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Digital Daniel clicks for business

The background

Although Daniel is now the owner of a digital marketing agency, his career almost took a very different turn. Daniel originally came to UCLan to study law, before feeling pulled towards a career in marketing. “I realised that my main skills lie in being creative, and I knew I needed to be doing something where I could put that to good use,” he says.

A year in, Daniel opted for a degree in marketing. The course gave him the opportunity to take a sandwich year, which he feels helped give his career an added boost. He adds: “I worked full time for Blackburn Rovers for a year in a marketing role as part of my degree, which was great as I developed a lot of skills. Because I was used to working full time, when I went back to University for my final year I felt I could fit some more marketing work around my studies, so I worked on a number of freelance projects throughout my final year. One of these was a part worn tyre supplier in Widnes, I built him a simple website and achieved a number one ranking on Google. He'd never been online before but was suddenly getting around a hundred enquiries a month through the website. I also helped a local beauticians in Leyland grow using social media as its main promotional tool. Within a year, they had taken on four new members of staff due to the level of growth.”

After graduating, Daniel almost immediately secured a marketing manager role with Allspeeds Ltd, a national engineering solutions company based in Accrington. He held the role for two years, before taking a leap of faith and deciding to launch his own business.  

The journey

Not one to take a conventional approach, Daniel says he made the decision to start his own business while on holiday. He explains: “In my role I’d come across lots of digital marketing agencies, and I kept finding that a lot of them didn’t offer everything I needed, or they under-delivered. There were times I’d ask for certain things and they’d say it couldn’t be done. I’d think to myself – it can, I know how to do it myself! Then it occurred to me that I had something to offer.

“I was away on holiday when I made my final decision. I flew back home a day early, told my boss I was leaving and started to make plans. I had a month’s notice to work at my job and then I was on my own, so essentially I had to launch my business in a month.”

Daniel launched Howdan Marketing in 2012, and built up a reputation for helping small companies grow. The company ended up working on a number of projects with Digital Dog Software, an app development company also based in Preston. 

“We were teaming up with Digital Dog Software a lot, and passing work each other’s way all the time,” Daniel says. “In the end, it made sense to merge the two companies and create a truly full service digital offering.”

In October 2014, the two companies merged and began operating under a new name, Blush Digital, headed up by Daniel and Dan Cooper, formerly of Digital Dog Software. Blush employs nine staff, specialising in app development, web design, and digital marketing, including SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), Pay Per Click (PPC), and social media.  

The future

Daniel credits the experiences gained on his degree at UCLan for helping him to achieve his goals, and wants to give something back to the University and help the latest generation of entrepreneurs. He is now a business mentor for UCLan’s MORE programme, and provides social media and SEO workshops for UCLan’s Northern Lights.

Talking about the business support initiatives, Daniel says: “UCLan was where it all began so I’m enjoying being able to give something back and help others. There are lots of very experienced mentors on the programme who have worked in business for a long time so at first I was surprised to be asked as I’m relatively young. However, I think the younger generation has a lot to offer the business world, we’ve grown up around digital media and I’m helping people to use those skills to get results.”

So far Daniel has mentored companies such as another digital agency and a video production company, and is currently working with international student applications system Centurus, which won the Best Digital prize at Lloyds Bank Enterprise Awards 2014.  

Daniel added: “It’s really about stopping businesses making mistakes, such as under-pricing themselves. When a business is new it can be tempting to offer low prices but it won’t help you to grow in the long run. I want to help businesses avoid these pitfalls and get ahead, because being successful in something you care about is a great feeling.”

Lateef Badat, business advisor for Northern Lights, said: “Business is changing and the explosion of digital has a significant impact on businesses. Digital natives like Daniel understand this impact and most importantly, how it affects the behaviour of customers. Expertise like his are vital for business growth in a digital age, and he is a valuable addition to both the MORE and Northern Lights programmes.”