Alex Hodgson Marketing Manager
After graduating from university with a degree in History Alex decided to pursue Marketing for its mix of creative and critical elements.
Alex has several years experience across a range of industries with a specialty in B2B Marketing
What attracted you to a career in Marketing?
After studying History at uni I got an ‘any job’ just to pay off some bills and gave some thought into what I wanted to do. I really wanted to work in radio but opportunities are so limited, and I also tried work experience as a journalist, but by then I’d gotten used to, and quite liked, the team ethic of the office. Journalism is very solitary. So I was looking for something where I could bring my creative and analytical sides together within a team environment. Marketing seemed to fit the bill.
Tell us about your route in Marketing?
My first employer, Aon, were very good in letting me reduce my hours to look at other opportunities. There was then a Marketing Officer opening with Rotherham Town Centre Management that happened to fit the other days I wasn’t working, so that was perfect. I left that job after 6 months to take a full time Marketing Executive job, but after 6 months the office was moved to London! Fortunately they were very generous in their pay off, so I went travelling for 6 months and when I returned I had to start again. I got a job in publishing and studied part time for a Professional Diploma in Marketing, which allowed me to move on to a full time Marketing Coordinator position with Dyson Thermal Technologies – the first Marketing role in their 200 year history. This was around 2007/8, so the first 12 months were amazing, and the second 12 months were awful, and along came redundancy again.
Thankfully I again landed on my feet with a job at Sesame Bankhall Group with whom I stayed for 3 and a half years, during which time they supported my development with further Digital qualifications. I left there for family reasons (I was commuting 65 miles a day when my son came along last year and after a brief stint with an online job board, found my current Marketing Manager’s job with One2Call.
How have you progressed throughout your marketing career?
I’ve mainly progressed either through a non-progression related change of employment, or through education. However, even without the child I was looking for the next move up into Management because at a lower skill level marketing can be a young person’s game (how many 45 year old Marketing Executives do you know) and I’m heading rapidly into my later 30s!
How did you make the leap into marketing management and what advice would you give to other looking to do the same?
At the time I’d been a senior marketer with a medium sized company for a while, and had taken internal management training so felt competent to move up. However, at the time I had a Marketing Manager and Head Of Marketing above me, both of whom seemed very settled. I wasn’t looking but got head hunted, and after an application for flexible working was turned down I decided to take the plunge. Ironically, within a few weeks of me leaving both my other two managers did too! However, even though the first move was a mistake I’ve ended up in a better place overall.
Briefly talk us through a typical day as in your current job
Well, as it’s a new role and I’ve only been here a few months, there hasn’t really been a typical day so far! In the last week we’ve been gearing up for our first exhibition and launching a new website, so it’s been a frantic ordering of incentives and planning coupled with a crash course in Bootstrap CSS, so pretty brain bashing!
What are the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your marketing career and how have you overcome them?
Getting people to appreciate marketing as a strategic function is a constant issue. Many people see marketing just as advertising, or ‘colouring in’ as we used to jokingly call it. Sales often see marketing as ‘sales support’ and finance see it as ‘the spending department’ so dealing with these issues is also tricky. Also boredom. I think many marketers are in marketing because they want variety, but unfortunately one of the keys to getting a message across is repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition! I’m always tempted to re-write copy every time, thinking I’m improving it, when often I’m just muddying the message. Constant discipline is difficult.
What would you describe as your biggest personal strengths and assets that have ensured success in your career?
I don’t really understand anyone who writes anything off as inherently boring, as I find almost anything interesting, hence why I’ve been able to be successful in sectors such as industrial materials and financial services! If you find it interesting it’s easier to be passionate about selling it to others, which makes the whole thing easier. This makes me versatile, and in the past I’ve been used as someone to ‘parachute it’ when something needs getting on top of quickly as I can absorb and understand the implications of information for the customer very quickly.
If you could give a single piece of advice to someone looking to get into their own marketing career what would it be?
If you think it’s all drinking champagne at events and launching new brands and apps, it isn’t, so don’t do it! If I started my career again I would have started by doing Psychology or sociology at university as, at the end of the day, marketing is about understanding customers, and that means understanding people.