In this 10 questions with blog, we spoke to Ivo van den Brand, Director at Mavens of London to hear his advice & top tips.

#1 How long have you been Director at digital strategy consultancy ‎Mavens of London, and what led you down this path?
I have been at Mavens for just over a year. Prior to that, I worked with Mavens during my time at Philips Personal Care – first as a Senior Global PR Manager, then as a Director of Digital Marketing. Mavens provided us with invaluable consumer insights, and their unique approach and technical innovation ultimately triggered my curiosity to see for myself what it would be like on the other side.

#2 What’s the best professional advice you have been given?

“To thine own self be true.”

#3 What inspires you creatively?
A combination of fresh air and collaborative dialogue. I’m a massive fan of a walk-and-talk, with an open conversation about the business or marketing challenge in front of us. I find that the constant, dynamic stream of sensory input that you get from walking through a city like London opens the mind and sharpens the dialogue.

#4 How do you see the marketing industry changing in the next five years?
First of all, I hope that we will see more brands actively step up to help realise a better, more sustainable, more collaborative and open-minded world. I would love purpose-driven brands and businesses to bridge the chasm that seems to be emerging between people, cultures and beliefs.

Secondly, increasing adoption of and sophistication within data-informed marketing should deliver better, more relevant marketing programmes. Marketing teams will naturally familiarise themselves more and more with a data-centric way of working, and this will ultimately lead to channel strategies, creative executions, ad targeting and consumer content becoming more relevant and more efficient, with brands ‘getting it right’ for the people they (aspire to) engage with.

Finally, further innovation and adoption of technology in immersive content, augmented and virtual reality, will inevitably have an effect on the marketing industry and audience expectations. That’s exciting.

#5 What’s your favourite city and why?

I really love Barcelona and – for totally different reasons – I really want to spend time in Tokyo and Vancouver. Having moved (back) to the UK from another country twice now, however, my answer to this question would have to be London. With its leading creative industry, inspiring cultural diversity, and endless opportunities, this currently feels like a great place for me.

#6 What is your top tip for creating a successful marketing strategy?
Clear and thorough objective-setting. A marketing strategy should ultimately help the business achieve its goals. A thorough understanding of exactly what is needed to support the business should precede marketing objective-setting. When it is clear which 1-3 key things the marketing strategy will need to deliver on, it’s time to apply creativity and imagination to build on the audience insights, channel strategy and a laser-focused marketing KPI framework, to design the integrated programme.

#7 What is your favourite part of your job?
At Mavens, the favourite part of my job is absolutely being able to learn and develop. Every day I have the opportunity to develop new technical skills, generate unexpected consumer insights within a specific market or category, and grow as a manager. That offers me real fulfilment.

#8 What is your view on marketing data overload?

I don’t think there can ever be too much data or too many insights. Crystal-clear objectives can help teams focus on the right data – drawing insights, learnings and conclusions from the data sets that matter most for their respective business and marketing goals.

I also believe that preventing a perceived data overload is at least as much about a shift in mind-set as it is about new technical skills. Marketing teams should have an engrained curiosity to aggregate and review data, the capability to analyse that data to extract learnings and insights, and a desire to challenge, refine and optimise creative thinking, assets, the channel mix, and ad targeting.

#9 What was your favourite project to work on and why?

The voluntary work we did with Philips colleagues across the world, across sectors and across functions, to build a global Breast Cancer Awareness programme would definitely be up there. We helped raise awareness for breast cancer through the (pink) lighting of countless global landmark buildings, facilitated free mammography screening for women in developing countries, and funded ground-breaking cancer research.

#10 What is your favourite publication or blog to read?
While it isn’t really its own publication, I spend a lot of time in Pocket. I use IFTTT to pull in relevant news and interesting feature articles from the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn, which I then catch up with during my commutes and in the evenings. This is in addition to my daily digest of the international sports and football news, of course.