For the seventh instalment of Behind B2B, our series exploring the brightest minds in the industry, we meet Scott Brinker – the godfather of martech (and the brain behind that martech infographic!)

Who?

If you’ve been in the marketing game for more than five minutes, chances are you’ve come across the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (the 2020 version including a dazzling 8,000 solutions). And you’ve almost certainly used some of the platforms or tools discussed within it.

Scott Brinker is the brain behind that infographic – not to mention VP of Platform Ecosystems at Hubspot, and founder of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, where he writes about marketing’s transformation into the tech-powered discipline we all know and love today.

But nobody grows up dreaming of becoming a martech expert – so how did he get here? Let’s find out.

Scott, tell us – how did you get to where you are today?

As a kid, I was really interested in games – pretty early on I started working in the fun world of multiplayer games! Right before the internet took off, with people running bulletin board systems, dialling in with their modems. I enjoyed that a lot, but not just the game side of it. I loved the dynamic of people connecting together online, unleashing new kinds of creativity and engagements. It seems so normal now, but this was the really early seeds of the world we all live in.

So I was a software developer making games, and I soon learned that if you build it, they don’t necessarily come – you have to promote it, too. So early on I was like: what’s this marketing thing all about?

As an early entrepreneur, I had actually dropped out of college. I spent ten years building up the businesses from that games company, then I ended up going into web development for companies like Citrix and Siemens. I decided to go back to college to finish my degree in computer science. And – I guess because I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder from having dropped out – I went on and got a master’s degree, too.

All of which has served you well. What happened next – how did you get into martech?

After that, I launched a SaaS company, where I built an interactive platform for marketers. Then, I joined HubSpot as their VP of Platform Ecosystems, helping to grow relationships with all the great companies whose apps get connected into the HubSpot platform.

In parallel, I was doing web development stuff, running the tech team at this web agency. Our firm would be hired by the marketing team of these Fortune 500 companies, and it would be my job to talk to IT and say: okay, how are we going to implement this new tech? Because mostly, IT and marketing didn’t talk to each other. It wasn’t hostility, or anything – they just lived in different universes.

So I did shuttle diplomacy between the two teams, and that got me really excited about this emerging set of professionals who were comfortable working in both worlds. They could talk marketing, they could talk tech – and that inspired me to launch the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, where I wrote what was (at the time) very niche content.

But it didn’t stay niche for long. Around 2013, 2014, a huge switch happened. Companies hit a tipping point where they were leveraging so much technology within the marketing department that it suddenly became this big topic – and that’s how I fell into this crazy godfather of martech role.

Speaking of ‘so much technology’, you’re famed for your annual martech supergraphic. What inspired that? And how on earth do you keep up – last year’s graphic had 8,000 solutions on it?

I was giving a presentation to senior marketers, trying to persuade them to hire more technical people in their team. I put together this graphic to show: look how many different tools you’re now dependent on to deliver the outcomes you’re responsible for. Look at all this tech under your domain. You know, it probably makes sense to have some staff that really understand all of this stuff…

That first graphic had like, 150 companies on it. At the time, everyone said: oh my god, how will we ever keep track of them all, which is pretty funny now. Compiling it is certainly a big task: we actually visit the website of every single martech company we’re including. It takes months. It’s a labour of love, but it’s worthwhile.

We’re big fans at Octopus. And as the most recent edition shows, us marketers have never had more tools to play with. How do you see B2C and B2B marketers using those tools in different ways?

Historically, the distinction was that B2B had this very direct sales force with a lot of common motions between marketing and sales teams. Versus B2C that had channels and retailers, but maybe not a direct relationship with the consumer, because they were using a distribution channel.

But over the years, there’s been a blending. A lot of direct to consumer companies are now structured to sell people subscriptions, rather than one-off products – it starts to look a lot like the SaaS world, like how B2B sells things. So the new generation of B2C companies can take a lot of learnings from the B2B world.

On the other side, for B2B, I think this whole movement around ABM speaks to the fact that B2B has realised it’s really marketing to networks of individuals, and these individuals are humans, that you can speak to in a human kind of way. So it can learn from B2C in that sense.

Do you have any examples of really great B2B marketing work you’ve seen – perhaps any martech brands who are doing a great job with their marketing?

I’m always impressed when, in a crowded market, a company breaks through on the strength of their content. A lot of content isn’t very remarkable. I’m often shocked, on my annual pilgrimage around the martech landscape, by the volume of websites where I can’t actually work out what they’re selling.

But then I come across brands that just have such a compelling, clear presentation – they’ve really nailed it. Terminus, this tiny little company out of Atlanta, just crushed their category – largely because they became such powerful advocates of ABM and did such great marketing around it. In the CDP space, Segment – in a relatively short space of time – ended up being the most popular product in that market. Because they just found the right way to present their company, and make it clear.

Great content has never been more important than it is right now. But of course, it’s far from the only skill marketers need. With the marketing landscape changing so fast, where should we focus our efforts?

I think it’s important not to try and keep up with everything. Not a week goes by when I don’t hear about some new company doing some cool thing. The pace of change – the wide distribution of change – is so big, that I don’t think we can go back to one person understanding how the whole universe fits together.

Of course I love to learn, love to experiment – but you have to make your peace with the fact you can’t know everything.

But in terms of what marketers should be doing: my best advice is to take advantage of the whole generation of what they call ‘no code tools’. Things like Canva, where you can create beautiful designs without being a designer. You still need the experts for plenty of stuff, but now you can just try these tools that let you say: hey, that’s an idea. Let me try this out.

That’s a game changer. Because at the end of the day, what makes marketers great? Their creativity and imagination.

Final question – what’s one martech mistake people should stop making?

Taking one extreme or another. Either trying everything, because there’s so much cool stuff. Or they’re saying: no, that’s shiny object syndrome, just give me one product.

Either stance is the wrong way to look at it; companies should be taking an 80/20 split, with 80% of your time on a small set of tools that you’re really good at. And 20% of the time, looking ahead, exploring, experimenting. If you can find that balance, you’re on the way to paradise.

Interested in how the CEO of Publicis Groupe UK made her way from Beefeater waitress to boardroom heavyweight? Read Annette King’s Behind B2B interview here.

For the sixth instalment of Behind B2B, our series exploring the brightest minds in the industry, we meet Annette King – CEO of Publicis Groupe UK.

Ask a hundred CEOs where their careers began, and we’re betting ‘a pub in Swindon’ doesn’t crop up as the answer too often. But for Annette King, a meeting in a bar sparked a career spanning agencies, clients and continents – as we discovered in our latest Behind B2B interview.

Who?

When Octopus was acquired by Publicis Groupe in early 2021, we got confirmation of something we’ve long felt to be true: B2B marketing is supercharged right now. And there’s plenty of exciting work coming down the track – driven in no small part by the energy and vision of leaders like Annette King, the CEO of Publicis Groupe UK.

So, we sat down with Annette to hear about her journey from Beefeater waitress in Swindon to boardroom – covering New York chutzpah, the ecosystems of B2B, and IBM’s brand glow along the way.

Annette, tell us. How did you get here? And what did you really want to be when you grew up?

Honestly? I didn’t know. I only knew that I wanted to be successful. I come from a working class background, so to be blunt, I wanted the freedom of having some money and being able to afford a good life.

To that end, I kept my education broad. I did A Levels in Maths, English Lit, Economics – and then went to the Oxford poly to study Business Studies. I specialised in marketing and advertising, and started to get a sense that I could succeed in that world.

Unfortunately, I graduated into a bad economic climate. There really weren’t many jobs out there. I’d been writing so many letters, sending so many CVs, sifting through the Guardian and the Evening Standard constantly but just finding nothing. So I headed back to Swindon.

I was a waitress in a Beefeater restaurant and temped in all sorts of jobs. A friend employed me as a typist, and her boss asked her to take these two Swedish chaps she was looking to hire out for a drink.

So I went with her – to the bar in Swindon where everyone knew our names – to meet these Swedish guys. And when one asked me, what do you do? I said: well, I’m temping and waitressing, but I’d like to work in marketing or advertising.

And it turned out this chap had a friend at an agency, who he said he’d put me in touch with – bear in mind none of us had email at this point. I literally gave him my home address! And incredibly enough, he wrote me a letter, saying he’d spoken to his contact in London, Philip  Beeching, and that I should give him a call.

I called Philip immediately, of course. It was a small agency, only 12 people or so. Next thing I know, I’m bundled up in my car driving to Hammersmith to crash on a mate’s sofa for the interview. We got on brilliantly, he offered me a job more or less on the spot, and that was that: I started on the following Monday.

How did you get on there? We know you didn’t stay in the land of small agencies for long, so what happened next?

Working at a small agency is a wonderful experience because you do a bit of everything it takes to make an agency work: Coming up with ideas yourself, meeting senior clients, writing the briefs, as well as doing the invoicing and pouring the coffee. It was a great way to start in this business.  

But I soon realised that I craved a large agency environment and the opportunities that would bring. So after a few interviews, I got a role at Wunderman working on BT and BA. A few years later I moved with them to New York, where I learnt a great deal: how to be more confident, how to get further up the client hierarchy, how to give and take feedback. Everything in New York is also five times bigger and bolder, so you really have to embrace the New York ‘chutzpah’ to succeed.

But I always wanted to come back to London; the city means a great deal to me. So I came back to a big job at Ogilvy – to the UK to run the American Express account across EMEA, which was quite a big step up for me at the time. But I survived, thoroughly enjoyed it and managed to do a decent job. I worked my way up, and ended up responsible for the whole group in the UK.

And then Arthur Sadoun [now Chairman and CEO of Publicis] came knocking. In truth, I wasn’t looking to move. I was really happy where I was. I met with Arthur out of curiosity…

And the rest is history?

Indeed. When Arthur succeeded Maurice Lévy as Chairman, he invited me for breakfast to tell me about the opportunity on offer. And it was exactly that – a huge opportunity. I couldn’t refuse.

It’s been a fantastic evolution from running what was essentially a very large ‘creative shop’ to something with broad capabilities across media, creative, technology, commerce, PR, data, production and more. It’s been three years, and I’ve continued to learn a huge amount.

It sounds like you’ve never been afraid to take big leaps – and you’ve seen big payoffs as a result. Is that a character trait of yours, the willingness to ‘jump in’?

I think so. I’m a big believer that you create your own luck. You have to be brave enough to put yourself in the right places; you can’t just hope for things to come to you.

I’m also quite instinctive. When opportunities have come along, I’ve always had a good sense of what will work for me. I’ve said yes – but also no, when needed. And that balance has paid off; I’ve had a career I’m proud of.

You’ve worked on many major clients over the years, across B2C and B2B. What have you been most proud of in terms of actual advertising or marketing work? And in a broader operational sense?

Probably British Airways: ‘The Magic of Flying’. We created digital billboards that displayed different creative executions, depending on which BA plane was flying overhead – you know, ‘Look, it’s flight BA475 from Barcelona.’ It was really engaging, magical work.

As for the second point, I’m hugely proud of the people I’ve helped to develop. The teams I’ve created and led. Our ComEx team  – which includes 14 of us across the different Publicis Groupe practices – is a high performing, high trust, laughter filled team. I’ve achieved that a few times in a few places, so I’ll always be most proud of the team dynamic and performance I can nurture.

Speaking of high performance: the team at Octopus are looking forward to working with you and others across Publicis to drive B2B forward. As we’ve discussed before, B2B feels ‘supercharged’ at the moment, so the opportunity is huge. Why do you think B2B has gained such prominence over the last 18 months? How are you planning to continue driving B2B growth?

I’ve always loved B2B; it was a huge part of my focus at Ogilvy. And it’s true – the B2B sector does feel supercharged right now, which is very exciting. The growth Octopus Group has seen attests to that.

But it’s not surprising, when you consider the disruption and change of the last year. The way businesses buy has changed. There’s been huge technological transformation across B2B industries – like financial services, energy, telecoms and aviation – and a rise in B2B ecommerce. And with events out of the question, B2B marketers and sales teams have been able to reach prospects a lot more directly. All of which has proven fertile ground for growth and new opportunities.

As for the future, there really are no limits. The avalanche of opportunities that have already come our way in 2021 proves that. Really creatively ambitious. And really grounded in wide-ranging technical expertise, from martech knowledge to tech capabilities and comms knowledge.

But of course, for that to be successful, you need the right people and talent – which is why I was so delighted when we made the Octopus Group acquisition. While we certainly have pockets of B2B expertise across Publicis Groupe, Octopus is a body of B2B experts with significant B2B heritage, plus industry leading data, media and technology resources. With Octopus on board, we’ve got a huge chance to scale B2B communications in a really strategic way.

Final question – let’s end on a B2B celebratory note. What’s the best B2B marketing campaign or brand of all time, in your eyes?

It’s got to be IBM, for me. The full breadth of it. From Bob Dylan to sponsoring Wimbledon and the ‘IBM Seer’ augmented reality app, where you could hold the phone up and see the game through walls – there’s always such a blend of bold creative, clever uses of data, an appetite to try new things and the important, really nitty gritty lead gen work.

And that’s a key thing for B2B marketers to remember; to combine those two strengths. Of course, you have to be realistic; for every IBM, there’s 100 accounts that need very serious, targeted work. But the best results come when you can combine the two; the serious and technical, with the emotional and impactful.

Again, just look at IBM. The Bob Dylan IBM Watson stuff is cool, but there was a huge amount of other work done that drove lead generation, drove sales, got the funnel going – helped by the uplift of the ‘glow’ from that public creative. And now, it’s a brand every consumer knows – despite never having been a B2C brand.

Ready for more origin stories from the big names of B2B? Catch up on the series so far – starting with Tyrona Heath from the The B2B Institute @ LinkedIn.

OG’s company culture has always been something we pride ourselves on. So, we’re delighted to announce that we’ve been ranked 7th overall in the 2021 Campaign’s Best Places to Work.

And (as if that wasn’t enough reason to celebrate) we’ve also placed 2nd in the medium companies list.

The Best Places to Work programme recognises and honours the best workplaces in the marketing, advertising and media professions.

All entrants to Campaign’s Best Places to Work had to complete a two-part application process.

  • The first consisted of submitting a written entry, helping the judges evaluate each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics.
  • The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience.

The combined scores determined the final ranking – and we’re so pleased to have performed so highly, especially after the events of 2020.

Kavita Shergill, Head of Talent & Culture at Octopus Group, commented on the results:

“We’ve had a whirlwind 14 months, with lots of difficult and challenging times. But we’ve stuck at it, worked our socks off, joined an international agency and more.

Through it all, keeping OG a Great Place to Work has remained a priority. Aided by staff ideas and suggestions, we’ve kept things fresh, changed the things that aren’t working and made sure we’re still a family, even over a screen.

Honestly, the best bit about this is that the feedback provided in the survey has contributed towards this outcome, alongside our written entry. So, it’s a very genuine result, which stands a lot more ground and feels like a real win”

For the fifth instalment of Behind B2B, our series exploring the brightest minds in the industry, we meet Karrie Sanderson – branding expert, Smartsheet marketing leader and experienced sailor. 

Who? 

How many marketers have degrees in industrial engineering? Our guess: not many. But as Karrie Sanderson proves, it’s a background that offers a unique and powerful approach to brand building and insight. Now working as Vice President, Marketing Insights and Brand for Smartsheet, we sat down with Karrie to hear about her unconventional journey into the world of B2B marketing.  

Karrie, tell us – what did you really want to be when you grew up? Because as we know, very few kids dream of becoming B2B marketers… 

In high school, I was a keen writer – my dream was actually to be an investigative journalist. I also had a strong aptitude for math and science, so my high school guidance counsellor challenged me to pursue a STEM career. But almost in a way that felt like, oh, you’ll never really do it.  

If somebody suggests I can’t do something, I always want to prove them wrong. I ended up getting a degree in Industrial Engineering, which I really enjoyed. But even while I was studying, I used my writing skills to make some spending cash – helping engineers who weren’t so strong at writing or editing their work. 

Plenty of marketers studied something other than marketing at university – but we don’t know too many with engineering degrees! How did you make the transition? 

My first job out of grad school was for a company that made different products for restaurants. I’d studied engineering, obviously, but I was curious about all of the different business areas. I asked: is there some kind of department rotation where I can understand more of what’s going on across the organisation? And so I ended up in the marketing department.

Any newbie marketer was immediately put to work on these fairly unglamorous B2B products. But I’m grateful – it gave me a really strong discipline of thinking about multi-layered audiences. 

In B2C, it feels like you’re mostly thinking about one audience. With B2B, you have to think about all the stakeholders along the way, what their needs are, how to position products to them. How to market to multi-layered audiences in a way that’s connected and cohesive, but also speaks to them on a targeted level. In many ways, I was using the analytical and research skills so central to engineering. 

So your engineering skillset helped you thrive in marketing? 

Yes – once I hit the marketing department, I figured out: here’s where my right brain and left brain can come together. And of course, having a technical background has allowed me to work confidently in some fairly technical fields. Like paper, healthcare, beverages, pharmaceuticals – and now SaaS. When you market those products, you have to really be able to grasp the complexities and learn about what you’re marketing. 

As an engineer-turned-marketer, my power is really on the strategic side. Everything I do has a strong foundation of research and insight. I see patterns and frameworks everywhere. That’s helped me immensely with my focus areas of brand building and brand activation. Figuring out brand architecture, where we fit in the market, how we stack against competitors – I naturally just see those things. 

Which is helpful. I see the benefits all the time at Smartsheet. I think frameworks actually allow creativity to thrive, if you give people the rules of the world to play and build in. If you give people the guardrails, creativity can grow from that. 

You’ve marketed a huge array of products and services throughout your career. What work are you most proud of?

One thing I’m hugely proud of at Smartsheet is our sponsorship of Pip Hare. Pip is this incredible sailor who was looking to compete in the Vendée Globe race – a solo, non-stop round-the-world yacht race. 

Brand sponsorship is tricky, in B2B especially. You really have to make sure you’re bringing that sponsorship to life. It needs to align with the brand, it needs to make logical sense, and you have to activate it in a way that makes people feel an emotional connection.

When the Pip opportunity came on the radar, the first thing I did was go back to the new brand architecture we’d been developing – and specifically, the emotional part of our architecture. Our customers tell us that when you understand the power of Smartsheet, you’re unlocking this hero moment of saying: right, I can do this. I can tackle the impossible. And that’s exactly what the spirit of Pip’s story is. 

So the stars just aligned – I couldn’t have made up a better story to sponsor. It was a beautiful brand fit, and she’s an amazing person. Brand sponsorship was a new thing for Smartsheet, but we activated all along the way, from having her speak at our annual ENGAGE customer event, to promotion along our PR, social, and other customer channels. And of course, Pip and her team tapped into Smartsheet solutions to streamline their work and share progress.

And we hear you’re a keen sailor yourself? 

Yes – my husband and I race, and we’re also cruiser sailors. Along with our two kids, we actually took a two year ‘sailing sabbatical’ a few years ago.  

That was an incredible experience. We got to know each other so well. And it taught us the importance of being resourceful – when you’re sailing in the middle of nowhere, you can’t just get online and order a part, you have to figure it out. You eat what you catch, or what’s available at the little market when you head to shore. You learn to do more with less, to be comfortable in silence. 

What an amazing career break. Now, to head back to the shores of B2B – what does great B2B marketing look like to you? 

I’m impressed by really solid brand work. It’s from a while back but one example that still sticks with me is BASF, the chemical company. Namely: We don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better. 

Marketing chemicals is hard; nobody wants to think about the chemicals in their products! But they flipped the script and made these really captivating ads that raised brand awareness in this clever B2B2C way. All these years later, it’s still in my head.

Intel Inside is another example of a brand that does that well. They’re B2B – they’re not selling chips directly to the consumer. But the consumer is still looking for the Intel logo. The Intel sticker makes you feel confident in a product and gives a brand boost to whichever computer they are inside. 

More and more, we’re seeing the worlds of B2C and B2B melding. What do you think one can learn from the other? 

There’s a lot B2B can learn from B2C and vice versa, particularly since, as you say, it feels like so much now is in this ‘B2B2C’ mode. Even if you have a pure B2C brand, there’s a chance you’re also selling it through some other distributor. Everybody’s got a B2B2C component. 

And so it goes back to my earlier comment about the layers of the audience. With Smartsheet, we’re selling to the business – but ultimately it’s people who use the platform, so you have to figure out how to tap into that individual who would ask for Smartsheet to be implemented. If they’re moving to a new job, how do you get them to feel so connected to Smartsheet that they take it with them? How do you make that connection on a human level, but also at a business level? 

That’s something for B2B to learn from B2C: make sure you’re focused on the needs of the person using what you’re selling. Conversely, B2C needs to be more like B2B in thinking about multi layered audience needs. Considering what everyone on the value chain needs, and how you can align messages so that they feel seamless and connected.

Final question – what would you say is one trope or cliché B2B marketers should avoid? 

Specifically in SaaS marketing, I’d get rid of the idea of the elusive ‘enterprise’ customer – you know, some monolithic impersonal enterprise buyer who somehow personifies who you’re trying to speak to. It can feel like B2B is building-to-building marketing! When you fall into that thinking, you stop speaking to people like humans. They just end up being the conduit to a business goal. 

Always speak to people on human terms – it’s the best way to connect emotionally. So I guess that’s not really a ‘trope’, more of a ‘trap’ to avoid falling into. But it’s important, either way. 

Eager for more Behind B2B stories? Check out our interview with Joel Harrison, where we discussed everything from the three seismic marketing evolutions of recent decades, to Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits.

Looking back on the last year, the word disruption comes to mind. Nothing is quite as it was, and any attempt at planning or forward-thinking will most likely be in vain, with life still mired in uncertainty.

But with all the disruption to our schedules comes an opportunity to change, an opportunity to expand, experiment and embrace changes. Time is often our go-to excuse: the limiting factor in trying new things, but boy have we got enough of it now.

In Spotify and WARC’s ‘Changing channels in B2B’ report published last year, they take a closer look at the shifting strategies of the tech and telco industries, delving deep into the themes within their marketing, and how that’s changed since last year and into 2021. 

Investment – and where exactly those dollars are distributed as we move into 2021 – are among the indicators of B2B’s growing innovation. Mediums previously neglected by the regimented pointy heads of our industry are suddenly being shown support, with podcasts, TV, digital audio and online video all receiving significant investment for 2021. 

We’re an industry that has long-relied on f2f interactions and in-person networking at conferences and events. But with that all down the pan, that’s freed up some skrilla. Over double reinvested these funds into digital channels. 

And ‘digital channels’ doesn’t just mean screens. 

The sound of success?

If we cast our minds back to 2013, podcasts were a fairly uninteresting art form, and an often-forgotten side of the equally-floundering iTunes. 

Before Rogan and the gang found their callings as serial witterers, about 12% of Americans over 12 listened to podcasts. That figure has since ballooned to 37% and rising. It’s also been hard to escape the Amazon-inflicted audiobooks, which comfortably outsold eBooks last year too.

And this is something to take real note of, especially when you factor in screen fatigue. With barely any digital downtime these days, screen fatigue has become a problem for all marketers, not just us. Expanding your channels in audio form could be the solution.

“Everybody’s got Zoom fatigue, and just doing your typical B2B marketing isn’t really going to pay off, so now is the time to experiment. It’s about trying new ways of leveraging the screen and other channels, like podcasts and audio as well.” 

      – IBM iX’s Chief Marketing Officer, Corinne Sklar

Leads by example

As a result of the pandemic, 85% of companies within the report have explored new routes for lead generation, with three quarters increasing their investment in online video. With over 273,000 subscribers on YouTube, Cisco deserves their props for their video marketing strategy, which focuses on quality and consistency, delivered in under three minutes of content (on average). Sage even launched on TikTok, with the first B2B ad campaign on the platform!

Eduardo Resende, Executive Managing Director of Arqia, is trying out podcasts for the first time in 2021. He says: “My customers are changing their behaviours. There is a very innovative mindset and they are more open to accessing a new communications model. I see podcasts as a way to prepare for the future, build our reputation, introduce a bigger range of content, and bring in younger customers.’

Blurred lines

We’re also seeing changes in who marketers are speaking to. Workplace flexibility has been a long time coming. Yet its embrace has opened the door to even more involvement and influence from staff. 83% of those surveyed agreed that employees have a strong voice in decisions on services, providers or partnerships, with a further 79% agreeing there’s more people involved in these decisions than ever before.

Democratic workforces are fast becoming the norm, with flat hierarchies and open, outgoing C-Suites almost a staple of a modern business or startup. This creates a shift of who marketers are actually targeting, with entry level, digital-native millennials among the most influential within an organisation. 

Interestingly, geographic and cultural backgrounds appear to play a part within this approach. North American marketers remain focused on targeting high ranking team members, while Europe and LATAM have shifted their attention towards a bottom-up approach. 

‘This shift looks permanent. Some people’s personal lives have changed now; they feel they can work from home and they have moulded their personal and their working lives together, so I think the future going forward will be a blend.’ – Director Industry Marketing at Salesforce, Victoria McNamara

Big changes, big opportunities 

Work and home are becoming one, the power and influence within an org continues to shift, new channels and mediums are continually being experimented with. Best believe that it’s all change in the world of B2B marketing – just make sure you don’t get left behind!

Rebranding is one of the most involved, complex and fun creative processes you’ll go through. Even when you know the company you’re rebranding pretty well, there’ll be a lot of learning, challenge and change. Add a global pandemic into the mix and that’s all heightened, with in-person workshops turning into virtual playbacks – and the lack of shared snacks that entails.

That’s certainly our experience in working to rebrand SSE Enterprise Telecoms as Neos Networks, which launched yesterday. neosnetworks.com/ 

We’ve worked with Neos Networks for years, across the entire Brand to Sales service stack. And this project began in 2019, with a piece of work to look at SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ position in the UK telco market, as they planned to decouple from SSE Group.

It led to a need for a new brand, a new statement to the market, and a new way to position themselves as a business-focused provider of critical network connectivity services.

Neos Networks had to be fresh, dynamic and a reflection of the mission of the business, as it grows and develops its network and services over the coming decade. For us as an agency, that meant an incredibly involved process that challenged our assumptions about our client, and challenging our client a bit too.

In terms of process, we went through everything you’d expect. Creative workshops looking at everything from perception and the meaning of brand, to colour palettes, tone and logos. We worked alongside our friends in the Neos Networks marketing team, led by Katie Ireland, to engage a wide group of stakeholders across their business – as well as their executive board.

We also thought about what to call the new brand, how it would look and feel, what it would say, and why it would be different from everyone else in telco. And we created a creative launch plan (which starts right now), involving rebranding hundreds of existing assets, a new website, as well as creating a lot of fun new video, motion and visual content to help Neos Networks introduce itself.

As with all big projects, the course of Neos Networks rebranding never did run smooth. Where we started in our pitch feels a million miles from where we’ve ended up today. And there have been bumps here and there (plus, yes, that pandemic again).

But that’s where the value of long-term partnership shows itself. We know Neos Networks. They know us. It meant getting through roadblocks, the changing of minds and trying to do collaborative, creative work in our dining rooms and bedrooms all the more straightforward.

And the fruit of it all is what you can see today. A new brand, a new message, a new online home and a lot (lot) of new creative work. All of it representing a mission to improve connectivity in the UK.

We’re super proud of it. And you can check it out here.

Hey! Has this made you think about zhushing up your brand? Get in touch.

For the fourth instalment of Behind B2B, our series exploring the brightest minds in the industry, we meet Joel Harrison – founder and editor-in-chief of the globally acclaimed B2B Marketing

Who?

If you’re a B2B marketer, chances are you’ve spent some time on B2Bmarketing.net – arguably the world’s best resource for B2B training, insight and inspiration. And if you have, you’re already familiar with Joel’s work – because he’s the founder and editor-in-chief, not to mention a public speaker, panelist, commentator and evangelist for all things B2B.

We sat down with Joel to pick his brains on how the industry has changed, where it’s going, and crucially – how he ended up writing about it in the first place.

Joel – you’ve been writing, talking and thinking about B2B marketing for the better part of two decades. How did you get here? What led you to launch B2B Marketing?

I was a journalist and my business partner was a salesman (he denies that, but it’s true). We just kept having these conversations: if we could work for ourselves, what would we do?

Back in 2003, there were so many marketing publications – plenty of stuff on PR, sales and the like – but a real gap in the market for B2B. The more we thought about it, the more we realised: that’s our niche.

It was the right time of life to take a gamble. I was 30 – no kids, no mortgage, no marriage. Old enough to be taken seriously; young enough not to be paralysed at the thought of it going wrong. So we launched B2B Marketing and said: in three years, we’ll either be bust, or millionaires. Funnily enough, neither came true, but hey. This time next year, Rodney…

What is it about B2B that draws you in? And what did you really want to be when you were a kid?

I love the geekery of B2B. It’s technical, you have to engage your brain. When I was working as a journalist back in the early noughties, mates used to say: when are you going to work for FHM or something? Suffice to say, I never had any interest in that particular sort of journalism. I’ve always loved exactly what we do with B2B Marketing: technical, interesting, challenging topics.

So yes – while I didn’t necessarily grow up dreaming of writing about B2B, I did always have ambitions of being a journalist. I was news editor of the student newspaper (Nottingham’s Impact magazine) at uni, and I loved the spirit of it – running around chasing stories, pulling it together, spending our weekends poring over it. It was a real buzz.

Anyway, I wound up taking a job for this newsletter company when I graduated. It ended up being a lot of fun – and I learnt a huge amount about tech. That was 1996, after all, so a real tipping point for the explosion of tech that followed. And then B2B Marketing happened.

The last 20 years have been a time of huge change in both tech and marketing. What have the biggest evolutions been for you?

I’d pinpoint a few inflection points. About 2007, Jon Miller of Marketo wrote that blog where he defined the term ‘modern marketing’. At that moment, everyone realised you could do low-level personalisation at scale and generate real leads from scoring. It changed the game.

But of course, this was happening at the same time as the credit crunch; many businesses were going under. Even B2B Marketing – the crunch almost killed us. We’d built our business on print advertising before that, but the crisis flipped that on its head. Everything became more measurable, but because of marketing automation the market suddenly went from being agency led to technology led.

Bluntly, buyers are more in control now. They’re explicitly, expressly in the driving seat. And that’s fueling an important shift, in my eyes: the need for community based marketing.

Next up, probably around 2015 to 2016, things flipped again. Buyers were becoming more and more fed up with emails, the penny dropped re. ABM and everyone realised: maybe sending loads and loads of emails doesn’t actually work that well. Maybe we need to start getting proper insight, talking to account groups. That became another level of maturity.

And the third, obviously: Covid-19. It’s only been a year, but it already feels hard to remember what things were like before. So much has changed, but in particular the face-to-face dimension has gone, and that was critical for marketing and sales. Will we go back? Can we go back? Some changes are practical – events, for example. I’d love to see them return, but when will it even be feasible in the same way?

Other changes are a bigger dynamic shift. Bluntly, buyers are more in control now. They’re explicitly, expressly in the driving seat. And that’s fueling an important shift, in my eyes: the need for community based marketing.

B2B Marketing is about to launch Propolis, a new knowledge hub for B2B marketers. Is that in response to this change?

Exactly. We’ve seen a real need for marketers to come together in a closed, safe space – to share opinions ideas and best practice, to work together for our mutual benefit. It’s all about different groups coming together to figure things out.

And it fits with a much wider collaborative trend, particularly between agencies and clients. Nowadays, there’s an expectation that you’ll work together as a partnership, with the agency adding value to the client-side team. Rather than the Mad Men model, where the Creative Director goes off, gets drunk, comes back and presents the amazing solution for the client to clap over. Now, it’s all developed in tandem. And ultimately, the more we collaborate and share best practice, the better work we can do.

Speaking of campaigns to clap over: you’ve been a judge at various B2B awards over the years. What does great B2B work look like, for you? What are the best examples?

That’s a hard question to answer! Not because there isn’t great work, but because great work that delivers results is often quite niche, rather than a big sweeping campaign that you might see on a billboard or TV.

One great example was a video from a business selling uninterrupted power supply. Very niche and pretty geeky, but very powerful. This video was done from the perspective of the power plant employee’s screen. They were receiving all these messages while a meltdown was going on. You could see the messages coming in, the situation spiraling, the stress rising, the panic setting in… my spine’s tingling just thinking about it, because it made me so anxious. The level of connection was just incredible.

But the best of all time? For me, it’s got to be Volvo Trucks. Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits, Enya warbling away in the background. It showed you could do B2B advertising that’s as showstopping, funny and memorable as anything in B2C. It’s iconic.

As B2B grows in prominence, what do you think it can learn from B2C?

Fair warning – I’m going to answer this one in a slightly arseholeish way – but can I challenge the nature of that question? Because I’m not sure it’s relevant anymore.

Certainly – as the Volvo Trucks example demonstrates – it’s great to discuss how B2B advertising can work, like B2C, when it’s bolder and more ambitious in creative scope. But does B2B actually have much to learn from B2C in terms of discipline? No, in my opinion – some of the smartest marketers are over in the B2B world. B2B is an incredibly successful standalone discipline.

We’ve got to get away from this weird ‘poor cousin’ syndrome. It takes huge depth, technical know how, insight… Just look at what’s happened recently with you guys at Octopus, being bought by Publicis Groupe. It’s a testament to how we need to recognise and respect B2B as its own distinct thing. And this is something more and more brands are actually realising, especially since B2C hasn’t done so well throughout the pandemic, and B2B has soared.

Final question. What B2B cliches or marketing blunders would you axe if we gave you the power?

Well, we’re all guilty of slipping into cliches occasionally. But seriously, on the design front: if you’re using a light bulb or a handshake, have a word with yourself. There are really no excuses to be doing that.

The other one – and this has become really prevalent recently, as we’ve all seen – is brands doing comms that say we’re here for you. What? Come again? I don’t need a B2B brand to me ‘here for me’, I just need it to be a great service or product!

Keen for more Behind B2B stories? Read our interview with Fiona Campbell-Howes here

For many of us, swotting up on a new skill has become something of a go-to lockdown boredom buster. But put down the banana bread, that dusty musical instrument, ’revolutionary’ exercise ball, and the cold, heartless Duolingo bird, let’s do something worthwhile with our time. Let’s instead earn ourselves some industry-recognised B2B marketing certificates.

We really believe in the value of learning (we even have our own Brand to Sales Academy). So from in-house to internationally recognised, here’s some we’d recommend, starting with three that we all do at Octopus Group as part of our learning and development.

Google Analytics Individual Qualification

Let’s start with the biggest no brainer: a free certification from Google, yours in about half a day’s work (ish). It’s a step up from the regular Analytics qualification, and can only be achieved once you’ve nabbed that already.

The Analytics certification is all about numbers and reporting: finding out what works where and why. So get to know your KPIs, your metrics and your data –  harnessing all that juiciness is an invaluable skill that your boss will really love you for (more than they did already, of course).

Being Google-certified can do no harm to your CV or your marketing swiss army knife, and it’s easy to get started. There’s two courses to help you prepare for the 90 minute test, one for beginners and one for pros, and you can try and pass as many times as you need. 

Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certification

If you’re in marketing and haven’t come across Hubspot..well, I can’t really imagine this being possible, so let’s assume you have.

Hubspot is a marketing mecca. Socials, comms, CRM, inbound marketing, sales stuff, SEO, analytics, reporting; there really is an abundance of stuff to take advantage of. 

But with all its power and cross-medium marketing goodness, it can be a bit overwhelming and has a lot to get to grips with. Hubspot has its own Academy, just like Google, with pages of lessons and certifications to earn. We recommend their Inbound Marketing Certification, which consists of 12 lessons, 56 videos and 11 quizzes, equating to about 6:20 hours of learning to earn the pass.

Google Ads Certification

Any B2B marketer new or old should be familiar with Google Ads. But of course, knowing about it and knowing it inside-out are two different things.

The Ads Certification is a free qualification designed to teach you all there is to know about Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Video Advertising, and Shopping Advertising. As well as campaign setup and management, measurement, and optimisation.

Start by signing up for an Academy for Ads account.

Facebook Blueprint

With its masses of advertising space, it’s no real surprise that the B2B world is really beginning to take advantage of Facebook. And that’s much of what the certificate surrounds: advertising on Facebook. Blueprint also covers managing a Facebook page and the keys to delivering successful campaigns.

There are two certifications from Facebook: the Facebook Certified Planning Professional and the Facebook Certified Buying Professional. The former looks closely at (you guessed it) planning, and specifically the reach, cadence and impact of a campaign. The latter focuses on specific aspects to Facebook marketing including the Pixel, Pages and Ads. 

It’ll set you back £150, but as the only certificate of its kind, there’s only way to get this sort of recognition. 

Canva Design School

Who’s got the hours to sink into Photoshop or InDesign? Do you really need to know about layers or paths? Adobe Illustrator is how many GBs to download?! Enter Canva: the solution to all of these problems.

Canva is a free, web-based graphic design tool that is near-enough foolproof. But don’t let this downplay Canva’s capability. It’s surprisingly powerful and versatile, so much so that it has a catalogue of courses and lessons you could be learning. 

Free up your designers and creatives and add some design skills to your repertoire. There isn’t anywhere easier to do it than with Canva.

Hootsuite Social Media Marketing

Hootsuite is one for the social media management guys, or for anyone looking to further their social standing or strategy. The basics are easy to get to grips with. But don’t get it twisted: it’s still a powerful bit of kit with lots of features and functionality, one that can really supercharge your social status.

There are three certifications you can earn via the Hootsuite Academy, all of varying prices and difficulty. The entry level certificate ‘Social Marketing Trainer’ will have all you need to know about gaining followers, maximising engagement and developing a comprehensive social strategy.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Advanced Social Media Strategy Training is an industry-leading certificate delivered in partnership with Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. 

For the third instalment of Behind B2B, our series exploring the brightest minds in the industry, we meet Fiona Campbell-Howes – one of the UK’s leading B2B tech copywriters – to talk copy, Cornwall and Chinese pig farms.

Who?

Name a major B2B tech company and chances are, Fiona’s written for them. In fact, she’s spent the last 25 years becoming one of the most respected tech writers in the biz. Now based in Cornwall, she’s played every part from freelancer to agency founder – and these days, she can even be found advocating for Cornwall’s booming tech scene. 

How did she get there? Let’s find out. 

Fiona, tell us – what did you actually want to be when you grew up?

When I was a child, I wanted to be an archaeologist! Is there a parallel there? Archaeology’s all about extracting the meaning from a site, interpreting what the story is with minimal clues… going through a careful process of investigation… And that’s what you do as a copywriter for B2B tech clients. You extract the story and create something meaningful. 

It does sound similar, when you put it like that! Archaeology didn’t pan out, but tech writing certainly did – can you run us through how you got to where you are today?

I was actually applying for an admin role in Windsor – but I mentioned on my CV that I spoke French, Italian, some German. The agency offered me an international PR executive role. 

And I said yes, having no idea what that actually meant. They put me on two clients: a manufacturer, and a B2B tech client. It was interesting, to say the least. They’d say, ring up this journalist, and pitch them a story in German – never mind the fact I could barely pitch a story in English! 

But despite the dubious German, I fell in love with the B2B tech client. The process of communicating really complicated things to really clever people: that was completely for me. 

So in time, you moved from PR to copywriting?

Yes. My career progressed, and all the while I was falling more and more in love with writing B2B tech stories. I became vaguely aware that there was such a thing as ‘freelance writer’, but back then, there was no way of ‘just going freelance’. There was no social media, no LinkedIn. 

So I stayed in the industry, learning and moving – until I’d clocked up enough contacts to feel confident I could get the freelance writing work. From there, I moved back and forward between in-house and freelancing. Eventually, a friend invited me to lead the copywriting division at a tech agency she was setting up. 

But as we know, you weren’t destined to stay in London. How did Cornwall come about?

In 2006, I met the man who’s now my husband, and he was in Cornwall. We had that chat – who goes where? – and it was a no brainer. I knew I could thrive as a freelancer working from anywhere, so off to Cornwall I went. 

I ended up in the happy position of having too much work. I knew Cornwall needed good jobs, and it struck me that I was in a position to create some jobs, create some opportunity. So I started an agency – a specialist B2B tech copywriting agency – called Radix.

It was a fantastic experience. As you can imagine, there weren’t a lot of professional B2B tech writers in Cornwall – so we trained people, hired graduates, often from the fantastic universities nearby. We built up the team, had many very happy and successful years – and in 2018, I handed over the reins to our marvellous Ops and Creative Directors (Sophie Reynolds and David McGuire). 

The siren call of freelance life lured you back?

It did. I stayed to oversee the transition for two years, then returned to freelance life – incidentally, just before the pandemic struck, which was interesting. 

But fortunately, I’ve stayed busy. After all, so much budget that used to go into live events is now in content – writing is one of the biggest ways you can connect with people at the moment. 

That certainly seems to be the case. Could you tell us about what else you’ve been up to – we know you play a really active role in promoting Cornwall’s tech scene?

I’m co-founder and editor of TECgirls, an initiative aimed at getting more girls interested in  tech and engineering. It’s still depressingly common to see girls selecting themselves out of the tech path from a really early age – you know, ‘tech is a boy’s career’. 

There’s a lack of role models. We’re working to change that, telling the stories of the fantastic women in the industry. The plan was to have a big event last year, but of course Covid put paid to that, so we’re focusing on content instead. 

It’s a fantastic way to put the spotlight on Cornwall’s tech scene and the women working in it. There’s so much going on here; stories of innovation, people solving problems in ingenious ways. I also write about these stories in Lode Magazine – it’s hugely interesting to explore what a tech scene looks like in a rural county, rather than a city.

It’s clear you’ve a real passion for unearthing stories. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve worked on?

I love work that makes you see the world in a different way. One of my clients, Spirent Communications, specialises in GPS cybersecurity. Satellite navigation systems can be hacked – the signals can be jammed, or spoofed, which is when somebody broadcasts a fake GPS signal. I write for them about real world instances of when that jamming or spoofing has happened. 

Like in China – this pig farmer had set up a GPS jammer on his property to deter drones from a rival pig farmer, who was using them to drop packets of swine fever on his herd. But he didn’t realise that his GPS jammer was disrupting the navigation systems of planes coming into the nearby airport… and that’s a pretty big cybersecurity issue, as you can imagine!

That’s the marvellous thing about B2B stories. You just think: I had no idea that technology even existed. But it does, and it’s wonderful. 

Speaking of B2B stories: what makes a great B2B campaign? Or just great B2B work in general?

For me – and this is perhaps contrarian– it’s not the most creative or the most eye-catching work. It’s the one that gets the best results, the one that delivers on its objectives. So it’s hard for me to say, without being privy to what the results are.  

As a writer, there are some phrases I always delete when I come across them. ‘In today’s complex landscape… in today’s hyper competitive economy…’ What does it mean?

But an example I think is great: I worked with Nokia (via their creative agency), which has analytics software so telcos can understand traffic on their network. And throughout the pandemic, Nokia used this to visualise what was happening in the world’s networks.

You could chart the explosion in the use of Zoom, see Microsoft Teams coming in a bit later, spot the rise of gaming as people are getting bored, staying at home… You see a huge drop from Netflix and a corresponding spike for TV broadcasters when political leaders host briefings. Essentially, it’s a really wonderful data visualisation story – those are always very powerful in B2B. 

To wrap up with some quick questions – and we know somebody as passionate about B2B as you may rebuff this question altogether… But if you had to jump ship and pick a B2C brand to work for, who would it be?

You’re right – I wouldn’t want to go! For me, that would be a step backwards. I love things that are difficult, intricate, complicated. I love interior design, but would I really want to write about it? I want to keep things like that separate from my work. 

If we gave you the power to axe a B2B trope or cliché forever, what would it be?

As a writer, there are some phrases I always delete when I come across them. ‘In today’s complex landscape… in today’s hyper competitive economy…’ What does it mean? Hasn’t the world always been complex and competitive and fast moving? If you find yourself reaching for a phrase like that: write it. Then, write whatever comes next – before going back and deleting the first bit!

That’s a good tip! Any others, to finish?

So much goes into a great bit of writing. At Radix, we had a 15 point quality framework! But ultimately: think about the reader and their experience. Is it interesting to read? Is it enjoyable to read? If you can manage that, you’re off to a good start. 

Keen for more Behind B2B stories? Read our interview with Tyrona Heath from the The B2B Institute @ LinkedIn now. 

At OG, we celebrated International Women’s Day with International Women’s WEEK, where we celebrated the wonderful women of OG, and their essential role in our workplace and in our lives (one day’s simply not enough!).

All last week we were sharing the stories and experiences of some of our amazing women, and we think the world should know how about how great they are as well. Here’s what International Women’s Week meant for us at OG.

SamSamantha Curtis, Senior Account Manager

Although the discourse around International Women’s Day is firmly set on the future, I find there is value in taking the time to reflect on how we can honour the women that helped shaped us.

The women in my family have always been a make-do and mend lot – and for good reason! I fondly remember my nan sitting in front of the TV, darning socks and mending my school clothes for the umpteenth time. I was the kid at school with knitted jumpers to save money. Every World Book Day saw my mum working over her sewing machine into the wee hours rather than buying a costume, and picture days meant her yelling blue murder as she fixed a dress she’d made after I’d managed to rip it.

All of these teachings have made me an avid arts and crafter. I have unfortunately also inherited the frugal nature of looking at things and thinking “I could make that myself for less”, which is often more trouble than it’s worth.

But every time I sit down at my mum’s old sewing machine, I’m honouring her by putting into practice what she taught me, and thanking her for all she made for me when I was younger. When I pick up a needle and thread to darn my clothes, I’m thanking my nan for the time freely given so that we could save money, and honouring the lessons she’s instilled in me over the years.

In a time where everything is moving so quickly, it can be grounding to take a moment and think about who the influential women in our lives have been, and what part of their personalities, interests, and ethics we want to continue.

Personally, I think it could be as simple as finding the time to reflect on lessons you’ve learned from the role models in your life, and how you might want to act on these. Or perhaps cooking a recipe that was handed down to you, or putting on their favourite movie and think about how their humour and interests are a part of you. It could be visiting a place with strong memories, or even listening to music you now love because of the person who introduced it to you.

This week, International Women’s Day is quite aptly timed alongside Mother’s Day this Sunday. So, in the spirit of things, this weekend I’m planning on making a blouse and crocheting a jumper. I’ll go for a walk in the nature reserve my mum and I used to visit, and think about the important women in my life, and what parts of them I want to bring more of into the world. However, I’m still deciding which ELO album I’ll have on blast for the whole day – Discovery is currently winning.

Lindsey Mousinho, Client Director

This year, the theme for International Women’s Day (8th March 2021) is #choosetochallenge. My challenge to myself in 2021 has been to read more non-fiction. I am an avid reader but normally find myself reaching for either a trashy novel or what my husband calls “Dad books” – think John Le Carre or Michael Crichton. Great for falling asleep to after a long day but not necessarily enriching my mind!

One thing that has helped me along this journey is the fact that my lovely mother-in-law, Katy Mousinho, is brilliant at suggesting what I should read next. In fact, she has just published her own non-fiction book – Wonder Women: Inspiring stories and insightful interviews with women in marketing.

It is full of true stories and insights from a huge variety of women who have influenced marketing over the years. From Brownie Wise, who transformed Tupperware to Mary Wells Lawrence, who founded the advertising agency Wells, Rich, Greene, to the only female country CEO in Carlsberg, Helle Muller Petersen.

As an agency, over the past few years, Octopus Group has spent a lot of time thinking about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and in PR & marketing specifically, so the book is a no brainer for us!

It is full of great stories but there were a few quotes that really stood out to me:

If nobody will challenge or think differently, nothing will ever change. You have to stop sometimes and think differently to make a difference” – Elena Marchenko, global category director at Arla

If you feel like being inspired, grab a copy on Amazon here!

StaceyStacey Nardozzi, Senior Account Manager

When I was at university working towards my PR degree, I was part of a student society known as the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), where I became President in my final year. It’s because of that group and the connections I made through it, that my career is where it is today.

I’ve always wanted to give back and support the organisation that helped launch my career, but being an American living abroad has made that a bit challenging. The frequency of my visits back to Michigan are usually only once a year, and the time difference makes joining virtual meetings nearly impossible. So, I was honoured when an old colleague of mine, put me forward as a virtual panellist for her Alma Mater DePaul University’s PRSSA chapter, to mark International Women’s Day. The theme was international women in PR and I was joined by two other women from Amsterdam and Israel.

We started off with introductions and talking about how we made the decision to move abroad and pursue a career in International Public Relations. All three of us are expats, either Canadian or American, and it was interesting to hear these women’s experiences moving abroad, and working in a corporate culture vastly different to the ‘American way’. Many of us found the PR landscape in the US or Canada to be quite competitive, and were seeking opportunities to expand and grow our careers.

The conversation flowed naturally into discussing the nuances of working in PR in a different country, especially when it comes to things like the media landscape, annual leave policies, maternity and paternity pay and the general office culture. There isn’t a government mandated maternity leave policy in the US, with some women re-joining the workforce only three months after giving birth. For women in the workforce this is an important consideration, and one of the benefits of living and working in a European country is government mandated maternity pay and leave. For me, the most surprising thing that I didn’t expect to get questions about were the things outside of work. Things like how to make friends and what to expect socially, as well as salary considerations, as salary levels in Europe are generally lower than the US.

One of the questions that was asked was around how women can advance in positions of leadership. This is such a critical question for women starting out in their careers and for those who are aiming for growth and progression. The most important thing from my perspective is to be your own advocate. To be vocal about your own success and to raise when you feel like you should be involved in a certain meeting or project. No one is going to do it for you. You have to ask those questions and go into it with a curious mindset. I have always conducted myself in this way, being vocal when I feel like I should be invol
ved in something, or want to learn more, or when I feel there was gender bias. I think it’s a valuable tool for women who are looking to progress in their careers, especially in a country that you weren’t born in.

It was such a privilege to be able to speak to these public relations students and get them excited about the opportunities that are out there for them, especially for women. Moving abroad and building a career in a foreign country is possible. It was one of the best decisions I made personally and professionally.

Natasha Szczerb, Client Director

Over 10 years ago I left my home country of Brazil and moved to Israel. I quickly had to adjust to a new culture, new language, new home and new way of living. Until moving to Israel I was not very self-sufficient or independent, so had to quickly adapt and pick up life skills like cooking and cleaning, all while learning hebrew in a war-torn country. 

Changing careers was also hard. I wasn’t familiar with B2B marketing as I’d worked as an advertising copywriter until then, and was mostly looking for similar jobs to begin with. I’d never heard of leads, sales funnel or KPIs before! I’d been working in Portuguese until then, so it was a steep learning curve to learn English at the same time as B2B marketing.

Living in an unpredictable setting like Israel toughened me up and taught me a lot about life before I moved to London. The second time round I was better prepared, but it of course came with its own set of challenges. 

Finding somewhere to live and work in a city like London isn’t easy, but this encouraged me to really do my research and find the right company for me. I didn’t want just any job, I wanted to find something I really liked, to continue growing my career within B2B marketing. So I didn’t just apply to open roles I saw, I started researching companies with the profile I was looking for and approached them directly. 

Both experiences turned out to be incredible opportunities. I’ve learned new cultures, new skills, new languages, met so many new people (including my husband) and had a big career change from advertising copywriter to B2B marketer. 

Nevertheless, these opportunities shaped my life in ways I never expected, and helped me grow so much both personally and professionally. I feel really lucky to have found a career that I love, and to have made amazing friends from different parts of the world. But most of all to have formed my little international family, particularly in welcoming my gorgeous baby boy to the world last year.