Too weird to live, too rare to die , too apathetic to think of his own catchphrase.
Writing a blog about yourself is a bit like networking in a hall of mirrors or having a LinkedIn network consisting entirely of profiles of you – at least the humble-bragging will remain consistent. Whilst I find it very easy to shout about someone else, their business or ideas the resolute Britishness within me makes all the self-promotion malarkey seem a tad grubby and shameless. Added to this is the fact that I firmly believe one should only blog if you’ve got something interesting & valuable to offer your reader. Now I have lots of valuable & interesting things to offer people, but I am not one of these things. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer in people buying from people, with that in mind it’s only sensible for people to get to know the team behind the cakes – so I shall do my duty. Admittedly doing it through slightly gritted teeth and a less than perfect attitude but, the plus side of this is, that you are getting to know me. Look how much ground we’ve covered already:
- Ben has a cantankerous attitude somewhat ill-suited to a man of his years
- He abhors shameless self-promotion
- He believes blogging, like all marketing, should only be done where appropriate, not for the sake of itself
- He believes marketing should be genuine and sincere even if it represents you as a moody git
- He is not beyond talking about himself in third person.
Now I’m not all griping and third-party narration, there are many things in life that render me in a joyous state. Climbing, Skiing, Canyoning, in fact any sport with a slightly inherent risk always manages to put a smile on my face. The highs and lows of following Liverpool Football club have taken me on a 30 + year rollercoaster. The musical stylings of Iron Maiden, Rammstein, WASP, Lamb of God and many more heavy metal greats have been a source of constant happiness for me and even inspired me to learn guitar myself, something I have found to be the equivalent of chasing the dragon or playing golf in terms of an increased repetition v decreased pay-off. But my love of music doesn’t stop with likes of Ozzy throwing up the devil horns. Gypsy swing, drum ‘n’ bass, folk and whisper it quietly, even a bit of psy-trance have been known to get my feet on the dancefloor and my hands in the air. Particularly if I am able to enjoy all of the above in the musical smorgasbord of a music festival such as Boomtown. Beyond all this high-octane fun I also love writing (both literature and music) long walks in the countryside (yes really) canoeing and long rambling conversations that segue with such pace that they ever rarely resolve themselves.
See look at all that positive stuff, admittedly it reads likes the luke-warm “about me” section of the CV of a 16 year-old applying for work experience, but you’re still reading aren’t you? But you want more do you? You mean this aloof and slightly prickish take on blogging hasn’t demonstrated why I’m in marketing?
A fair point probably.
Well for starters I have a degree in marketing. Admittedly when I achieved that there was 1 module on digital marketing, the captivating PR in the digital Age. Now I’m not saying PR has been without its own digital disruption but it still felt (and feels) like an odd part of the marketing mix to be the vanguard of the digital age. Anyhow, I still went, learned, graduated and collected my piece of paper informing everyone that ‘I am Marketing’. It’s still proudly positioned below my passport and above the collection of phone chargers I have held onto since 2004.
My journey from bright-eyed Marketing graduate to the world-weary grumpus you read before you has been a fun and meandering one. I sampled a taste of the corporate world with the good folks at Weetabix, and I mean good folks. Wonderful people and wonderful company, if you’re ever in Kettering pop in and say “hi” from me. They won’t have any idea who I am but there’s not much going on in Kettering so they’ll appreciate the distraction. Following my time testing the tensile strength of Weetabix (not my actual role but certainly what I always told people whenever they asked what I did for the wheat kings of the midlands) I moved into pub landlording and spent a few happy-hazy years owning and operating pubs in Bristol. I have a host of brilliant stories from this era but sadly there’s no chance of me writing them in a blog. It was a great yin to the yang of Weetabix, corporate to small business, massive processes and operational structures to my business partner I having the buck stop with us. We had some special times, put on some next-level events, and created a personality and content marketing approach that really stood out. But living and working in the same building, that’s open 7 days a week takes a toll.
So, I packed up my pints of bitter and pork scratchings and decided to go corporate and improve my sales & BD game. Now I’m not going to name and
shame glorify this particular Bristol “institution” but a quick bit of Poirot-ing on your part should be able to lead you to their (real) glass door reviews via my LinkedIn. Despite having a culture lodged somewhere in 1985 (seriously they showed clips of The Wolf of Wall Street as “motivation”! I don’t know if anyone there had ever seen the film to the end, but they had seemed to miss the point) they did know what they were talking about when it came to sales techniques and I learnt a lot. Admittedly I also learnt even more about what toxic company cultures look like but that’s another story. Having felt like I’d sold my soul to the corporate machine for the last time I returned to where I felt happiest, start-up land. Running the sales effort for tech-start up (Acorn) I had an exciting couple of years where I fully began to appreciate the need for sales and marketing to be in simpatico. As I unified my sales approach with marketing even more I eventually transitioned into the Head of Marketing Role.
And thus our storified version of my CV brings us to now. As the CEO of Acorn decided that business life wasn’t for him and returned to medicine it created an incredible opportunity for some of us left. To take our combined decades of marketing, business dev and commercial skill and use it to help the businesses we felt most passionate about: SMEs and Start-ups. And what a good idea that was. After 18 months we have great clients who we’re producing great work for, I spend my days creating campaigns, pitching for work and making sure the level of cynicism in the company remains at a healthy level. It’s not an easy job but buggered if anyone else’ll do it.