Claire Deane knows knowledge is power. And while data drives much of what she does, she knows the importance of making personal connections and trusting her intuition. Launching her marketing agency Deane & Co. was both a natural evolution in Deane’s passion for digital marketing and a response to the analytics-driven place she saw the industry was headed. It was also an opportunity to meld these beliefs into something special.
Deane & Co. takes advantage of digital data tracking, and uses a combination of exciting creative and analytics to create integrated marketing outcomes. For Deane, the data provides an opportunity to ask the big questions – why do we make the decisions we do, and how much of our behaviour is predictive?
We sat down with Deane to discuss what it takes to stay focused as an entrepreneur, the power of introverts and when a gut feeling can trump data.
Kit and Ace: What drew you to marketing and how did that interest evolve into a digital and content marketing space?
Claire Deane: I’ve always loved the psychology of marketing. I want to understand why people behave the way they do, why they buy and the intricacies of how things like colour, pricing and even location of buttons can impact purchase behaviour. I love the combination of creativity and analytics that comes with digital. You can test, try and experiment and see results almost immediately. There’s also so much psychology involved that just blows my mind. For example, people love list content, but did you know they love odd-numbered lists more than even? How cool is that?
Deane & Co. grew from a solo gig to a small team. How have you adapted to this change?
CD: When I first left the corporate world, I was burned out and didn’t want to manage anyone, so I named the business after myself, almost in an attempt to prevent myself from scaling. Fast forward a year and a half and that needed to change. I brought on two more team members and we rebranded, so that the team felt like they were working for something larger than just my freelance gig. And so the agency was born.
I’ve definitely had to adapt as a business owner, and I’m doing less of the ‘work’ and more business development, but I’m lucky to have an excellent team who my clients love and trust.
Deane & Co. has developed a diverse client list. How do you tackle the different projects and personalities that go with client work?
CD: While our client list is very diverse, the clients are similar types of people. They are all really passionate about what they do, and they all trust our advice. It’s important for us to work with people who know that we know what we’re doing, and trust us to do the job, so we’re pretty choosey about the clients we bring on board. Personality is super important for us – what’s the point of building your own agency if you don’t get to work with people who inspire you, and who you want to work with on a daily basis?
You describe yourself as a Google Analytics nerd – how much does data drive your approach and how much is intuition and experience?
CD: I am definitely a data nerd, but data is pretty meaningless unless you know what to do with it. Understanding how to interpret data and how to use it to make decisions comes from my 12 years in the industry. I also use my intuition a lot with people. I know someone is going to be a good fit as a client or as a collaborator based on gut feel, not based on numbers.
From the agency to workshops and even teaching yoga, you wear a lot of hats. How do you deal with it all?
CD: I love having lots on my plate – wearing multiple hats opens me up to a whole lot more opportunities. Although, my mentor did say to me recently that it’s important as an entrepreneur not to get distracted (Shiny Object Syndrome), so I’m trying to remember that! I do have to focus on the business elements that generate the most revenue, and I try to be smart about where I spend my time, so there’s sometimes a few late nights required to get the side hustles humming.
Being introverted can be seen as a disadvantage in a field like marketing. How have you tackled this assumption and how has being introverted driven your approach?
CD: Introversion is a superpower in marketing. Introverts (typically) hate small talk and want to go deep quickly. That means one-on-one is our jam. We’re able to get to people’s pain points really quickly, which means people remember us and are more likely to connect with us.
When I first started out my career, particularly when I was working for a property consultancy, I thought I had to go to all the networking drinks in order to get ahead. Now, I can’t think of anything more hideous, and instead network in a way that works for me.
I’ve learned that approaching your career in a way that feels inauthentic is unsustainable. I’m not a ‘drinks with the boys’ kind of girl, and I just feel awkward in those kinds of situations. I’d rather meet up with someone one-on-one to build a relationship. As soon as I identified and owned that about myself, my business thrived.
When you hit pause on work, what does down time look like for you, and how do you switch off?
CD: Downtime looks like spending the day with my three dogs, Luna, Barney and Buster, and my husband. We’ll probably be tracking down something delicious to eat somewhere around Brisbane, whether it’s a new cafe or market. I’ll also try to get to yoga as often as possible. I’m a yoga teacher, and whenever I can, I get to my teacher Julie Smerdon’s classes at Shri Yoga in the city.