As a publically funded organisation, Tech City UK works across industries, which means that the brand can be consumer facing at one moment and government focused in the next.
Turner’s role lies in balancing communication to promote and advocate for the digital sector, inform policy makers and run a range of programmes including the Digital Business Academy, Cluster Alliance, Future Fifty and HQ-UK. She admits it can be challenging.
Since its formation in 2012, Tech City UK has grown its presence massively. What do you attribute to the growth and awareness of the Tech City brand?
I think there is something macro at work here, which is people’s fascination with this sector. We’re kind of at this transformative moment where digital contributes pretty significantly to the economy. So, there’s a lot of focus and interest in the space right now. Start-ups are pretty sexy and it’s kind of the new rock and roll.
To talk specifically about the work that we do for the brand, we’ve really tried to build out great content and take a very cross-channel approach to delivering that content. So, we adapt our tone and our narrative when we’re doing something on LinkedIn, versus Facebook, versus Twitter. We try to understand demographically who’s in the audience and what content gets engagement and we tweak that effectively throughout the brand.
We have also focused on PR and building out stronger relationships with the media and making sure we can tell a consistent and cohesive narrative.
As an information provider for digital skills, how do you implement the strategies that you teach within your own brand strategy?
If you’re a marketer these days you have to be data driven. Everything we do here is about real-time data driven marketing and content marketing, so I guess we’re also trying to imbue those courses with that focus as well.
I am currently trying to recruit a marketing technologist, which is a role that doesn’t really exist using that language in the UK, but it does in the US. I think something like 25-50% of businesses in the US employ that role and it something that is completely metric/KPI driven. So, I guess the way we think about it here is we think about content and content creation, and we think about connectivity and partnerships, co-marketing and using data across those areas.
The same stuff is also fundamental in how you would build digital skills. With regards to Digital Skills Academy we wanted to provide some kind of focus on the commercial aspect of how you go through the business set-up and then how you think about spinning up a digital brand and digital marketing. So, it’s really a focus on things like growth attribution or social media marketing.
Last year, Tech City UK’s brand strategy focused on changing the image of start-ups and entrepreneurs for the average school leaver. Has this changed since?
Our overarching narrative is looking at how can we drive for the digital economy in the UK, but then we always have to slightly adapt the message depending on which audience we are speaking to.
It’s challenging because we have a lot of different audiences so I would suggest that strategy is still important for our consumer audience and that’s what we’re doing in a way for Digital Business Academy. We’re saying anyone can potentially be an entrepreneur and here are the access to the skills you need.
With government, who is another one of our audiences, it’s about continuing to focus on the key issues that start-ups face around things like finance or skills or infrastructure. Then for start-ups themselves it’s saying we can help you move roadblocks around those sorts of things.
Is there any particular area or new development you will be focusing on for the year?
Currently, there’s a lot of support for businesses at the early stage, a lot of incubators, accelerators – there are 36 accelerators in London here alone, so we feel that section of the business lifecycle is quite well-catered for as well as the later stages.
There’s a bit of a challenge around when a business has come out of an accelerator program and is starting to look for its next stage of funding. That’s where there’s actually a little bit of a lack of focus and lack of support. We’re looking at the possibility of a programme in that part of the lifecycle as one of our key focuses for the year.
As much as we’re trying to work to accelerate businesses in the UK we also see the UK as a fantastic place to build a digital business from and we’re working really hard to try and create the right set of conditions. There’s very much a dialogue on an international level, it’s about saying we have a fantastic ecosystem, we have great talent and great businesses coming out of the UK through programmes like HQ UK.
What are some of the marketing challenges for Tech City UK?
The thing about the tech sector is it moves so quickly and staying on top of what’s happening is always going to be challenging, but I’ve worked in tech for the last 15 years of my career and its one of the things that I love about it. Although its challenging its also hugely exciting to know how technology will disrupt traditional industries like financial services, fashion, creative industries and advertising.
The thing about having all of these different audiences and stakeholders that we speak to, is that it means there is some nuancing and complexity to the way we articulate the message. When we think about the consumer its about saying ‘entrepreneurship is the option’, but for government it may be ‘the community needs change in areas of finance’ and then for community its about how can we help them speed and scale up so there’s this constant process of nuancing the message.