By James Ladds
As a Music student at the University of Bristol, my exposure to the world of marketing was non-existent. After finishing my second year, during a particularly strong panic about career opportunities, (they tend to be quite frequent) I decided to explore something new which might quash both my Mum’s and my anxieties!
Marketing is quite a mysterious term from the outside. I wasn’t picturing a ‘Mad Men-esque’ style office, don’t get me wrong, but I just didn’t know what to expect. Nevertheless, it is obviously a large part of a modern business that to at least know how it works on a surface level would be invaluable.
So I had an idea of what to do. Now, how to do it? Initially, I planned to find an opportunity in Bristol, (where I live as a student) perhaps with a small company. My tutor had pointed me in the direction of the University of Bristol Internship Programme; designed to give small businesses money with which to pay interns minimum wage. Helpfully, you could either apply to pre-registered businesses, or you could find your own. “Aha!” I thought – it’ll be easy to get a position. After all, the internship is designed to give you experience. Even if I don’t have any marketing experience I can learn… of course, this naive view resulted in lots of rejection.
Nevertheless, I resolved to look for something closer to home; Devon is beautiful in Summer and I knew of a couple of companies to apply to. Fortunately, my old school West Buckland has an incredible network of alumni. I thought it would be a good idea to contact them and see whether any companies sprang to mind.
Needless to say, Roots was at the top of their list.
I must’ve appeared like a complete nuisance when I initially contacted Katie! I had been warned by my old school that Roots are and have been extremely busy. They had previously taken on work experience, but there was no guarantee that they still wanted to do so again. Oh, and Katie and Simon were getting married in two weeks… Ironic that as a musician I could get the timing so wrong. In spite of all of these factors, Katie agreed that I should send over my CV and we could have a chat about the programme.
That’s how, on the 6th August 2018, I wandered into Roots HQ in Bideford. Of course, I was nervous about the ease with which I would adapt to Marketing. How well would I understand concepts? Would I have to learn how to code? Just what does marketing mean on a technical level?!
I might be used to Facebook and Twitter, but what if I was asked to do something way beyond what I could do. Of course, these odd neuroses were completely unfounded. Katie and Simon were exceptionally informative about subjects such as SEO, social media management and how they like their tea!
Jokes aside, I feel as if I have learnt an enormous amount. Of course, I was starting from a place of ignorance, however, having heard stories of friends whose internships consisted of filing, sitting around and having no responsibility; my experience has been extremely different. From writing blogs to social media scheduling, amending websites to helping to build keyword maps, I have been asked to do a lot!
I feel as if I have integrated well into the small team here.
Reading & Reaping
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is crucial for any modern business. Standing out on Google is the modern-day equivalent of foot-fall. Keyword mapping, back-links and site credibility are just a few areas that determine how far up on Google’s search result your page is. In order to improve your position, you have to perform an audit on your site, checking for keyword density, back-link quality and readability amongst myriad other factors. Google’s updated algorithm means that sites can no longer cram keywords into the text, or other areas in order to get results; the site should first and foremost be for consumers.
Following the audit, it’s been my role to improve some areas of the site that need an overhaul. Blogs are a great way to add depth to your site, as well as targeting those all-important long-tail keywords! As a result, I went about adding some content to sites, altering others and generally tinkering to get better results. Already, a month on, the results are looking promising. Increased traffic and improved rankings on Google, Bing and other search engines.
Whilst I have had to learn fast, I feel confident that I have made a difference. Thanks have to go to West Buckland School and The University of Bristol for making this opportunity possible. Of course, Roots have been incredible. Generous with knowledge, time and effort; I am extremely grateful and happy to have had this opportunity.