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27 March 2024


S10 - E4: From Apprentice to Marketing Manager – Olivia Hullah

At just 22 years old, Olivia is the Marketing Manager at Trust Electric Heating, having started her journey as a marketing apprentice, just by chance. Her dedication lies in promoting Trust’s sustainable and award-winning electric heating through disruptive and ethical marketing. Olivia is equally passionate about apprenticeships, small business growth, and personal development.

Podcast overview

Join Olivia and Asif on this podcast episode as they share Olivia’s incredible journey from a marketing apprentice to the Marketing Manager at Trust Electric Heating, all by the age of 22. The episode delves into the challenges and triumphs of marketing radiators ethically in a Net Zero landscape while making it exciting and personal. Get ready for an insightful conversation that explores the unfiltered life of working in a small company, apprenticeships, the sustainable future, and the dynamic world of marketing.

Podcast questions

  • Can you tell us about your transition from being a marketing apprentice to becoming the Marketing Manager at Trust Electric Heating? What inspired you to take this path?
  • Trust Electric Heating is focused on the Net Zero landscape. How do you approach the challenge of marketing radiators ethically in today’s climate-conscious world?
  • What strategies have you employed to make radiators, a seemingly boring product, exciting and appealing to your audience?
  • As a young professional, what advice would you give to others considering apprenticeships as a viable alternative to traditional education?
  • Can you share some of the key lessons you’ve learned and the strategies you use to lead your team effectively or how you’ve grown the brand in the fast-paced marketing world, with little experience?

0:00:05 – Asif Choudry
Hello and welcome to another episode of the You’re my Concert podcast and I’m your host, asif Chaudhry. Today, my guest is Olivia Huller. At just 22 years old, olivia is the marketing manager at Trust Electric Heating and, having started her journey as a marketing apprentice just by chance, her dedication lies in promoting trust, sustainable and award-winning electric heating through disruptive and ethical marketing. Olivia is equally passionate about apprenticeship, small business growth and personal development. So, olivia, thank you for joining me and it’s a pleasure to welcome you on the podcast.

0:00:39 – Olivia Hullah
Yes, thank you for having me. It’s nice to be here.

0:00:42 – Asif Choudry
Okay, so we’re going to do some quick fire, getting to know your questions, so let’s kick off with what’s your most played song on your Spotify playlist.

0:00:53 – Olivia Hullah
Superstition by Stevie Wonder. Good song, which might be a surprise to you. Good song. Yeah, it’s a good song. Good song, I like that one.

0:01:00 – Asif Choudry
I like that one so excellent. So which famous person would you invite to dinner, and why?

0:01:07 – Olivia Hullah
So mine definitely is Grace Beveley. She owns the CEO of Tala, which is a sustainable clothing gym brand, and she also owns an app which does like workouts. But really interesting career journey because she studied music at Oxford Uni. So bit of a shift.

0:01:28 – Asif Choudry
So, yeah. And then finally, three words to describe you.

0:01:33 – Olivia Hullah
That’s really hard. I’m just going to say one which I’m just going to say enthusiastic is the one that’s good, that’s how I’m going to go One to the value of three there.

0:01:41 – Asif Choudry
So I’ve got a couple of points here I’ve got to mention. So you’re going to be running the London marathon later this year, so you’re in the height of your training now, aren’t you? So what stage are you on your training schedule?

0:01:53 – Olivia Hullah
Yes, I’m literally mid mid training and I’m on week eight. I’ve got eight weeks to go. I ran just over half a marathon at the weekend in Manchester. The legs are definitely sore, but you know we’re just getting through it. Never run a marathon before, so it’s certainly a challenge, but something I like to you know.

0:02:13 – Asif Choudry
yeah take my hat off to you Now. That’s fantastic, so, and good luck with that, and the whole comms in our community will be, I’m sure, supporting you in spirit as you pound those 26 odd miles. And also, we’re recording towards the end of February. You just found out about your degree results, so, like you know, they were fantastic, so do you want to share those with the listeners?

0:02:36 – Olivia Hullah
Yes, so just found out that I finished my digital marketing degree apprenticeship and I got a first class honours. I got 93%, which is crazy, yeah. So a bit of a weird time really. I just got a really random email saying, oh, you’ve got a first class honours and I was just like, all right, it’s nice. So, yeah, it’s been, you know, challenging but really exciting last three years and it’s nice to finally have, you know a little, some few letters after my name.

0:03:03 – Asif Choudry
Congratulations on that, and well, well deserved. You’ve obviously put a lot of hard work into that. So the title of the podcast today is from apprentice to marketing manager, and I mentioned that at the ripe old age of 22. So in this episode, livy is going to share her incredible journey from a marketing apprentice to the marketing manager at Trust Electric Eating All by the age of 22. So fantastic achievements so far in your career, and there’s lots more to come, I’m sure. But this episode is going to delve into the challenges and triumphs of marketing radiators ethically in a net zero landscape, while making it exciting and personal. So that’s going to be the interesting on that. So you know, get ready for an insightful conversation that explores the unfiltered life of working in a small company, apprenticeships, the sustainable future and the dynamic world of marketing. So, livy, I’m going to kick off with the first question. So can you tell us about your transition from being a marketing apprentice to being the marketing manager at Trust Electric Eating and what inspired you to take this path?

0:04:08 – Olivia Hullah
Yeah. So to be honest, I didn’t really take the path. It was kind of pure fate. I was obsessed with reading books so I wanted to go to uni, as you were all pushed to, and I was a covered A level year so I didn’t really have a choice and I was left without a place for a year, wanted to go traveling, the airport shut. So I thought what else can I do? And market electric heaters? And market electric heaters, know. So I one of my friends from school and message me asking if I wanted to do a digital marketing degree, apprenticeship For electric heating, and I was like what is marketing? What is electric heating? And I’ve already been heard of any of these terms and I just thought you know what, I’ll give it a try. If I don’t like it, I can always go to uni in September. Fast forward three years later. Obviously, I’m still here, I’ve just got my degree.

But it wasn’t really a path that I chose and I think that was the beauty in it for me. I found something purely by chance that really ticked all of my boxes and from, you know, analyzing data to actually being able to write content, everything I loved about English and school and academia kind of translated into marketing. And then, obviously, working in SME, I was thrown in heavily at the deep end. My director just kind of put me on loads of agency calls. You said just learn, essentially.

And I think that’s been the biggest takeaway really. It’s kind of like throw yourself in at the deep end because that’s how you learn. When you don’t know anything you know. That’s when you kind of are open to learning and to development. It’s all been kind of self taught alongside of some degree. And then, as the company is growing, I’ve grown with it, which has been great. And so three years ago when I first started, there was like 10 of us. It was just me doing all the marketing, picking up the phone here and there, doing a bit of finance, proper SME life, and now we’ve got a team of 37, so like more than three times, and I have a team of two under me too. And so, yeah, I think really the path from apprentice to manager has been a mix of just hard work and getting stuck in there and making mistakes, but also realising that it’s all right to not know everything. Yeah, that’s great.

0:06:21 – Asif Choudry
And a lot, of, a lot of people in this profession have fallen into it, and so you’re not alone in that front. So you said you talked there about going into management. What’s it like then, being a manager and managing people?

0:06:35 – Olivia Hullah
Yeah, I suppose that’s really interesting, I think because I’m I always call myself homegrown, but I think because I’ve done all the small tasks and I still do a lot of the small tasks, and it makes me a better manager because I can understand the pain, I can understand the joys of each of the job and I can really understand what they’re doing on a daily basis. So for me, while it is management, it’s more of a case of me trying to make their lives easier where I can, because I fully understand what they’re doing day in, day out, and and so you know we’ve got I’m looking because my team’s really young compared to the rest of the company, which I’ve tried to bring that kind of energy. And so, yeah, management to me, even though, like now, talking about I’m like, oh my god, I’m a manager and it’s kind of just come quite naturally because I’ve done the job for you know however long, and so I suppose that’s come quite, I hope, naturally Excellent.

0:07:32 – Asif Choudry
Great, and we’ll have to get your two team members on the podcast one day and ask them the question what’s Olivia like as a manager?

0:07:40 – Olivia Hullah
Yeah, well, I always make them do. I’m so about, I always make them do quizzes. I was doing like, what kind of animal quiz are you the other day, you know, to find out whether, yeah, I love psychometrics personality traits and stuff like that Excellent.

0:07:52 – Asif Choudry
Yeah, so let’s, let’s ask you then so trust electric heating, then, is focused on the net zero landscape, so how do you approach the challenge specifically? They’re marketing radiators ethically in today’s climate conscious world and there’s no problem plugging trust electric heating, by the way, so you can fire away with a website address and stuff like that, because it’s a fantastic product and I’ve learned just through speaking to you. So, yeah, go, go for that then.

0:08:18 – Olivia Hullah
Yeah, I suppose that’s like a bit of like a two part answer, because first thing is, how do you make electric heating exciting and sexy, as I like to call it, which is quite hard because you know the heat, the radiators, and we’ve done that by a kind of a human approach. When I came in, we were very corporate, we’re very cold and a bit, you know, old school, and my approach was just make it as human as possible. Video and personalization across all the business, from websites, email, automation, and that’s where it’s really helped us position ourselves as now the UK’s most awarded electric heating company. Obviously, the product is great, but the things we’re doing in terms of positioning and marketing is really, you know, putting us on that pedestal. But then you have the whole net zero landscape, which is a complete minefield, and sometimes I do get frustrated because it’s extremely hard. First of all, with the whole greenwashing messages at the moment, how do you cut through that noise when everyone else is talking about eco?

And but secondly, we’re coming up against two major obstacles in the electric heating world, which is number one government policy was innovated, a product that’s too innovative for the policies, and so, while we’re talking about net zero and we’re talking about, you know, this great product that saves money on your heating bills.

We currently can’t get into big contracts because of the slow pace of the government policies, so that’s something we have to consistently fight fires with in our daily comms. And another thing is the heating landscape itself. Our business was called trust electric heating because there’s not a lot of trust in the electric heating industry. There’s a lot of underhand sales processes and kind of misconceptions about actual what does a product do and lead a misleading claims. And so we sat on a task to back every claim with scientific evidence with the University of Huddersfield, which obviously is used across all of our marketing to show that we’re not just you know this human brand with this great product, but we’ve actually got the science to show for it. And so it’s a big. It’s a big, can be a big monster, but it’s also, you know, a really exciting place to be in.

0:10:29 – Asif Choudry
It’s interesting that you use the science because, as a manufacturing company, ourselves at resource, we do, you know, we have a printing operation, so we have personality, the same way you guys do in our approach to marketing and speaking to clients, as you should do from a customer friendly perspective. But we had our net zero targets validated from the science based target initiative, the SBTI, because, you’re absolutely right, the science element is that proof and that evidence based on the numbers and what you’re actually doing.

0:11:02 – Olivia Hullah
So, rather than just loose commitments, yeah, and that’s so true because marketing, whilst it’s wonderful, you know, we’re all markets is here, but like it can also can be quite toxic in terms of people can market the other way and sometimes they don’t need the scientific proof to, you know, evidence it. So there’s that, and we try to hold ourselves accountable as we can, you know, to prove the claims that we make, absolutely.

0:11:26 – Asif Choudry
I think that’s where the ethics come in from a marketing perspective as well, and also a company perspective. The ethics are absolutely crucial because, as a market yourself, you have to be comfortable in what you’re actually promoting. I met many marketers who will continue or have a long term career promoting products for a company where they don’t believe in the company or they don’t believe in the products or they’re not right for them. So you know, hats off to you for doing that and helping trust to actually market that way as well.

0:11:56 – Olivia Hullah
I think as well. It’s challenging the status quo, not to, you know, get on my soapbox but, like in the electro-kating industry, it’s quite norm to not provide the facts or to not get certain accreditations, but we’ve challenged all of those, no matter the cost, and that’s a key takeaway that I’ve found within the marketing. That itself speaks volumes to a customer, and so that’s also helped to differentiate us as well.

0:12:20 – Asif Choudry
So you talked, then, about some of the strategies that you’ve employed to to make radiators, which, as you said, can be seemingly boring product, and to make it exciting and appealing to your audience. So are there any other things beyond the science that you’ve, that you’ve used, maybe the channels or something like that?

0:12:38 – Olivia Hullah
Yeah, video is a big one and we’ve before, because you find it’s a lot of brochures, a lot of you know print material. We kind of threw all that in the bin and alongside the eco policies too, and with you know no printing, and just kind of focused on video and photos, really just to kind of across everything. So, like, we’ve obviously got a dedicated YouTube channel but we put video content alongside everything on the website we created. We call it the trust ed centre, where we actually educate the consumer on electrokeetin, whether that be our solution or not, and really we took kind of like well, our mission is to help tackle net zero targets with innovation and education, and so within our strategies we basically try to educate but also show that we’re innovating at the same time. And so, whether that be via, you know, personal email strategy that we’ve employed to making the website super personal and it’s just kind of trying to get that you know that, that message across, that and as well, I suppose this is a different bit of a different point.

Most electrokeetin companies they talk about, you know, money-saving and how great the product is and it’s, you know, superior and which is great, don’t get me wrong, we talk about that, and but sometimes people forget that electric heating is an essential, because you’re buying warmth. You’re not buying like some fancy shutters or you know a really exquisite couch, you’re buying warmth, and that’s the messages we wanted to convey. Warmth is essential and heating should be looked upon as something that you actually do find quite interesting to keep you and your family warm. And how do you, you know, keep yourself warm and you live in room, if you’re an older lady or you’ve got a child in your bedroom, what’s the most economical way to do that? But also that you actually understand how it works and what it does, and you can work your thermostat, and so it’s a mix of all of those things, I think, and true customer understanding. For us, we’ve always been led by the consumer and we’ve kind of shifted our marketing towards their feedback, which is really important.

0:14:47 – Asif Choudry
I think that’s a key part. You know you’ve got to do and operate where your customers are, and their customers are the ones who will decide product trends and what’s right for them and things like that, and companies have to innovate to to deliver on that, that demand and those wants and needs of the customers. So then tell us then. So you’ve obviously made the what is a seemingly boring product. You’ve marketed it well and ethically as well and brought some disruption to that whole sector then. But we’re going back to you being going from an apprentice to a marketing manager as a young professional. What advice would you give to others considering apprenticeships as a viable alternative to the traditional education route?

0:15:27 – Olivia Hullah
I would just say go for it. And I wish I’d known what I knew, knew, know now, three years ago, because if you’d have told me I would have made that choice. Mine happened by fate. I think it’s just obviously explore your options if you’re considering uni or an apprenticeship, but also if you do go down the apprenticeship route, like don’t be scared to make the mistakes and just throw yourself under the deep end because you know we’re so quick when you get like a bit of experience and you know it’s like the curse of knowledge, isn’t it? We’re like oh, we know this works and that works, whereas as a 19 year old, when I started I knew nothing about marketing. I knew nothing about email flows or how to make a video, and that really really propelled me to, kind of, because I had no experience, I just threw myself under the deep end and spun. I was a sponge. I tried to sponge every kind of ounce of learning and really trying to understand how this whole marketing thing worked.

0:16:24 – Asif Choudry
You know that’s one of the points of difference, then, from an apprenticeship where you’ve got literally on the job learning, but that is supported by the professional learning as well, the educational elements. So tell us a little bit, expand on that for those people who don’t know anything about apprenticeships and might be considering it.

0:16:43 – Olivia Hullah
Yeah, so in my degree apprenticeship and most degree apprenticeships it’s basically full-time employment nine to five and you do 20% off the job training, and during those that 20% you’re either at uni studying the actual degree, but most of the actual degree studies based on the workplace. So it might talk about marketing principles or marketing models, but how do they apply to the workplace? And you see, for me it’s funny because we talked about, like my degree at the start. Obviously it hasn’t been an accomplishment. It’s an accomplishment but also it’s kind of just been my job and that’s kind of just been like a great part of it, because everything I did in my degree I was doing it work anywhere and so it didn’t really feel like an extra qualification, it just felt like it was an extension of what I’m doing at work, but just in a bit of an academic way, which was obviously some things I’ve taken from my degree and brought back to work, couldn’t vice versa.

0:17:41 – Asif Choudry
So that’s one of the key differences, because you’re traditionally traditional education, you’re studying for three, maybe four years and then you get to apply that theory in business, where you’ve been able to do that, and do you think that’s been a key consideration? Has that been a key benefit to you then, in terms of the same period of time of three years of study? But you’ve been doing it at work every day.

0:18:04 – Olivia Hullah
Well, yeah, definitely. I mean I’m 22 now, I’ve got a degree, I’ve got no debt, I’ve got like a three years work experience too, like I’m way ahead of people that have gone to uni. But the main thing for me about kind of not to fight between uni and degree apprenticeships because they’re both great in their own right Most of the things that you learn principally about marketing are completely different to what it’s like in an actual organisation. And unless you’re actually in an organisation, you know, like if I’d have just learned about, you know, the AIDA model at uni, I don’t actually know how that applies to a customer because it’s not as black and white marketing. It’s not a case of, oh, this is right, this is wrong, it’s so susceptible.

So there’s that too, and I think that’s a joy about marketing. But that’s also why a degree apprenticeship in marketing is so valuable, because the experience you get, being able to test things and understand a customer an actual customer, not a fake one. You know, in a business Like I still get excited when customers reply to my emails. I’m like, oh my God, it’s amazing, because I’m actually getting insight and I can see what’s working or not, and that’s great, because that’s the thing about marketing you always think you’re doing a good job, but I, you know this is what you’re finding out, aren’t you?

0:19:21 – Asif Choudry
Because the results, kind of, and the objectives that you’ve been set, are the key asset test of whether you’re achieving that particular role in your job. So then, can you tell us, can you share, some of the key lessons, then, that you’ve learned and the strategy you use to lead your team effectively, and how you’ve grown in the brand as well in this fast-paced marketing world with obviously little experience, because you’ve gained it on the way?

0:19:50 – Olivia Hullah
Yeah, I think what I said earlier, like make mistakes, but also showing the team that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you take a learning from it and then apply it again. And I think with marketing, it’s a case of testing. You never know what’s going to work, do you really? You might think you’ve got a really great idea in a boardroom, but you don’t actually know if that’s going to work in reality. And it’s having that, you know, like testing approach and not being scared to go oh, I don’t know if this is going to work, but let’s run with it.

And I think the main thing and it sounds really, really cliche in terms of like brand and marketing, but it is about being a bit different, like it was, it being so easy for me to do, you know, to create some really nice brochures of radiator images and, just, you know, talk about product spec, you know, but is that really going to change the world? You know, set a customer’s eyes or eye? No, and so it’s trying to apply that across all mediums. For even even when we have like customers come in and the way we speak to customers when they come into us across all the business, and that’s, I suppose has helped us position ourselves. Excellent.

0:20:55 – Asif Choudry
Sounds cliche, but no, but that’s great. So there’s a fascinating insight into the world of degree apprenticeships Over traditional education. There’ll be pros and cons to each one and maybe we’ll get somebody on who’s gone through that traditional route and gone into work and see what their route and experience has been. So that’ll be an interesting one. So lots of great stuff you shared with us there. So we’re here, olivia, because of the Comzero community. So you know why is Comzero important to you and what do you recommend people working in Comzo and marketing to be part of it.

0:21:28 – Olivia Hullah
Yeah, I think. I think it’s always nice to connect with fellow marketers because, you know, we all have the same problems, whether that be working for an electric heating company or a finance company, and we often face, you know, face the challenge of wearing a lot of different hats and having to do create an email one day, but then a video the next. And I suppose it’s nice to have a place where you can relate and talk and actually kind of get that insight into. You know it’s not just a you problem, it’s a larger scale problem and share best practices. I suppose, yeah, that’s great.

Sometimes, yeah, and as a marketer you can be quite isolating, as someone who’s been a sole marketer in a company, but to have that, you know community where you backed by and you can, you know, lean on people to get advice or understand that you’re not going crazy if a campaign doesn’t go as well, and that’s pretty much what most people echo the community side of it and having the opportunity to be able to just lean into that community and ask for advice or even share advice as well.

0:22:31 – Asif Choudry
you know, because there’s no. A lot of people have many skills and aspects of their marketing knowledge comes knowledge to, to offer, but they don’t have anyone knocking on the door asking for it because they don’t know that they exist. So we do get a lot of that relationship building within the community and and this year, 2024, you’ve agreed to be one of our comms here ambassadors as well, which is amazing. So how does that feel?

0:22:58 – Olivia Hullah
Excited. I’m a bit nervous, to be honest. I do feel like I’ve got a bit of a grown up job now so I’m no longer a friend to. So you know, gotta be taking the the serious roles I think for me it’s, you know, and I’ve learned this. This is a key. Learning is like the importance of networking. Again sounds really cliche, but I never really did it when I first started because I was kind of in my little electric heating bubble. But the past year has been a real learning curve for me and understanding the power of you know, expanding and connecting with people and helping people to, because the more you help people you’ll get it some way in return.

0:23:36 – Asif Choudry
Whether that be, you know, just does seem to work out and and developing your personal brand and being out there helps to. It helps with your organization and your own brand as well. So it’s never going to do any harm doing networking, so it’s good that you’re doing that as a fundamental part of your day to day professional life as well. So, olivia, it’s a fascinating conversation and we encourage the community and our listeners to connect with our guests. So where will they find you?

0:24:05 – Olivia Hullah
On every social media platform, of course, because I’m a marketer and LinkedIn is obviously my main one. But if anyone would like to check out my TikTok, I also document all of my running journey and gym experience, because I’ve lost like four stone over the case of three years from just like self taught. So if you want to check out some fun video, there you go. But yeah, linkedin professionally.

0:24:26 – Asif Choudry
Well, they’ll find you what your TikTok handle then. So we’ll make sure people go on.

0:24:30 – Olivia Hullah
Everything is Olivia Huller. Excellent, okay, nice and simple, so brilliant.

0:24:35 – Asif Choudry
So you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, apple or your chosen platform, and also on our website, commsherowcom. You can follow us on Twitter I’m still calling it Twitter or X at commsherow, and if you do listen on Apple or Spotify, please do leave a rating and review and hit the follow and subscribe button so you get the new episodes. So, olivia, an absolutely fascinating chat. Hopefully there’s other apprentice degree apprentices in this profession and community that will be nodding in agreement and reaffirmed or they might have inspired a few people to go down that route. So let’s hope so. So thank you so much for coming on and being a guest on the podcast.

0:25:12 – Olivia Hullah
Yeah, thank you for having me.

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