I heard this phase at the Festival of Marketing and this year it really resonated. 2018 has been a year where I’ve had to understand and embrace ‘brand Jill’ much more. Working for myself – where ostensibly I’m also the product – blurs the lines between work and life. I’ve also started to recognise that much of my success as a marketer has also come from my musical training. They are not separate. So I thought for my last post of the year I’d bring my whole self, and share the three things that have defined my year. Singing, Marketing and Walking.
I’ve sung all my life and my first degree was in music. I’ve written before about the dual benefits of analytical and creative skills needed for music and marketing. One of the most formative experiences of my early life was singing in an award-winning choir. We won many competitions, sang in London concert halls, toured Europe and Canada and appeared regularly on TV. Unfortunately, in my case, all with the 80s bird-nest perm pictured.
I’ve loved singing in a local community choir for the last six years, and this year I decided to double up and join a leading London chorus too. As well as providing a great example of segmentation (two choirs, totally different experiences and audiences) it’s this that highlighted how much of my musical training I bring to work, in the way I ‘orchestrate’ marketing in organisations. I will definitely be building on this in 2019. I won’t however be re-perming my hair!
I’ve really enjoyed working with different clients on their marketing strategy this year and they’ve renewed my passion for marketing. Right now I’m enjoying reading Seth Godin’s new book where he recognises everything that the marketing mix encompasses. One of the highlights of my year was talking at Kingston University, where 19 years ago I got my Masters degree. I shared my belief that a strong value proposition sits at the centre of any marketing strategy.
A value proposition gives everyone a common goal around which to build a great brand experience for customers and employees alike. And is a key part of aligning sales and marketing – vital in today’s Account Based Marketing world. Especially for scaling service businesses who are my focus clients.
Whilst I’d say singing and marketing sit in my ‘strengths’ column, walking definitely does not. Yet it’s been a big part of my year. People who’ve met me spot the unusual gait quite quickly – which is caused by hip-displaysia (DDH). In short, my hips didn’t form properly before I was born which led to a fair amount of surgery. I’ve always found it hard to strike a balance between recognising and accepting this difference whilst not letting it define or restrict me. I’m sure many people would recognise and share this challenge.
This year I decided to see what would happen if I leaned-in and walked more. So I started setting myself walking challenges and I write a blog about it called diff-abled.co.uk. My aim is to raise awareness of DDH – which affects at least 1 in 1000 people yet no one knows exactly what causes it. And to raise a little money for a small charity who provide information and equipment to families of those newly diagnosed – something my parents would have found invaluable. Right now I’m walking 100 miles of the South Downs Way and you can read more and follow my progress here.
The whole me
The unexpected benefit of all this walking has been the headspace it’s given me to think through problems that my clients’ or my own business face. Ask yourself – how many of your best ideas or solutions pop into your head when you’re away from your desk? It turns out walking along the South Downs has also been a great place to practise and learn lines of choir songs. If only sheep could write reviews…
Most of all I’ve had the happiest, most rewarding year by nurturing my whole self. Whatever your whole self looks like, I’d wholeheartedly recommend sharing it.