As November 2016 drew to a close, something struck me… I’ve been working in digital marketing for 10 years. I’ve been pixel-pushin’ for a decade!
To say I’ve enjoyed a varied career to date would be an understatement. So far I’ve plied my marketing mind to:
Art, Architecture, Boat Tours, Business Schools, Bus Tours, Camping Holidays, Charities, Cheese, Destinations, Hotels (too many to mention!), Investment Consultants, Luggage Transporters, Magazines, Magic Festivals, Marketing Consultancies, Meat, Mindful Gifts, National Cycling Initiatives, Office Space, Pies, Property Rentals, Public Health Agencies, Sandwiches, Software, Solicitors, Transportation, Universities, Vineyards, Whisky, Whisky Societies and World Famous Events.
Allow me the self-indulgence to reflect on my story so far… (insert a wobbly screen and flashback scene here)
Rewind to the Summer of 2006
Daniel Powter was having a ‘Bad Day’ and James Blunt was just getting started with his worldwide campaign of annoyance/musical career with ‘You’re Beautiful’. Daniel Craig enjoyed his first ‘shaken, not stirred’ Martini in ‘Casino Royale’ while ‘Borat’ was busy destroying cultural ties with Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, Scotland, a small miracle occurred… I graduated from University.
Despite graduating with a hard-earned 2:1 before the fun-filled ‘great recession‘ of the late 2000’s, I still found it incredibly difficult to find a marketing job back in the summer of 2006.
Fresh-faced, full of textbook-theory and sporting an annoyingly bouncy enthusiasm, I had very little commercial experience beyond the retail jobs I had while studying. Sinking heart and soul into job application after job application, I’d occasionally get an interview, only to be told I needed more experience. The old catch-22.
Finally, in the November of 2006 and days away from lowering my expectation of starting at ‘executive level’, I was given my break into the marketing world by then Marketing Director and Marketing Manager of Apex Hotels, Scott Davidson and Lorna Lee. Exactly why they decided to give me a break, I’m still not sure, but suffice to say I remain truly grateful to this day. So there I was, a wet behind the ears Marketing Executive for an incredibly forward thinking hotel group with big aspirations.
The next 5 years would involve a healthy mix of professional, economical and personal challenges, but like any good roller coaster… after I finished throwing up, I graduated to Marketing Manager and was ready to start the next chapter.
Joining a Union
Apex was a fantastic experience but I started to worry that I was becoming a one-trick-hotel-marketing-pony. I weighed-up the options and spotted an opportunity to test my skills as a Senior Account Manager within Edinburgh based advertising agency The Union.
There I would join an incredible bunch of creative and digital experts, working on a wide range of clients to add some breadth to my marketing skill-set, while simultaneously destroying my liver.
Working on complete end-to-end website builds and a range of digital projects, it was a genuine pleasure to learn from such a talented team, creating ad campaigns that would rival the very best of Madison Avenue.
But I got fidgety again after a year and three months. What about all these media agencies? Media planning and buying had always interested me and the opportunity to expand my experience and join a sub-brand of the world’s largest media investment group, GroupM, was too tempting to ignore.
Joining MediaCom as a Digital Media Manager was perhaps the biggest challenge I’ve had in my career to date. In 6 incredibly quick months, I learnt that while media planning and buying is an exciting industry, it wasn’t the right one for me. I struggled with what I found to be significant dependencies on others when planning campaigns and to some extent, the limitations of the job remit – you plan the campaign, you get the creative, you execute. If the creative is awful, it doesn’t matter, it’s not your job to offer guidance on what might convert better, you execute and move on.
Let me be very clear that I have nothing bad to say about the agency or anyone who works there. They’re an especially talented and organised bunch and I’m proud to have worked there, albeit briefly. It just wasn’t the right fit for me.
The Lure of Hotels
7 years into my career and having sampled a diverse range of industries, I had my first career epiphany – I really enjoy the hotel and travel marketing sector. When the opportunity to join the digital marketing agency that we worked with at Apex Hotels, Occupancy Marketing (now 80 Days) as a Senior Account Manager, I was delighted to return to an industry I love.
But why hotels? Ultimately, I love to travel and find it fascinating that strong, effective marketing in the hospitality space can evoke that sense of wanderlust, that desire to explore the world. I’m easily swayed by evocative travel imagery on Instagram, let alone destination marketing campaigns and glossy hotel video.
Over 2 incredibly rewarding years later, I had my second career epiphany – I really enjoy marketing a business. Gaining experience in Account Management was vital to my personal and professional development, but I started to realise that front-line marketing was where I wanted to be. For me, nothing beats full end-to-end marketing, idea to delivery, learn and repeat. Seeing the results of successful digital marketing campaigns and conversely, pouring over the data for those that don’t do so well and finding ways to improve… that’s where I wanted to be.
It pained me to move away from an industry I love and a fantastic team, but a customer-side role with a growing software company beckoned…
SaaS Roller Coaster
So here I am now, Marketing Manager for Administrate, a dynamic e-Learning SaaS (Software as a Service) company that produces an industry leading, cloud-based Training Management System (TMS) and Learning Management System (LMS).
It’s a very different environment to anywhere I’ve worked before – rapid change, rapid growth and a pace of work that even Usain Bolt would struggle with. But the pace of work is matched by the pace of learning – I’ve learned so much during the last 9 months, expanding my marketing toolkit with some really smart ideas and initiatives, working within an incredibly switched-on company.
Who knows? There’s fun in the unknown! I only know that I’m the most motivated I’ve ever been and better prepared for what life throws at me, having lived a decade of digital.
Roll on 44 and the next reflective post!