How to become: studio marketing manager
Design Week: What does a marketing and business development manager do?
Oliver Bingham: I manage our agency’s profile — we need to be active in the market. Everyday, I ask myself the following questions: Do the right people know anything about us? Are they familiar with our work? Are we telling the truth to them? This means sharing content on digital platforms — your website is the key.
I manage the relationship between the PR agency and my senior team, making sure they are commenting on the relevant topics and saying the right thing. Prospective clients should come to us because they like what we have to say or our work. Our work must be understood by people.
DW: What is your educational background?
OB: I completed my Bachelor of Arts (BA), in Advertising and Media at Northumbria University. We covered everything, from idea generation to communication. Advertising fascinated me from childhood and I loved the idea of working in this industry.
The course was a great introduction to branding and creative communication. In 2012, social media was a new frontier for brands, so I started working with them.
DW: How has your career path been so far?
OB: It all started in my third year, when I realized I enjoyed the strategic side of advertising. I created a blog and website to start reviewing creative advertising and design work. You want to let people know that you are interested in reviewing packaging designs or books.
I created my CV with a lot personality and sent it off to Derby, Manchester and Nottingham. I saved money and traveled to London to meet people in the industry. I interned at Underscore and Coley Porter Bell as well as The Dairy and Pearlfisher.
After graduating from university, I did a three month internship with Dragon Rouge. I was responsible for account management but ended up focusing more on strategy, marketing, and business development. It became a permanent position and I stayed there for nearly four years as a consultant.
The Clearing was my next stop, where I became a consultant in brand architecture. My work included brand creation for Ownable, an app that allows you to buy products from magazines.
Studio Output was the right place for me to be if I wanted to concentrate on marketing. Studio Output was trying to reposition themselves through a new website, proposition and marketing strategy. This was what I had done at The Clearing. It was a great time to join to help them communicate their message to the world and say “this is who we are”.
DW: How did you first become interested in new business development and marketing?
OB: Marketing is the most misunderstood area of the creative industries. Although it is often considered the ugly sibling of design, marketing is essential. You must have a strong strategic perspective and build great relationships with all employees. Marketing is not something that can be done by itself. It requires many people with diverse skills.
Output was an opportunity to continue building on the solid foundations they had. Their branding was not strong enough to help brands succeed. Although we do great work, and have many interesting people, not enough people know about it. People are often surprised to hear that I have gone from consulting to marketing. It’s not much different from what I did before. You have to find a problem and solve it.
I have done a lot for studio clients and was intrigued by the long-term focus that Output offers in marketing.
DW: How does your typical work day look for you?
OB: Mornings are often used for meetings. If it is internal, it could be with designers or the head of production looking at projects that are finished. I will ask the story and create a press release, expressing my opinion. When I meet potential clients, I will find out exactly what they require so that I can prepare a proposal.
My schedule rests on a variable basis. When pitching for creative work, we make sure they are as clear and concise as possible. This is where my experience in strategy and accounts comes in handy. We need to present ourselves as the solution to any client’s past problems.
Writing is something I also devote one day a week to, which I do remotely. This could be thought leadership articles, press releases or case studies. We must create interesting content. I am a skilled writer and this is something new for the company.
I also dedicate half an hour to thinking. This might be looking at the news or considering other brands that we could help. All I do is a mixture of logic and magic — you must have unusual sense. It is important to stop and think about what you can do.
DW: Is the job creatively challenging?
OB: It’s as challenging as you want. Creative marketing cuts through the noise. If you are willing to spend the time to think differently and be creative, you will come up with unique ideas. It will always be the same as everyone else if you don’t. Creativity is to look at the needs of 99% and then do what the 1% would.
Writing proposals for work requires creativity. I like to experiment with storytelling and narrative — it’s a chance to share something new with clients and encourage them to have a lot of fun doing it. It’s all about finding the right balance between building trust and getting clients excited.
DW: How closely do graphic designers and marketing managers work together?
OB: We collaborate in many different ways. They create visuals for the website and social media platforms. This could include a case study, or even an Instagram post. These visuals should be beautiful and coherent.
One way we can work together in a less traditional manner is through the thought leadership posts that I write. If they are interested, I will send the idea to them.
I will also ask designers what brands are in need of help and who they are interested in working with. It is powerful to listen to people’s passions. When Mixcloud, a music streaming service, approaches us, I’ll talk to a designer who is passionate about music. They’ll have lots of ideas.
DW: Which strengths are necessary to be a successful marketing and business development manager
OB: Being a sponge is essential. You have to absorb lots of information and then capture the important bits. Always ask questions: What? What time? What is the reason? What can we do to help this brand? What can we say to grab attention? This creates a unique perspective.
Communication is essential, whether it’s via phone, email, or narrative. While there are no bad ideas, there is no way to communicate a good one. The quality of a design studio will only determine how good it is.
It is also important to be able to communicate with your client about the commercial aspects of the job.
DW: What are your favorite parts about your job?
OB: When you win work, it’s a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s you who has spoken first to the client and it’s only by connecting dots with everyone else that work can be achieved.
Your role is also important in developing talent within the agency. You can give work to junior designers and support them if they do great work.
DW: What are the worst parts of your job?
OB: This can be stressful. Clients will need to know about your studio and the work that is coming through the doors. It can be difficult to manage both the expectation and the work involved.
It’s impossible to do everything alone. The burden must be shared. It’s a blessing to have a team who understands what marketing is.
DW: What would you look for in a junior manager of marketing and business development?
OB: I would like to find someone with whom I can have an argument. A lot of what we do involves having a point-of-view. You need to be confident in your ability to form an opinion, which can be difficult for new people. I look for someone who can not only be logical, but also creatively apply it in interesting and new ways.
Also, you will need to be familiar with the workings of the studio. This is the most exciting part. However, it’s also the hardest. You must work with everyone to understand the relationships between departments.
DW: What advice can you offer people considering a job in marketing and new business development?
OB: It doesn’t matter how you approach it. If you show your personality and put your best foot forward on your CV, that will make a big difference. An Instagram or LinkedIn can be used to tell a story. Just do something different.
Stay informed about branding news. You should read publications such as Design Week, The Drum, and the Financial Times every once in a while. It doesn’t matter if you read every issue of The Economist, but it is important to be able to share an interesting story.
DW: How is the market for new business development and marketing managers like?
OB: While there are many recruiters who can help, some of them don’t give potential talent the time they need. You have to do it yourself and create your own path. Be proactive, send emails — but don’t be annoying.
It is necessary to attend the meetings and to do extensive research on each company that you are interviewing at. It can be very difficult, but rewarding when you succeed.