When at the age of 28 I decided I was going to teach myself carpentry, I’m fairly sure my parents lost all hope that I was ever going to take a straightforward path. Having designed and built many art installations over the previous 10 years (all of which have been present at Irish festivals) it seemed only a natural progression to buy a couple of saws and see what else I could make.
Record stand made from reclaimed roof rafters and a disposed sheet of rough building plywood.
I’ve always been fascinated with building things and the satisfaction and sense of fulfilment I get from a completed project. I’ve been told quite a few times that I should pursue a career out of my hobby, but I’m lucky to get the same degree of satisfaction from watching my clients become their own successes. In many ways the two are the same. Both involve taking raw materials (whether real or skill based) and turning them into an outcome you’re proud of.
While my degree in Philosophy was a great foundation for life; I’m not sure it prepared me for much in life. That is until I began my career in marketing. Again there are many comparisons to be made between what seem like very different subjects. Each requires logical thought to be matched with “out of the box” thinking. Both demand a constant search for knowledge, or why we do things a certain way. And neither really has an objective or absolute way to practice the field; they are founded on the best rationale. Taking a step back and questioning why we do something can be a powerful tool for any business. I recently explored this with my own business.
I accidentally fell into marketing while still wondering what to do with my Philosophy degree and after a brief stint in accounting, which definitely wasn’t for me! I began with teaching myself SEO while working in a kitchen fittings company based in Dublin, proving myself quickly enough to be given responsibility for their Google Ads and Merchant Centre, along with other aspects of the ecommerce and B2C side of the business.
I decided that it would be a good idea to add some credentials, so I completed a postgraduate in digital marketing and immediately got a job agency side. As much as a learning curve starting your own business is, I still think that some of the best experience I have had was from my time in Havas. Working across a variety of some of the largest brands and working on projects including digital, social, content and media strategy, website project management, events, sponsorship, OOH, print, radio and TVC strategy.
When I first started working in Havas, admittedly, I would only consider recommending or developing digital strategies. Gaining experience across nearly every touchpoint in marketing removed the blinkers completely, making me reassess how I approached the problem of increasing market share for brands or building their awareness. The idea of taking an holistic approach is an ingrained mindset that I now always try to carry, and the re-realisation that we need to continually question our prejudice was a nice throw back to my philosophical routes.
While working at Havas I had the chance to work on some award winning campaigns, such as Hennessy Watson, which used natural language analysis to read a consumer’s Twitter profile, deliver them a persona composition with their traits, and, of course, their best suited cocktail, bringing a digital twist to trial.
I also had the opportunity to develop music and arts event activations for clients, creating installations, communications strategies, digital campaign setup and management. These resulted in numerous sold out events, with my clients including Hennessy, Bridgestone, Firestone, First Stop, Microsoft, Hyundai, Valeo, Jacob’s Biscuits, Slane Whiskey, Slane Distillery, Jack Daniel’s, Campus.ie, Mercedes and Diageo.
However, in 2018 I decided to take a break. To be honest I was about to completely burn out. The days were long, I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing anymore and I felt utterly exhausted going to work every day and staying late. In both business and one’s personal life being able to decide when we should stop and actually following through can have such a positive effect. After taking a break, spending the time building cabinets and designing and constructing a new installation with one of my friends, ArtbyMarkMcNamara, I was slowly being thrown little consultancy gigs here and there by old contacts.
For the second time in my life I fell into marketing; this time setting up as a consultant dealing primarily with startups and SMEs.
I now mainly work with startups, small and medium businesses with a range of clients in areas, including alcohol, healthcare, ecommerce, B2B, and online courses.
Working with many new small and medium businesses since beginning consulting, one trend has stuck with me, and continues to do so. A common experience when I first meet a new client is that they tell me that they’re on Facebook… and Instagram… and Twitter… and YouTube, but it doesn’t seem to be working quite right and are wondering why they aren’t seeing a return. If this is you, you’re likely 10 steps ahead of where you need to begin! Have you ever asked yourself why am I on these channels?! Did it come from a guiding strategy or just because you need to be online?
When searching around on how to launch your business online or offline I’m sure you came across many people shouting the virtues of one channel or another, and how to do it perfectly. That’s fine if it’s the right channel for your business and you know why it’s a good fit. Yet this neglects a pivotal aspect of marketing and communications – why we do a thing, and what the sense is in doing it that way. This is one area I feel really strongly about and I think it’s a disservice to people not to educate them on creating an overall marketing strategy for their business in order to pick the right channels for the business, but also to hone in on what their goals are and what they are really trying to do. At the end of the day you might be able to communicate with your market without using social!
So we arrive at the purpose of this site. What I hope to achieve here, aside from offering my marketing services, is an aid for SMEs, to give you the framework that helps you build your own marketing strategy in a way that works! So you understand who your customer is, what your brand stands for and how to connect with the people that matter the most.
If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading!
If any of this sounds like it might be of use to you then you should definitely sign up to my newsletter!
You’ll first receive the series I’ve put together that covers all of this. It details how to approach creating a marketing strategy, including understanding your business, understanding your message, understanding the consumer and creating a plan that puts all of these together.
What’s With the Name?
A few clients have been asking me about where the name came from…
In order to make whiskey, before any distilling can take place, the starch in the barely needs to be converted to sugar to make alcohol. This process is called malting. By soaking the barley in warm water for a couple of days it begins to germinate, converting starch to sugars. Once it starts to shoot, the germination is stopped and it is dried in a kiln.
This dried, sugary barley is now called the malt. It’s the essence of a whiskey.
The ground down malt, which is called grist, is then added to warm water to begin the extraction of the soluble sugars. You need good water which is why distilleries tend to be located near natural, mineral rich, sources. The liquid combination of malt and water is called the ‘mash’.
Distilling is the sexy bit we’ve all heard of! But… without the right ingredients and the initial first two steps, you can’t get to fermentation and distillation.
Marketing is much the same. Without defining your objectives, messaging structure and target market you won’t be able to create (or distil!) the right communications and have an impact.