This week we have another fabulous Q&A in our ‘In Conversation With…’ series.
In this series, we have been able to provide our readers with some great insights from industry leaders across many sectors and we are so pleased to be able to share with you our latest discussions with Liz Whitson, Founder of MW London.
MW London is a strategic marketing consultancy specifically focussed on helping small business, VC backed enterprises and start-ups develop long term, profitable and engaging relationships with their customers and clients.
In our interview, Liz Whitson shares with us how she started working within the industry, the skills she has picked up along the way and some great advice and tips for getting the most out of your marketing strategy.
We are so excited to welcome Liz and hear all about her story.
Let’s get straight to it…
Please could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Liz Whitson, Founder of MW London
I live and work in Wimbledon with my husband and teenage son. We’ve just celebrated 14 years of living here, across the park from the tennis. It’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere; having been born into an RAF family, I lived mostly in Cyprus for my first 10 years with annual visits thereafter, then in France for part of my uni years – I still love to travel (when possible!)
Tell me about your career up to this point and your experience in marketing.
I like to think of my career as an evolution. I’ve been drawn to marketing since studying A-level Business Studies. Maybe because in my teens my parents ran their own business. From there I went on to study International Marketing with French at uni and landed a job as an account exec in a direct marketing agency on graduation. I felt I’d found my calling in a way. I loved the people, both client-side and agency side, worked hard to make awesome campaigns happen, and I loved my role, always right in the middle of the action, facilitating, negotiating, always learning.
The ‘Mad men, angry women’ narrative in the industry at the moment definitely resonates with me as a post- 35 year old mother. I don’t feel there is a role for me in agencies now which is a shame as I always felt I had so much to teach people coming up through the industry, having reached board level as a Client Services Director at a big agency.
That’s why I’m glad I made the decision to set up alone; I have the flexibility to work with the people I want, when and where I want, and still use the skills I’ve learned over the years, as well as adding new ones.
What are the most important skills you have learned in your career so far?
Client relationship classics – active listening, project management, budget management, expectation management, creative judgement, strategy judgement, team leadership… these are fantastic transferable skills that have served me well in work…and life!
How would you describe what you do now in a line or two?
I am a grown-up who knows how to employ social media for entrepreneurs and small businesses. I am a one-woman strategy, project management, and execution unit!
There are so many channels now, including blogs, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. What medium would you choose to engage more customers and why?
There’s no one answer to that question. You always have to start with the objectives, the tighter and more single minded, the better. Then you can build out scenarios about where your targets hang out and how you might reach them, what content will help you engage that audience to achieve the objective. Never start with the channel.
Which tools do you use to report on the success of your campaigns?
See above. What does success look like? The key metrics will vary according to the client, project and objectives.
What has been your most significant achievement so far?
It has taken me a while to realise it but when a new client opts for my services, they are buying me. Not an agency name, not a franchise or an empty promise. I appreciate every single pound that’s paid to MW London and I will put everything into achieving our shared goals. Equally, if I think I’m not the right person for the job, I will say so. That’s what I stand for.
How do you think PR can compliment social media?
I don’t think it’s any secret that good content is a massive part of a successful social presence, no matter what the channel. PRs are masters at distilling a story or a message, selecting the most interesting theme and amplifying that through the media. It’s a wonderfully complementary relationship because social will in turn amplify the coverage and help reach a wider audience, for example using the amazing algorithms that drive the social platforms.
How do you adapt to a new company’s culture and tone of voice?
Good ol’ fashioned listening! What are the words and phrases they use? Are they formal or casual? Brimming with enthusiasm or calm and collected? Self promoting or modest? It’s a form of mimicry in the most flattering of senses. You have to think ‘how would x say this?’ And then check your source material (emails, websites, briefs) because they will always, always have expressed themselves in valuable nuggets of information that you can recycle.
What brand or sector would you most want to work for and why?
I’ve recently developed an Instagram strategy for a New Bond Street-based, very high end jeweller who felt they needed a social presence. The research into the market was fascinating – it’s such a glamorous sector! I’ll be consulting with her on implementation soon but I know, in the end, I love my current mix of client sectors in health care, tech, COVID-secure services and charity – it certainly keeps my mind active!
We would like to say a big thank you to Liz for sharing her advice, tips and stories with us today! It has been great to get to know her a little better.
If you would like to get in contact with Liz, visit her LinkedIn profile here
If you have enjoyed reading this blog, why not take a look at our interview with Kerry Harrison of Machine Unlearning where she shares why she decided to set up her a tech podcast and much more.
Or if you would like to learn more about the differences between Advertising and PR, have a read of another one of our recent blogs.