Who am I?
I’m a designer, turned international brand consultant, turned eCommerce entrepreneur, turned customer acquisition specialist. For the past 15 years I have done nothing but help start up’s and established brands generate significant growth.
The design years
I graduated from Art Center College of Design in late 1986 and started working in luxury design 1987. I was working on everything from English leather goods to German pens, to French perfume bottles, boutique hotels, international fashion labels, Swiss cosmetics and 3 star restaurants. No matter whether it was a corporate branding project, coffee table books, actual products, flacons, editorial design, experiences, you name it. I started my own design agency in Hamburg, Germany a few years thereafter and we grew very quickly to a creative group with over 40 employees, winning awards from the prestigious Art Directors Club, Communication Arts, Graphis, The One Show, etc. in corporate, consumer and retail design.
The brand years
Seven years later I joined WPP’s Enterprise IG, the worlds largest brand design agency at the time and moved from design to brand. A transition I found as being the only logical development given the superior intellectual complexity of branding projects. I worked for luxury jewelers in Italy, phone manufacturers in China, beverage companies in the US and phone operators in the UK, Sweden, France and Germany among many many other projects. Brand was at the center of everything we did, no matter what expression it would receive later, defining the brand was the most important aspect. This period ended with me being the CEO for our consumer branding division in the US leading international projects for our US based clients.
The ecommerce years
As much as I loved brand, I was lured into an altogether different space: eCommerce. I lived in the Bay Area at that time, the dot com bubble – although popped at that time – took huge steps forward and I was intrigued by the new paradigm, which was selling goods online. When I started, getting an online store cost tens and tens of thousands of dollars and took about a year just to go live. It took even longer to break even and to make our first million dollars of revenue seemingly took forever. Given the amount of mistakes we made, we learned more than anyone can ever imagine. Be it about design, testing, landing pages, product images, copy, pricing strategies, discounting, up-sells, cross-sells, category pages, product video, reviews, site speed, emails, anything really. We tried everything, learned from the mistakes, adjusted and tried again.
The customer acquisition years
As amazing as the experience was, when the economy tanked, so did we. Our product wasn’t made for a time where consumers were looking to save money. But out of that time came a new learning: How do you get customers? How do you convert them? What do you do to retain them? This started in a time when banner ads actually still worked. When SEO was the main focus and completely gameable. Dark arts were abundant and Facebook had just started with ads. Instagram was unheard of and YouTube was more for illegally streaming TV shows and not for having ‘influencers’ review your products. Given my background I worked with eCommerce start up’s of all sorts, be it flash sales (remember Gilt and HauteLook and the like?), reverse auctions, or the early subscription companies as well as your traditional retailers who have been moving online, focussed on bringing in as many customers as possible across any channel possible, with budgets starting in the thousands to millions a month.
Focus on growth
Don’t get me wrong, I still do a lot of work in both the design UI/UX arena as well as the customer acquisition space, and both are very closely related to Conversion Rate Optimization, but data rocks! It is pretty much irrefutable and can be measured over and over to track performance and adjust based on data, not gut feeling or the opinion of the highest paid individual in the room. Oh, and it has one focus: make more money.
But to truly understand growth you can’t just be your usual data driven marketer, or a detailed statistician, or a UI/UX expert, or IT expert. You need to be all that. And ideally you need to have been an entrepreneur at some point, because then you know why bottom line really matters and that’ll be your focus.
Growth puts everything I have done or am doing together, and I can bring design, brand, eCom and acquisition together. And that’s really exciting.