The shiny new object podcast: five things I learned from Direct Line's Mark Evans

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Direct Line's Mark Evans speaks to Tom Ollerton for The Shiny New Object Podcast

Interviewed in the latest installment of the Shiny New Object Podcast by host Tom Ollerton is Direct Line's marketing director, Mark Evans. Here are five things Ollerton found out as a result of the conversation.

Diversity isn’t a Competition (or is it?)

Mark’s daughter is navigating school with dyslexia. This has made him sensitive to what he calls ‘invisible’ diversity such as dyspraxia and autism. His belief is that each of these conditions are their own “superpower” if harnessed. His experience of supporting his daughter through her education is influencing how The Direct Line’s group diversity policy isn’t purely focussed on just visible diversity. His goal is to “normalise the conversation around neurodiversity” by taking into account all kinds of backgrounds and perspectives. He calls on the industry to support each individual’s specific needs throughout the hiring process which currently counts against people whose superpowers are less apparent.

2. He has set up his own charity

Mark runs the annual industry focussed charity sports event called Sprintathon in aid of Stand Up to Cancer. Each year different agency teams come together to run a collective marathon. So far he’s raised around 150K and if you want to give your team to prove they are the ‘fastest in adland’ then July 25th 2019 is your chance. Sprintathon is evidence of his belief in side hustles - “I encourage me team to have side projects, it makes you better at your job.”

3. The future of Marketing will be shaped by Biometrics

On his last visit to China Mark tried to buy a coffee using cash and was laughed at. The shop owner proceeded to dust off a card machine to take the payment. In China WeChat’s WePay is all powerful - so much so that “WeChat is like their God, in a way.” WeChat is using facial recognition to capture fifty four emotional characteristics that can improve the user journey. Using AI to figure out mood of the use and change the user experience which can help brands personalise at scale.

Mark pulls no punches when he says that customer experience is a marketing function. And that mainstream facial expression recognition tech on your smartphone will shape the next era of customer experience. “People don’t really love brands or platforms, love convenience, they love ease.”

4. Being generous is a pre-condition to be being happy

Mark’s belief that being happy will lead to success and that happiness comes from being generous. He told me about the research that found that when someone ‘gave’ something they would feel a sense of euphoria. However this sense of euphoria didn’t increase with the size of the gift. Small acts of generosity is the trick. Being generous makes you happy, being happy makes you successful - he concedes this a simplification but there’s some beauty in this thought.

5. Mark doesn’t fuck around

The normal procedure for recording the Shiny New Object podcast is to go for a relaxing beer, have a natter get to know each other a bit and then record. There were no such pleasantries with Mark - we were recording within four minutes of me being in the room. He’s not rude, he’s just to-the-point and it’s usually a good one.

Listen to the full interview below:

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