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“Marketing” with Charles Fisher.

Who are you?

My name’s Charles Fisher (Charlie), I’m the senior marketing executive for Chaptr. I somewhat fell into marketing through journalism, which led to content marketing, which then led me here.

So, what do I do now? I look after the marketing strategy for Chaptr and it’s clients. What we do interacts with every other part of the business; we keep business coming in, expand types of projects we want to be working on, with businesses we like, etc. Goals, objectives, campaigns, those tactics. All of these tactics help us find people – or helps people find us.

Journalism, eh? How did that lead to marketing?

Oh, you know. Money. Rent. etc. 

I was a (predominantly freelance) music journalist, working in Ireland. The world of journalism is a bit volatile in terms of stability. It’s very hard to create a sustainable lifestyle. I knew I liked writing, so I wanted to stick with that. There was a company nearby where I was living that was specifically looking for a content marketer with a background in journalism. 

Content marketing is stuff like this interview, individual pieces of content that people interact with online or wherever it’s posted. It’s a fun way to get into marketing, actually, because it’s usually very creative. Where content marketing is a specialist tactic – marketing in general, for me, is the practice of showing why you and your company should be doing something for your client instead of someone else. Whatever the way you communicate that – that’s marketing. 

The company I was making content for was great, it was a company that worked with animals, had charitable causes as clients and had great people. Because I liked those things, I put more effort into marketing, a task I’d never really done before then. Anyway, once I left the job, I’d developed a viable skillset at this point and thought, why not carry on?

I got a position at a startup, which I’d wanted to try – I’d worked in fairly stable and well-rounded businesses, and I thought “let’s try something slightly less steady” because I wanted to know which was a better fit. As it would turn out, it’s nice to have a bit of both.

The nature of the business meant the product changed several times, so the messaging had to change, our marketing goals changed, and it was “full steam ahead” in a bunch of different directions at any given time. Starting a campaign to see results in a month’s time wasn’t good enough – they needed results now. I certainly learned a lot about how agile you can be within marketing. There are a lot of ideas that we were forced to skip, but instead of crippling us, it made us really focus our efforts.

So, I wanted a happy medium between these two worlds. Not something so entrenched in itself that nothing can change, but not something so new it’s falling over with initiatives that will never get finished. I’d been wanting to work for an agency for a while at this point, I had a feeling it would be a good mutual fit if I could find one, somewhere with variety in terms of tasks, industry, and tone, etc. If I could avoid a case of one thing over and over again; in theory, it would keep me sane.

When I came across Chaptr online, I really liked their work and their aesthetic (I’d worked at an Apple store, so you can see how I would have been a nerd for that kind of thing). I applied, had a couple of interviews – and I got the job. What really stuck with me was the personality and the care involved with the people being brought into the organisation. That was a year and a half ago and it’s been really worthwhile.

Describe our branding and marketing?

Difficult for me… I’m in the middle of it. I suppose I’d say it’s a quirky and minimalist design agency. But I think we have a bit more identity behind that shell. There are a hundred agencies that have “a quirky and minimalist” design. Part of my job is to work out the identity behind it. 

So how do you differentiate from other agencies? 

We’ve tried to build our work around the people behind the organisation. I think what separates us is that we actually care about helping people. We try not to take ourselves too seriously, where other high-end agencies take themselves very seriously. 

No one here is difficult to work with, and I think that’s what separates us from the BIG agencies. What separates us from the smaller agencies is the fact that our work is top-notch, we care more than anyone, and everything we do is done with all the care and attention in the world – to make every client that comes through our door better than they were before working with us. That’s across everything we do. When we’ve done competitor analysis, we’ve genuinely struggled to separate what others are offering vs each other, and in turn vs us. 

It’s hard to get across the fact that we’re good at what we do, but we’re not pretentious snobs. It’s hard to get across that we care, and sell it as a USP when everyone says that (even if they don’t mean it). Recently we’ve been positioning ourselves as the friendly neighbourhood agency because that’s what we want to be. That’s who we want to represent. 

What have you learnt since working in brand and marketing?

I’ve learnt a lot about project management, time management – a lot of sales stuff just by being around it… Learning how to talk to people. Learning to understand rather than shut down and problem solve straight away. Be respectful – think about them, not you.

Another rule that I try to bear in mind is that you can’t force people to do anything. I think this is where important lessons on how you approach your audience come in, and where the best marketers will succeed; knowing that people don’t enjoy being sold to, but finding a way to do it, is a skill I’m still learning.

If you were to build this brand from the ground up, anything you’d do differently?

I think the way Chaptr structures their values and their internal team is really good. In terms of how it handles people, looks after its employees, etc – all of that is great. It’s a small creative agency, but we have the mindset, and the  people of much larger businesses, a lot of us have seen how those places work and what practices they put in place. That provides a sense of stability that is often missing from other agencies.

I think it’s important to retain focus in this kind of workplace. Often, it’s felt that you need to ‘diversify’ to obtain new business and keep current clients happy. You can’t argue with that a lot of the time, but when you find yourself stretched and grappling with a ton of different services offerings, it can help to simply return to where you began and focus on what you can do to improve those core services.

Interested in working with this guy?

Of course you are – he’s wonderful. Take a look at our careers page for all up-to-date vacancies at Chaptr. Oh – and check out our Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram for our most recent work and insights.