How I Became a Marketer

If you don’t fancy reading my full backstory, why not checkout the Marketing made Clear intro episode below:

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If you had told me 20 years ago that I would have had a successful career in marketing, I don’t think I would have believed you.

Will Green, Marketing Made Clear

This section is purely to provide a background to my own personal development into marketing. I certainly wouldn’t say that my own route is very common, and it has definitely not been the easiest, but hopefully my background is at least of interest to anyone embarking on their career in marketing!

Focussed on Music

Growing up. Music was my favourite pastime, I played everything from trumpet, tuba, drums, bass guitar to all sorts of other random instruments. I firmly believed that my career would exclusively involve performing music.

I was part of the Hampshire County Youth Brass Band system when we won the “BBC Youth Band of the Year”. My tuba teacher Leighton Rich was also the conductor for the main county band and he inspired me with his involvement with the Sydney Olympics and other experiences with professional musicianship. Playing in these large bands showed me what can be achieved when a group of people work together with a clear focus.

I was not the most academic person at school, in fact, I found the rigidity and formulaic nature very uncomfortable. I had some very inspiring teachers, but still, I rebelled against the structure of both school and college. I was going to be a rockstar! So education, all seemed quite pointless and something that was getting in the way of me becoming a professional musician.

Playing Contemporary Music

At the end of secondary school, I formed a band with friends playing rock music. Instead of playing classical music which I enjoyed but didn’t necessarily listen to; I was playing the music of the artists I loved. This was a revelation. My friends and I, at the age of 16, put together a Queen tribute band, with the aspirations of putting on our own show. We learned and rehearsed a full 2-hour set, which even included a quartet of backing musicians, enlisting a local sound engineer and roping friends in as stage crew and ticketing on the door. We wrote a programme, distributing posters and leaflets in the local area promoting our concert.

I didn’t know it yet, but this was my first taste of marketing.

Playing rock music to a crowd, for me that was the ultimate thrill. This sparked something, I wanted to play music that I liked, but I also wanted to do that to an audience and the only way to get a crowd is to effectively market yourself as a band.

The band went through different iterations, but we made an impact in the local area, getting further bookings for events which grew my interests in playing live music. Some of my very close friends went to contemporary music colleges whereas I went to a very traditional college which didn’t suit me at all.

Academically I petered out why the time I finished college. The prospect of university seems like an extension of the education system which I felt jaded by. Probably much to the upset of my parents at the time, I chose not to go to university. It was only when I heard how much My friends were enjoying university life that I felt that I was missing out.

During college, I joined a metal band (Modular Series, and then Amoki), which felt like her another revelation, this led me to really focus on playing music and besides performing, making sure we had a strong audience at every gig was something I took very seriously. At the time I really had no idea that we were using both guerrilla marketing tactics and relationship marketing as part of a counterculture.

As a band at that level, venues didn’t just judge you on how good you are, but also on how many people you could bring to a gig, so the pressure of drawing a crowd was always there.

Working on a Cattle Ranch

Around this time after college, I also moved back to Australia (where I was born). I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to volunteer on a cattle station called Mount Elizabeth in the remote region of the Kimberly, Western Australia. The “station”, known as a cattle ranch in the US, was extremely remote – around one days, solid drive from Broome (the nearest city). I learned some valuable lessons in my time at the station, not least the strong work ethic and importance of communication and teamwork in extreme situations.

It was during this experience. I really started to question my desire to return to the UK to work in temporary labour jobs to fuel my goal of “making it” as a band, so I decided that I would give University a go, and was accepted onto a Popular Music and Record Production degree at Solent University.

Studying a BA (hons) Degree

From the outset, my focus at university during my BA was the practical aspect of recording. Learning how to record, and how to work in a studio environment was fantastic and inspiring, but there was a unexpected bonus, the more theoretical and practical side of the degree was interesting relevant and thanks to receiving dyslexic support from Southampton Solent University, I was thriving.

The next few years was a blur, university life, band life, including supporting bands that I was a huge fan of, and gigs and tours playing around the country. This led to an amazing opportunity to work with Roadrunner Records for a short period of time, promoting bands like Nickelback, Machine Head, Stone Sour, and many more. I started to gain an understanding of how the music industry works , and how record labels worked as businesses.

I then ended up getting the opportunity of an apprenticeship at the Ministry of Sound in which I spent a few weeks in A&R and a few weeks in Tours and Events. The experience in both departments gave me exposure to the commercial side of music, and business model involving both live events and records. I was given a few projects in the Tours department that I particularly excelled in, leading to being given the opportunity to support the Tour Manager for a UK Ministry of Sound event. I had an amazing time, and I was put forward as a candidate to manage my own UK tour.

So, at the age of 21, and I became the Ministry of Sound’s youngest tour manager, travelling around the UK overseeing events by night, and studying my degree by day. Then came the offer of all managing an international event.

International Tours and Events

My first international event was a Ministry of Sound show in Granada. I flew out to the event with the DJ and got on with the British DJ and Spanish promoter like a house on fire. The gig went swimmingly, I had an amazing time and managed to keep everything within budget and keep everyone happy. After the event, the feedback to Ministry of Sound HQ was overwhelmingly positive, so not long after that I was handed further international events.

The main thing I learned early on was that I got on well with pretty much everyone I met and worked with, even in stressful situations and I could really enjoy myself, having a few drinks whilst keeping everything at the event “tight” and to schedule and budget (some gigs were easier than others).

The fact that I was loving the experience so much and building up such a good rapport with DJs, promoters, and all stakeholders served me extremely well – to the point that DJs and promoters were regularly requesting me. On a tangent on stakeholder management – I really feel that this is an area that many people get wrong. Stakeholder management and communication are so critical, and as an “over-communicator”, my stakeholder management was quite effective by proxy.

My time is it all manager for the Ministry of Sound took me two several countries and continents including; Panama Bangladesh, Greece, Egypt, Spain, France all over the UK, including the Channel Islands, Norway, and even a rather peculiar trip to Macedonia.

Although I started at the Ministry of Sound during my BA undergraduate degree in Popular Music and Cultural Studies, I found it fascinating that whenever travelling with artists and DJs that the main thing they would work on “on the road” was their marketing activities. I think that all of the successful people that I worked with in the music industry were marketing savvy! They would constantly work on their social media, websites and content. I particularly remember tour managing for the amazing Tara McDonald, which included an amazing show with David Guetta in Brussels in which Tara was working hard on some marketing content that I found fascinating.

What is this Marketing Thing?

At the time, I really didn’t have a grasp of the full concept of marketing; I knew a bit about advertising, and obviously knew about music promotion, but not really, what marketing was as a whole, so I started to research and started to learn things at University. This meant I could help artists and DJs with their work.

This turned out to be something I really enjoyed, and by the time I got to the end of my BA degree, I had already applied to go straight into a MA Marketing Management at Southampton Solent University.

Studying a MA Marketing Management

I started the Masters straight after my degree, whilst also working at the Ministry of Sound. This gave me great access to the company for case studies. The Masters cohort was very diverse with students from all over the world, less than 10% of the students were from the UK, so this gave me even greater exposure to different cultures and backgrounds.

The concepts that I was being introduced to as part of the course all seemed familiar – I kind of knew the concepts in a practical sense – but gaining the theoretical knowledge helped a lot with my confidence and clarity in marketing. I studied a full-time Masters so, and that intensity really helped me to fast-track my marketing knowledge and skill set. One thing I noticed in studying marketing was that many people seem to struggle with the digital marketing aspects of the marketing mix, whereas coming from the music industry, I become familiar with these platforms and channels early on.

As I was coming to the end of my masters, I was starting to feel that tour managing, which was a zero-hours contract, was not sustainable for me and I was struggling with burnout. The intense travelling, exhaustion of working unsociable hours and party lifestyle was taking its toll. I’m often asked why I would give up such a dream job as being a Tour Manager in the Music Industry, but to be completely honest, at the time a 9-to-5 desk job seemed like the dream. And I was extremely excited at the prospect of a career in marketing.

I finished my Masters strongly, and upon graduation, I was very humbled to have been awarded the Lawtons award for best full-time student”. Having become impervious to nerves for all the music related events, I was very surprised to be nervous around receiving the award. In retrospect, I think this was what is known as imposter syndrome. The next step in my career was clearly needed to be a full-time marketing job .

YMCA Fairthorne Manor – Full Time Marketing

Sometimes in life, I think the stars align, and things really do happen for a reason. At the time I was looking to step into a career in marketing and to move back to Southampton (from London), a job appeared at YMCA Fairthorne Group as a Marketing Coordinator. I had been very involved with Fairthorne Manor over the years, attending as a kid, volunteering as a teenager, and had many family connections to the charity. I was absolutely delighted when I got the job, and was welcomed into the close-knit team.

I was really given free rein at the YMCA, working on all aspects of marketing, being, given the chance to develop marketing channels, marketing materials, and express my creative flair. I made mistakes, but though the nurturing environment I was able to learn from them. I have to say that this opportunity was pivotal for me in being able to use the theoretical knowledge I have gained and practically apply it. I will always be thankful for the opportunities that Jim and the team gave me, and the lifelong friends that I made at the business.

This was around the end of the financial crisis of 2008, so everyone’s budgets were tight, and the onus was on me to get creative with our marketing activities, keeping costs low and maximising return on investment. I think this is something that has stayed with me throughout my career. I tend to be averse to spending large sums of money without a highly probable return.

Arjowiggins Graphic and Specialising in Digital Marketing

In 2011 I had to make the difficult decision to move on from the charity to further my career and I joined the paper manufacturer Arjowiggins. Initially starting as a Marketing Executive. It became clear that my digital marketing skill set fit a skills gap, and I was promoted to the role of Digital Marketing Manager for the UK.

I was very lucky to have an amazing marketing mentor in Angie, who helped me develop and adapt to corporate life, as well as supporting me to further my studies in digital marketing courses, which I could then in-turn use to add value to the company.

During this time, I studied a Foundation in Front-End-Development (so that I could have technical discussions with developers), as well as CRO, SEO, PPC, Social Media, and all sorts of other courses, coupled with my ongoing CPD with the Chartered Institute of Marketing it was during these eight years with Arjowiggins that I really matured as a marketer

I managed to bring together the YMCA and Arjowiggins at the Young Carers Festival to set a new Guinness World Record for the most people wearing paper hats. At the time, as I was the organiser and person that filed the record attempt, my name was officially listed against the record until it was later broken.

CSR Activities

Having grown up playing in the woods, making dens, fires and getting paid by my parents to coppice their woods, my passion for conservation is deeply set. I believe that every individual has a responsibility to protect the environment, and that businesses should engage in sustainable practices that protect our long-term future and ecosystems. As such, I was delighted when Arjowiggins asked me to head up the organisation of their annual CSR day, in which we either raised money for charity or donated our time to help conserve the local environment.

Marketing Recycled Papers

One of the major projects that I worked on at Arjowiggins was the website which was a portfolio site targeting designers and printers in the UK. The site won multiple awards Including the B2B Marketing Awards “Best Website” and the W3 awards “Best Environmental Website” and many more. The digital marketing activities that I was leading were proving to be very successful in the UK, and as a result, I was given further opportunities in the with the head office based in Paris.

During this period the scope of my role broadened drastically, I was travelling to Paris often, and was also being called upon to support international events, such as FESPA Berlin, and flying out to partners in Slovenia and Barcelona to film YouTube videos and social media footage. I was even handed the opportunity to completely redevelop all of the groups websites. However, much to my disappointment, Arjowiggins Graphic was liquidated in early 2019 and I was forced to seek other employment.

I reached many personal milestones at Arjowiggins, including getting a house with my wife Lucy, getting engaged, getting married, getting our dog, plus all the holidays that we managed to take.

During my time at Arjowiggins, I got involved in a few extracurricular activities, such as volunteering with FMS and playing in two function bands. Both these pursuits reconnected me with the music industry after around 10 years, I was delighted to get involved in both Glastonbury and Reading Festivals, helping to organise doctors for both these events and many more for three years. On top of that, playing music again, made me realise that I have been missing that particular creative outlet.

Improving my Writing Skills

Also during my time at Arjowiggins, I felt that my copywriting skills needed developing – particularly as I am dyslexic. So I decided to work on improving my writing by taking up a voluntary role at Listed Magazine as a gig reviewer. This gave me the opportunity to attend concerts as a member of the press, and I ended up reviewing gigs for Alter Bridge, UB40, Black Label Society, Frank Turner, and others. My stint as a reporter didn’t last particularly long, but it did drastically improve my written communications. I also had some fantastic support from both Lexus PR and Another Word to learn the art of crafting a good press release.


following the end of my three-year period as Doctors Coordinator at festival medical services, I stood to be elected as a trustee for the charity and was duly appointed. When I became trustee, I could never have imagined that it would coincide with one of the most testing periods in event history; the Covid pandemic. There were serious concerns about the sustainability of the charity during this time, and I am honoured to have played a small part in helping navigate to charity through that period.

Some of my other volunteering experience, but I forgot to mention, included volunteering as a Watch Leader with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, with whom I even got a chance to sail round the Caribbean with. Having grown up with a sister with severe disabilities, and with parents, who are avid sailors, the charity was a natural fit. I also helped the charity with some public relations, for the tour of Australia. I helped Billy and Jade Sharp with the LJS Foundation on the marketing side after their son sadly passed away from Gastroschisis. I even volunteered as chairman, secretary, and co-manager of the Mighty Hedge End St Luke’s Football Club, gaining promotion twice and winning the church league before being kicked out for not having enough players from the church.

2019: Fixed Term Contracts

I had two short stints with companies in 2019, both of which were testing experiences both personally and from the perspective of my short-term career, but I really feel that on balance these experiences have helped me long-term. Certainly in the sense that I trust my gut instinct more. During the time between companies, and at these companies, I developed my hobby of making bass guitars, and continued to play live music, even getting the opportunity to start playing weddings and making some fun social media content with the band.

Paleo Ridge – Raw Dog Food

In 2020, I joined Paleo Ridge in a digital marketing role, getting the chance to ply my trade in the category of FMCG and e-commerce. At the time I joined Paleo Ridge Raw, what is a family company with lots of potential but in need of a lot of change to realise that. With my corporate experience, I was able to offer a different perspective which I feel was valued and needed at the time. There were also some very obvious quick wins in a digital marketing sense that we implemented quickly and saw a direct benefit.

Three months into my time at Paleo Ridge, the impact of Covid and the associated lockdowns started to unfold. As a company, I feel we navigated our way through this period very well, and in a way it forced us to modernise and adapt. Our e-commerce revenue grew significantly, and we focused more on our digital channels and social media, which were all growing exponentially. We were trying out some quite innovative ideas which all seems to work well. At the same time also became quite clear that some of the relationships with marketing suppliers were quite toxic and I was able to draw on existing relationships with agencies and suppliers to really help take us to the next level.

Launching Dogs Go Greener

In 2020, I also founded a company with my wife Lucy making compostable dog, poo bags and hemp dog toys called Dogs Go Greener. This modest company has been quietly successful in the background, and continues under Lucy’s stewardship to offer environmentally friendly products for dogs.

Two very key milestones occurred in early 2021; we launched the new Paleo Ridge Raw website and I enrolled on a MBA at the University of Winchester. I launched the website with Our Name is Mud who I had worked with at Arjowiggins and it really set a new benchmark in the industry, again winning multiple awards, increasing our digital marketing performance, not least in SEO and of course increasing revenue. Studying a MBA was really a life goal for me, and part of joining Paleo Ridge was an agreement to support my studies.

Going back to university was very exciting, but having to start my studies remotely due to Covid made it a bit of a different experience. I really din’t know what to expect, and for my first module, I probably kept way more quiet than usual. I was really impressed with the structure of the MBA and delighted with the level of interaction with my cohort. It was only really when I got the results for my first model that I started to feel more comfortable. To my great delight, I got an 84% which was a clear distinction. Bearing in mind, I had no idea what my result would be because it has been so long since I last studied.

Taking up in MBA whilst working full time, playing in bands, and volunteering as a trustee was becoming impossible to manage. But then, with the news that I was going to become a dad, I really had to lighten my load, so with a heavy heart, I stepped down as a Trustee for Festival Medical Services.

Things were going well at Paleo Ridge, and I was still managing to get a distinction in every module at university. In this time we had been hiring and growing the sales and marketing department, for which I have been promoted to the role of Head of Sales and Marketing, and then Director of Sales and Marketing. I was championing and overseeing a change to a more strategic company model and we were seeing the benefits.

So that really brings me to the here-and-now, I’m enjoying my role as Director of Sales and Marketing at Paleo Ridge. I’m enjoying watching the development of Dogs Go Greener and the companies that I have been a part of over the years. I’m even finding new opportunities to develop and share my experience in the hope that it will help others. It looks like the end of my MBA at Winchester University will opening a new door to potentially guest lecturing and supporting the validation of marketing degrees. Considering that I was so disillusioned with education in the past , I really take my role and the opportunity seriously. Education and learning has changed my life, and if I can just help one person with what I’m doing now all the efforts with Marketing Made Clear will be worthwhile...

If you have read this far, I salute you and I thank you for your interest!

Why not reach out and tell me about your story and perhaps we can work together or perhaps there’s something I can help you with in your journey...

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