Trust your instincts and back them up with facts – the key to iGoDirect’s success

iGo Direct is a customer engagement company specialising in integrated marketing, customer loyalty programs, and targeted marketing campaigns. “We solve problems through our strategic use of customer data,” founder Pat Dalton explains. “It’s the kind of thing I had been involved in earlier in my career, but I saw an opportunity to really develop the concept further, and that’s how iGo Direct was born.”

Part of iGo Direct’s success is down to their pride in their service offering, and being at the forefront of an evolving landscape – to many, the idea of a company providing targeted marketing services is a relatively new concept. Pat explains that staying ahead of the trend is essential. “For instance, we have a company called Rewards Come True. It’s part of the iGo Direct group and it handles our rewards programme,” she says. “It’s at the forefront of changing customer behaviour, rewarding them with a pre-paid product, so that when we give them a reward card or gift card, we can track their transactional spend, and then we aggregate that to understand what motivates people to engage, their behaviour, and change their purchases. Then we provide those insights at an aggregate level back to the customer.”

A Melbourne-based business, iGo Direct has recently expanded globally, with clients in London and Paris. “It wasn’t intentional actually,” Pat admits. “It was one of those situations where the opportunity arose and we jumped at it. One of our clients had a UK branch, and asked us to provide our services there. That gave us a footprint into a wider European market, and the next thing we knew Paris was there as well.”

Although Pat admits that expanding into the European market has been exciting, it’s not been without it’s challenges. “Not having that face-to-face contact is tough,” she admits. “There’s only so much you can accomplish over the phone. And there’s the issue of time zones. So managing the London and Paris operations from Melbourne can be complex, but it’s absolutely worth it and something we’re looking to explore even further in the next 5 years.”

When it comes to business growth, Pat explains her unique concept. “I have a strategy called 20/20 vision,” she explains. “It’s what the business will look like by 2020. So we’ve got the overseas market, but locally we’re aiming to be Australia’s top customer engagement company.”

Looking back, Pat recalls that she bootstrapped her start-up and initial growth phases, something she’d rethink if she had to do it over again. “I probably would have taken some investment earlier, rather than bootstrap,” she says. “We probably could have got to this point in half the time if I’d taken the risk of a business loan or looked for investment. At the time I didn’t have the risk appetite.”

So what advice would Pat give to anyone who’s starting out in business?

  • Trust your instincts, but back them up with facts. “You have to back yourself,” she says. “Go with your instincts, but work hard to get the facts to confirm you’re on the right track. You need nerves of steel.”

  • Understand business as well as your profession. “Just because you’re an expert at what you do doesn’t mean you’ll succeed in business,” she says. “It’s important to learn about how your business is going to work. Take the time to get some business management training, and make sure you’ve got a solid structure in place with roles clearly mapped out.”

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