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  • Bio: Oscar Nieboer is the Group Marketing and Brand Director at Betfair, the UK’s largest online betting company. He read Philosophy at Exeter University and has an MBA from London Business School.

Oscar Nieboer

Oscar Nieboer is the Group Marketing and Brand Director at Betfair, the UK’s largest online betting company. Oscar gives us an insight into the exhilarating world of marketing…

The heart of the matter

Martin Sorrell once told me, ‘marketing is business and business is marketing’. There’s more to this statement than meets the eye. Basically what he is saying is that without customers you have no business, and that meeting and/or exceeding customer demand is the ultimate goal of any business.

Without a customer, you haven’t got business.

That’s why I chose marketing as a job – because it is the heart and soul of any business and unlike other functions embraces a wide range of things: research, creativity, strategy, planning and product development – and of course the customer! If you want to be centre stage in a business, you need to be centred on the customer and that means being in marketing.

Finding your niche

Like many people I had no real idea of what I wanted to do when I left university. Many people will tell you they know, but I never really believed them – I don’t believe you can really make an informed decision until you have tried and seen for yourself. For that reason in my year off I worked abroad and in the UK in a number of roles; investment banking, advertising, even cattle ranching.

However I was immediately drawn to the advertising world and the exciting combination of creative and business agendas. I was stunned by how something as intangible as a ‘creative idea’ can transform a company’s commercial health and can reposition an entire business of 1,000 people for growth in a way that no other tool can. It’s one of the few areas in business where intuition, creativity and vision really do make a difference and that appealed to me.

First steps

That initial experience formed my roadmap and three years later I joined Ogilvy & Mather as a graduate trainee. I wasn’t typical material, but agencies don’t always like the standard graduate and I was lucky to be championed by some really wonderful mentors. I spent 12 years in advertising, becoming a board director of JWT at 31.

Big names and big ideas

One of the great things about working in the ad world is that you work on lots of different clients. In my time I worked on Ford, Kellogg’s, Unilever, P&G, Kodak, Kraft, Camelot, Bacardi, The Daily Telegraph and Shell. This is great training as you learn fast on lots of different issues.

One of these was The National Lottery in the UK, where I ran the account for several years. This gave me my first insight into marketing and gambling.

This combination of marketing experience and sector knowledge proved invaluable as from there I subsequently worked at MGM Mirage as VP Marketing, MD of Virgin Games and now as Marketing Director of Betfair.

Words of wisdom

I have a few pieces of advice to anyone thinking about joining marketing:

  • Be courageous and willing to make mistakes.
  • Think strategically, but execute creatively.
  • Know your customer – not just the data but have an idea in your head of your target audience that you can relate to.
  • Don’t think of marketing as working in a big company’s marketing department – if you accept that marketing is really about creating customer demand then there are many ways to get into marketing.
  • Keep in mind the four Cs: customer, competition, creativity and cash – i.e. Who are we targeting? What is the competition doing? How does marketing cut through to that group and will marketing generate a return?

A bright future

Lastly I would ask the you to consider how fast the media landscape is changing and to contemplate the buzz from working in an environment that is continually changing and at the heart of change.

Of all jobs, marketing is at the front of this transition. As a result marketing is being continually challenged and reinvented by the changes in our media landscape and consumers media consumption habits – and this makes for a highly challenging but rewarding journey.

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