Faye Bell is Deputy Managing Director at Econsultancy UK.
Tell us about your journey into the media industry
“I didn’t think about going into the media industry, I went into sales. I moved to London and got a sales job, selling fashion and celebrity information. I have an identical twin who used to work at the same company and to us it was the dream job combining celebrity, fashion and sales. We never saw sales as a career, we just thought everyone was good at selling stuff. To me it was obvious that you pressed the bruise, you match what you’ve got to what someone needs, you make them really like you and then they’ll buy it off you. Nor did I think of myself as working in ‘media’, because to me, media was just TV and consumer, I didn’t even know that B2B media or business information existed until I started there.
We were working together when Centaur was acquired by The Profile Group, essentially doing the same job. I was commercial manager for the UK and she was commercial manager for the USA. We’d gone from never expecting to work together, to living together and doing the exact same job. It was the opposite of what we expected!
We were lucky to have people like Simon Middelboe who said this isn’t just about sales, it’s about understanding who you are selling to and why. It wasn’t about data it was about insight and why the client couldn’t get it from other places.
How does it feel to win the Rising Stars Award at the British Media Awards?
If I ever thought I was going to win something, I thought I would’ve won ‘Rising Star of Selling’, that’s what I used to be – a salesperson, so to win something in British media is fantastic. I am proud of progressing from sales into broader general management. Once you can sell, you can be a one trick pony. Selling is quite a formulaic approach – building a relationship and matching their needs to what you have.
To win a British Media award is about saying you understand your audience and you know where to take them and how to make that a value exchange for both parties. We wouldn’t have got the growth that we had gotten just from aggressive sales.
My sister was so convinced I was going to win that she’d already thrown over my back wall of my garden a bunch of flowers and a huge bar of chocolate. It’s great to have people trust in you.
What does this win mean for you and your team? Has it made an impact on the way you work?
It’s really helped because it has come at the same time as working with an executive leadership coach, which I didn’t have before. It was really good timing to win the award and start working with her. I am still guilty of thinking that people think ‘Who are you, you’re just a salesperson’, especially if you escalate really quickly through your career, so it helps to have the confidence given to you from winning this award.
Everyone is now an agency, publisher, advertiser – is that a benefit or hindrance to econsultancy’s model?
It’s both. It’s a benefit in the sense that part of our business model is to help organisations, such as consumer brands, to become publishers by working with them on their content strategies and so on. But it’s also a hindrance in the sense that, of course, it’s becoming more difficult to cut through the noise in terms of the sheer amount of information out there. That said, Econsultancy is a powerful and trusted brand and – if anything – when there’s lots of noise, organisations are even more likely to turn to someone they trust.
It’s not about value of money it’s about value for time, all of the people we work with can afford to buy it, it’s whether than can afford to spend the time on it. We’re great value for time whereas sifting through free and invalidated sources isn’t.
And who are your main competitors, who is doing this for free?
Nobody does everything we do in one place. We have a very complex competitor set, it is absolutely huge, but it is fragmented. What I am looking to do is to basically respond to the question, which is to say is it a hindrance that there are others and I think the short answer is no, for now, because we are protected in terms of our value for time and our brand. In the long time, will that be enough? I don’t want to wait to find out! So I have ideas about what we can do to really amplify our offering.
Why do you have an event in Singapore – what opportunities does this give?
A lot of it is about positioning so to prove to your clients that you are truly international. A lot of it is about opportunity because there is a huge market for both digital capability development in Singapore, and hugely more fragmented access to best practice and information. The market needs it, so there is an opportunity to serve it.