Back in the mid-90’s I was choosing options post A-Levels. My first and only choice since I was 5 was to follow in my hero’s footsteps (my father) and join the Met Police.
After a series of very sincere heart-to-hearts with my dear Dad on his hands and knees, begging me to keep safe and get a career in anything else in the world other than policing, I eventually agreed to go to Uni first. In that way, I thought, I could become a police officer with a chance of accelerated promotion and be given more opportunity!
Looking at university courses, few options appealed to me. I’d never really been particularly good in any subject and the 2 years of A-Levels had dragged. The subjects I’d chosen had been the best of a very dry choice. The door-to-door canvassing role I’d held for 3 years with Zenith Windows meant that I’d experienced marketing at grass roots level. It intrigued me and I was actually quite good at it!
I had a very strong network of home friends, a boyfriend, 2 jobs and I was exceptionally close to my family. After reviewing the UCAS brochure at length my mind was made up. It was extremely important to me to do something I had at least some interest in, so I decided I’d stay in London, commute to Uni and attend the London College of Printing and Distributive Trades to study for their brand new BA Hons in marketing and advertising course.
Uni was fun, not the same fun as other friends had experienced (we had no Freshers events as such and we visited the student bar once in 3 years!) It was different here, my classmates we’re made up of a number of foreign and mature students. The rest of us had 2 or 3 jobs, lived at,or near, home and we holidayed, lunched and partied with our friends who we’re all in full time employment. We all had a decent wedge of disposable income and on the whole we only had a few days of lectures each week. We lived the good life!
I thank Uni mostly for the life experience but also for allowing me to meet two amazingly special friends. Barry, Liz and I had a blast. We’d go to Elephant & Castle’s finest restaurant for lunch. We’d share homework and chat on the phone for hours. We’d write papers for each other and cover for each other when one of us had a work/home life commitment and couldn’t make it in to a lecture. I still to this day love Liz and Barry very dearly and will always want them in my life.
I was always one to have lots of jobs and, temping as a receptionist for Britvic, I met a guy called Ashley, who’s wealthy uncle owned a media planning agency. After a very relaxed interview I found myself working as a trainee planner/buyer for the mid-sized agency in the West End during the holidays.
I totally loved it there. The people we’re great, the clients exciting and the long leisurely lunches on a Friday, free flowing hospitality, booze, parties and freebies were mind blowing. I was paid a decent salary for a ‘workie’ and I learnt loads about the industry. I also got myself a market-research telephone role in the evenings and signed up to a mystery shopping agency.
These experiences confirmed to me that I didn’t need to rush into the police force so soon, I was still young! I decided that I wanted to be a creative, I wanted to write and produce tv commercials. The fact that I wasn’t much cop at writing and I had no video production experience didn’t phase me at all, that was my ultimate goal, I’d watched ‘Bewitched’ religiously and I wanted to work where Darren worked, for an agency like Larry’s. In the meantime I would look for a full time media role to get some more experience under my belt and regular funds coming in.
I signed up with a number of agencies including one called Regan & Dean, who got me an interview at a contract publishing agency called Redwood Publishing in Trafalgar Square. This wasn’t ideal for me, it was an editorial role on global magazine project for Volvo cars. I couldn’t have been more disappointed to have been offered the role but I decided it was a stepping stone. Seeing as I wasn’t even getting near to an interview with a creative Ad agency this would do for now!
Ten years later I eventually decided to do some travelling and I left Redwood. During my time there I’d learnt the fundamentals of CRM. I’d learnt and loved client servicing (done the proper way). I’d been mentored by some incredibly inspirational people and I’d listened, learned and understood the rationale and marketing plans for some of the worlds biggest brands. I’d help devise solutions with almost unachievable schedules to meet objectives on time and I’d made some of the best friends you could ask for.
What Redwood first taught me, subsequent roles and experience have built on and although I’m sure I learnt lots at uni, it was only when out in the big wide world and working on live and real accounts I have really grown to love what I do, and that’s even without the boozy lunches and parties, which have been in rapid decline over the years and are almost non existent these days!
What I love most is the problem solving. The importance of the planning, insight and evaluation it takes to create a workable solution for a client.
No one can underestimate the power of taking a watertight brief, or if you’re given a brief, the importance of questioning it and running through it with a fine tooth-comb.
When you understand a clients objective, dilemma or concern you can begin to resolve it, meeting their goals effectively.
Marketing is exciting, rewarding and is always evolving.
It never gets boring, and although there are peaks and troughs in budget allocated to marketing spend across the board, if you work hard to prove return to a client they’ll see value in your efforts and continue to invest.
And that is why I love what I do – the people, the problem solving, the excitement, the client liaison and generating the return. That is why we started www.magnificentstuff.net.