Tamsin AnsdellSince its inauguration in 1959, The Marketing Society has enjoyed an air of austere professionalism, bringing with it a sense of achievement when members are accepted for membership, but what of the younger generation of marketers?
It was this need that prompted Chris Rowley, communications manager of Lloyds TSB, to help create Marked Talent, the new category of membership of The Marketing Society in Scotland which was launched at The Marketing Society of Scotland’s annual dinner this week. “I was involved last year with the annual conference, and very much enjoyed it,” says Rowley. “Through that I got to know Graeme Atha, who explained that this was one of the initiatives they wanted to get off the ground, would I be interested? I said, naively, yes. One of the things we liked [about the idea] was that if you were starting your career out in marketing, there wasn’t really a professional body to be associated with.”
David Craik, marketing manager at S1, and another founding member agrees. “I think marketers in general are pretty good at networking, there are plenty of events in the calendar,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s anything aimed at that younger level. I think events are either irrelevant or totally intimidating to younger people. We’ll have the same objectives – to develop professionally and to network – just within a different peer grouping.”
Marked Talent is aimed at young marketers under 30. As a Marked Talent member, the standard joining fee of £150 is waived, and you only pay the £185 membership rate. Although there’s no set criteria – “there was heated debate about that,” recalls Rowley – potential members have to be proposed by a fully-paid up Society member.
The need for this sub-category of membership is felt across the UK by The Marketing Society, but Rowley believes Scotland’s regional committee has been given the go-ahead as a trial. “I think The Marketing Society in the rest of the UK is keen to see how this work. One of the main aims of The Marketing Society in Scotland was to make it more inclusive - inclusive in terms of age and stage of your career. I think, to me, one of the big differences in The Marketing Society events is that a lot of the people that attend are at a certain level, or maybe they’ve reached a point in their career where they’re quite happy. So it’s more a sort of old boys’ club and they all know everybody and it’s very comfortable. I think at our level, people really have to work at networking and they need to work at getting known and work at getting to know the right people in the right industry. So what we’re trying to do is create a forum for them to do that, both within their peer group and with others at the next level. As well as networking among each other there will be exposure to both the fellows of The Marketing Society, which are obviously a very influential group of people, and also the wider membership base. We’ll have our own events and we’ll also have other events, which are linked up with The Marketing Society.”
Marked Talent’s three key aims are networking, learning & development and to promote marketing in Scotland. “We don’t want to break away and set up something different because we have different objectives and values, we’re trying to enhance The Marketing Society,” said Rowley. “This isn’t done in any other profession, like the Law Society or the Chartered Institute of Accountants. All that is aimed at a very set level, no one else is interested in bringing in that new level of talent. It’s making sure we, as an industry, are seen to be bringing that talent forward.”
The new members group will also focus activity on keeping talent in Scotland. “It’s about making people aware of the opportunities that are out there,” Rowley explained. “When I graduated and wanted to get into marketing, my immediate reaction was that I have to start off my career in London. You really have to delve deep to realise there are marketing opportunities up here. Nobody comes to you to tell you, whereas down south they come to you.” Craik agrees that can be a problem for graduates. “One of the characteristics in the industry, more so in Scotland, is that creative industries are full of small companies who can’t afford to do ‘milk rounds’ or official graduate schemes, so that’s one of the key things for us.” He continues: “The strange thing is that we know there are literally hundreds of marketing graduates churned out every year, yet companies are saying there’s a talent gap.”
Once the group is up and running, its founding members will be looking to take its message of excellence in marketing to universities and even schools, but initially will concentrate on exposing its members to experienced marketers.
“Everyone on the committee has found it a real benefit, just having a support network,” said Tamsin Ansdell , an account executive from 1576 and another founding member.
Craik, in particular, believes the networking is important for people who work in marketing as they can often work autonomously in a company. “I work in a marketing department of two, well one at the moment,” he said. “I don’t have any marketing peers to share knowledge with or to pick their brains.”
Sharing knowledge is a big part of what Marked Talent wants to do, and it aims to set up a mentor scheme quickly. “If you’re one person [in a marketing department], you can feel quite isolated so it’s about being part of something,” said Rowley. “It’s a bit of a clichÃ©, but there’s no such thing as a job for life. There’s nothing better than talking to people in another market. We’re looking to pilot a mentor scheme with the fellows of the Society. There will be an opportunity to select a mentor either from within your own industry or outwith it. The scaleability of that we need to work on, and how wide we can offer it and to who, but that’s one thing we want to do. I think the other thing we’re looking for is speakers for our events. The advantage we have over the ‘senior’ members is that they – because they’re more senior marketers – need to attract more senior speakers from outwith Scotland to attract the audience. I like to think we’d target speakers who have a little bit of an edge and who’ve had interesting career paths. You want to leave events inspired.”
The other founding members, alongside Craik, Ansdell and Rowley are:
Michael Flannigan, senior media executive, Media Shop; Rebecca Hamilton, marketing & media manager, Historic Scotland; Charlotte Hanna , marketing adviser social economy, Scottish Enterprise; Mairi Hood, account executive, Family; Andrew Jack, brand manager, Scottish Courage; Graeme McGowan, DADA ; Tom Rooney, account executive, The Union; Toby Southgate, client services director, Third Eye Design; Karen Tighe, sponsorship manager, HBOS; Charlotte Weatherall, marketing and PR manager, Westin Turnberry and Martyn Wilson, Carnegie Worldwide.