A career in sales marketing and strategy wasn’t what Tamsin thought she would pursue as a career. However, after mastering the skill of selling Tamsin went on to pitch sales for Time Out, later joining the Creative Solutions team. Tamsin now resides at TikTok HQ as a brand strategy lead and has played her part in growing the company! We sat down with Tamsin to chat about TikTok’s major growth, what makes a good pitch, and her career highlights so far!
How did you get into working in Brand Strategy and what was your previous career experience?
Marketing was never an industry I'd considered at school or even university - so my career journey so far has felt quite spontaneous. My next job move has always been dictated by finding something specific I loved in my current job and leaning on that to take me forward.
My first role at an online listings company, Yelp - involved selling digital advertising to small businesses over the phone. From that, I realised I loved the buzz that came with sales, so when a similar role came up at one of my favourite magazines selling advertising to restaurants (also a favourite thing of mine) I was thrilled when I got offered the job.
Once I had a couple of years of sales under my belt, I jumped at the opportunity to join the agency sales team at Time Out which involved pitching their print and digital advertising proposition to media agencies who represented big brands. What I most enjoyed in that role was the more strategic side - using my brand and product knowledge to generate proposals demonstrating how brands could reach their target audience most effectively. This led me to join the Creative Solutions team at Time Out after a creative strategist role opened up. In this department, I was tasked with winning large scale partnerships by pitching creative ideas and strategies across print, digital, social, and events, that allowed brands to connect with Time Out users in a natural way.
After six years, it was time for a change, and the Brand Strategy role at TikTok provided an opportunity for me to employ both my sales and creative strategy experience to help build the TikTok For Business proposition in Europe.
Whilst working at TikTok, what has it been like watching the brand grow so vastly?
I joined TikTok because I wanted an adventure - a job that would push me out of my comfort zone, and it has.
When I arrived 18 months ago, the team was relatively small (but mighty) and our role was to build the foundations of TikTok For Business. This involved establishing our narrative as a brand, sharing our mission, and educating the industry on the value of our advertising proposition.
Being the first to do something can be as daunting as it is exciting, but this has taught me so much - particularly the importance of adopting a growth mindset. It's so easy to get caught up with getting things right and perfect the first time, but when a business is growing quickly and changes are constant - it's all about allowing yourself to test and learn and be ready for change at any moment. There's no other platform like it out there, so it's all about paving our unique path.
What does your day to day look like?
No day is the same at TikTok, and variety is definitely an attraction of the role.
The core responsibility of my team is to generate work that helps to drum up demand for advertising on our platform and demonstrate strategic best practice so brands can get the most out of TikTok in the long term.
So, this may involve presenting a thought leadership piece at an industry event, delivering a strategic workshop for a brand so they can maximise their presence on TikTok, or collecting insights on our community to tell a story that inspires brands in a particular category. Having to research food trends on TikTok to inform a recent piece of work for a snack brand was good fun!
What is your favourite part of the job?
When you get to see your strategy come to life and drive success for a brand. Earlier this year, I supported a brief for a period brand to normalise period talk so young women can access all the information they need to know without feeling embarrassed. It was a joy to watch the content go live, and it attracted an overwhelmingly positive response from our community.
What would you consider one of your career highlights?
It's so hard to choose just one - but I'd say a recent highlight was hosting a career workshop for young female students. Part of the workshop involved briefing the students to come up with a TikTok campaign that championed diversity and inclusion, and supporting them through the process. It means a great deal to be able to share your career experience to help others, but it made me realise how much we can learn from those younger than us when it comes to creativity and culture. I was so impressed with how thoughtful and honest the students' responses were, and how well they articulated their ideas.
What advice would you give to anyone starting out working in strategy?
In order to be a trusted adviser to brands and help them to form successful ideas and strategies, it's key to keep on top of cultural trends, research and data. Ultimately, the more a brand understands about a media platform, their target consumer, and the culture they're a part of, the more they can resonate with them.
So my advice is to be curious. Absorb insights from anywhere and everywhere and think about how they can enrich your strategic thinking and creativity - that means looking beyond the obvious places. A perfect example of this was when a colleague of mine was inspired by a Heston Blumenthal podcast about food, discussing the link between sound and scent - which she later applied to a piece of work that inspired fragrance brands on how they could capitalise on sound in their ads. Connecting the dots by turning learning into an actionable insight is at the heart of brand strategy.
How do you see brand strategy changing in the future?
With regards to the role itself, it feels as though it will have to expand to encompass a growing number of touchpoints. The media landscape is only becoming more varied and vast - the rise of live stream shopping is just one example. This, and other emerging avenues will only continue to provide fresh and exciting opportunities for brand strategists to get stuck into in the future, so they can help brands to navigate with ease and effectiveness.
Words: Grace Goslin