Aaron Watson, creator of the Going Deep podcast series and Hannah Phillips, painter, photographer, and Instagram icon, are the faces of the new digital marketing company Piper Creative. However, Piper Creative is a company distinctly different from other digital marketing companies because of the types of services they offer: “Build bangin’ Instagram accounts, Produce professional podcasts, and Develop the next generation of vlogging.”
When you don’t think about it, these services seem almost typical marketing services for this day and age. Yet, there are no other businesses anywhere that do quite what Piper does for their clients. By creating content, unifying it under a brand created by them for their clients, and keeping active on social media, Piper acts as the behind-the-scenes infrastructure to a thriving business. “[Active social media presence is] the modern way of showing you’re open for business,” Aaron explains. “[People know of a business,] look up its hours beforehand, and there’s not really that same experience of walking down Main Street [and saying], ‘Oh let’s go in here!’ the way it used to be. So we see the feed, whether that’s a podcast feed, Instagram feed, or YouTube feed as Main Street these days. And by showing up there regularly is your way of saying, ‘Hey, we’re open for business.”
For example, when businesses hire Piper Creative to run their Instagram account, the team takes on the responsibility of creating the content, the captions, making it look unified and flowing with the right filters on all of the photos, etc. They handle the parts of having a social media presence that they believe business owners just don’t need to know, i.e. editing, setting up cameras and equipment, knowing where, when and how to post content. There are no paid ads, no sponsored posts, no money put into it unless decided by the client to do so. “We’re not trying to turn you into an influencer, we are trying to build your general awareness, build your content marketing muscle. Rather than going in for a cold sale or pitch, [going in and] being like, ‘Oh I’ve actually followed you on Instagram for a few months,’ makes it easier to pitch you something.”
Aaron says that the idea for Piper Creative hit him “like a bolt of lightning” when walking home from the grocery store in Thailand when he was living there in early 2017. Most ideas come and go fleetingly; things to get excited about turn out to not be as big as originally thought. But he couldn’t shake the idea even after returning to Pittsburgh later that year. “As I’m thinking about all the different permutations of how it would work, [it became] very clear I don’t have the skill set of visual media in general. So when I take my inventory of people who are talented, have the ability, but would also be who I’d want as my business partner, Hannah’s literally the only person that comes to mind,” Aaron recalls. It was after pitching the idea to Hannah over coffee and her understanding of the importance without needing it to be explained that Aaron knew she was the best candidate. She kept tabs on him and the idea over the next six months before he was ready to pull the trigger, not knowing she was even part of the plan. “I had no idea that he wanted a cofounder in this, I thought it was going to be something he would execute on his own. But it got me very excited about it,” she explains.
With photography and painting as her hobbies-turned-business prior to Piper, Hannah takes on the visual media side of things, taking photos and videos and editing everything cohesively. “[Aaron] is a fantastic copywriter. I have an eye for the visual aesthetic side of Instagram, and was successfully building my own business of the back of my Instagram account before Piper even was a thing,” she says. Her own business and Aaron’s Going Deep podcast and event series are now being branded with Piper, as they find value in having multiple personal brands under one umbrella. Aaron explains:
We believe pretty strongly in our personal brands really being the engines behind the growth of the business. I think one of the mistakes people make is believing like, ‘We have this business, so everything is exclusively in the name of the business,' when everyone’s previous relationships and experiences and beliefs are associated with the individuals. We are teaching our clients to make it about the main doctor in the healthcare startup, not the healthcare startup. Make it about the main founder of the digital agency, not the digital agency itself, because that’s just how we interact as people. Everyone knows these famous cultural icons, and they’re always people, as opposed to the companies that advertise their way there.
Hannah mentions that with Piper only being six months old, they are putting a lot of effort and time into their personal vlog, telling the story of starting a business with no funds, two cofounders, and an ever-growing team. “The biggest thing that I’m taking away from it is I have to trust my gut at all times especially when it comes to bringing on new team members, and [that] hard work trumps talent every day of the week.”
Piper has some new things in the works for which audiences should keep an eye out: the second Going Deep Summit, a one-day conference essential for entrepreneurs, innovators, and connectors to grow and network, is happening on March 23rd of 2019. Piper Creative’s second release of their clothing line will be released November 2nd. Aptly named Piper Two, after the original release of Piper One, this line will be geared for Fall/Spring weather. During our interview, I couldn’t help but make note of the awesome “Podcasts Killed the Radio Star” tee shirt, which is part of Piper One. Lastly, Hannah will be releasing a 15-piece painting series, titled the “Epic Privateer,” which will include paintings in Hannah’s maritime, seafaring style that tell her story of growing as an artist, as well as how Piper came to be. The release event for this series is scheduled for April 18th of 2019, and the original paintings as well prints will be for sale.
Even for those who are not business owners, following Hannah and Aaron’s story with Piper is an inspiration and motivator for any business-driven folk, and well worth a look at by any business struggling to find time for their digital marketing presence. Follow their Instagram @piper_creative, their LinkedIn profiles here and here, and their personal Instagram accounts @aaronwatson59 and @hpmedia.
Photos provided by Aaron Watson.