Sam Kiddy and I met when she employed me on a freelance project and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. There are some people that you come across in life that inspire you not only for their business acumen but also for their personal style. Sam is one such person. Her ability to command a room of senior execs with her passion, eloquence and vision was a great lesson to me. As was the way she led a team of very diverse people, that were spread across numerous geographic regions, to do some great Marketing. I’m so glad she took the time to be part of the Marketing Minds Series.
The Marketing Minds series delves into the minds of some inspirational people involved in the wonderful world of Marketing and asks them to answer a set of questions that probe into their career journey and what inspires them. This is what Sam had to say
2. Where do you work and what do you do?
Yebo Design and Marketing – we’re a small agency in Rushden and I’m responsible for agency strategy, growth and new clients
3. What’s your career path been like and how did you end up where you are?
After University I worked in a bingo hall, sold wine and designed office interiors before landing in marketing. I didn’t study as hard as I should have done, I’ve always been pretty smart and a good talker but I think I only learned to work really hard when I was in my 30s.
I was at MBNA when the big American card companies were acquiring customers like crazy so had to fast track my understanding of marketing commercials and business cases. At Airmiles I worked on campaigns that used points to shape customer behaviour when loyalty was still fairly new. And at Mastercard it was all about the brand and how to use its massive power and assets to generate revenue and drive partner and consumer adoption. As an education in brand, there aren’t many bigger.
I was Head of Marketing for Elavon Europe, leading a pan European marketing team when I decided to swap corporate life for a local agency role where I can get more hands on, work with diverse clients and be closer to home.
4. What elements of your job do you dislike?
Hardly any these days, but I’ve never been great at admin. I gravitate towards things that are challenging, important or interesting and I’ll happily admit that developing and sticking to processes is not my strong point!
5. What’s your favourite advert of all time?
This Girl Can from Sport England. It’s inspiring and powerful to watch and it’s been a complete game changer. I play netball with women of all ages, shapes and backgrounds and I sometimes look around at the courts on a wet Wednesday night and we look just like a This Girl Can advert. More accurately it looks just like us, the insight is bang on which is why it’s such a brilliant concept.
6. What advice would you give your 20 year old self if you could go back in time?
Spend more time thinking about what makes you happy and build a career out of that. Never be afraid of failing or taking risks. And always back yourself, you’re smarter than you think you are and your instincts are sound so listen to them. It’s also the advice that I’m giving to my 8 year old daughter.
7. What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
My daughter Megan. I sometimes look at her and can’t wait for the rest of her life to unfold. She’s smart, funny and caring and has a simple, pragmatic outlook on life that seems to be lacking in our politics and the way we treat the world. I just hope we don’t stuff up everything before her generation gets chance to make its mark.
8. What is the creative idea or innovation that you wish you’d thought of first?
Bloom and Wild, flower delivery in packaging that fits through your letterbox. Just brilliant – you can’t leave flowers on a doorstep or in a safe place if nobody is home, so let’s create a way to get the flowers indoors.
It’s a great example of solving a genuine, common problem through an ridiculously simple solution. Marketing by design.
9. What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?
I love the sea. I think my time at University in Portsmouth rubbed off, I find the wind refreshing and it clears my head. We go to Norfolk quite a bit as it’s closest but anywhere blowy and wild will do. If I can’t manage that, it’s a book on the sofa and a bit of cooking. I find chopping things worryingly therapeutic….
10. What was the last thing you learned?
2.6 million girls and women played football last year. That makes me so happy.
11. Which blog or podcast are you currently listening to / would recommend?
More of a movement than a blog but I’m currently fascinated by 2040 – The Regeneration. 2040 is a documentary movie which looks at how tech and ideas available right now could be deployed to have a genuine impact on reversing carbon emissions over the next twenty years.
It got me thinking about climate change in a different way – I’ve always believed that we can make small changes at an individual level, but we needed government and big business to take the lead. Now I’ve finally realised they’re not capable of implementing the change we need as it’s not in their commercial or political interests. Have a look at https://whatsyour2040.com/
12. What 3 words sum you up?
Intuitive, Honest, Passionate. O maybe Very Fast Talker.
13. Who do you most admire and why?
So many people. Alex Scott as a sports broadcaster who is quietly breaking down gender boundaries in football, and Clare Balding who has outshone her colleagues at the BBC while being unapologetic about her sexuality and her style. Jess Phillips is the kind of powerful, connected politician I think we need, but I’m not sure we’re ready for her just yet. I hope we will be soon.
14. Do you think technology is killing creativity in marketing or helping it?
It has the potential to help, our improved ability to understand and reach people means we’re able to be more creative and precise in the work we do. Sadly, I think too much work isn’t creative enough, despite endless talk about personalisation.
I’ve started to hate that word. It rarely means more than inserting the right data into the right space on a generic template. Businesses need to be more honest and real in their communications, show personality and share opinions in every channel.
15. What’s the work you are most proud of?
I delivered a big campaign at Mastercard to drive contactless card usage. Visa had the dominant share, which meant we needed to persuade consumers to break a habit and change their card of choice. We worked with Transport for London to create Fare Free Friday – free tube travel on a given Friday if you tapped in and out with a Mastercard.
It was pretty stressful – lots of senior stakeholder management, tech stuff that could go wrong, a very high risk business case with so much potential and uncapped cost, but it went live on my last day working at Mastercard and I remember travelling into work and seeing our vinyls on the ticket barriers and posters on tube trains, and feeling so proud.
16. What are you going to do now?
Proofread a brochure for a wedding venue, wash up my cup then go to the gym before I collect Megan from football. It’s not quite Friday afternoon in the pub, but it’ll do for me.