Interview with Jane Clark, Director of VIE Marketing
How would you describe the core activity of VIE Marketing?
VIE Marketing is a small team of senior marketing consultants who provide high-level marketing expertise to small and medium businesses at an affordable rate. Our team of 6 is composed of very experienced women working part-time from home but with a minimum of 15 years industry experience. With few overheads, VIE Marketing is in a position to deliver to SMEs the kind of high level marketing expertise, usually only reserved for larger companies. We offer our clients marketing plans, marketing audits, campaign strategy, video production, website and graphic design, sponsorship and media relations. We have built a whole network of specialised marketing professionals including a video producer, web designers, copy writers, a media relations consultant and graphic designers.
Our clients work in very different sectors (IT, engineering, architecture, agriculture…). For each of them our objective is to define the uniqueness of their business and create a brand story. We truly believe that the best marketing captures the heart of a business and tells its story. Of course we need to adapt it to the target market, but that is the core of our approach. We also very much believe in peer driven marketing. Marketing has changed. People trust their peers rather than companies so we often base our campaigns on social media, blogs, online reviews and video testimonials rather than advertising. We encourage our clients to embrace new technology and overcome their reluctance to step into the social media arena. They are often scared to expose their business to negative feedback but we see it as an opportunity to address issues and achieve better customer service. No matter what, we are focused on results.
We are proud that our work has been recognised with a number of awards. Indeed, we have received the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) Award for New Brand, Product or Service Launch for the work we did with Farmer Gregie in launching Scenic Rim 4Real Milk. We also won the 2014 AMI Marketing Program of the Year. We were extremely happy that VIE Marketing won the overall award, as we were competing against big marketing corporate firms from around Australia.
Can you describe your personal background and the history of VIE Marketing?
My academic and professional path is bit unusual. I studied a Bachelor of Arts with the idea of becoming an archaeologist, but considering the job prospects in this sector (not many!), I decided to become a history teacher instead. However, the Department of Education had other ideas and allocated me a position as a French Teacher in central Queensland. While extremely challenging, the experience turned me into a fervent Francophile. I had studied French in high school, and while teaching, received a scholarship to study 9 months in Avignon. I also spent 8 months in Martinique in the French Caribbean, so my French became quite good. After teaching for about 6 years though, I needed a new challenge, so decided to study a Master of Business Queensland University of Technology. After graduating, I gained marketing experience in diverse sectors and industries such as financial services, technology, education, mining and professional services. I worked for large companies, marketing and communications agencies, government departments and small businesses.
After my first son came along, I stepped back from the corporate world and started freelancing. As a senior professional and a new mum, I found myself facing the same dilemma many women encounter when they become mothers: either retain your high level position in a company working long hours, but have no time for your family or work part time in a lower level support position with few challenges and responsibilities. It is a very unfortunate reality but the corporate world very rarely accommodates the needs of senior professional women (or men) who want to juggle career and children.
This is when and why I decided to start my own company, five years ago. As the founder and director of VIE Marketing I have chosen to surround myself with senior marketing women, mothers like me, who are keen to pursue a fulfilling career but also want to dedicate time to family life. There is such a huge pool of experience, talented women whose skills are being underutilised. My Consultants work on interesting and challenging projects, but at the same time can raise their kids. These women have an excellent track record in marketing and it appeared obvious to me that many SMEs would appreciate their expertise. So often a business owner will meet a senior account manager, then the work is delegated to a junior with 2 – 3 years' experience. We work with client the whole way – from brief to project delivery.
The company has grown organically through word of mouth and we’re going really well. The awards and the very positive feedback from our clients have been enough - in five years of business, I have had no need to do any marketing - which also keeps costs down.
How do you envisage the future of your company and how can FACCI help you achieve your objectives?
I have no interest in becoming a large agency, as I believe that by remaining small you keep the passion. Now, I work 5 days a week, but mostly during school hours and I generally manage to avoid working in the evening or over the weekend. I could work longer hours to drive growth, but I don’t measure success by revenue alone... it’s more important to me that I have balance in my life and can spend time with my 2 boys. Above all, I really love working with SMEs, because I find business owners are passionate about their product or service. This is why I’ve called my business VIE Marketing (which means LIFE in French).
As marketing is changing, our main challenge it to keep being informed and embracing new technology in order to provide clients with the latest strategies. My goal is to continue another 10 years at least, keep providing women with great skills and experience interesting work. We may enter more awards, as being recognised by your peers has far more credibility than throwing thousands at advertising. It reflects the way marketing is going these days.
As Sandra, my main senior marketing consultant, and I do speak French we would like to offer our help to French Small Businesses in Brisbane, in particular the newly established ones as they would really benefit from our experience and knowledge of the local market. Our help would be not only very valuable but also affordable, which is a key element when you start a business. The French-Australian Chamber of Commerce has provided us with high quality networking events throughout the year and we look forward to attend many more in 2016. It is wonderful meeting local businesses with links to France!
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