As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Charlie Wade, Menswear Marketing Manager, asos.com talks to us about how he got his role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into Marketing.
How did you get into your role?
I used to work in the City! However, I always had a yearning for marketing because I am truly fascinated by consumer behaviour and their interaction with brands, as well as design. I actually thought about working in marketing within a bank (and even applied for a role), yet I believe that Retail Banking would be more interesting than the Corporate side, yet it wasn’t the area that I was in.
As such I looked into other roles. One of the key decisions was whether to work in-house or agency-side. I settled upon the former as I felt I needed exposure to the creative aspects, as opposed to (what I thought would be) focusing on processes. There is correct option here, so it pays to do as much research as possible about both.
The next thing was to decide what ‘discipline’ I wanted to work in. A that point digital was exploding, and I wanted to be in the most innovative space. Once I made this choice I scoured my network and was introduced to a guy who ran his own agency. He was looking for someone with selling skills, which I had an abundance of. He believed that I could pick-up ‘the marketing bit’, so took me on. Whilst there was definitely an element of luck involved, I would urge anyone to focus on what they can do and the skills they can bring to a company; too often we look at the reasons why someone wouldn’t want us.
After a great few years I decided to move on. Having never really considered an in-house role I was introduced to one at ASOS by a friend who worked there. One of the things that attracted me to it was the entrepreneurial spirit and exciting things they were doing across digital platforms. (I was also a huge fan of the service, having bought a number of times from it.) To get the job I worked hard to research the company and its competitors, both direct and less-obvious ones. Additionally, I critiqued the site and campaigns that they had done, forming opinions and establishing aspects that I might have done differently. This process is a useful one as it helps you to learn lots about the company and provides you with a raft of ready-made questions for your interviewer, above and beyond the usual ones.
What are the best things about working in your role?
My colleagues: Some of the people here are the most impressive that I have come across, and I would happily go for lunch with all of them.
My customer: A really engaged, yet challenging group, 20somethings are always looking to learn about trends, brands and adopt social channels. This means that we have to remain at the forefront of both retail and digital innovation.
The brand: ASOS is a fantastic company. One that places talent above age and gives genuine responsibility to its employees. It asks you to work hard, but also provides a great environment in which to do so. Also, it is arguably the biggest commercial success story to have come out of the UK over the last decade and it is exciting to see where we will go next.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Too much to do, not enough time! We have incredibly tight deadlines and I have an abundance of meetings during the day. Juggling my time can be tough.
I am also not the best planner, which I have worked hard to improve. Also, an agency generally has a less-defined hierarchy; whilst I don’t mind the importance placed on org charts, it has taken a little while to get used to.
Finally, I have had to learn a lot about retail, and quickly. However, knowledge acquisition should be one of the best aspects of any role.
What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?
Do your homework. Marketing is everywhere. Read the abundance of publications and follow the plethora of bloggers who write about it. In terms of retail, this is even easier, go into shops and check out websites! Look, feel, touch, interact with the product. Get to know the range of a brand, and those of their competitor.
Have an opinion. Imagine that someone asks you the question ‘what brand do you admire?’ or ‘what’s the best digital campaign that has impressed you?’, have an answer! There really isn’t a right or wrong, the person opposite is looking for evidence that you care and can present an answer coherently.
Don’t pigeon-hole yourself too early. I sometimes think that people worry about becoming a specialist too early. Certainly within marketing I would look to get on either a Grad scheme or work in a full-service agency. This will offer you exposure to a range of disciplines.
Enjoy your work. Marketing is more fun than banking; so work somewhere that you like. Your company or clients and impact on that, so pick a sector that you like and target it.
Have a digital footprint. A Facebook or LinkedIn profile isn’t enough. I like to see tangible evidence of an interest in, and understanding of social networks.
Don’t give up. Some people will get their first choice at the first time of asking. But plenty more won’t. The guys who get their second or third choice are the ones who keep trying. Be amongst them.
If you’re interested in a career in Marketing, visit Careers Tagged and find over 550 resources to get you started.