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Interviews

How Marketing Agencies Stay Productive: Russ Powell of Red Hot Penny

June 7, 2018

This week we feature Russ Powell, Head of Marketing of Red Hot Penny. Red Hot Penny are digital agency professionals who devise tailored online marketing strategies using paid and organic search, Digital PR and social media. A team of Digital Marketers in Berkshire, all under one roof.

In this interview, you can read more about his work, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as his advice for budding marketers.

Your location: Reading.

Your favorite gadget: Does Netflix count as a gadget?

You start your day with: Making the wife a cup of tea, feeding the dog and watching cartoons with my son.

Your favorite time-saving trick: CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW KEY for selecting columns/rows of data really quickly in excel. Game changer!

Your top 3 blogs you read daily: The Hustle, The Drum, BBC Football Transfer News.

A picture of your workstation or the view outside your window if that inspires you:

Russ' desk

Describe an average day at Red Hot Penny?

I know it’s a cliched response but there isn’t really ever an “average day” as we’ve got so much going on at all times. My focus as Head of Marketing is on driving new business alongside our sales director so I’m constantly looking at lead and demand gen activity across multiple channels – whether that’s creating blogs and insight pieces for our content strategy, working with our PR agency on placement opportunities, running events, getting campaigns out the door, monitoring our social profile or whatever. I’m also responsible for company culture at a board level too, so I’m always looking at new initiatives and ideas to create the right environment and way of doing things for the team. It really is a mixed bag – which is why I love it so much.

As a Marketer what are some of your favorite productivity hacks?

I’m a big fan of a ‘to do’ list and I load my work diary with reminders for activity (not just meetings) so I can ensure I never miss a deadline and can get everything done. It sounds a bit weird but I also dress in a “uniform” for work – light blue oxford shirt, dark jeans, trainers – which removes the need to make an extra decision each day. My view is that our jobs are all about making decisions but you only have the capacity to make a certain number of decisions a day so if you can minimize the number of trivial decisions you have to make each day, like to what to wear, you free up your mind to focus on the bigger decisions you do have to make.

As a person who is well-versed with online marketing/ inbound,  I’m sure you rely on a few marketing tools to automate your efforts.  What are the top 3-5 tools you use?

We’re still a relatively small organization so we don’t have a massive “tech stack” but we do use SalesSeek as our Deal Management/CRM system which also has some email automation functionality. I do also use MailChimp for building emails and ContentCal for social postings, but we’re fairly light in terms of automation right now. That’s something I’m going to be looking at as we continue to grow.

Your company has a growing community of users. How do you use this treasure trove of customer insight to power your marketing efforts?

We’re very lucky that we have an awesome insights and SEO team who are elbow deep in data and insights on a constant basis, so we use what we do for our clients for ourselves too – looking at web performance and key word niches to continually optimize what we do. We do regular reporting on our content marketing too, analyzing engagement across channels so we can see what works best and do more of that.

What is your strategy for getting people to your site and then converting them to a customer?

It’s multifaceted and ever developing really. Right now we’re having great success with inbound enquiries via content and social as well as industry events for building awareness and lower funnel opportunities. We’re building in some more sophisticated outbound activity at the moment – but I’m not going to give away all of our secrets.

Is there any advice you'd like to give to budding marketers to help them work smart and stay productive?

There’s a really simple model I use when addressing any marketing activity that I’ve found really useful to help clarify exactly what needs to be done, meaning you can work with much greater focus. It boils down to 4 words: Why, Who, What, How.

Why – Not in the Simon Sinek way of defining the purpose of the brand but in the literal sense of “why are you doing this activity?”. Whether you’re driving leads, raising awareness, securing downloads or whatever having a clear view from the very outset of why you’re doing it – and then attaching some measures/metrics to that – is important.

Who – Who you’re targeting, who you want to talk to. If you’re targeting everyone you’re targeting no one. You can’t target ‘millennials’ because they don’t exist. But you need to understand who you’re targeting, what they care about, what they want, and why they’d want what you’re marketing.

What – You then combine your Why and your Who to work out what you’re going to say to them. What’s the message? What’s the story? What emotion do you want to convey?

How – Then you take everything done so far and define ‘how’ you take ‘what’ you want to say to ‘who’ your targeting – and ‘why’. That’s both the form your ‘what takes’ as well as the channels you use…but if you’ve properly understood your ‘who’ this should be relatively easy to determine.

How do teams at Red Hot Penny have fun at work/ make work fun?

We’re quite a social bunch and get out as team relatively frequently for a variety of things. Whether that’s a pub lunch on a Friday, a kick-around in the park on a lunch break or something with more pre-planning like go-karting or chocolate making as we’ve done recently. We’re all on one floor too and in ear shot of each other so there’s often a lot of office chat around a variety of subjects – films, food or the latest office sweepstake (whatever that may be).

How do you make use of your downtime? Any hobbies, out of work interests that rejuvenate you?

I’ve got a young family so I’m not entirely sure what “downtime” is any more, but at weekends we’ll be out and about walking the dog, visiting friends or heading out on various adventures together. Personally I try and make time to run as much as possible and head out 2 or 3 times a week on my lunch break, and I always make time to read in the evenings before bed. Both of these things help give me head space either freeing up my mind or feeding it new ideas.

A big thanks to Russ for taking the time out to answer these questions! If you haven’t already, we highly recommend that you check out Red Hot Penny.

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