The Marketing Institute: What does In and Out Marketing do?
Maeve Harrington: In and Out Marketing is my business which I set up in September 2016. Over the course of my career to date I have been passionate about the role of marketing in building brands and I have over 28 years’ experience working in marketing across a broad range of industries - where does the time go! Having worked as a Marketing Manager, Marketing Director and now business owner, I understand how there are times when it would be useful to call on an experienced marketer on an in and out basis, who doesn’t carry agency costs and who has a practical, personal and hands-on approach to working with a business. I named my business In and Out Marketing because I will work with clients to develop marketing both internally and externally. Also, I will be in and out in that I apply a project management approach to the way I work so there is a defined beginning and end with clear objectives and targets agreed with clients beforehand. Some projects are big and some are small, I am happy to help in any way that I can.
MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?
M.H: Having completed my Psychology Degree and Diploma in Business Studies in UCD, I started out my career in research with AGB Atwood. From there I was approached by Lever Bros (Ire) Ltd to join the team as a Marketing Executive and leaving the position of Product Group Marketing Manager years later, I joined Irish Permanent as Marketing Communications Manager and from there I went to Esat Clear as Marketing Manager. After Esat, I joined the startup team at eBid.ie, Ireland’s first online auction marketplace, as COO and when the market changed for our business, I joined Ogilvy & Mather as Senior Account Director. I was headhunted from there to join Canada Life as Marketing Director to establish a professional marketing team and following the acquisition of Irish Life by our parent company Great West LifeCo, I set up my own business. To date I have completed projects with KnowledgeBase.ie, an online platform we created to provide solicitors and accountants with a guide to the new Companies Act and changes to Employment Law, and most recently I joined Pinergy on a consultancy basis for a period of 12 months as acting Head of Marketing. Here I worked closely with the management team to devise a clear strategy and positioning for the business to form the basis for growth from a domestic pay-as-you-go provider to the energy services business Pinergy is today. A major priority of my work during this period was a strategic review of Pinergy’s brand positioning in the context of both a dynamic market and the company’s evolving business model in both the domestic and commercial markets. To date, I have had a joyous 28 years working in marketing across a range of Industry sectors; Market Research, FMCG, Finance, Telecoms, Internet start-ups, Advertising, Life Assurance and Energy industries.
MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
M.H: I am passionate about marketing and the positive impact it can have on building brands. The challenge for my role is to ensure that a company’s brand positioning is right and the marketing strategy brings that positioning to life for consumers in the most appropriate and effective way through the most appropriate and effective marketing channels within budget. The challenge for marketing is how to connect, how to position your brand in a way that it clearly stands out from other brands so that customers always choose your brand over your competitors. Many businesses don’t have a big marketing budget and for me I think that makes a marketer even more creative. Sometimes it can be a challenge to get a business to put the customer at the heart of everything that they do, as that is the key to building a long-term relationship with customers.
MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?
M.H: Listening is a hugely important skill for me as my starting point is meeting with clients to listen to and understand what marketing problems or issues they are facing in their business. Working with management teams on a project basis requires excellent teamwork and communication skills. Also empathy is important so that I can effectively & positively contribute to a business team. Understanding the business & the market, competitors and consumers is critical in order to be able to do my job and above all, a passion for and an understanding of marketing is the master skill.
MII: Describe a typical working day.
M.H: The wonderful thing about my business is that no day is a typical day. After I meet a client and we agree that I can add value to their business, my first task is to spend time with my client to discuss the scope of our project and agree objectives and key deliverables together. Then my work begins and I start by meeting the team to ask a series of 6 questions focusing on what the business does, what makes it different, why I should believe it and why as a customer I should choose this brand over others. I also ask, what is working well and what can be improved in terms of marketing. This is a very interesting exercise and gives tremendous insight into the task ahead. Next I research the market landscape and conduct an in depth study into every competitor, drawing on all the information available. Then I gather every bit of information available about the customers and their experience and study those who are not yet customers to understand how best to connect with them. From this I devise a clear strategy and positioning for the business to form the basis for growth and work with the team to implement this strategy. An important focus of my work is to make sure that every internal and external touchpoint to the target market clearly reflects that strategy & positioning. I have also been involved in finding the right marketing resource for a business and have recruited for an internal marketing role and sourced external service providers to suit a business. I have also introduced management dashboards that track performance against key performance indicators and have implemented budget management processes and reports to track return on investment. The projects I work on can be big projects encompassing all I have described above or projects may be more compact in terms of what is required, it depends on what the client needs. That is why no day is a typical day for me.
MII: What do you love most about your role?
M.H: For me, marketing is about connecting a business or service with a market to form a relationship that is mutually beneficial for both; profitable for the business and always rewarding and fulfilling for the customer. Working with business teams across different industries, learning about their business and their market and gaining an understanding of their target consumers’ beliefs, attitudes and behaviours and determining the best marketing channels to connect a business with their chosen market to position their brand ahead of competitors, is what I love most about marketing. It is very rewarding and fulfilling for me to apply my marketing experience to my clients from the range of industries I have been lucky enough to work in.
MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?
M.H: I relish the opportunity to work with businesses to make marketing work for them. Whether this is with big businesses and their marketing teams or small enterprises who perhaps don’t have a sufficient in-house marketing resource or maybe don’t want to engage with a full services agency but would like an experienced marketer to work with them for a period of time. This is where In and Out Marketing can help. So far, In and Out Marketing has worked with KnowledgeBase and Pinergy and I am actively looking to take on new projects during 2018. In and Out Marketing is all about offering a personal, practical hands-on service and my starting point is listening to clients and understanding what marketing problems or issues they may be facing in their business. I will meet with businesses, at no cost, to explore if and how In and Out Marketing might assist a business with marketing. Any business who would like to contact me, can email me at email@example.com or complete the contact form on my website www.inandoutmarketing.ie.
MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?
M.H: I was very fortunate to work with great role models in my early career, among them Tom McGowan, Kevin Donnelly and Barbara Patton from whom I learned a great deal. I am inspired by Natalie Massenet founder of Net-A-Porter, Lady Michelle Mone founder of Ultimo & Jo Malone founder of Jo Malone and Jo Loves for their passion and perseverance and because their businesses and brands have made a powerful and enduring connection with their customers and they place customer experience at the centre of their business. I admire Sir Richard Branson for the way that he brings his people along with him and respects all those who work with him. All his Virgin businesses demonstrate the essence of teamwork. I was lucky enough to attend this year’s Pendulum Summit to see some of my role models speak, which was so inspiring. Going back to where I started with my psychology degree I now have a new person I look to for inspiration and that is Dr Martyn Newman, a psychologist with an international reputation as an expert in emotional intelligence and leadership who tells us of the key skills we need to become great leaders and that we need to learn how to quiet the noisiness of our world today to develop peaceful minds in order to make good clear decisions. I think I can learn a lot from him and I never want to stop learning.