Career Journey with Marketing Leaders – Episode 5 with Jim Warren

Welcome to the fifth edition of ‘Career Journey with Marketing Leaders’, where we sit down with CMOs and Senior Marketing Leaders from the CMO & Marketing Director Forum.

 

Each publication will ask them five questions about their career journey to date, greatest campaign, biggest failure, challenges facing CMOs and the advantages they hope to take in 2023.

 

I’m delighted to welcome our next guest Jim Warren whose career has spanned numerous startups such as notonthehighstreet.com, Bloom & Wild, Mous, Patch Plants, KatKin and currently, Swytch Bike.

 

Alex Marriner: Tell us a little about your marketing career and journey to where you are today.

 

 

Jim Warren: I did something entirely different until I was nearly 30 (sourcing/purchasing for large corporates) and did small website builds and digital marketing in my spare time for local clients. A friend helped me get an interview at a marketing agency, and I got the job by default after the other main candidate dropped out. Luckily, I did OK there and then landed a job at my first startup, notonthehighstreet.com. That started me on a startup path at various places, including Bloom & Wild, Patch Plants and more, to my current role as CMO of Swytch Bike (we make brilliant eBike conversion kits). 

 

AM: Tell us about a campaign that you’re proud of.

 

 

JW: It’s hard to pick a specific campaign as so many people are involved that I can’t claim them. One I do like to claim was an SEO project creating thousands of pages targeting specific locations for Bloom & Wild.

 

It was just myself, the excellent SEO Manager and a brilliant developer, and we built the whole thing in a lovely scrappy way in not very much time at all. It immediately started driving revenue and kept growing. I still check occasionally, and they’re still right at the top of the ranks after a fair few years!

 

I particularly liked that one as it was hands-on vs the more strategic stuff I’d been working on most of the time.

 

 

 

AM: What are the key challenges facing CMOs in 2023?

 

 

JW: Hiring is a killer. Finding great candidates can be challenging, and salaries can quickly inflate beyond budgeted levels. That’s not to say that the candidates don’t deserve the budget, but when you’re being careful with cash and you work at an earlier stage of business, it can be hard to compete with the benefits the larger companies can offer. 

 

Moving away from direct response marketing is another ongoing challenge everywhere I go. Digital Marketing is addictive, and moving away from it takes time and sometimes a bit of a leap of faith.

 

 

 

AM: What are the most significant opportunities you hope to take advantage of this year?

 

 

JW: We’re lucky at Swytch that demand is still strong, and the product has a great use case during a recession (cycling instead of driving for commutes). What can be achieved and how innovative teams can get when consumer spending slows is incredible.

 

We’re focusing a lot more on our site performance as it is something in our control, and already the dev team has made giant leaps forward, and we’re seeing the benefits.

 

 

AM: What has been your biggest marketing failure? And what were the key learns you gained from that experience?

 

 

JW: Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. My favourite example is first doing TV. I over-promised in the forecast, didn’t warn the founders how TV really works and how long you should test something before deciding on its performance (hint, three weeks isn’t enough), how inflexible it can be vs digital, and what success really looks like (mainly because I didn’t know).

 

I learnt a huge amount from it, though and subsequently had successful TV campaigns, so it was OK in the end.

 

 

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Alex Marriner is the Director & Leadership Search Consultant at Acquire Digital Talent. 

 

Acquire Digital Talent is a people-first Leadership Search Firm that exclusively partners with Technology companies and Consumer brands to build Digital & Growth Marketing Leadership teams. Our expertise and reputation ensure successful delivery across niche, critical and executive appointments from Seed to Series A and beyond.