1) Congratulations on your recent award, could you tell us a little more about it?
I was pretty chuffed to be named ‘Creative Individual of the Year 2017’ at the B2B Marketing People Awards. The award was only soured by my reaction – which was a bit embarrassing, like a kid on energy drinks. Let’s move on…
I understand that I picked it up for doing whatever I can to try new things with my B2B marketing, which is something I believe strongly in. The more different your marketing, the more likely it is to stand out and achieve something. Which is an ethos I try to instil in my team. I have to admit, getting recognition for that approach was really lovely, apart from the dad dancing moment.
2) We recently hosted an agency event, ‘What do client-side marketers look for when working with an agency?’ As a Client-side marketer, what advice would you give to agencies during a pitch?
I’ve worked with 20-30 agencies in my career, and there is only one common factor among them – big, brave ideas. The best idea (usually built on the best client insight) always wins with me. Always.
3) What guidance would you give to Marketing professionals at the beginning of their career?
I think it’s tough for new marketers – probably tougher than it was for my generation. There are a lot more distractions these days. An obvious response therefore would be to knuckle down, learn as much as you can and deliver your objectives. Less obvious but more important would be the following three…
1) get as much time with clients as you possibly can, as early as you can;
2) keep on asking questions (e.g. why are we doing this and how to we do it better); and
3) be proactive in bringing new ideas to your boss. Most senior marketers I know absolutely love it when their teams are bringing new ideas to the table. It shows you care and it can make a difference.
5) As a BMC mentor, could you tell potential mentees what benefits they may see by working with a marketing mentor such as yourself?
At the risk of sounding unintentionally ageist, I think the biggest one is that more experienced marketers have faced more and probably bigger bumps in the road. That’s just a function of more time on the job. So we’ve had more time to learn to deal with problems, pitfalls, tricky personalities, tricky situations and tricky objectives. I think there is value in being able to ask a Mentor the question “I’m having some problems with this – this is how I’m thinking of dealing with it – what do you think?” That’s what it’s all about to me.
6) If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would that be?
Spend more time really getting to know customers, spend more time with sales people, and don’t take no for an answer when you’ve got a good idea.
7) What have been some of the most successful lead generation channels or strategies for your practice in the past?
I never start with one channel in mind. I truly believe in picking the right tool for the right job, rather than – for example – starting with content and social media marketing, and working out how to make them work for a particular job. Often, these days, I do rely on great content and social – but right now I’m also working on direct mail campaigns and some other cool stuff. Whatever channel I use, there are always two essential ingredients – have an objective and have a call to action.
8) What are the biggest marketing challenges you are currently facing?
The usual, such as time-poor clients, rivals trying to eat my lunch, ambitions and ideas and being slightly beyond my resources.
9) Could you tell us about your most stand out campaign to date?
My marketing career started properly in the telecommunications industry. I’d worked on a number of product launches, for example, but there was one in particular that stood out for me – since it was partially my idea. In the early noughties I’d been travelling around the world to meet customers and listen to their challenges. A number of them made off-the-cuff remarks about something that was bothering them – the need for more burstable bandwidth, to get technical for a moment. I brought the idea to my engineering colleagues, who had arrived at the same idea but from a technical angle. It was a beautiful moment of a client need and a new technical solution landing at the same time. About 3 months later we launched a new product, which we advertised in the press across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and won new contracts with the likes of Google and Samsung within weeks. We won a product launch award for it, and it was popular for a good few years – until the tech moved on yet again. I think that moment really spurred on my confidence about developing new ideas. (Funny anecdote though – I wasn’t able to make the award ceremony, but my Chief Marketing Officer went and presented the glass award to me back in our office a few days later. Alas the award was covered in unsightly masking tape. He’d gotten so drunk celebrating that he dropped it and smashed it to bits outside a nightclub in London. I won’t name names though!).
10) What’s the one B2B Marketing tool you just couldn’t live without?
Not a tool per se, but it’s the most important thing in any marketer’s arsenal in my opinion… customer insight.
Claire Sherriff | Freelance Social Media Marketer
BMC Marketer and Member.