We are digital marketers and we jump at every opportunity to meet up with other digital marketing folks to learn, get inspired and broaden our horizons. We caught up with Stockholm-based digital marketing consultant Erwan Derlyn to pick his brain and hear more about his work with some very renowned brands.
Hello Erwan! Thank you for speaking to us and for sharing your thoughts on digital marketing!
“Hey Digital Mic Drop! Thanks for having me! I have been following the blog for a while now, and it’s an honor to be featured here.”
“Digital is the greatest shift in human communication we’ve ever experienced, change is happening at an extremely fast pace and it can be scary for some.”
On your LinkedIn profile, you have written ‘Helping the leaders of today and tomorrow thrive in the digital age.’ – How do you do that and what do they need help with?
“My tagline describes the raison d’être of my consultancy activities.
Digital is the greatest shift in human communication we’ve ever experienced, change is happening at an extremely fast pace and it can be scary for some.
My goal is to use the experience I gained over the past 10 years to help leaders embrace that change instead. By providing them with the right mindset, tools, and processes I empower them to have full control over their marketing strategy.
Along the way, I try to document my journey and share a lot of my perspectives on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. I receive a lot of DMs every week from students and entrepreneurs thanking me for inspiring them. The feeling that I can help – even if just a little bit – the next generation of marketers and entrepreneurs, means the world to me.
My approach is very much like the famous quote ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’.”
“I love these ads following me all day! – said no one ever. There is a reason why ad blocker usage is growing 30% year-on-year.”
On your website, erwanderlyn.com, you say that you ‘hate interruptive advertising campaigns’. What is a bad advertising campaign and what is a really good marketing campaign?
“I love these ads following me all day!”, said no one ever, Erwan says with a grin on his face.
There is a reason why ad blocker usage is growing 30% year-on-year. People are fed up with being interrupted and are concerned about their privacy and security online.
Historically, the barrier to entry for advertising was very high. Buying TV-spots, magazine advertorials or billboards were major investments for businesses.
Today, with self-serve advertising platforms like Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, anyone can launch an ad and compete for the same placements.
While this is an amazing opportunity for marketing professionals that know how to use these tools, some ads are made from people with no marketing background, with poor creative assets and bad targeting. As a result, it has lowered the average quality in the advertising industry.
A good marketing campaign, in my opinion, is remarkable and worth to talk about. It tells a true story that is relevant, relatable and provides value to the consumers.
From the advertisers’ point of view, a good campaign needs to be measurable, profitable and scalable.”
On that note – At Digital Mic Drop we love creative and disruptive marketing campaigns. What is the most creative/disruptive campaign you have either created, been a part of or been inspired by?
“The best marketing campaign of all time, for me, is the Michael Jordan lifetime endorsement by Nike. It has inspired millions of people around the world, beyond basketball fans, it’s been transformational and very lucrative for both Nike and Michael Jordan — it totally reshaped the sneaker industry.
Unfortunately, I was too young to be part of this campaign, so the best campaign I had the chance to be part of, is probably The 12 Hours Store – a campaign we did at iZettle in 2014.”
“We partnered with the award-winning creative agency Forsman & Bodenfors and gave six small businesses the opportunity to set up their shop for 12 hours each on one of the world’s top shopping locations: the prestigious Oxford Street in London.
This is something that had never been done before and a creative way to show what iZettle is all about — supporting small businesses to take on the fight against bigger players.
There are so many other campaigns I loved being part of. During my first month at iZettle, we successfully launched in the Brazilian market pretty much with Facebook ads alone, without any previous market presence.
In 2013, Facebook Ads were still quite new and I had never tried to reach so many people before. I remember launching the ad from the office and my phone blew up with thousands of notifications in the subway back home.
A perfect product-market fit that went viral in a matter of minutes. This campaign got featured on Facebook as a success story later on.
Last but not least, collaborating with a giant unicorn like WeWork, for NYCxDesign, with Hem.com, was pretty awesome!
I am also excited by the next campaigns we have lined-up with some of my clients for 2018 and the full relaunch of poppice.com in Q1, a proptech startup I’m involved with as the CMO. Stay tuned for those…”
You have extensive experience from working with some of Europe’s fastest growing startups. What are some of your best advice for startup entrepreneurs who are trying to get their brand off the ground?
- Start: it takes a lot of courage, knowing that the failure rate for startups is between 80 and 90%, to go from idea to company when all odds are against you. But there are so many opportunities out there and still so much to improve. Just go!
- Don’t be too romantic about your idea: success is all about great execution. Don’t be scared to share your ideas and try to gather as much feedback as possible even before you start, it will help you polish your MVP (Most Viable Product).
- Remember that big things start small: at launch, you often want to tell the whole world that you exist but you should start with your MVA (Most Viable Audience), a concept developed by Seth Godin. Remember, Facebook started out of a campus, one campus became two, it became a state…
- Be patient but move fast: moving fast is the number 1 advantage for startups but it doesn’t mean you should be impatient and do everything at once. Focus, test, learn and improve.
- Don’t start with advertising and funding too early: both access to capital and to advertising have become easier and many founders make the mistake to grow too early. Advertising and funding are for scaling! Make sure you have a clear product-market fit before. There are many ways to grow organically your early-stage startup if you need to keep the costs low.
Erwan’s talk ‘How to Grow Your Early-Stage Start-Up Without Any Advertising’ at Goto 10:
“I became fascinated by the opportunities digital offers and read as much as I could about it, every evening, every weekend.”
You are a multidisciplinary marketer with experience from social media, SEO, content marketing, analytics, UX and more. In your opinion; should more marketing teams aim to go multidisciplinary and broaden their range, or is it better to have marketers who are specialized in one specific field?
“In the best case scenario, companies need both types of profiles but they can’t always afford it. It’s smart for early-stage startups to go after generalists that can test a lot of channels and look for specialists at a later stage.
Once you have a team of specialists in place, you also need someone that can have a good overview of everything and see the big picture.
For the benefit of aspiring marketers – let me add a little bit of context and understand how I became a multidisciplinary digital marketer:
I graduated with an MBA in 2009, and back then nothing was taught about digital, not a single subject. Nada. Luckily, I got my first full-time job in a digital marketing agency where my role was to advise digital services.
I became fascinated by the opportunities digital offers and read as much as I could about it, every evening, every weekend. I also bought my first websites and started building my own communities online, just to try and learn. A process I still have today.
Thanks to these thousands of hours I spent reading and testing, my knowledge of the field rapidly grew above average and opened amazing opportunities for me, like being headhunted by iZettle in 2013.”
“Be passionate, curious, and learning by doing. There is nothing like side projects!”
“When I started there, we were less than 50 full-time employees (iZettle has now more than 500 employees around the world) and I was the second member of their online acquisition team.
We had to figure a lot of things out by ourselves and we all needed to go past our comfort zone. During the three years I worked there, I could apply at scale some of the things I had experimented with my side projects and probably gained 10 years of experience in those three years.
I then moved on to a smaller company in a completely different industry and growth phase. Hem.com had just re-launched after a bad acquisition experience, and we needed to turn the business around.”
“The relaunch was a success and during this process, I learned more about the importance of strategic partnerships, events, PR, influencer marketing and the power of niche communities.
Students today have the opportunity to specialize early-on thanks to some amazing programs like the ones available at Hyper Island or Berghs School of Communication here in Stockholm where I’m based.
While I definitely recommend them, my advice to young marketers is: Be passionate, curious, and learning by doing: there is nothing like side projects!
My experiences and passion led me to be the multidisciplinary marketer I am today, and this polyvalence gives me the opportunity to adapt to my clients needs whether they are a local business who needs help launching their first Facebook Ads campaign or a publicly traded company looking for a complete digital transformation strategy.”
“A lot of companies need help with connecting the dots and with aligning their marketing initiatives.”
At the moment you work as an independent digital marketing consultant. What is the one thing you see that companies lack in their marketing teams or need the most help with?
“49% of organizations do not have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy, and only 6% of companies think their digital marketing and traditional marketing integration process are completely optimised (Smart Insights, 2017).
A lot of companies need help with connecting the dots and align their marketing initiatives. They often need someone that can help them prioritize and identify the projects they should focus on and that can bring the biggest impact.”
“Do you really believe the Kardashians drink all this Fit Tea they are heavily promoting in their feeds?”
What’s your take on influencer marketing? Is it really beneficial for brands to use influencers to get reach for their brand?
“Influencer marketing is a huge buzzword but it’s just a new name for partnership, ambassadorship or product placement – something that has always been around.
Influencer marketing is about delivering your story via people that have a closer connection with your target audience than your brand. Partnering with trusted voices is always a good idea.
However, I personally believe that the way most influencer marketing campaigns are executed today is too obvious and too often driven by the wrong incentives. Do you really believe the Kardashians drink all this Fit Tea they are heavily promoting in their feeds?
Influencer marketing needs to be genuine and based on synergies. A good example is what my friends at Sellpy are doing. Sellpy helps people selling what they are not using anymore without the hassle of putting it out themselves on marketplaces like eBay.
Sellpy often collaborates with famous fashion bloggers that have tons of clothes and little time on their hands. For the influencers, it’s a really convenient way to get rid of what they don’t use but also a great way to engage with their audience. For their followers, it’s an amazing opportunity to buy products from their idols.
No doubt influencer marketing will stay around but it will develop as the platforms (Instagram especially) will want to take a cut in an industry already estimated at $1 billion dollar.
I think that influencer marketing, or whatever it’s called in the future, will develop more and more towards micro-influencers – potentially giving everyone the ability to monetize their audience.”
Erwan, thank you so much for your time and we will be sure to keep our eyes peeled for those client campaigns you are working on!