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For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Matt Fraser interviewed Dan Maudhub, Managing Director of Wonderful, a leading digital creative agency, Dan shares his expertise on developing innovative strategies that truly resonate with customers.
Watch the episode now for some profound insights!
Customer-centric marketing goes beyond sales, emphasizing empathy, connection, and memorable experiences that truly resonate with your audience.
Hello everyone. Welcome to E Coffee with Experts. I’m your host Matt Fraser, and on today’s show, I have with me Dan Maudhub. Dan is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur and the founder of Wonderful, a leading digital creative Agency. He has worked with some of the world’s largest brands in developing game-changing campaigns and content and has developed successful strategies across a range of industries.
In addition to his agency work, Dan is a mentor and advisor to many tech incubators, a regular keynote speaker, and the founder of The Wonderful Foundation, a not-for-profit organization supporting sustainability and community projects globally. Dan, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the show.
It’s a pleasure, Matt. Thanks for having me on.
No problem. Hey Dan this is kind of like my signature question. How would your university professors describe you as a student?
Oh, gosh. That is a terrible question for me to answer because I enjoyed the fullness of my university experience. But I would say a good portion of that was outside the lecture room. rather than in the lecture room.
I had a lot of fun, so, my degree was in business economics. It’s a jewel honors degree. And you could say I majored more in the business side. I loved the marketing modules, I love the sales modules, innovation modules.
We were, know I’m an older, middle-aged man, should we say so. This is pre-Google, pre-real sort of growth in the web technology day. So, we were learning about the basics of coding and what this internet thing could be and it was all very formative. And the eco-economic side, I enjoyed understanding econometrics, the mass of economics, and that side of things, which has helped me in my career.
So I loved university my professors would say, could try harder.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got started in the digital creative industry?
I started working on the web in the early nineties. I was the head of sales for a web development company, so building big systems here in the UK, we were building retail systems in healthcare so very much at that kind of heavy coding end of the spectrum. So, I was going in, working with clients, and helping them to try and understand. How to match, what was, more than 20 years ago now.
That’s how to match their client needs with online technology, and it was all so new. So there was a lot of innovation and a lot of invention. There was a lot of kind of scope and things that didn’t exist. Trying to understand how to even get HTML to work properly and how to connect to servers and all stuff that is so far removed from now. But that was my formative years. I was fresh out of university, I had a couple of sales roles in London. I got asked to come to work for a web agency just outside of London. So I got into heavy tech quite early on and then what happened is, I realized that a lot of my passion was helping entrepreneurs to know how to fuse creativity and technology.
How do we reach audiences? How do we engage customers with creative campaigns? Creative thinking, but using tech. So I ended up starting my agency. I started it as more of a consultancy, to begin with. I dealt with the consult brands and we were teaching about Google before most people knew about Google.
We were talking about a lot of what happened in the American model with Buzz building, and brand building. I was reading a lot of books, from your side of the pond and just really understanding a mindset and trying to bring that into the UK market. So what ended up happening is over time the people, clients would say to us, can you do this?
Can you deliver this? Can you do this webpage? Can you do this video? Can you? So we ended up naturally forming an agency. My background’s always been bringing that creative thinking, that creative energy into a technical environment.
So, how do you approach developing creative strategies for your clients?
Oh gosh, that’s a big question. So I think the biggest thing we always say to clients is it’s not so much what you want, it’s what your customers want. So you’ve gotta put yourself in the mind of the customer. One of Steve Jobs’s famous quotes is, He always starts with the customer experience first and works backward to the technology.
And we find that a lot particularly in today’s world, a lot of people want to adopt new technologies. The latest social channel, let’s talk about web three. Let’s talk about Metaverse, let’s talk about this. This is amazing and it’ll be so hooked up on the technology. They still need to work out what their customers want.
What’s gonna engage your clients? What’s gonna engage your customers? So I think a real starting point for everything we do is putting ourselves into the mind of the customer. And what that means in our world is not so much just who they are and what they’re doing. That’s the basics but take that step further.
Who else are they listening to? What’s your competition? What’s causing them inertia? I always talk about inertia in marketing. You’re putting all these messages out, you’re trying to hook them in, you’re trying to reel them in. You’ve got top-of-the-funnel, middle-of-funnel content, but they’re not responding.
Why aren’t they responding? Do we know why? What’s the research? What’s the data? Say what’s happening in the competitive landscape? I think there is a lot more emphasis, and in my, one bug, not bugbear, but one passion of mine for my clients is to understand your customers.
Get out of the white towers, get out of the ivory towers, and get into our customer’s shoes. And that’s the place where you generate good campaigns.
This is so critical. Like I have talked to so many entrepreneurs and marketing professionals and how clients it’s the same, not it’s amazing how critical it is and how each of us knows this, but clients don’t, Dan Kennedy in his book The Ultimate Marketing Plan talked about how the 3M’s of marketing:- market, medium, and message, and he says everybody always wants to focus on the medium. They just want to jump in. And you just talked about it Web Three, Facebook, Google Ads, and SEO medium.
They just want to jump in and throw up a message and shoot at anything that moves. And I hope that it’s gonna work, the hope and pray method rather than taking two steps back. Forget who’s your market first, who’s your market? Who is it? Who is your customer? What are they doing? What do they think?
What are they? Everything about them, the whole persona. And then what is the message that you’re going to say to them because now you know who they are? You know what problem you’re trying to solve. You know the pain points, you know how they think, all of these things. And then you can take your message to the medium.
Absolutely. And did those things. I was just gonna say, I think in a world where there’s so much technology and there are so many different platforms and there’s so the temptation to start a TikTok channel and get on TikTok and the start of this and start of that because it’s the easy route to market, but it’s not always the right route to market.
I learned this early on in my career when I was doing the buzz-building side of things. As I said, I’m talking Pre-viral, Pre-google, and Pre-YouTube. We’d go to events and you’d go to an exhibition and typically in the UK, every exhibition stand looked the same. It had a table, it had chairs, and it had pull-up banners.
And it all just looked grey and beige. There was, it all looked the same. Now someone had a smarter logo because they had a green logo rather than a beige logo, but it all does the same. You could go to an exhibition and you would see 50 stands that look largely similar. We said what are customers doing when they come to an exhibition?
They’re doing one of two things. Either they’re window shopping. And they’re just gonna walk past your stand because they’re just window shopping, seeing what’s out there. Or they’re actively looking for something. There’s a reason why they’ve left their offices or left their homes, come to the exhibition, take a day out of the office.
There’s a reason why. We started to work with clients and say to understand who our customer is and engage with them outside of the stand. So we used to run gorilla marketing campaigns. We used to run world record attempts. We used to run stunts. We would do anything that didn’t draw attention to our stand but drew attention to the brand that actively engage customers where they were at, rather than expect them to come to my stand and all of a sudden buy from me.
So it was a very different mindset. It’s a customer-centric approach to marketing comms, and that’s, what stood me in good stead. I was a much younger man then. That stood me in good stead to understand whatever channel you are on, understand your customer, understand their motivations, their pain points, their fears, their desires, and make sure that you can speak into that place.
So what are some ways, Dan, that brands can do that? Find out who knows that information. How can they build a customer persona?
I think there are so many ways. I think the first piece is if you’re a brand that’s been trading for a while, you’ve got customers to talk to them, get some qualitative data, get some quantitative data.
So what I mean by that is to run some workshops but then run some larger surveys. Ask the right questions, ask open questions. Be okay with negative feedback. Be okay with, on a scale of one to 10, how are we doing here? What are things you’d like to see? It’s incredible.
And it leans a little bit into the innovation curve that you need to get feedback and analysis before you can make any change. And so one of the key things in understanding customer personas is to ask the current customers. And then to segment, it’s such a powerful thing in segmenting, we all want to have the ideal customer.
I call them type “A” customers. Those with all the budget, all the needs, all the desire in the world, but that’s not reality. Only a certain portion of your customer base is a type A customer. So who’s your type B and who’s your type C? They’ve got a different me. There you go, Different mindsets, Different approaches. So customer segmentation isn’t just a paper exercise, something you do and you download. It’s valuable for Google. It’s so valuable. Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Talk to them, engage with them. And the other thing, one of the biggest questions I love in customer segmentation, and customer profile building is, who else would you recommend us to?
Shut the front door.
and that to me is such a powerful question because your customers are then telling you who your future customers are. Like just simple questions like that really can change the game from a marketing strategy. Suddenly,n your marketing strategy move and be in theory to be in market reality.
And if you are in a start-up environment, you do the pitch deck; you do the lovely profiles on your deck. Slide 12 of the deck is customer profiles, but they’re not real. You made them up. So you have to go and test, refine, test, refine, test, refine.
So I think, Customer demographics, audience profiling, and persona development is an ongoing journey. It’s not something you do once in the pitch deck and then you don’t revisit it. You do it month in, month out, analyze the CRM data, analyze your analytics, analyze where they’re coming from, and find out as much as you can. The data becomes a real driving point to this whole process.
Absolutely. And what do you think about leveraging customer service departments and your customer service man representatives to leverage that data? How to harvest that data?
A hundred percent. And, but also I think because think marketing isn’t so much just what you put out, it’s how you engage.
It’s a two-way process. And, there’s a 360 in there, isn’t there? Marketing is every single touchpoint of the customer experience. So when you’ve got a customer service team, as long as they’re asking the right questions and feeding back in the right feedback loop, it all should inform your marketing strategy.
All should inform of the emails that they send afterward and the engagement piece and the referral piece and the loyalty piece. All of that is linked to our customer service. The marketing’s not just winning new customers, it’s retaining current customers, and I think, again, so many marketing strategies we see are all about new customer execution, new customer acquisition, you put 90% of the spend there, and only 10% in retaining and growing current customers.
I was at the dealership working as the marketing director and all they cared about was new customers, right? And yet they’d been in business for 10 years. They had a database that they could have sold to existing customers and did campaigns to sell to the existing cust.
As you and I both know, the most expensive part of marketing or business is the acquisition of new customers. The easiest thing to do correctly is to sell an existing customer another product. And it just baffled me that I couldn’t get them to think that way to just start investing in campaigns that would trade in campaigns, like targeting people who had four-year-old vehicles and get them in on a test drive like they were just competing for the same customers as everybody else was.
And it was very frustrating, but it’s so amazing how you talk about that, how it’s, knowing who your customer is and. And all of those things. It’s so critical. You’ve worked with some of the biggest or world’s largest brands. Can you tell us about one of the most challenging projects you have had and how you overcame it?
Gosh, that’s a big question. And that could lead to a counseling session, which I think is one of the biggest challenges we have, I’ll make a general comment and then drill down to a couple of specifics. I think alignment in marketing and comms is huge. So what do I mean by alignment?
Aligning teams, so often when you’re working with global teams, they’re, and they’re in different countries. They have different objectives, they have different perspectives, different viewpoints, different cultural objects, and cultural realities. So aligning that into a single campaign or a single strategy sometimes be a challenge.
Even, for example, if you look talking about a website project. We had one recently with a big consumer brand. They’re number two in their category in the UK. But they’re a baby food brand large in the UK. We’re largely a retail brand, an offline traditional retail brand.
They wanted to do more with their digital presence. They wanted to do much more engaging customers and consumers online. We were dealing with teams across Europe. So the way that the UK marketing mindset works is very different from France, Belgium or Germanyandor the Netherlands.
So you’re presenting to a client, a single strategy, but you’re getting five different perspectives back. So alignment is a huge thing in our world, to try and ensure that we’re aligning people to the right central strategy. And then the next stage of alignment, which we quite often have challenges with, is aligning with the board because board objectives are often different from marketing objectives. So a board objective could be, we’re looking at double-digit growth, we’re looking at. Increasing the bottom line. We’re looking at efficiencies, and so on. Marketing is looking at bigger campaigns, bigger this and bigger that and so one of the things we try and do is we try and make sure that we build from the brand. We’re building from the same essence, the same proposition, the same positioning that we’re all in, one of the things that align all of this together is a really deep understanding of your brand.
What is it that makes you valuable and unique in the marketplace?
How is it uniquely positioned amongst your competition? That’s what creates cut-through. So often we do a lot of brand alignment work, so we may start with a website project, as I mentioned earlier, for example, with this baby food retailer. We start to ask questions about what makes you, and you asked at the board level, the CEO tells you something from here or her perspective, and the CFO tells you something completely different.
The CTO is telling you that we’re a tech-led company and the marketing team was telling you they’ve got the best products in the world. Where’s the truth in that? So actually internal alignment is often quite a big challenge we have with larger corporate brands. We find that a lot of the work that we do and the value that we add is aligning internal teams, really helping them to get on the same page with who they are, what they’re all about, and where they’re going particularly if they’re looking for growth.
that’s amazing. You touched on something which I refer to again. Something I learned from Dan Kennedy is the uniqueness of the company. And he would call it the unique selling proposition. What is it that is identifiably unique about you that in the market, no one else is known, that you are known for, that no one else can touch you?
Like your unique, your uniqueness. Sometimes he would tell you that. It should entail a guarantee and a warranty. So like for instance, Mitsubishi, had a 10-year warranty on their engines, and their right, their logo their tagline then, whether this still is the case or not, was built better back better.
So it gave you the confidence in buying the vehicle. Your engine was not going to be covered for 10 years. And I don’t know how, there’s probably a limit on the mileage or the kilometers, whatever the case may be, but it was smart. So how did you uncover, just from the uniqueness of the companies in the marketplace, what truly set them apart?
Was there a framework that you use or certain questions that you would ask or how would that Process look like?
That’s a good question and it’s There’s not a quick answer to it. I think there’s always like I always said, there are three sides to the coin, so I think there’s your truth, there’s what you want to believe as the brand.
So we do a lot of workshopping and alignment, so what is C-Suite saying? What are the marketing teams saying? What is the customer service team saying? And then you ask the customers, as we said earlier, what do you think? Why did you buy it? What was your, there is your experience?
How did you find that? And then the third side of that is to align it with the realities is what you are saying. There you go. This is what they’re saying. This is what we think is the reality. This is what the data’s telling us. This is what the customers are telling us. And this is what you are telling us. And when you align all three of those, that’s when you get real alignment.
That’s amazing. That somebody could take just that nugget right there and implement it into a process and have success. That’s so smart. You’re known for your passion for fusing creativity and technology.
I’m just curious, how do you stay on top of the latest trends in both areas?
It was a good question. And I think we have to, as an agency put our process in place. So for example we have two Slack channels. One that’s dedicated purely to innovation.
So when our guys are researching things at work, when they’re coming across articles, when they’re coming across Anything they see online, they stick in a Slack channel. And so we’ve got a constant feed, a consistent feed of new ideas, new technologies, new platforms coming through. So it’s part of our process.
The other part of our process is internal training. So once a week we take 30 minutes out and we call it something like the meeting’s named like the beautiful thing. And we’ll just unpack something for those 30 minutes. So it could be a new process. It could be a new piece of technology, it could be a new bit of functionality, it could be a new idea, but we are driving innovation from within all the time.
So when our designers are coming up with something they’re aware of what technology’s out there. When our digital marketers are working on something, they’re aware of what technology’s out there. So it’s not just, we try not to do innovation in silos. We try and do it across the agency. Designers, developers, digital marketers, and account managers, all of them are working together on that piece.
And so they’re all growing together. So it’s something that fuels passion as well.
If you are a developer, you’re generally passionate about development and technology and all of that. So rather than just be passionate about that in your silo, stick it on a stacking channel, and explain to people what’s going on.
And so also at the end of the week, we have a weekly wash-up. And we say to our team, bring anything you want to that meeting. If you saw something cool, you saw a call campaign or a call idea. Bring it to the meeting. So we are, we’re always trying to be open-minded about what else is out there.
But also in terms of the innovation curve, look at the specifics we can apply to our clients. Most of our clients aren’t ready for the metaverse and it’s fullness yet. Whatever that might look like. It’s not good. It’s so far ahead. Exactly. So it’s great to know about it, but application-wise we’re not there yet.
Steve Jobs started working on the iPhone three years before the technology was even available to support it. So three years before, he was working on it for three years before the network was even possible. So I understand like one of my favorite quotes I have is on my wall here as a poster.
Vision is the art of seeing things invisible to others. I think as entrepreneurs we need to and that’s what identifies us and we need to see ahead of the curve and see things. But I think Mark Zuckerberg with the Metaverse, he’s way too ahead. He’s investing way too much money, way too soon.
And if he’s not careful, he’s gonna be called to resign because he’s ignoring other things that need to be fixed. Like you can’t even do a threaded reply on. Ms. Facebook Messenger. Like it’s crazy. There’s just, I don’t know, there’s maybe I, that’s the wrong thing I’m thinking about.
There are certain things that on Facebook Messenger that you can’t even do. I’m like, dude, you need to fix this first, dude. You need to fix the fact that Tim Cook cut you out of the process with the Facebook pixel and put up the walled garden. You need to solve that problem.
Forget about the metaverse, put that on hold, and solve that problem dude because that’s what’s made you so much money and it’s almost as if you’re ignoring it and just it baffles my mind, to be frank. I touched on that because you said to think ahead but not too far ahead of his investment in the metaverse.
The metaverse may never even come about. It may never even take off like QR codes. Sure QR codes are great, but they’re not as great as everybody thought they were going to be. I think they’re phenomenal. But I’m the exception, not the rule. I embrace technology like nobody’s business, but I’m assuming you’d probably be the same way.
I know we’re coming to the top of our hour, but there’s so much more that we can unpack. I would love to invite you to please come on for part two of this discussion if at all possible, but, in the meantime, how can our audience connect with you online if they choose to do?
The standard channels nowadays LinkedIn is, please hit me up on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, we have a company page called Wonderful. Hit me up personally. I have a newsletter that I put out once a month on LinkedIn and where we are learning about, things we’ve learned from our clients, from our guest’s agency live.
So try and have value back to our audience through a sign-up to the wonderful People newsletter. The website domain is wonderful.co.uk so you can find out some of the work we do there. But we’d love to connect with your audience. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
And you have a podcast as well, right?
So people can tune into that as well. We’ll make sure to put all that information in the show notes. And again, I would love to have you back for a follow-up episode if you would.
Oh, appreciate that. Love to do that. Right on.
Thanks so much.
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