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How Yonder Is Building a Challenger Credit Card to Crush AMEX

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Welcome to another episode of Scratch, where Eric is joined by the brilliant Tom Davies, Marketing Head at Yonder. Yonder is a challenger brand that offers a  modern rewards credit card with no foreign exchange fees, worldwide travel insurance, and many more benefits.

Tom & Eric discuss the importance of creativity in marketing and the pivotal role it plays in brand positioning & differentiation. Tom sheds light on how the CEO at Yonder has given him creative freedom that helps them think & act outside the box, moving beyond the often restrictive traditional marketing metrics & measurement models. Tom provides an insightful walkthrough of Yonder's strategic identification of a market gap in the perception of credit within the UK, meticulously crafting its unique selling proposition, offerings, and messaging to seamlessly align with this discerned opportunity.

Together, they dive into the innovative campaigns led by Yonder, aimed at resonating with the daily experiences of their audience. Tom highlights the importance of building an internal culture that supports creativity, which in turn, leads to a more dynamic and engaging marketing narrative. They discuss how this open approach not only boosts brand engagement but also fosters a collaborative atmosphere within the marketing team. Through examples like the 'Make it Rain' campaign, Tom illustrates how associating positive, enjoyable experiences with a brand can create a lasting impression beyond conventional marketing metrics. The episode illuminates the delicate balance between nurturing creativity and achieving business growth, offering a wealth of insights for challenger marketers navigating the currents set by their established counterparts.

Chapters:

(03:00) - What is Yonder?

(04:23) - Favorite Challenger Brand

(06:25) - Driving Cultural Change Around Credit and Rewards

(21:31) - Building an Early-Stage Marketing Practice

(26:20) - Building a Community Around the Brand

(43:30) - Lightning Round

"Scratch" is a production of Rival, a marketing consultancy and technology company that builds challenger brands, strategies, and capabilities to change categories. 

In every episode Eric interviews the CMO of some of the worlds biggest or fastest-growing brands, exploring their innovative marketing strategies that challenge established incumbents. Immerse yourself in the world of challenger brands and learn valuable marketing lessons from industry experts, as you discover their secrets to success. 

Find Rival online at www.wearerival.com, LinkedIn, and Twitter

Watch the video version of this Podcast on YouTube.

Find Eric on LinkedIn and tweet him @efulwiler

Say hi at media@wearerival.com, we’d love to hear from you.

Transcript

Tom: Like so I think we have been very intentional about this. And especially when it comes to our product experience, we, you know, nothing is made it into that product. Without us like testing it 100 times over and ultimately the the local experiences concept, it sounds maybe pretty obvious that you can, you know, use your rewards points like every day and use them on things that you enjoy doing. But no one was really doing that. And certainly not we'd like the brands and the types of places that people actually enjoy shopping out or going to in the first place. So yeah, what looks like you know, maybe the most obvious answer for us actually came at the end of sort of like probably a year's worth of research.


Eric: I'm Eric Fulwiler. And this is scratch, bringing you marketing lessons from the leading brands and brands rewriting the rulebook from scratch for the world of today.


Hey, everyone, awesome, awesome episode for you. today. My guest is Tom Davies, who is the Head of Marketing at credit card challenger brand here in the UK. Yonder. Tom has spent his career in his own words, quote, mostly annoying big banks, and quote by building some of the most notable FinTech products around like Monzo. And why's he joined yonder free product or pre revenue, which is a fascinating bit of the conversation that we get into, to reinvent the relationship that we here in the UK have with credit cards yonder recently raised their series, a 62 point 5 million pounds. And more importantly, they've been on an absolute tear with their marketing, some amazing creative media guerrilla activations, we double click on kind of how Tom and the leadership team there have built that culture within the company and also how they prioritise that to be able to put these pretty consistent wins on the board that is clearly driving the growth of the brand. I do want to call attention to the fact Tom is publishing a tonne of awesome thought leadership content out there for marketers, you should definitely check it out, we'll link to his LinkedIn, and also his medium blog, you should definitely look at it. A couple of the other highlights for me, understanding the culture around your audience and the product that you're building for credit here in the UK, it's a very different thing from the US where I'm from. So hearing Tom's perspective on how they keep a pulse on that, I think is really interesting and relevant, the importance of kind of that connection between marketing and product, and finding Product Market Fit driving innovation within the company, in early stage business and obviously Monzo but now at yonder, Tom has replicated that success about building and how to build a community around the brand, which I know a lot of people are thinking about. So I know you're gonna enjoy. Enjoy this episode. Please let me know what you think. Tom, what's going on?


Tom: Hi, Eric. Thanks for having me.


Eric: I am good. Thanks so much for making the time. Really looking forward to this conversation. Obviously, I've been watching what yonder has been doing what you've been doing with the brand. And then of course, in our prep call learning that you are behind some of my other favourite FinTech brands as well with Monzo. And wise, really excited to pick your brain today. Thanks again for making the time.


Tom: Yeah, no worries, I'm looking forward to it.

Eric: Cool. So for people who haven't come across yonder yet, in the UK, or for people who might be listening in other countries, can you just give a quick overview of what you're up to what you're building with yonder?

Tom: Sure, yeah. Yonder is a sort of millennials approach to a rewards credit card products. We Yeah, I think in the UK, and we talked a bit about this in the prep call, as well, Eric around sort of perceptions around credit. And in the UK, use of credit cards is actually not as prevalent as it is in places like the US at Yanbu. You know, we really believe that credit can be a really powerful financial tool. And then we wanted to build a product that could help bring young people back to using credit and using credit in a responsible way that can help them build their credit for the future. So we've sort of designed a product that we think is complimentary to people in London's lifestyles, and eventually we'll be expanding to to new cities, but effectively, you know, we want to try and show that you can both get more out of your, you know, your lifestyle using our product and also build towards better financial futures using credit card like Jana responsibly.


Eric: Awesome. Alright, so before we get into what you're doing at yonder, and some of the learnings from past businesses and brands that you've helped build, icebreaker question that we asked every guest, can you tell us about one challenger brands that you're passionate about right now? Not your own? Of course. Another one?


Tom: Yeah, it's a good one. I thought about this one a lot. You know, one of them was going to be Canva. And then I was like, it'd be a challenger brand, if it's a $40 billion company, and then I sort of settled on web flow. I don't know if you've ever used web flow before. It's kind of a no no code. Yeah, we use it as well. And sort of going back sort of eight, nine years ago, I was working for a startup in Silicon Valley. And we had the CEO sitting next to us she came in was like, using some desk space in our office. And we had gone through Y Combinator at the time. And I got chatting to this guy named Vlad. And he was like, Oh, I'm the CEO of a new company called Webflow. You can build websites without using any code, and we ended up using it. And this was back in 2014 2013, something. And it's just been so cool to see it grow into what it has become. And if you think about as a marketer, the challenges you have to get content live on your website, in older organisations, you need engineers, you need, you know, people to getting engineering time to, to build stuff on your website can be quite difficult. And Webflow have just completely got rid of that problem. And now, it's empowered marketers like me, and, you know, designers, and, you know, basically anyone that doesn't know how to build websites to get in and build really incredible experiences for users. And so, look, you know, Webflow is also a billion dollar company at the moment. And and I think, to call them a challenger is maybe a bit of a stretch, but I think what they've done to the industry has been incredible. They've really empowered marketers to, to take control of one of their most important assets, which is your website.


Eric: Yeah, love it. Yeah. And I think that certainly sits in the Challenger bucket. I mean, we, you know, we're trying to put some weight behind this term of a rival brands, which would be a challenger that has successfully changed the category that they operate in, whereas a challenger is attempting to, and so I'd say their challenge, or maybe even a rival with where they're at right now, kind of leading that revolution, and no code websites. Alright, so let's dig into yonder your experience your advice for other marketers listening. So I think the place that I want to start, which you touched on in the overview, is obviously a big part of what you are doing is, you know, building a product, a credit card product. But as an American who's now been in the UK for almost nine years, I think I have a very precise understanding of the differences of the culture of credit and credit cards in the US, versus credit and credit cards in the UK. And from my perspective, you, of course, are gonna have a much more nuanced perspective, personal credit cards are just not really a thing over here, and the whole culture around points and rewards and all that stuff that for the Americans listening would be like, yeah, that's how I do all of my spending, maybe even my rent, you know, my groceries, my car payment, all of it goes through credit for a lot of people in the US. But over here, it's different. Of course, it exists. But it is not kind of the cultural anchor, that it is in the personal finance market in the US. So I guess my question is really how you go about driving that cultural change. But I think it's probably two parts of that question, which is, in order to change it, you really need to understand it. And we talk a lot about, of course, building brands that are highly differentiated. But in order to do that, you really need a differentiated understanding of your audience and the culture that exists around them. So how do you build that differentiated understanding of the culture as it is right now in the UK? And then how do you go about trying to change it?


Tom: Yeah, I think I also spent sort of 910 years in the United States as well, so similar to you. And I'm Australian to so I've sort of had exposure in sort of a few different markets and to people's relationship with financial services. And so I think in terms of understanding it, we're very fortunate that the, you know, the founders of Jana, few Australians, Brits, we've got a very diverse team. And so I think just sort of internally in house, we already had a lot of very diverse opinions on the role that credit could play in people's lives. Our founder, Tim, is Asian Australian, and he sort of talks about like Asian cultures and having sort of concepts around like the shame around debt, and then you have the, you know, you can compare that to like the American culture around debt being seen as like a tool for achieving the American dream. And maybe the UK and Australia sort of sitting somewhere in the middle of those two cultures. And so we were hyper aware that there were different opinions and feelings, very emotional feelings. There's something I always tell people that work in financial services that probably is no more emotional product in people's lives, really, you know, how you control your money is a really emotional thing. People think it's rational, it's not rational at all. It's rarely is rational. And then, in terms of sort of, like our marketing approach to that we, my view is it wasn't really optional for us to take that on headfirst. I think if we hadn't really addressed that early on, I don't think we would have seen some of the success that we've had so far. Because a big part of you know, our brand strategy has been trying to take the things from big credit card brands that we like, and we think they've done well. And that might mean great customer support or, you know, being able to use your products around the world, whatever it might be, but then trying to be the opposite of all the things that they're not And so we know that there is this sort of visceral feeling around credit and debt in the UK where people see credit cards as being evil products designed to make banks a lot of money. And, you know, they've got a point, I think, for a long time, credit cards have been these cash cows that have had misaligned incentives with like the banks, making them in the consumers using them. So a big fight a big part of this strategy for us was like, we just desperately wanted to make sure we're on the right side of that. You know, I guess that that conversation, that feeling for consumers, and that meant really putting ourselves in their shoes and saying, you know, we want to build this product. So you can feel really comfortable getting to use it and getting to know and understanding how to use credit credit for your, you know, for your both your short term well being and that side rewards and getting cash back and these benefits and those things and also long term. So yeah, I think for us, we didn't really see it as optional, we had to do it. If we didn't, I don't think we would have really carved out that part of the market for us,
I want to go back to the understanding and double click on that for a minute, because I'd like to understand a bit more tactically.

Eric: So it sounds like kind of the founding team, you know, senior leadership team, y'all come with different perspectives, you have a good pulse on the culture of this market versus other markets where the opportunity is, you know, is that most of it in terms of the cultural understanding? Or, you know, do you run research to kind of run campaigns where you have a hypothesis that you're testing? Because I think, you know, one of the one of the principles for me when it comes to kind of early stage or growth stage marketing is, of course, it's all about product market fit. And I think that marketing has a role to drive innovation and understanding of the markets, as well as distribution of the product. So I'm just kind of curious how you bring that to life, I know that we're going to talk about kind of the community that you've built, and I'm sure that's a part of it. But what else are you doing kind of tactically? Or did you do in the earlier days, tactically, week to week to really get that understanding of the audience into the business?


Tom: Yeah, well, I mean, we sort of talked a lot about this, because we really put in the hard yards, and a lot of startup studio, I'm not claiming to have been any sort of, like more innovative in this area. But we did something like 200 250 user research sessions, in our first sort of six months of product violence, I joined right at the very beginning, you know, before there was any product. And so it was really me, at Craig, designer, and Tim CEO, and between the three of us, we were just trying to work out what this product should look like. And we would have these interviews with people, and we'd spend sort of half the interview, just having a conversation about them, a lot of them were experts and, and then you know bit about their life, and then a bit about their financial life. And we would often hear them say things like, Oh, I'd never use a credit card, you know, like all the bad few, and we'd sort of drop this stuff down. And, and so in addition to building out a proposition around these people's lifestyles, which is, you know, ultimately what became if your honour, we also got a lot of really interesting tidbits around their perceptions of credit and different financial services. And often we would interview Americans, and it would just be so different we, they'd be like, I've got three credit cards, I've got one that I use for my petrol one for my flights, and one for my everyday shopping, I pay them all off in this way. And, you know, Americans have learned to use credit to, you know, support and achieve their lifestyle. And I think there is a much better understanding of probably like the good benefits of credit. In the UK, I'd say, you know, maybe slightly more sceptical country in general, I don't know if the Brits would be against me saying that. But I think probably, I tend to maybe look a bit more on the like, well, you know, if things go wrong, then having a lot of debt is, is bad. And we're not I'm not sitting here to say that that's not the case. But I think we always say that debt is not good or bad. Credit is not good or bad. It is like fire. And it can be used in good ways and in bad ways. And we're trying to get people to use it in what we think are the most beneficial ways for that sort of short term and long term goals.

Eric: So one of the things that I know you're doing intentionally differently is your approach and offering around rewards. And I'm guessing part of that came from again, your shared experience as a founding team, but also the research and kind of what you learned along the way. So can you unpack that for us? What is the approach that you've taken to rewards? And why is that so important for how you want to build the business and grow the brand?


Tom: It all came from our user research this, I think there was certainly some common sense in there as well and that we didn't really want to go head to head with the likes of American Express or RBS in terms of a rewards programme. We just didn't have the capital and the network to take that on that early. So we knew that sort of that like travel booking flight booking space, we're probably going to park and we may never come back to it. We may we may do so. But we wanted to try and look for some some open space that we could play in and as we were having conversations with all of these people that I moved to London because I wanted to explore the best bars and restaurants I like to travel around Europe. And when I'm not doing that I like to, you know, go out and explore the city, I want to be a tourist in London and explore, you know, all of the areas that I would normally not do, you know, you've got a lot of people that moved to London just purely to enjoy and be in the city that they're in. And so as we have these conversations, more and more, we were starting to come up with this concept around like local experiences. And so we started out with dining, that was sort of our focus area for the first 12 months where we, we really wanted to help people like get more out of their lifestyles while they're in London. And then when they're booking their flights and stuff, then you know, go and use your, your other products. And so we landed on the concept of like yonder experiences where you can use your points to get, you know, fully paid meals at some of London's best restaurants, and we update and rotate those every month to six weeks, all of this sort of product experience was based on user research, people didn't want too many options. So we give them sort of, you know, we have a few more now. But we started off with like eight options a month, and then they, you know, they didn't want the points redemptions to be like really difficult to understand. And so we made it super easy, just slide it in the app, and you can choose whether to use your points or pay normally. So the whole experience has been, has come out of our research.


Eric: One of the things I really liked about what you all are doing, and I'm hearing it in this conversation, but then also just as a consumer and potential customer, here in the UK. But it's great to kind of see behind the scenes is, it seems to me, like you've been very intentional and very strategic, not just about building brand and building a great product. But having it be having there be a contrast against what exists in the market point of difference, right. And we talk about that all the time when it comes to a brand, but it's just kind of standing out for me. So I kind of wanted to underline it for people listening, it wasn't just about, hey, we can build something cool. It was we're gonna build something cool and make sure that it is very differentiated compared to what's in the market. So I think there's really a question in there. But I just wanted to draw it out. Because it does seem like a lot of what I'm getting from you is like, you understood where you were you understood where the market was, and you've like really driven a wedge into that, which is great.


Tom: Yeah, exactly like we like. So I think we have been very intentional about this. And especially when it comes to our product experience, we you know, nothing has made it into that, that product. Without us like testing it 100 times over. And ultimately the the local experiences concept, it sounds maybe pretty obvious that you can use your rewards points, like every day and use them on things that you enjoy doing. But no one was really doing that. And certainly not we'd like the brands and the types of places that people actually enjoy shopping out or going to in first place. So yeah, what looks like, you know, maybe the most obvious answer for us actually came at the end of sort of like probably a year's worth of research.


Eric: So we talked in the prep call, and you mentioned that you set out to build a brand that was quote unquote, cool. I think most businesses try to do that very few succeed, it seems like you are at least so far, how do you go about doing that? How do you actually build a brand? That's cool. What are some of your thoughts on that topic?


Tom: Yeah, well, I mean, look, it's hard to know what is and isn't cool. I think we I think the most important thing was we wanted to build a brand that felt relatable to younger people. And I think our view may be certainly my view is that brands like American Express, were built for our parents generation, and they haven't done a very good job of adapting that sort of brand and experience to younger people. And so we wanted to make Biondo all the things that that MX is not we wanted to make it really approachable, we wanted to put our team front and centre. So people we could build trust with people because they could see the people actually building the product. In terms of like, how we actually, you know, got the visual and sort of tone and voice tone and all of those things. We, Craig and I had spent a long time sort of developing this, you know, we sort of were trying to build a premium ask brands. And then one night I was sort of just sitting there pretty late at night, maybe midnight, and sort of six months in I was like, I hate it. I hate it. I hate everything about it. I hate the way we're talking. I hate the imagery. I hate the design.That's no sloths Craig, by the way, it's brilliant if he's listening to this. And so I just spent over two, three hours I'm redoing everything, I rewrote everything I rewrote our website and sort of was using that as a proxy for feeding it into our brand. I took it back the next day and I showed it to some of the team and a lot we love it like this feels like us and I think the most important thing was it felt like a brand that would come naturally to the team and I think if it if it does come naturally to everyone then actually the way that it grows and expands is much easier to control than like forcing a we're really premium brand and everything we do has to be like this and we can't have too much fun because we need to be serious and whatever. So ultimately, we landed on a brand that most people at Jana can express in their own way. and it feels like yonder, even if it's coming from like a support team, or if it's coming from the product design, or if it's coming from someone in marketing. You know, I think that's probably the most important thing for us is, it feels authentic to us, the team building it. Maybe that helps because we're building people like us. And so we sort of knew that people really responded well to it. But we've had a lot of fun with it. We, when we launched, I sort of wrote this sort of like manifesto that I made people sign when they were applying, and it was like, you have to bang on about this cards, your mates, you have to hold on the outside of your phone case on the tube, you have to just all these really silly things. And I got so many messages from people being like this is hilarious. Like, you're you're sort of tapping into this sort of undertone around like startups that really want brand ambassadors, and you're just asking people to do it outright. And we started a lot of people early on really just related so so well to that type of brand. So whether I'll call it cool or not is made up for other people to say I would say, if nothing else, I think we've done a good job of making it feel relatable to our audience.


Eric: Yeah, and I really want to come back to, you know, what's driven your ability to kind of have these consistent, wins, Buzz talkable moments with what you're doing. And some of them are, I guess, call it more the realm of traditional marketing, like some of the activations that you've done some of the ads that you've come up with, but some of them are also just, you know, think of it as like Easter eggs, things that are typically just boring experience that you've kind of have this drive and this, I guess capability creatively to kind of come up with interesting ways to do that. So I do want to come to that. But actually, I want to just go back maybe like a minute, because you talked about this earlier on as well. And I just be really curious to have you elaborate, you know, you joined pre product, and you don't come from only marketing, you come from product marketing. So I just be curious the impact that you think that's had the importance of that. And just to kind of put a little bit of my spin on it real quick, and why I think this question is so important for people listening, whether or not they're in a later stage business, or whether or not they're joining post product or post revenue. Because I think that a lot of businesses, especially the more tech and engineering led businesses think of marketing as the function that comes in after you build a product, you build something great, and then marketing does its job to distribute it. And I think there is so much opportunity, and you know, a decent amount about the origin story of Monzo, to no similar there were marketing or product marketing, or whoever is wearing that hat of, hey, how do we connect the value of the product, we're building to the needs that exist in the market, making sure that that perspective is there from the beginning, and it can be really impactful. But tell us a little bit more about your experience with that and how important you think it was to getting you to where you are now.


Tom: Yeah, so even though a lot of my marketing experience before yonder was at big organisation, I say bigger organisations like Monzo, And why's that a lot of the products that I was working on there were actually brand new. So it felt really similar to me in terms of, you know, getting thrown in a room with a product team. So maybe my experience at Monzo is pretty relatable. And that, you know, they took sort of eight of us and stuck us in a room and during COVID. And they said we need you to launch to subscription products for Munzo. And, you know, in that room, there was sort of like some product people, you know, may data people and engineers and, and so the experience, when I joined yonder actually felt very similar to that, even though at Monza that was sort of a much bigger organisation, I probably wouldn't have joined yonder, if it wasn't pre product, I think for me, sort of personally, I had seen the value of being a marketer on a product that didn't yet exist, and being able to play a role in in sort of, I wouldn't say like massively moving a product either way, but nudging it in the directions that you think will be better suited for your audience. For the product to go, so yeah, look, I mean, I'm not going to sit here and say that, you know, I'm a marketing genius. And joining you know, before the product launch was vital for your success up because I think that we had probably had a lot of success because of a lot of the factors around me in that. So like, Tim, our CEO has always been very, I think he's brilliant, and for a lot of reasons, but the one I'll probably call that I think is he knows his strengths and weaknesses really well. And one of those was, you know, he had a great team of founders, but they didn't have anyone that understood anything about marketing. I don't think they'll be upset me saying that they are now and so they knew that they needed someone with a sort of a different mindset to come into the team early on. And then we also just had a lot of time, which I think was also really nice in that we could have launched as a credit company until we were FCA approved. And that process takes sort of typically 12 months we got ours done in in nine months. But it meant that we had a lot of time to really work through how we wanted to launch this product, how we want it to look and feel what we wanted the proposition to be. And we did so with the release small team, which meant we could do it really quickly. So, for a lot of reasons, you know, I think being a marketer early on is incredibly helpful. That's not to say that if you join a team, you know, a product after its launch, she can't be impactful. I think that is absolutely not the case. And I think if you join a company that thinks marketing is just something that he's like dropped on, once a product is live, I would probably see that as a huge opportunity to show the value of marketing rather than seeing that as a, you know, maybe like, a challenge for you. Because if you can really get marketing, sort of like integrated into that product development process, and into you know, how these decisions are made as a business, then everyone will be better off the business will be better off your customers will be better off the products will be better.

Eric: And so, yeah, I think in general, you know, you can have success, whether you're joining pre products or post products,and I'd add one to that list, I think your career will be better off as well, I think getting more experience and exposure to the product side of things. If you're looking for a career in marketing, particularly within tech, tech businesses, I think that that is a good investment to make, in addition to the benefits that it can have to the business that you're working in now. So let's shift gears a little bit, I want to talk about the topic of community. So you wrote a great, you've written a couple great medium articles. And I and I think a lot of marketers out there really appreciate how you're kind of documenting and sharing your learnings definitely going to be sharing this in our AMP group later on. But you wrote an article about how to build a community, because obviously, you saw that Monzo actually not as aware of whether or not that was part of the strategy or the reality at wise, maybe you can touch on that, but certainly has been very successful for you at yonder. So before we get to the how I actually want to ask you a question, because one of my things is, I think every sometimes I think that this topic of community within marketing circles, especially within FinTech, as we've seen so many examples of it can sometimes be a solution looking for a problem. It's one of those things where it's like, yeah, what's our community's strategy? But actually, it needs to be as with everything marketing, well, what that's a means to an end, what's the end that you're looking to drive with it? And I think a lot of businesses are willing or able to actually invest in doing it the right way, which is focusing on adding value to the community not extracting it, at least not right away. So I guess my first question is, should every business, build a community or not? Or what are the what are the if you have them kind of? What are the conditions that you should be thinking about? To understand whether or not building a community around your business and brand is right?

Tom: Yeah, look, I would say that, I think he made a really good point in there around. Some people say, Let's build a community, and then they don't really know why they want one. Or if it's useful, they've maybe just seen Monzo, or they've seen some other community and I want, I want, you know, 10,000 people talking about my product on the internet all day. I think, you know, in terms of community, it comes down a lot to what is your product? Do? Do people have reasons to be talking about it with other people or with you? Do are they the type of people is your audience, the type of people that sort of are interested in participating in these types of community looks very different in different places as well. So I would be cautious to say that, No, you shouldn't do community. And, you know, if it doesn't work for you, because I think it is very flexible, sort of like part of the marketing strategy that really broadly, he's just sort of you having two way conversations with your customers and sort of them having conversations with each other. And that can look very different. You know, Monzo was an online forum. For us. It's a slack. I think, if you get into the, you know, the crypto and gaming worlds, then, you know, that happens in other places as well. And yeah, so for us, you know, I think we made we probably started out with the like, Let's build a community pre products, and it failed miserably. It was horrible. We were chucking all of our user research participants into a Facebook group. It was dead, we couldn't get anyone to answer our response to anything. And I remember 10 being like, Hey, what are you doing it like you said, you'd come in build, you know, build community for us. And like, no one, no one's engaging with us. And we sort of like bend it. And then we went back with a different strategy, which was right around when we launched, it sort of tied in really nicely with, we only really targeted early tech adopters, when we launched the product. And then we sort of seeded a community with sort of 50 of our friends and of the team and stuff. And so we positioned it as, hey, once you come help us, you know, build your know where you can, you can chat with the team directly. And we've got now something like nearly 1000 people in there in Slack. And for us, you know, it's been really valuable. And I think, for a lot of reasons, again, you know, I'm cautious not to, to claim that we, you know, we have this genius that sort of helped us work it out very fortuitous in that we, we had a product and circumstances and an audience that actually were really keen to be involved. And we had a lot of reasons people to be talking to us, we have a lot of bugs early on. So people were keen to report those we have rewards, experiences change every month. So people always talking about those things. We have, you know, we're sort of regularly engaging people with different sorts of stuff early on. So there are a lot of reasons that I think our community strategy, strategy worked well for us, but you cannot force it. And sometimes I get messages from people being right, my CEO wants me to build a community, like, yonder is like, can you help me? And my advice is like, I'm sorry. But looking at your product, I don't think that that is the right community strategy for you. And I think that's not what founders or CEOs want to hear. Sometimes, though, everyone wants people to be obsessed with their product three, you know, talking about with their friends, but I think you just need to be a bit smarter sometimes with committee and think, yeah, I think you made a good point as well, you said, maybe wise didn't have much for community strategy, and certainly not in the same format as Monzo, or yonder. But think what wise did really well is they, they built this brand that really felt like it was all of these people against the big banks. And so the the wires, community, people who were using was felt like this, this affinity for each other, because they're like, oh, yeah, we're really taking on this, like old archaic financial sector together. And that was sort of a brand that permeated through a lot of different regions. And so yeah, again, community can look very different depending on your product and your audience.


Eric: So I know you obviously wrote about this in your Medium post, and we will link to it in the show notes. But for the people who maybe want the TLDR, could you give us kind of some of the biggest learnings and pieces of advice on how to build a successful community?


Tom: Sure, yeah, I think off the top of my head, one of the most important things is asked people to join your community. The right time, I would say that you want to add a moment of, you know, pure joy, or high emotion or excitement for them for us, the way we do that is when you activate your yonder card, we then send you an email straightaway. And we're like, hey, looks like you got your card, why don't you come and chat with us and give some feedback to the team or, you know, we do giveaways and stuff like that. And, you know, I was actually having a look at that we've had something like a 70 or 80%, click through on that, you know, not all of them join the slack. And a lot of them sort of leave and become inactive. And that's definitely a big part of it as well. But people seem to really respond to that message. And I think the timing we got right there. I think another one as well as we seeded the community with the type of behaviour and conversation early on that we wanted people to then replicate. And so we, we had sort of some of our friends and family being like, Hey, I found this bar just wanted to let you know, you know this, because I think one thing as well is is on the internet, people can become quite rude and may in the end, they can often forget that there are people building the products that they're that are working really hard and putting a lot of time and effort into trying to make this work. And so we really wanted to be really clear and the communication that we expected and what we would then give you a return to that it's like we will be available to you, you know, you'll be able to speak to anyone within the company people just DM me or CEO or like random engineers and stuff all the time. But we've also been really clear that, like if we start to see behaviour in here that we don't think is fair to the team, then we'll just kick you out. Because this is not like we don't owe this to you. We're both bringing hopefully bringing value to each other in this forum. And so, yeah, there's there has been, you know, some times where I've had to message people and be like, hey, like, I think you could have written that message in a slightly more thoughtful way that didn't upset the person that spent a lot of time trying to make that work for you. And often they're like, yeah, sorry, I was just a bit of a hurry. You know, I think people realise quickly. So, yeah, those are probably some of my biggest tips. And then also, the biggest piece is probably knowing when to change your strategy, when to turn it off. You know, your community strategy won't always be the same. And I think at Monza, we started to see sort of like coming up against the limits of what like an online forum could do for the product development, some of these sort of like feedback cycles that Monzo used really effectively early on. So yeah, your community strategy will change. And it's really important that you don't just stick with it for, you know, just for emotional reasons.

Eric: So let's come back to the topic of creativity and your ability and, you know, there kind of seems to be this class of brands. And I think a lot of it comes down to the talent within those companies and I was pointing at you, but also the culture around them. But you know, you all at yonder have been able to kind of, you know, month after month, whatever it is kind of come up with really interesting things. You know, you mentioned that and if it was, you know, terms and conditions are kind of that manifest so that you had people right, which I didn't even know about some of my other favourites are how you became the unofficial sponsor of the queue. At Wimbledon, you ran a campaign over the summer to make British people love the rain, which is very funny, especially as an expat kind of trying to learn and understand the nuance of British culture. You've, you've bought out of home ads that are strategically positioned next to another big credit card, and they're out of home ads. So, you know, how was this sausage made? How are you able to kind of do this consistently, what are the biggest contributing factors,


Tom: I would say that probably one of the biggest things for me is having been given that creative licence from Tim, CEO, like, I think he is so on board with us being really creative, he's not obsessed, and I've worked in organisations where there's this obsession with marketing measurement. And if you can't measure something effectively, then it doesn't get done. And there is definitely a role for that type of, you know, approach and different parts of your marketing strategy. But I actually find it to be quite restrictive, and in other elements, and so I think having that blessing has given me a lot of room to really push out, you know, the team internally or push myself push agencies to have a lot of fun with it. Because, you know, in terms of the way we approach our marketing strategy, we, we do all the things that maybe typical marketing teams do, but then we just have a budget for, you know, sort of like campaigns, we just want to push live, and I'm really trying to set the culture within the team at yonder, I was like, I want to do one of these every month, I want to, you know, I want us to come up with something interesting, that gets people what's happening to their friends. And the biggest thing is not being obsessed with If connecting the dots between like yonder his product and the campaign, because I think that can also be quite restrictive as well, like, oh, will, you know, if we're a food delivery app, we can't do this, because it doesn't make people want to order more food. And so I'm like, Well, as always, with this sort of a very loose connection, you know, for the Make It Rain campaign, the whole thing was, you know, the sun will let us down again. And so yonder is gonna swoop in and save the day. So every time it rains, we're gonna give away free stuff. And so what we really want it to do is associate, you know, people to associate Jana with being fun, and rewarding people with like things in the like, in their day to day, which if you really do want to draw a connection to yonder, who's pretty closely drawn to like, what our product does anyway, so without having to spell it out. So yeah, that the stunts and stuff are, you know, a really enjoyable part of what we do. We can do those things, because I think we've been good at getting other parts of our marketing strategy working really well. And this is complementary to that this is not the only way that we grow our business. If it was, then I, you know, I would say that it's probably not the right approach. But yeah, in terms of the, you know, the creativity part of it, like, it is just a lot of throwing ideas out. It's like, trying to tap into the zeitgeist in picking the moment that we think people will relate to the one was the rain, it rained a lot in August, and sort of later July, and people like, oh, man, I really missed out on I really missed out on my summer here. And we thought, okay, there's something in that. And with Wimbledon, as well, it's the whole point of, you know, sponsoring, the key was that you can buy tickets to Wimbledon, if you, you know, really wealthy and you want to just buy them. But you know, yonder is not a product for these people. We're a product for the average Londoner. And so we jumped into queue with everyone else and brought, you know, croissants and all these things along. So there will be, you know, some elements of consistency through these campaigns, which is yonder should always consistently come across as being, you know, just an enjoyable brand to engage with whether you're a customer or not. And we should always be sort of rewarding people in some aspects. And I think we're going to try and, you know, we're going to try and do this every month for as long as we can.


Eric: So funny that you said that had tried to get the team to do one of these every month because that was exactly my approach when I was at 11 Fs. And as you heard, because we were talking with Varun, before we pressed record. We're doing that here at rival though it's much harder when you don't have a budget. But you know, I used to talk about it at 11 Fs as 11, FS did a thing, ideas, and actually setting an OKR with the media marketing team about having one of those I think it was every month, it might have been once a quarter. But the idea there was again, it's not tied to lead generation. It's not tied to revenue. A lot of things were but this purposefully wasn't. It was about can we do things that show up in the industry in a way where for 11 Fs it was financial service professionals. That was our audience for rival of course, it's marketing professionals, where marketing professionals say to each other or like you said WhatsApp each other to say, Hey, did you see that thing that 11 Fs that rival did and you know, I think like creativity because it's the you know, connection of things that happen have been connected before inherently, it's as much if not more art than science, but I think the culture of top down from the CEO and then you to your team, giving people the permission and priority of hey, this is an important thing for us. That's a huge part of what gets it done. I know everybody's always looking for the is it a 7020 10? Framework? What's the meeting, I need to schedule every week? The tactic, but the cultural shift of, I want you to do this, to tell people it's a priority, but also give them permission. You had a call, I think it was last week with the CEO of a pretty big technology company in the IFS space. And his question was, how do I how do we do more kind of certainty guerrilla type campaigns. And we talked for a while, but my biggest thing was like, have you made that a priority for the marketing team, because like, you're the CEO, if you tell people, that's what you want, chances are, they're going to come up with a lot more and probably pretty good ideas. And the other thing is, especially marketing people, but even people in other disciplines, they like to be creative, you know, it can be one of the perks, and one of the best parts of whatever's happening that month, just to let people brainstorm that stuff. And even if some of it doesn't come to life, I do think there's a positive cultural impact as well.


Tom: Oh, without a doubt, and I think one of the biggest things I've tried to shelter the rest of the marketing team from so we've got three others in the marketing team, one sort of like general associate, and she works on a bunch of different bits and pieces, we've got a PR and comms lead. And then we've got a content lead. And I think one thing I've tried to show performances is having to feel like they have to drive growth for the business, and they have their directly their work has to, you know, be draw a line to new members signing up for yonder, obviously, that this needs to work, you know, bigger, if you zoom out as a business as to work, but that's really on me and not on them. And so I think hopefully what that can do is give them a lot more space to be creative, and just do things that people will enjoy. And ultimately, like, I think people forget the whole purpose of sort of, like, creativity, and what actually works in life, he's like, people just will engage with the things that they enjoy, that they find funny, or they. And so that sort of has been the premise for us is that, you know, we want to drive, you know, newsletter subscribers, and, and actually, we saw probably a couple of our biggest weeks of growth ever during this campaign. So to say that it doesn't drive growth, I think as well, it's also a bit short sighted. But the goal is, you know, an actually, maybe a good example of this is Emily, who runs our PR, you know, for this campaign, the one she didn't make it rain campaign was was her idea. And with Lois in our content team, and they came up with it, we didn't actually generate a lot of PR from this. And I think coming out of it, she was like, ah, you know, it's a bit of a shame that it didn't quite see QPR. And I was like, Yeah, but like this campaign was successful for a dozen other reasons for us. And so I think, also really important to take the pressure off of, you know, your team's only want to meet the KPI that they think that they're responsible for in their role and to actually, you know, build campaigns that will will make the whole company more successful and the marketing more successful, rather than like, I should only do a campaign that works for PR, or only works for our organic, social, or whatever that might be.


Eric: God, I was just thinking, There's no way that this is happening at AmEx, or chase, or any of those kinds of big incumbents in your space are really a lot of the financial services and probably other categories as well. And, you know, for us, and I feel so lucky to be able to do this, like these conversations as part of my job. But I think one of the benefits that we have is like, we kind of sit on both, we sit on the fence in the industry between kind of the challengers and the startups and scaleups. Like you and then you know, we did have MasterCard on the CMO, MasterCard on the podcast as well. And just the contrast is fascinating. And I think there's something that people can learn from each other. So, Tom, I know we're almost up on time. Let's do a quick lightning round. So quick, you know, fast, quick turn answers on these. What was the first marketing job you ever had?


Tom: Um, I think if I if I really think about it, my my, my dad used to run out, we still run the newspaper story, my hometown in Crookwell. In Australia, and Once Upon a Time with a couple friends of mine, we had to go and deliver a flyer to every single home in my town to sort of like, you know, 1500 2000 people. It took us a whole week we did it after work every day. Probably my first ever foray into marketing. If I really think about it. It was brutal. It took us so long to do we had to put this envelope through every single person's house. So yeah, that was probably where it all began.

Eric: So you started started in direct mail. Yeah, exactly. What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?

Tom: I got some advice, a few years ago to in meetings to be the last person to speak. And I give this advice to a lot of people and obviously not everyone can be lost to speak in a meeting but it's particularly useful for people who are I would say excited is maybe the way describe them and They're really keen to get their ideas out first. If you are the last person to speak, you'll give everyone else in the room more opportunity to speak. And then also more strategically, if you're the last person to speak, and you have the most information before you can give your opinion. So I think it's really important that you can give quieter people more opportunity, more space to speak out. But you know, if you want to look at that through a more selfish lens, and you know, maybe it's like similar to playing poker, if you're the last person to to play your hand, then you actually have the better odds and you have the most information. So being it's a really useful piece of advice that will work in any industry in any role really
have that? What's the best brand campaign you've seen recently seen a few
on the sort of tube and about flora is doing one at the moment with sort of like skipping the cow, which is quite clever. There's a Hayman's gin, I think it was we're doing some stuff around Gina? Well, I really like these brands that actually are very confident about their product. And they're very openly, you know, so I saw a bus stop the other day, and I don't remember the ad, but it said, like, you know, there's not an award for this sector. But if there was we'd win it. And I just really sort of like, am drawn to that kind of confidence in products where I'm like, You know what, like, if you really think it's that good, then maybe I'll give it a go. So, yeah, any of those sort of like challenger positions, I'm just really drawn to obviously, you know, it's sort of like, it fits well, with a lot of stuff we've been trying to do with the ANOVA as well.


Eric: Yeah, it's fascinating. You never hear the word confident, turned around when you talk about brands, but it's so true. What is one marketing tool that you can't live without?


Tom: Me, you know, I was thinking I was trying to come up with like something clever or awesome. Honestly, I think one of the best things that we have done with yonder is setting up braids. And using that as a tool that it has genuinely changed the way that we do marketing and was a huge problem when I was at once or unwise, we never really got our CRM stuff set up properly. And we committed early on to doing this long before we needed it. And I'm so so so thankful we are it's given us a crazy amount of flexibility with the way we want to speak to customers. It ties in so nicely with everything else that we're doing and all the different systems we have very boring answer all admittedly, but we would be lost without it. So yeah, yeah, it's such great tool.


Eric: I mean, not not boring for I guess a marketing nerd like me, we're actually bringing them in on one of our clients and working on kind of the Partnership Programme over there. So you know, I think some of that stuff maybe not as sexy as kind of the, you know, the two Bad's and the gorilla activations but man so important, like the foundation? Yeah, for modern marketing. Yeah, genuinely. Lastly, what is one thing people should do differently after listening to this episode?

Tom: Ah, gosh, I mean, obviously, it just depends on so many different things around a business, I think, look, if you're, if you're a founder, and you're listening to this in, you know, giving your marketers room to be creative, I think is a really important, you know, learning and something that I think Tim has just done so, so well, in terms of empowering the whole organisation, the whole marketing org yonder. If you're a marketer, I would say, you know, don't be shy about getting very early stage into products. And there's a huge opportunity there that you can feed, put your fingerprint on a product that can can hopefully grow into something very successful. So yeah, there's probably you know, something in here, maybe for depending on the different stage you're at as business. Hopefully, it's something useful.


Eric: Tom, thanks so much. It's been great.


Tom: Yeah, thanks so much. Eric may love the podcast. Keep it up. Cheers.


Eric: Scratch is a production of rival. We are a marketing innovation consultancy that helps businesses develop strategies and capabilities to grow faster. If you want to learn more about us, check out wearerival.com If you want to connect with me, email me at  eric@wearerival.com or find me on LinkedIn. If you enjoyed today's show, please subscribe, share with anyone you think might enjoy it. And please do leave us a review. Thanks for listening and see you next week.

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