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Uncle Mat Marketing

Dear Uncle Mat: Who should we approach with a partnership idea within brand owners?

September 20, 2016 | 6 min read

Mat Braddy, former chief marketing officer for Just Eat, founder of stylist listing app Rock Pamper Scissors and The Drum's startup agony uncle, offers up his advice on who the best person is to approach when startups are looking to partner with major brand owners.

Uncle Mat Braddy

Dear Uncle Mat,

We at Drinki are a new startup that specialises in helping alcohol brands deliver their product in the perfect serve to new customers at bars and, furthermore, find out whether they liked it or not.

Our main difficulties are identifying the right person to engage with at the big brand owners, whether it's the head of consumer marketing, experiential marketing, on-trade or trade marketing?

Any thoughts on how best to negotiate the structures at huge companies such as Diageo, Bacardi and Pernod?

Tariq Aris


Having been a chief marketing officer and a marketing director for many years, I was often the target of suppliers that wanted to get me a message. As you can imagine, you get inundating so quickly develop pretty solid skills in ignoring people so you can get on with your day job. And even if they could get through my firewalls then I’d rarely be in the mood to actually listen. It’s therefore very hard to target decision makers accurately like a sniper, so I’d suggest instead taking out the shotgun and getting them to come to you.

You mention in your letter some confusion on who the decision maker is. That’s fine – marketing is a team sport and key decisions are rarely made by individuals in an isolated anyway. What you should be aiming to do is raise your awareness across the team. The team discussing your cool app with each other would be the strongest advocacy you could achieve. So how can we do that in a cost effective startup way?


Have you tried LinkedIn’s PPC ads? They are very quick and easy to set up and can be targeted at the industry segment you are going after. They can also be even more accurate and target employees of the individual companies you mention. I’d suggest you use the news feed post ad formats here and link to articles/blogs about your whizzy innovative app. We’ve found this to be highly effective at targeting hairdressers for Rock Pamper Scissors.

You can also use Facebook to target employees of these businesses but not as many of us list our jobs etc on there so the supply of traffic isn't as useful.


The key decision maker is often unlikely to be hanging out at industry conferences unless they are speaking. But often their staff do. So investigate opportunities to speak or join panels at these events. As an innovative startup you’ll hopefully be pleasantly surprised by how open organisers are to having something new and innovative covered at their shows. Managers in the organisations you mentioned are often at such events, and if any are speaking this is even better for you as you’ll get a chance to chat with them in the speaker lounges as a peer rather than as a salesman. Personally I rarely peruse the stands that suppliers have at conferences as I don’t want to be sold to. But you do listen to the speakers carefully as you are there to learn.

Local peacock feathers:

Be canny – you identify some big brands in your letter with UK HQs in London. Focus your consumer activity in bars surrounding their offices and make sure you invest in a bit of trade branding to put up. The idea here is to look bigger than you are yet – peacock feathers. Be as effective as Coke but just in a very small area. Maybe put on some special nights etc. Make some noise locally. Get window stickers on the bars. Do lunchtime and commuter time B2C activity near the offices. Act like a big brand app – but do it very locally. All of this can really raise your awareness in the organisations in question and make you seem bigger than you really are leading to more respect for your idea.

Case study PR:

Fear of missing out – let’s be honest we are all a sucker for this one. It’s really annoying when your rivals get first dibs on an innovation. So if you have some initial successes with a decent brand then put some real effort into getting press for this. Their rivals will definitely notice, putting you on their radar for a chat – if only to spy on the opposition.

The truth is that it is very hard to target decision makers accurately in a way that they will listen to – you need to build awareness of your innovation, tell a compelling story, and then the smart ones will come to you thinking it was their own idea.

If you are a startup in need of guidance then look no further. Ask Uncle Mat for his advice via

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