Richard Huntington, chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, walks through his marketing journey from the beginning of his career. On the way, he shares knowledge of the industry and the people, and why he enjoys it so much.
When breaking into marketing, it’s important to begin your journey wherever you get the opportunity to do so. It’s better to get started, even if it’s not exactly the place you want to finish. It is then equally important that you don’t get stuck. Apply the same amount of grit and tenacity to your own career, “as well as the lives of the businesses and brands you look after.”
Marketing Agency Structures
At the start of his career, Richard was a “spectacularly bad” accounts handler. This was not where he wanted to end up.
For Richard, strategy is his “happy place”. Strategists are considered the “planners” in the agency side of marketing. “Strategy is simply an informed opinion on how to win.” This does include risk, it isn’t foolproof. You can only make your best guess based on the data you have available at the time.
The Illusion of Orthodoxy
Leading on from this is the illusion that is orthodoxy. There is no “cliche” or “accepted wisdom” in marketing. “Great marketing figures out how it’s going to sort a problem, based on the data it has in front of it.” We can’t assume we have the answer to today’s problem, based on what worked last week, for a different client. Be sceptical of anybody who claims to have cracked the code. Seek out orthodoxy and when you find it and consider it a challenge to uproot it. Where you have cliché, you have a tired, overused way of working, so there’s growth to be had and work to be done there.
One of the key purposes of marketing is to get and hold people’s interest. In order to be interesting enough to do so, you will need to be interested in yourself. If ever in doubt ask yourself, “‘am I interested in this idea?'”. Whatever you find interesting about the subject matter or idea you are representing, this is probably the part you ought to focus on.
About Saatchi & Saatchi
Saatchi & Saatchi was founded in 1970 by two Jewish, Iraqi immigrant brothers. They came as outsiders, without a typical understanding of British advertising, consequently, completely reinvented it. Driven by the phrase “nothing is impossible”, and a belief that we are at our best when we are on the outside trying to reinvent. The end goal should always be to do something incredibly relevant and very impossible.
Nothing is Impossible
Many “impossible” challenges are not actually impossible. However, they have been presented as impossible for long enough that nobody has dared to try. Be the person who does. The reason something may appear impossible is likely to be down to more unorthodoxy; you can make people care about this topic, you just have to change what has been done.
Essentially the goal of marketers is to change the behaviour of the customers. Whether you want somebody to buy more of something, less of something, spend differently or so on, in every case the objective is to entice the audience to change their behaviour in a way that will benefit your client. The best way to do this is to apply creativity liberally to the problematic area. Creativity has the power to instil desire into audiences, resulting in their purchase just because they want to.
Humanity is Our Superpower
Technology is an amazing resource and can assist with our work, but as marketers, we are really addressing humanity. We understand that humans can act from impulse, sometimes in their best interest, sometimes not. We must understand the unpredictability and illogical nature of human beings. Once we’ve understood it and then we must engage with it, in order to influence it.
The Fake Profession
Marketing does not have a strict code of conduct as to what is acceptable or not. Although we conduct ourselves in a way which is professional, we don’t have a set syllabus we must learn in order to be successful at the role. Richard, therefore, encourages that we think of ourselves as “apprentices”, rather than students. This industry will require that you continue to learn, grow and adapt. “The only thing you can predict in advertising is that bad advertising won’t work”. The unpredictability and uncertain nature of the industry mean that you will never “complete” your marketing training.
You Matter 🙂
In this industry “you matter right from the beginning”. Have an opinion straight away. You are needed because you represent a section of the customers, so don’t be shy. Get involved.
Marketers, on the whole, are a group of fun-loving, creative, clever and kind people. Your job is to make an interesting product that people will enjoy, so don’t forget to enjoy it yourself.
Marketing is a discipline; the key to being a great marketer is having a great mindset and training yourself to think differently. Great marketers have to learn the tools, they can’t be taught the job.
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