Barend van der Maas on Customer Loyalty and Data-Driven Marketing

Barend van der Maas

Former Head of Digital Subscriptions & Loyalty at Stuff, (now Global Customer Value Program Manager at Philips Healthcare), Barend van der Maas chats loyalty programmes and the importance of driving digital.


Barend van der Maas joined Stuff’s Customer Office as Head of Acquisition and Engagement in 2019 to drive the publisher’s marketing programmes across newspapers, magazine titles, digital media and Fibre proposition to create a step-change in performance, digitisation and data analytics.

His key role has been to transform the function of Stuff’s marketing team. from a brand-focused department to one which champions data-driven performance and commercial outcomes. Delivering outstanding commercial outcomes while balancing customer relationships and engagement earned him a finalist spot in the 2020 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards, Marketer of the Year category.

Following his nomination, van der Maas sat down with me for a discussion about his role at Stuff, the importance of a data-driven marketing strategy and his love for the industry.

“I was incredibly proud to be included in the top 8 best marketeers in New Zealand. Getting recognition for the hard work and passion that I have poured into the marketing profession over my career is a great feeling,” he says of the nomination.

Before joining Stuff, van der Mass held marketing roles at Royal Bank of Scotland, Vodafone Netherlands and Vodafone New Zealand working across direct, loyalty, distribution, product development and overall inbound marketing. Given his broad knowledge and experience in marketing, I began by asking him:

What do you love about marketing? What got you into the career?

I love the diverse dynamic and human, creative, commercial and technologic blend of modern marketing. The idea that thousands of people buy or use a service that I designed or marketed with my personal- and team’s energy.  In particular the ability to maximise the commercial or customer satisfaction outcome on a large scale gives me a kick. I love the detail of advanced analytics and the ability to measure, track and translate a customer need into a working proposition or marketing programme.

Why should data-driven marketing should be a key strategy for all brands?

As Lord Kelvin put it quite simple: “to measure is to know”, and to know is to predict and control. Plus, efficiency and effectiveness gains with automated and data-driven marketing (particularly on smaller segments) generally outweigh manual and employee resource investments. Let’s not forget though that the numbers express customer needs, wants and intent. Understanding your customers needs, the context and relevance of your interactions, combined with a drive to outcomes (plus a bit of magic) are key to marketing success. I see a lot of companies building large teams of data scientists investing in advanced analytics but not in marketing capability or marketing departments in parallel. Insight without the understanding of how to create differentiation, to commercialise or the ability to action the insights through your sales or communication channels is pointless.

What has been your most significant achievement throughout your career?

The Stuff Supporter programme and the delivery of the Vodafone NZ Next Best Action (omnichannel marketing) programme (as describer in my career summary) which has taken over a year to build and implement. 

Tell me about your work on the Stuff Supporter programme?

The idea for a donations programme was floated a few times over the past years but never came to life due to other priorities. In our new reality with Google and Facebook eating away at our digital advertising revenue by using our content, and our competitor having launched a paywall with mixed success, it was more clear than ever we had to come up with new ways to monetise our digital content.

The challenge was to find the best way that would fit Stuff as a trusted  brand for New Zealand communities. I wanted to reinvigorate the interest in the voluntary contributions idea based on the facts, building this segment approach as a lead-in to a broader digital transformation roadmap. Through customer research I identified the target segment details, size and appeal across our user base: which of our engaged audiences feel most aligned to our journalistic purpose and are willing to contribute to? Whom should we target, with what narrative and how should we organise our re-targeting were the key parts of the puzzle to solve with the cross-functional project team.

The idea for a Supporter Community got approved and the pandemic hit. Programme delivery during Lockdown was stressful for me due to project management from home as well as the challenge of getting the launch timing right. The country was in Lockdown and news about media companies that struggled or were pulled from the market created a sense of urgency to support the diversity of the New Zealand media landscape. Total news consumption was up and the understanding that stuff was a platform of crucial information during the lockdown helped drive the success of the programme from April 20th to what it is today.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face working in the media environment?

To eliminate the silo’s, integrate digital marketing strategies with editorial-, commercial- and product roadmaps and leverage our group knowledge to drive to the best sustainable outcomes for the business on the long term.

Where do you see your career headed in the next 5-10 years?

I love to dream big, get innovative data-driven stuff done and have fun with inspiring people. I also love to keep using the passion I have for marketing to create meaningful change in the world. My career will be headed to any personal development opportunities that tick these boxes. At this moment Stuff is the place to be with a fresh, new and bold approach under local ownership.


To read the profiles of all the winners from the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2020, get a copy of our Awards Issue, here.

David Nothling-Demmer

About David Nothling-Demmer

David Nothling-Demmer is Editor of NZ Marketing magazine.

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