to be expecting that customer might come back in 10, well, 10, 20 years.

Jack Sutcliffe:

There's a customer and the trade customer who will be selling our sheds for the next 50 years.

Chris Norton:

Yeah, exactly, repeat business basically.

Willliam Ockenden:

Yeah, that's quite. I mean, we do a fair bit in the furniture and work with some bed brands as well. And you look at a mattress and it's an occasional purchase, isn't it? Every 10 to 15 years? So I'm curious how you manage that. With sheds, how do you persuade somebody to buy a shed if you know, or do you have to hit them at that point? When you're at the 10 year mark, the 15 year mark, their current sheds dilapidated. They might need a bigger one. How do you get around that? I?

Jack Sutcliffe:

think I mean there's one side that sheds are. It's not like a fashion where you your clothing changes every few months and your fashion changes. The most popular shed has been the same for 25 years, so that makes it a little bit easier for us to manage. We're just focusing on managing the same product range and not having to worry about other things. But yeah, not everybody buys a shed all the time. So you've got to.

Jack Sutcliffe:

What we've seen is that because the prices have gone up so much in the past couple of years with timber price increases that sheds have become a more considered purchase. So now people are not just going online and buying the cheapest shed, they're thinking well, it's now 700 pounds for a shed, not 400 pounds for a shed. So I'll do a bit of research so they might be looking at reviews and whereas before, when you only sell one shed, a lot of companies in our industry didn't care about reviews. If the customers got the problem, they'll blame it on the base or blame it on the customer installing it badly, whereas if we focus on having good customer service, good reviews, when they come to do the research, when they haven't heard of any brand because there isn't a brand out there. They pick the ones who they think they'll help us out if something goes wrong. So focusing on that customer service side and those reviews has been quite key to us.

Chris Norton:

So how many employees did you say had?

Jack Sutcliffe:

We've got 80 now 80.

Chris Norton:

And how's that? From two to 80? How's that? Has that been completely easy?

Jack Sutcliffe:

Um it was. There's a bit of risk involved because we so we just set up a new site, we had um. So we say we just set up a new site and we had a summer that was coming where we expected to sell a lot of sheds and we had a challenge to get 50 members of staffing in in sort of three weeks time. So how did you do that?

Chris Norton:

Well, so you had 30 people, then you needed another 50, or did you need? Is that what you were?

Jack Sutcliffe:

No, we had 30 people but we needed another 50. But what happens is because we can't be as selective when we employ so many and we've really de-skilled the manufacturing process. So you don't need qualified join, instance, to make sheds. You need people who's got a good attitude to come in, they're on time, they're willing to learn, they want to progress, and then we'll train them. So by looking for those attributes and sort of the mindset, the values, rather than the capability and experience, we've brought in a lot of people and trained them ourselves, and we always find that some drop off, some don't work out, whether it's because they're not right for us or we're not right for them.

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yes it's quite a physical job. So we've employed a lot of people just on how we feel they will fit into that company and the ones that haven't worked out have not worked out. So let's say that drops by 20%. You then got a good number of people who's coming in is learning, Because everyone in our company is less than three or four years of experience, and we've got people who's had four pain greases within a year. They've gone from a shop floor member of staff to a manager within four years. So we've grown that quickly that people have progressed quickly as well.

Willliam Ockenden:

So, taking a bit of a step back then. Obviously, marketing is absolutely key to achieving this amazing growth. You've talked about customer reviews, which we'll focus on in a sec. You obviously do the PPC. You've got a website. You've done TV advertising. What are the most effective marketing activities and that you would say you've done over the last three years that have really driven that growth?

Jack Sutcliffe:

I mean, there's the ones that everyone does, which is PPC and social media stuff, but I guess the ones that are maybe a little bit different we've done such as things that are not really trying to get sales. So we started an allotment hints and tips group on Facebook, which was very simply set up a Facebook community page where people can share ideas and allotments and we got a few people who joined and then just every week, people joined and joined, and joined, and joined, and now we're the biggest allotment community group on Facebook.

Chris Norton:

I saw that. How did you get the growth on that? How did you get that? That's a pun, isn't it?

Jack Sutcliffe:

On the allotment how did you grow the allotment online on the Facebook group I did a little bit of paid advertising to get the first 100 to 150 people. I put on the odd tip myself which I found on Google somewhere, and then eventually people started asking each other questions.

Willliam Ockenden:

And it's become a living, breathing community.

Jack Sutcliffe:

It's huge, so do you moderate it.

Willliam Ockenden:

Is it light touch moderation, or do you just let it get on with?

Jack Sutcliffe:

it. We've got some people who's members of the group moderate it and I just leave it with it, and then every so often we'll drop in a competition from Power Sheds or a happy Christmas from Power Sheds type of message.

Willliam Ockenden:

I was going to say how often, yeah, how Very rarely.

Jack Sutcliffe:

Because I don't want it to be. You want it to be authentic. Yeah, I don't want it to be a sales place where we start advertising and taking over.

Willliam Ockenden:

It is a community, so a genuine community where people aren't sold to. You can occasionally dip in. You obviously own it.

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah, so our names at the top owned by Power Sheds it's got our logo in the banner at the top. Over that, we just let them.

Chris Norton:

How many members of that group?

Jack Sutcliffe:

got 120,000.

Chris Norton:

120,000. It's not bad to say you only got the first 150 and then they've just piled in.

Jack Sutcliffe:

If it's something that's genuinely useful to people, which I think it is.

Chris Norton:

it adds value, and so what about your other social media strategy for your main pages then? How did you come about with that?

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah, for the social stuff we try and do something. Just that's fun. So we get staff involved with film and doing silly things and they all really, really enjoy it. It ends up being a good advertising tool for recruitment. People want to be part of the company. On social we do Like on Instagram and stuff. We find it useful more for B2B than B2C. So you get the customer who goes on the website to look on Instagram oh, quite like that product. They go back on the website and buy. But it's as simple as we'll follow a garden center, we'll like a few of their posts, I'll comment on the odd one and then three or four weeks later I'm getting a message saying can we sell your sheds? So I never really approach a garden center to say can I come and pitch to you? We just let them know about us and by doing good, interesting things on social the garden center the trade customer comes to us and asks to sell our sheds.

Chris Norton:

Just like a bit of a social media PR podcast that you might come on and meet another interesting innovating PR agency, you mean?

Willliam Ockenden:

Maybe so. So obviously the allotment community. You play in the long game there, aren't you? That's just about presumably. That's just building the brand.

Chris Norton:

Adding value.

Willliam Ockenden:

They might convert in five years, in 10 years.

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah, giving something back.

Willliam Ockenden:

With consumer organic social media, then do you ever sell to people? Or again, is it about building the brand, building trust?

Jack Sutcliffe:

I never sell to people, because we've done stuff with influencers which, when it builds a brand, it works when it's buy a shed, and we'll give you this voucher code you never sells.

Jack Sutcliffe:

And when it's something that's considered purchase, not an impulse buy. You need a shed when your shed's falling down, then they'll have gone and Google and be searching for a shed if they need a shed, if they're advertised on social for a shed I don't believe that they'll then I'm going to buy a shed now because it's not something that you just leave there.

Chris Norton:

So organic SEO and PPC is really weight because you've got the search intent to buy a shed. You're right, it's not something you just think, oh, I could really do with a shed today. It's not like, yeah, it's a very considered and this is about trust in the process, isn't it?

Willliam Ockenden:

You know, and we often speak to clients about this you know you say the right things, you build the trust. You know you build community. The sales will come, providing you're doing the bread and butter, like PPC and things.

Jack Sutcliffe:

So yeah, it's hard to measure because you don't know where it came from 10 years ago.

Willliam Ockenden:

But it's no bad thing, is it? It's a good thing to build that community and build those relationships. Back to reviews, then. So what's your review strategy? Obviously, people, when they're in the mindset to buy a shed, they'll go online and they'll look at your website. It's very helpful in that respect. How do you actually generate reviews? Have you kind of automated that?

Jack Sutcliffe:

process. We did have a auto email that sent out if it's been placed. But we've got a good review score. Now We've kind of left it alone and just let it do itself. The best reviews we get is when we mess up every single time. So we don't get good reviews by just delivering it on time. We get good reviews by missing a panel, breaking it, not getting delivered, but then fixing it really quickly.

Willliam Ockenden:

The cynical me would say you should do that deliberately, occasionally, and then cost us money.

Jack Sutcliffe:

We have to send out that piece. But yeah, because it's a pallet-based product. If we're missing a panel or it's damaged on arrival, we can send that panel out on the next day and we'll keep them in the loop and we'll check in afterwards. And then suddenly we've got a good review on TrustPallet. The best reviews is when we fix things and offer that good service. We might give them a free planter as an apology.

Chris Norton:

Well, this show is about fuckups, and I want to just revert back to my glamorous business partner here, because Sheds will. Something of an expert in Sheds. Where's this going Will?

Willliam Ockenden:

built a shed, didn't you, do you?

Chris Norton:

remember.

Willliam Ockenden:

Yeah, I remember the shed.

Chris Norton:

How did it go then?

Willliam Ockenden:

It's still leaking.

Chris Norton:

Didn't you go outside and smash it up.

Willliam Ockenden:

Yeah, I tried to build a shed very small shed, very cheap shed on my own, and then I spent a whole day with my wife watching me from the window. It wasn't right, so I ended up just smashing it.

Chris Norton:

It wasn't a power shed, it didn't click together. So I think that yeah, you got in a rage.

Willliam Ockenden:

And every time I drive my car off the driveway I see it and it makes me angry. Even now you should have come to you. I have learned my lesson. So you must have made a few fuckups along the way. Shall we say Anything that springs to mind, either with this business or early on in your career, that you think, god, I shouldn't have done that?

Jack Sutcliffe:

Probably made it. Because we're so fast to move, we make very, very quick decisions, which means some of those decisions will be wrong, and there's lots of things, systems that I've chosen, people that I've chosen to work with, members of staff that we've recruited that we shouldn't have done this. So there's thousands of things that I do wrong probably every day. There's probably some bigger things I've done wrong, like I think I remember when we set up the passwords for our CMS, for our system to log in to our website, I put the password as Jack, which wasn't a great password.

Chris Norton:

And obviously we got hacked, so that would have been a really different password.

Willliam Ockenden:

That would have been the next one.

Jack Sutcliffe:

So we got hacked and then suddenly on the Google, but when you got hacked, did they hold you to ransom or? No, it wasn't like someone rang us up. What we found was it was a robot, because then we had thousands of pages on the Google search engine results, pages which were just in Japanese, and so it was just a strange robot that had put links on everywhere.

Willliam Ockenden:

Yeah, so you probably got relatively likely there. I mean, imagine if you'd had a kind of a data. You know your data had been compromised now with way more.

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah, so it wasn't customer details, it was our content that got manipulated, and how long did it take you to notice that? It got noticed by customers saying what's this page and what's this mean? And then we were like so we got our developers to investigate it. They eventually found out what it was, but it did. Even though we fixed it, it took a long time for it to drop off.

Chris Norton:

Google, yeah, yeah.

Jack Sutcliffe:

So even a few weeks and months later, it was still there and we're doing everything we possibly could to get rid of them, but it was just a.

Willliam Ockenden:

So the password now is Jack99,. Is it Jack1.

Chris Norton:

Shed1, Shed1, Shed1, 2, 3.

Willliam Ockenden:

You talked about customer service, which I found really interesting, and I think customer service, although it's own discipline, it's absolutely linked to marketing, isn't it? You surprise and delight and give an amazing customer experience and those customers then go online and say nice things about you and kind of review you and advocate you. I presume that's always been a big focus for you, is it? Great customer service and the rest will take care of itself.

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah, I think I was looking at. We're not a company that anyone's heard of, so we need to give as many trust signals on our website as possible and one of those is reviews and the next one was awards, which is why I wanted to enter and go for awards. And the more things we have on that website to reassure the customer the better. And I think it's even more so in Germany when we're launching there. The consumers even less trusting. They generally only go with companies they've heard of. So a lot of companies in Germany sell with cash on delivery, believe it or not, to reassure the customer that much, you don't need to pay it until you get that product in your hand.

Chris Norton:

That feels very old school, very old school, but that's how a lot of companies in Germany work.

Jack Sutcliffe:

We wouldn't go that far, but when we're a company that isn't heard of, particularly when we get to Germany, that's the more trust signals we have, the better.

Willliam Ockenden:

And Germany before Ireland. You said what's the thinking there?

Jack Sutcliffe:

So yeah, well, in Based on our growth and our rewards, we started to get people knocking on the door wanting to invest and buy into us. But we always said that we'd only ever take something where someone could offer a bit more on the table and not just a bit of cash. We sold 50% of the company to a group called BSW Group, who's the biggest timber forestry sort of milling group in the UK and they're owned by Binder Holtz, who's the biggest timber forestry mill in Europe. They're the fifth largest in the world. They're a family-owned company and essentially the chop down trees, turn them into pieces of wood and sell them to companies such as us or B&Q or Wix.

Jack Sutcliffe:

Now they have mills across the world and partnerships with very large companies. So, for example, they've put us in front of Lowers, they've put us in front of Home Depot in the US. They can put us in front of Bauhauses like the B&Q of Europe. So having that partnership where they can open the door for us is really really valuable. Now they're based in Germany and Austria originally, which is why we're going to set up in Germany first, because it can help us with that, help us with the translation, help us with the legal setup, which is not easy to do, but it's a good thing, because if it wasn't easy to do, everyone would do it. So having that, that is the reason why we're sat in Germany, and then Ireland next, and then who knows what after.

Chris Norton:

What's the most pimped shed you've seen?

Jack Sutcliffe:

I've seen all sorts of sheds. We saw the shed a couple of weeks ago to Gemma Collins she put that on. Instagram. Tell us about that. She's put it on a. It's actually a 26 foot by 10 foot shed. She's put on her Instagram page. We did a personalized vinyl saying the GC on it, so she put that on Instagram, but she's using it to store her clothes.

Chris Norton:

Interesting so with.

Willliam Ockenden:

I mean, you don't you know, not giving anything confidential out here, but you know, if you get approached by a celebrity or an influencer, would you consider doing some kind of contra deal where you, where you, you know you might knock some money off in exchange for content, or something like that?

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah, we get daily requests from home accounts wanting a free shed. So we generally judge it on what we'll get back from it. It's quite hard because some people have lots of followers but very few views. So you've got to really gauge what you think you'll get back and we might, yeah, change the discount based on what we think we'll get from that and what does kind of value look like if you work with an influencer?

Willliam Ockenden:

Then are you again thinking about that kind of top of the funnel, brand awareness and trust piece? So would you try and encourage them to, you know, to link to your website or to or to?

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah, as long as it links to our Instagram page or it mentions to us ideally a post or a reel, because it's there forever and I was angry to say go for a story, cause then more people view it. But yeah, it's get views on their page and hopefully a few more followers on our page. Yeah. And we get a lot of people to look at our page, so that helps. But it is that top of the funnel stuff.

Chris Norton:

So where can people find your, you know, LinkedIn details, et cetera?

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah, If you search with Jack Sutcliffe Power Sheds on LinkedIn, you'll find me pretty easily. But yeah, feel free to get in touch or connect and I'll be more than happy to.

Chris Norton:

It's powershedscom, powershedscom. Okay Well, thanks for coming along. Thanks, jack, yeah, great.

Willliam Ockenden:

So Sheds isn't the most glamorous of sectors, if I'm honest, but what Jack's shown is that you can disrupt any sector and you can build a challenger brand in any market. And what I found really fascinating was the fact that he's launched a brand in an unbranded market and the marketing my marketing brain immediately started ticking into action, thinking what other sectors are there where there's no brands dominated? Yeah, that's the opportunity.

Chris Norton:

The most interesting diverse FMCG. It's none of those things, is it? But it is a sector that's around and people do buy from it. But the fact he's gone from like, looking at Wix and B&Q, we've got their own brands. He's creating a brand within that market. Therefore, he's disrupting that market because he believes in 10, 15 years that people will want a Power Sheds shed rather than a B&Q or Wix shed. So it is an interesting strategy. And the most shocking thing of that interview is he's done that all. He's not got a marketing team. So hello, all you marketers out there listening to. That guy has done it himself. In five years he's won about 15 awards. He's in the Sunday Times fastest growing businesses in the UK. This guy has done it all on his own.

Willliam Ockenden:

And off camera he was saying telling us what hours he works, wasn't he? Which is no surprise. He's doing long, long hours, and any entrepreneurs out there will know that you have to do that.

Chris Norton:

Classic entrepreneur drive, wasn't it? Yeah, absolutely, really impressive.

Willliam Ockenden:

The other thing which really caught my attention was his kind of investment in customer service, and I think that's really important and it is linked with marketing, isn't it? You get customer service right and you surprise and delight customers, they become brand advocates, they say nice things about you, they write reviews about you, and it's really linked, isn't it? So you can have the best marketing in the world, but if your customer service is crap, then you're going to fail.

Chris Norton:

But then every positive review the best ones he'd got were from the biggest welcome to the show, fuck ups from delivering the product Actually, that's the one thing by sending a broken product. And then you made the joke about.

Willliam Ockenden:

Why don't you? Start sending out broken stuff Once a week to a broken delivery, just so you can get a review, and this isn't right.

Chris Norton:

And then they go out there and surprise and delight and do an even better job. I mean that tells you that they are running a slick operation where they're looking after customers, which is good. I mean I'd have to go on and check out the reviews and see how, because we all know what online reviews can be like with TripAdvisor and you get the people that you have to take a view on a brand when you look at them online. So it's great, and I don't. He said that there's no other brand in his market that really focuses on reviews, so yeah, that was good.

Willliam Ockenden:

The other thing that grabbed my attention was the fact that they've literally got this long list of customer complaints about the sector and they've used that almost as a crib sheet to make their business different and better.

Jack Sutcliffe:

Yeah.

Willliam Ockenden:

I think that's really important as well, whatever sector you're in, looking at those customer frustrations and then trying to address those through your marketing and through your product, and that's the way to achieve that kind of differentiation, isn't it?

Chris Norton:

Thanks for joining us on Social Unacceptable. Be sure to subscribe to us on wherever you get your podcasts. Also, don't forget we're on YouTube, so you can check the whole show out on YouTube whenever you want. If you subscribe there, you'll get all the shows as well. We'll see you in a couple of weeks when we've got some great guests, and be sure to let us know where you're listening to us. We're looking for our furthest away listeners. So wherever you are, wherever you're based, drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you and we'll see you again in a couple of weeks. Thanks, bye.

How Power Sheds Disrupted the Shed Industry with Jack Sutcliffe
The Secret Behind Power Sheds’ Modular and Sustainable Product
From 14 to 700 Sheds a Week: The Incredible Growth Story of Power Sheds
How to Address Customer Pain Points and Build Trust in a Commodity Market
How to Create a Brand Identity in an Unbranded Market
How to Scale Your Manufacturing Process and Overcome COVID-19 Challenges
Marketing Strategies for Shed Sales
How to Build a Massive Allotment Community on Facebook and Use Instagram for B2B Sales
How to Get the Best Reviews by Fixing Things Quickly and Offering Incentives
The Biggest Fuckup of Power Sheds: How a Weak Password Led to a Japanese Robot Invasion
The Future of Power Sheds: Global Expansion, Product Diversification, and Influencer Marketing