Tricks of the marketing trade

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The Drum Network: 10 questions with... Sam Garrity, CEO of RocketMill

The Drum Network's 10 Questions With... series asks our members a series of questions about their lives in the industry, both relevant and irreverent. This time Sam Garrity, CEO of RocketMill, takes us through his journey from McDonald's to company leader...

What was your first ever job?

McDonalds. I never got beyond one star on my badge.           

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?

All of them. Our industry is littered with people that confuse others in order to look clever. What we do is not complicated and doesn’t require buzzwords.

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?

I was on a walk with my family a few years ago and thought ‘That would make a nice picture for Facebook’. It was then that I realised I was serving social media, rather than it serving me. So I’m not on social media, apart from LinkedIn for professional purposes.

That said - I do enjoy the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast podcast. Almost all episodes provoke a reaction in me that leads to innovative ideas for RocketMill.

Highlight of your career (so far?)

My first sale for RocketMill when we launched 10 years ago. On the face of it, it was among my least glamorous moments (selling to a builder on the dashboard of his van), however it was the moment I knew our tiny little business was going to succeed. I punched the roof of my car the whole way home and called everyone I could.

What piece of tech can you not live without?

I’m a keen runner so my Polar watch.

Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?

Liverpool football players, probably John Barnes. I’ve always been a keen red and remain a season ticket holder today, preaching the good word to my son among others.

In marketing, what needs to change soon?

We spend over £20bn a year as an industry in the UK, yet we are still debating what is working, such as brand versus performance marketing. I’ve always felt this is unprofessional and unacceptable for an industry as significant and mature as ours. We need to come together to agree how we measure our impact, and our 2020 Total Performance strategy aims to do exactly that. It’s entirely possible and would benefit our industry dramatically.

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?

I’m going for what has given me the most joy, and that’s Back to the Future. I loved it in 1985, and nostalgically revisited it with my children over Christmas, possibly enjoying it even more.

Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?

I don’t have one. They are all too commercial now, with many people paying to speak, and have become hit and miss affairs as a result.

What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Your worst mistakes are your best lessons - from my mum after a particularly difficult teenage moment.

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