Marketing and advertising may be one of few spheres where women make up 50 per cent of the workforce, but that’s not to suggest Diane Young’s rise to co-founder of The Drumwas run-of-the-mill. Young is now managing director of the publishing outlet, which covers marketing, advertising, design and digital, but she began her career analyzing statistics in community and mental health services.
The Drum was formerly ScotMedia – a marketing magazine co-owned by former school friends Gordon Young (Diane’s husband) and Nick Creed. In the late 1990s the business partners saw an opportunity to expand and diversify, and Young hopped on board.
But that’s old news. Today, The Drum has an 85-strong team across four global offices and has won countless industry awards. I caught up with Diane ahead of her talk at next week’s Scale Up Britain.
Philip Salter: After three decades in the industry, what is your mission today?
Diane Young: Ultimately, we want to enable marketers to make better decisions. Marketing drives innovation, helps firms, provides jobs and offers consumers choice. On a personal level, I want to build a substantial company that gives opportunities to its staff to learn, develop, progress, travel and have fun.
Salter: What are the biggest obstacles you now face?
Young: The skills we need are converging with tech companies, which make it difficult for us to attract and retain talent, particularly at the mid-level. We are working hard at present to engage the entire team and make The Drum a great place to work. Communication, team building and opportunities to develop are areas that we think make a big difference. We are introducing a part-time development and training coordinator, we are disseminating monthly all-team updates and a quarterly magazine, The Drummer, which is all about the team and the business, and we are building activities around wellbeing.
Keeping abreast of customer requirements and the tech involved is also difficult at our current scale. For media companies, providing content and selling it to the audience is no longer enough: we have to develop a whole new skillset and outlook.
Salter: Where does your biggest opportunity for growth lie?
Young: Future growth will depend on our continuing to globalize our audience and develop more services that will become an everyday part of marketers’ working lives. Already, tech has transformed our ability to internationalize. It has allowed us to re-engineer the business from print-advertising dependent to having multiple streams of revenue. We are able to provide better information to our audience at scale.
Salter: How did The Drum expand overseas?
Young: Unusually, internationalization approached us. When we changed from a “.co.uk” to a “.com” website, the international traffic started to flow and grow organically. Before long, our US audience was significant, so we installed a small editorial team in New York. But we moved slowly – gradually introducing commercial, and later account management and events teams – as our market knowledge grew. Investment in US growth is a priority in 2018.
Salter: What are your ambitions for the future?
Young: We want to become the world’s marketplace for marketers. Much of this will be online, but we will also consider building on our international presence by expanding to other global marketing centres. We’ve come from a dingy basement in Glasgow and I’d like to build a truly global business.