Girl Power

Girl power in the digital age

rosie the rivetter, girl power

By Rachel Mepham, Head of Digital at Digital Clarity

I am not a feminist.

I am an average female who works hard, worries about what I look like, what to wear, what I say and how I come across. I also happen to be Head of Digital at boutique agency, Digital Clarity. That isn’t an easy role and with the title comes pressures to sell, manage, coordinate and communicate at a high level.

Over 15 years I have seen the shift in digital marketing, especially search marketing. Going from an IT and technical strategy to a combination of tech, creativity, content, strategy, maths and algorithms, reporting and communication. Digital Clarity was one of the first agencies to translate the tech talk and complex algorithms of search into marketing talk.

One of the biggest shifts within this space has been male vs female roles within the industry.

Marketing and sales were originally dominated by men. Digital marketing brought changes with women leaders at the top, Kate Burns the first MD of Google UK, Christine Walker heading up Walker Media...etc... but 90 per cent of the stakeholders I was pitching were men.

When I started in this business, I am not ashamed to say, I hated sales. I was an account manager. What I didn't realise at the time, was I actually hated my view of what a sales person was: male with slicked back hair, shiny shoes and a tight-fitting suit. I certainly wasn't that, but I was meeting clients and media owners every week and selling the service, the value we were adding, the new opportunities and most importantly - selling me. I was actually quite good as a 'non-sales person' doing the sell.

However, there were and still are times where the row of men opposite you who you are pitching, are already decided that the male pitch before you (even with a much more basic pitch), was better, why? Because it was a guy.

I have sat in meetings and pitches holding all the cards. I had the knowledge, the answers, the solutions, yet the male colleague next to me was getting all the eye contact, all the questions directed their way and to be frank, I have been made to feel I should not be in the meeting at all.

So, ladies, how can we manage these kinds of situations and put some girl power back in our bloodstream!

  1. Clear your head. You are in that pitch or meeting for a reason. You have been requested to pitch or put forward to pitch or earned the pitch yourself. So have confidence in yourself.
  2. Realise that not all men are prejudiced. Think about it, on a day to day basis, how many men do you come across who are against women vs how many female bitches have you come across in your life. I am pretty sure I have been backstabbed by a woman more times than a man has discriminated against me.
  3. Things are changing. Although my point above says not all men are nobs, some definitely are. Some men are simply unable to accept female leadership and they comply to their stereotype. I have on many occasions been made to feel inadequate or inferior due to the behaviour of male company owners, MD's and CEO’s etc... but I strongly feel things are changing. The enterprise and corporate businesses are having to look for diversity, and the SMB's are having to hire the best person for the job in order to be successful. I am totally against giving people jobs just to tick a race, gender or age box, but I do think everyone should be allowed a crack at the whip. The interview process should be a level playing field for all, then the best go through, no matter who they are and the same goes for pitches. May the best person win.
  4. Be the best. It's a much more even playing field than a 100m sprint. Men should be no better at selling than women. In fact, there is research to say that in more consultative sales women have the upper hand as it comes down to listening and engaging in conversation rather than pushy sales techniques. Have confidence and bring your A game to that pitch, don’t lose it because you didn’t do the hard work.
  5. If you are unlucky enough to have a male chauvinist in the stakeholder line up then sometimes you have to do what you have to do. If appropriate call him out in front of the others, even if you don't win the pitch you will leave being memorable and may change a mindset or two.
  6. Be YOUR best. We can't all win at everything, we can't be the best at everything and we certainly can't do it all the time. So rather than comparing yourself to others constantly, compare yourself to who you were yesterday! (Borrowed from Jordan Peterson's 12 rules of life) See the progress you have made as an individual, the challenges you have overcome, the things you have achieved and put into perspective who you are compared to YOU.

If only I did this more often, the pitches and talks and presentations I have done would be delivered without constant self-doubt and questioning whether I was good enough. I am. You are. We just need a little more belief and we can nail it!

About the author

With over 15 years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Rachel heads up the team at Digital Clarity.
With a history in Paid Search (PPC) since before Google AdWords existed, Rachel is regarded by both clients and peers as one of the most experienced women in the digital space in the UK. Her approach and application to digital strategy planning has been used by some of the biggest brands as well the leading advertising and marketing agencies.


Girl power: why digital literacy should be on your radar



In an increasingly technology-driven world, it is essential that business owners understand exactly how to harness digital marketing to achieve their full potential.

But the rules are plentiful and the lines blurred, with no straightforward set of guidelines to follow. Each sector, campaign and target audience require a different approach. For many women venturing into the world of freelancing or self-employment for the first time, there is a distinct realisation that they lack the digital skills and knowhow needed to fast-track their road to entrepreneurial success. These women need to boost their Digital Literacy.

What is Digital Literacy?

“Digital Literacy” is a popular buzzword that can mean different things to different people. For Women On The Web, this phrase is in reference to how much understanding an individual or businesses possesses of the digital world and how it can benefit them. For many, this can be an intimidating phrase as the digital world is constantly developing.

Digital Literacy, to break it into two sections, can be viewed as two sets of skills; technological and digital. Again, there is not one set definition for these two categories however this is my interpretation:

Technology skills: Technological skills involve equipment. This is knowledge of computers, installing software, programming and network skills (WiFi, LAN etc).

Digital skills: Digital skills centre around the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct or organise business online, whether this be for marketing (social media, email etc) or organising (CRM systems, Quickbooks, etc.) your business. These are indispensable when using smartphones and other devices.

Why is raising digital literacy important?

At a basic level, raising digital literacy in women has been recognised as important and an area that many feel they need more training in. In a Women on the Web survey, over 90% of 100 surveyed business women agree that knowledge of technology and digital systems is required to generate success, but only 11% of respondents said they had a ‘high’ level of digital literacy, with 31 per cent of respondents believing they had little or no understanding of digital at all. With women making up almost 50 per cent of the workforce, it is clear that more needs to be done to equip them with the digital skills they need to succeed whether in the corporate world or that of self employment.

Whilst there will always be a requirement for the use of more traditional marketing techniques, it is now becoming an essential requirement that this forms part of a wider campaign that includes digital elements. Here are a few ways to become more digitally minded.

  1. Keep it simple - with so much advice out there, it can be hard to decipher which parts to take notice of and which to ignore. The best route is to keep it simple and focused. Take one profile at a time and make sure you really understand it and are working it well before moving on to the next. It’s far better to be managing one profile effectively than several profiles badly!
  2. Drill down the data - the Internet is your oyster when it comes to finding out about your customers! From who they are, where they browse online, their location and their interests, whatever you want to find out about them, there are statistics, figures and insights available to help.
  3. Staying up to date - the digital-world is fast paced and nothing stays the same for long. That’s why it is essential to keep an eye on the latest developments, tools and techniques that could aid your strategy. Simple ideas such as setting up Google Alerts for digital marketing news could help you stay ahead of the curve.

It’s clear that Digital Literacy is an area that many could benefit from developing, but luckily, there are a great many resources online to help you do just that. All you need to do is invest the time and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards.

About the Author

Carol Mann is a digital literacy expert with 25+ years experience in sales and marketing. Her organisation Women on the Web (WOW) is dedicated to equipping women with the necessary digital tools for a successful business. More information can be found on Women on the Web.