Iconic Marketing Manager Ben Eltham tells us about how he fell into a job that became a career, and his love of a good story
Exactly twenty years ago, I walked into my first marketing job. Never has the phrase ‘right place at the right time’ been so startlingly true. I was young and spent my time playing football, DJ-ing and using what I now can openly admit, was ‘a lot’ of hair gel.
At the time digital wasn’t a word in anyone’s vocabulary. Chalkboards were considered ‘a marketing tool’ and emails were only accessed from a bulky machine in the back office. I was still playing tapes in my ever so cool green Peugeot 106, whilst the final instalment of Lord of The Rings was about to hit the big screen and Dido and Justin Timberlake were top of the charts.
I had some ideas that I thought could help entice more people onto a kid’s activity camp at my local ice rink and ski centre. After a few meetings, it was agreed that I could ‘give them a go’.
I asked if we could get a TV moved into reception, so that people could see the activities. I was a big believer in show rather than tell, and I knew that every story needed a strong narrative. Ours was simply ‘look at how much fun you could be having!’
We got the TV, but it was too expensive to get some video produced (and we didn’t know anyone with a camera) so we used photos instead.
We got the staff a new uniform, built a big banner that said, ‘sign up here’ and played the video on a loop. It worked; we sold one hundred places a day on the camp, had bookings months in advance for the next one and made record profits throughout the year. They asked if I wanted to work full time on marketing, and so my career was born.
I felt ahead of my time in 2003. Creative thinking or ‘thinking outside the box’ were seen as ‘risky’ and too bold. People were much more comfortable with routine, consistency, and tradition.
That’s not to say that those qualities are not to be admired, but marketing excels with adventure. I didn’t do anything outrageous or particularly ingenious in 2003, I just wasn’t afraid to do something different.
Fast forward twenty years and I’m Head of Marketing at Iconic Project Management. So, what’s changed? Well just about everything.
Or has it? The way we consume, the technology available and the artists at the top of the charts, yes! Sometimes things can be over-thought, over-complicated and lost in a minefield of possibility. One thing that will never change is our appetite for an exciting narrative and love of a gripping story.
The logo, video, and the football team...
We set about enhancing the Iconic brand, recruiting an experienced graphic designer to work on how we could feel more…well Iconic? A new logo, fresh colours, and a more prominent feel to the business. It felt like a new chapter, the story was moving on and there were characters to introduce.
What better place to start than our apprentice scheme? Seeing young adults make their way into work and start their journey takes me back to 2003 and was the inspiration behind the opening paragraph. Our CEO asked if we could film a quick video with Oscar (our apprentice) talking about his experiences of the past year on the scheme. So, we set about moving all the furniture, blacking out the windows and setting up a studio light in one of the meeting rooms.
What better way to hear about the apprenticeship scheme than to see the apprenticeship scheme? We followed Oscar from Wokingham to Bournemouth on a day trip to survey a Barclays Bank ahead of renovation. I learned a lot that day; about the scheme, about Oscar and about starting your career. The video inspired the next generation of apprentices and said a lot about life at Iconic.
Community played a huge part in my upbringing. My first ‘proper’ job came about because of the part the John Nike Leisure Centre played in my life. It was a social hub, a place to hang out and a somewhere that I truly called home.
It saddens me that it no longer exists and so many people will miss out on the experiences I had. We must protect and support these organisations as they play such a pivotal role in the local community. I wanted Iconic to support the local community and Binfield Football Club was the perfect fit.
We moved quickly in the summer to partner with Binfield, and the ‘Iconic Stadium’ was born. The club is run by likeminded people who want to provide opportunity, nurture talent, and understand social responsibility.
Our first game was perfect. The magic of the FA Cup and a local derby under the lights on a Friday night. The waft of freshly grilled burgers, wet grass, and beers in hand. Over six hundred people in attendance as Binfield (the Moles) took on neighbours Wokingham & Emmbrook.
There is something very special about watching non-league football, an experience that you must feel for yourself. Binfield won 2-0, and those of us there from Iconic walked away excited for what the rest of the season might hold. We were fans, part of the community.
To reveal our partnership, we wanted to produce a video that encapsulated the excitement we had for supporting the club.
Our CEO and owners, Lizzie and Darren were invited for the launch and their first look at the Iconic Stadium signs. We mounted a GoPro in their car to capture the moment they encountered the brand new ‘Welcome to the Iconic Stadium’ sign and followed them on their guided tour of the ground. Two very proud people seeing their brand supporting the community.
We have some incredibly exciting plans for the partnership, and I cannot wait to share them with you in future blogs.
Things move on but the essence of storytelling remains the same. Anyone starting their marketing journey today will be able to find a plethora of material online, enrol on any number of dedicated courses, and see countless examples of successful digital campaigns.
Creativity is a buzz word and utilising the digital tools available is key to unlocking the potential that has never been more accessible to all businesses. The banner and TV are still the same, it’s just moved a little closer and now we have marketing in the palm of our hands.
Ben is Marketing Manager at Iconic Project Management. Ben is a digital marketing professional with over 20 years of experience in the industry. As a specialist in digital content creation and filmmaking, he can create innovative and engaging content in any sector.