Tom’s top takeaways (of the marketing kind!)

February 26, 2020 | By Tom Walters
Tom’s top takeaways (of the marketing kind!)

As my colleagues will testify, I do love a good takeaway – of the food variety. However in this latest article, I wanted to forget my love of cuisine and instead share with you my top takeaways from my time working in marketing to-date. I place great value in people sharing their experiences and learning from one another – it really does make the world go ‘round.

So if you work in marketing and you want to progress further or you’re a recent graduate or college leaver looking to make the jump into the industry, hopefully there’s something here for you to relate to and carry with you into the future.

A light background:

I didn’t enter the industry until a full year after graduating from university in 2012. During that year, I worked full-time in retail to make ends meet and progressed into management roles to show that I wasn’t willing to stand still.

2013 was the year things started to motor when I landed a Marketing Assistant role for Visit Nottinghamshire. This was a fantastic position, giving me a solid grounding across all areas of marketing in the very interesting tourism sector. Two and a half years later and I felt I needed a fresh challenge. So in February 2016 I joined The Dairy – a match made in heaven.

Agency life always fascinated me. The plethora of clients, variety of work and the fluidity of the role really appealed to me. I knew that this was the move I needed to progress my skill set. Fast forward another four years and I really do consider myself incredibly fortunate – going from Account Executive to Account Manager, then Account Director and, the cherry on the cake, becoming a Director of the company in January this year. 

Getting to where I am now wasn’t all luck however, there’s a lot of things I’ve learned along the way that have armed me for what’s to come and how to make the next leap of faith. So, what key takeaways can I leave to hopefully help you navigate through what is not only a competitive but also a very broad industry? Here goes!


  • Persist like you’ve never persisted before


This applies to those trying to break in and those that are already in. Persistence is a great trait to have. If you’re outside looking in, hammer the applications as much as you can. Email people on the off chance that they might be looking in the near future – even if they’re not actively recruiting right now. Apply for roles you know exist and build a network of connections on LinkedIn.

Sometimes it’s who you know as much as what you know, so building a social and physical network and putting your name under as many noses as possible, might just land you that perfect role. 


  • Absorb like a sponge


Whether you’re a student completing placements or you’re in a marketing position and looking to climb the ladder, make sure your brain is ready to absorb as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Listen to those around you, ask questions and take notes if your memory is as bad as mine on a Monday morning!

Where there’s people in senior positions to you, observe what they do, how they do it and take away the best bits that resonate with how you want to approach projects. Ask them for help or advice as much as you can, don’t be afraid. I’ve learned the majority of what I know from a selection of line managers over the years, cherry picking each of their best skills and traits to mould myself into the best marketer I can be. 


  • Make mistakes – yes you read it right!


Mistakes happen – don’t be afraid of them. I’ve heard speakers at several events say that you learn more from your mistakes than your successes – I can’t emphasise enough how true that is.

No one is perfect and anyone who says otherwise is lying to you. Be on the ball, whether that’s proofreading content, writing content, designing a brochure or building a marketing plan – but the sooner you accept the fact that mistakes do happen on the odd occasion, the sooner you will be ready to deal with them when they come along. And crucially, it’s how you bounce back from those mistakes that matters most. Tell yourself, no one died (hopefully!), my job is still here, and I now have a chance to make up for it going forward. Reflect on what went wrong, identify those shortfalls for future reference and then seize the next challenge and prove a point to those around you and yourself. 


  • Build your own brand


Put as much stock into your own brand as the brand of the company you work for, or want to work for. Remain ultra professional on LinkedIn, but retain what makes you, you. Network with people and show them what you and the business you work for is all about.

People buy from people and in the marketing world, especially in an agency environment, the engagement of people is the core of any successful marketing campaign. How you treat suppliers, clients or colleagues will significantly impact the outcome. Decide how you want to be perceived and channel that into every interaction you make so that your own brand is as believable as a fictional story being read to you by Stephen Fry.


  • Challenge yourself – comfort zones are massively overrated anyway!


Without challenges, how can you hope to develop? Rather than shying away from them, embrace them and tackle them head on.

This doesn’t mean going it alone – you should never ignore the people around you. With many of the campaigns and creative briefs we work on, the account manager will get the whole team together for an ideas session before going back to the client with a proposal. Challenges shouldn’t isolate you, they should invigorate you to utilise the skills around you in order to make a success of the task ahead.

There’s plenty of other constituent parts to progressing in marketing. If there’s courses or training you can put yourself through then that’s always a plus. Even if you’re not in a creative role yet, there’s a lot of free courses online such as Google’s Digital Garage, or even YouTube content you can soak up – particularly great if you’re a designer! And if you’re a student (sorry I bang this drum A LOT), but please apply for and complete as many placements as you can. They’re a great stepping stone and a brilliant way to gain an insight in the industry you’re chasing.

Hopefully these takeaways are helpful for you and good luck in the next phase of your marketing journey!

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