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Interview: Ian Robins, Head of Marketing, Sift Media

By Alexandra Gold  //  Wed 23rd April 2014

Ian Robins is Head of Marketing at Sift Media, he tells us why he loves the early Apple adverts, what's in store for SMEs and eating too much chocolate this Easter!

What was your first job?

My first job was a paper round delivering the weekly freebies. But my first real job was a marketing assistant working for a technology company in Bath. I started off developing integrated demand generation programmes, managing those leads with the sales team and getting involved in scoping the database we used. It was good grounding especially working closely with sales teams to really understand how marketing and sales should work together.

What made you get into marketing?
I took part in a Young Enterprise Scheme at school whilst taking a business studies course. I found that business and marketing just clicked with me and made sense. I really enjoyed the marketing aspects and knew that was what I wanted to do.

Who is your marketing hero?
A difficult question to answer! There are so many inspirational marketing people that I admire from the well-known to the people I've worked with over the years. They tend to be people that focus on the business and go the extra mile to achieve their goals.

What is your favourite campaign / brand?
The Apple adverts from the early iPod era. I admire the language they use to communicate their products. It's so direct and accessible, resonating with the audience. They communicate beyond the product. They get to the essence of what makes a product special and the value it can offer you.

Which marketing resource do you always turn to?
I tend to read numerous sources that I subscribe to through Feedly. I regularly turn to Fast Company who provide a good range of business and marketing related stories. The Harvard Business Review blog is a good source of insight and thought provoking stories. I also read our that covers a range of key marketing issues in detail. For more industry news, I really enjoy DigiDay.

The future of marketing is…?
The future of marketing is the blurring of current roles into new hybrid roles as businesses adjust to rapid growth in digital. The key for marketing is to make sure that brands don't forget their customers and connect with them in the ways they want to engage. Digital literacy is an increasingly important area for everyone to focus on as the pace of digital speeds forward.

Biggest marketing mistake / lesson?
Mistakes are the best way to learn and improve. It tends to be the smaller things that you miss, say a typo or something on an event checklist, which you tend to remember and make sure you don't repeat! Mistakes will always happen. The thing to focus on is how you respond. Always own up but make sure you put yourself in the position of your customer, be honest and correct the error. Most people will understand and be impressed with how you dealt with the situation.

Best piece of career advice?
Always look at marketing from a business point of view.

Which Campaign are you most proud of?
100 South West Challenges campaign. The aim was to inspire SMEs during the recession through inspirational challenger businesses. For 100 working days we featured a new challenger business every day, shared their advice and offered toolkits to help businesses with key issues. The campaign ran using social media, events, press, TV broadcasts and local radio interview. We got positive feedback from businesses that engaged with the toolkits that inspired us to develop the campaign further.  

If you could work on any brand campaign, what would it be?
Some of the recent Google campaigns would have been incredible to have worked on.

What piece of technology can’t you live without?
My iPhone. For work and for life! Photos, keeping in touch, feeding my curiosity with new articles, keeping up to date with news, listening to music - everything is available through that device.

How critical do you think specialist channels such as HRzone and AccountingWEB are in the marketing mix?
Very. These publications bring together the people within industries who tend to be looking for inspiration in how they can change their businesses to take advantage of growth opportunities. They enable peers to engage in conversation through strong communities. For brands, it means they can reach the people they want to have conversations with, creating a higher return on objective.

What do you see as being the biggest growth drivers for SMEs over the next 3 years?
1) Focusing on the things that will make an impact for customers and the business. Not over stretching.
2) Engaging and applying technology that help enable new ways of working that mean you can scale quickly.
3) Connecting with people based upon their values to unlock potential within the business and with customers.

Where do you holiday?

We tend to holiday in Europe (Spain, Italy, Greece) but recent travels have been to Barbados, California and Thailand. [Ideal hSun seeking with a bit of cultural. Relaxing at the beach with a good book and forgetting everything are the holidays I enjoy.

Favourite coffee shop?
Small Street Espresso in Bristol. Knowledgeable staff, great coffee and fantastic service.

How was your Easter?
A lovely long weekend with family and friends, eating too much chocolate and getting some lazy time to enjoy the sunshine.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I always wanted to be a sound engineer with the ultimate aim of becoming a producer.

Ian Robins is Head of Marketing at Sift Media, a global B2B digital publisher.  His interests include social media, customer engagement, content marketing and business strategy. Ian is a keen photographer, cook, and music enthusiast.

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