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Marketing Minds: Interview with David Vallance from LeaseFetcher

The Marketing Minds series share real-world stories from marketers showing how digital marketing has helped them develop their careers or businesses.

David Vallance LeasefetcherMarketing Mind:

David Vallance

I'm the Head of Content at a car leasing startup called LeaseFetcher, where I manage a distributed team of writers to produce on-site copy, marketing content and reviews.

What is your background in Marketing, and how did you come to be in the position you are in now?

I come from a writing background. I studied English Literature at university and worked as a freelance copywriter during my studies. After I graduated, I landed an in-house copywriting gig with a digital agency. That progressed to a content marketing role and then to a content marketing manager position.

Over the years, I developed my general marketing skills and specific content skills to a position where I was able to secure my current role as the Head of Content.

Which technical skills do you believe are most important in your role?

Performance analysis is probably the most directly important skill. I’m happy with every single piece of content I publish as if I’m not happy, I simply wouldn’t publish it. However, being happy with a piece of content and it being effective are too very different things.

For example, while a blog or article may resonate with me personally, it might not really engage with our audience.

To get an accurate idea of the quality of your work, you need to closely track its performance. You need to look at quantitative metrics like visitor numbers, bounce rate and time on site, and qualitative metrics like recorded user sessions and comments. Taking your ego out of the equation and just looking at the facts will tell you exactly how good your work really is.

Which soft skills prove most useful in your role?

Soft skills like communication and organisation are super important for any management position and content-specific roles are no different. You've got to turn a group of individuals into a unified team, keep them focused on a collective goal and find ways to maximise their productivity.

Unfortunately, a lot of people in management positions have worked their way up from production roles and haven’t had any specific training in management skills. Yes, you might have good inter-team communication skills but that doesn’t necessarily mean you understand how to communicate as a leader to your subordinates.

Which markets does your organization operate in?

We operate in the automotive and financial markets in the UK. Specifically, we provide a comparison service for car leasing (business/personal contract hire).

Which Marketing or Business related book would you recommend to a colleague, and why?

Our MD recommended I read Traction by Gino Wickman. It's a practical business strategy book that teaches you how to structure your business for scale. It’s all about building great teams and giving them the autonomy to get on with their job. I highly recommend it to anyone building a business from scratch or restructuring an existing business.

What can be one of the biggest challenges Marketers face in the industry you operate in?

Change. Especially in digital, the industry reinvents itself every few years. Ten years ago, content marketing was just a twinkle in the eye of some Silicon Valley marketing guru. Now it’s a core pillar of most marketing strategies.

How do you and your team overcome the aforementioned industry challenges?

Technical SEO was key in the mid-to-late-2000s then it was content and now we've progressed to the user experience. If you don't stay up-to-date with the changes, you're just dead wood.

We make sure our team stays up-to-date with the latest changes by ringfencing time for learning. By making learning a core part of our job role (and not something we only do when we have time), we're always up-to-date with the latest developments.

Describe what a typical day at work looks like for you?

I have a morning stand up with my team to discuss performance yesterday, plans for today and impediments. (Stolen from Scrum.) Then I'll review emails, look into anything immediately pressing that's come in and schedule the rest for later.

Then I do a lot of editing across our projects, that involves both marking up documents with feedback and actual editing. I'll also write some briefs for our external writers. In the afternoons, I try and do some writing myself, then look at the performance of our campaigns.

Please share two digital marketing tools that help you and your team accomplish your goals every day.

Ahrefs is my go-to for digital marketing research. For outreach, I've been using BuzzStream and absolutely love it.

In your opinion, what are the most valuable skills a marketer in your role can have?

The ability to learn. As I mentioned before, our industry grows and changes at such a rate that you have to make learning a core part of your personality and role. If you don’t, you will get left behind.

What is your biggest career goal?

My goal at the moment is to grow LeaseFetcher into the UK's leading comparison site for car leasing. We have a genuinely exciting product with a great team behind it, all we need to do now if make it a household name.

What are your most important KPIs (Key Performance Indicator)?

For us, the top tier metrics are probably traffic and enquiries. How many people have we attracted to the site? How many of those people eventually submitted an enquiry to one of our partners?

Below that, the number of sales generated is very important. However, since it’s hugely dependent on the sales performance of our partners and not our team, we don’t look at it as much.

What is unique about the organization you work for?

We started as a side project and snowballed. We're probably the only company in the UK with the skillset to do what we do.

By Nadine Burzler

Nadine is the Senior Marketing Executive at Smart Insights and is responsible for Business Memberships. Nadine is a multimedia content marketing specialist with extensive experience in startup and higher education marketing. Connect with her via LinkedIn

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