As part of my Day in the Working Life of series, I caught up with Sam Stead, Head of Digital at the Creative Digital Agency, Fifteen! Read on to find out how he’s developed a strong agency-based marketing career, his favourite technological developments and leading advice for anyone looking to enter the industry!
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I’m Head of Digital for Fifteen, a digital agency based in Nottingham. My role covers everything from pitching to new clients to ensuring the relationship with existing clients is where it needs to be to run an awesome team of digital marketeers.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Along with the other Heads of Department I sit on the management team and report into the MD.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Well that depends on the aspect of the role. Regarding sales, you need to be a good listener and creative thinker to ensure you’re creating a proposal which matches the client’s needs. For account management it’s communication and perseverance to keep driving performance. For team management, it’s back to being a good listener and understanding how to ensure you’re getting the best level of passion and perseverance from the team.
Tell us about a typical working day…
I’m not sure there is a ‘typical working day’ working for an agency! But that’s what makes it such a fun job – there’s always a new challenge or problem to solve or the chance to get involved in something genuinely exciting. Kind of like being Harvey Specter in Suits but not quite as cool.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I’m not going to lie, it’s tough sometimes. But that’s one of the things I love. It’s so varied each day, so you’ve got to be prepared to reschedule all of those meetings you so meticulously planned in your calendar but it’s exciting.
What sucks? Speaking to clients who have huge potential but don’t want to invest in marketing. Today’s economic climate scares a lot people, so when someone takes a leap and creates something their passionate about its awesome for us to be a part of that.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
My goals are often linked to growth, whether that’s in how much the digital department bills monthly, the service offering we have for clients or the amount of people we have doing awesome work. I also need to make sure that the growth is efficient and manageable – if the size of the team is growing it either needs to be to satisfy client demand or to service a new niche.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
In the world of digital there are so many to choose from, but I love good old Microsoft Excel for a lot of tasks. We use a whole host of tools across the digital team, but the key is understanding where the limit of their use is and where a human touch needs to finish the job.
How did you become Head of Digital, and where might you go from here?
I’ve worked in digital for a while now and started out in a junior role client-side which allowed me to learn from the ground up, something I can’t recommend enough. Starting in an entry-level position gives you the chance to understand all of the nuances and day-to-day running aspects of a company. With regards to how I became Head of Digital at Fifteen, I worked hard and wasn’t afraid to take a chance in the deep-end of the pool early on in my career which no doubt helped me get to where I am now.
What new technology / platforms are you most excited about (if any)?
Digital marketing is constantly changing so there’s always something to get excited about. The emergence of AR/VR is hot topic for most marketeers, so I’d have to go with that – the opportunities for some companies are incredible.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in marketing for a digital agency?
Get some strong experience client-side and be willing to push yourself. Some agencies don’t like to hire people with no agency experience but in my opinion, they couldn’t be more wrong. If you can show your knowledge and passion in an interview, it doesn’t necessarily matter where you got the experience.
We often consider ourselves always looking for new recruits, mainly because if someone is passionate enough we’ll make room for them in the team. I don’t really look for a list of qualifications, it’s more about something different. Bake a cake for the interview, send your CV to the office in a balloon, stand out and I’m interested.
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