Creative Lives — Creature of London’s Business Development and Marketing Manager Danielle Locke on positivity and perfect pitching
Danielle Locke isn’t your everyday adrenaline junkie. For this business development and marketing manager, preparing for a pitch is a hugely exciting process, and one that requires an entire agency to run like a ‘well-oiled machine’. Danielle’s drive and genuine love of the job means she never really switches off – she’s happy to talk about advertising around the clock. We caught up with her to do just that, as she tells us more about her role and why new business and marketing departments run more like buses and less like islands.
Business Development and Marketing Manager, Creature of London (2016–present)
Business Development and Marketing Manager, Leo Burnett (2015–2016)
Senior Account Manager, Leo Burnett (2014–2015)
Account Manager, Leo Burnett (2012–2014)
Account Manager, MBA (2011–2012)
Junior Strategist, Naked Communications (2010)
BA Advertising and Marketing Communications, Bournemouth University (2007–2010)
Tell us a little bit about your role within the company.
It’s my job to make Creature famous and to get clients to want to work with us. In my role I deal with PR and marketing as well as management of the new business process.
What does an average working day look like?
It sounds like a cliché, but new business and marketing within an agency are a lot like buses. There will be weeks when things are pretty slow (which is a chance to do all the much needed admin) and weeks where everything is happening at once, the phone won’t stop ringing and no matter how hard you try, the days just aren’t long enough to get everything done. I personally prefer to be busy, it’s what I love about the job.
How did you land your current job?
It was all a bit serendipitous. My friend had just started working here, and when we were having a drink one evening he mentioned that there was no one doing new business, so he put me in touch with Dan. We went for a beer and the rest is history.
Where does the majority of your work take place?
As a team of one, I could pretty much work from anywhere, but being in the office is incredibly important for my role – I need to stay close to the ground and know everything that’s going on.
What are your working hours?
Most days I work normal office hours, but when we’re preparing for a pitch, this tends to go out the window. It helps that I love what I do, as it means I never really switch off.
“You need to be a people person who isn’t afraid to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.”
How collaborative is your role?
There is a perception that marketing and new business departments within an agency are like islands (probably because we don’t have clients or a consistent output), but that just isn’t true. You need to be able to work with everyone from strategy to creative to finance. You need to be a people person who isn’t afraid to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.
What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your job?
Nothing beats the feeling of being told you’ve won a pitch, and whilst being told you haven’t should be the worst thing in the world, you usually know whether it’s going to be good news or bad news the moment the team walk out the room.
What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months?
Pitching is always exciting. It’s the reason I got into new business and marketing. It’s an accelerated version of the work we do day-to-day, and the adrenaline that goes in to it, often makes the work better I think. New business is an all-agency process, even if you don’t directly work on a pitch. It requires everyone to work like a well-oiled machine.
What skills are essential to your job?
Aside from being proactive, outgoing and resourceful, you need an unwavering sense of optimism, it’s the only thing that will keep you going.
Would you say your work allows for a good life-work balance?
If you don’t love the industry, then yes, it can be draining. Advertising is generally full of perfectionists who spend far too much time poring over the details, so if this is just a job to you, then that can certainly eat away at your personal life. But I happen to love it. Most of my friends work in it, and I’m getting married to someone who does it too. So for me, there is no off button, it’s just part of my life and I’d be happy to talk about advertising all day - if only someone would listen.
How I Got Here
What did you want to be growing up?
When I was five (in the height of the ‘Changing Rooms’ era) I told my parents that I wanted to be an interior designer. I then toyed with the idea of a number of creative careers over the next few years, before settling on advertising when I was around 16. I chose my A-Levels and degree to focus on that. (Once I get an idea in my head, I won’t let it go!)
How (if at all) is the subject you studied useful to your current role?
I’ve got a degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications. Which, as it turns out, wasn’t very useful at all. The creative industries are better experienced than being read about, and I really wish I’d done History of Art instead. Having said that, now that everyone I knew at uni is grown up and with proper jobs, it means I know people in most agencies in London – which is always handy at those awkward networking events!
What were your first jobs?
My first role out of uni was as a junior strategist at Naked Communications. It started out as a three month internship and turned into a full time role. My biggest regret is that I didn’t learn more from the people I worked with by asking as many questions as possible.
What in particular helped you the most at the start of your career?
My A-level media studies teacher was a really big inspiration. He was the first teacher who talked to me like I was an adult. He was a brilliant mentor; I don’t think we realised it at the time, but his teaching methods really prepared us for the working world.
“Resourcefulness is key. You don’t have to be an expert, but a desire to find out how something works is the greatest skill you can have.”
Was there a particular project you worked on that helped your development?
In my previous agency, my first ever pitch as account manager was for Rolls Royce. It helped me realise that I wanted to work in new business full time, and I’ve never looked back.
What skills have you learnt along the way?
Resourcefulness is key. If you don’t know how to do it, learn. You don’t have to be an expert, but a desire to find out how something works is the greatest skill you can have. As soon as you think you know everything, you will quickly be replaced by someone younger and more hungry than you.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Probably being made redundant. As a recent graduate and someone new to the world of work, it’s almost impossible not to take it personally. But you have to pick yourself up, get back out there and use it as an excuse to make yourself indispensable.
Is your job what you thought it would be?
No, it’s better.
What tools do you use most for your work?
A Macbook Air; an iPhone 7; a decent pair of headphones; Keynote, Powerpoint, Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop; InDesign and the dreaded Microsoft Excel for all things procurement. In new business, you also need a good pen, a ruler, a pair of scissors and an unlimited supply of USB sticks.
Danielle at work
What would you like to do next?
I alternate between wanting to do something completely different, like running a pub or designing wedding dresses, to thinking about being an MD [marketing director] of an agency. I don’t know which one I want yet, and I don’t think I will for a while.
Could you do this job forever?
I think I could probably work in advertising for the rest of my life, yes.
What do you feel is the natural career progression for someone in your current position?
It depends what you goals are. Some people I know have gone on to be CMO [Chief Marketing Officer] and MD of their agencies, and others have stayed in new business. If you embrace it, this role can be a fast track to management, but I appreciate that’s not for everyone.
Words of Wisdom
What advice would you give to a young creative wanting to become a new business manager?
Try every role in the industry, if you can. It will better equip you to understand an agency and your client’s needs.
This article is part of our In the Studio With feature on Creature of London.