Charles NevilleI’ve been interested in marketing and advertising from an early age, my dad worked for a creative services agency that put adverts together from sketches and transparencies, since the 80s. He’d bring home mini-proofs of campaigns that were just about to launch. Most kids had posters of musicians and movies on their walls, I had framed Levi’s, Boddingtons and WonderBra ads.

Ten years ago I completed a BA in Marketing & Multimedia.

When I started the course Multimedia meant content authored in Director and delivered on a CD-ROM; Marketing meant print media. By the time I finished it was all about the Internet. Along the way I learnt about user interface design and usability. My term paper project for my final Marketing module was a commercial website – a very profitable one.

I began a job as marketing manager at a creative software reseller in London. I created our marketing strategy, put print catalogues together, designed ads, executed direct mail campaigns, organised our stands at exhibitions, developed the website and trained the sales staff. Unfortunately, despite my opposition and repeated warnings, the company attempted to expand far too rapidly. A severe over-investment in the hiring of outbound-sales staff eventually proved fatal.

I moved to a large Mac dealer where I was invited to set up something similar as a subsidiary of their main brand. The Internet was still new and exciting to me; brimming with possibilities. So I didn’t mind when I was given the title of eCommerce manager. However, as the money began to roll in, I found my focus increasingly turning to web development. Before I got too bored, I negotiated to take the job part time and experimented with freelance database and web development for a while.

In 2001 I started a company with Graham Needham, a network systems specialist. Together we developed a number of innovative in-house projects, a collaborative city guide and an online Mac store.

A few years later, in 2008, I realised that the core of our business had become “web coding for hire”. I wasn’t having fun anymore.

Marketing was my passion and I wasn’t doing it. The time I spent on these projects was a great practical learning experience but I was holding myself back. I decided to quit and return to the work I love.

Since then I’ve been consuming books and articles voraciously. It’s clear to me that this is an auspicious time to return to marketing. All the tools are there for word of mouth and customer evangelism. I believe that marketers must fight the stereotype of snake-oil salesman and do what we do best; generate clarity and value by connecting with our customers.

I am immensely grateful that people like Chris Brogan, Mitch Joel, Guy Kawasaki, Christopher S. Penn and John Wall continue to put out such inspiring content. It has filled me with a new sense of purpose. Sincerely, thank you.

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