Today we’re featuring an interview with the two inspiring entrepreneurs behind POD Studios, a values-led digital marketing business that’s redefining the traditional client-agency relationship. Yee Phillips and Clàudia Baldellou founded POD Studios after working agency-side for the best part of a decade. Over the years they’ve collaborated with a variety of advertisers across different verticals, from innovative startups to some of the world’s biggest brands such as Airbnb, eBay and Swarovski.

Before we jump in, here’s a bit more about them. 

Clàudia Baldellou

  • Where are you based? London
  • Where are you originally from? Girona, a city about an hour north of Barcelona
  • What did you study? Advertising and marketing
  • What countries have you lived/worked in? Spain and the UK
  • What languages do you speak? Catalan, Spanish, English and a bit of French

Yee Phillips

  • Where are you based? London
  • Where are you originally from? Lancashire, North West England
  • What did you study? Marketing and management at Newcastle University
  • What countries have you lived/worked in? The UK, and POD Studios was started in New Zealand
  • What languages do you speak? English 

Clàudia and Yee’s story of founding a digital marketing business

How did you end up working in the marketing industry? 

Clàudia: I decided to do my undergrad and my master’s in advertising and marketing, and quickly gravitated toward the digital side of things. I particularly remember having my mind blown by Obama’s use of social media during his “Yes We Can” presidential campaign, and I knew that I’d end up working in digital marketing. I dipped my toe into digital during my two internships; when the time came to find my first full-time role I knew exactly where I wanted to be, and have been in digital marketing ever since.

Yee: Since I was in secondary school, I always knew I wanted to work with brands and/or in advertising, which led to my decision to study marketing and management at Newcastle Uni. As soon as I graduated, I focused on my next goal: to get a job in London. My first role was an account executive with a website and communications agency. With this digital experience, my next move was into digital marketing.

What’s your favorite marketing campaign ever?

Clàudia + Yee: We love anything that’s data driven and involves some kind of customer insight. Spotify has been doing a great job at this type of campaign in recent years by using users’ listening habits as the centerpoint of their big marketing push at the end of each year. The customer insights combined with a touch of humor and some context… It’s genius!

What’s your normal day-to-day like? 

Clàudia + Yee: As with most people, our days have looked very different over the past year with so many things changing all the time! 

On a typical morning, we usually start with a catch-up with each other (and a cup of tea!) over Google Meet to check in and align on priorities for the day and the rest of the week. Since our business is new, no two days are alike, but they always tend to involve a healthy dose of calls with existing clients, speaking to prospects and suppliers, and developing paid digital marketing strategy decks and documents.

On Fridays, we usually allocate some time to reflect on the week and where we’re going as a business. With time, we’ve come to realize how important it is to block some time, celebrate what we’ve achieved, and get out of our usual “what’s next?” mentality.

What are the top three skills you need to do your job?

Clàudia + Yee: Relationship building would hands down be at the top of our list. The more years we spend in the industry, the clearer it becomes that spending time developing long-lasting relationships built on trust is the best investment you can make to enhance your future success. They open doors, expand your network and allow you to be part of conversations that you would have never been part of otherwise.

“Spending time developing long-lasting relationships built on trust is the best investment you can make to enhance your future success.”

Problem solving and time management would both come as close seconds. Like many things in life, in marketing nothing ever goes exactly to plan. Having the capacity to pivot at a moment’s notice while still delivering on schedule is something that we’ve seen an increasing demand for—especially in the current situation, as brands and businesses need to rapidly adapt to ever-changing circumstances and regulations.

“We’ve seen an increasing demand for the capacity to pivot at a moment’s notice while still delivering on schedule.”

See also: The value of human connection and empathy in marketing: 25 quotes from industry experts

What’s unique about the marketing industry in Europe?  

Clàudia + Yee: Europe is extremely diverse, and brands shouldn’t ignore the nuances of different markets in terms of culture or consumer behavior. While having teams across markets to provide local insight may not be possible for many businesses, carrying out some research and having a few conversations with people from those countries can go a long way.

See also: 5 ways to ensure a quality localization – even if you don’t speak the language

How has the European marketing industry changed in recent years?

Clàudia + Yee: In recent years we’ve seen a shift in brand marketing, as consumers have become increasingly savvy and are demanding more from brands.

Ethical supply chain practices, sustainability and diversity have already become non-negotiable for many consumers, especially among late millennials and Gen Z. As a result, transparency and brand values have become key elements across all types of marketing communications, and particularly across online channels.

That being said, words must always be supported by actions. Consumers are quick to react when they come across practices or statements that don’t seem right or ring true. As we’ve seen on a number of occasions, this can have terrible consequences for brands, which may end up losing even their most loyal customers.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for people and businesses looking to tap into the marketing industry in Europe?

Clàudia + Yee: Be flexible and open to testing; roll out successful campaigns at scale once you’ve seen them perform well in initial tests. Keep an eye out on trends by country and region and, if you’re a brand or business looking to launch in Europe, find yourself a great agency partner who understands the markets and its local nuances.

“If you’re a brand or business looking to launch in Europe, find yourself a great agency partner who understands the markets and its local nuances.”

Learn how VeraContent’s localization services can help you expand across Europe.

Quick-fire round:

  • Favorite app? 
    • Clàudia: Canva—I love how it makes design accessible to anyone.
    • Yee: Spotify.
  • First thing you do in the morning? 
    • Clàudia: Check my phone; it helps me not fall asleep again!
    • Yee: Put on my favorite music playlist.
  • Your favorite influencer, role model or someone you admire?
    • Clàudia: Jacinda Ardern—she’s a great example of how to lead with empathy.
    • Yee: Elizabeth Day. 
  • An event, publication or group you’d recommend?
  • The best piece of career advice you’ve ever gotten?
    • Clàudia: “Control what you can control.” This quote by Olympic athlete Shalane Flanagan really stuck with me when I first read it, and has helped me stay grounded at times when there’s been a lot going on. It reminds me to always give my best effort, but to stop worrying once the outcome depends on other people or external circumstances.
    • Yee: “Don’t be scared to ask.” This is from a previous boss of mine, meaning you should advocate for yourself and don’t be afraid of what the answer might be—at least you know you gave it your best shot.

Find POD Studios on LinkedIn and Instagram, and connect with Clàudia and Yee on LinkedIn.

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