Sitting down with Mark Clemow | The Right Mark
Updated: Nov 16, 2019
Mark Clemow is one of South Australia’s most respected and experienced practitioners in marketing communications and business leadership. His career has encompassed executive roles in government, business, media and advertising. His recent roles were with Blaze Advertising, Starcom and the Department of the Premier & Cabinet.
Mark has recently established The Right Mark, a consultancy to impart the knowledge and experience of his extensive career. The Right Mark supports marketing communications projects and mentors people in marketing communications careers. It works like an extra set of safe hands, with a fresh perspective; grounded in relevant experience, knowledge, pragmatism, integrity and a passion for improving people’s lives.
1. Did you always see yourself in a marketing role during/before your studies?
Right back to my school days I was often creating new product and service ideas, branding them and finding inventive ways to get people to use them. This was not long after marketing had emerged as a science, so what I was doing then was probably considered more nutty than scientific. I know now that I was probably a pioneer of the profession and was putting the early theories of marketing into practice long before I'd even heard of Philip Kotler and the marketing mix!
Given the infancy of marketing when I was starting my career, it was natural for people with those tendencies to lean towards careers in customer service, sales or public relations. My first job was in a bank. I was hopeless with the maths, but my business development and customer relationship skills were spot on. Today we see selling and customer service to be quite distinct careers from marketing, however some of the best marketers I've met started their careers in those kind of roles.
2. What did you find to be the most influential learning experience coming up in the industry?
Personal risk and "having a go" are important. Many times I've taken a chance on opportunities for which I probably had a remote chance of getting, but without taking some of those risks, I wouldn't be where I am today. It's essential to remember that marketing is about helping people have better quality lives, so the whole thing revolves around taking risks and trying things. If we're not prepared to do it as marketers, then how can we understand the consumers.
Good time and project management is another. In a deadline driven profession, the ability to visualise a project, map it out, prioritise and work to a disciplined timeline is essential. At it's simplest, learning to review my workload and prepare a prioritised to do list at the start of every day saved me from a lot of stress and disappointment.
3. Is there a certain characteristic that you believe is essential in this industry?
An interest in people and the corresponding ability to work hard to get along with people is essential. If you're not interested in what makes people tick and why they behave in certain ways, then marketing is not for you.
4. What mistakes have you made, and what did you find you learnt from the experience? (Can just be one example)
If we are to succeed, we can't just seek out good experiences and avoid the possibility of bad. I believe that whatever happens, good or bad, it's still an experience. We need to learn and rise from our mistakes and move on to something better. I've made many mistakes in my life, but I don't feel I've made a bad career choice. I've been fortunate to have enjoyed every job and every company I've worked for, without
regret or disappointment. There are many things I might have done differently though, but you have to swing with what you're good at, avoid what you're not and when you make a mistake, admit it, apologise to anyone who's affected and work hard to win back trust.
5. Favourite part of working for yourself?
I've worked most of my life in government and for large corporations full of people commanding your time to do anything and everything other than work in your professional skills. Corporations in particular are difficult. In these large public companies, the business growth, shareholder and reporting expectations are relentless. So much of your day is taken up in things you "have" to do, rather than the things you "love" to do. Working for myself, I get to choose the clients and the work that's fun and fulfilling. I'm responsible for my time, my projects and my outputs. I'm my own shareholder and I set my own work standards and expectations. I especially enjoy being valued for the skills and experience that I bring to my clients and the satisfaction I get from giving something of my career back.
6. Any advice for entrepreneurs like yourself, of things to avoid or best things to take advantage of?
When you work for yourself, your personal brand is your greatest asset. People who engage your services want your personal experience and skills, rather than those of the company you work for. Be proud of your personal brand and what it stands for, right down to how you name and market your business.
Network your name and brand. Be a good person, do the right thing and stand by your word throughout your working life. When the time comes, your network and the people who trust and respect you will be your greatest asset. When I started my business, the goodwill of my network encouraged and affirmed my decision, but more importantly, my first two jobs were referred to me.
Task a risk. Regret is a powerful motivator. If you want to try something new, or set up your own business, then you'll never know if you can do it, unless you give it a try. Don't die wondering. Remember that not all experiences have to be good. Even if things don't work out and the experience is bad, it's still an experience.
7. What do you find to be the most effective tool/ platform of increasing engagement, in a general sense?
Of the commonly available tools, a good LinkedIn personal and business presence is important. Your name is your most valuable asset, so you reflect what you do and how you operate by the way you manage that brand. Good, fresh and regular content in LinkedIn and in other social platforms is essential. It's no good just to create these pages and let them sit. More powerful though is your personal and professional reputation that you gain and reinforce through networking. Engage with and leverage this network to not just grow your business, but to help your network grow yours. In networking, the adage "what goes around comes around" is very true. Never lose a phone number or email address of someone who can be important to you (and vice versa). Even if you're the one taking the initiative, keep the relationship alive. Culture people to ensure your personal brand is top of mind.
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