Guy Marson is the Director and Co-founder at Profusion. He has 16 years’ experience in data driven digital marketing, which has led him to work across a wide range of sectors including technology, retail and finance.
Guy is passionate about creating and using cutting-edge techniques to improve digital marketing. This led him to set up Profusion, a data science and intelligence marketing company which Guy co-founded with business partner Russell Parsons.
Before founding Profusion, Guy was Managing Director of email marketing company Mailtrack. Before this, Guy spent five years in Hong Kong as a website developer specialising in sports marketing.
In his spare time Guy founded the Steiner Academy Frome Free School and currently holds the position of Chair of Governors.
Tell us about Profusion and how you came up with the idea for the business.
Profusion is a data science and marketing services company based in London and Dubai. We offer data driven marketing, data science and data management services to a range of different clients including a global bank, two leading FMCGs and several retailers.
The idea for Profusion was born out of my passion for effective data use by businesses. At the time Profusion was set up, big data was really starting to capture industries’ imaginations but nobody really understood what it was and how you could use it. With fellow co-founder Russell Parsons, I set up Profusion to help solve this issue.
What challenges did you face when you were first starting out and how did you overcome these?
Profusion offers data science, a relatively new field that many business leaders are largely unaware of. Our greatest challenge has been to raise awareness of data science and its uses across different industries, as well as educating leaders on precisely what data science can do for them and what results to expect. Several data science techniques are brand new to a commercial setting, which can be exciting for a business as these techniques can really give you an edge over your competitors. However, gaining buy-in for a brand new technique can be difficult, especially in larger organisations.
Scaling the business was another challenge we faced. We’ve grown from a handful of people in a small London office to over 65 members of staff working from our London and Dubai offices. Keeping up the communication and close-knit feeling we fostered in the beginning has been a constant battle as we’ve grown over the years.
What are the biggest setbacks you faced since starting Profusion and how did these impact your ability to make better decisions?
As Profusion has grown in size, I had to learn very quickly that there would be a change in our company culture thanks to the number of new hires we brought on in a short time frame. The challenge for Profusion was to retain the essence of the culture we had when first starting out, but also fostering a new culture that reflected our growing and diverse workforce.
At the same time, the growth in employees naturally led to the rise of a small pyramid hierarchy in our previously flat organizational structure. This created another challenge in ensuring that communication from senior management was relayed accurately and quickly across the entire business. On the flip side of this, our new structure, along with a personal and professional development plan implemented for each employee greatly increased the satisfaction staff felt around career progression and training.
In your opinion, what are the most effective marketing channels for businesses to use and why?
Email has recently been touted as the top marketing channel for many businesses and I have to agree. Far from being over-the-hill, recent advances in the way you can target and segment your customers means that the ROI you get from email can far outstrip the likes of social media, video, banner ads or direct mail.
That said, the best marketing channels for businesses ultimately depend on your business’ aims and audience. Targeting over 70s with email, for example, is not likely to be effective. Likewise, the only way you can really determine what marketing channel works best for your business is to take a look at the data you get from it – the number of engagements, how much you spent and any leads or sales you received from the campaign.
What are some key aspects for attribution models and how can they help businesses?
In basic terms, attribution models help businesses and marketers effectively attribute ROI to specific marketing channels. When you’re marketing through lots of different channels, say social media, a website and email marketing, it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint exactly where a sale originated from. Attribution models use a combination of different data science techniques to determine what channels led to a customer purchasing from you and therefore where you should be focusing your resources.
Of course, in order to do this you need to have your sales and marketing data available for analysis. A large part of Profusion’s work before analysis is helping organisations clean and store data correctly. Breaking down departmental silos and setting up a good data management platform is the first step all businesses must take before doing any kind of data science.
How do market trends differ for businesses and what should business owners take in consideration?
Market trends are going to differ across industries, countries, regions and time. Tracking market trends is a relatively easy undertaking – you can look at social media data to determine user sentiment towards different products or developments. Text mining on blogs and reviews can tell you what people are talking about and looking at, while transactional data can show you what products people are buying the most at different times. Analysing this data over time will help you identify patterns in consumer interest and spend that you can then use to predict what might be popular in the future.
It’s important to note that something may be a growing trend but not necessarily a money-spinner. An example of this could be Pokemon Go, which worked wonders for some businesses (like McDonalds Japan) but wouldn’t work for others. Again, looking at your data will tell you whether tapping into a trend has been worth your while.
How can businesses utilize data to become more sustainable and become market leaders in their field?
First and foremost any business looking to use data effectively needs to ensure the data is stored safely and in a format where it can be easily analysed. That means you have to break down any data silos between departments and clean the data so it can be easily compared.
Making sure your customers have given permission to use their data and that the data is stored securely is also essential. You’ll need to ensure that your customers understand what you are using their data for, why, who will have access to it and how it is stored. This will go some way in protecting you from consumer backlash in the event of a data leak.
Lastly you need to set your aims for carrying out the data analysis, and make sure these align with your wider business objectives. Carrying out data analysis without a clearly thought out strategy or aims is akin to wandering the desert without a destination.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to turn their vision into a successful business?
When you first set out it’s very easy to be motivated, especially if you get some quick wins, but ultimately, it’s when the going gets tough that real entrepreneurship really starts to shine through. Never let a setback actually set you back, find a way to either resolve it or go around it and don’t give up.
Likewise, asking for advice from someone more experience or senior within your industry can help you reach your goals when you’re not entirely sure what the next move should be.
It’s also important to clear your head of business related matters from time to time. Find an environment or hobby you enjoy and take time out to spend your time on something other than work for a little while. Often you’ll find you return to your business renewed and ready to get going with a fresh perspective on things.