Case study: Girls in Marketing
With an ever-growing community, a following of 170K+ on social media, and a thriving e-learning platform, Girls in Marketing are making a big impact. We caught up with founder Olivia Hanlon to hear about their mission to support aspiring marketers, their future plans, and how Gather has helped them prepare for growth.
Girls in Marketing – what’s it all about?
It all started when I was in a corporate marketing role and wanted to connect with likeminded women in mid and junior positions. There’s lots of great communities out there but there wasn’t anything really for female talent at that level. So I thought I’d set one up! It started off as a side-project, a small community and a meet-up in Liverpool and it’s really snowballed over the past 3 years.
From May 2020 onwards we were really gaining traction on socials – we quickly hit 10k, then 12k, then 15k on Instagram, it was crazy really. There was obviously a need for that support and safe space, so I saw a real opportunity to share my knowledge and help people starting out in the industry. So I started doing webinars on things like Mailchimp – accessible for people working at that level, knowledge and price wise – and people loved them! Fast-forward and we’re now a team of four and one of the biggest online-learning platforms for marketers.
Social media has played a big part in your success, do you think it’s key to growth?
I think some people still undervalue social media. It’s a way for businesses and brands to build an authentic and organic community and that’s what more and more people want. There’s been a shift, perfect and polished doesn’t always cut it anymore – when you’re not afraid to be a bit raw, to show the truth, that’s when you really connect. For us we’ve built everything on honesty, transparency and authenticity, and our socials channels really reflect that. People buy from people, so I think you’ve got to show the highs and lows, and who you really are.
Do you think social media has a role to play in creating positive change in creative and tech industries?
It definitely has a role to play, and we’re really passionate about not just empowering girls in the sector but using our platform to help equalise the gender seniority gap. We shared a post recently around International Women’s Day and the response on LinkedIn was incredible and started lots of conversations. But, I guess it’s a question of whether it’s the right people talking. Are the decision-makers seeing and taking notice of those online conversations or is it just people on the ground?
You completed the Shift programme last year – how did you find it?
You don’t get fully-funded opportunities very often, so I jumped at the chance and it’s really benefited me and the business. It was a good general introduction to lots of aspect of running a business and it helped me grow as a leader. The breakout sessions were really useful – I’m not the best at networking and it made it easy to have conversations with people, and I took lots of really valuable insight and contacts with the community in Liverpool that I wasn’t really tapped into.
One session covered sales strategies and the risk and reward of high and low paying customers. It was really interesting hearing about how different people approached it and it opened our eyes to thinking about prospects in a different way. We’re about to sign a big ongoing contract with a big brand, and that session helped us see the potential in different working models.
You recently secured some growth funding – any tips for people looking for the same?
If I’m honest it was a challenging and involved process! We developed a business and investment plan last August and I think at one point I had nearly 100 possible funding channels on a spreadsheet – VC’s, funders, angels, companies. It’s tough when you come across obstacles and at times I wanted to give up but it was all worth it when we secured the right funding in January.
It sounds like a cliché, but I'd say if you're a start-up just keep going, if you feel like you've hit a wall, take a month or so away to reflect on whether you need to change your pitch and plan. I had a couple of months away from it at the end of last year and when we revisited it in January we were successful really quickly. Don’t be afraid to get feedback from the investors you’re not successful with – I think we learnt something from every one.
What does the future look like for Girls in Marketing?
We just want to keep having a positive impact – on our community, on the next generation and on our team. We’re recruiting a new member of the team so as a business we’re growing, and I’d love to be doing more work with young people, raising awareness of the industry and opportunities that are open to them. I’m sure not everything will go totally to plan, but we’re just looking forward to evolving and growing Girls in Marketing.
Find out more about Girls in Marketing at: girlsinmarketing.com