A short backgrounder

It sometimes helps to know someone's backstory (according to Hanlon's Primal Branding (recommended)) it's an important part of a great brand) so .. here's mine (it includes a heinous murder and two Sinclair QLs). (If you just landed here from Google, here's my homepage.)

I grew up in Long Eaton (a Nottingham satellite, small-engineering town) in a stable family in a semi-detached house. Mum was a teacher, dad worked at the steel plant then the power station.

I was among the handful of top students at school (get me!) and went straight from school to Leeds University to study Computer Science, but punk had grown me up, I ought to have seen the world a little before I went and Leeds was too big-city for me. The Yorkshire Ripper killed Jacqueline Hill, a Leeds University student while I was studying there, about a mile from where I lived. We took feminism very seriously. I dropped out after my second year.

I drove deliveries for a bit around Nottingham until my head protested against having nothing to do and I applied for a data entry job "because look: they have a computer!" (computers at the time were as big as fridges, the PC hadn't yet been invented).

It turned out the job was with a (business-to-business) PR company, I was hired and became the person who selected magazine distribution lists for every press release. I gradually became more involved in developing software (DIBOL on a DEC PDP11/73+) and built a team that populated a database of worldwide media. It's where I first learned to write well.

I left that company with a colleague and we set up to start our own media database using two Sinclair QLs and a daisy wheel printer built from real metal. After that we provided results-based international PR services, then also database marketing, then also telemarketing services for all sorts of companies, but including European publicity for desktop mapping company MapInfo, and Gemplus (a major credit card manufacturer).

Eventually it turned out I was managing a company of 17 people rather than actually doing any marketing, so I changed tack and became a marketing consultant. My partner moved to Scarborough (she worked in mental health services (is now a psychologist) and wanted to live by the sea and the two sort-of went together) and I followed after a seemly delay.

Wandering along the beach one day, reaching Scarborough Spa we found a leaflet about an Internet Computing degree course at Scarborough Campus of Hull University (only one of two in the country, at the time (2000)). Given that I had never finished my first degree, I took this one and got a first. That's where my super-impressive mix of marketing experience and technological capability comes from.

After that I built websites for a while, then along came the idea of Internet marketing, first search engine marketing and now social media. Internet marketing is my sweet spot, the place where my interest and love of great marketing meets my ability to understand and build the systems and software to make it all happen. I'm a technically capable person who cares more about the users than the gadgets.

So that's what I do now. I take a company's online presence and I improve it so the company is more successful. That might just be software and systems, or it might involve improving people's knowledge and systems too. It could mean a new website, or an additional capability .. I do quite a bit of programming nowadays including driving the Twitter/Facebook/Google Maps APIs (for instance, analysing your Twitter followers and showing sales on a map). It could be a social media strategy & help. It could mean applying persuasion psychology to the whole interaction. Whichever way things go, you can be sure we'll be able to quantify the results.

We have a cat, and when that dies, we hope to get a dog*.

* I'm hedging my bets with cat/dog people.

PS. If it matters to you, according to a brief Facebook quiz I'm ISFJ (the nurturer). I've nowhere to write that down so I thought I'd put it here. My psychologist g/f tells me Myers Briggs is a load of rubbish and her personality tests are the only ones that work. I totally believe her, but I see y'all liking Myers Briggs so this is for you.

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