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An interview with...Bryony Thomas, founder and author of Watertight Marketing

Kelsey Martin
By Kelsey Martin  //  Mon 25th November 2013
This month Bryony Thomas's 'Watertight Marketing' is CIM's book of the month. We got insight on her working life, best piece of career advice and her love of Leonard Cohen. 

What was your first job?
My first ever job was for Crosswell Tea Rooms as a teenager in the Summer, and I was paid £2.22 per hour. I’ve also graced tills and stacked shelves in Lloyds Supersave Drugstores, WHSmith, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. But, my first proper job was for ActionAid in my first year at University. I started off doing telephone fundraising and left 3 years later co-managing a team of about 200 fundraisers doing telephone campaigns for the likes of Mind, The Samaritans and many more.

What made you get into marketing?
That first job. When I left University I had my degree, and 3 years of working in a marketing agency under my belt. After a year at the sharp end of selling, in recruitment, I finally found where I was meant to be when I joined Mason Zimbler as a marketing assistant. 

Who is your marketing hero?
He will blush to read this, but I’ll say it anyway. I really admire what John Watton (now digital marketing director at Adobe) has achieved in his various business-to-business roles. Especially what he did with social and content marketing when at Shipserv. A company that he took right out of its marketing comfort zone and delivered real results for. 

What is your favourite campaign?
I find these sorts of questions really hard. I am a bit of a sucker for the John Lewis Christmas ad. I especially loved the ‘more than a woman’ one a few years ago. I literally stood agog and watched the whole thing through. Can’t remember when an ad last got me like that.

Which marketing resource do you always turn to?
I love following @marketingwizdom aka Robert Clay on Twitter, he seems to find the very best of what’s out there. A fantastic finder and filter of marketing goodies.

The future of marketing is...?
…more of the same. But, faster and vaster. Human psychology is the same as it ever was. Social media, digital marketing, marketing automation, content marketing, blah, blah, blah… it’s all supporting the same process of decision-making in the brains of human beings whose evolution doesn’t move at the speed of technology. So, there will be new tools… but the same triggers, needs and desires as there ever were.

Biggest marketing mistake and what did you learn from it?
A marketer who has made no mistakes is either lying, deluded, or untested. I’ve made hundreds of mistakes, from typos to sending out 4,500 direct mail pieces to a German audience in Italian. The lesson in all of them is to put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and consider carefully how they’d respond and do what’s in your power to be as helpful and human as possible.

Best piece of career advice?
Stop trying to sound clever. 

Which Campaign are you most proud of?
I love the work I’ve been part of with the talented team at Valuable Content for information risk consultants, Ascentor. They’re a 12-person business in Gloucester made up of technical experts. Not a marketer or writer amongst them. Over a 2-year timeframe they have embraced and enjoyed a content-driven approach that’s delivered real sales results. I particularly like the ‘human face of information risk’ piece that they did.

If you could work on any brand campaign, what would it be?
It would be an unknown small business in a quiet corner of the UK somewhere that no-one has yet heard of, who takes on the world and wins.

What piece of technology can’t you live without?
My phone.

Where do you feel Watertight Marketing fits into the overall business process?
At every step and every turn. Watertight Marketing is an end-to-end methodology that ensures that there is a marketing tool, technique or activity to support every step of a buying decision so that you can secure long-term sales results. It’s in everything.

What do you see as being the biggest growth drivers for SMEs over the next 3 years?
Persistence.

Where do you holiday? 
We’ve been rather partial to Lagos in Portugal the last few years. But, if there was anywhere in the World I’d want to go back to, it’s Vietnam.

Favourite pub?
Remind me… what is a p u b? I have a toddler ;)

What do you want for Christmas?
A crisp day on which I can enjoy a sunny walk on the beach with my family.

Tell us something we don’t know about you...?
I’m a massive Leonard Cohen fan. An inheritance from my father.


Bryony Thomas is a popular business speaker, and founder & author of Watertight Marketing; an end-to-end process to support entrepreneurs in putting a marketing operation in their business that delivers long-term sales results.
Bryony Thomas
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