Where are you based?
What job do you do?
Co-Founder of Better2Know, running my own business.
How did you get into marketing/communications?
I started my career as an Accountant, and in the first months of training, I had an exam on marketing. I remember thinking “Why does an Accountant need to know about Marketing?” I know now! Everything that you do in your career is connected to marketing, some ways are more subtle than others. Whether you are marketing yourself at a job interview, marketing your skills to clients, marketing the company performance at a team meeting, or marketing your products, services, and business. I do all of the last three now.
I am a co-founder of Better2Know, the worlds largest private provider of sexual health testing services. Along with my partner Michael Asher, we have grown the business and now provide fast, accurate and confidential results in 20 countries around the world, all served from our Head Office in Lancashire. We rely on marketing and communications to reach patients who need us every day. Our patients find us online, read our website, and then contact us to make their STI testing appointment.
What are you most proud of in your career as a marketing/communications professional?
There are many great things that I have been proud of. Some of these are smaller personal triumphs like setting up a website from scratch and writing and editing the content to rank well for SEO purposes to developing strategies for the international launch of the Better2Know service in diverse countries like South Africa, Bahrain, Spain, and Australia. Where we have had to use different promotional strategies to reach our customers, and in some cases different languages.
However, I am most proud of the team effort of winning the Best in Business Awards (BIBAs) Small Business of the Year Award in September last year. This was us marketing the entire business including our marketing, communications and sales strategy to the judges. I had to submit our application, be interviewed by five judges, and then hosted them on a tour of the office, where they interviewed all the Better2Know staff as part of the process. It felt very rigorous as the whole aspect of the business was covered. We were delighted to win the award at a fantastic evening in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
How has marketing/communications helped the organisations you’ve worked for?
As a co-founder of a start-up business, very simply there would be no business without marketing and communications. It has helped everything. We have been in the top 100 fastest growing tech companies in the north of the UK for the last three years. This is because we continue to grow by communicating with new patients every year.
Our marketing plan is to reach patients when they need us the most. As a small company, building our brand and reputation is important. We tend to be a service that people do not know about until they need us. This is why it is so important that our website contains clear and accurate information, is easy to navigate, and works all the time. Cloud and UX technologies have really helped us to improve this over the years.
Once a patient has booked with us, we continue to build our relationship by providing information about their tests, their results and give clear advice and guidance on what to do next.
What challenges have you overcome on your professional journey to where you are today?
I was made redundant in 2010 and wanted to start my own business. I had had success working for other people and now it was time to do it for myself. Along with Michael Asher, we set up Better2Know in 2011.
Redundancy is often a time when people take stock of their careers. It is a good time to look at what you are good at, and what you have enjoyed doing and to consider a change of one sort or another.
Looking back on it, it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, and although finances were tight at the beginning, the hard work did pay off, and I have never been happier.
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone starting out in the marketing/communications industry?
I have interviewed a lot of people in marketing positions. One question we always ask is “What is marketing?” Every person (so far) has responded with a description of advertising. So, my advice is to remember your Marketing Mix and think of all the different elements of a marketing strategy when you think about what you are doing and how you are going to do it. You will get better results for your work.
Another personal bug-bear of mine: you must send a covering letter for a job when a CV is required. A good covering letter (and there is no point sending a bad one) will be tailored to the job you apply for. You should go through the person specification and say why you meet all the criteria in it and give examples. You also need to say why you want to work for the company and believe in its product or service. The letter should be around two sides of A4 long. If you are applying for a job in 5 minutes online by clicking your CV through, do not expect a good response. You should take time to apply for a job, it shows you are serious and how you can market yourself.
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