David built and sold an agency and now runs Made With Intent, the tool that could transform ecommerce. He’s also a MASSIVE Disney fan.

Listen below or find it on SpotifyApple and Google or just search for Strategy Sessions wherever you get your podcasts.


In this episode we discuss:

  • Learning the lesson of being too business obsessed
  • What Disney can teach us about customer focus
  • How Manchester United have messed up personalisation
  • How Made With Intent is trying to change the personalisation space
  • Selling a CRO agency
  • Movie reviews with Dave & AJ (yes, I still love Con Air)

David Mannheim

David is a big kid, a big Disney fan and a big geek. He founded User Conversion which was acquired by Brainlabs and now the author of The Person in Personalisation. His mission is to help retailers care more for their customers by listening, being appropriate, being familiar and creating a relationship. He is doing that through his new start up, Made With Intent, a platform that helps retailers do just this by diligently understanding customer intent. Find David on LinkedIn.

Book Recommendations

The Person in Personalisation by, erm , David Mannheim

Moneyball: The art of winning an unfair game by Michael

Strategy Sessions Host – Andi Jarvis

If you have any questions or want to talk about anything that was discussed in the show, the best place to get me is on LinkedIn or Instagram.

Make sure you subscribe to get the podcast directly or sign up for it here to have it emailed when it’s released.

If you enjoyed the show, please give it a 5* rating.

Interview Transcription

This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.

[00:00:00.780] – Andi J

What one bit of advice do you wish you’d have had 10 years ago?

[00:00:06.430] – David M

It’s a really good question. I always assumed I was a bit like Superman. I was super resilient to anything. I was impervious to stress and crypto and bullets.

[00:00:15.530] – Andi J


[00:00:16.410] – David M

Think more emotional resilience than resilience itself. I think the appreciation that people are different, that they like different communication styles, that they learn differently at different speeds in different ways. I think I would like to have known that and having a therapist and a coach to train me along those self-awareness roots would have been really helpful. It’s quite deep and.

[00:00:42.850] – Andi J

Also fascinating. So we will come back to that. I’m not just going to ask that and leave it. We are going to come back to it. But first, I want to tell everyone who you are. Eyup, and welcome to the Strategy Sessions. My name is Andi Jarvis. I am a host of the show, obviously, and the Strategy Director at Eximo Marketing. The first voice you heard there… No, the second voice even, I was the first voice. The second voice you heard was David Mannheim. David is the guest on Episode Six this week. David is the founder of Made with Intent. Made with Intent is a platform that will help e-commerce businesses provide a more personalised service to their customers. It’s about trying to bring back that personalised service that you would get historically in-store and offer something that’s a little bit better and a bit more personalised than the broad brush tools and tactics that everybody uses on e-commerce. Fascinating product, link in the show notes and go and check it out. We talk about it, of course, in the episode. He’s also an author of a book called, well, The Person in Personalization. I have a copy, I haven’t yet read it, but it’s fine.

[00:01:43.520] – Andi J

I will read it fairly soon. David has sold that book out. The first print run has gone on Amazon, so if you don’t have one, find someone who does and borrow a copy because I’m sure it’s going to be great. He lets you in a little bit behind the curtain on this episode too. Before that, he ran an agency, which was a conversion rate optimisation agency, which he built and sold. He’s got a great background in e-commerce and has a real passion for trying to do the right thing for the customer. That speaks to my heart dearly, which is why we get along so famously. I met David at a conference in Athens in early 2023, and we just bonded. I think we think and feel about marketing the same way. We shouldn’t always just invite people who think exactly the same way as you want to podcast because that ends up in a weird philtre bubble. But we just have similar values and similar thoughts on it, which is absolutely fantastic. You’ll see if you’re watching the video that it might look like I’m a prisoner in his house, in his Disney Man cave.

[00:02:43.650] – Andi J

I was a prisoner, but I’ve managed to escape now, so everything’s okay from that. Took me a little while and the police were involved, but we managed to get out perfectly fine. All good now. But notwithstanding that, I think this is a wonderful episode with David telling a great story, very personal story to him, but also talks about some of the things and some of the passions in his life and the things that he loves. So have a listen. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment for me in whatever platform it is. If it’s on YouTube, stick it in the comments, or leave a rating somewhere if it’s on Apple or Spotify or whatever. Now, just email me the details in the show notes. Let me know what you think. Back over to David. Here we go. You talk about you wish you’d have known about people with emotional intelligence, more about emotional intelligence, so you could maybe be a better manager, I presume, is the bit you didn’t say.

[00:03:32.060] – Andi J

Absolutely. But is that the thing that you can learn? Can people give you that advice? Or do you only learn it by going through it?

[00:03:41.430] – David M

Really, again, very deep to begin with. I will start with a small story that I’m okay with telling people about. I’ve talked people about before on LinkedIn and what have you, and that is I used to have numerous panic attacks, probably one every maybe every two months. I remember my very first one was I was training at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, which is all the way down in Cambridge. It’s like a two, three-day session on one of their courses. I was driving back, and it takes me ages to drive back from Cambridge, and my chest started to hurt and my left arm started to hurt. My dad’s had numerous heart attacks, actually, I think he’s had five in total. Obviously, my mind wanders to the worst-case scenario.

[00:04:25.710] – Andi J

While you’re doing 75 on the.

[00:04:28.470] – David M

Day one? Yeah. And then you get to a spiral of, Oh, what’s happening? Okay, I need to stop off at the nearest place. And luckily for me, Stoke Services was just nearby.

[00:04:37.940] – Andi J

We’re drinking.

[00:04:39.460] – David M

I stop off at Stoke Services, run up to the Starbucks’s counter and say, a lot, I’m having a heart attack. Help me. And this is about 10:00 PM. Help me. Help me. I’m having a heart attack. Anyway, apparently it was a panic attack. I’d never experienced such a thing before. I woke up in an ambulance. I remember fainting. And that changed quite a lot, I would say. Because until then, I thought I was super man. I thought I was super resilient. It happened a few more times after that. I ended up getting a therapist and then ditching that one, getting another one and ditching that one. This all leads me to the point of over the past five years, I’ve learned about the concepts of emotional intelligence, of self-awareness. I was always considerate to other people, but I wasn’t… Rob, I was always understanding of other people, but I couldn’t understand if that makes sense.

[00:05:33.510] – Andi J


[00:05:33.890] – David M

Think I know what you mean. I was considerate, but I just couldn’t comprehend why you wouldn’t understand what it is that I’m saying. But I can’t comprehend and understand what it is that you’re saying and therefore would juxtaposed. I didn’t understand this profiling or mice breaks or anything like that. Anyway, so your question is, can you learn it? Absolutely. I think it all comes down to self-awareness. Once you can understand yourself, then you can really understand other people and how you can understand them, not just understanding them.

[00:06:00.690] – Andi J

I suppose this isn’t a therapy podcast, but there’s lots of different ways that we could do it. There is a couch we could do it if you’re watching a video. Hello. But once you understand yourself, is understanding yourself though not a learning game? It’s true. And I was asked a similar yet different question on someone else’s podcast. And my advice to a younger Jarvis was don’t be a dick. I think in a very course way, I was trying to say something similar, which was through my 20s and probably most of the way through my 30s. Andi’s a nice guy. Andi’s a nice guy. But there was a large element of an asshole in there as well.

[00:06:38.400] – David M

Well, we all have an ego. We’re born with ego.

[00:06:40.350] – Andi J

I still have an ego. Yeah, future. But hopefully.

[00:06:43.400] – David M

That’s not an asshole. It is when the ego tips over into narcissism, for example, which is when you want to be careful. I think we can all get there. But the more self-aware you are, the more you can either control that path. You can only control what you can control. You can’t control, obviously, if you sound like Michael Owens in a football country, you can’t control that outside your control.

[00:07:06.200] – Andi J

I think what’s interesting is without knowing the rest of your journey, because we haven’t shared that with everybody yet, we’re going to jump right in at the end of your journey in the person in personalisation. But I think what is clear from those early answers is that perhaps what’s taking you into the root of personalisation. So the person in personalisation is a hardback book as well, which somebody’s been spending big bucks here, tax write-off, is that it? So you’ve got into to focus in on personalisation. Is that the natural point in your journey where you’ve become more self-aware and brought that into your work-life as well and thought, Hold on, this is the thing that companies aren’t doing correctly. Goodness me.

[00:07:49.710] – David M

I’ve never really thought about it like that. I think so. Yeah. Well, I think there’s an understanding over those past five years. By the way, for reference, I still have a therapist. I still really advocate therapy as a concept and as a journey. And originally, I got Joe, my therapist, because I had a bit of an identity crisis. But now it’s more just continuing to learn about myself and about others and my relationship with others.

[00:08:15.490] – Andi J

Sorry, I know we were about to jump in the top of your book, but it’s not something that’s widely talked about, is it? Not in the UK. I rolled back to when I was a kid in the 80s, and if you had a therapist, you were bonkers or crazy or there was something wrong with you that would be whispered about in corners. Americans made TV shows about having therapists, and we didn’t in the UK. But do you sense that’s changed that people are now actually, you don’t have to wait until you’re in a heap on the floor? Perhaps you can actually there’s a benefit in continuing with therapy at every stage.

[00:08:45.160] – David M

Throughout your life. Well, mental health and general self-awareness, the advocacy of apps like Calm or Headspace or what have you, I think has helped that journey and removed that stigmatism. But I’m the first to admit I got a therapist in order to solve a problem. But now I don’t have that problem, or I think I don’t have that problem, but I still have therapy. Because if you go to the gym to work on your body, why wouldn’t you have a therapist to work with you mind?

[00:09:12.600] – Andi J

You don’t stop going to the gym when your body looks great. You keep going at that point, don’t you? As someone who’s only ever been to therapy when something’s gone wrong, I actually see the sense in what you say. And you’re like, Yeah, maybe that’s something I should go back to.

[00:09:26.770] – David M

You could call it different terms. You could call it business coaching, for example. I think it’s fairly similar. It’s about understanding yourself and then how you can get the best out of yourself and get the best out of other people and how you can improve your relationships as a whole. And if we’re bringing it back to the book, the person in personalization is all about how businesses have lost that individual relationship with customers, and it’s been replaced with nickel and dining, price gouging, with the immediacy of revenue of some, I need an attribution within this conversation. What am I getting out of this conversation, Andi? It’s not very much.

[00:10:04.440] – Andi J

It’s not very much. It’s the answer. And it is the surprising thing about the fact that businesses have ratcheted this up to the Nth degree already that actually the concept of personalisation at scale is relatively new. Personalisation is not a new concept, but the tools and the technology to do it at scale are relatively new in marketing terms. What we’re talking about the last decade, 15 years, maybe?

[00:10:26.780] – David M

Yeah. Interestingly, one of the biggest barriers to do personalisation well isn’t the tools of the tech. I think that exists. I actually think that surpasses what we, as humans, need right now. I think it’s, ironically, the person in personalisation that prevents personalisation from succeeding, if that makes sense. I should probably say the practitioner within personalisation, the strategy, the perception around what personalisation, the purpose of.

[00:10:50.390] – Andi J

What it should bring in. That’s because, in your view, the company’s practise in personalisation are focused on the wrong thing. I think this is where we’re going to sing the same song together for a moment. So I apologise to anyone listening if this sounds to get a bit of a loving, but I think David and I are on the same page here. What is that? What are you thinking? Is it just industrialised it to such an extent that now it’s just about making money as fast as you can?

[00:11:14.560] – David M

Yeah, I think it’s lost its original meaning, being honest with you. If you think about what personalisation should be as a concept, as the act of being personal with somebody or something, and I don’t think the concept of being personal exists nowadays, i. E, the communication principle of being personal exists, I think the purpose behind wanting to be personal is all about trying to make some money. I could talk about where this little chip on my shoulder stems from, if you’d like.

[00:11:43.430] – Andi J

I would love to hear that story.

[00:11:45.160] – David M

Well, so I have two loves in my life. Besides my family, they’re a third love. They’re downstairs. They also can’t escape their house. Disney and Manchester United are my two loves. My identity, I go to the games every week and I go to the parks every year and it’s not my happy place.

[00:12:03.960] – Andi J

It would be remiss of me not to point out that it’s a Mickey Mouse club that you follow, David.

[00:12:09.780] – David M

Sorry. My identity is so closely tied to these two brands, and yet I feel in the past three years, both of these brands have— can I swear this podcast?

[00:12:20.720] – Andi J

Yeah, of course you can.

[00:12:21.500] – David M

I definitely know my kids are hurt— have fucked me over. Manchester United in the sense of I am a fan and they’ve commercialised that experience to the extent of, if you remember creating a Super League, for example, or Glazer ownership have just absolutely taken money out of the club. They’ve taken 1.5 billion pounds out of the club, put absolutely zero into it, charges into debt, accepted mediocrity. As a fan, that doesn’t fill me with such joy that almost removes the experience from me. What they decide to do is they increase ticket prices or they charge now £80 for a Manchester United shirt, that type of stuff.

[00:13:00.620] – Andi J


[00:13:01.160] – David M

Quid for a football trip. It’s between 60 and 80. Then you can look at Disney and Disney are exactly the same. It almost felt like Disney used COVID as a little bit of an excuse, where you used to get all these free perks when you go to the parks, it could be getting a free bus from the airport to the hotel. That doesn’t exist. It could be free parking overnight at the hotel that you pay $500 a.

[00:13:24.930] – Andi J

Night for. I was going to say you said free in the context of the fact that you’ve paid the national debt of to get into.

[00:13:33.040] – David M

That doesn’t exist anymore. It could be the fact that you used to be able to get three free complementary, what they call Fast Passes, so queue jumps, basically, for the rides, that doesn’t exist anymore. All those are now paid-for experiences. I could go on and on and on. There’s about eight different perks that they’ve taken away and they charge more for. I feel like both Disney and Manchester United, I feel more like a number than a person. As such, this concept of wanting to be personal, i. E, feeling human, having a human relationship with a brand doesn’t exist anymore.

[00:14:06.590] – Andi J

I think this is where the Venn diagram of what you do and what I do overlap in that I will probably go to my grave and somebody will write on my gravestone and talk to your customers and put it there. Someone once asked me, What type of marketer are you? I said, A customer-centric one. They followed up with, Well, isn’t that every marketer? I was like, Well, it should be, but it isn’t. I could go on a long rant about product marketers and all sorts of stuff, but I’m not going to do that today. But the point I make is that if you keep your customers at the heart of what you do, then you don’t make some of those decisions. Undfinitely, you’ve got to sell some stuff to keep the lights on. So maybe some of those decisions- It’s a balance.

[00:14:43.990] – David M

Yeah, it’s a balance. It is.

[00:14:45.040] – Andi J

The right word. But it sounds like the Disney example that you give, Disney have decided to make shareholder return the number one thing they focus on, which seems strange for a company where Walt Disney himself is supposedly hyperfocused on the customer experience, wasn’t he? Exactly. So it seems like they’ve lost that along the way of shareholder returns and quarterly earnings calls.

[00:15:05.510] – David M

Well, yeah, there’s a couple of things from there. Number one, yes, Walt Disney originally stated that Disney World was meant for everyone, as in it was need to be accessible by everyone. So when it opened, it originally cost $3.50 in order to gain entrance to the park.

[00:15:20.600] – Andi J

What’s that in today’s money?

[00:15:21.940] – David M

About $40, $50. The rate of inflation has been about 1,000% in the past 40-50 years.

[00:15:28.010] – Andi J

How much is it?

[00:15:29.730] – Andi J

$179. Wonderful.

[00:15:31.080] – David M

That’s a four-fold increase on the rate of inflation. It is now for the elitist rather than for everybody. I think that’s really important to know. The second point of your tale is that it is a balance. Like customer centricity, yes, is the paradise. As is personalisation, everyone sees it as, Oh, we’d love to get there. Interestingly, within the 153 people that I interviewed for my book, a lot of them, I would say 80% of them said that they weren’t experts in personalisation, that their business wasn’t ready for personalisation. They weren’t mature enough for personalisation. They saw it as this utopia in which to reach. And I feel that’s not the case. I don’t feel like there are prerequisites in order to reach a level of being personal with your customers. For me, this is a balance.

[00:16:16.730] – Andi J

And small businesses, and when I say small, I mean like tiny one and two mum and pop shops, as they’re.

[00:16:24.080] – David M

The Xs of the world.

[00:16:25.500] – Andi J

They get this. But what you find when you move into the circles you move in is people say, It just doesn’t scale. We can’t scale that. It’s all right when you have 20 customers a day or when you have 200 customers a day, but when you’re dealing with 10, 20, 40, 50 million in sales per day, how do you do it at scale? So how do you balance that tension between wanting to do personalization and having to hit the revenue numbers that came out six months ago?

[00:16:54.810] – David M

Well, there are no tactics. I think that recommendations is seen as a tactic in order to do personalization. This notion of curation for individual preferences. There’s a reason why, and we could go down this route because it is fascinating how it relates to AI, but there’s a reason why recommendations is now seen as personalization, and personalization is now seen as recommendations. In that, it’s really the only way or seen as the only way to do it at scale. But I think there’s so much more to being personal with your customers as an example. There’s so much in a name. Simon Sinyak once spoke about that a name is everything to somebody. If I mentioned the word Andi over again within our conversation, it makes you feel a little bit connected to what it is that I’m saying. I’m not suggesting that putting a name in an email subject line, for example, is a worthwhile exercise. I’m saying that there is so much in trying to be personal and familiar and acknowledging that individual. If I go on a banking website, for example, if I have a mortgage, which I do with NatWest, for example, for me to go back to that website and then not acknowledge that I have a mortgage with them and have had for 20 years, it feels impersonal.

[00:18:05.430] – David M

Let’s try and understand familiarity, what’s in the name. Let’s try and understand acknowledgement. Can we understand a little bit more about this customer so we are not impersonal to them? I think that’s really important. And if you want to ask the question, how are we going to do all this?

[00:18:21.540] – Andi J

How are we going to do.

[00:18:22.240] – David M

All this, David? Thank you. I think the answer to that is listening. When we talk about being personal with one another, it’s really important to listen or customer-centricity about it. It’s really important to listen to the individual. The majority of the time we just don’t listen. We’re tone deaf. In the mortgage example, NatWest are tone deaf because they don’t acknowledge me. They see me as a number and they think, When am I going to get the next mortgage out of someone? The concept of more is more, not less is more.

[00:18:53.250] – Andi J

When does personalisation crash into privacy as well? The how do they personalise their website experience? Probably with cookies is the answer at the minute, which is under, we’re not in the EU anymore, but certainly the EU are looking to lead the charge on a cookieless future and things like that. How does personalisation and privacy work together so that you’re offering people a personal experience without taking it into a creepy experience or an intrusive experience, perhaps?

[00:19:25.270] – David M

I could talk about this for days. The personalisation privacy paradox is absolutely a thing. There’s a balance between what customers are willing to give away and what businesses want from those customers.

[00:19:36.970] – Andi J

That can be context-specific as well, can’t it? I would give my bank more information than I would give the people I buy gym supplements from.

[00:19:43.980] – David M

It’s not just context-is specific. It’s subjective specific. What you find creepy is different than what I probably might find creepy. You probably find it creepy that I’m locking you in my house right now.

[00:19:53.500] – Andi J

I’ve seen you browsing history on the computer as well. It’s very weird. But it’s okay. Everyone likes chihuahua.

[00:19:59.090] – David M

It’s subjective, right? You might be willing away to give information that you like chihuahua, but I might not be willing to give away that level of information. I might be more self-aware of what AI can do and how it’s going to damage our society in the future and therefore be a bit more intrusive about putting photos up of my kids on social media, for example. It’s not just context-specific, but it’s subjective-specific, i. E, individual, it’s a feeling. I feel this is creepy, not this is creepy. I think that’s an important distinction between the two. How do you get around that? Well, to be honest, I think this is all about control. To date, the Wild Wild West of the cookie days has been that businesses are requesting information from the customer, and sometimes that’s either been just an acceptance to the customer, yeah, whatever, I’ll do it. I don’t care. It’s the easiest route. That’s moved us more into a value exchange approach now. I’ll do it, but give me 10 % off, for example. Two: people being so aware of, for example, how Cambridge Analytics and Facebook originally used data and how that influence democracy and voting principles that they’re now so aware that they want to be in control.

[00:21:14.000] – David M

I think that’s what Web 3.0 will bring, which is you being in control of your data, and you are only allowed to provide data to specific companies. Not the other way around. It’s not a request format. It’s an acceptance format. I accept that. I will give you this.

[00:21:27.850] – Andi J

Is there a Eurocentric view of the world? Inso much as when you go to the US and data privacy is just not a thing. I’ve just got back from the US. I spoke at MozCon across the summer. But I have an email address that I use for signing up for… Whenever basically an American email address, because I know when I give it over, I end up getting oodles of shite sent to me from stuff I never have signed up for.

[00:21:57.850] – David M


[00:21:58.030] – Andi J

Have we got to this world, though? I know the IRS, it’s all spam. The IRS are apparently trying to give me a refund for my tax claim. That can only come from somewhere. Even spammers try and at least do some targeting. They can only think I’m American. This is my email address I’m only using America. I get three emails a day saying Target have won something there. It’s not from Target, it’s from scammers. I get the IRS claims. I know it’s all from America. And all I did was go to a hotel or use it to sign into a Wi-Fi somewhere. But because we had GDPR in Europe, we’re now at a place where this is a discussion that’s being had. But is it being had in Asia? Is it being had in North America? Is it being had in Australia?

[00:22:40.680] – David M

New Zealand? I think it’s going to be forced to have. With the likes of, say, Apple removing ITP tracking, or Google, or the other browsers removing cookies, I think it’s going to be enforced, which will make… I think that’s a great thing. I think data regulation is preventing so-called personalisation from happening. Sure. But I also think that these businesses will be forced into a more creative method to hopefully put the consumer and give the consumer a level of control back into the world. I think that it’s nothing but a good thing.

[00:23:09.730] – Andi J

Yeah, exactly. Performance marketers around the world are now beating a path to your door with pitchforks and are wanting to set fire to this lovely house, and if you could let me out first, that’d be lovely. Because I’ve heard many performance marketers use the argument, Actually, what this is doing is this is just a win for the big companies. Because small businesses now can’t compete on digital advertising. They can’t get into that battle.

[00:23:33.210] – David M

Be creative. Figure something.

[00:23:34.450] – Andi J

Else out. Then brand wins. So if you’re a big company, then you win. The mum and pop stars who used to then scale on Facebook can’t do that anymore. Isn’t this terrible for those businesses?

[00:23:45.250] – David M

I don’t see that, though. Do you not feel that that is just a control mechanism? Let’s put the tinfoil hat away a little bit, but do you not feel giving the customer back an ounce of control is nothing but a good thing? Surely.

[00:23:58.220] – Andi J

From a point of, I actually think what Apple has done has been a good thing, and GDPR has been a good thing. I do think it may well have had the impact of reducing choice. Some of the performance marketers have seen, hello, Gil, who have posted some facts and figures on this. And if you look at Black Friday, for example, if you want to do well at Black Friday, you basically have to have a huge budget and you have to bully your way into the market. The opportunities that existed 10 years ago for small business is to win on Facebook ads are disappearing really quickly. But that’s not because the customers aren’t choosing them. It’s because they haven’t got the firepower to get in the game. It’s not necessarily the customers having the choice, they’re just losing that choice. That’s the argument that the performance marketers are making. It’s actually reducing choice. It’s creating more monopoly conditions as an unintended consequence of it. I’m not convinced that’s the correct argument, but they are showing some interesting stats on cost of ads, buying ads, and just drifting up to just telling small businesses, Look, there’s no point working.

[00:25:03.530] – Andi J

You don’t have.

[00:25:04.240] – David M

A chance. You give the example of Black Friday, for example. Let’s just bring this back to the context of putting the customer back in control. There’s a passage in my book, and I can’t remember the stat for the life of me, unfortunately. But what percentage of Black Friday deals do you think are accurate?

[00:25:21.930] – Andi J

Single digits.

[00:25:22.720] – David M

It was within the high ’90s that it’s inaccurate.

[00:25:26.830] – Andi J

Yeah. Sorry, single. The way you asked the question, I was entirely.

[00:25:30.880] – David M

But you’re talking anywhere between 1 and five %. I can’t remember the exact stats.

[00:25:36.260] – Andi J

Buy a copy of the book. It’s available at 11.99. It’s a.

[00:25:39.440] – David M

Little bit too short to ask. But yes, that might be true that you might have to bully you way into Black Friday. But what’s the purpose of you doing Black Friday? What to be inaccurate about posting what prices something used to be at and now is at? Surely that feels that lacks any integrity whatsoever. I don’t want to be standing on a soapbox here because I’m not that person. I also don’t want to be the give the cop out answer to performance marketers to say just get creative. But for goodness sake, just get creative. Just because we used to do something in the Wild Wild West days of the cookie doesn’t mean we need to do something in exactly the same way now because it worked once before. I’m not suggesting that’s the case.

[00:26:20.520] – Andi J

But for an industry that pretty much didn’t exist, certainly in its current form, 20 years ago, performance marketers seem remarkably… What’s the word I’m thinking of? They seem remarkably keen to stick to the status quo. He’s like, Well, if the status quo stuck, you wouldn’t exist.

[00:26:37.490] – David M

At all.

[00:26:37.840] – Andi J

Are you sitting on the fence? Yeah, things keep moving, right? Your industry is going to change and you have to evolve with it. That’s what’s happened through not just the history of marketing, the history of business. So many great businesses have gone and died. We’ve sat here, Wilco, which is a British retailer, 80 years old or so, he’s in administration, could well be going out with business because they didn’t adapt. Business conditions change, you have to pivot and adapt with it. And that’s what the best companies do, I believe.

[00:27:05.320] – David M

So think about it. So think about this concept of listening, how we’ve recently got into this personalisation privacy paradox. There are two different types of listening. Well, two different types of collecting data. There’s explicit and implicit. The implicit is what is inferred, the signals that a user gives and you assume something. You predict that this is what they like or this is how they’re going to react to something, for example, or the message that you should provide to them because it resonate with most. Recommendations are a very good example of implicit personalisation because they’re based on behavioural signals. There’s the explicit. The explicit is directly asking the customer what is it that you want. It’s pretty damn simple. That’s where product quizzes come in. For example, you often see it. What mattress would you like? Do you like the firm, the soft, the hard pillow, the soft pillow, et cetera, et cetera?

[00:27:51.240] – Andi J


[00:27:51.810] – David M

Firm. I’m also a firm. What about.

[00:27:53.930] – Andi J

The pillow, though? I also like foam. The mattress you’ve got me sleeping on in there is firm.

[00:27:59.400] – David M

You’ve definitely given off the wrong signal to be holistic. How many other podcasts have you done in somebody’s house.

[00:28:08.640] – Andi J

By the way? In someone’s house that I’m not allowed to leave? None.

[00:28:12.280] – David M

And then someone that you are.

[00:28:13.950] – Andi J

Allowed to leave? No.

[00:28:15.070] – David M

Okay. That’s pretty sure. It’s just because we live fairly close to Wreleton, by the way. Anyway, regardless, so there’s the explicit and the implicit. So then you’ve got to think, well, what is the value exchange that you’re giving to the customer in order to obtain that information? If it’s implicit, you should be overt about what it is that you’re collecting. Don’t you think nowadays, Andi, that just saying the words, I agree to some arbitrary terms and conditions that nobody will ever read, seems like a cop out, like a huge cop out by companies to get around GDPR. I just feel it like any integrity.

[00:28:54.950] – Andi J

So sliding on from the book a little because you mentioned different data points you can collect and then what that tell the story tells you. That is a lovely segue into your current business, because the book is not in a business, as we’ve discussed. It’s not going to make you millions, is it? I don’t believe.

[00:29:11.930] – Andi J

58p. 58p? Well, there you go. So your current business, Made with Intent, is fascinating. And we’ve only known each other a short space of time. And you told me about the business when we first met and very few things shut me up. And this shut me up and stopped me in my tracks. I’m not often lost for words. I was a bit like.

[00:29:34.700] – David M


[00:29:36.240] – Andi J

Give the listeners that moment for us. What is Made with Intent? And just give us that elevated pitch for one.

[00:29:42.490] – David M

Of the benefits. Well, you mentioned it as an agency at the beginning. I can say with 100% degree of certainty, it is not an agency. It is a software business. It’s a platform.

[00:29:52.100] – Andi J

That was a mistake. It’s okay. We can edit that out.

[00:29:55.550] – David M

The one thing that I find interesting when it comes to personalisation or selling or personally selling is the absence of a human. What happens when we go into a store and we’re trying to sell to a prospect who walks into a store, we size them up and down, we look at their implicit signals, their body language, their tone of voice, how interested they are in something. Whether they pick the sweater up, they put it down, they put it against their top, their body, they put it down, they would fold it up properly. There are so many different signals that are within a store that enable the salesperson to personally sell to that individual. I feel like in a human to a screen relationship, we lose all those signals, but they’re still there Andi. They’re still there. How fast you scroll, how quickly you do something. It’s not just about whether you click on the delivery drop-down and read about the delivery information, it’s about how much of that do you engage with. Do you quickly then add to bag after immediately reading the delivery information? Do you do that before clicking the Add to bag or after the Add to bag?

[00:31:04.160] – David M

So all these signals that we don’t pick upon when we analyse user behaviour. Now, don’t get me wrong, in isolation, those signals mean very little. You don’t want to optimise the time it takes for someone to read a delivery message, for example.

[00:31:19.680] – Andi J


[00:31:20.020] – David M

Optimisation. But collectively, they give meaning, they give context, just as you do with the person that walks into your store. So maybe the tenant is a platform that allows you understand the spoiler alert intent of your audience. Do they have a high intent purchase, a low intent purchase? Are they just browsing or are they committing to their decision? There’s all these different stages that users go through within a decision-making process, specifically with high consideration, high average order value pieces. A car, for example. I think that’s what Maeve Intent gives retailers specifically the ability to do, to think about the person rather than just a series of behaviours, milestone behaviours that exist.

[00:32:06.520] – Andi J

I love the fact that you’re looking at many more pieces of information. Google Analytics, for all its faults, is a free bit of software that does quite a lot for a lot of companies. But as you move on, you start to look at the traffic coming through e-commerce websites and the conversion rate has, I think you said on a LinkedIn post, it’s.

[00:32:24.780] – David M

Always 2%. Always 2%. Well, it’s such an aggregate, isn’t it? An average of average of average. I think that’s the problem, just for reference—is that, and I referenced this from my own business, of course, but we focus so much on the conversion rate, this average figure that’s both binary, did it exist or not? It’s rare, it’s retrospective, it happened or not. That we almost lose focus of everything that comes before it. So in focusing so much on the result, the conversion, everything before it is aggregated and focused on the conversion. We assume that everybody’s ready to buy, right? And so we optimise pages. We think, okay, on a product detail page, we are going to increase the delivery message prominence, for example. And it feels so bizarre that when we’re so used to talk about user experience, what we really mean is page experience there. We’re optizing pages, not users. I think this is a different way of thinking where we’re bringing a more human element back into it. We’re trying to change mindset and perspective away from the conversion and more on the person.

[00:33:26.530] – Andi J

If you’ll allow us a brief detour into the world of popular movies, one of the examples you use is to reference the sports slash… It is a sports movie. It’s a sport, yeah. Moneyball. There’s probably what? About half of the people listening and probably thinking, Moneyball. Might have heard of it because Brad Pitt’s in it, but I have no idea what it is. Do you want to just give a brief explanation as to what Moneyball, the film and the book is about? And then just boom straight into why that’s relevant to Made with Intent.

[00:33:56.860] – David M

Well, it’s a great film. For one, I have liked this measure where I will only watch a film at 7.0 above a 9.0 DB. I think Moneyballs is 7.7. -wow. -yeah, I’ve got high standards. -are you missing out? -no, there’s so much to wrap out there. -it’s a low of seven.

[00:34:11.320] – Andi J

-Con Air is one of the greatest films ever released. -i bet it’s a seven. -it’s not even that, honestly. Because the problem is movie snobs get involved. Con Air is, and I will fight anyone to the death, that is one of the greatest films.

[00:34:24.990] – David M

Ever released. It’s the CGI at the end where he flies into the Vegas Strip.

[00:34:28.720] – Andi J

It’s entirely atrocious, but that’s not the point. It’s like watching wrestling. What is it?

[00:34:33.880] – David M

-go on, tell me what it is. -it’s a 6.9. 6.9?

[00:34:36.100] – Andi J

Unfortunately, it would have been- You’re missing out. But it’s a bit like people who watch wrestling. You’re watching www. In the go, It’s not real. But the same people who will complain about that. We’ll go and watch Swan Lake and go, Oh, fantastic. It was amazing. They’re not fucking swans, though, are they? It’s still people pretending to be something and jumping around. I think people get that wrong with Con Air. Oh, that had never happened. It’s ridiculous. It’s a movie.

[00:34:58.660] – David M

Do you feel the same about Face-Off?

[00:34:59.830] – Andi J

I just thought Face-Off just lacked the charm of Armageddon, though, which is the same movie as Con Air, but in space. It’s the same film, right? It’s just in a different place. Movie reviews with Andi and Dave.

[00:35:13.750] – David M

So face-off got 7.3 just.

[00:35:16.870] – Andi J

For reference. I thought face-off lacked charm. I think that it just it was…

[00:35:20.960] – David M

Oh, you’ve got two very centred actors that swap positions.

[00:35:24.530] – Andi J

It’s brilliant. Yeah. I just think the thing is when you’re doing something that’s totally ridiculous, you have to have a little bit of ham about it and accept that it’s totally ridiculous. I think face-off took itself a little bit too seriously, whereas Con Air, Jon Malkovich, it’s like every scene is he’s almost looking at the camera in Con Air going, We know this is a bit of a mess as well. I’m winking at them.

[00:35:44.580] – David M

But you did. I thought I had high standards. But I’m.

[00:35:47.830] – Andi J

Telling you, I love the film. If someone said to me, You can only watch one film for the rest of your life, it’d be Con Air. I’m not complaining about it, but I think because it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I think face-off.

[00:35:58.280] – David M

Takes itself a little bit too seriously. What about The Rock? I love Nicholas Cage film.

[00:36:02.660] – Andi J

What a film. Yes. But again, Sean Connery in that, ensures that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Connery’s there going, I thought it was bomb. What are.

[00:36:11.790] – David M

We doing? People are going to skip through this section, but please finish off the rest of the podcast in your very shit. That’s Sean Connery access? That’ll be great. In fact, if you do that, I’ll let you out.

[00:36:23.150] – Andi J

Of the house. Excellent. Anyway, quickly, let’s finish the movie review section with your review of Moneyball and explain why are we talking about?

[00:36:31.350] – David M

But it’s a Moneyball is a great film. For those who haven’t read the book by Michael Lewis, the concept of Moneyball is based on something known as Sabre Metrix, which in baseball, there was a team called the Oakland Days, and they were way at the bottom of their league. They had one-twentieth of the wage bill of the New York Yankees or the Red Sox way at the top. There’s no way possibly that they could compete. So what they did is they looked for data that others overlooked. They used data analysis to basically find that it wasn’t a home run necessarily that they needed, but the concept of just getting on base. And the way Brad Pitt explains it in film, which I think is a beautiful scene, is that there are poor teams, there are really poor teams, then these 50 levels of shit, and then there’s us. So is the concept… Moneyball is the concept of how to compete when you don’t have anything to compete with. Money. So this concept of moneyballing a sport, in that case, baseball, just as a side trip, Oakland days reached the World Series within two seasons.

[00:37:32.360] – Andi J

No, they didn’t win it, though, to spoil it at the end of the film. They didn’t.

[00:37:35.250] – David M

Well, they didn’t, but it’s. But the rise in the ranks with such a low budget.

[00:37:40.030] – Andi J

And they also are the longest winning streak in the League history at that time or something as well. Yeah, that’s true.

[00:37:46.370] – David M

That concept has moved over to the world of cricket, to tennis, to golf, and to my sport to bring it back to Manchester United early, to football. There’s a firm known as Optorsport over here in the UK, and they analysed 300,000 goals. It’s trying to understand what are the attributes that lead towards a goal. Because it wasn’t necessarily the fact that a goal… Because a goal is quite a rare event in a football match, usually three or less within a Premier League game. What are the proponents, these patterns of play, the behaviours that lead towards a goal a goal or not? It’s not so the quantity of the goal, three nil, it’s the quality of the performance. It was the angle of the shot that this is the shot that possession of play. They created this metric known as expected goals.

[00:38:33.420] – Andi J

Or XG.

[00:38:35.680] – David M

This is now the most popularised metric in world football because it’s a predictor of quality. It’s not a retrospective view of quantity, i. E, a goal. Don’t these things sound very familiar? When we look at e-commerce, when we look at retail, we focus so much on the conversion, the goal, a rare, aggregated binary, retrospective event, a goal. We don’t focus enough on the quality of the performance, i. E, was a goal going to occur? Can we predict? Can we change in real time? Can we personalise our performance, our patterns of play, or how a customer would move through a website, for example, and be more appropriate to how we’re currently playing?

[00:39:18.570] – Andi J

And if you can do that at scale in an e-commerce website, you can then personalise. You can then understand where best to spend your time and investment and your optimisation to improve the journey for a customer showing the right intent, as opposed to just generally for everyone because you’re trying to squeeze more people through a page to get your 2%.

[00:39:42.700] – David M

The way I often describe it is the concept of more is more is just so archaic. I think it’s quite generational. I hope it’s a tongue. It’s a – How.

[00:39:50.770] – Andi J

Can you say it?

[00:39:52.620] – David M

-generational? Yes, thank you. This concept of more and more shouldn’t exist in today’s society. It’s less is more. Or I’d rather say more focus equals more impact. If you wanted to be really crude about it, but you’re looking at intent, you ignore those who are going to buy anyways, and you ignore the tire-kickers, and you focus on those in the middle. Really crude outlook. It’s not that simple. But that’s something that you could indeed do. It all comes down to prioritisation, as unsexy as that sounds.

[00:40:21.540] – Andi J

But are you still then overlaying marketing principles in terms of maybe not persona development, but I’m assuming you have to lump people into certain buckets. Seconds, yeah. When they’re on a step. Yeah, lumpers and splitters is a terminology. People who lump people into buckets or people who split them into lots of.

[00:40:38.920] – David M


[00:40:40.170] – Andi J

Macro or micro segmentation, really. You still have to segment them, lump them into different pots and then decide where you’re going to focus as an organisation. You still need to put that thinking in there, but you assist.

[00:40:51.040] – David M

With that. The reason why this comes back all the way back to the person and personalisation is all about the notion of care, or a better word, is probably appropriate. Don’t you feel that e-commerce websites are vastly inappropriate to the majority, the vast majority of people that come onto the site? Because they assume that everybody’s ready to buy. Why is there social proof on every single product page, for example, 50 people are looking at this. Just come in to see if this T-shirt will fit me, for goodness sake. It feels inappropriate at that point in time. I appreciate it might feel more appropriate when I’m being more persuaded or need a level of persuasion in order to buy. But right now you’re just inducing a level of anxiety. Or I’ve just visited the website, you’re immediately giving me 10 % off for goodness sake. In exchange for my email address, that happens everywhere. How in 2023 are we accepting of this behaviour? It feels so… What’s that word again?

[00:41:45.060] – Andi J

Generational. Generational? Generational. I was going to use a different word. I think you talked about value exchange earlier about giving your email address for 10 % off. That feels to me on the… It feels like paying for sex is how it feels like. It is a value exchange, but it’s a very functional type of value exchange. It is not a relationship type of.

[00:42:15.940] – David M

Value exchange. Hundred %, it’s a conversion-based value exchange. It’s transactional rather than relationship. What we’ve actually found with some of our customers, I can give this stat away, I think, because we only did it a couple of days ago, but as a newsletter signup, we found that we can increase newsletter signups by 22 % just by being more appropriate at the point in time that the user would require such a thing. For example, if they’re about to abandon or if they need a level of nurturing, rather than just leaving it on every single page, everywhere, the more appropriate you are, the more impact that you can create. That example to the tune of 22% and that was only one client. But yeah, the concept of more focus equals more impact or more appropriate equals more impact is one that absolutely resonates well with me, clearly, and it should resonate with everybody else. The notion of being more appropriate and caring for.

[00:43:09.310] – Andi J

Who is intent for? We’ll give it the big sales push for the next 30 seconds. Don’t tell us who you’re working with. You probably can’t do that. But what companies would benefit from where you are at the minute as an organisation? Because you’re early stage, right?

[00:43:23.570] – David M

Yeah, we’re still in a closed beta, but it’s for e-commerce only. We have two different models that allow us to understand the intent of the audience on an e-commerce website using signals that are pertained to whether a user will or will not purchase or abandon or add to bag, or in that case, sign up for a newsletter. It doesn’t matter what the action is. It’s the signals that lead up to the action. I generally think that the more considered purchase or the higher an average order value, which by nature makes it more considered, are best for this type of product because it’s about nurturing those users and then hard selling those ones that are just about ready to buy crudely.

[00:44:02.080] – Andi J

Okay, so you ring closed beta at the minute. Can you talk about the road map and when you think you’re going to launch? When you’re going to be out there in the open? Is that a.

[00:44:11.250] – David M

Public information? No. Okay, well, we can just go on. We can just go as we go. This is all experimental, but I can say that we’re just having a load of fun. But more important, so we’re a team of 12, we’re not just like one man band. What I can say, and if I route this back to what I said about panic attacks and therapy and being self-aware, I can’t begin to describe to you, I’m not just saying this, how much purpose I have within building something that I feel is not revolutionary, I think that’s the wrong word, but that has a value, a movement, a purpose, a meaning behind it, rather than just an agency that does some good work for some clients. And don’t get me wrong, we did some great work, but it feels much more purposeful.

[00:44:57.600] – Andi J

You’re not going to call it revolutionary. It’s difficult to call your own product revolutionary, but I’m not on commission yet, but or asking for a job. But people pitch products to me all the time, not to invest or anything like that, but would you be interested in using this product for your clients, blah, blah, blah? Honestly, most products are derivative of something else that’s out there. They’re quite the same. It might be able to help you do this thing slightly better, or we niche and just do that, and that product does all these six things, but you only want to do that one or vice versa. I rarely hear someone pitch my product and then you go, Hey, I don’t know anyone else doing that. But if you do ever hear that, you say, Yeah, I get that no one else is doing it, but I understand why no one else is doing it because you’re not solving a problem anyone cares about. But what you said was you solve a problem. Every retailer, every online retailer is worried about this problem. Everyone should understand that if they can improve the things you’re talking about, it will improve their business.

[00:45:58.610] – Andi J

I can’t think of anyone else who’s doing it. Now you’re probably telling me, Yeah, our ex-friends are doing it. But it just seems to feel really obvious. I was like, Yes, this is blindingly obvious that everybody needs this. If you sell online, you need this product. It feels like it should be as ubiquitous as Google Analytics. It should be on every e-commerce site, everywhere.

[00:46:19.990] – David M

I don’t disagree. There’s a book that I was encouraged to read by one of my board advisors called Play Bigger, and it’s all about creating a new category. I actually don’t think we’re creating a new category. I just think we’re evolving an existing category.

[00:46:31.950] – Andi J

So just to.

[00:46:33.340] – David M

Practise what I preach, I don’t see this product as a substitutional one. I never wanted to create a platform that I would have to go up to a retailer and then turn around and say, Yeah, but we’ve already got this for that, and we pay thousands of pounds a month for it. I’m like, That’s not what I’m about. A very clear example, whilst Inplace Beta, this beta, this is 750 pounds per month. It is not an expensive platform whatsoever. It’s not designed to be enterprise. The purpose behind it is to generally help. Our mission is to help retailers think in a different way, is to change their perspective and how we measure e-commerce and how we operationalize it.

[00:47:10.900] – Andi J

The way you talk about this sounds very similar to the way Rand Fishkin talks about SparkToro, completely different product, completely different segment, different category, whatever. But Ran talks about chill work, working from home. He talks about not worrying about churn, about people leaving the platform and coming back in a very different way to a lot of SaaS products. And you’re talking about not being enterprise and we’re just here. But I’ve seen SaaS products that I’ve used over the years that start out doing God’s work and doing great things. And then they hit the Disney-isation path where the investors or somebody else gets involved and all of a sudden it’s not about that anymore. Even Google, don’t be evil or whatever it was, Facebook, move, fast, break things. Yeah, it’s all right when you’re cool and you’re hip and you’re trendy and you’re stuff. We’re shit now. It’s gone. Do you not see a point in this, though, where your baby becomes the, what’s the terminator reference? Skynet or something like that? But that becomes the Skynet for e-commerce, where people start to use your product for the one thing that you never wanted it to be done for, which is just to scalp every last penny out.

[00:48:16.620] – David M

Of customers. No, being honest, no, I genuinely do not. I think the way that we’re building this and we are coaching people of how to utilise it is one that is designed for good. But what I do see is other people copying us. You know what? Those listen to us, copy it. Good. It doesn’t matter. When we were going round for an investment round, initially, the most important, biggest question is this defensible? My answer to that was no. It’s not defensible. But I’m good. I’m glad it’s not defensible. The concept of evolving a category means that other people should be on board. I don’t mind about not being the monopoly within that category.

[00:48:51.380] – Andi J

Investors care about that.

[00:48:52.580] – David M

Investors do. I don’t. I care about spreading the message and helping others change the perspective of how we measure and operationalize e-commerce. I just think that with our story, with our tech, with our purpose, with our ambition, the fact that you could call it first mover advantage, if you will, with all of those things struggling together, I think we will always be top of mind. As a result, I’m happy with that. I think we’ll do very well.

[00:49:17.010] – Andi J

From it. Before we move on to talk about a little bit more of your ancient history, what’s the URL for these sites?

[00:49:22.660] – David M

Anybody wants to have a look? It’s madewithintent. Ai. It’s an AI. The. Com was available as well, but it’s just too expensive.

[00:49:29.820] – Andi J

Just buy it. Otherwise, somebody else will. That’s true. Especially now they’ve heard this podcast and that’s what I’m doing this afternoon. How did you get here? You’ve written a book, you’ve started a technology company, but you’ve mentioned a couple of times about agency. Indeed, I cocked up at the beginning when I said, yeah, I called main for the intent, an agency. That’s because in your first interaction.

[00:49:53.800] – David M

I have an association with you.

[00:49:55.020] – Andi J

You’ve been agency. Talk to us about that. You were a CRO agency.

[00:49:58.400] – David M

I created user conversion in 2015. Purely accidentally, being honest with you. I remember sitting down with my friend Lee Terber before The Avengers in 2012, and that came out in Liverpool at Pete. Say, Lee, what? What I did we do with you today? Actually, what do you want to do with your life? He said, I want to start an agency. I said, Why the fuck could you want to do that? That sounds awful. It’s all about people and people hard. It’s not scalable. Three years later, I owned an agency and it was completely accidental and it just grew and grew and grew. It didn’t really have a purpose or a meaning behind it because it was accidental and it just happened as it happened. When the panic attacks settled in, I think, four years later, 2019, 2019, 2019, I think I remembered my first words to Joe, my now-therapist was, Hi, Joe. I feel like I’ve lost my identity. Because business was everything and I felt like every relationship that I had needed to be a transactional relationship. What am I getting out of this conversation? I feel like I’ve obviously done a full 180 when before I spoke to you and I was like, How should I be attributing such a thing when we’re having a conversation?

[00:51:15.050] – David M

It should just be in moment, right? That’s why I feel as though every interaction doesn’t need to be attributed. It should just be a relationship. That’s what I’ve learned over the years and months.

[00:51:26.030] – Andi J

My most important question about all this is, did you call it CRO? Cro or Crow?

[00:51:31.080] – David M

Oh, God. No one calls it Crow. Please don’t call it Crow.

[00:51:34.070] – Andi J

I’ve heard it. I’m just saying. People call it CO.

[00:51:38.050] – David M

Seo? Seo?

[00:51:38.990] – Andi J

Yeah. But unless you’ve got France, I think they call it CO. Oh, did they? I believe so, yeah. If both French listeners want to get in touch and let me know, that’d be lovely. There is some French listeners. But yeah, I believe in France they do.

[00:51:52.510] – David M

Call it that. No, you do not call it crow.

[00:51:55.100] – Andi J

Okay, that’s okay.

[00:51:56.480] – David M

I don’t feel like I’m in the CRO world anymore, despite doing personalisation, but I’m going to champion that.

[00:52:01.770] – Andi J

I’m going to draw a hard line on that one.

[00:52:02.950] – David M

I’m going to champion that.

[00:52:04.090] – Andi J

Perfect. What did you learn? You’ve talked about the personal impact on you, and I’m assuming from what you’ve said that the impact of the business did have on the panic attacks and formed part of where your identity. But you must have had some positives from that time as well. You must have enjoyed some of the things that you did and learned some lessons from.

[00:52:23.190] – David M

That as well. You have the nostalgia, right? Oh, wasn’t it scrappy? Wasn’t it fun? I remember when we had an expo, one of our first expos, I refused to pay for electricity. My mates are so illegal. My mate hooked up a car battery that weighed an absolute tonne. We generated our own electricity within this expo. We had to sneak past security and stuff like that. Those are the scrappy moments. So illegal. Those are the scrappy moments that you think look back and think that was a lot of fun. I don’t have any regrets. The self-awareness has taught me never to have those types of things. It’s all a learning experience, right? But all I can say is that it started as an accident and I was always on my heart and my sleeve. I always told people that. I was always very consistent, very truthful with that. Brain Labs acquired us in 2021, I think it was six years later. Those guys are great. Their emphasis on culture is outstanding. I think that’s what really drew me to Dan in particular.

[00:53:25.400] – Andi J

Talk to us about the acquisition. Not numbers or anything like that, but it’s not uncommon in agency world for people to set open and try and scale to a point where they can get acquired. But not everybody speaks particularly glowingly about the process, either the courtship process or the buyout process or what happens next. You sounded fairly positive about that. Talk to us a little bit about the floating stage and the deal stage and then the post-deal stage.

[00:53:54.460] – David M

I think being honest, Andi, I was quite removed from it. Again, just to reiterate, is because I never wanted to be a part that I never wanted to own this thing. An agency just wasn’t for me and it didn’t have my purpose behind it, which took me a while to figure out, obviously. I was quite removed from the whole process. My senior leadership team handle the majority of it, but it enabled me my only one request was to walk away semi-immediately because I needed time, I needed something. As an example, me and the family were supposed to go to Italy for three months when Max wasn’t in school because he was only three at the time, so he hadn’t started school. We didn’t have Zachary in my second. I needed a break, dude. I needed a sabbatical. We booked 18 Airbnb’s around Northern Italy on May the fourth, 2020. We all know what happened. I mean, first world problems, but everything got cancelled. But I always do look back and think, well, if I did say that sabbatical, would I have ended up selling? I don’t know. But what’s.

[00:55:01.760] – Andi J

In it? Yeah. So you didn’t have an earn out, which is.

[00:55:07.470] – David M

Probably unusual. No, I had a little bit of an earn out because obviously it’s just risk mitigation.

[00:55:11.910] – Andi J

For the acquirer. But not the standard two years you’ve got to stay working in the business and.

[00:55:15.550] – David M

All that thing. No, it was just my request because of what happened. It’s not what I wanted.

[00:55:20.950] – Andi J

One of the things you hear, and you mentioned the C-word already, but one of the things you hear about mergers, acquisitions, whatever, is that they’re always done on the balance sheet. The numbers are great. Some of the smartest people in the world get involved in them and it works for everyone. Or maybe it works for one company more than another, but everyone high fives and the ink’s dried on the paper and there you go. Then there are successful failure, not anything to do with the smart people in that room, but in terms of the culture fit and how the people are integrated and how that works. You mentioned the culture worked. Did you have any concerns about that? Or were you like, Look, I’m done now. Everyone’s stupid across and we’re away. How did you deal with that personally and how did the fit work for your guys going into work with Brain Labs?

[00:56:05.110] – David M

I’m going to be really honest with you here. For me, it was like a closed chapter in my life because it had such an emotional toll on… It was like a release almost. And as a result, I think I ostrich a little bit and was semi-ignorant in a lot of the process and also being removed from the acquisition process as a whole because my SLT team had the majority of the legwork. I don’t know. It was a difficult one to manage and to navigate.

[00:56:37.610] – Andi J

It sounds like you should be writing a book not about personalisation, but on how to sell a business. I’ve talked to not on this podcast, but I’ve talked to other people about selling businesses and some of the stories that you hear about the late nights, the extra work, the difficulties, letting go of your baby, getting to find the numbers right, the problems with people and who’s going to come. It just seems like it’s almost a utopia for many people until they get into it and then it just looks like a cluster of thought.

[00:57:01.820] – David M

Well, I think you just speak to the wrong person. I think that’s the only answer. You speak to someone who removed himself from the process.

[00:57:07.420] – Andi J

Yeah, but that’s what you should be writing a book about, how to sell a business properly without all the stress. Like David Mannheim.

[00:57:13.470] – David M

I would not go that far.

[00:57:14.660] – Andi J

Okay, well, look, there’s no further questions on that. Just coming back to because you’re a people person, and sometimes that’s used as an insult sometimes to people. But what have you learnt through running two businesses now and the ups and downs of all of that. What have you learnt about managing teams and managing people? How have you developed as a people manager with that?

[00:57:37.850] – David M

The appreciation that people are different. They learn differently at different speeds. They communicate differently at different speeds. I’m not to talk about some arbitrary dis profiling. I’m not to talk about some arbitrary Myers-Briggs profiling. I’m to talk about the concepts of balance, of flexibility, especially in a remote world, of care, practise of what we preach, ironically. It’s of integrity. As an example, just to put it into context, we use this platform called Thomas, Thomas Perform, actually. It allows you to understand the behaviour and personality profiles in the individual under different circumstances and the stress, how to motivate them, how to manage them. We use that for all of our workshops, all of our bigger sessions, sometimes one to one, progression talks, etc, because it allows us to understand, I don’t know, where this person is coming from a deeper level and perhaps I’m going over the top. I know other companies much larger than ourselves do that. But it’s just really important to me to understand the individual and their wants and their needs and be, let’s circle it back around, be appropriate.

[00:58:46.470] – Andi J

So the old days of just going out for a couple of days with people on a Friday afternoon and trying to get that way of doing it is still going out of fashion. You’re a remote.

[00:58:55.280] – David M

Team, right? Yeah. Well, everything’s in a relationship. I think it’s hard to… The hardest thing that we found it, or that I found and I’m really struggling with, is how to collaborate in the remote world. Yeah, we use Miro. Yeah, we use Microsoft Teams and what have you. But that’s not… That doesn’t replace a real relationship.

[00:59:13.940] – Andi J

Which, funnily enough, is why I’m here today in person. We could have done this on Zoom. We could have done everything we’ve done today remotely. But I think the depth and the texture of what you get, which some weird words when you talk about relationships, but I genuinely think it works better that way. I’m not suggesting that everyone has to be forced back to the office with a stick or anything like that, but I think there’s a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. And remote meetings is efficient. It’s not always effective.

[00:59:42.950] – David M

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, 100 %, especially when you’re spread across the UK, even abroad, we have one team member currently in Australia. It’s really hard.

[00:59:52.300] – Andi J

Really hard. Yeah. My thoughts and prayers to that person. Everything in Australia is dangerous. And recently I just saw the story about a woman who had an operation and had a worm. Oh, had a worm? I saw the worm. Yeah, Australia. There’s a big patch of water around it for a reason.

[01:00:05.360] – David M

Well, it’s just a worm. It’s a parasitic worm as well. It sounds like another film, doesn’t it?

[01:00:10.320] – Andi J

Yeah, absolutely. Worms in the head. That’s the next one. So on that note, David’s book, The Person in Personalization, is probably already sold out. I have the only signed copy of the book and I am not giving it away. So if you want a copy of The Person in Personalization, are you doing a second print run, David? Yeah, definitely. And where is the best place for people to… Do you have DavidMannheim.Com or anything?

[01:00:35.290] – David M

I do. There’s only one David Mannheim as far as I’m aware, anyways.

[01:00:40.070] – Andi J

Two Ms? One to one, David. Two Ms.

[01:00:42.820] – David M

You just find me on LinkedIn

[01:00:43.670] – Andi J

Something like that. I’ll put David’s contact details. He’s linkedin the Made With Intent website. Everything is in the show notes, which will be probably below where you’re listening or watching if you’re on YouTube. And if you’re on YouTube, David, give everybody a wave. There you go. Thank you very much.

[01:00:57.770] – David M

We’ll be back. Like a final film question or.

[01:00:59.790] – Andi J

What is.

[01:01:00.370] – David M

Your favourite film? I have three. Okay. Die Hard

[01:01:03.680] – Andi J

Die Hard, yes.

[01:01:04.950] – David M

Clearly, I’m a. Big Disney fan.

[01:01:06.230] – Andi J

Is that a Disney film?

[01:01:07.500] – David M

No. Yes. Excuse me. They bought Fox.

[01:01:10.110] – Andi J


[01:01:11.270] – David M

So Die Hard, I’m going to go with Hercules, the Disney film, the NBA one. And I will also go with The Incredibles because it’s a superhero film.

[01:01:20.360] – Andi J

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Hercules. Apologies for that. But The Incredibles is tremendous.

[01:01:25.560] – David M

It is

[01:01:25.760] – Andi J

Is a great film. David, thank you very much for your time. Cheers, man. Thank you