Last week was quite a week – firstly I ‘appeared’ on stage at Marketing Week Live. When I say appeared, that is a slight play on words, as I was actually back stage being filmed via a very blurry lens so that my image was streamed live on stage but in such a way that my identity was kept a mystery.
Secondly, two work experience students were spending a fortnight with us in the office to see if a career in marketing was what they wanted when they graduate in two years’ time.
At the Marketing Week event, I was quizzed by the audience on my views on a variety of matters – including how to get marketing recognised by a discerning board, and how marketing can make a difference in an unexciting sector. In the office, the work experience students were set to work on a project which they had to pitch back to me on their final day – how to convince me that spending £100,000 on a social media campaign would benefit my brand.
These two events, while completely unrelated, were similar in that they required me to use the questioning side of my brain for the first time in quite a while.
In today’s busy environment, I spend all my time in execution – responding to urgent demands from the board, signing off business cases for activity that was already committed to before it was written. I don’t get the time to think any more.
The fact that a 19-year-old with no marketing experience presented it as her great idea is telling
On stage, I recounted my experience of how I once worked in a very dull sector, where fewer than 30% of consumers even knew the name of the brand they were using, and I reflected on the brainstorming the marketing team undertook, the research we did, the testing, and then the (successful) execution of a strategy to address the issue.
In the pitch from my undergraduates, one proposed a PR stunt using balloons at railway stations and outside office blocks, to promote our Facebook and LinkedIn sites. While in itself this is not a revolutionary concept, the fact that a 19-year-old with no marketing experience presented it to me as her great idea, is in itself quite telling. Why hadn’t I thought of it? When was the last time I’d actually sat back and reflected on my brand’s challenges, and then used the skills I’ve honed over the years to come up with a creative response?
I think I need some time off to think…