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Holistic Digital Strategy

We are a small but dedicated group focused on all aspects of digital strategy, from auditing, brand management/research and social listening, to search engine optimization and paid media.

How did it all begin?

I worked for several large agencies – the last one before I went out on my own was WPP – and noticed that the bigger the agency and the bigger the budget, the less that true quality work was being undertaken on behalf of clients. So in 2017 when I decided to ‘semi-retire,’ one of my clients decided they wanted to leave and come with me, and that is how Thoroughbrand began.

What sets your business apart?

Transparency. The media model agency really encouraged – and in some cases continues to encourage – overspending because their fees come as a percentage of media spend. That discourages thorough research, brand and market understanding, accurate targeting, and efficient and effective campaigns. We go out of our way to ensure that we understand the brand, the consumers, the competitive landscape, and the resultant ‘personas’ in order to ensure we only target ‘qualified’ audiences, or those who are actually interested in – or would be interested in – a client’s product or service. In fact, we begin every engagement with an in depth research process prior to any other work commencing. And if transpires thereafter that certain tactics will not work for you, then we are honest about that. Even if it means spending less. Ultimately, do the right thing for the clients and the clients will take care of you via growth and referrals. Even if sometimes the advice we give them is not exactly what they expect to hear.

What is the concept behind your business or the problem you’re solving?

Spending less on advertising and impressions by focussing on the highest possible affinity audience.

Where to next/What is your brand vision?

Eventually, I suppose we will sell, but that is still quite a way down the road for us. I cannot imagine a day without work!

Michelle Viar

Founder of

Thoroughbrand

What do you feel passionate about/what drives you?

Directness, in all aspects of life, but particularly in business.

Share an example of early life that has shaped you?

My dad was a reporter for CBS in the US. He was incredibly honest and curious and all the things that make a good, true journalist, but which also at times made enemies. My sister and I, growing up, did not know any better than to always say what we thought, so when I was 9 I told a classmate that my dad had said his dad was ‘a radical.’ His dad was running for Governor of our state and won. His dad was incensed with my dad, and never again gave him an interview or even the time of day. I suppose the lesson was be yourself, be direct, be honest, but do not scream about your opinions because not everyone is going to be a fan. And as a child, accepting that not everyone is always going to like you is a very difficult – but so important – lesson to learn. I’d say even in adulthood that is often difficult to remember. Liking yourself is more important than compromising who you are so that others like you.

Highlights of your business journey so far?

Winning MATCHESFASHION as a client. We have plenty of name brand, recognisable clients, but to win one of which I am also a customer and a fan was a particular highlight for me.

Key lessons you have learned along the way?

Being a good consumer makes a good marketer. Brands get caught up too much in trying to imagine what a potential customer wants to see and forget that they are consumers, too.

Best piece of advice you have received?

It was actually the worst piece of advice I’ve received and I squarely ignored it: five years ago, my former boss at a very large agency wished me luck and told me I was making a mistake not having one high profile, central office. Then the pandemic struck. And I could not be more pleased with my choice.

Advice to an aspiring entrepreneur or woman just starting her career?

Grow a very thick skin quickly so that no one ever ruffles you or sees you sweat. Also, find other smart, strong women to tap into for support.

What funding route have you chosen for your business and why?

Our business has been 100% funded by client revenue thus far.

Some of the challenges you have faced and how you overcame them?

Too many to list! But sheer determination is how I overcome most everything.

Why is it important to support women-led business?

Because it’s tough. It just is. And if I can help even one other woman avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve suffered, I will be proud.

60

Seconds

with

Michelle Viar

My inspiration is...

My parents.

My greatest fear is...

Failing.

The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is...

Asking out the man I’m spending my life with!

Guilty pleasure?

Really bad television!

Mantra you live by?

It is easier to ask for forgiveness than to beg for permission.

Female role model?

Lucille Ball.

Women-led brand you love?

Annoushka (and I own a lot of it!)

Top productivity tool?

My Mi-Fi! It goes everywhere with me. In the car, on the train, to the house down west.

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