The B2B marketing renegades: Weird and wonderful career paths

B2B Marketing caught up with five marketers with pretty unusual career trajectories to find out what they’ve learnt along the way and what they bring to their current roles. Here’s what Sarah Sutton of Sea Level Marketing had to add:

Sarah Sutton – the former property management expert

Most people today tend to have unusual career paths, in that where they started out has little relation to where they’ve ended up or where they planned to be. I’m also sure most of us yearn for a meaningful purpose and have every intention of making it happen, but then get caught up in the realities of life and living.

Many years ago I ran a property management company in South Africa, and later worked for a prestigious UK property firm when I emigrated. As a business owner you’re in a ‘marketing’ role all the time – you’re constantly seeking ways to hunt down new customers, promote your services and enhance your brand, image and reputation. This was before the digital marketing era so I relied on printed leaflets, newspaper adverts and networking events. I quickly learnt about the power of word of mouth, and that customers like to be clearly told what they’re getting and why they should buy from you (but also not be given too many options). It certainly helped me focus on benefit-based selling.

I was already exposed to marketing my services, and adapting these to suit customer demand. But I felt the pull of technology and moved to an IT customer-facing role – customer roles are invaluable. They should scrap subjects at school and just teach young people how to negotiate, collaborate, manage spend, deliver, organise themselves, give feedback, manage conflict, sell themselves. Life skills. Marketing skills.

After spending several years understanding what customers need from technology in a client director role, I moved into communications and PR. PR is a key resource for marketers and is often underrated. Having your voice heard in a noisy marketplace, immersing yourself in content that your customers consume, and getting customer advocates on board with success stories are all invaluable for today’s marketer. After that, it was a natural next step to move to an integrated marketing role. I now head up marketing for a global technology business.

I’m frustrated by the jargon in B2B, the hype around certain trends. ‘It’s all about your digital marketing kitbag.’ Is it? Really? But what I love is the creative process – from concept right through to delivery – and being able to demonstrate how your activities have directly influenced business sales. Now that’s true job satisfaction.

You can read the full B2B Marketing article here.