I cut my direct marketing teeth in list-broking and event management. One of my early roles was hosting at the first-ever Direct Marketing Fair! A move to Dun & Bradstreet’s business information division as marketing manager followed, where I acquired business-to-business data-based marketing skills. From there, I spent over a decade at BT, setting up a new team of data specialists who supported the data needs of campaign managers across residential and B2B customer segments - data planners, did we but know it. At BT, I learnt many valuable lessons working on the business requirements for an enterprise-wide CRM solution. My first agency role was at Havas EHS as head of data planning and analysis. I played a key role in new business pitch wins and worked on clients across multiple sectors. I joined Proximity five years ago, to head up what is now a 40-strong team of data strategists and analysts. As the agency’s first vice-president, data and analytics, I am responsible for promoting learning and best practice across the agency’s data community and identifying up-and-coming talent, as well as leading the data strategy on the agency’s largest data assignment, TV Licensing.
There have been many highlights in my career over more years than I now care to recall, but being appointed to lead the data team at Proximity has to be the key one. I have had some of the most rewarding, challenging and enjoyable experiences of my career here. I have learned so much and developed some of the most fulfilling relationships with colleagues and clients. In 2017, we successfully defended the TV Licensing business, winning our third contract in succession - definitely a career highlight!
Push yourself to keep learning and finding out about new tools, techniques and methodologies - find time to do this outside of the day job. Don’t stand still too long, no matter how much you are enjoying the role. Challenge yourself by gaining new experience and new skills. And network!As expected, the greater part of 2018 was dominated by GDPR. As some businesses had failed to start the preparations for GDPR early enough, there was a rush to get ready, which predictably dominated the first few months of the year. Perhaps not so expected was how close to the wire the preparations ran. What I did not expect to see was the number of organisations who erred very far on the side of caution, particularly offline, with the result that the size of many customer databases have been dramatically reduced.
As a result of the above, many organisations will be looking to rebuild their customer and prospect databases. No doubt lessons have been learned. Organisations will need to use intelligent data strategies to attract customers with potential value, who are engaged with the brand. With compliance issues out of the way, I hope organisations will think more about the customer experience, as well as staying on the right side of the law. GDPR has meant that the compliant use of data has increasingly found its way onto board agendas and this trend will continue, due to the risk of penalties.
The most important thing is to nurture and develop the talent in the building to meet career aspirations. Beyond this, a couple of strategies work well for us at Proximity. Firstly, we encourage our staff to be advocates and spread the word among their friends. This helps us find talented people with the right skills who are likely to fit with our culture. People do leave, naturally, but we stay in touch, and many come back to Proximity later in their careers. Secondly, a major success has been offering (paid) internships to outstanding students who join us after university.
Increasingly, organisations are more mindful of the ethics of data use - the more enlightened see it as a competitive differentiator. If they continue to lead the way, others will have to follow, which is good for the consumer and good for the industry.Agency