After two decades of working in marketing for the Accounting and Legal sectors, Alison Woodhead decided to make her experience available to all industries by setting up her own consultancy. Alison now helps companies who want to grow but aren't sure how.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I started in global cosmetics brand management with MAC and then did a natural segway to Accountancy with Deloittes!!
That took me into professional services as I went from Accountants to working with Lawyers for over 20 years, working my way up from Marketing Manager to Marketing & BD Director in Top 100 law firms.
Four years ago, I decided to go it alone and set up ClientsEye to offer my years of experience to smaller businesses, and I haven't looked back. I now work with businesses in many sectors, from Construction to Real Estate to Biomass to Retail and everything in between, and I love the variety.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I work with companies who want to grow but don't know how to get there by getting more business from existing clients or going into new markets.
I build a marketing strategy to provide a roadmap for their business plan. Once we have the 'how', we then look at the 'why?'. This focuses on the brand and what do they really want to become famous for. It involves creating the building blocks and then putting them in the correct order because, when the foundations are set properly, everything else starts to flow much more easily.
What gets you excited about your industry?
Consultancy allows me to work with so many varied businesses at a really exciting time for them. Usually, when they are looking for something different to do or communicate.
I also love working with business owners who are so enthusiastic and energised about their work. Their passion makes it that much more authentic and real, and they aren't bound by the strings of working for an organisation, so the decision making and the ability to really make a difference is a much quicker process. No two days are the same, and I love how open to new ideas and processes entrepreneurs can be.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Have an open mindset, ask open-ended questions and put yourself in your client's shoes to really understand their perspective. I love working with different businesses and have a genuine interest in them and what drives their owners. Wake up thankful, and don't take yourself too seriously. Life is too short.
What, or who inspires you?
I find inspiration in different things every day. My two daughters inspire me to do better and give them a role model in such a fast-changing world they are growing up in.
The human spirit's strength inspires me and what people can overcome to achieve their goals, especially strong women.
I also take inspiration from people who bounce back - no matter what - to achieve their dream and those who don't just go with the flow for a quiet life. Life needs disruptors to make change possible. Nothing is out of reach with that approach.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
Constant communication either online, reading, watching, listening or talking to people and businesses. I am still learning and do every day, and when that stops, I'll know it's time to hang up my hat and do something else.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
Having directed global rebrand projects, the biggest challenges have always been to manage change and acceptance within organisations and cultures, especially when they are across different countries.
Another big challenge was the movement of launch dates which meant managing a UK launch when I was out in Sri Lanka! But the right technology and communication mean we can do our roles from anywhere now. The challenge is in advanced planning. My team at the time did an outstanding job, and we really pulled it together seamlessly, which was such a rewarding achievement.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Travel business class everywhere and install a swimming pool!
I'd pay off all the mortgages of those closest to me so they could live without any financial worries. I'd travel to every Grand Prix race in the season, buy a Lamborghini Sian, the new hybrid and invest the rest so I can travel around the world using the skills I have to help all the causes closest to my heart.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
Definitely a walk with my pooch, Enzo. After recently walking 108 miles for charity, it's now become a routine I don't like missing.
Then a dip in the hot tub, another investment in lockdown, where we can have uninterrupted family chats now, followed by listening to my latest audiobook. Currently, I'm on Walking with Ghosts, Gabriel Byrne's memoirs, which is narrated by him personally in such a relaxing Irish lilt. It's perfect chillout material.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That personal relationships still remain at the heart of what we do, and not everything is replaced or substituted by technology. Marketing has always had people at its core and how they adapt and respond.
Technology and the evolution of it has, and will continue to have, a major influence on buying patterns and preferences. However, we can't lose sight that people's wants, needs and human behaviours are still at the core of our industry.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
Untamed by Glennon Doyle was life-changing for me and almost every woman I know who has read it. Any Human Heart by William Boyd is still one of my favourite books of all time.
Bryony Gordon's book Glorious Rock Bottom is one of my favourite stories about overcoming adversity.
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