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Interview: Jeremy Greaves, Managing Director, Strategycom

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By Alexandra Gold  //  Tue 29th April 2014
Jeremy Greaves, Managing Director, Strategycom on starting his working life in the Scotch Egg business, Audi v BMW and sitting on the side of a mountain in Greece.

What was your first job?

Cleaning out large egg boiling vats in a factory making Scotch Eggs.  

What made you get into marketing?
Someone once told me marketing was all about changing emotions.

How did you get into marketing?
I worked in the marketing dept. at Deloittes and then joined their consultancy division where they paid for my MA.

Does working in a provincial city prove to be an advantage or disadvantage when working with new clients?
With smaller clients it’s an advantage due to the perception about London fee rates. More recently where we have been pitching for larger government contracts it has proved a disadvantage due to the perceived risk of not using the larger London agencies. Besides, many of the clients we are now working with are based in London so we are not the local supplier.

Who is your marketing hero?
I’ve always been taught that you should listen to market needs to develop and refine your services and products. Whilst this is true, doing this in isolation will limit true innovation. If Steve Jobs had done this he would just have made a better phone and Henry Ford a faster horse. I think what I am getting at here is that my marketing heroes are the same as any hero – people who step out, shake it up, try different things, take a left-field approach, jump outside the box…….

What is your favourite campaign / brand?
I have always loved the US billboard spats between Audi and BMW. They got so wound up by each other it was fantastic to watch.

Which marketing resource do you always turn to?
I get a lot from Social Media Examiner and have started to use dotrising which looks really good. I love the online venture group’s periodic table of content marketing and Viral Ad Network’s Tube Rank for insight into what makes a vid go viral.

The future of marketing is?
Interesting, dynamic, sharable content linked to and driving sales.

Biggest marketing mistake / lesson?
In my early days as an independent I did some work for Open University and for some reason got it into my head that the travel distance to college was a determinant factor in buyer behaviour. Lesson: chill out a bit and think before you jump!  

Best piece of career advice?
If you spend all day talking about yourself then no-one will listen. The same applies in business.

Which campaign are you most proud of?
During the last World Cup we were working for the DWP on a campaign about levels of sickness absence in the UK SME sector. We developed a ‘moments in history’ series to show how things would have changed if key people had been off sick at a particular time. 3 days before England played Germany we mocked up the front cover of the Times from 1966 with the headline ‘England 1 Germany 2 – grown men in tears as Germany lift world cup at Wembley’. The idea being that Geoff Hurst phoned in sick that day……
For 3 days the campaign went bonkers as people were sharing (and misunderstanding) the advert through all sorts of media (press, on-line, national radio etc).

If you could work on any brand campaign, what would it be?
Something I strongly believe in. The NHS needs help….

What piece of technology can’t you live without?
I could easily live without any of it – I do this every time I sit on the side of a mountain in Greece.

What is your biggest frustration in trying to crack the attribution model?
Aha, this is where I could try and talk about chaos theory and say that it’s not possible to crack the attribution model (I remember trying to introduce chaos theory to marketing at college and got a very bad mark). In effect it’s a lot easier than it was now that we can monitor our online campaigns with various sophisticated analytics tools. I suppose my biggest frustration is knowing that there is often a single unique action somewhere that has been the catalyst to success and I don’t always know what this is.   

How has public sector marketing developed over time, and how much of an impact has the austerity cuts had?
Marketing in the public sector has changed considerably since I have been working in it. The public sector now generally recognises it needs to use the same principles as applied to the private sector where ROI and profit are key drivers of marketing activity and not dirty words. The austerity measures have made it even more essential that that organisations adopt these marketing principles, although there is less cash to pay people like me to help them do it.   

What do you see as being the biggest barrier in public sector marketing?
Overcoming public perception by demonstrating that great innovation and brilliant people don’t only exist in the private sector.

What is your favourite pub?
The ones that haven’t adopted the 'gastro' mantra.

What are your hobbies?
Hating the word hobby!

Ideal holiday?
Diving somewhere remote in the Far East or sitting on the side of a mountain in Greece with family, friends and wine.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
There is a reason why you don’t know these things!


Jeremy Greaves has been Managing Director of Strategycom in Bristol for 8 years. Strategy is a strategic and digital marketing agency working with regional SMEs and Government bodies both nationally and in the South West. Particular specialisms in developing and aligning business and marketing strategy, project management, digital campaign planning/delivery, SEO and web development. Key sectors include Health, Retail and Business Support.  

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