Small town thinking for big city marketers
I’ve worked on 3 of Australia’s biggest brands; Toyota, Westpac and Qantas. I’ve worked on big multi-million dollar pitches to thousand dollar budget small client pitches. I’ve donated my spare time working in marketing for not-for-profits and charities to friends’ upcoming businesses. However, nothing could have prepared me for everything I have learned since moving to, and working in, a regional town.
We all deserve the right to be happy in work, as well as life.
I started my career in marketing 8 years ago for a small independent agency working on big budget clients. I had – on and off – travelled the world and recently completed a Bachelor of Arts. Everything I knew about marketing I Googled before the interview. It wasn’t easy. A 2 hour group interview, an 8-page written doc and a half hour presentation. I was given a chance to prove I could do it, and I did.
At my former agency, we were encouraged to pursue whatever avenue of the business we were interested in and I was fortunate enough to be able to move into strategy and insights. I worked under some of the most incredible women who gave me the confidence to believe I was smart enough to be there. Media, as we know, has a very high turnover and eventually I left but it wasn’t the work or the agency, it was the industry. I was sick of the lunches, the constant competition between media providers and the back-to-back meetings, whilst spending all my working days replying to emails.
I decided I wanted a new challenge and moved to a very well-known publisher working in content and production. Again, this was a new skill for me but I proved I could do it. I spent a good year travelling intermittently over the world, (at the envy of everyone back home) but something was still missing. I spent my spare time on my phone checking emails, I was always worried that something wasn’t going to get done and the worst of all is that I knew I wasn’t giving my job the best work because there was never enough time. This isn’t unique to the agency either, it’s something the industry forces out of us. We’re all battling each other for money from clients or for someone else’s job or for a better deal on a proposal. So I quit and went travelling for a few months to clear my head. When I moved back I decided I wanted to do something new, a sea change from Bondi to Byron. Heard it before hey?
So here enters my small town. Yes, Byron Bay might not be a small town to you but for us who live here, we have no traffic lights, a population of 9,000 (residents) and my street is so barely lit that at night I find myself often falling into the many potholes… but that’s ok because I’m always looking at the stars when I do. Thanks to Mr Wilde.
I’m incredibly fortunate, this opportunity is rare. Most people who work here are in retail or hospitality but I’ve landed my dream job with my dream team in my dream town. So in light of that I wanted to share with you what it’s like, so maybe you can take some of this ‘small town thinking’ into your big city living.
1. We don’t get distracted by shiny things.
Our media partners are chosen because of their worth, not by where they take us out to lunch. That means no cupcakes, no parties, no exclusive event invites. You might be thinking, “woah, that doesn’t sound fun?”. Let me tell you, when you remove the bullshit from relationships I promise you can deliver more for your clients.
2. Even playing field
My boss and agency founder, is the guy in front of camera and behind it. We’re all equal even though our job titles might not say it. There’s no competition to be better than someone else in the office, unless it comes to making the best coffee.
3. Money where your mouth is
We’ve grown one of Australia’s largest beer brands, Carlton Dry, on social for the last 5 years and it wasn’t even noted (at all) in the ‘top beer brands’ on a company’s Digital’s Facebook report in 2017, though we ranked 7. We create campaigns for our consumers, not for media owners. They are the focus, not how many awards we win.
4. Not a minute wasted
Instead of spending 5 hours a day grooming and trying to get work, we get up at sunrise, run on the beach, we go to the coffee shop and class all whilst getting to work before 8 which means by the time I start, I’m happy, healthy and not stressed because I sat on Bondi Road on a bus for 1 hr to just to get to the station to sit on a train for another.
5. Limited ‘face time’
Clients don’t judge us by our appearances. We don’t get too much face time with our clients so instead of emailing or spending hours in death-by-powerpoint, we pick up the phone and actually speak to them. We get judged by what we’re saying and the work we do, not by the marketing lingo we type in emails.
6. Big bang for small buck
We’re not motivated by money. We work to keep living the lifestyle we have, not to make millions of dollars (even though we wouldn’t say no to it) which is why we give all our clients maximum efficiencies for less dollars.
7. We only answer to Huey
The Surf God, in case you didn’t know. The only time you might find us out of the office is because the surf’s just too good. This means we’re not running off to meetings all over town or answering to some dude sitting in a glass office overlooking the harbour. We’re getting shit done and we get it done fast. Unless there are waves.
8. Rules? What rules?
We’re not restricted by people telling us what we can and can’t do. There’s no one holding us back here. We come up with out there ideas for our clients that are backed up by real consumer needs.
9. Bliss in being naïve
Other than reading the media news, we’re pretty isolated from what political drama is going on in the industry. We’re not constantly trying to compete, we focus our time on being us and not pretending to be something we’re not.
10. Family first
The most important one of all, but not the way you think. Most of us don’t have our families here so we’re all each other have in this small town. We support each other through every aspect of each other’s lives whether that be at home or in the surf. It’s kind of hard to keep any secrets when there’s only 6 of you in a warehouse. We know pretty much everything about each other’s lives because we actually talk to each other and staff that talk and communicate together get the best results. We look after each other just as much as we look after our clients.
So that’s it, it’s possible to be happy at work as well as in the rest of your life. You don’t have to settle for ‘it pays the bills’. You spend more time at work with your colleagues than you do anywhere else or with anyone else, so make it good.