Working with Hollywood’s biggest movie studios keeps Los Angeles-based Daniel Heale and his team on their toes.
As Chief Strategic Officer of global agency Way to Blue, he’s always on the cutting edge of what works and what doesn’t in digital marketing.
But Daniel says that there are two elements a successful agency needs that have nothing to do with technology or so-called best practices.
We talk about…
- How to hit the moving target of marketing success
- The best way to form long-term client relationships
- Ways small agencies can deliver big campaigns without breaking the bank
- Strategies for attracting – and retaining – the talent you need
- And more
Steffen Horst: Welcome to Performance Delivered: Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they built successful businesses and personal brands. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. Today, I’m happy to have, as our guest, Daniel Heale.
Daniel is the Chief Strategy Officer at Way to Blue, a global communications agency. He has over 15 years digital marketing experience, working with companies like 20th Century Fox, Disney, Warner Brothers, and NBC Universal, to mention just a few. He runs the Way to Blue for US business, and is responsible for developing campaign strategies that help Way To Blue clients successfully engage with their target audience.
Daniel, it’s great to have you on the show.
Daniel Heale: Thanks, Steffen. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Steffen Horst: Daniel, let’s get started talking about how you got into advertising. What lead you to this point in your career where you are at the moment?
Daniel Heale: It’s interesting. Like many people, I didn’t necessarily have an ambition as a small child to end up in this place, but here I am. I studied English at university, went traveling for a couple of years after that, and wound up working back in London at a bar and sharing a flat with a really good friend of mine who worked in recruitment.
A job came across her desk one day to work in television advertising, and I was quite keen to get out of working late nights in a bar, so she put me forth for the job. I got it, and I ended up in this world, which was quite alien to me. But I loved it, and I worked for a number of different advertising firms, both on the media and agency side for a few years in London.
I then transitioned to film. I worked for a service called Vue in the UK for a number of years as their Head of Marketing. I’ve always been very passionate about films. It’s an area I’ve always loved, and I found myself in a space … By this stage, I’d progressed to a fairly senior role on the marketing side, and I then decided to give the agency side of it a whirl.
I had some very good friends who worked in agencies, and they’d been saying to me for many years that it was an environment they thought I enjoyed and excel in, so I joined a small agency called Digital Outlook was an entertainment marketing and creative agency, and from there, I moved to Way to Blue. I’ve been at Way to Blue for literally six years. My anniversary at Way to Blue was last week.
Steffen Horst: Oh, congratulations for that.
Daniel Heale: Thank you.
Steffen Horst: That sounds interesting. So, you came more from a client-side and then moved over to the agency side.
Daniel Heale: I did.
Steffen Horst: I think, these days, a lot of people think about moving from the crazy agency environment and going client-side. From your perspective, what are the big differences that you have experienced, coming from the client and moving to the agency side?
Daniel Heale: I think some of the obvious things when you work agency side is the variety of both clients and types of projects that you get involved in. I find myself, on any given day, jumping between five, six, different areas of client business and different types of projects, whether they be different film genres, different audiences, different entertainment products; whether it be direct-to-consumer, theatrical, or home entertainment. Working agency-side, and that’s just within the film sector, there’s a huge amount of variety in terms of what you can cover.
The one thing I think I miss from a client-side perspective is the end-to-end ownership of a product. Sometimes it can be a little bit frustrating because on the agency-side, you only get to work on one small part of a product portfolio or a marketing campaign, and at times, that can be a bit frustrating. But the variety is the big difference, I think, and something I particularly enjoy.
Steffen Horst: That’s a good point. I think, not getting the entire overview of what happens with a project you’re working on, only having a piece of it, can sometimes be a little bit disappointing or challenging, at least for myself. When I used to work for a big agency back in London and run their performance marketing campaign, it always felt great to see the results, but you were just one tiny little part in the entire picture for a company like MasterCard. You never really saw the entire impact that actually the entire marketing part has.
Daniel Heale: Definitely so. I think, as a client, one thing that I always really encouraged my agency partners to do was to get as closely involved in my business as possible. When I was working for Camelot, when I was working for Vue, when I was working at ITV in the UK, I always brought all of my agencies together and ensured that they had a really clear and deep understanding of the business. Therefore, now, as an agency professional, I enjoy working with clients that pull me right into the heart of their business.
I think, ultimately, communications and marketing are fortunate enough to sit at the top table and, essentially, they are key drivers of business success. In order to be able to achieve that, you need to be able to understand holistically what a business is trying to deliver and where it’s going. The closer involvement that agency partners can get with client-side business, the better. Where you’ve got good strong collaborative relationships between agency and client, and there are no barriers to knowledge, then I think you ultimately end up with a better result.
Certainly, as a client, it was something I’d really push my agencies to [inaudible 00:06:09] and understand the dynamics of the business that I was operating within. I think it delivered them good results.
Steffen Horst: Have you seen, with the clients that you worked on in the past and with the clients you’re currently working on, that they kind of embrace that point of view; that approach to provide the bigger picture, rather than just keeping you in your little title?
Daniel Heale: It’s a mixed bag, to be honest. I’m really fortunate, at the moment, because I’ve built strong relationships with many of the clients that I’m lucky enough to work with here in LA. It takes time to build relationships that are obviously based upon trust and a shared understanding of objectives, but I’m lucky that I work with clients that do embrace that shared perspective.
I think, through my career, whether it’s by luck or by design, I have found myself drawn to like-minded people, and the clients that I’m fortunate enough to work with are people that are probably similar to me in terms of outlook. They’ve embraced that desire on my side, and certainly on my team’s side here, to get truly involved in the business objectives as much as the marketing and communications.
There are probably some notable examples, where, as an agency, you get pulled in sometimes last minute or sometimes with a very, very, specific task to do. As you say, it’s perhaps in a silo or in a box. That’s okay, too, because life as an agency is such that you take these opportunities and they’re all enriching in different ways. But the greatest success that I’ve seen is where agency partners are fully-embedded in a client business and they truly understand what’s going on. Most of the clients I work with seem to share that view, which is, as I say, a fortunate thing.
Steffen Horst: Great. When you shared your bio with me earlier, I read that you basically, one could say, established the US office for Way to Blue. I think you grew the office from, originally, three people to, now, 25-plus people.
In your view, what are the keys to building an agency that thrives?
Daniel Heale: The people are the heart of this agency, so it’s essential to make sure that you get the right ingredients. I will be very honest and say that there have probably been, during the last three years of growing this agency from three to 25 people, there have been a couple of misfires, but the chemistry between those people is incredibly important.
I’ve tried to find people who have a combination of skills and interests. People who join the team here at Way to Blue, they might come from a creative background or a media background or an insight and research background, but they’ll also have an interest in broader kind of integrated marketing.
For example, there are quite a few people that work in my creative team, whether they be video editors or graphic designers or producers, who have a strong interest in data and insight. They haven’t worked necessarily in that space, and it’s not their own area of expertise, but they’ve got a passion and an interest for that. In doing so, you create quite interesting combinations of people.
Perhaps somebody who sits on my research team will go and spend some time with one of our designers, and together, they’re working on a project, they’re developing a piece that’s creative, that’s insight-driven. It’s that understanding of where they come from and their own kind of special skills that’s brought together quite naturally because you’ve got people who are inquisitive and understanding broader things about marketing things. I think you get a better result.
Now, like I say, it’s not all been smooth sailing and there’s been some misfires, but finding the right types of people, for me, has been integral to success. I’d put people as number one.
Secondly, client relationships are not to be underestimated. They don’t just appear from nowhere. They take time to build. There have been some longstanding client relationships that I inherited here in the US, and have then taken on and built for myself, and others that I started from scratch.
But I would say, in most instances, there’s a period of courtship and getting to know one another. Certainly, seeing if you’re aligned in terms of your view of the world and how marketing works and what you want to achieve. Once you’ve gone through those negating factors in the professional relationship, then opportunities start to manifest. You get a chance to show what you can do.
But it can take six, nine, 12 months. Patience has been very, very, key. I think, trying to truly get to those most valuable client relationships, there has to be an understanding that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s taken time to build those relationships up.
I would say they are probably the two most important things.
Steffen Horst: What would you say to someone that struggles with building those strong relationships; those strong client relationships? What is your approach to that, so that you are able, in six to nine months, to create the situation where the clients trusts your opinion, trusts your recommendation, and basically sees you as that valuable partner they hire to perform?
Daniel Heale: Every client is different, and I start every relationship from scratch. I don’t assume to know anything about their business or their objectives. I try to take a more of a listening approach when I’m in the early stages of forming a relationship. But there are certain people out there that I actively targeted because they worked for organizations that Way to Blue wants to work with.
I’ll make sure that I’ve done my research, most importantly understanding that client as an individual and also the business that they operate in. Obvious things like previous movie releases that they’ve worked on, campaigns that they’ve worked on, forthcoming releases, and trying to draw my own experience to create a narrative that is of benefit. I’ll find those kind of opportunities. I’ll make sure that, when I’m going in and trying to build a relationship, I’ve done my research and I’ve looked at where they’ve come from and what their forthcoming movie projects may be.
But then, for me, it’s about asking questions and listening, and I try very hard to spend more time listening than talking, certainly in an early stage of a relationship. It’s essential for me that I get a good understanding of their business and what they’re trying to achieve. As I mentioned a couple of times, that alignment thing is something I’m very passionate about; working with people that share the same sorts of visions.
From there, I believe it’s a question of finding the relevant moments to reach out. I try and avoid just sending emails to people to say, “Hey, it’s me. I’m still here. Fancy catching up?” I’ll find an opportunity that’s relevant, and again, that sometimes involves a little bit of groundwork, but I usually find that it pays off. It just sort of makes for a more authentic and genuine reason to reach out and build a relationship.
It takes time, and unless you’re fortunate enough to be in a position where you are needed to immediately come in and deliver a project … And it has happened on a couple of occasions. People have reached out and said, “We urgently need X, Y, and X,” whether that be a research course or some creative assets or some social media management. Whatever it might be, we have taken on those jobs, but the more valuable ones tend to be things that have built up over time.
Steffen Horst: Okay. That’s great. You mentioned earlier, people are a key component. Obviously, you need a strong team in order to deliver marketing services and solutions to clients [inaudible 00:14:12] love you. If you fail doing that, then your client service experience and skills might not help you out in overcoming issues [inaudible 00:14:26] performance issues, quality issues, or delivery issues.
For a small- to medium- sized agency, it’s usually quite difficult or challenging … Let’s put it that way. To build the teams that can deliver several marketing or digital marketing solutions without breaking the bank. The challenge today is that talent is expensive.
How do you build a strong team without breaking the bank at Way to Blue?
Daniel Heale: We’re fortunate enough to be part of a group. You mentioned at the beginning that my role as one of the board directors at Way to Blue is Chief Strategy Officer. I oversee eight of our offices, globally. We have resources available that cover the core disciplines that we deliver as an agency: publicity, social media, creative, insight research, and media planning and buying. We resources to deliver those services in multiple different offices.
In the early days, when we were setting up the business here … Although you mentioned before, in the last couple of years, I’ve built this business from three to 25 people. It’s probably the second or third version of the US business that we’ve had. We had other teams here in the past, and we decided to move on from those people. This is the new version of Way to Blue.
But what I did in the early stages was to lean quite heavily on resources in other parts of our business, whether that be creative resources that we had in our Sydney office or in our London office, publicity resources that we had in our European offices and also in our London HQ … That helped enormously in the early days. We were able to get some revenue and then use that revenue to invest in building a domestic team.
We take a fairly cautious and transparent approach to investments. We’ll ensure that we are investing widely and bringing people in where we have business to fill their time, because ultimately, as an agency, we are charging for our time; that’s our product. It’s essential for us that we invest wisely, and we tend to do that in quite a methodical way. We don’t make knee-jerk decisions, but as I mentioned before, we have the flexibility, which has been very, very, useful, to lean on resources elsewhere across the Way to Blue group.
We have about 100 employees in total, and we’ve got about 25 here in Los Angeles. The beauty, however, has been being able to give back as we’ve built the team here, where our Sydney office or our London office or our Madrid office may suddenly get a brief in and need some assistance and some help. Now that I’ve got a bigger domestic team here, we’ve been able to give back, which has been good. That was one thing that helped.
I mean, secondarily, finding young and ambitious talent has been really key to us as well. We often find ourselves in the position where we can’t pay the kinds of salaries that the studios pay consultants for comparable roles, but if you work to find some younger, more enthusiastic, hungry talent, who’ll maybe come and give you maybe 12 months or 18 months of service, that’s fine. I’m not expecting people to come and dedicate the next 10, 15, years of their life to working here, but to come here and to get the opportunity to work on some of the great and cool things that we do, gain some experience, and then move on is fine.
I’ve got a core of people that have been with us all the way, and that consistency has been really invaluable as well. We have a lot of benefits as an organization. In addition to salaries, we offer a fairly flexible approach to work, and there are some softer benefits that we offer as an organization. We’ve looked really closely at the market and making ourselves competitive, in order to be able to afford the right type of talent and create the right type of environment.
I’d say that it’s hardworking but it’s fun. We’re not the sort of agency that has people here burning the midnight oil on a regular basis. There’ll be ad hoc occasions where there’s a big deliverable the next day, and maybe people have to call out for pizzas and work until late, but that really is quite unusual. For the most part, it’s about working hard within the working day.
We have a lot of fun as well. We try to do social things outside of work on a fairly regular basis, and we have perks, like if you stay here for more than a year, you get additional vacation days and various other things like that, plus all the standard perks. 401K and health cover and things, they’re offered. It’s about creating a total package that’s going to attract the right types of people to the business.
If people are purely driven by the salary and the figure that sits on their paycheck, that’s fine, and we have people here that are like that, but there are also other people who work here because of the broader benefits we offer as a company.
There’s global mobility here, too, which has been a great thing. We’re able to offer people the ability to go and work in Paris or London or Berlin. We can offer people from those offices the opportunity to come and work in LA, which we’ve done a few times over the past couple of years. We’ve had people here for three months, six months. There are benefits to working here, beyond just the paycheck.
Steffen Horst: Oh, that sounds really interesting. I’m sure that the people who work for Way to Blue really appreciate the variety of advantages compared to another mid-size bigger agency.
Having worked at global agencies myself, I know that, when you’re here, we usually don’t have all our people burning the midnight oil. It’s nothing that you would hear at a global agency, where you have 50, 60 hours on average, and then that’s just normal. It’s great to hear that you guys have found a way to kind of balance the workload out.
I guess, with what you said, you very seldom get into a situation where you have to look for an outset partner to help you overcome, for example, staff shortage, or you win a new business and there are certain services that you might not have strong enough people. Do you have those kind of situations at Way to Blue, and if so, how do you overcome them?
Daniel Heale: We have in the past. Yeah, there have been occasions where we’ve suddenly got very busy; we’ve been fortunate enough to win maybe two or three big campaigns and they’ve all hit at the same time. There are naturally going to be pain points, because the core team of people that are here are suddenly going to find themselves a bit more stressed.
On the creative side, we’ve found it fairly easy, because there’s a big network of really talented freelancers, in this market in particular, for creative services. Whether they be for delivering graphic design, video editing, motion graphics, we’ve been able to tap into that freelance pool, and we do that a lot.
We actually, at one point, had a very trusted circle of freelancers that we went out to on a regular basis. They were sort of semi-permanent. We have one freelancer who delivers incredible illustration work for us, and she’s based in Serbia, but her talents are extraordinary and we use her on a very regular basis. We have another designer that’s based in Singapore, who we pull in and use for very specific types of projects. Also, plenty of others here in LA that we’ll lean upon as and when we need them.
We’ve never outsourced wholesale. I’ve got friends who run agencies here who outsource creative services to other markets, in Asia for example. We’ve never found ourselves in a position where we’ve needed to or wanted to do that, but we use a combination of permanent resource and freelancers.
That’s the creative space, and that’s been fairly straightforward. There are strong and well-established networks that you can tap into. With other services, it’s more challenging, because you don’t necessarily have a pot of freelancers that are research specialists or media planning specialists that you can tap into. Certainly not at the junior or entry level.
There are challenges there, and again, I think what I’ve had to do on all of those occasions is lean on my teams elsewhere to help us out temporarily while we’ve recruited the roles to fulfill some of those other disciplines. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, in terms of an answer, but it depends, really, on the type of work that we’re winning.
We’re an integrated agency, so we do lots of different things, and the solutions, in terms of people, will differ, based upon the type of service that we’re needing to fill quickly.
Steffen Horst: Yeah, that makes sense. You mentioned freelancers. It’s almost like, on the creative side, you have a pool of people that, as you said, you’ve worked for a longer period of time with, so therefore, you know what their output is. On the media side, it sounds like you don’t necessarily have a pool and you might have to go to other offices to get that sorted.
Have you used systems like Freelancer, Upwork, to source talent?
Daniel Heale: I have, actually, yeah. Upwork on a couple of occasions, and I believe Creative Circle is another one that we’ve used, too, which interestingly, even though it’s called Creative Circle, there are people with other types of marketing backgrounds on that space.
We have tapped into those resources. I think we’ve tended to use our own personal networks. I’m, again, fortunate enough to have some pretty well-connected millennials that work for me here, but people have got good networks of their own, and on many occasions, people have been able to reach out to friends and friends of friends, former colleagues, to find people.
We used LinkedIn a lot, and then one of the services that you mentioned, Upwork, we’ve definitely used in the past, and Creative Circle as well. We would tend to go all of those routes before using traditional recruiters, just purely because of the cost associated with doing that.
Steffen Horst: Okay, great. When we had a conversation prior to the podcast, you had mentioned that one of your passions, besides watching lot of movies, which probably comes with the fact that your agency works with a lot of film studios, is integrated digital marketing.
How do you bring all the disciplines together under one roof to deliver integrated solutions to your clients?
Daniel Heale: Yes. This is something I am very passionate about. I like to think I’m passionate about it because I believe in the power of 1+1=3. I think, also, part of the reason I’m so passionate about integrated is that I do come from a client-side background. I have been a Marketing Director and a Head of Marketing in client-side roles in the past, and obviously, in those positions, you’re overseeing and controlling the entire marketing for companies.
I’ve come from a background where I’m very used to looking at media, advertising, publicity, digital, direct, whatever it may be, through the same lens, and so I’m very passionate about the power of pursuing all of those things together. I think you make smarter investment decisions when you’re looking at things from an integrated perspective. You’re able to [inaudible 00:26:57] certain things up and down, depending on the objectives or what it is you’re trying to achieve.
From an agency perspective, two things, really. One, I wanted to work for an agency that believed in integration, and when I met the team at Way to Blue six years ago, that was something where I was very aligned with Way To Blue’s vision. I felt Way to Blue is a good place for me to develop my career in that sense.
But integrated is about a way of thinking, as much as it is about a set of services. I think, integrated, for me, is about taking a step back and understanding where the service that you’re delivering for a client fits into the bigger picture. It goes back to what I was saying before about the importance of understanding the contexts and where marketing sits within business decision making. I think it comes down to the same thing as services.
If you’re delivering creative or delivering insight or delivering media, it’s important to understand where that sits in the broader marketing and communications mix and how it’s working alongside other things. Where we’re fortunate enough, and we are in many cases, to deliver fully-integrated services, certainly in the digital space, there are many clients that I have here where we delivery strategy, research and insights, measurements and evaluation, creative assets, media planning and buying, social media strategy, community management … We’re delivering all those services for a number of our clients here.
That’s a joyful position to be in, because we’re able to see a big picture in terms of what’s going on. We’re able to make recommendations and evaluate things far more quickly. We can make very efficient decisions, because upstairs, in my office, we’ve got a huge open plan environment. My creative team sit next to my research team, they sit next to the people that do community management, they sit next to the people that are running strategy, and conversations happen in the office in a really natural, organic way.
We kind of sit people together around client teams, so that the researcher, the designer, the strategist, the community manager, they’re all kind of sitting within earshot of one another. People tend to come together on a regular basis to share information, discuss success criteria, performance of campaigns … All of that information being brought together under one roof means that all of the people in my team have a much greater understanding of how we’re performing from a digital marketing perspective, as opposed to just a creative or a just a compositing or just a social media perspective.
It’s that bigger picture piece, and I’m passionate about it because I see the value at all times. There are a couple of clients that we’re working on at the moment where paid media and organic creative content is all happening under one roof. Conversations are happening in real time about the opportunity to invest media money behind creative assets that are working organically.
If we can see that something’s popping on a social media campaign, if we can see that people are sharing content and if they’re engaging with it, we can invest media money behind it to give it greater reach and exposure and try and amplify that result over a much bigger user base.
Those types of decisions cannot be recommended or taken if those services are happening in different offices or different geographical locations. There’s real value in bringing all this stuff together in one place. When It works, it’s much [inaudible 00:30:47] and we get results.
Steffen Horst: It sounds like you have a really good setup, with being able to have maybe not dedicated people that work on one individual project, but you’re still at a size, I guess, where it’s quite easy. You’re all sitting, obviously, in a big, open office.
To get everyone around a table and talk about, “What is the strategy going to look like?”, “What’s the creative going to look like?”, “What media channels are going to be used in order to deliver the message?,” and then once data is collected and the optimization starts, you have everyone together again to exchange the information in order to get an even greater output.
Daniel Heale: You’re absolutely right, and we’re probably at a specific point, in terms of our size, where we can do that. We’re all able to sit together in one room, and I can group people around different types of client business. It does work quite beautifully, but if we grow here to 50 or 80, the same model won’t necessarily work.
The way in which I would change things, at that stage, is to just remember the core purpose of why we’re here ultimately, which is to deliver campaigns for our clients. I would be grouping or sitting people together in groups around client business. I think, getting groups of people together who understand client business is more valuable, in terms of better result, than sitting people together by discipline. I would try very much to continue that sort of model of bringing those different integrated marketing disciplines together around a particular piece of client business. That’s the bit that seems to be working particularly well.
Steffen Horst: Very interesting. You create these integrated marketing campaigns, but [inaudible 00:32:43] … Let’s put it that way. [inaudible 00:32:46] … I wanted to say something else, actually.
Daniel Heale: Okay.
Steffen Horst: People have only consumed different media types before making buying decisions, but they also use different devices throughout the day, week, and month. You talked about how you set up your team in order to, obviously, deliver integrated marketing campaigns, but how do you measure the success of those campaigns when people are across so many different devices, when they use so many different [inaudible 00:33:18] to collect information before they take an action?
Daniel Heale: Measurement is something that we talk about all the time, and we talk about it with people from our creative team, from our social media team, from our strategy team, and from our research team. Measurement is so important. For me, it’s the reason that we exist.
The purpose of an agency that provides marketing services is ultimately to drive an end result. In the case of the industry that we work in predominantly … Not exclusively but predominantly. Being film, ultimately, success is measured by box office. Whether or not a film is a success is largely judged on its opening weekend, if not its performance over a longer period of time, which is fortunate.
I think it’s important to keep that in mind, actually, and it’s something that we discuss a lot internally, reminding myself as much as the team as to what we’re doing this for. If you’re working on a campaign, it can be a quick campaign that lasts for a couple of weeks, it can be three months or six months, it can be a very, very, long-term strategy, but keeping that end goal in mind all the time, and ensuring that we’re talking about it and that we’re evaluating whether or not something is the right or wrong thing to do and recommend, on the basis of whether or not it’s going to hit the objective that we’re trying to achieve. It is really important.
We talk about measurement a lot, and we talk about keeping the end goal in mind. The end goal might be a sale, but it might be something else. It might be to get someone to visit a website, or to download an augmented reality app … That’s a couple of things that we’ve been working on, just in the past few days. Or to purchase a product, or whatever. Whatever it might be.
I think, for us, ensuring that you’ve got the right measurement in place to say whether or not you’ve been a success is important, because there’s been times in the past where I’ve been asked to demonstrate whether or not something has been a success, but without having access to the data that could possibly indicate whether it has been or not. It’s important to talk about it at the beginning of the process and to ensure that you’ve got access to the right metrics and data to measure whether or not something has been a success by achieving its end goals.
We talk about this quite a lot at the beginning, middle and end of a process. Ensuring that you’re understanding the very complex journeys that go on [inaudible 00:35:52], as well, and that things are not linear. I talk to my team about this quite a lot. We may be responsible for delivering something that we would like a consumer to form an action and then, ultimately, that they will make a purchase or they will download something. Well, the reality is that people don’t operate in that kind of marketing funnel business in the real world. Keeping an eye on other factors that exist around that world are very important.
I was fortunate enough, maybe about 10 years ago, to have a crash course in econometric modeling. I understand the importance of how all those multiple different variables in the marketing, which in the real world exist, ultimately will decide whether or not something has been a success in delivering an end result. I keep that in mind all the time, that there are things that can knock you off your path at the last minute, whether it be a competitor or whether it can be a change in the weather or a big sporting event or something that can just change consumers behavior patterns. [inaudible 00:36:58] it might mean that they deviate from the path that you wanted them to follow.
We talk about that in the context of measurement all the time, and making sure that we’ve truly understood all the different variables that might affect success, but talking about it up front and during and after is really important. I think mistakes in measurement often come when you didn’t start talking about it until after the campaign is completed, and then you’re trying scrabble around and find data to retrospectively answer questions that you should’ve asked at the beginning.
Steffen Horst: Very interesting. I wish we would have more time. I definitely have so many more questions-
Daniel Heale: Oh.
Steffen Horst: For you, but unfortunately, we’re moving towards the end of the time allocated. But before I let you go, I have two more questions for you.
The first one is: Where do you see opportunities to get out in front of the trends that everyone will be doing in the future? What are the marketing solutions, activities, that might be slow at the moment but that will be important in the future?
Daniel Heale: I think something very interesting is going on in the world of influencers at the moment. It’s something that we’ve been observing very closely. We’ve been working in the influencer spaces in the agency for the last couple of years. Delivered some incredibly successful campaigns in this space. There’s a lot of publicity coming out [inaudible 00:38:28] this year about influencers and about the discipline growing up and being measured more effectively.
It’s very interesting to me, because I think one of the things that people focus on incorrectly, with regards to influencers, is that they are just another awareness-driving volume opportunity to reach large rooms of people with a message. Personally, something that we’ve been experimenting with, with a number of our most trusted clients for quite some time, is working with micro-influencers and people who are probably more attuned to audience engagement than they are volume of audience.
We’ve seen some incredibly powerful results from working with influencers that may not have millions and millions of followers but they have a very high quality, highly engaged following. They have, I guess, a much more authentic and real connection to their audience than some of the bigger influencers. Not all, but some.
That kind of micro-influencer area is something that we’ve been certainly ahead of the curve. We’ve been working in the space for quite some time. We have a couple of examples, actually, where we’ve worked with micro-influencers with very special skills.
There was a 20th Century Fox movie called Assassin’s Creed from a couple of years ago, and we were working with an artist who created these incredible flip book animations. They’re sort of stop motion flip book animations. They’re beautiful. We subsequently worked with the same person on a couple of other titles. More recently, The Kingsman last year and the Alien franchise with the anniversary of Alien this year. Recreating a really beautiful piece of art with this micro-influencer. It was picked up by some editorial outlets and, organically, this one piece of content that was created and posted organically without any media support achieved over 53 million views on YouTube in under 24 hours.
Steffen Horst: Wow.
Daniel Heale: It was picked up by an editorial outlet because it was a beautiful piece of content, but that came about through finding a very, very, authentic micro-influencer, who didn’t necessarily have a large following of their own, but who had a great skill and something that particularly matched the narrative of the campaign and the story that we were trying to tell. In creating something beautiful, it was picked up by editorial outlets and achieved far greater reach than anything would’ve done had we worked with a bigger influencer with more followers.
That’s basically interesting to me. We have some other successes there, too. The other one, I would say, for me, I’m very passionate about is that filmmakers and studios or producers, they really think about marketing much, much, earlier in the process. We’re bring marketing into play at the outset, before you go on set, before you start rolling your cameras and capturing the film. Everyone’s very focused on the production, and likely so at that stage.
But bringing marketing, and people that think about the way in which content can be acquired and captured and used in the marketing campaign, into that process much earlier achieves great results. Again, we’re fortunate enough to have a couple of strong case studies that prove that point.
Steffen Horst: Great. The second question is: [inaudible 00:41:57], we all need to catch up with what is hot out there. We need to kind of fine tune our skills and constantly learn. What are the free sources of marketing information, whether they’re websites, blogs, or any other source, that are your go-to places to keep you up-to-date?
Daniel Heale: Oh, that’s interesting. I mean, I use the obvious places that, I guess, a lot of other marketers do. TechCrunch and Mashable and Marketing Week. I continue to be really impressed by the quality of editorial on those sites. I think, as time’s gone on, they’ve become better and better.
I’m not a huge Twitter user. I’m on there. I sort of dabble in and out of it. Some of the most valuable pieces of insight that I’ve picked up have been from the people that work in my team over the last two years, particularly since I’ve worked here. I said at the beginning of the meeting that assembling the right group of people has been really important and integral to our success here, and that very much comes down to personality types as well.
I’ve a really smart and inquisitive bunch of people in my team here, and I will often ask them first about things before I go off and research them online. Some of the most innovative campaign work that we’ve done here over the last couple of years has come from an idea of a member of my team, and then we’ve gone off and gone through the methodical planning process of creating it, but the initial thought and the initial idea has often come from people here in the team. I find them to be a great source, and I’ll continue to use them in that way.
Steffen Horst: Wonderful. Daniel, if someone needs help to develop integrated marketing campaigns, how can they get in touch?
Daniel Heale: Great. Well, I guess you can provide some notes alongside this podcast, but my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m on Instagram as DanHeale. They’re probably the best two places to find me, because I’m either looking at work emails or cruising around Instagram.
Yeah, I would say people could reach out in either of those ways, and I’d be more than happy to talk at length about any of the points that we discussed on the podcast. They’re all things that I’m very passionate about and that I believe in.
Steffen Horst: Okay. Daniel, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today.
Daniel Heale: Thank you, Steffen.
Steffen Horst: It’s been a pleasure having you on our podcast.
Daniel Heale: Thank you.
Steffen Horst: Thanks everyone else for listening. If you like Performance Delivered or the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application.
If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter @SymphonicHQ.
Thanks again, and see you all next time.
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