Could you be an Engage Awards 2014 Rising Star?

Rising Star 2013 winner Sarah Bulling, product communications manager, at LV=, explains what winning the trophy meant to her, how she improves her marketing skills and what trends she sees as important this year.

rising star

Marketing Week: What did it mean to you to win the Engage Award Rising Star trophy?

Sarah Bulling: Winning the Rising Star trophy was a huge shock. I never thought I’d even be shortlisted, let alone win, so it was the most amazing feeling and definitely my career high so far! It’s also extremely rewarding to be recognised within the marketing field, especially by such a prestigious magazine as Marketing Week.

MW: How has your year progressed since the Engage Awards? What projects have you worked on with what aims?

SB: It’s been a very busy year which has absolutely flown by! It’s been a great year for awards – I was fortunate enough to receive an internal recognition award for the second year running, and my team have won some more external Marketing Awards for our car insurance campaigns, which is great. The next few months are looking extremely busy where I’ll be involved in lots of exciting projects to hopefully continue LV=’s success into 2014 – watch this space!

MW: What advice would you give to anybody preparing to submit a Rising Star entry? What should they approach their submission and what should they try to illustrate?

SB: Don’t be afraid to enter, you’ve got nothing to lose and it’s free! Make sure your entry is truthful – if you’re shortlisted you’ll need to present to the judges so you need to be knowledgeable about what you’ve worked on or you may get caught out! Be creative and passionate in your writing style as you need to make your entry memorable; the judges have lots of entries to go through so you need to make sure yours really stands out. And focus on what you’ve actually delivered and how that’s driven change or improvement – you may have been a wonderful employee, but if you haven’t really made a difference to your company then you’re unlikely to be shortlisted.

MW: Where do you find inspiration for your ideas and approach to your work?

SB: I’m always looking for inspiration in all sorts of things I come across – other TV adverts, clips on Youtube, news articles, technology developments – but also just in discussions and debates with colleagues. I’m passionate about marketing and trying to understand and interpret consumer behaviour so hopefully this passion really shines through in my approach to work.

MW: Who has been the biggest inspiration in your professional life and what was the key thing you learnt from them?

SB: My direct inspiration has come from my marketing manager Nick Whitnell and marketing director Guy Hedger. We’ve worked together in the LV= marketing team for over 6 years now, growing the LV= brand significantly, and over this time I’ve learnt an enormous amount and developed immensely. Beyond that I take inspiration from successful women in business such as Nicola Mendelsohn and Jayne-Anne Gadhia who prove that women can go all the way!

MW: What brand campaign/strategy has most impressed you this year?

SB: I’ve really loved O2’s ‘Be More Dog’ campaign, and how a simple idea can be interpreted so easily to communicate a desirable brand personality, warmth and likeability. At first I wasn’t sure whether it was too ‘weird’ or risky, but the more I see of the campaign, the more I love it, suggesting it’s a campaign with great staying power.

MW: How do you plan to further develop your knowledge and career?

SB: My next aim is to apply for and hopefully be accepted onto the Marketing Academy Scholarship programme – a free year long programme for 30 of the UK’s fastest rising stars in marketing, advertising and communications. This would be such an amazing experience to be a part of, and as my Rising Star prize allows me to be automatically shortlisted past the first round, fingers crossed I’ll make the cut!

MW: What customer trend do you think marketers should pay attention to in 2014?

SB: I think that as consumers expect increasingly personalised, time-relevant communications, brands need to respond to this effectively, whilst planning carefully how they use customer data. How developments in GPS data can be used effectively to create relevant location-based communications, without consumers feeling ‘stalked’, will be key, whilst industry developments such as Sky Adsmart could make effective personalisation possible even through mass media channels. Ultimately though, any personalisation needs to offer value and benefit to the consumer for them to fully engage with and respond to it, and only then will a brand see it truly deliver results.

Watch a video of Sarah at last year’s Engage Awards here.

It is free to nominate a candidate for the Rising Star award and self-nominations are welcome but employers must outline the impact the candidate has had on their business. For more details click here

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