As a part of my Day in the Working Life of series, I caught up with Alex Guest, Digital Marketing Director at Reckless. Read on to find out how he’s developed a strong agency-based marketing career, his favourite technology for the job and some leading advice for those looking to break into the marketing world!
Please describe your job: What do you do? I’m responsible for the output of the marketing team here at Reckless and ensuring that our campaigns deliver tangible bottom line return whilst being of the highest possible quality within the available budget.
My day-to-day work is strategy, new business and collaborating across departments to increase the agency’s performance. Providing training and guidance to my team and ultimately making them self-sufficient by giving them the tools they need to solve problems & collaborate across departments.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I’m on the senior management team and report into the managing director and other board members.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Those are the main three skills; a lot of my job is about being personable and open to change.
Everything moves fast in our world so you need to evolve your approach to ensure you spot new opportunity for the business, for clients and for yourself.
You need to be a good listener and hear what’s not being said, especially when it comes to customer research and understanding client’s paint points.
Experience is worth its weight in bitcoin (zeitgeist!) so meet people, read, learn, challenge yourself with ideas that, at first glance, appear beyond your capabilities. You don’t know what you don’t know so you need to expose yourself to as much quality information as you can.
Tell us about a typical working day…
It all starts with a strong black coffee…
I often kick off my working day conducting standups with my team or other senior team members before we get started to uncover any potential barriers that could prevent work getting done.
After that, the headphones go in and I’ll work through 1-2 larger tasks up until lunch. These tasks are anything from strategy pieces and pitch preparation through to department financials and analysis of client performance.
I rarely check email/Slack/social before midday to prevent me getting drawn into anything that isn’t urgent – I find that if something needs dealing with, people tend to seek you out!
Afternoons are when I prefer to get meetings and collaborative pieces of work done. I’ll also liaise with my team to see if they need any direct support with their work – they rarely do. I like to get home at a reasonable time to make sure I spend time with the family before clocking up another 1-2 hours of research, reading and combing through email/Slack messages.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I adore the people I work with, both in terms of the team here at Reckless and our clients.
There isn’t any politicking within the agency so we’ve a very open and collaborative atmosphere. Everyone comes in with the intention of doing the best work we can and finding new ways to constantly improve and support one another achieve more.
What sucks? One thing agencies in particular are notorious for is putting tech ahead of strategy. AI, AR, blockchain or any martech won’t do much for your campaign performance or your bottom line if you haven’t done your homework.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
We’ve the typical metrics you’d expect (revenue, EBITDA, utilisation, profitability per head, etc) but I’m keen to experiment with innovation accounting to measure the value of learning. You can’t always monitor progress with a spreadsheet so we’re getting creative with how else we define and measure excellence.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
• Trello for my personal tasks.
• Excel & Sheets for forecasting and financials.
• A notepad for drawing up ideas and forcing me away from my screen to think from a different perspective.
• And although definitely not a tool, the most important element of getting things done is our PA, Sophie, for her brilliant work including keeping calendars up to date and managing a heap of travel arrangements!
How did you become a Digital Marketing Director and where might you go from here?
I worked my way up through the ranks at a couple of agencies and new opportunities kept opening up. I was always hungry to be the best at what I do and threw myself at opportunities to broaden my skills. I was also very lucky in both my current role and my previous one to have managers who gave me the freedom to try new things and experiment with ideas.
I like the phrase “the harder you work, the luckier you get” and if you work hard (as in create real value, not be busy with minutiae and boast about how you ‘work’ 12+ hour days) then you get the reward.
What’s next? Well, I like progression, so who knows?
What new technology are you most excited about (if any)?
So much! For me, most innovative work in the space is about using tech to reduce friction (e.g. in retail you’ve got drone deliveries, Amazon Go, clothes you buy in-store delivered to your home) and that’s where the focus should be; use technology to create a fantastic customer experience.
AI is in danger of becoming overused by marketeers but it holds incredible potential. Ultimately I see AI being able to free up our time to ideate and create. Creativity is an inherent human quality you wouldn’t want to give to a machine. Well, I hope not! Lastly, the convergence of offline with online marketing opens up tonnes of opportunity to leverage connected devices and get really creative with campaigns.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work within a digital agency?
Have an original approach. We receive a lot of CVs so you need to stand out. Remember: we’re predominantly marketeers who love to be sold to, so get creative!
One of the best examples I’ve seen was a package that contained a retro sweets hamper and a link to a website that with a fully customised quiz about the company. Needless to say, an interview was scheduled very quickly after we received that package!
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