Q) How did you end up doing what you’re doing?
By accident! I did a Media and Communications degree and didn’t quite know what to do with it so I actually started working in a pub. I got talking to people in there who just so happened to work in agencies and, as I was looking for relevant work experience at the time just to try and figure out what I wanted to do, ended up working at an agency three days a week.
After telling them I was going to leave to search for a full-time job they just asked me if I wanted to work there Monday to Friday. I started as an Account Executive but found myself working purely on digital jobs, which turned into something of a specialism. When I first started, the company was going through a massive change from 80% offline, 20% digital to a full swing in the opposite direction so they just needed people that were happy to move across to the other branch of the business. I’ve always thrived off learning new things with a ‘head down and crack on’ approach so they were happy let me go down the digital route.
Q) Has your remit stayed relatively the same or has it changed since working at Ewe?
I worked in that agency for five years and came here six years ago, into a relatively junior role supporting someone else with website projects. When he left the business, I took over from him and now work mainly alone in my role on most projects. However, I still rope other people in for assistance on some of the bigger pieces of work; we’re a close-knit team and input from everyone in the business can be beneficial in some shape or form.
Q) What do you enjoy most about your role?
The thing that attracted me the most to digital was that there’s so much to learn: it’s always changing and there’s constantly something new happening so I never find it dull or boring. That said, the aspect I find more interesting about my role here is working across the teams. At my old agency, I was very much in a traditional project manager role organising different people in order to deliver a project, whereas here it’s much more hands-on, autonomous and you get to harness cross-team ‘pollination.’
Very prescriptive briefs can be difficult to add value to and apply your experience fully.
Q) What can be the most challenging aspects day-to-day?
Funnily enough, some of the biggest challenges are actually what I enjoy most about my job. For example, cutting through the jargon or trying to get a marketing manager who’s background isn’t technical or digital to understand what you’re trying to deliver and why. I often find myself becoming a bit of a bridge between the developers who deal with the high tech stuff and the client who just wants to know what it means to them. This can be a challenge but it’s interesting, it’s necessary and, ultimately, it’s rewarding. Otherwise you’re just talking ones and zeros, which few people will buy into!
Q) How important is a good website for a business?
It depends. Some survive perfectly fine without one because they don’t need it and they have other channels. It could also depend on the audience but having said that, most audiences are web-savvy now. The older generation are the biggest audience on the internet right now because they have the most spare time. It probably comes down more to the type of company and the products they’re selling.
Q) What would be an example of a company who most definitely need a well designed, high-performing website?
The majority of e-commerce sites and B2B businesses.
It’s always evolving and we don’t have a crystal ball to work out what’s going to happen. For example, with me being such a loyal ASOS customer, if they launched Instagram shopper, I would still go to direct to their website to make a purchase but this could all change. That’s what’s so exciting about it, you just never know when it’s all going to change.
But I can imagine, at the other end of the ASOS spectrum, if you’re a trendy pop-up fashion shop, you might not have time to implement a full website project, or all the cool kids prefer to buy through more niche channels, it would have to be on social media. An Etsy seller, for example, might generate much more of their sales through social media. Although there are some out-of-the-box solutions you can use, building your own website can represent a more significant chunk of outlay and you just don’t know if your product is going to be successful. It’s all about time and place.
Q) What projects have been most fun to work on?
I’d say the most enjoyable projects are the ones where I’m given a certain degree of freedom to query all aspects of the work. Very prescriptive briefs are more difficult to add value to and bring all of my experience to the table.
Typically, a client will come to us for ‘a website’ but the first questions we’ll ask are ones like:
Cutting through the jargon to allow a client to fully understand what you're trying to deliver can be a challenge, but it’s interesting, it’s necessary and, ultimately, it’s rewarding.
We may well come back with a proposal which says ‘You previously thought that you needed x, but we’ve dug a big deeper and understand better that you need y.” A client that takes that all on board is more likely to be more invested in the project from start to finish, making for a much more gratifying experience on both sides.
Q) Are there any sectors or specific businesses or organisations that you would like to get involved with in a web project?
It would be nice to work on a homes construction account again. The end goal was selling houses, but my efforts revolved around turning something that was about hard figures and transactions, based on data capture and tangible audience action, into a more palatable, fluffy approach which encouraged potential buyers to visit show homes. In that respect, it was a fulfilling mix of pursuing both function and form.
Succeeding in marketing if often more about what you don't know that what you do, so it's important to find out and blind spots you never knew about.
There are many benefits to managing your marketing internally, but working with an agency can help capitalise on what you have or even spot fatal flaws.
The Assembly is an independent, community-focussed venue that aims to bring the people of Crossgates the bar, cafe and social hub they deserve.