When I first started only a couple of months ago as a Digital Marketing Apprentice at Cameo Digital, after the initial joy of securing a stable income, I found myself approaching the job with some trepidation. After all, I am, at heart, a theatre maker – that is, I’ve been working professionally for the last 9 years as a performer, director, and producer in the North East’s vibrant theatre scene.
How was I going to fare in a completely different industry, working in a way which was alien to me, doing work that was so far removed from what I’d spent years training in and practising? A creeping certainty that I was going to fail embarrassingly and have to change my whole approach to work, in general, began to emerge.
It turns out, to my surprise, relief, and delight, that I was completely and utterly wrong. Here’s why.
I’m sure that any marketers reading this will know that the art of marketing is, well, an art. It’s an incredibly creative role, where someone who has spent all of their adult life so far in the arts can apply quite a big chunk of what they’ve learned.
Here are a handful of the similarities I’ve noticed between my work in the arts and my work within Cameo Digital:
I’m not an expert (there are no experts in “creativity”) – I simply make offers and work with offers from other people to collectively create what we need to create.
That’s the same in marketing – while there are certain concepts and practices that my training is teaching me that I wouldn’t otherwise know, I am not an expert in a client’s business, their customers, or their products.
An ability to work collaboratively, making offers and taking offers, is what I’m increasingly finding is the best way to work in the digital marketing world.
Speaking to an audience
Theatre, in my humble opinion, is about telling a story in a way that speaks to the audience’s emotions.
This means you need to know who your audience is, first of all. It’s no good making a theatre show about 90s rave culture for an audience of 3–7-year-olds, and neither is it a bright idea marketing a product or service to someone who will have very little interest in what you have to offer.
It’s rule number one of marketing, and thankfully something people from creative backgrounds instinctively know.
Being a nice person
That might sound big headed, but it’s a generally known fact in theatre circles that if you’re a pain to work with, people would rather not work with you.
I think the same is true for most industries, and for someone like me who is predisposed to grumpiness in the mornings, being a generally easy-going, patient, and pleasant person to be around regardless of whether I’ve had breakfast yet is a skill I’ve honed over the years.
That’s not to say I’ve learned to be fake – it’s more about being aware of how you’re feeling and trying not to let it affect how you treat people. Plus, Cameo’s own ethos is “do good work with good people” and it’s about us as much as it is the client. Can confirm: we’re all good eggs.
Being on stage, when a cue doesn’t materialise, your fellow actors are not where they’re meant to be, or (the most terrifying of all) your mind becomes an expanse of deserted wasteland, with not a single thing in it… including your next line, you have to be able to improvise, adapt, and think fast.
Thankfully, I’ve not encountered anything quite as pant-wettingly horrendous as that during my apprenticeship, but in a time we can all agree has been tumultuous, things are changing fast and plans need to adapt and adjust.
Thanks to the handful of times I’ve had to get myself or a fellow performer out of a sticky situation, I’m quite good at staying calm, thinking on my feet, and changing tack quite easily when it’s called for.
Situations where actors go away and live as an engineer in Australia for 8 months as preparation for a role are pretty much unheard of outside of Hollywood. So, when you’re given the role of an Australian engineer and need to perform it convincingly and passionately on stage in 3 weeks’ time, you need to be able to learn quickly and become well versed in the minutiae of engineering pretty quickly.
Similarly, when you’re writing a series of blogs for a niche industry, your client probably doesn’t have the time or budget for you to go off and research the product for a few weeks. Learning about something quickly and being able to convey ideas about it convincingly is something creative people have been doing for years.
So, while I’m having a great time learning all about customer journeys, product lifecycles, and having my mind melted by the ins and outs of Google Analytics and Tag Manager, there are some essential things that I know I won’t be trained in, but that thanks to my years of living the actor’s life I already have a pretty good grasp of.
While creative industries are struggling and the proportion of actors who are out of work is unusually high, it might be worth giving a creative soul a chance – you might be surprised how much they’ve already learned and how good a marketer they can be.