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26 March 2013

Nathan Jones, marketing Consultant

Nathan Jones, marketing Consultant

Nathan Jones is a freelance marketing consultant, based in London. After over a decade of marketing organisations ranging from those with three full-time employees to others working across five continents, he left a company turning over almost a billion pounds a year to work for himself, and now turns over a little less.
Nath spends as much spare time as possible playing sport or guitar. Being the dad of a toddler, this amounts to not a great deal of time. He’s also keen on good food, wine and coffee, and would give almost anything to see Wales win the Rugby World Cup.

Do you have any particular CV highlights?
I’ve done everything from walking around a city centre accompanying a man dressed in a bear costume (marketing our Christmas pantomime,Goldilocks and the Three Bearsin 2002) to being interviewed live by five BBC radio stations in 10 minutes (Greenbelt 2009). It’s been varied, to say the least.

What part of your job brings you the most satisfaction?
Definitely the getting-out-and-about-and-meeting-people bit. One of the best bits of arts marketing is that there’s often a big event at the end of the work you’ve done, where you finally get to see an audience enjoying the thing you’ve been raving about for months.

Who would you most like to give marketing advice to?
The Welsh Rugby Union. Not so much because they need it, but because they might pay me in match tickets.

What’s the best piece of (Christian) marketing you’ve ever seen?
The marketing of Christian events generally reminds me a bit of this cartoon by Dave Walker. I guess I could be accused of bias as I used to work for them, but most of the material Greenbelt puts out is great; excellently designed and above all else some of the writing is beautiful.

Help! I have a campaign/website/book/event that I want people to love. What are your top three tips?
1. What’s your message, what’s your audience and what are you hoping to achieve? Plan these before you start saying anything.
2. Utilise social media. It’s free and it’s where everyone is.
Hire a consultant! 

Was Jesus good at marketing?
Well, the parables could have made great ads, but all that ‘last shall be first and first shall be last’ stuff probably wouldn’t have gone down too well with the client.

How as Christians can we be good at marketing but maintain a sense of humility about what we doing?
I don’t think marketing is necessarily a pride issue; it doesn’t require us to worry unduly about humility. I can be genuinely proud of the work my organisations are doing and want to share that with others who don’t know – it’s very similar to evangelism.

I have to believe in the product/service that I’m promoting. I once worked in the financial services industry as the marketing manager of a company that turned over almost a billion pounds a year. It paid far more than any other job I’ve had, but I couldn’t do the job honestly – I wasn’t really achieving anything other than working very long hours to make a millionaire more money.

How has the world of marketing changed over the last 10 years?
Facebook hadn’t launched and Twitter was still three years away. When I studied digital marketing at university my lecturer told us that we could throw away our textbooks at the end of the course because they’d be out of date within a year. One of the best things about working in digital marketing is that you constantly need to learn new things.

Social media? Net gain versus net loss.
Definitely a good thing. I’m in contact with loads of old friends who I probably would have lost contact with if it wasn’t for Facebook and Twitter. However, I’m definitely guilty of checking my phone too often when I should be doing other things. I know someone who has a rule if he goes out to dinner with friends - they all put their phones face down in the middle of the table at the beginning of the evening – first one to check their phone pays the whole bill.

What’s the biggest marketing faux pas you have ever made?
It was the first week of my first marketing management job, at an arts venue. I signed off the brochure for the next season having proofed the spelling and grammar meticulously. A fortnight later the brochures arrived and there was a mistake in the box office phone number, right on the front cover. I spent the next week guillotining the phone number off every one of those 20,000 brochures. Needless to say I’ve not made that mistake again.

How can the Church improve its image yet remain distinctive?
By doing things better! Websites, flyers, the events we put on, the music we sing - it’s often obviously Christian because it isn’t quite as good as what the rest of the world is doing.

Before Rob Bell filmed his first Nooma video he met with some execs at MTV and asked them about production values. The Nooma videos look a bit dated now but at the time they were so far ahead of what most of the Church was producing. We need to have that desire for excellence, and not settle for ‘good enough’.

Do you have a snappy marketing motto?
My consultancy is called Cadenza Marketing. A cadenza is a piece of music inserted into an aria for the sole purpose of showing off the ability of the singer. It’s the bit of the music that says ‘and now, for the next 16 bars, just listen to how good our guy is’. The name Cadenza Marketing came out of the thought that every marketing project should have a moment, where you get your audience to stop, ignore everything else and ‘just listen to how good our guy is’.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Now that professional footballers who are younger than me are starting to retire, I have finally given up on that one. Instead I want to play guitar in the Hold Steady.