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Ben Hirons

Ben Hirons
Founder of Due North Co: an Insight into Marketing Engineering.

At Marketing Trends we are discovering what drives Australia’s top marketers. Built by a team of Search Engineers, Due North applies engineering to solving business challenges for B2B tech, industrial, manufacturing, personal and professional services companies. Ben Hirons, Founder and Director, joins us in this interview and tells us about his company's journey and the role Science plays in the Marketing Industry.

Career & professional background

Ben, how did your career in marketing start?

I have a double degree in Business and Engineering (Aerospace), but I found myself drawn into marketing early in my career. Good marketing is critical to business success, and I saw an opportunity for a systematic, data-driven approach within the field.

My first marketing business was my testing ground and education. I employed many people and consultants and learned from them to find ways of doing it better. Then I started looking at ways to build on what we were good at and add significant value to the customers we wanted to serve. It was out of this searching that Due North was born.

If you hadn’t pursued a career in marketing,  in which other industry do you think you might be?

I would have to say outdoor adventure. I could definitely see myself running guided tours and multi-day adventures across Australia.

Could you tell us about your role as Founder of Due North Co.?

As Head of Due North, my responsibilities include strategic planning, business development, product and service innovations, staff management and client relationship management. Or in other words, I make sure we have the right team in the right positions to ensure we're adding the most value to our customers.

What type of impact has COVID- 19 had on your industry?

Like nearly everyone, I thought the world was ending as we knew it in March 2020, and in many ways, it has. Though I have to say, we were quite fortunate in the digital marketing industry as the pandemic has made many businesses realise just how important having a strong online presence is. This produced more of a growing pain for the industry.

This also uncovered the need for more education around digital marketing, as many industries that had previously been ignoring this part of their business had to go hard and fast and needed strong, clear direction on what they needed to do and what would work best for them.

What is the most exciting trend or innovation happening in your field in terms of growth?

It would have to be the personal brand piece. There is a real need for people to be developing their own personal area of authority and finding their niche of specialisation to drive brand awareness and marketing results.

When customers search for information or answers, they don't look for a Jack-of-all-trades who can give them a broad and shallow overview. They look for an expert. Having these experts within a business sharing this expertise will be a key driver for increasing brand awareness.

As a marketer, what do you believe is the biggest challenge facing your industry in the future?

It would have to be how complex marketing has become. If we're honest, marketing is becoming less about the creative and more about the science. While the creative element is still essential, most marketing is now about collecting and tracking data.

Marketers need to analyse the numbers, identify patterns, predict behaviour, capitalise on trends, and report results. All the while ensuring this data is captured in a meaningful way that helps the business continue to improve and optimise their marketing messages and efforts to reach the right people at the right time in the right way.

Capturing the attention of more discerning audiences across multiple platforms in a highly competitive global market is no easy feat.

Tools, recommendations & sources of inspiration

What does a typical day look like for you? How do you structure your week?

My morning routine starts at 5am and goes for 45 minutes. This includes journaling, practising gratitude, planning the day, reading and learning.

Then my day continues with exercising (this could be running, bike riding or going to the gym), taking the kids to school every second day and at 9am, we do our team daily Pow Wow.  In the mornings, I address business priorities (proactive work) and after lunchtime, I focus on working with our clients and more reactive activities. By 4 pm I’m spent, and I finish the work day to hang out with my kids and have some downtime.

Some of my weekly practices include:

  • Team meetings on Monday mornings.
  • Travel day to Brisbane on Wednesdays (if required).
  • On Fridays, 'Thinking time' to analyse the business and work on chunky long-term priorities in the mornings, Friday lunch with my wife, and administrative tasks in the afternoons.

What brands do you take inspiration from?

For a personal brand, it would be Seth Godin. For a company brand, it would be YETI. They have done a fantastic job in building a brand and talking to their niche audience. Special mention also goes to Up, the new digital bank in Melbourne, driven to reinvent banking for younger Australians.

Software and tools recommendations: what is the one software you can’t work without and why?

It would have to be Analytics – because you can’t improve what you don’t measure. When you have access to the right information through analytics, you can make informed decisions based on how well each component of your marketing is working.

This means you can do more of what is working well (and look to make it better), optimise what is borderline, and get rid of what isn’t, so you stop wasting your time and hard-earned money and start investing it wisely.

What are three resources you would recommend for anyone working in your field?

  • Phone – Not only because of the capability it now gives you within your pocket, but for the true purpose your phone was created: to connect with others. Don't hide behind emails; you need to be making personal relationships.
  • Technology stack – these days, great service involves a good technology stack with 20 bits of finely-tuned software that is integrated into your processes and automated.
  • Engineering Great Digital Marketing That Stands the Test of Time eBook - This is Due North's Ultimate Playbook for great digital marketing in 2021 and beyond.