Where are you based?
What job do you do?
sobananapenguin – Managing Director
How did you get into marketing/communications?
I have to admit that I never planned to enter the world of marketing and communications. Having studied Art History at university, I’d been working in a bookshop for five years and thought I’d found my calling. It was only when a member of staff left that a gap in responsibilities appeared. However, rather than applying for the role directly, it was the store manager who believed that I was the right fit.
I’ll never forget the day he took me aside on the shopfloor and told me that I should manage the store’s marketing and events programme. This was in 2007 and at the time I had no idea what marketing involved. In fact, I had to ask him what the word itself meant. His answer was simple: “We’re a bookshop. Go get a dictionary off the shelf and look it up.”
This may sound like I was thrown in at the deep end but he said it with a smile and I appreciated his confidence in me, which eventually led to a wide-ranging career in a sector I’d never even considered entering.
What are you most proud of in your career as a marketing/communications professional?
I’ve worked with so many businesses over the years, from accountants and solicitors to coffee shops and online retailers, but the project I’m most proud of is Assemble Fest. This was a theatre festival that took place down Newland Avenue in Hull from 2013 to 2017, bringing a local street to life through multiple forms of art and performance.
I was part of the small group that founded the festival, managing the marketing activity that helped to take it from an exciting idea to a popular event that was praised by The Guardian and the British Council. With theatre shows taking place inside the street’s many independent businesses and offering something truly unique to the public, it’s a project that I’ll always remember fondly.
How has marketing/communications helped the organisations you’ve worked for?
sobananapenguin primarily works with small businesses and start-ups by providing copywriting, blog writing, social media management and PR services. Many of these companies have seen a significant increase in awareness and engagement as a result, which goes hand in hand with high-quality communications that accurately reflect a brand’s mission, vision and voice.
Hearing a client’s feedback regarding how our digital marketing services are helping them to build a targeted customer base and share their successes with the world is always very fulfilling.
What challenges have you overcome on your professional journey to where you are today?
Blimey, quite a few. At the very start of my self-employment journey it was just me trying to get my name out there, without a brand identity to strengthen it. Building my portfolio and establishing sobananapenguin as a reputable source of digital marketing services required a lot of hard work, patience and collaboration, which helped me to better understand how to approach businesses and deliver exactly what they need.
I also took out an office in the city centre after five years of working from home. Whilst this was an interesting experience, I soon realised that being based in my home office is a much better arrangement for me. I try not to look at that year of daily travel and monthly rent payments as a waste of time and money, instead it was a necessary step toward recognising that everyone does their best work in different ways. For me, an office overlooking my garden and a total absence of distractions (apart from an affectionate cat) is the ideal environment for creativity and personal growth.
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone starting out in the marketing/communications industry?
It’s a very broad industry that changes frequently. For me, diversification was key to taking on exciting new projects that I would otherwise have missed out on. Whilst copywriting and social media management are my bread and butter, learning about SEO, website management, pay-per-click campaigns and art direction have enabled sobananapenguin to take on a diversity of clients, each of which helps me to continue exploring new ways of communicating.
Put simply, no matter how much you think you know, there’s always something new to learn. Being open to this process is integral to continued success.
Where can we find you online?
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