Tom isn’t the first aspiring archaeologist to turn to digital marketing…
During this blog series, we’re tracking down accomplished digital marketing professionals from a variety of backgrounds to talk us through their career journeys. Our aim is to inspire digital marketing jobs seekers, aspiring freelancers and the trailblazing entrepreneurs amongst you!
Meet Tom Baker, he’s the brain behind Amazon and eCommerce consultancy, FordeBaker specialising in Amazon marketing, SEO, Google Analytics and Performance Marketing.
He’s been helping a range of global businesses develop their marketing strategies to successfully grow. But before starting his own agency, what did Tom have planned for his career?
Over to you, Tom…
What did you want to be when you grew up?
The footballer bit of Ryan Giggs. Other than that, I always liked the idea of being an archaeologist. Looking back, Time Team probably featured too heavily in my teenage years…
What and where was your very first job?
My very first job was a newspaper boy and then I graduated to working in a supermarket. A classic career trajectory in the Midlands at the turn of the millennium.
When and how did you first discover digital marketing / your specific industry sector?
I kind of fell into it. I moved to London in 2007 after university, living with my parents and travelling. I didn’t have any strong urge to go into any particular sector. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to work in a sector that I was passionate about.
At the time I was obsessed with poker. I was looking for roles on Monster whilst playing poker and saw a job for a company called PartyGaming. I played on their online poker network so thought I’d enjoy working there. I had no idea about the role. Having an interest in what the company actually did was the only criteria. Sometimes you can overthink these decisions.
Going with my gut instinct and following my interests has served me well. As I’ve progressed, I’ve been more intentional about my career development but that only came after I had a much better understanding of marketing and the routes I could take.
Share a mistake you made or an event you most regret from your career:
That’s a hard one. I know it’s a cliché, but I don’t have any specific regrets. I guess looking at it from the perspective of what would have helped my career, there are two things that I would have done differently. I’d have made a conscious effort to work for businesses on the up. You’ll learn far more about what good looks like in a company that is healthy and growing.
Secondly, I wish I’d had more mentorship in the early stages of my career. That might have been a formal mentorship but definitely learning from and working with people that have been seriously successful would have accelerated my career at an earlier stage.
Jumping in a time machine, what pearls of wisdom would you give your 18-year-old self?
Travel more. Way more. Teach a language or follow some other non-work pursuit and don’t worry about jumping into work before you’re ready to commit to it. I have had two travelling stints in my life and got a lot out of them, for very different reasons. I used the second stint (travelling with my wife, who also works remotely) to set up my consultancy. There were fewer financial pressures and so I had a longer runway to build my offering and clientele.
What industry skill do you wish you’d learned sooner, and why?
This isn’t an industry-specific skill but thinking about the wider implications of your work and the team you work in can be a big turning point. So, instead of thinking if I run these ads, I can increase the CTR or decrease the CPC, think about the profit that can be achieved from that activity and how it helps the business to achieve its larger objectives. It forces you to think more strategically and have a bigger impact. That’s how you get noticed.
Avinash Kaushik talks about this a lot in his newsletters. He uses the phrases ‘local and global maxima’. I recommend reading up on this (and many of his other ideas). If you can’t see how your work aligns to profit (or some other strategic goal) then ask your manager. They might not know; in which case you’re probably not working in an effective marketing team. If they do know then more often than not, they’ll be delighted to see that you’re thinking in this manner.
Don’t be afraid to ask these types of questions.
If you were to publish your autobiography in 20 years’ time, what would it be titled?
Errrr that’s a good question! How about ‘Guess it’s about time, lord’. Tom Baker. Dr. Who. Timelord. No? I’ll get my scarf…
What is the one thing you want to be remembered for from your career, and why?
I set up my Amazon and eCommerce consultancy, fordebaker.com in 2018. If I was to be remembered for anything then I’d hope it would be my commitment to helping businesses grow and training people to achieve their best. A lot of my consultancy work is about upskilling internal teams. I take a lot of pleasure out of seeing others develop.
Big thanks to Tom for sharing his career story with us, he included some great tips for starting out in digital marketing and how travelling can be an important aspect of anyone’s career, whether you’re starting your own business or not!
Keep an eye out for more in our ‘Making Of A Marketer’ series as we’ll be continuing to publish new editions on a regular basis from equally inspiring digital marketing experts.
Could your career story encourage others to further their digital marketing careers? Or do you know someone whose story needs to be told? Get in touch with me, Emma on firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re looking to explore a career in digital marketing, visit our contact page.