Power 100: Nxt Gen 2013

Charlotte Oates, DMG Media

Position: marketing and communications manager, DMG Media

Date of Birth: 21/02/1990

View Charlotte's profile on LinkedIn

Working within the ‘new ventures’ division of DMG Media, the consumer-media business of DMGT, with joint responsibility for the team’s marketing and development budget, Oates is a rising star on the new-media scene. Working with its flagship brands – the Daily Mail, Mail Online and Wowcher – she has been recognised as a key influencer within the business. She is also a creative advisory board member for Media Trust.

Describes herself as: ‘A startup upstart.’

Q: Are there any trends or new-media platforms you believe are overrated?

A: The shift in emphasis toward social is often over-exaggerated at the expense of more traditional, and often more effective, methods. The over-allocation of spend on new channels can result in the growth of vanity metrics such as Facebook likes. Likes, alongside site visits and followers, are easily manipulated and don’t necessarily relate to the numbers that matter, such as active users and the cost of acquisition.

Q: What are the biggest marketing challenges you face?

A: Authenticity. With brand reputations more fragile than ever, it’s hard to build and retain trust and credibility. When launching a personal-finance product, which deals with highly sensitive customer data, our brand positioning needs particularly careful consideration.

Our current focus is on building a community of highly engaged users. We even have a small group of ‘SuperUsers’ who give us detailed feedback and contribute to our product roadmap. We hope that these users will act as powerful brand advocates, as well as help us to build a product that truly satisfies the needs of the consumer.

Q: What attracted you to marketing as a profession?

A: When I finished university, I spent a few months interning at Third City where I first got a feel for the fast-paced and varied world of marketing. I then briefly entertained the idea of an MA in Shakespeare Studies before starting as a Communications intern at DMG Media.

I was quickly intrigued by the ‘human’ element of marketing and how it drives people’s behaviour and decision-making – how will I get a response from this sort of person? What do they care about? What are their ‘pain points’?

Working for a new venture such as OnTrees, I can see the real impact that marketing has on a business’ sense of purpose. You can spend a lifetime developing the most beautiful website or app in the world, but you need to get it in front of people to see its impact in real life.

Q: Describe your typical day.

A: My first few minutes at work are spent clearing a space on my desk amid a mass of paper, coffee cups and a lone desk plant. We then do a quick review of the previous day’s customer-service enquiries before the daily stand-up with our development team. Those are pretty much the only constants. From then on, I could be doing anything and everything, from briefing print ads to making a hash of our website’s html.

Q: What are the biggest trends affecting your business?

A: For OnTrees, the demand for ‘aggregation’ is a really interesting driver. Our central USP is allowing people to see all their financial accounts in one place. Similarly, the rise of news app Summly and companies such as InfoActive, which turns large quantities of data into ‘drool-worthy interactive visuals’, are focused on making people’s lives simpler and quicker to manage.

At a wider DMG Media level, the changing consumer landscape has big implications for traditional media organisations such as ours, with adspend moving increasingly online and to other related areas such as affiliate marketing and lead-generation. We need to better understand how to deliver content across platforms to cater for consumer needs and leverage the trust people have in our brands.

Q: How are you changing the media channels you use to better reach your consumers?

A: We are fastidious about testing and optimisation. As a new business, we are not willing to throw expensive brand campaigns out into the ether. We allocate our spend carefully and see each campaign as an opportunity to learn a little more about the sorts of people using our product and how best to engage with them.

We’ve really streamlined our approach since launch. For example, we now place a greater emphasis on email as opposed to PPC, as it gives us an opportunity to explain what OnTrees is and how it works. This data-driven approach means ROI is always at the forefront of our minds.

Q: What are your most admired brands and why?

A: Simon Sinek’s theory of ‘The Golden Circle’ posits that ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. That is one of the many reasons I admire Dove and its longstanding ‘Campaign for real beauty’. The recent ‘Thought before action’ campaign, aimed at art directors and photo retouchers, is a bold and innovative viral stunt that kept this positive message fresh and relevant.

Q: What is your most admired piece of advertising or communications and why?

A: Most recently, it has to be Three’s dancing Shetland pony. With a quarter of those who saw the ad sharing on social media and more than 180,000 Twitter mentions in a week, the campaign has undoubtedly been a success. It’s also feeding the UK’s love for sharing fun and silly content online. More importantly than all of this, however, I just love a bit of Fleetwood Mac.

Q: What skills do you think are most important to get ahead in marketing today?

A: I recently attended an event at the RSA where Martha Lane Fox spoke about how all first-graders in Estonia are being taught how to code. I think that having a broad understanding of how businesses are created and developed will be invaluable in years to come.

An understanding of analytics is also important. We often talk about marketing as a combination of the creative and the commercial – you need a really strong grounding in both.

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