The customer is not always right

April 10, 2024

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In this article, Mads Paaskesen shares his expert insights on digital marketing, the challenges performance marketers face and how to overcome them.

1. This is a book for dreamers and doers, and I know that you’re extremely good at executing. So, I would like to focus on that to begin with. First question: If people want to get more impact from their online marketing, what would be your first advice to them?

I’m sure if you ask a hundred people this question, you’ll get a hundred different responses. But I’m sure most will and can agree that you have to start at the beginning.

For most advertising platforms, the beginning is the content that the customer will see being displayed, be that through Facebook, Instagram, Google, or another platform. Today the focus on content is bigger than ever before, as advertising has become even easier to get started with, it has also become more competitive than ever.

The best investment you can make for your online marketing efforts is to focus on creating valuable and memorable content that will put your brand in front of many people and that people will interact with.

2. Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc. There are so many platforms out there to become visible and attract customers. Who should use what and why?

Most platforms will work for most companies to varying degrees.

That doesn’t mean you should focus all your energy on all platforms at the same time.

A good strategy will often involve a bigger focus on a single platform for maximising the effect and performance of that platform before adding another platform.

 

Person tipping on the facebook app on a tablet

 

If you know what will work for your business, then stick with the winning platforms first. Optimise and test everything so you know you are getting the best possible results out of the platform before adding a new platform. Often overseeing multiple platforms at the same time will result in worse performance unless you’ve mastered the different platforms individually first.

If you’re not sure what to use first, then check out the following to see what might fit you best.

If you are an e-commerce or B2C-based service company with a known product that people search for.

  • Use Google Ads and Google Shopping to capture the customers actively searching for products/services and Facebook/Instagram ads to create retargeting campaigns.

If you are an e-commerce or B2C-based service company with a new product people don’t know about yet.

  • Use Facebook/Instagram ads to educate the market about your product/service. Use retargeting on all platforms: Google, Facebook and Instagram.

If you are a B2B-based service company with a known service people search for.

  • Use Google Ads to capture the customers actively searching for products and Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn ads to create retargeting campaigns.

If you are a B2B-based service company with a new service people don’t know about yet.

  • Use Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn ads to educate the market about your service. Use retargeting on all platforms: Google, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

3. A lot of agencies will also read this book, and I know that at your agency, you emphasize that the customer is not always right. What is the intention of this rather bold statement?

At PL & Partners, our culture is focused around providing our clients with our honest opinion. We’re dedicated to gathering insights that we translate into recommendations to how our clients can improve their business and meet their goals.

In order to be the best advisor, we need to be true to our own desire of creating measurable impact. And we cannot be true to that if we just take orders from our clients. We wish to work with our clients and not for them. And there’s a huge difference between those two mindsets. We’re here to be bold enough to challenge our client’s beliefs and hypotheses and not just accept them.

4. Where do you see the future of performance marketing heading? What will be the most important thing for entrepreneurs and companies wanting to get the best return on their efforts?

The future of digital marketing is always changing, but there are pillars of digital marketing that will always stay the same. If you want to succeed with your business and digital marketing you need to:

  1. Create the right plan for your marketing;
  2. Measure the effectiveness of your campaign;
  3. Pick out the right platforms;
  4. Be top in class when it comes to content creation;
  5. Deliver a memorable and great experience with your product and service.

At this date and time, the biggest challenge we stand before in digital marketing is a cookieless future.

For years, it’s been very easy to get started with digital marketing and deliver measurable results. The advertising industry has been delivering great results that are easily accessible through platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

 

marketing metrics analysis overview on a laptop

 

With the limitations set especially by Apple with the introduction of iOS14, we’ve seen cookie-based advertising platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and social media platforms struggle to deliver the same easily accessible results to their customers. Also making it difficult for new and existing advertisers to keep up with the results they have been seeing in the past.

It’s become harder and more difficult to succeed, but it’s not impossible.

The winners of the future will be the businesses who:

  • know and control their data (data is collected, is correct, is sorted, is analysed, is shared, is used to enrich different platforms),
  • know their business-critical metrics (profit margin, CAC, LTV, CAC/LTV ratio, retention rate, CHURN, etc.),
  • and are able to use the above to make the most qualified decisions when allocating budget to content creation and ad spend on different platforms.

5. You started out as an entrepreneur at a very young age. How has this been a benefit, and how has it also worked against you?

I started my first business at age 19 when I was still in business college, and we (my co-founder Kristian Larsen and I) founded PL & Partners six months after graduating from business college at age 20.

It has been a huge advantage to be able to start the business while we were both living with our parents, since it meant that we didn’t need any salary for a long time. It was also an advantage that none of us had girlfriends, families or any other commitments, which meant that we could work long hours without neglecting anything or anyone. And that was necessary for us since we were really young, inexperienced and didn’t have a network to leverage.

 

Business people in a meeting

 

We needed to build all these things and that simply takes time and effort. I think that our young age has been a disadvantage in one primary aspect; the fact that we didn’t have experiences, networks, or developed skills (within areas such as sales, project management, recruiting, leadership, finance, etc.) meant that we have had to make every mistake ourselves and learn from that. We’ve made so many mistakes within all areas of our business, but then we have been able to learn the lesson and try again to succeed.

I can feel how big of a difference there is to start our newest business (anew sleep) where we have skills, experience, network, etc. compared to starting PL & Partners without any of that. But I’m glad that we did it. It has been a fun journey learning and figuring things out while we were going.

6. Your sister Rikke is also an entrepreneur. Do you come from a family of entrepreneurs, or what led you to do something as crazy – for some people – as start your own business?

Rikke just started her creative business designing really creative mirror frames and other interior decor items.

Our parents are definitely not entrepreneurs. They’ve been on the payroll all their lives. So, no one pushed us to become entrepreneurs and no one showed us the way.

My own personal motivation for getting started as an entrepreneur was a combination of wanting to show the world that I can build things and become a success and also earn a lot of money. Now my motivation is around the freedom that comes from being my own boss. It took five to six years to actually get to that freedom, but now that it’s here it’s definitely all worth it.

7. You’re working on a new start-up – anew sleep. As far as I understand, it’s about sleep, but can you put some more words on it? Remember that this book will not be published until 2023, so you’re allowed to reveal things that are currently secrets.

That’s right. Right now, we’re a month and a half from launching our e-commerce brand anew sleep in Denmark, which will be our first market. With anew, we wish to build a sleep universe. Our long-term desire is to build a premium D2C brand that develops products, content and services that help people improve their sleep. That might be to get more sleep or improve the quality of sleep.

We’re launching with a narrow niche product offering of weighted duvets and weighted blankets since this is not something that the broad population uses in the Nordics. It’s a well-known product for people that deal with sleeping disorders, anxiety, stress, depression, ADHD, autism and the like, and therefore it’s more known as a medical product for patients that deals with the challenges of these conditions.

 

Girl sleeping

 

Sleeping with a weighted blanket reduces the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol and increases the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and the happiness hormone serotonin.

There’s quite a lot of research showing that many people experience that they fall asleep faster and reach a higher quality of sleep using these products. We strive to develop a premium product to the broad consumer that is not a medical product, but rather a lifestyle product. This will be a huge marketing/branding and storytelling effort, and we look forward to beginning the journey.

Once we get to know our customers, our goal is to get to know them to find out which pains and habits they have for sleep that we can also help them overcome by innovating new products and services.

8. You’re from Denmark. A country that many of the readers of this book have probably heard about, whereas others might think that it’s the capital of The Netherlands. Denmark only has six million inhabitants. Is it a strength or a weakness to start-up in such a small country?

I think that Denmark has a lot to offer entrepreneurs. There’s a lot of things that make it easy to start as an entrepreneur in Denmark. However, there are also things that could definitely be better in order to attract more risk-willing capital and international employees to the start-ups/ scaleups in Denmark.

When it comes to the fact that we have only six million inhabitants in Denmark, I would say that it’s a challenge. There’s definitely a cap on how large your company can grow inside of Denmark’s borders. It would definitely be nice to be able to reach a higher level in your business before it’s necessary to take on the added complexity of scaling in other countries that have separate cultures, languages, and ways of working. That being said, it’s getting easier and easier to scale some businesses (for instance an e-commerce store) to other markets.

9. This book is all about impact. What is impact to you?

Impact can be many things. It can be an uplift in some numbers, as well as a decrease in others. It can help people improve their lives with an amazing product or service. And it can be to just feel the joy and appreciation of the people that you’re working with.

 

Two people in a meeting fist bumping and being happy

 

Impact doesn’t necessarily have a specific size or amount. It can also be a feeling.

It’s always important to me that what I work on has a positive impact in some way. But how big of an impact it is and in what form or way the impact is measured or shown can be very different.

I try to navigate the following aspects when I measure and feel impact in my own work life:

  • Am I doing something good for others (Doesn’t have to be saving the world. It can be on a much smaller scale as well)?
  • Am I having fun and developing myself while I do it?
  • Am I working within the laws and the values that are important to me?
  • Am I sharing the joy of the process and results with people I enjoy spending time with?
  • Am I satisfied with the risk/reward ratio and with the financial aspects in general?
  • Am I able to live the life that I wish to live outside of work while doing it?

About the author

Mads Paaskesen is an entrepreneur and investor. He’s the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of one of Denmark’s leading digital marketing agencies, PL & Partners, which he founded with his partner seven years ago. PL & Partners currently has around 50 employees in its office in Copenhagen. Mads also recently co-founded a new venture called anew sleep, which is a D2C e-commerce brand.

Mads Paaskesen

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