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Nichola Stott: Summer School, Learning from the Experts

This summer we are taking you back to school! We are focussing on education in Digital Marketing: what is the best education, what background is important? Questions you will see answered throughout the summer by those you can learn from the best: the experts. Those that already earned their stripes and are now willing to share with you how they got there and what you should do to get that far as well.

Today we listen to Nichola Stott. Nichola is the founder and Managing Director of theMediaFlow and is a digital communications veteran with over fifteen years’ experience including five years at Yahoo! as head of UK search partners.

More about Nichola here.

Summer School

What type of education did you have?Nichola Stott

I had quite a formal educational background with three A-levels and then studied Sociology at the University of Durham.

Is your education related to what you do now?

Absolutely. Understanding society, media, markets, organisations and the individual is a fantastic grounding for marketing.

How did you get into digital marketing?

I started in communications working in advertising for a magazine called Electronics Times in the pre-Google era when having a company website wasn’t commonplace. I was really interested in what was happening online and kept an ear out for opportunities in digital communications which led to a role at PR Newswire working on an online media database. So I’d kind of always worked in the technical side of marketing and communications. From there I went to Yahoo! working on the search partnerships team and the rest is history.

Did you need extra schooling? If so, what type of extra schooling did you get?

Not really as the areas and products I was working on were pioneering and any learning was by immersion. I learn more now by more formal routes than in those days as there was so little choice in terms of additional learning and access to resources.

How do you think the state of education in marketing is these days? Do marketers learn what they need to learn?
On the whole I think things are fantastic now in terms of different types of learning resources. You’ve got conferences, meet-ups online groups and forums, organisations, courses and just so much more structured or unstructured resources out there. Plus if you know how to search and qualify information knowledge is at your fingertips. However, experience can’t be taught and at times I think that there’s an over-reliance on retrieved or spoon-fed information meaning that some personalities expect to not have to take much responsibility for their own development. Some people are naturally more inquisitive than others whilst others are quite happy to settle for what they know or take a single experience as case for extrapolation. Which can be at best, narrow and at worst – dangerous.

How do you feel about online training courses?

Like any training course the material needs to be high quality, well structured and interactive in order to encourage self-learning.

What is your tip for those that want to learn more?

Question everything. Perhaps for expediency or to be polite it’s not right to constantly ask your peers or immediate boss “but why?” so I would say don’t take everything at face value. If you’re told to do something a certain way – ask for the background as to why, but then if that judgement point is reached at which you can’t proceed to question why – then take it upon yourself to research alternatives.

What resources are best to learn marketing?

I try to get to as many conferences as I can outside of my own direct disciplines as I find that fascinating. Whatever the sector, platform or commercial model as a marketer we’re all marketing to humans and there are shared learnings across say app marketing or affiliate marketing that can be brought to search marketing or direct mail.

What’s the last lesson in marketing you learned?

I went to App Promotion Summit last week and learned so much about this space, which is new to me. Whilst there were many learnings I’ll pick a great one that I think stands across any digital marketing discipline (and can be applied to SEO if we think about the resistance we can come across when explaining to prospects that having a “dabble” or a “SEO launch strategy” isn’t the best approach. This quote is attributable to Mick Rigby, founder of Yodel Mobile and for me one of the standout speakers from the conference that day…

“UK Smartphone users have around 45 apps on average but use only 5-10 regularly per week. 80% of mobile apps are used only once. Therefore spending marketing budget on application download only is a criminal oversight.”

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Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.