Hi Kat, thanks for talking with us. To start with, how long have you worked in Marketing and what roles have you had along the way?
I’ve worked in marketing for around 10 years now, with different roles along the way.
After graduating I worked as a Client Executive for a small marketing consultancy in Buckinghamshire, which was a very different environment and experience to the internship I had for a global tech company. We had clients from a range of sectors so I had opportunities to work on lots of different projects from rebrands and new websites, to delivering social media training and email campaigns.
I was there at the time when social media marketing and digital marketing started to become more mainstream and accessible to smaller businesses. I took every opportunity to build my understanding of digital: going to conferences and tradeshows, and watching every webinar on the subject.
Later I moved to a Digital Marketing Executive role in London for an education provider; it was a larger business and an in-house marketing team. I wanted to work in a busy office in the city. The role was more specialist and really developed my digital skills, especially learning more HTML and new website platforms.
Over the years, I progressed to Manager level. Alongside that came the opportunities you’d expect of working with budgets, forecasting and managing a team. The level of responsibility increased again when I moved in to a Head of Marketing role as you become accountable for a larger remit and become more involved in steering the direction of Marketing at a more strategic level.
How about your education. Do you have a degree and have you done any professional qualifications?
I studied Marketing Management at undergraduate level. The syllabus for my degree was very closely matched to the IDM’s syllabus, so we could choose to sit an additional exam for a professional qualification in Direct Marketing, which I did.
Other than that, I’ve gone on lots of different training courses throughout my career ranging from managerial training to copywriting, presentation skills and everything in between.
How do you keep up-to-date with marketing trends and what is your trend to watch?
Good question. A lot of my friends work in the industry and sector so trends naturally come up when we meet up. I subscribe to several email newsletters too which land in my inbox on a daily basis. I can’t read them all, but I usually have a quick scan through in the morning, read any stories which are of particular interest and share them with the team.
The trend to watch…the backlash against social will be interesting to see pan out. More people are complaining about the irrelevance of content on social, so it’s going to come to a head I think. Ultimately, consumers are looking for authenticity when it comes to the businesses they engage with. There’s currently a rise in the use of chatbots so I’m interested to see how AI will overcome the authentic and personable approach that so many consumers are looking for rather than faceless corporations.
You’ve told us about the roles you’ve held, which marketing field interests you most?
Websites are probably my favourite things to work on. They can prove very frustrating but you can also get so totally absorbed in looking at statistics and user journeys. I pretty much have our analytics open all day, every day to keep an eye on our sites and what’s going on where. I’m sure it annoys my team…
I also like to see how different businesses are trying to pull the physical and digital experience more closely together. There’s some really good examples of digital being combined with in-store experiences through retailers – I’ve seen Zara on Oxford Street introducing AR and self-checkouts.
As Head of Marketing, what 3 skills would you say are crucial to the role?
Communication skills are a must in this role, we’re a small team who work very closely together, so it’s important that everyone feels they are able to ask questions and make suggestions. My role also means that I work with lots of different teams and stakeholders so it’s really important that I can communicate any requirements clearly and respond to any requests. Negotiation also probably falls in this too, particularly with deadlines!
Analytical skills are also important. We are a relatively small team and we have lots of ideas and requests to support. It’s important that I make sure we spend our time in the areas where we can make the biggest impact.
I’m not sure it’s a skill as such, but I do think that being inquisitive is an important quality too. As a team, we don’t want to do things because they’ve always been done that way, we want to understand what our customers want and why, whether they’re internal or external. That way we can work out if there’s something even better we can do for them. It’s about having the desire to constantly adapt and improve.
What advice would you give to students on, or thinking about working in Marketing?
Read everything you can in the trade press, and try and think about why businesses do things the way they do. Some will relate to who the target market is, some will relate to a brand proposition, some will be purely data driven decisions. Every small detail will have been considered by someone in a marketing team at some point.
I noticed the other day that every retail store for one womenswear retailer has the same fragrance, I don’t think it’s coincidence, just a really subtle and clever branding activity (and yes I bought something when I was in store).
As you can see, you need the necessary knowledge and skills in marketing theory and practice, as well as have effective management and critical thinking skills to progress in Marketing. You need to be able to critically evaluate current trends whilst being a creative and innovative thinker that improves business practice.
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