When I was in the sixth form, everyone had to do a little test that was then used to suggest future careers. My results suggested that I should work towards becoming a fast food restaurant manager, which was disappointing because I desperately wanted to be a broadcast journalist. Now, I own a marketing business, provide consultancy to other organisations and speak on stages. Careers are funny things.
How did I get here, and how is this relevant to what my team and I offer at LikeMind Media?
I chose not to enrol in the managerial programme at McDonalds. There is nothing wrong with working at McDonalds, but it wasn’t where my heart was. Instead, I chose a very traditional route to becoming a journalist by reading English at university. It taught me that I didn’t have to like Shakespeare but that many people claimed to and, if you wanted friends, you should perhaps pretend.
Aside from some very ‘interesting’ times, the skills I gained from university include being able to read extremely quickly, an ability to write in many different styles and understanding characters (turns out this is quite important for audience building).
I refused to go and be a skivvy for a media company in London for next to no pay, so instead I worked in a call centre instead. People often denigrate call centre operatives, but there’s a skill in being able to talk to a variety of people of different backgrounds, communication skills and temperament. It gave me a good foundation for understanding how conversations work.
Before setting up LikeMind Media, most of my career was based in the world of technology. I was a CRM consultant for a number of years, focusing on how combining great customer service, building relationships with customers and prospects with technology could help businesses grow. Towards the end of my time in ‘corporate’, we started to see some emphasis on this new thing called social media as a way of making connections and developing relationships online. At the time we didn’t think it would be as big as it clearly is today – it was just fun and interesting.
Social media allowed me to build a network of great contacts, people who I have deep friendships with today. It gave me a voice in the industry and gave me some great opportunities, such as attending international conferences in the US (I remember being allowed to fly from Washington, DC to Heathrow business class because the accompanying director was, and the optics of me being in coach wouldn’t have been great).
On these trips I would create content, mainly social posts, blogs and videos, about latest developments and how businesses could use them. It’s exactly what I do today.
Although I didn’t get a marketing degree, my knowledge was built from the experience of crafting content and understanding what worked. I’ve gone back and done some formal training to see whether I was missing anything. Honestly? I’d summarise that I haven’t missed much, and that learning while doing gives me the real-world evidence I can apply to our current clients.
BTW, if you want a job in marketing, but you don’t want to go to uni, feel free to get in touch with us.
I didn’t set out to be a business owner, but I knew I wanted to apply my experience of content marketing to other businesses and to help organisations understand the power of social media in particular. In the nearly six years that LikeMind Media has been around, we’ve seen massive changes in the styles of marketing that audiences respond to and many updates to the technology that’s available to assist growth of audience growth, recall, lead generation and conversion. But basic principles have really not changed since I started in the world of work more than 20 years ago.
Understand your customer and place them at the centre of everything you do
Acknowledge how someone feels and say ‘sorry’ if you need to
Show people how they can succeed and/or get the result they want
Teach, show, encourage, support
Start conversation, but listen
Try new ideas, new techniques and understand how they might change things
All of these apply to marketing today. It’s an exciting time. The last year in particular has thrown up many challenges. It has also confirmed to me the importance of human-centred marketing and the need to be agile – exactly what we demonstrate at LikeMind Media.