Jo Lee

Crossing over the corona cliff with marketing



Jo Lee


Managing Director

Join Darren as he speaks to Jo Lee, Managing Director at Marmalade Marketing. Jo has been a marketer for 20 years, 16 of those within the recruitment sector. 4 years ago and 6 months after having her second baby, Jo decided to start up an agency - Marmalade Marketing as we say there's no right time to start a business. Darren is talking to Jo about her journey to being a business owner, her opinion on 'the colouring in department' and how recruitment marketing has shifted since the start of the pandemic. 


The Summary

With a young child at home and having just started a business what motivated you?


It was something Jo had always had in the plans and after a previous company went into insolvency during her maternity leave, Jo was faced with a choice of either finding a new job that would be flexible around her family or start her own agency and work at times in the day she was free. She learnt very quickly to prepare everything the night before so that nursery drop off could be stress-free. 


How have things changed and how is business now? 


It's challenging, talking clients over the Corona cliff has been tough for Jo, explaining to them with the analogy of arranging a dinner party and leaving without any explanation, that's what it's like to stop marketing completely. Their values are trust, practice and confidence. And even though a lot of their clients were in survival mode, her team took on even more responsibility. They've now recruited 2 new people to the team and have become multi-disciplined marketers, so as a business they've matured massively. 


The best feeling as a business owner is offering someone the job, are you the same? 


Completely and for Jo it's been amazing to work with savvy marketers who have an appetite to learn. Jo is especially proud to have been able to offer promotions and reward her staff during the pandemic. 


What was your entry point into marketing?


Jo's first job was at 8 years old with selling in her own mini shop. She and her twin both went to Manchester University to study before moving to London to work for a company with a start-up function. This sold fresher packs to the bigger companies which showed Jo her natural technique for selling. This was however too commercial for her and when she moved back up north she started working for the Big Issue. Whilst at the Big Issue Jo often had meetings over food which is something she has brought into Marmalade Marketing. 


You are very well educated, when hiring do you look for people with degrees or are you open to self-taught people?


Jo is very open to who she hires but notes that at University you learn more than just your studies, it shapes a person. But you can also go to University and not have a desire to do anything with it. So at Marmalade, it's all down to the person and their desire to learn rather than their education level. 


Have you got any advice for marketers who want to work more closely with their recruiters? 


People only know what they know and recruiters have such incredible knowledge that is untapped, so there is a fear of writing blogs, being on podcasts and being front and centre of the brand. For a recruitment marketer, it's about building that trust and confidence and offer a framework around it so they understand what they are doing and what their contribution is to the bigger picture. Making it known that they are a sum of the parts that contribute to the brand. 


The notion of the colouring in department, the marketing girl, how does that make you feel? 


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Jo thinks that notion is nonsense and if any prospect or client spoke to them like that they have a misunderstanding of the value of marketing so there is an education piece needed. But 20 years ago there was a disconnect between sales and marketing because the sales function was the BD and marketing was the backup function. There were often only marketing lead companies when there was a marketing presence on the board of directors. Technology is much more cost-efficient now and it takes going through the process of marketing to truly understand it, regardless of the number of recruiters you have. It's all about getting your technology to align sales and marketing. 


How do you advise a company that does minimal amounts of time and money on social media marketing?


Typically Marmalade is drafted in to make a strategy around that. It involves the BD efforts and the brand positioning and market placement. They'd make sure both are working in synergy with an internal person used to be the voice of marketing. Jo's goal is to get a marketing person on every board of directors as it took her 10 years pushing value to get there but now she has the framework to have bigger conversations around budgets and what should and should not be included in a marketers budget. This means not including job boards in the marketers budget. For Jo having a marketing budget involves delivering a strategic plan with a goal and purpose. Then the marketer, CEO and CFO can visibly see what's happening. 


What are you seeing in terms of smaller recruitment businesses doing marketing? 


These smaller companies know that if they nail their marketing strategy they will be operating at a level playing field to the bigger companies. In Jo's view, some of the bigger recruitment companies have become complacent so the smaller companies operating as scale-ups are naturally not risk-averse but everything is structured around reporting and analysis to make sure the performance is there. 


What's your favourite ever marketing campaign you've seen online?


Jo likes brands that tell a story, like the Innocent Smoothie drunk tweet and then Tesco's support for local businesses. 


Where can people find you online?


Marmalade Marketing Website




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