Kenny Soto Logo 2020
Interview with Joel Garthwaite – Marketing to Home And Garden Customers Isn’t Easy – Episode #95

If you work in e-commerce, you need to listen to this podcast interview.

Joel Garthwaite is the CMO of Harbour Lifestyle, the UK’s fastest-growing outdoor furniture brand. With 10 years of experience working with global companies, Joel specializes in paid media programming, demand generation, data analytics, PR, and more. He has a proven track record not just in the DTC space—developing and leading world-class marketing teams across B2B and B2C.

He has also advised and led multiple companies across tech, commodities, and finance through successful IPOs.

Prior to moving client-side, he worked in the agency space too—helping clients like Nike, Nestlé, Shell, AstraZeneca, and more.

Questions and topics we covered include:

  • The differences between selling commodity/impulse purchase products versus luxury products.
  • The different methods to use to build trust when your business doesn’t have social proof.
  • The right tactics to use to gain more product reviews and UGC.
  • Is the single-channel strategy dead in the world of e-commerce marketing?
  • How is Joel’s team doing customer research and customer discovery this year?
  • Why do marketers need to have a strong awareness of macro events in culture and news?
  • What Joel looks for in potential marketing hires.
  • How can CMOs stand out as candidates when being evaluated by hiring managers at the c-suite level (CEOs, executive recruiters, etc.)?

And more!

Full Episode Transcript:

Kenny Soto 0:46  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the People Digital Marketing podcast with your host, Kenny Soto, and today’s guest, Joel garthwaite. Hi, Joe, how are you?


Joel Garthwaite 1:00  

Hey, Kenny, I’m well, thanks. Thanks for having me.


Kenny Soto 1:02  

So, I’ve done a little snooping on your LinkedIn profile in preparation for this interview. And before diving deep into all of the questions that I have for you today. Let’s just start off by getting some more context on you as a marketer, and as an individual. Can you tell us how you got into the world of marketing?


Joel Garthwaite 1:23  

Sure. It’s not. It’s not a hugely normal pathway, I would say, but maybe that makes it interesting. I don’t know. So I started off as a professional musician. So I trained as a classical sax often. Here, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. And then I did my master’s degree in classical saxophone, with Guildhall, which is a prestigious Music School here in London. And then I played professionally for 1015 years, with orchestras, groups, quartets, recording musicians, the BBC, etc. 


And, you know, I’m now the CMO of a luxury outdoor furniture company. So it’s really obvious that transition. So it’s come about really, I started a marketing agency whilst I was a musician because there was a gap in the market here. In the UK, for people who were finding it hard to get a leg up on Rumi within a very, very competitive industry, and to kind of make, make themselves a brand and make themselves bookable as a musician. 


So I started there to kind of, you know, use my intrigue of personal branding, digital branding, marketing as a whole, as a musician, because it’s a very, very hard industry to kind of get repeat work in, as you can imagine. 


So I started doing it with musicians. And then it grew from there into art organizations and venues and festivals. And then kind of from there was a weird pathway where I started kind of working for a friend of mine, actually, who I played sports with, and he owned a content marketing agency here in Cambridge. So I started working for his company, again, within marketing, but on the corporate side of things. 


And I kind of started there and worked on a few kinds of well-known clients and brands. And from there kind of just went boom, boom, boom through a couple of agencies getting bigger and bigger and bigger, working with bigger and bigger clients moving more and more away from the art side of things and more into the corporate world. mainly looking for PLCs rather than LCDs. And yeah, it kind of grew from there. 


And I kind of became kind of a little bit sought after, and people recommended me for a few things. And one thing led to another. Then I ended up at Public This a software company for a couple of years. And from there, started working with harbor lifestyle, which is, as you said, it’s a luxury outdoor furniture brand here in the UK. So yeah, not your obvious pathway of view, marketing degree, do a couple of marketing jobs, and then, you know, make your way to CMO is kind of happening much more naturally. But I think that’s kind of helped. I’ve got as a result of that. I’ve got a kind of much wider range of industry knowledge and you know, cross-sector experience and so forth. So, yeah, not your average journey. But that’s my.


Kenny Soto 4:33  

A couple of follows ups. But before I ask them, I’m starting to see a weird correlation. You’re not the first person to tell me that you were in music before you got into marketing and that’s kind of like the same path I had. I studied music theory in college before I got into marketing, so there’s a weird correlation there. For the listeners who don’t know the acronyms PLC Ltd, what do they stand for?


Joel Garthwaite 4:57  

So PLC is a publicly listed company. So are listed on the stock exchange. And LTD is a limited company, so a private company, so one that doesn’t have any shareholders. So I think you can call them different things in the States. But essentially, the framework is exactly the same. Yeah.


Kenny Soto 5:15  

Now, specifically with harbor lifestyle, you are not only in the e-Commerce Industry, but you are Ochs also a luxury brand. And from my understanding, there is definitely a stark difference between selling low-touch combined commodity products, if you will, versus luxury brands, akin to Chanel, if you will, not necessarily furniture, but just to paint the picture. When it comes to the difference or differences between low-touch and high-touch commodities versus luxury, can you paint the picture as to what those differences might be from the perspective of a marketer?


Joel Garthwaite 6:02  

Yeah, good question. I think those impulse purchases that you’re referring to, you know, the average order values, let’s call it under $100, just to keep it nice and round. You know, customers are prepared to take a punt on that kind of thing, you know, they don’t mind parting with that kind of cash. If it’s not the product that they hoped for, or the quality was dubious, or it didn’t quite live up to their expectations, they’re not too bothered about that, they might complain to the company, they might try and get a refund and make a return. Generally, they kind of just see it as a disposable purchase. 


Whereas with Harbor, our average order value is around $2,000 to about 1600 pounds here in the UK. So we expect them to do like a competitor brand to kind of really, really go through the motions really to kind of make a purchase that’s going to last them potentially for 10 years, 15 years, or most of our products are five-year guarantee. So it really is a kind of buy ones never think about it again kind of thing. 


So as a marketeer. It’s less impulsive, so the kind of campaigns and the collateral that you’re putting out there. I think we don’t even try and kind of pander to that market, you know, on the socials and things where, you know, they see something and get excited by it, you might do that with a parasol, or you know, something for your garden on a rug, that kind of thing. But, you know, if someone’s going to buy a $4,000 sofa set for their, for their yard, then they’re going to be spending a lot of time consuming your contents, looking at your trust signals. Looking at other people’s reviews, other people’s photos, the detail we have on your site, you know, we get asked some utterly bizarre questions, you know, the amount of detail that people require. 


So I think it’s just a very different approach from a marketing perspective. And one that we’ve kind of changed slightly since I’ve started, we were a little bit praying, spray, spray and pray, I should say, when when we start in terms of our channels, and you know, kind of we hadn’t pinned down demographic properly, you know, there hadn’t been any kind of workshops done to identify who our target market was and what that person might look like. And as we started that process, it was very, very revealing. 


And it allowed us to kind of really dig into that niche to allow us to create content and to kind of give them a user experience that kind of fitted, you know, the type of things that that type of person would want. So, for example, you know, the average age of our, of our customers is 45. That’s a very different place, we need to be placing those adverts and placing those paid media spend a different type of content, much more engagement with long-form content and blogs rather than the kind of snappy viral Tiktok kind of style content that you might be looking to produce for more some of those more impulse purchases that you mentioned earlier. 


So yeah, from a marketing perspective, kind of more data analysis of kind of who the customer is. A lot more liaising with customer services as well to kind of listen to kind of what the customers are saying. What questions they’re asking, making sure that we’re kind of doing everything that we can to give the information that we don’t have a store right? We are a purely online retail business. is with an average order value of $2,000. And, you know, we’re doing around $1.6 million in revenue per month. 


So we, you know, we customers place a lot of trust in us and you know, ordering without being able to sit on it, to see how comfortable it is to know exactly what color it is the kind of materials that we need to create, whether it’s video content, immersive kind of photography, situational photography, details down to the millimeter of what they need for their space, we’ve got to provide that. So I think it’s a long way of saying, you know, it’s a lot of attention to detail more than one. For those higher-order values, you use Chanel, as an example there, you know, Chanel is very much a luxury brand.


But again, you know, unless you’re, they’ve carved out a brand awareness and brand recognition and brand, positioning over the years, that has enabled them to essentially create whatever content they want, you know, because they’ve leveraged, you know, the type of people aware that close to the type of people that you want to smell like, you know, what is the smell of Chanel? What, what is it, and we’re very, very early on in that stage of our career, you know, with Harbor, you know, we’re under two years old, as a company. 


So we were carving out there kind of who we are as a brand, you know, making it recognizable within the market, but also at the same time trying to shift stock, because you can’t just spend the first two years or whatever going, Okay, we’re just going to tell, you know, customers who we are, what it feels like to own one of our products, you know, the type of people that we want owning these products, you just can’t do it, we still need to turn stock and generate revenue, otherwise, you know, none of us will be paid at end of every month. So it’s, it’s an interesting time, for sure.


Kenny Soto 11:52  

You mentioned trust signals. And that’s something that I hear quite often, with more mature brands, obviously, at the start of any marketing program, as a start-up of any business, you do want to have a focus on know, like, and trust, what doesn’t need to be in that order. But you want to make sure that your customer has all three of those things when it comes to generating those trust signals. When you have zero customers, what do you do to facilitate the growth of trust signals? How do you actually show social proof when no one’s bought in? No one’s bought a product? excuse? Me?


Joel Garthwaite 12:29  

Yeah, yeah, it’s an interesting position and one that, you know, most companies don’t all start like that, right? You know, whether you’re a t-shirt business selling on Shopify, or whether you’re a small SC retail, selling craft products, or whether you’re going in with $5 million worth of investment to start a furniture business, you essentially start with zero customers. And I think in those early stages, you’ve got to put a lot of emphasis on explanation. So that’s another explanation about who you are, as a company, make you seem real, you know, have a face to it. I mean, there are so many online stores. 


A slight aside, I’ve been looking to purchase some new camera lenses at the moment, because I do a lot of photography. And, you know, you see these camera lenses that are cheaper on certain e-commerce sites, but then you think are they real? The Trustpilot reviews or whatever review site they’re using? Is there a common language within those posts? might they be user-generated? Rather than, you know, actual customers? Have they got a physical address? And when you look at that address, does it take you to a real place? So is it just someone’s house in the middle of London? 


Are there spelling mistakes on the website, you know, all of those trust signals, which made me think this could be someone trying to scam me out of some money for something that is a high-value product? So what we’re trying to do with harbor is kind of stop that, to begin with, because it’s very easy. You know, we’re a real company in a real building with real staff selling real products and generating revenue and turning products. 


But who’s to know that that’s real these days, you know, we don’t have a warehouse if someone says, we do have a warehouse. We have several, but we don’t have a showroom. If someone says, can I come and sit on this sofa? Well, no. Is this sofa real? Yes. Now we’ve got hundreds of photos in all different situations. 


So there are things that we can do to kind of increase those trust signals early on, you know, better photography, immersive video content. If you do sell a physical product, where can people see it? You know, we toyed with the idea of creating kind of show homes across the UK. So instead of having a shop, where you know, a big flagship store that people could come and sit in is just hemorrhaging cash every day.


Create gardens in people’s homes where maybe they have a certain amount of our product It’s difficult to do in the US because of the size, but in the UK where everything’s within 300 miles, everything is drivable, within half a day, you can have your product in certain areas where people can go and sit on them. So yeah, you’re not coming into the store. 


But you could go see this Panama sofa set at a customer’s house in Bristol, or you could go see this massive parasol, which was selling for, you know, $1,500 in this house in Kent, for example. So, you know, to kind of give people the sense that, you know, these things are real, you can go and see them. So it’s making the most of what you want to have. 


And if you can bury down into who the customer is, and what they what is trust to them, you know, what, what does it mean to them, I think certain demographics are more trustworthy than others. And some, you’ve got to really earn your trust. There are also a lot of scammers within the industry that we operating, it’s very easy to spin up a Shopify store, call it something fairly similar to what exists already, and have essentially a mirror site. 


And so you know, that problem we encountered early on where people will kind of say, hey, this seems a bit too good to be true, you know, your, your manufacturing a product is very similar to one of the competitors that you have. Yours is cheaper, even though it’s still expensive, it’s cheaper. You’ve not got many reviews yet, you know, your your your addresses on an industrial estate. You know, what, what’s going on here, this kind of seems a bit too good to be true. Now, you know that that is the situation. 


That’s how we started, you know. So you’ve got to kind of build that trust with them and say, yeah, what you’re saying is absolutely correct. But let’s get on the phone, to begin with, rather than let’s just do everything via email and chat. And, you know, once you speak to us, and you realize, you know, we know absolutely everything about garden furniture. Now we can tell you what millimeter screw goes in here, what the powder coating is, and what the thickness of the cushions is, but then you know, we’re not just trying to scam people for money. 


We know everything about this industry. And also to kind of cover the story behind it. So, you know, the guys who launched harbor have been in the outdoor furniture industry for over 20 years combined. So there’s a huge wealth of experience, they’re trying to get that across to customers where, you know, we’re not just like, we’re not a drop shipping business, and we’re just going to we are manufacturing our own products. That’s why they’re cheaper. 


We’ve got fantastic factories. In the far east, we’ve got brilliant relationships with shipping companies. That’s why we’re offering it to the customer giving that value back to the customer. So yeah, maybe $500 cheaper for virtually what you’re seeing is the same product, but you’re not paying a middleman, you’re not paying someone else to kind of do things in a way that’s not cost-effective, effective. So yeah, trust is a difficult one. 


But I think transparency in those early stages, and giving people loads and loads of information, whether that’s through photography, video, phone calls, or whatever they need to make them feel comfortable. And then just encouraging people to review, you know, put real photos when products do when you do make that sale and someone has one of your products, do whatever you can to get them to review it to send a picture and post about it on socials tag you in it to kind of start to build that kind of repository of trust. It’s difficult, but yeah, it requires some volume. But it also requires kind of good customer relations with the people who buy the stuff.


Kenny Soto 18:29  

Or the nudges that you’re using to get these reviews, a combination of email, social SMS, like how exactly are you trying to push out these reviews?


Joel Garthwaite 18:40  

Yeah, so there’s a fair amount of automation in there, I would say we use two different kinds of trust partners. So we use Trustpilot. Because it’s like, certainly in the UK, it’s a very, very well known, you see those green stars and people kind of go, Okay, it’s a good benchmark for where we’re at. But Trustpilot has its limitations. You know E-commerce business is expensive. We pay around $600 a month for our Trustpilot for what we needed to do. 


And, you know, we’ve recently started to evaluate whether we’re seeing success there or whether we can look at something else. So I think Trustpilot is important, because of its kind of just market recognition. But we’re increasingly looking at other solutions. So we just installed it. We’re a Shopify Plus platform. 


So we’ve just installed an application called kendo, which is a review app, essentially. It’s $99 a month, and it is like massively more customizable, and has beautiful sliders and graphs. It has a question builder in there so people can ask specific questions, can post reviews, so it gives you much more manipulation of the kind of review content on your site. 


So I think yeah, kind of like the main recognition of a big party like a kind of Yelp or a kind of Um, Trustpilot or something like that is important. But for us, it’s kind of creating more meaningful review content. So we automate a lot of it through orders, you know, on dispatch on certain times, after products have arrived with customers, you know, you’re enjoying it, is it comfortable? You know, have you got any feedback, you know because our products are expensive, we hear about it before it gets to review. Normally, if something’s wrong with it, you know, they’re straight on the phone. doesn’t happen very often. 


But you know, they are very responsive. If you spend a lot of money and something’s not right, they’re quite entitled to tell you about it. And then for those maybe who are making slightly lower purchases, your rugs, your heaters, your accessories, side tables, you know, the kind of lower value purchases, they do need a little bit more nudging. I think just because, you know, it’s not the top of their priorities to send you a beautiful picture to go, Hey, you’re up this massive sofa set that completely transformed my life. 


Look at these family gatherings we can have around there now. Oh, my God, we’re so grateful for you. You don’t get that someone’s bought a rug. The rug has changed my life. So they need a few more nudges. But yeah, we utilize all the things you say that we don’t use so much. That’s not because we don’t think it’s a good channel, we think a great channel is more to do with how we can handle the workload. 


And the resource that we have to kind of keep on top of those things, cleanse the databases, we are a startup. So we’ve got to manage a resource, you in terms of marketing. So it’s a channel that we want to explore. But at the moment we’re not actively doing SMS.


Kenny Soto 21:37  

Before I dive into some career advice questions. My last question regards e-commerce marketing, and what you’re doing at Harbor has to do with channels. One of my favorite marketers I read his newsletter all the time. His name’s Nick Sharma, He recently wrote in a newsletter that single-channel marketing for e-commerce businesses is dead. Do you agree with that statement?


Joel Garthwaite 22:05  

Um, I mean,


Kenny Soto 22:09  

It should have a business focus on one channel first and hone in on that before they expand.


Joel Garthwaite 22:18  

I mean, yeah, I. So I think every business is different, and every kind of customer is different. And every product range is different. And you need to find which one of those channels resonates the best with your customer. So, you know, speaking from a harvest perspective, I mentioned that our demographic is around 45. 


That’s our kind of core. A 45-year-old female likes to have people around the house, likes to be the center of social gatherings, has kids, maybe they’ve grown up a little bit, and they’re now in school, like later on in school, they want to be the focus of the family. They want to be sharers of wealth. Now you have to think where do they live? Do they live on tick tock? Or do they live on Facebook? Or do they live on Instagram? Do they live on Google? And when those people are looking for something, what is the first thing they’re going to do? Well, for us, what we’ve discovered is the pathway to success, and I probably shouldn’t be sharing this because, you know, other people might copy it, but that’s fine. People consume a lot of content on Facebook for our audience. 


So they see a lot of ads, perhaps they don’t do loads and loads with them, but they see them, they click them, they look at the pictures, you know, they kind of spend a lot of dwell time on the site as a result of that traffic. But they end up converting through Google, you know, they end up converting through specific searches or brand campaigns, or so that’s one route. And then the second group is people who are really, really specific as to what they want. 


Aluminum corner group dining set, rising by a bit table, Wang, we need to make sure we are right at the top. If you know what you want, we need to be at the top because people haven’t got time to be scrolling to page two, page three. So for us, we do take a multi-channel approach, but we have a heavy heavy focus on paid media, heavy on Google spend heavily on paid social Facebook and Instagram. 


So I mean, as regards if it’s dead, all I can tell you is if you turn our Facebook advertising off, sales will drop by half. We’ve tested it, and we’ve done it right. So whilst you’re not seeing that reporting, perhaps in that way, you could see it before iOS 14 and all of the lovely things that happened as a result of that. Tested see what happens if you think that it’s not working for you turn it off, and see how that affects sales. If you’ve got enough data there so you can benchmark says month by month or quarter by quarter or however, you’re doing it. You’ll see it right there. 


And the other thing is to look at lead times. So we’ve got fairly long lead times for conversion on our product. So you know, we have a HubSpot report that I’ve set up where I can see by product line, you know, from the first touch to conversion, how long is that taking. So if we get a quiet day on sales, you know, perhaps we’ve done 10 15,000 pounds worth of sales instead of 50,000 pounds worth of sales, and people are going, something’s not working. Oh, my God, like turn the tap off. We’re spending and no one’s converting, you know, we’ve had a week off like massive spending and conversions haven’t been where they need it. 


But then you look into HubSpot. And you look at the average conversion time is between seven and 10 days, you think that that’s not a result of what’s happening today, as a result of what’s happening last week, so or even longer. So what was happening last week? Oh, well, it was the Queen’s Jubilee. And everyone was on holiday. And it was raining. And yeah, okay, so we had a lot of traffic on those days. And, you know, maybe they will convert you know, when when it’s time but you know, if it is hot, sunny day, you people expect the website to just go bang sales, garden furniture, let’s get outside. 


And whilst you will see a spike in the kind of products that have an immediate need, like, oh, I need some shade, I need a parasol. Yeah, but you won’t see those kinds of like sofa sets and things coming flooding in and hot days. Because, you know, people will be thinking about it that day, because they go as hard today, let’s get a sofa outside, and then in seven days’ time and see the purchase come through. 


So I think it’s Can you do a one-channel strategy? Yeah, you could. But I would be inclined to agree that you know, it’s risky. If you turn your Facebook off, if you turn off your referral programs, if you turn off all, your Instagram influence, relationships, and so forth, your sales are gonna dry up, right? The more places you are, the more chance you have of success.


Kenny Soto 27:03  

You brought up a good point when you mentioned the Queen’s Jubilee, which leads directly to my next question. But I’ll tee it up by giving more context as to why I’m asking it. I’ve previously had several guests who are specifically CMOS. Talk about how if you really want to be a great marketer, you have to understand the business that you’re marketing, and how does it generate revenue? 


How does it sustain itself over years? How do you gain market share in a very competitive industry, one could argue all industries are competitive when you’re new. When it comes to market conditions and or events that are happening in culture. To what degree of importance is it for a marketer to have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on outside of just their business ecosystem?


Joel Garthwaite 27:51  

Massively, and I don’t think that there’s a better example than garden furniture to kind of say how it’s a very responsive industry, I’ve worked a lot of I’ve worked a lot, worked a lot across different industries, from software to oil and gas to tobacco, pharmaceuticals, I’ve worked a lot of healthcare. And there is not one industry as reactive on a consumer level. As for Home and Garden, I’m pretty sure of it. 


So you get the kind of microclimates with it within, you know, the worlds you get these macro events, as you say, you know, COVID macro events 2020 2021 The biggest kind of amount of hits on Home and Garden website ever, ever, you know, like triple the number of volumes of these websites, and triple the amount of sales because everyone was at home, they needed stuff. 


They need to be comfortable whilst they couldn’t go out and do the things that they like to do. Therefore, bang, you know, Garden Home and Garden exploded. Now we’ve come down to a pre-pandemic level of traffic now. But during those two years, a lot of businesses spun up and went oh my god home and gardens making such massive margins, look at this traffic that it generates. And look, this Bs is amazing. 


And they all started and now they’re really feeling the pinch because they’ve set the businesses up to succeed during those normal and abnormal conditions. That’s not what it’s really like we’re back down to 2018 levels of stuff now. But yeah, that’s kind of a macro example of the kind of keeping your finger on the pulse because the thing that you could do is you could go a bit heavy and go with these demands, they’re just crazy. 


We’re going to order 400 containers of rattan. We’ve all we’re gonna order, you know, 100 containers of aluminum to keep up with the demand, and then it’s not real demand is like you got to think about the conditions around that. And once everyone has different Don’t, don’t, it’s so well made, you’re not going to need it again, you know, you can’t keep going back to the same customer going, buy another sofa, buy another one, you can’t, because you have, and there’s something badly has gone wrong with that. 


And then you get your micro-events, you know, like the Queen’s Jubilee. And being mindful of what competitors are doing around those promotions as well. Because it’s a very, very competitive market. And a lot of people are selling similar products. Sale is a big thing, more than any industry that I’ve worked in, within Home and Garden, you know, if someone’s in a sale, whether it’s a real sale or perceived sale, you know, Heike prices before and then drop them by the same and you end up the same thing, but because that looks like it’s 30% off people buy as a perceived sale, it happens a lot within Home and Garden. 


So it’s not only kind of keeping an eye on what’s happening culturally and politically, I think, you know, both the US and the UK have had a pretty rough time politically over the last few years. And environmentally, you know, I think there’s a lot going on, people are more mindful of sustainability. Now, you know, garden furniture is historically a very kind of carbon-hungry industry. 


So we’re trying to do things around that, you know, we’ve got the materials that we use, how we get products to the UK, what we do to offset carbon, we have to use certain things that are bad for the environment in order to get the longevity of the products, because you don’t want to be this kind of use ones and discard away thing. 


And I think there’s just more around a kind of what’s happening and how consumers and buyers are behaving and thinking, so having your finger on the pulse, which I think is the phrase that you use, you know, I spent a lot of time in the data, looking at trend data, looking at, you know, sales data, comparing it benchmarking it, taking it to kind of not so much market research, but you know, just speaking to some people that I value their opinions and picks, you know, where we were thinking of doing this, what do you think? 


And they go on out and do that? Yeah, that’s not the type of thing I’d be interested in you go okay, that’s a good marker. So yeah, it’s, it’s one of those industries that is incredibly reactive, the weather plays a big part in it as well, you know, the sun’s out, make hay while the sun shines, it’s kind of it’s the same for outdoor furniture to


Kenny Soto 32:28  

Have three more questions for you. What do you look for in potential hires?


Joel Garthwaite 32:36  

Hiring is very, very difficult at the moment, I don’t know what it’s like with you in the US. But in the UK, it’s just very, very difficult to get good quality people for a reasonable cost and to find people that are as energized about the product as the people already working there. I think once they’re in there for a while, they kind of get going. But what I look for is people who have a very kind of get-up-and-go attitude, they’re not the type of people who will look at a job description and go. But you’ve asked me to do something that’s not on here. 


So I’m not going to do that, you know, people who are kind of willing to roll their sleeves up, they have grit, they have determination, they show an eagerness to learn. Naturally, I’m, I’m interested in people who do have an eye on data. I think that it’s very, very important. And people who understand the reasoning behind making marketing decisions, rather than let’s make this cool campaign and say, Okay, what’s the purpose of its, you know, what we’re trying to achieve? 


What’s the benchmark for that? How much are we going to spend on it? How is it going to compare with other campaigns that we run? Is there a better way of doing it in people that were kind of a little bit more analytically minded, rather than just you need those really cool content creators who can just kind of come up with these amazing things and kind of go, Wow, I did not see that coming? But at the same time, you need those slightly more data-centric-minded people to kind of curb that and kind of work together. 


So yeah, people who are kind of just good quality talent. I mean, it’s very hard to find but and you know, someone to fit in, I think the cultural fit is very important. You know, no matter what business you’re in, what will work within one industry doesn’t net or even in one office, doesn’t mean they’ll work well in another. So trying to find that cultural fit is very important as well.


Kenny Soto 34:38  

When it comes to standing out as a potential CMO, what advice would you share with people who are applying for Head of Marketing and VP of Marketing CMO roles this year?


Joel Garthwaite 34:51  

I think really know your own mind. Really know, you know, get comfortable with what you believe. I think it’s very is within marketing to just consume a lot of information from different people. And you end up in this place where you kind of have you end up like this Frankenstein’s monster of the CMO, where you have a little bit of this guy, a little bit of this guy, a little bit of this guy. And it’s kind of like, you don’t really know what you believe you just listened to a lot of stuff. And I don’t know whether you feel the same. 


But there’s so much marketing content out that your thought leadership within marketing is very, very hard to kind of get a clearer perspective, and you end up thinking, How many ways are there to do this same thing? It’s like everyone is saying to do it in a different way. But this is the best way. And this is the best way. And I think ultimately, you just got to take a step back and know your own mind. And ultimately, be prepared to take risks and fail, as a result of you having your own integrity over the decisions that you make. 


You know, if you fail, if I say I think this is the best way to do it, we do it we spend a load of cash and it fails. Fine. I mean, as I tried, what I’m not going to do is a parody, you know, someone else’s approach and then learn that that has failed, you know, as well, it’s kind of rather fail my own way, take off. Yeah, be a magpie and, you know, pick people’s brains and take everything in. But ultimately, you’ve got to be concrete and clear in your own vision. A lot of the content that I view online, I’m not a massive content producer myself, you know, I don’t kind of pretend to have time to do that kind of thing. 


But it’s muddled, I find it muddled, you know, you get some people with a very clear raise on their toy, you know, people like Chris Walker, who is, you know, very, very clear. You know, he’s made the same points for a long time he hammers it home, he’s very clear in his own mind about what does and doesn’t work. And that is what you need. 


Are these people? Yeah, but you could do this. Yeah. But maybe this was a good point it’s kind of us all good. But I think yeah, being very, very clear. So when you’re in interviews, for example, you know, if someone says, you know, what, what would you do with the pipeline that looks like this? You know, what would you do if we were trying to achieve a, but we only have the, you know, being clear on those things, rather than going Mikey has seven different approaches. Just go with the one that you think is best, because marketing is, unfortunately, a data-led science. And the data speaks for itself, you’re going to have to try things you’re going to have to fail, and you probably are going to have to spend a boatload of cash in order to realize what doesn’t work.


Kenny Soto 37:32  

My last question is hypothetical. If you had access to a time machine, and you can go back 10 years into the past, knowing everything you know, today, how would you accelerate the speed of your career?


Joel Garthwaite 37:45  

I don’t know invest in Bitcoin. You’re not the first person. I mean, it’s pretty low today, you can start today. To accelerate it. I mean, I think it’s about trends. It’s about kind of future technology and future behaviors, more than anything, kind of like being ahead of the game is important, like realizing what customers and consumers want before they realize it themselves. 


And being bold enough to kind of implement some of those changes at a time when no one else is. So you know, for example, you know, within, I’ll speak about the current role that I’m in rather than previous roles. It’s quite normal on home websites to have kind of comparison charts. Imagine you’re gonna buy a laptop, you go into the Mac store, and you go, I don’t know which one to get, I know I want a Mac, I want to compare a MacBook Pro 16 inch with an M one chip with an Intel chip, non-Retina display, whatever. 


And you get those comparison things right. And you’ve got Okay, that’s made me completely clear which one I need to purchase, I can see the price at the bottom, and I can work out the payoffs for performance versus cost. That’s the one I need. Now, that doesn’t happen so much within Home and Garden, it’s very kind of old school. So you know, we’ve got something like 20, or 30 Different sofa sets on our website. 


We know in the office, we know all of the surfaces intimately in the same way that if you’re an apple engineer, you know those laptops intimately. However, as a consumer, you have to put yourself in their foot in their place and go, Where do I start here? Okay, so maybe we start with a kind of product identifier, and they can kind of put some criteria in Okay, that’s one basic thing. And then maybe we could actually do even more than that. 


And do like, you know, on the Mac bookstore, where you get your three columns down the screen, and you can see them side by side. And does it have this? Yes. Does this? No, it has to have this. Yeah. Okay. Well, that doesn’t happen at the moment. That’s just one example. But I think, you know, being ahead and being not afraid to do those things, even though it’s a boatload of work to kind of code that in and it’s not normal. 


It doesn’t come with a Shopify theme, and it’s not an app extension, because that’s the thing with E-commerce as well as you know, it relies pretty heavily on maybe One or two e-commerce platforms like Magento or Shopify, and people with limited development experience, you know, they just pick a theme, they bolt on a lot of apps, and they wonder why their websites really slow. 


And you know why it’s not performing the way that it should and why the consumer experience is not as good and the conversion rate is low. And it’s like, well go back to what they need and what they want. Why are people bouncing from these pages? Are they not giving them the content they need? So yeah, it’s very much I think, 10 years before, if I could have, you know, maybe foreseen things from more of a consumer point of view, you know, look at where things were heading digitally, the technologies. 


I mean, I’m looking ahead now, you know, companies are using AI in a really creative way, visualizing products in their own home, you know, how they can present colors and change colors, you know, you can use your mobile phone to completely transform your house, putting new floors in change the color of walls, you know, where are we now? So in five years’ time, we’re not building technology on the site, that, you know, is going to be redundant and has been surpassed by the thing. 


So I think, yeah, 10 years ago, crystal ball, maybe just looking at technology far ahead as you possibly can. You know, I think I was speaking to someone the other day about mobile phones and how much time people were spending on mobile phones. And they kind of casually said, Yeah, but they’ll be gone in 10 years, you know, everything will be in your glasses or contact lenses, and you know, you’ll have a little implant or something that kind of wired into your jawbone. So you don’t need a phone anymore. And I do think that’s true. And I don’t know, but yeah, it’s technology, it’s heading that way. Right. So, you know, maybe just kind of being a bit more ambitious with, you know, your predictions of the future. That’d be good.


Kenny Soto 41:50  

Before we close, I just want to make a slight remark to a quick remark to the listeners, for anyone listening who’s interested in sci-fi, check out Blade Runner 2049. And there’s a specific portion of that movie that I’m I want you to like check out which is, there’s like a holographic billboard. 


And for the most part, this one scene is probably like 40 seconds long. But it’s the scene that I remember from this movie because when I saw it, I was like, we’re definitely going to have personalized out-of-home advertising one day, there will be ways to leverage geofencing and other signals that when you are driving past that billboard, what you see, it might not be holographic, but what you see is different from what another driver sees. It’s a theory that I’ve been thinking about. And I just had to say it, thanks to what you were talking about now, Joel, if anyone wanted to find you online and say hello, where can they go?


Joel Garthwaite 42:53  

Yeah, I tried to kind of keep a fairly low online presence, which is ironic for a digital marketer. But yeah, you can hit me up on LinkedIn. Or you can check out our website which is harbor lifestyle, but Kota UK. Yeah, I tend not to do so many socials, mainly because I’m so isn’t well, anyway, I mean, you know, the amount of content that you kind of have to create and you spend on that platform is very little time. 


And like I said earlier, I’m not at the point yet where I can just because I’m so hands-on, because this is a startup. I’ve always worked apart from a few very large clients I’ve worked with in the past where you know, they’re very robust and kind of well established. I’ve always been in that kind of startup mode. So it’s very hard to kind of create that kind of thought leadership content, as much as I would like to. Yeah, so yeah, LinkedIn is probably your best bet.


Kenny Soto 43:50  

Thank you so much for your time today. And thank you to you the listener for listening to another episode of the people’s Digital Marketing podcast and believe it or not, if you haven’t checked it out already, we are more than 90 episodes this is episode 95. Five more and we are on Episode 100, which is really awesome. So again, I just have to express my gratitude to both mutual and to the listeners for listening to another episode. And as always, I hope everyone has a great week. 



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