A Career in Digital Marketing and Luxury Goods
Henry McIntosh is the Co-Founder and Director of Content Marketing at Twenty One Twelve Marketing, a digital agency specializing in optimizing and enhancing the online presence of luxury brands.
Career Success Q&A
What do you like most about your job?
I love helping brands grow through creative content driven campaigns.
Every day in my job is different and challenging, I really enjoy that aspect of it.
What kind of experience did you have before your current role?
Whilst at university I harbored the idea that I wanted to work in TV or film but managed to break my foot playing football towards the end of my degree.
This kept me in a cast for five months after university. That prevented me from getting experience on TV sets, so I looked for alternative avenues.
One of my essays had been published at university, so I thought I’d try to earn a little money working as a blogger/copywriter. I slowly built up a portfolio by taking on small projects and writing for a few publications for free. As my portfolio became more and more impressive I managed to up my fees and target bigger work.
To this day I’ve never really given up this freelance side of things, and although I do a lot less of it now, some of the people I worked for at the very beginning of my career are now important clients of Twenty One Twelve. I’ve never severed ties with anyone and it’s paid dividends.
I still felt I needed to work within a bigger company to learn the mechanics of things, and I knew I wasn’t the finished article as a writer. I’m still far from it in fact.
I managed to pick up a copywriting role at a luxury retailer. This opened up some contacts in the luxury industry and allowed me to write for bigger publications. It was a fantastic experience and I had a great manager who honed my writing, but I felt a bit weighed down by the corporate nature of things.
After a year in luxury, I got the opportunity to work for a web design startup. This meant more freedom and I went back to freelancing, writing copy for all manner of websites and setting up a blog.
A year later that blog won the UK Blog Award in Digital & Tech category. I felt we had developed a pretty good notion of how to get lots of people looking at websites.
I’d simultaneously been working as a journalist for Luxurious Magazine, travelling the world, eating the best food and enjoying all manner of luxury experiences, whilst staying ahead of what was going on in the industry.
My boss at the web design company wanted to set up a digital marketing side to the business, but we knew the industry was beyond saturated, how could we compete?
Looking at the luxury industry we noticed that although luxury brands had previously been reticent to accept digital, they were beginning to embrace it. Yet there were very few agencies specializing in digital for luxury brands, so we set one up; Twenty One Twelve Marketing.
Do you have a mission or a guiding philosophy for your career?
To be challenged and excited.
Someone once told me you should be out of your comfort zone at least once a week. In my most recent role it’s been closer to once a day.
With this philosophy I know that when I feel I’ve stopped learning or have become bored in a role, it’s time to change the role.
That could either be a drastic or small change, from leaving a company to tweaking my role to suit targets.
What excites you most about your career right now?
I like the independence of running my own business, especially as it’s doing something I enjoy immensely.
It means I work long hours without it feeling like work. Working in the luxury industry is also exciting as you’re dealing with the finest products and get to experience things that would otherwise be beyond your means.
In the last year, I’ve watched the Monaco Grand Prix aboard a superyacht, enjoyed a luxury cruise with Hapag-Lloyd, dined at Michelin Star restaurants, and visited Israel, Poland, and Iceland- not something many writers get to experience.
What excites you about the future of your career?
More travel, more experiences, and helping to create a successful business. These things excite me.
Are you an avid reader?
To be a writer you have to read a lot, Stephen King On Writing taught me that and it’s a lesson I’ve lived by.
I try to read a minimum of one book a month, a blend of both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve learnt a lot by doing so.
What would you recommend to others trying to improve themselves professionally?
I’ve mentioned Stephen King On Writing and if you’re an aspiring writer I’d highly recommend that.
If you want to learn to write for web or become a digital marketer follow Neil Patel’s blogs.
If you’re thinking of starting a small business Chris Guillebeau’s $100 Startup is exceptional.
Other reading I’d recommend includes Permission Marketing (Godin), Tipping Point (Gladwell), Start With Why (Sinek), The 4-Hour Workweek (Ferriss), Rework (Fried, Heinemeier Hansson), Crossing The Chasm (Moore).
Blogs are incredibly important to me, I read them above all other forms of media. This is because they can move faster than books and give bitesize wisdom. The best ones focus on a niche (e.g. Jon Loomer on Facebook Advertising).
I’m trying to get into podcasts during workouts and when I’m completing menial tasks, but am struggling with it. I love Ted Talks too but more for enjoyment than anything else.
Other recommendations for people in content marketing:
Do you have a regular routine or set of fundamental principles you follow to ensure you’re always improving professionally?
It’s not regimented, I just try to exercise and read regularly.
I also make time to enjoy myself. There’s no point killing yourself building a business if you’re not taking time to see friends and family.
I always make sure there’s a bit of leisure in my week.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is to seek the advice of multiple mentors.
When I founded my startup I had a very specific set of skills that didn’t relate to the running of a business. There were huge gaps in my knowledge that I simply didn’t have the time to fill. I had to learn on the job.
I managed to avoid plenty of mistakes by asking people who knew far more than me about a certain area, whether it was finance related, managing employees or coping with the lonely road of running a business.
This has helped me keep the business afloat. No man is an island and you need to employ the help of others at every turn.
You can’t just take. Offer these people value in return for their advice, and they will champion your cause more readily.
Who are your most influential mentors and why do you admire them?
I’ve mentioned many of them in my reading lists, but often it helps to have people close to you who can advise on your specific situation.
People like Paul Godbold at Luxurious Magazine have been greatly helpful to me.
Would you consider yourself a goal-setter?
Absolutely, I was recently advised to write a bucket list. I laughed at them, thinking ‘I’m a bit young’.
It was a stupid response, they wanted me to set out what I wanted to achieve in life so I could create business goals to help me get there. It was a superb idea.
I also make short and long-term plans and set targets. I keep note of them and track our progress before evaluating how we’re getting along on a frequent basis.
Achievable short term targets blended with seemingly unachievable long term targets.
Long-term I would like to create departments for Twenty One Twelve. That would mean having teams who work specifically within one niche of the luxury industry (i.e. sports, watches & jewelry, travel, automotive, yachts). It’s early but our short-term goals are set to help achieve this.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced over the course of your career?
Starting Twenty One Twelve has been the greatest challenge. I was a copywriter before and that meant I didn’t need to do much contact time with clients.
Yes, I did a little selling as a freelancer, but when I started the business it meant networking regularly, selling the service, refining the business, and spending long hours trying to get us noticed, it’s tiring and full of bumps in the road.
Have you overcome this challenge?
You read books and blogs that address the issues you face, seek the advice of those you know who have been there and done it, and you test things until you find the formula that works.
There’s no formula to starting a business, but there’s plenty of people who will help you through it.
What have you found to work really well for fostering your own professional growth?
Networking. Make sure you’re in the right rooms and you’ll go in the right directions.
What is a professional challenge you’re still looking for a solution to?
I’m looking to expand my contact network, whether in luxury or business. People who I can help and are willing to help me in return.
It’s not always easy when you’re swamped with work, to get out there and meet the right people.
I’d also like to become more productive, I’m attending a session soon on ‘doubling your productivity’ so we’ll see how that goes.
Are you currently working on any projects we should be aware of?
We’re currently working with the fantastic Eight Ray Music, a premium live entertainment agency.
Their acts are superb, well worth a look.
I’d also appreciate anyone who is interested checking out Twenty One Twelve Marketing (www.2112.marketing), feel free to get in touch with me if you do!
What is the best way for people to connect with you?
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