Stephanie Lindsay: 7 Years a Dog


It's time to find out about us Dogs. Being a Dog means you’re an individual, someone with a strong personality and talents in abundance. It also means you’re part of a team, our pack. In this series of posts, we’re finding out a little bit about the individuals behind Dog as they reach milestones in their careers here. This month, we’re chatting to Steph Lindsay, Head of Marketing, as she reaches 7 years at Dog.

How did you get into the industry?

I focussed on journalism pretty early on and worked as a freelance writer for a number of national titles particularly across music reviews and gigs. I had visions of being the new Penny Lane, however quickly realised I didn’t have the liver for it. My initial studies covered media as a general focus and it was 2 years into study that I re-aligned my focus to advertising. I’ve always been fascinated by people and behaviour: Why do people behave in the way they do? Why do some people choose to act on something not? Why do people select one brand over another? Constantly asking these questions led me to explore the power of advertising in influencing the way people feel and make decisions. Having graduated, I knew that this was the direction I wanted to take. 

Only 4 weeks after graduation I started at a Glasgow agency, spending 6 years progressing from Traffic Executive to Digital Marketing Manager. The internet was so new back then but I recognised the opportunity and direction the industry was undoubtedly moving in. The things we take for granted now like SEO and PPC were in their absolute infancy, so I taught myself, while encouraging our media department to become more Digital whilst I learned my trade. The opportunity to move to Dog, an agency with Digital at its core, came up and the rest, as they say, is history! 

What does a typical day look like? 

There isn’t a typical day at Dog which is why I love it. My job is so varied, I’m part practitioner, part team manager and part strategist. My week consists of lots of meetings, lots of planning and negotiation. Acting as a conduit to the full marketing department, I work extensively with each of our teams in Glasgow, Singapore, Jakarta and London. I ensure that we work together effectively, and deliver on all requests regardless of location. It’s a busy old place to be. 

If I had a perfect day it would be pitching – I love working as part of that team and presenting to a potential client. There are so many opportunities to make dramatic and impactful changes with a marketing budget. Taking a step back at the beginning to identify what exactly the client is trying to do is crucial. We can then make recommendations based on insight and goals. We might look at programmatic, or focus on content marketing strategy aligned to brand values and business objectives, or harness micro-targeted social advertising to leverage organic social reach. There are so many disciplines and channels at our disposal, but being able to break this down in a pitch and get a client excited about what we can achieve together, is my favourite part of the job. 

Favourite Dog project or campaign to date? 

We’ve such a wide range of clients and the projects are so diverse, it’s hard to pick a favourite. I have to say, however, I love working with T in the Park. It’s a brand I have grown up with and the projects tap into my love of music. It’s a great client and we are very much an extension of their marketing team, working hand in hand. T in the Park is a brand that has benefited hugely from embracing digital media both online and OOH, so it’s great to be part of that digital transformation and make recommendations at a strategic level. We’ve just launched the 2016 campaign, so we’ll have a case study to share soon! 

In the past few years though I’ve been lucky enough to work on projects for clients such as London 2012 Olympic Games, L’Oreal, Curves International, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, UEFA… it’s a big list of global brands and I’m so proud of being part of that. 

Your first day at Dog….What do you recall? 

I was really nervous. I’d come from a traditional full-service agency as part of a small digital team. In fact, I was the only one focused on marketing. I was scared that I would join and everyone at Dog would talk in binary code or something, leaving me bamboozled. Thankfully, not the case! I was thrown in at the deep end completing keyword research and a full PPC restructure for the City of Glasgow College, a client we still work with today. 

The agency was so busy. On the upside, it meant that there was a massive buzz about the place and plenty of people to chat to. On the flipside, it pretty much took 3 days before anyone showed me where the toilet was! 

Best experience at the agency so far? 

Leading the expansion of our marketing services across global offices has been an amazing experience. When I joined, the marketing team was small, just three of us. It makes me super proud that we are now an 18-strong team covering each marketing discipline to exceptional standard. We are currently delivering multilingual digital marketing campaigns across the UK, Asia, US, Europe and beyond. Growing our offering to be able to devise and activate strategic campaigns at this level has been challenging, but really rewarding. 

The best single experience has to be D Fest in 2014. We held a birthday party for our 18th year in business, inviting guest speakers, partners, clients, friends and colleagues to party with us at SWG3 in Glasgow. We had Oculus Rift experiences, a DJ, a comedian, a photo booth, and our partners at Twitter, Sitecore, and Freakworks entertained everyone with fantastic talks. It was amazing to see so many familiar faces raise a glass to Dog, and testament to the agency’s great reputation among peers, clients and partners. It also helped that I finished up for 3 weeks in the USA the day after, so I pretended it was my send off! I’m hoping for a re-run in 2017 for our 21st birthday! 

How has your role changed since you started? 

My role has changed a lot as our team, and the agency, has grown. It’s much less about delivering campaigns and basically split into three core areas: Talent development; strategy and teaching. 

As we continue to bring in talented people with great ambition, it’s my responsibility to ensure they flourish at Dog. As a result, a significant portion of my day is dedicated to people management and career development planning for our expanding team. 

I’m mainly off the tools and focus on strategy, communications planning and new business. I work closely with the Directors to ensure our marketing service proposition is aligned to the business strategy and that we, as a team, are focused on achieving defined goals in terms of winning new business, talent investment and resource management. That being said, it’s vital to my role that I maintain my position as an expert level practitioner, so I keep abreast of industry changes and platform developments, and learn more every day from our team than you can imagine. 

My role has become very focused on sharing knowledge. I’ve found myself teaching industry professionals and clients alike across the UK, and it’s something I find really rewarding. Our team, in fact the agency as a whole, is built around an ethos of clear communication. Rather than bamboozle or scare people, we demystify Digital, learning everything we can and distilling that information for clients and peers in plain English. Definitely no jargon allowed! I believe that everyone we speak to about digital communications should learn something – if they don’t, then we’re not doing our jobs! 

What do you hope to achieve at Dog over the next 12 months? 

For the next 6 months, I'm focusing on supporting each member of the marketing team grow their own profiles within the industry so we shine as a team of individuals. The next 12 months for me are about career progression. In the short term, I’d like to align myself to an external mentor, something I think will be key to focus my professional growth. In the long term, I am focusing my time on the next step. I’ve been in the industry now for 13 years so I want to evolve the team and see the next Head of Marketing be appointed in due course. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere, I’ll be chapping on the door of the Dog Boardroom. I’m personally very focused on where I want to go next. I recognise the challenges to this next role, but I am tenacious! 

Who inspires you? 

Two words. Cindy Gallop - I am her fangirl. I first came across her on TEDTalks and have since been lucky enough to hear her speak in person twice. She is so inspiring.  She’s completely unapologetic for who she is and completely self-assured in what she can deliver. Whenever I feel a bit of self-doubt creep in, or I am about to be taken out of my comfort zone, it’s very much a case of asking myself: “What Would Cindy Do?” And she’d just bloody do it! She’s been to the top of the tree and edits herself for no one. As a similarly feisty woman, I want to be able to say that I am even 10% Cindy. In terms of presenting and public speaking I absolutely take my lead from Cindy. 

Follow @cindygallop and get blown away! 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

I get advice a lot… speak slower is one I need to take a little more heed of as I tend to get over-excited and a bit Glaswegian! However, I think the best piece of advice I’ve been given is to “pick up the phone” by my very first line manager at 21 years old. Email is such a requirement for communication but no matter if it’s a problem to deal with or a quick check in to a client or supplier, I’d much rather meet face to face or have a quick call to build a relationship. I’ve built good relationships internally and externally and I think it comes down to not hiding behind they keyboard. 

And what piece of advice would you give to a younger “you”? 

Apart from “Don’t dye your hair pink” and “Don’t over pluck your eyebrows,” I’d say: “Be yourself, but always be open to taking advice and listen to those you respect.” 

I’m quite naturally excitable and err on becoming over-enthusiastic when getting started on a project. That can mean I can sometimes get caught up in the moment and rail road my ideas. Having worked in this industry since I was 21, I’ve now taken heed of advice like: “Slow down Steph.” “You don’t have to do it all, get some help,” and: “Let the client speak.” 

I’ve processed this advice, made sure that I learn from it and applied it to the way I act and behave. Saying that though, I think I have been successful in my career down to a lot of this energy and from being myself, so it’s all about balance! 

How do you switch off and relax? 

I’m not great at relaxing, I actually get quite stressed out with spare time. At the age of 34, I only just recently gave up my part time job as I was worried what I would do with 2 free evenings a week. Relaxing is definitely something I need to work on! 

However, having just bought a new flat, you can find me decorating or planning to decorate most evenings! I can also be found watching the trashiest of all TV Shows or listening to the cheesiest of all music. I am not cool, at all. 

If you weren’t working at Dog, what’s plan B? What would you be doing and why? 

I think I would be a teacher. I really enjoy the training aspect of my job and sharing information internally and externally, so it’s not too much of a Plan B really! I can see teaching as forming a part of my natural career progression in the future. And we work with a number of universities and colleges at the moment to deliver training, so I am getting some practice in now! 

And finally…What would you banish to Room 101? 

Buzzwords! I hate them. Our industry can be so jargon heavy and it can be really intimidating to a client. Thankfully, Dog doesn’t buy into this at all. It’s a straight talking, down-to-earth agency and we really are here to make digital communications simple for our clients – no instances of buzzword bingo in this office!

So there you have it, an insight into the mind and world of Dog's Head of Marketing. You can connect with Steph on LinkedIn or find her on Twitter @stephlindsay82