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Learning to juggle and embracing overconfidence

This blog was posted by Caroline Schreiber on June 2, 2015 as part of the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy. You can find out more about the project here.

Embarking on this project, we didn’t really know what to expect. We certainly didn’t think we would be learning circus skills. But a couple of months in, our biggest development yet has been learning to juggle.

Natalie and I applied to the Digital Marketing Academy in an attempt to add digital insights to our ever-expanding ‘Sales and Marketing Master Plan’. Natalie works as Front of House, Events and Box Office Manager and I’m Marketing Manager, we both work at The Place.

Kindred-spirited and ambitious, we work well as a team and tend to look for the next move, to steer The Place to new heights. Our initiatives vary from database management to initiating ‘print at home’; from allocated seating plans to a new email marketing system; from bar stock to audience development research. All this, on top of our day to day operational tasks.

So what’s one more plate to spin, what’s one more ball to juggle with?

Quite a lot it turns out. Especially when you spice the whole thing up with absence for holidays, weddings and other professional development opportunities.

Why do we do it? Because, like many of our peers, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our mission seemed simple: understand why despite a new improved website, the proportion of tickets booked online decreased over the past two years. We also wanted to experiment with text, processes and prompt-techniques to encourage people to book online.

Our objectives seemed so clear, we thought it was going to be hard work, but structured hard work. How wrong we were. Before even getting to the experimentation stage, we realised we had a long way to go. The operational obstacles were plentiful: we couldn’t get the webinar technology to work, we missed our first phone meeting with Daniel Rowles, our amazing Mentor, we forgot to factor in our leave of absence, but mostly we realised how little we understood about Google Analytics. Ah… oops.

So, we back-stepped a little and decided to get the basics right. At the moment we are working with Daniel to decipher the stats from the trees in order to benchmark our current situation, understand behaviour to then make a plan that is both realistic and achievable.

And rather than letting the mountainous tasks ahead defeat us we felt inspired and challenged. We took a day out to the British Library for planning, started reading Agile Samurai (as suggested by the wonderful Sara Devine in our induction webinar – you should all read it by the way). We worked on knowledge-sharing and gathering internal buy-in from senior management to front of house assistants. We built an in-house ‘support network’ team who is aware of our goals, help us gather audience feedback and feel confident in suggesting ideas for improvement.

This morning, I watched Natalie Portman’s Harvard Commencement speech emphasizing the power of overconfidence and inexperience. Well, Natalie (Phillips) and I are not afraid to say that our confidence and lack of knowledge made us sprint head-first and blind-folded in this project and why it will, without a doubt, be a fascinating and enriching journey.

So let’s get digital, let’s storm ahead, let’s get juggling.

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