This month’s Spotlight Interview is with our brilliant Senior Partnerships Manager – James Davies
James has been with us for nearly a whole year now, which has flown by. James works across our telecommunications & automotive clients. I caught up with James to ask him some questions about working in Partnerships and his time in lockdown.
How did your career start in partnerships & marketing?
My first role was at subscription-based recipe box service. I was their first employee so was involved in a bit of everything- packing boxes, marketing, social posts, customer service- a really broad spectrum and a great way to get an insight across a whole business. After the team had grown a bit bigger, I started to settle into the role of marketing. As it was a start-up company when I worked there, we soon discovered how valuable Acquisition Partnerships were to gain a wider customer base. I had to find partners that were compatible with our brand, we would be able to complement each other. We did lots of giveaways of high value products and we worked with companies like ‘Naked Wines’ who already had the customer base that was the perfect target market for us, which helped us get more sign ups. This worked really well, and I soon decided that I enjoyed a role focussed more on Partnerships which led me to my role as a Senior Account Manager at Mando-Connect.
Who would be your dream brand to work with?
Without a doubt, the brand I would love to work with is ‘Land Rover’. They do all sorts of really cool work around the world. They sponsor the Rugby World Cup, Invictus Games, they work with the Army, and they have partnered with a number of organisations who are working to assist people and the environment in really innovative ways. From life-saving conservation work to pioneering research expeditions- they pick their partners by looking for who wants to create change, and positively impact people and the planet for years to come- which I think is a great company ethic. Here is a link to their ‘Humanitarian & Conservation Partnerships, which are really interesting and you may not know that Land Rover are involved: https://www.landrover.co.uk/sponsorship/humanitarian-and-conservation/index.html
It’s a great British brand that strikes a chord with me. I was supposed to be travelling around Scotland in one for Easter this year, that unfortunately this had to be cancelled due to Covid-19, so hopefully I can get that booked in again soon & one day I will own my own!
What has been your favourite partnership you have worked on whilst at Mando Connect?
I work on the ‘VeryMe Rewards from Vodafone’ account at Mando-Connect, so I am often looking for new brands to work with and to feature on the app. I enjoy finding the smaller brands that are a new company and offer them this great platform, then work up the offer and get to see it go live. I recently worked with ‘Wine List’ who are a new company, that have lots of cool products and can offer great discounts- we recently ran 30% off for Vodafone customers that was a great success.
‘VeryMe Rewards from Vodafone’ also just won the ‘Best Use of CRM’ Award at ‘The Loyalty Magazine Awards 2020’ which was fantastic & a brilliant accolade for us all. You can read a bit more about the awards here, which is the first Award Ceremony I have attended virtually!
If you could be given a new skill/ talent overnight- what would it be?
I would love to wake up and be able to play the bagpipes- this would be an impressive party trick! I did actually nearly purchase the bagpipes after Burns Night- luckily the order didn’t go through on Amazon, otherwise I would be a very proud owner but I don’t think our neighbours would be too happy! I would also love to be able to play the piano…this may be a bit more socially accepted!
Where is the best place you have travelled too?
I’ve been really lucky to have travelled to some really cool places. I like adventure holidays, so I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro & been mountain climbing in the Swiss Alps. I also did the class ‘Gap Yah’ and went to the jungle in Borneo, which was fantastic. One place that was really spectacular that I would recommend is the Arctic Circle in Finland, I went there about 5 years ago and stayed at a remote centre, where we could go dogs sleighing, go out in the clean fresh snow at 5am, see the amazing lakes-it was breath-taking and smelt amazing!
Could you tell us about a Loyalty Scheme/ Brand Partnership that you think is really impressive?
I was really impressed with the ‘Games of Thrones’ and ‘Diageo’ partnership. Diageo did a Limited Edition Game of Thrones inspired Single Malt Whisky collection for the return of the final series in April 2019. The collection featured eight scotch whiskies, each paired with one of the iconic Houses of Westeros, as well as the Night’s Watch, giving fans ‘an authentic taste of the Seven Kingdoms and beyond’. It’s a great example of a perfect and really fun partnership between two brands. As soon as I saw it, I wanted the whole collection- which is a sign of a great promotion!
Are you part of any loyalty schemes yourself?
I am, I have discovered a great one as during lockdown we have bought a Miniature Dachshund called Dougal- who has been a brilliant addition to the Lockdown experience! We have been using the ‘Pets at Home VIP’ from ‘Pets at Home’ loyalty scheme and it’s been great.
You can set a profile up for your pet on the app and they give you 10% off for online and instore purchases, which is needed when kitting a house out with everything you need for a puppy (which is a lot!) and they also have lots of content in the app with a welcome pack and puppy training tips. It’s perfect to use a loyalty scheme that’s financially rewarding combined with useful content too. There has been an increase of 120% for people googling ‘Buying a puppy’ during lockdown, so I really recommend this loyalty scheme to all those people! 77% of the Pets at Home VIP members join loyalty programmes to benefit from discounts and offers- and I think the scheme really ticks those boxes. We use ‘YouGov’ to pull out these interesting insights- we use it for all of our data & insights at Mando-Connect, which helps us create great data-fuelled partnerships & rewards for our Clients.
As everyone is stuck at home, could you recommend a Netflix/Book/App you recommend?
I’ve just finished watching ‘McMillion$’ on Sky, which is a 6 part documentary about how the McDonald’s Monopoly game was rigged in America for over a decade- it’s a very funny & interesting I would definitely recommend it. If you are looking for a easier watch with lots of episodes….we’ve just re-watched all the episodes of ‘Monarch of The Glen’- it’s a old classic and is getting us ready for when we can visit Scotland again.
For a book, I have recently bought a BBQ, so have been reading ‘The BBQ Book’ by Jamie Oliver & ‘Hot Coals’ by Jaroen Hazebroek to try and make the most of the new BBQ and learn how to use it properly- I’ve loved it and we have had some great weather.
For the App- I would have to say ‘Pets at Home VIP’ from Pets at Home again…as it’s the app I have used the most during lockdown.
If you could do any job for just one day, what would it be?
I think it would have to be a Professional Rugby Player on Match Day for either Wales or The Lions. I’m a big Rugby Fan so to be in their shoes for a day would be great fun. I would also quite like to try being a top chef for the day, just to see what it’s like to work in a really intense environment and also eat some amazing food.
What has been the best thing that you have done whilst in lockdown & what will you do when all the restrictions are lifted?
It would have to be getting Dougal- he’s such a great addition to our household and great that we’ve been able to spend so much time settling him in and training him. Then it would also be getting the new BBQ, I’ve been really lucky that my lockdown experience has been a good one. When all the restrictions are lifted, I can’t wait to be in the pub and being able to hang out with mates properly!
Thank you James for this insightful interview & we all look forward to meeting Dougal when we are back in the Office!
Interview by Katy Willcox- Project Manager