I recently caught up Chris Bishop, founder of 7thingsmedia – an award winning global digital media agency based in London, New York and Singapore who in their 6 year history have shaken up the digital marketing industry and cemented their proposition as one of the leading digital marketing industries on both sides of the Atlantic. Their role of honour includes winners of The Digitals, The Drum Network Awards, UK Search Awards and the European Search Awards to name just a few.
Chris launched 7thingsmedia by himself after learning the trade working in the digital industry for brands such as Hotel Chocolat, Tradedoubler and House of Fraser and then applying his knowledge to set up his own agency. Chris provides some fascinating insights on how 7thingsmedia all started, how he created a successful blogging community, his motivations for launching his own venture and what it takes to create a successful digital marketing career amongst many other topics…enjoy!
Tell us a little about Chris…
Founder & CEO of 7thingsmedia, a global digital media agency.
When did your digital career start?
It started when I was at college, my Business Studies tutor told me to take my passion for football and create a website for one of my assignments. It went from an initial project to setting up my first business; I had players writing (blogging) on the website, a very active community forum and advertising deals with companies such as Hyundai, all as a teenager!
7thingsmedia…..sell it to us in a tweet?
THE digital media agency
From a personal point of view, what was your motivation to set your own business up and step away from the “security” of an in house job?
It was my passion for digital that led my to set up an agency. Since being a teenager I decided that all I wanted to do was run a global digital media agency and work for and with some of the coolest brands in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed my roles at Johnson & Johnson, Tradedoubler, Hotel Chocolat and House of Fraser but my ambition was always there, evident for all to see. Looking back I didn’t really gauge the risk to be too high. I knew my discipline, I had a reason for being in it and I knew what I could, or more to the point, should achieve.
Ultimately, I view being in control of my own destiny to be more rewarding and offering far more security!
7thingsmedia are celebrating their 6th birthday this year and continue to pick up countless awards. What’s your point of difference and how do you ensure the agency stands out from the competition?
I’m probably doing ourselves a disservice but we don’t spend too much time on our agency’s positioning, we just do what feels natural. We’ve quickly become known within the industry for consistently delivery phenomenal results for our clients – and the news has spread. From being Marketing Directors well known secret, we are – year by year – becoming THE digital media agency that brands should work with.
Looking back at the past five years it is astounding to think brands that have directly approached the agency. When we speak to brands it is always with a consultative, knowledgeable, media channel agnostic approach. We are regularly informed this continues to be very unique stance.
What are the skills you look for in recruiting digital talent?
Ambition, talent and a hunger to learn. Apart from the above I wouldn’t use any other formula. Background, University, Experience all help (talent) but I’d recommend to not be solely focused on these.
For more senior roles you are looking for pragmatic and strategic thinkers, that aren’t afraid to say no to clients, or me for that matter!
How would you suggest a digital marketer develops their career to ensure they keep on top of the breadth of digital channel tactics e.g. Is it time to specialise in a specific vertical or take a broad approach?
If you want a rewarding career in digital, immerse yourself within in it. Take an interest in all aspects of the industry and never settle in any one specialism. It is great to have a specialism – for example, PPC – but your extra value as an employee with all that search experience comes with being able to hold your own in a conversation on emerging outdoor mobile technology, or Ecommerce logistical matters.
Know your strengths and weaknesses, and relentlessly improve both.
Any advice for a newbies moving into digital?
Send an amazing cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining why you want a career in digital, rather than just a job!
What’s on your reading list?
I’ve enjoyed reading the below recently and would highly recommend:
– Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki
– Priceless, William Poundstone
– Trading Up, Michael Silverstein & Neil Fiske
– Good To Great, Jim Collins
– Super Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt