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#MarketingMinds: Interview with Tom Chapman from CandidSky

By Nadine Burzler 26 Jul, 2018

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

Tom Chapman Candid SkyMarketing Mind:

Tom Chapman

I work as a publishing specialist for CandidSky and it’s my job to lead off-site campaigns for clients. Based in Manchester, CandidSky is a digital agency made up of around 30 individuals. I work closely with the SEO and content teams to deliver the best possible outcomes for clients. In my case, this could be through link building, referral traffic, or with brand mentions.

I also work closely with internal marketing to promote the CandidSky brand. We’re actually due to launch a podcast soon (named Digital Lodge) aimed at clearing up some of the misconceptions and tackling challenges associated with digital.

LinkedIn | Website

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

My original background is in journalism. I worked on my local newspaper, become qualified at university, and went freelance. However, I moved into marketing (gamekeeper turned poacher) as I fell out of love with the industry.

I originally got into SEO when I started link building. As I was a journalist, I had a knack for knowing which content generally stuck. Due to my successes with relationship building and creating interest amongst other journalists, I moved into the role I’m in today.

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

Depends on what you call technical skills as the definition varies across companies and individuals. Personally, I think the most important are:

  • Data interpretation

  • Website CMS management

  • Crawler knowledge

Which soft skills prove most useful in your role?

Patience is the best soft skill you can have. It makes client and team interactions much easier. Failing that, a good sense of humour and empathy will help you go far.

Which markets does your organization operate in?

We mostly operate in the B2B market. Yet, some of our clients are B2C and eCommerce organisations.

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

The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It helps shed some light on customer behaviour and tackles the concept of 'habit loops'. Well worth a read!

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

Client buy-in can occasionally be a big challenge. People are understandably very protective of their websites and convincing them to make changes can be challenging.

If handled poorly, this can lead to a complete breakdown in communication - preventing the project from advancing.

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

We overcome this in a few ways:

  • Demonstrating our expertise - Often through showing past campaign successes.

  • Competitor research - Showing competitors are using this strategy can be convincing.

  • Compromise - Empathy (as mentioned) is very important. Understanding the obstacles and the customer's point of view can help move things forward.

  • Refining goals - Looking at the campaign aims and - if needed - changing strategy to better achieve these.

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

My typical day is similar to this:

  • Review SEO/marketing news

  • Review daily schedule, focus on the initial task. Usually, this can be SEO or content-related.

  • Off-site marketing. For example, this could be link building, guest writing, or press release actions.

  • Research HARO and Journo Requests for organisations to assist.

  • Social media actions - such as promoting articles.

  • Any blanks are filled with client work which can involve a variety of different tasks.

  • Update daily schedule with work completed. Possibly the most important aspect of any day - communicating what’s been done with the rest of the stakeholders.

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

Ahrefs is my favourite as it is a powerful backlink research tool. It is useful for competitor research, broken link building, and identifying new opportunities.

Screaming Frog is another vital tool as it allows you to quickly see the problems which need to be fixed with a client website. From metadata to canonicals, it makes SEO much easier!

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

As well as the above, perseverance and creativity are two vital skills which are very useful.

What is your biggest career goal?

I would love to mentor - not necessary lead.

The most satisfying thing about my job is helping people develop. Having a team I could mentor and help shape would be a dream come true.

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

This question varies dramatically depending on the task. For example, in the case of content marketing, my KPIs are links, traffic, social interactions, and average position.

What is unique about the organization you work for?

CandidSky is never afraid to try something new. This willingness to look for unique approaches is really novel. Furthermore, I’ve never worked for an organisation which cares so much about the wellbeing of its staff. It’s refreshing.

What are the most important attributes you look for in a Manager?

I look for:

  • Empathy
  • Flexibility
  • Problem-solving ability

Across the marketing mix, what medium has brought your organisation the best results?

This depends on what 'results' you mean. In terms of content marketing, I've worked with organisations such as the BBC and Guardian to get some really great results.

Describe one of the most successful projects or campaigns you've worked on. Why was it successful?

I worked with a loan provider to get them coverage in the Guardian. This was then picked up by a number of other high-profile organisations. As a result, their traffic and goal conversions greatly increased.

I obtained this through Freedom of Information request data. After analysis, I converted my findings into a press release format. It then got published by the international organisation.

Have you worked on a project or campaign that didn't go as planned? Please describe what went wrong, and the key takeaways from the experience?

In a previous agency, I worked with a client who wanted reputation management in an unrealistic timeline. Despite the fact we made this clear, our warnings fell on deaf ears.

As a result, the project didn't work.

The lesson here is to always manage expectations. If a timeline is unrealistic, make that extremely clear and be aware when something just won’t work.

What is the best piece of work-related advice you have ever received?

"It's easier to forgive than to ask permission" - A colleague said this to me and it's always stuck. In short, sometimes it’s best to not wait for permission from a client. You’re an expert, if you think it's the right thing to do, do it.

What do you see as the most exciting future opportunities in digital marketing that you are working on?

There are a lot of interesting developments. However, the most interesting are the developments in AI and voice search.

By Nadine Burzler

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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