15 years ago I was part of a small team that revolutionised the media industry. This was the age of film photography and I was working for a sports photography agency. We had a team of photographers that shot pictures at most of sporting events in the UK, and large events around the world and we sold them on for editorial and commercial purposes. We delivered the pictures in print format via a courier. Seems absurd now, doesn’t it?!
We were one of the first agencies to adopt digital cameras for our photographers and there was a lot of backlash at the time. Certain publications believed that the quality of images was inferior to that of the film images delivered by prints. Some media outlets would take a print over a file even though it could be delivered much faster. However, by it’s very nature, the consumers of said media were much more concerned with speed. This is especially so for sports fans.
Understanding the end consumer as well as our customers directly was an important aspect of the evolution of the business. What if we could deliver images as soon as they were taken using digital cameras and this emerging technology called wireless? This was the question asked and Shootlive was the product developed. This linked photography and editorial (entered onto a remote systems seconds after the photograph was taken) and delivered as an XML fees that could be streamed as MMS alerts, WAP shows or multimedia galleries. It was delivered ready to be published with all the accompanying data and text. We could deliver images and editorial to the wire within minutes of the story breaking.
It took another few years for other agencies to adopt digital, and the sports agency acquired by The Press Association in 2005, mainly for the Shootlive technology that had been developed. I stayed with The Press Association for another four years and that’s how I came to be in Australia.
What’s this got to do with Marketing Sam? I was the Sales & Marketing Manager at the time we developed and implemented Shootlive to customers such as Chelsea Football Club, FA Premier League. FIFA World Cup and eventually Cannes, the Oscars, and Diana memorial. The principles and lessons that I learned during that time (and previously as general manager of a design agency) have hugely influenced the frameworks I have used to grow/transform businesses in the years that have followed. Simply: it all starts with the user in mind. The human at the end of the product or service.
How can you enhance their lives? How can you create a great customer experience? How can you meet a need that your customer, or end user, doesn’t even know they have yet? These are the questions to ask when you are thinking how you can sell or market your business.
Marketing used to come after a product or service was developed, at the time it was ready to market. However, in our world of accelerated change and savvy consumers, it should now be a considered right at the start. The success of our little team at the sports photo agency was, in part, due to the multi-disciplinary perspectives we each provided. Innovation, here, was a combination of understanding the market, the end user, the feasibility of existing and emerging technologies, and the viability of creating a sustainable and profitable business. Sales, marketing, IT, business management, sprinkled with a bit of foresight.
As design thinking methodology grows in popularity, there is an increase in digital marketers, UX designers, and growth hackers (and apparent need for them) the creative and scientific worlds are colliding. What’s important to remember at the end of the day is that we are still dealing with humans. It’s no good to build tech for tech sake. Ultimately, our greatest success will come from an understanding of our market and people, our embracing of new technology, and the smarts to ensure we have a viable business.
Marketing Entourage is a Marketing, Design and Innovation company for purpose driven businesses. Our human-centred mindset is ingrained in everything we do, from co-creating marketing strategies, developing innovative plans, and supporting the implementation through a subscription service to the facilitation of Design Hacks or Service Design sessions to help clients create their preferred futures. Contact us today to book in a free 30 minute consultation to assess your marketing needs.
Catch Sam at Pausefest this week, on Thursday Tech day at 11.30am at Deakin Edge. She’ll be demonstrating and teaching some of the frameworks you can use to integrate human-centred design into your product development. Get your tickets here
Or catch her on 2GB 3AW radio on 16th Feb at 9pm where she talks about The Future Of Marketing with Paul Gardner.
Sam also teaches Digital Marketing at General Assembly and will be running a number of workshops in February and March – see the schedule here
by Samantha Hurley
Written by Samantha Hurley
Sam co-founded Marketing Entourage after spending 18 years in senior sales & marketing positions for companies such as Lonely Planet and The Press Association in Melbourne, New York and London. Sam started out in a design agency and used design thinking to help develop a product that went on to revolutionise the media industry in 2002. Sam also teaches Digital Marketing and Data Driven Marketing at General Assembly. The daughter of an engineer and a designer, she learned to code and design at a young age. She feels she has the mind of a scientist and the heart of an artist and likes to sit in the space where creativity, technology and business converge.