Reece Matthews & Carl Hewitt: DigitalDinos [Interview]

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Stef Nienaltowski met with Carl Hewitt and Reece Matthews, two of the founders of the digital marketing company DigitalDinos, at their Lakeside office and discussed with them where they had got to in terms of launching their business and creating a pipeline of customers in this most competitive of industries.

Their aims and values set them apart from other companies in this sector, and they are building an exciting new business that Stef is sure will succeed.

Stef Nienaltowski: Good afternoon, I'm sat here talking to Carl Hewitt, the managing director of DigitalDinos, and Reece Matthews, the Co-Founder and Director of the same company. DigitalDinos are a digital marketing agency, so good afternoon guys.

Carl Hewitt: Good afternoon Stef.

Reece Matthews: Good afternoon Stef.

SN: So, I don't mind who takes the lead on this, can you tell me how you came together as DigitalDinos, and what each one of you separately brings to the company as value?

CH: Yeah sure, so we came together just about a year and a half ago now. The company was actually set up in a pub in Cosham, and we, myself and Reece, met through a mutual friend called Hayden who is also part of the company, and we realised our skills aligned. Hayden had a history in web design and hosting, Reece was really great at tech stuff and hosting, marketing, graphic design, things like that, and I had a background in social media. We realised our skills aligned, and started the company from there with the aim of helping out smaller businesses, as well as supporting the bigger businesses by cutting out the rubbish and focusing on return on investment, and getting results for people through digital marketing. So that's how we got together.

SN: And Reece, your background therefore is different from Carl's, as Carl was just saying?

RM: Yeah, so my background is predominantly websites, coding, all that sort of area, and I've since dabbled in marketing and suddenly taken a route into digital marketing. I've just finished my apprenticeship at Unloc, so I'm just moving on from that now and looking forward to my own company, and taking that forward.

SN: Brilliant, and how many other members of the company are there?

CH: We've got a team of 4 altogether. Obviously, there's myself and Reece, and Hayden who's the third Director, and also someone called Joe Lea, who's actually my best friends since we were three or four, and we started rubbish businesses together in our bedrooms when we were younger, and now he works for us three days a week, so it's really exciting.

SN: Excellent, now, I don't know a lot about your particular market place, but I know some of that, and I know it's very competitive. What makes you guys different from other companies in your space, and particularly what do you offer that maybe's different from the run of the mill?

RM: I think you've hit the nail on the head there, it is definitely a competitive marketplace, and we knew that when we start out. It's just constantly evolving, and we just wanted to make sure that we were coming in from a fresh new angle, working with students, ensuring that we're always up to date, and that we're using some of the latest and greatest technology, and just making ourselves stand out that little bit more from the traditional marketing agencies.

CH: And just to build on that, it's the fact as well for us that we found working on other ventures together in the past, that it's so expensive and time consuming to digitally market a business, there's a lot of smoke-and-mirrors in the marketing industry, and we were to just come in and give a sensible price, very clear and transparent, we break down our hours exactly where we are spending our time, and why we are charging you X amount, and get you the results we can. And we say to you, if you don't think you're getting results, then you're more than welcome to say "see you later" - that's all we're interested in is getting you guys the results, we don't expect you to pay us for nothing.

SN: Indeed. So, can you give me maybe an example of one of the offerings that you offer the companies that you work with at the moment?

CH: Sure, so, a company that we don't work with currently, but we did work with, and was one of our flagship clients almost, was really really great to work with them, was the Chocolate Lounge. We did their social media almost from the ground up when we met them, got them to the #1 ranked cafe in the UK on Facebook, which was really great, and in their first couple of weeks with us, we created something called the Chocablock club, which was only available through Facebook, so it's really easy to track the return, sent out vouchers to people that signed up, and I think they made 4-times return on investment in the first month, and it was just from there. Great to work with them.

SN: Wow, great story! So, any industry you'll work in? You're talking about a retail one there, but do you work in any industry?

RM: Yeah, it's pretty open at the moment, we try to adapt how we work to each industry, because every industry works differently, they all have different objectives, it's just making sure we sit down with the company, and work towards what they're working towards. So, in terms of industry it's pretty open at the moment.

CH: Yeah, we've got bigger aims like we say from working with Lakeside here to make their app, to independent little cafes to do the social media. We want to support everyone.

SN: Excellent. And if I talk about where we're going, typically businesses look out 12, 18, 24 months. If we were to do that with DigitalDinos, what offerings can you either plan to deliver to the market, or are planning to deliver to the market over the next 12 months?

CH: Long term, our plan is almost to be a one-stop-shop for everything digital marketing. Currently, it's things like branding, graphic design, the social media and apps and websites as well, with a bit of hosting along with that, but we plan to develop that into things like newsletters, e-mail marketing, things that we're starting to do now, and other various parts of digital marketing, so you can come to us and say "I want this, this and this", almost pick it off menu style, and in terms of a long-term plan we're doing a new business plan now. We've had quite a lot of changes recently, so everything's a bit up in the air, and that is probably within the next three or four sections we're doing is the three-year plan part, so we're trying not to think about it at the moment, but it's all up in the air and changing, so as I say as a basic, it's a one-stop-shop.

SN: Indeed, and of course technology itself is changing, the way the market is changing. Do you actually keep ahead of that yourselves, how do you keep abreast of the technological changes?

RM: Yeah, I think because part of that plan moving forward for the next three to five years is that technology is, like you say, constantly evolving, and we want to be ahead of the game. We want to start offering services such as drones, live-streaming from completely different angles, virtual reality, all that sort of thing, adapting it into marketing and making it work for businesses. So, what a lot of businesses might not think could work for them, showing them new opportunities, bringing them something new to the table that's innovative and could work.

CH: There's a great story isn't there in America, I've mentioned before in another conversation, that a wedding planning agency use VR not so much as marketing tools but sales tools, so they bring you into a room like this, and you've planned a wedding with them before, and they put a VR headset on you, and the music's playing, your band, all your guests are there, and you walk around your wedding, and that's how they sell it to you. And it's brilliant, people use it like that, and that's sort of what we want to be is pioneering and innovative with the new technologies.

RM: Thinking outside the box really.

CH: Exactly, yeah.

SN: I think bringing value to your customers is still a traditional saying, but it's still very true in your market. So lastly then, fascinating to see where you've come from, and where you are now and where you're planning to go. I take the point your three-year plan is almost out of the cooker, what do you see as your biggest hurdles to actually achieving your ambitions?

CH: I think personally for us, as you touched on at the start, is the competitiveness in the market, but for myself and Reece the biggest problem we've faced is just, almost a balance between sales and doing the work, so we need to make sure we are growing in proportion, and just develop our own sales skills better. Like I say, we started this to help people, and it's quite hard to sell to people when you're trying to help, because it's always misconstrued as a hard sale, and "oh it's this guy again". So, we're trying to develop a way to get our message across a bit easier, and say that we're not here all about trying to take everyone's money and give you some results, we want to see you do better and work alongside you, and that almost hinders us in a way, because we find it harder to sell to people. But it's just so competitive as well that we need to be able to get over that.

RM: I think it is that, our skillsets did align together but the one gap for us was the sales. When you start a business, you have to learn new things, and part of that for us was learning how to sell, and not being that annoying person ringing up 24/7 trying to get a call. I think that was our issues, but we're working on that.

CH: We have improved admittedly, which I'm really happy about, everyone in the team; Joe, yourself, me and obviously Hayden, have all really improved on it which is great, but we're still not quite there.

SN: It takes time doesn't it! A couple of last things from me then. First of all, it's a pleasure to be associated with you, and I'll look forward for Shaping to work with you over the coming weeks and months. If anyone listening to this, or reading the transcript on the website or our Friday newsletter, wants to get in touch with you, what is the best way of them actually getting in touch with DigitalDinos?

CH: There's a number of ways; straight through our website we've got contact forms and a live-chat function, so if any of us are at work which we usually are 24/7, you can find us on the live-chat. Social media, twitter, send us a message on Facebook, you can find us all over the place.

SN: Ok. Carl, Reece, I wish you the best of luck, and I look forward to coming back and talking to you in a few months’ time and seeing how you're getting on, but thank you for today.

CH & RM: Brilliant, thank you Stef.


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