I spoke to Rachel Bainbridge, the Digital Marketing Manager at The Great Run Company, and found out about her Creative Careers appearance, the power of networking, and how marketing campaigns need to be adaptable at a moment's notice.
What is a Digital Marketing Manager?
You are the voice of the brand online. You have to drive the brand’s mission across digital channels, create strategies, and foster a community. Whether it’s driving people to your website, creating an engaged email database, or building on existing social communities. But the bottom line, you’re generating sales for the business so that it can continue to flourish in the future.
Do you think digital has taken over from offline marketing in recent years? Or are they equally important?
During lockdown, there was such a leap forward in digital marketing, and it was obvious how relevant and important it was. Online, you can measure your key metrics, what’s working, and what’s not working, and you can react quickly, or change things as you go. But, our events are offline – that’s where you see everything in action, and they’re the most important part of our business. There are a lot of things we do from an offline perspective; print, PR, out-of-home advertising, and there’s great value in word of mouth and advocacy from a trusted voice. Everything works holistically and you need both elements to make a successful campaign - there’s never one channel that you’ll purchase straight from, it’s a multi-channel approach, working together to drive the end goal.
Have you always had a creative career? How did you launch your career/find your feet within the industry?
I graduated from Northumbria University with a first-class degree in Fashion, so I’ve always had a creative side. After I graduated, I loved big events and being part of a community, but I was very analytical, so I could see how well that worked with marketing. I pivoted from design to marketing and started working at intu shopping centres for about five years, starting as a Marketing Assistant. I got the job by approaching the Metrocentre style team, telling them it was something I was interested in. I also tweeted the Centre, and they found me online, brought me in, and I ended up getting a job from that. Later in my career, I moved to Barbour, working as their Global Social Media Manager, looking after online campaigns and communities in the UK, US, Asia, and Europe, working with influencers and the community to grow the business. After that, I wanted to go into my other passion – running. I’m currently the Digital Marketing Manager at The Great Run Company, looking after everything social, paid digital advertising, creative content, campaigns, and influencers. I love having the privilege of passing on my love of running to other people, as well as getting into data, to see what’s working on social and where we can build on it.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to go into a creative career/digital marketing?
If you’ve got a passion for it, you should to it – no matter the subject. As cliché as it sounds, if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, because you’ll want to learn more about it and strive to be the best which will help you grow in your career and progress further. For Digital Marketing, constant learning is important. Social channels are always changing, and you must adapt your strategy for your audience depending on who you want to target and how you can relate to them.
Getting yourself out there and networking with people, building your own community, and coming up with new ideas is one of the most important things – that’s how I got my first job. From a business perspective, look at what your competitors are doing, and what brands in other industries are doing and what you can learn from them.
What does your day-to-day work schedule look like?
No day is the same. You could be out on a shoot, in a meeting with a sponsor, talking to a charity about a partnership, learning something new on a course, coming up with social campaigns, or talking to influencers. It’s completely different every day, and that’s part of what makes it exciting.
What is your favourite / most memorable digital marketing campaign you’ve worked on throughout your career?
Last year’s Great North Run sticks out – we had been working on taking the run back to South Shields, post-COVID, and were getting excited. But days before the event happened, the Queen passed away. All of our plans halted. We had to get permissions from different stakeholders, the government, local council leaders – and from a comms perspective – what do you do? We had to reflect the tone of the nation at that moment in time, but so many people had put hours of training into this run, and held their stories dear to their hearts. It stands out in my head because we had to be careful and adaptable. Although we might’ve had an amazing campaign planned out, we had to adapt very quickly, and get the tone, messaging, and imagery correct. Ultimately, it was the camaraderie and the teamwork of us all coming together and making it a special day for everyone involved with the Great North Run.
What brand/brand campaigns do you most admire from a marketing perspective?
One that knows their target audience, where they are online, and how their brand can be relevant to them. I always look to the England Team and how they’ve transformed their online presence. They created ‘Lion’s Den’ across the men’s and women's team, looking at their lives and behind the scenes of a tournament. This makes them relatable as people, bringing the audience into their environment. It’s brought me more into football because I want to know what the teams are getting up to.
You can see Rachel in the 'The power of storytelling and digital journalism' session, 4 pm at the Bedson Building, Lecture Theatre 1.46 on 1st March.