Each month as part of our GO! Figure content series we will be spending time speaking with agency owners and leaders to get their opinions on a different topic directly affecting our industry.

This month for our Agency Q&A we interviewed William Ferreira, Co-Founder of Social Buff to talk about how he became to be recognised as one of the UK’s leading young entrepreneurs and his ecommerce tips and predictions for 2021.


GO!: Hi William! Could you please tell us a little about yourself, your experience and your role at Social Buff.

WF: I dropped out of university at nineteen and started my first company and became recognized as one of the UK’s leading young entrepreneurs. I have worked with start-ups to global brands in digital transformation and marketing, including the likes of Nike, Virgin, Stolichnaya and more.

At twenty-one, I sold my first company and had built a reputation in the start-up sector working with Virgin Start-up to help scale and grow new ventures. I began to receive recognition from the likes of Forbes, The Daily Mail, and The Princes Trust.

I am now the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Social Buff, a company that builds and scales direct-to-consumer brands through best-in-class talent across ecommerce, digital and social. I have also recently launched a venture arm to the business that co-invests in interesting new start-ups, that Social Buff can partner with and incubate.


GO!: Tell us about how Social Buff started.

WF: We have one core purpose, to be an engine for growth. My fellow Co-Founder Aran and I launched Social Buff as we wanted to create a company that was the driver behind a brands ability to scale and grow. With our experience in building businesses, either our own or other peoples, we knew that launching an agency would be the most effective way to achieve this.

Over the last 18 months, we have grown Social Buff from strength to strength. Moving from being a social media marketing agency into being full-service digital agency focusing on the market we both know best, direct-to-consumer brands.


GO!: What tips do you have for any brand owners considering focusing on D2C?

WF: I can think of quite a few! But I’ll stick to my top 4 which are:


  1. You need a robust infrastructure: When selling via D2C, you’re not just responsible for marketing and selling your product, you’re also responsible for fulfilling and shipping directly to your customer. If you can’t manage this on your own it might be worth partnering with a third-party fulfilment provider such as Amazon fulfilment.


  1. Your customers will want a reason to buy from you directly: Provide a point of difference as to why a customer should buy directly from you instead of through a third-party store or amazon. Simple things like personalisation, convenience, price point or exclusivity are some common factors that make up a successful DTC model.


  1. You need to avoid channel conflict: The one thing you have to remember about D2C is that you shouldn’t see it as a replacement for your existing retail partners. Instead, D2C should be seen as an opportunity to create a new channel that will coincide with your current revenue streams.


  1. Lead with data: When running a D2C site, not only will you need to have engaging digital content, stunning imagery, and well-written descriptions about your product, you will also need to combine all of this with the data you have about your customer – this includes who they are, what their previous purchases are, and how they interact with your brand.


GO!: What are some of the most common challenges brand owners you work with face in making this transition or when building their ecommerce store?

WF: Transitioning into ecommerce can be daunting and unless done properly can cause a lot of headaches further down the line. The most important thing that I would focus on is user experience, ensuring that everything from the sitemap, product pricing, content and the check-out process is optimised with the customer in mind. Most brands focus on marketing and getting people to the store, then wondering why people aren’t engaging with it.


GO!: What do you think will be the leading trends in ecommerce marketing for 2021?

WF: Good question! Here are some of my predictions:

  1. Luxury brands will create new verticals in the DTC sector, offering superior products and better shopping experiences.
  2. Ecommerce brands will take over the high street, occupying pop-up and multi-channel shops that bring the internet to real life.
  3. Second-hand sales of items will shake up online shopping experiences, with consumers becoming motivated by sustainability, rather than price.
  4. Following the significant growth in P2P (peer-to-peer) platforms, many retailers are looking to expanding into rental e-commerce. Offering consumers, the opportunity to rent clothing, furniture, or electronics, you can increase audience reach while reducing returns.


GO!: The last year has been incredibly unpredictable. How have you prepared for 2021 and have you got any tips?

WF: As a business owner, 2020 has taught me to be more action oriented. We have to be more agile in an environment where something can change overnight and as an agency, it’s exactly the same.

We don’t have time to have pro-longed discussions, review strategies or wait to see if things change for the better. Following intuition and ensuring we know what’s happening in the market is one of our biggest strengths, allowing us to be reactive and have solutions in real-time scenarios.


GO!: With many digital agencies in the agency landscape, how do Social Buff ensure they can stand out?

WF: Social Buff is a very entrepreneurial business, great case-studies and years of experience only get you so far. We separate ourselves from other agencies by focusing on the value we deliver and the ownership we take in our client’s business, not just the services we provide.


GO!: What importance do you put on building relationships with your brands in addition to delivering the work?

WF: We invest time in understanding key-stakeholders in the businesses we work with, it’s imperative to us that we understand what their goals and objectives are, how we can be an extension of them and ensure we play to their strengths to get the most out of the relationship.


GO!: How do you keep yourself and your team motivated when working remotely, and do you have any tips on dealing with the ‘new normal’.

WF: As an agency we’ve always operated remotely, our team are all very entrepreneurial people. So, we’ve prioritised building a business culture that works for them. Focusing on value versus time like most companies expect from their employees.


GO!: Finally, what advice would you give to your fellow marketers regarding coming in to the year 2021 quite uncertain?

WF: Put yourself in the customers shoes, think about their needs and how their day-to-day lives have changed. Then build something tailored to their needs, too many marketers and brand owners put their personal preference ahead of the consumers.


GO!: Thanks for your time William. It has been great chatting with you.