Me... a long read

22 minute read

I’ll be the first to admit there’s a lot to read here.

This page is effectively ‘Dave Endsor – the long read’.

I promise (mainly hope) it’s not a dull one.

After years of inconsistency, desperately trying to write regular blogs (more years than I care to remember!), I've come up with an idea which gives me a reason to write regularly again.

By now you’ve probably read the reasons why I write what I do – to share general career advice, with a big focus on marketing, and help you to solve whatever career dilemma you’re facing.

Or simply give you that final bit of motivation to get started, or make a drastic change.

That’s the short version.

This isn't.

This post is my honest and open account of who I am as a marketer and a manager, my career history, the story of my blog, and any other random information I think adds up to give you a clearer picture of me.

Why? I hope it gives context to my motivation to write on marketing careers, and prove there’s more than one way to build one.

I hope it’s interesting.

Skip to the section you’re most curious about or crack on and read the rest in order.

If you like what I’ve written, please so subscribe to read my future writings. It means so much.

The day-to-day

Today, I’m the senior digital marketing manager for Blue Light Card – the UK’s number one provider of discounts for the emergency services, NHS, social care sector, and armed forces.

This is in fact my first in-house role, after nearly 5 years in the world of agencies.

And I cannot tell you how much I love it.

(That’s a lie… I definitely will tell you!)

My focus is leading on social media strategy and publishing, SEO, content and digital advertising.

As well as being a senior member of the marketing team and contributing to our overall direction as a department, I help to guide and mentor the younger members of the team, and some in other departments.

It’s this role and a few conversations outside of work that have given me the motivation to write about my own marketing experiences, and share some advice in my posts.

As a manager

I bang on about ‘win sheets’ for one, but more importantly I’m a massive supporter of mentoring and encouragement-led line management, and will always talk to anyone seeking to develop their career – whether they’re just starting out or have been doing it for years.

I do specialise in marketing, but I’ll talk to anyone when it comes to careers, and help where I can.

I don’t get wound up by a lot and I like to bring a sense of calm, creativity and drive to work, particularly in social media, but really across all aspects of marketing.

Crucially, I don’t take myself too seriously. And will happily make myself the butt of the jokes for team morale!

(Ask me about the London Dungeons!)

I try my best to be a conscientious team leader, as well as someone who works with a grin and encourages individuals and teams to continuously develop and master their own self-improvement.

And I will almost certainly encourage you to try something out of your comfort zone, but only because I believe you can do it.

I don’t do coffee, but I will meet you for breakfast, lunch, or a few beers (or somehow all three at once?).

Outside of work

Unlike the rest of this page, I’ll try and keep it brief.

In the shortest of short bios, I sum my life up as follows…

Dad, husband, marketer, film-buff and long-suffering Derby County. Ponderer of almost any aspect of pop culture, I have a habit of remembering the most obscure information and general knowledge.

Keen subjects are any quote from The Office, Alan Partridge or the early years of The Simpsons, and film series like Lord Of The Rings and the MCU.

I will watch almost any sport (with some notable egg-ceptions) including anything where an England team will most likely fail heroically.

I’m also the type of person who will Google anything to just ‘know’. It’s the reason I defined one of my own brand traits as ‘inquisitive’ and I absolutely fit the mould of an ENTP, but have enough experience to flex – especially when managing and mentoring.

I never take myself too seriously, but am massively proud of my career, and all of my achievements, most especially when mentoring or managing those who then go and progress themselves.

My writing history

While I write frequently on marketing and work-related activities on LinkedIn, my writing history on my own site has been far more sporadic.

As I’ve covered, the purpose of how I want to use my writing is for marketing careers advice and inspiration, but I think it’s important to look back on what I’ve done before.

And explain how I’ve already relaunched it once before!

A big part of relaunching my own writing space is to provide the sort of transparency that I don’t think happens enough when it comes to sharing career history and lessons learned, so I would be a bit of a hypocrite if I deleted my older writing in the name of a spring clean.

It would also make it impossible to show you then vs now, without really understanding the context of how and why I’ve developed a new determination for more frequent and focussed posts.

You’ll notice throughout my archive (look out for the black and white images to differentiate my older stuff) I’ve since added to the comments to give further context, a retrospective view and, occasionally, a bit of a cringe at what I wrote at the time.

We’re not all perfect!

In the beginning…

I started the blog way back in 2011, still early on in my career. And, to be honest, I didn’t have a focus beyond writing on stuff that interested me – loosely connected to marketing.

In fact much of my early posts had no link to marketing at all, as I wrote on topics including Formula 1, book recommendations, football, Christmas gifting and more.

In all honesty, it was a real mismash.

Over the years this didn’t really change, and while some early posts have a strong meaning for me, particularly A Very Gallant Gentleman, it’s not really until 2013 where I can see the real beginnings of my evolution as a marketer.

The collaboration post on branding is something I’m especially proud of – it’s what happens when you work with a talented designer, cheers Chris! – while my Bellroy blog is the beginning of my love affair with the brand, as well as my ability to start to understand marketing tactics in more detail.

Finding frequency

A common theme since 2011 was how sporadic my writing was, and that was before I had children!

So when 2015 came around I can look back on what was clearly a more productive period of writing, which (completely not ironically) crosses over with what would be a mixed bag of a year in my career.

Such is life.

I tried to launch new topics, then lost motivation for them, but interspersed in the middle of these random ideas is some work I’m really proud of.

You’ll see the development of my skill at sideways analogies (when I share these out loud, I usually start with “bear with me…”) when writing about HTC and Van Halen, my ongoing obsession with branding and how brands present themselves in different environments, as well as the emotional tactics they use to connect with their customers.

Not to mention more of a focus on social media too.

2016 shows a step-forward in my writing and the impact of new considerations – specifically becoming a parent – a happening which definitely helped to improve my management skills and ability to understand marketing scenarios much more effectively.

And then the gaps start to appear.

When writing is hardest

There was no real excuse – beyond busier home and work lives – and (unlike now) I had no focus, so ideas were harder to come by.

(So there’s at least three excuses, in fact!)

Aside from a football and social media project for Tank in 2019, which I reshared onto my blog, the intervening years were lean writing periods

I’m not a career hustler, nor do I believe in this high performance nonsense (I will write about this at some point) – so when something isn’t a priority or a major source of motivation, I just won’t do it.

That definitely caught me out many years ago, but I’ve more skills, more wisdom and more understanding to not let myself fall completely into that trap anymore.

Yes, there’s moments of “that’s a Monday job”, but overall it happens much less, and I’m now able to guide others on how to avoid the same issues.

However for a blog which already had a vague focus, this was a problem for years.

But when lockdown kicked in, I had more time – we all did! I was still working full time, from home of course, and I wanted to get my name out there. I’d hosted a number of webinars for work and was doing well in building up a bit of a profile.

(This isn’t the main reason I write now, but it was certainly more prominent a few years ago. This will be a topic I write on in the future).

With an official restart post, 2020 was going to be the beginning of me back in writing action. And while I wrote a number of posts that I’m super proud of throughout that year, it was really just a flash in the pan.

After a few posts in 2021, it all fizzled out… until now.

What does this all mean?

Writing’s hard!

So after a false restart, I hope what I now plan to write shows how committed I am to the idea.

Career history

I’ve covered what I do now but now it’s time to open the archives and go deep on my career history.

While this may end up being a long section, the purpose is really to give you a reason or two to trust me.

I’ll say it over and over again, I don’t want it to seem like I know everything or that mine is a unique journey. All I’m hoping is that one or more aspects are relatable (even if it might not be overall), and you can connect with what I’m writing – even if it’s one paragraph out of hundreds of posts.

I’ve met enough people in marketing and business to know that experiences cross over in many different ways. And I’ve seen similarities in people and moments that make people realise they’re not alone in their worries, concerns or questions.

That in itself can be very comforting.

So after all of the above, what’s got me to a stage when I can offer thoughts on careers, and marketing-related careers?

Please allow me to take you through some key moments and milestones which have shaped who I am today.

Let’s begin.

A degree of separation

I messed up my degree.

That’s the first of a few honest statements.

And, while I don’t believe there’s a lesson in everything in life and business, this genuinely was one.

Way before I had any interest in marketing, I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, and a definite sense of what I didn’t!

I knew vaguely that I was going to work in the business world. The various work experience stints I’d had taught me enough, but that was about it. I wasn’t going to be an engineer or a doctor, and didn’t fancy carrying on with a traditional subject (as much as I loved studying history).

So Business and Management at Aston was the plan, and it went without a hitch… 

Not quite.

Achieving a BBC in my A-Levels, and not the predicted BBB, meant that particular degree was out of my reach, something I knew by the time I turned up to school on the morning of Results Day.

What I didn’t know was that Aston had a joint honours programme where I was offered a place to study Business and Politics. This worked out well in the end as not only did I enjoy the course far more than I know I would have if I studied Business Management, the Politics side of the degree was hugely interesting and engaging.

It also kept my grades up.

I’d not studied any form of business at school – it wasn’t even offered – and the closest I got to it was my C in A-Level Economics, so my politics marks always outshone the business ones.

Some of these were certainly down to my lack of understanding or occasional inability to focus, while others were my major irritation at studying a module I was never going to focus on when I started my career.

Combine all of these reasons with a finance and accounting module (or whatever it was called) in my final year, where I scored terribly, and I narrowly missed out on 2:1 – finding out on an airport internet café computer before a holiday to Lanzarote with my now-wife.

(It was 2009!)

I therefore finished university, which I genuinely loved, with a degree classification I found embarrassing, zero knowledge of my next steps, and having to attend a graduation ceremony I wanted no part of.

Aside from unwavering family support, there was one chink of light…

Failing to place

The one marketing module I studied was so supremely dull that it still annoys me to this day!

It focussed heavily on all of the tedious (yet, admittedly relevant) elements of marketing that we all know have a purpose, but they don’t get you excited anywhere near as much as branding, creativity or ‘seeing it in print’.

Think: Porter’s Five Forces, Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs, SWOT, PESTLE, and so on.

Dry, dry, dry.

Yet they did teach me enough that I could see marketing as the biggest hope I had for a career. And the way I was going to kickstart this was with work experience.

Yet again a bit of self-sabotage comes into play, with another huge leg-up.

A big part of a degree at Aston was the placement year out. It turned a three-year degree into four, but it relied on your own drive and determination to find one.

You’ll notice that many years ago when something seemed difficult, or I couldn’t see the immediate answer, I didn’t have the drive to do it. This applied to my placement.

Without a real idea of what sort of placement to apply for, or even where, I fired off half-hearted applications to various businesses. I can remember only two interviews, both which went badly.

What I should have done was realise this wasn’t going to define my whole life, and just apply properly for the broadest of business placements, ideally securing one, seeing how it went and understanding it’s a brilliant learning experience. Easy to say now!

(My placement was all of those things, but achieved very differently).

In a massively nepo move, and, my dad organised a placement for me where he worked, under the strict instructions to work my arse off, and make people forget my surname (where possible!)

I was lucky.

Doing so, brought me a year which I loved… full-time work, being paid, and the ‘freedom’ of the real world - i.e. working hard in the week to enjoy it at the weekend (aside from Derby County’s 2007/08 which coincided with the placement – look it up, we were beyond terrible).

Ironically, this attitude also contributed to my lack of final year motivation that I mentioned above. I loved my last year from a social point of view, but when doing exams and coursework, I just had that thing in the back of my head saying “you could be working now, not studying for this awful finance module”.

But I don’t regret my placement one bit, and I’d always recommend one if asked. In fact it also introduced me to a number of people who have been hugely influential in my career – Corrie Massey and Trevor Palmer. More on both of them shortly.

One of the reasons why I do my very best to help those at the beginning of their own careers is because of these massive opportunities I was given right at the start of mine – this placement was the first of four that changed my fortunes more than I probably deserved.

I hope paying it forward wherever I can in some way gives back a minutiae of the opportunities I was afforded.

Work experience and my first steps

At the end of my placement, before heading back to uni, I carried out a two week-long work experience stint with Trevor Palmer, a director at BCS PR in Nottingham

I’d met Trev during my placement as BCS were the retained agency for PR in that region. Through the various agencies he’d worked at, my dad was one of his earliest and longest-serving clients – essentially a de facto mentor to Trev.

This relationship would help me in spades many years later.

During my placement, I’d also been working closely with Ben, who’s wife Corrie was an Account Director at Big Communications – a major B2C marketing agency that punched well-above its weight, based in Leicester.

Fast-forward to post university and after my degree disappointment, I was at a bit of a loss. A crap degree score (in my eyes), a lack of real career direction, and a global recession were not a happy trio to contend with.

Thinking back to working with Ben, I got in touch to ask Corrie for some work experience at Big. I had the smallest of senses that the marketing-advertising world was where I wanted to be, really based on this tiny idea that I’m quite inquisitive (and still am!) and pretty good at analysis, so market research would suit me.

This was basically a chance to test that out but also make good use of my free time.

Work experience at Big taught me tonnes.

It made me realise I had decent ideas, I could eat up tasks and projects when I set my mind to them, and I was comfortable in a creative environment.

However it also made me realise my own shortcomings around my lack of marketing and advertising knowledge, particularly around some of the basics such as branding.

This caught me out when during my work experience I interviewed for an account executive role, but wasn’t successful.

However, I knew marketing was going to be the life for me.

A gateway into marketing

A major influence on my ability to apply for roles and confidence in myself was a scheme I signed up with called Loughborough Graduate Gateway.

It took me years to realise how important this decision was.

The scheme helped find short-term roles graduates within businesses, with the salaries supported by the university.

I believe it’s still going, here – Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

Through the scheme I did three separate placements, two at the same company. All of these were around market research and business analysis, and while none floated my boat as places I wanted to kickstart a career, they definitely helped me determine that marketing was the sector for me.

Oh, and I spent five fun days working in the Netherlands too.

One of the most important bits of advice I ever received was on my CV from the programme director, John Massey.

In typical graduate fashion, I submitted a CV focussing on my many skills (at least I thought there were many!), full of cliche statements about teamwork, communication and leadership, while not even discussing my degree until page two.

In short his advice was:

“Switch it up. You’re a graduate so talk about that first!”

I will write a blog on this in more detail, but this advice has stuck with me ever since, and I share it with every graduate and uni student I speak to today.

My real career begins

Following these placements, totalling nine months in 2010, I was once again at a loose end, but at the end of the year, an opportunity popped up… again through a family connection.

If I’ve not said it enough, I’ll say it again, I’ve been very lucky.

Here comes the third of my fortunate moments…

I was given the chance to carry out open-ended work experience at Origination, a creative design agency based in Derby. It was run by Dave and Val, and specialised in branding, design and websites for a real spectrum of clients – from Manchester Airport, East Midlands Airport, Derby County and the University of Derby, to name a few.

We were a regional agency with a range of Derby and East Midlands clients – mostly B2B – as well as my old school bizarrely!

(This would prove interesting in later years).

After several months proving my ability, I was given a role as an account executive in 2011. This would really cement who I am today.

Over the years, working with some incredible people (shout out to Chris, Emma, Cathy, Nick and the whole gang), I became skilled at client management, understanding branding, and forming some real interests in social media and the wider impact of marketing and storytelling.

(And obsession over leading, tracking and en dashes!)

If you could condense all this down into some class A product, I’d be all over it – I was legitimately hooked!

Underlying all of these decisions in my earlier career years, as ever, was a hugely supportive family network – certainly something I know made life much easier for me.

A misstep

Sadly, in 2015, Origination was liquidated after 21 years in business. The work had dried up and we’d become too reliant on ‘the Derby scene’, which was hit and miss.

Business life lay behind the city, but we didn’t make the most of it.

As of my stag do in March 2015, I was technically unemployed.

The Christmas before I had realised I was ready for something else and, despite a highly bizarre interview process (and even more bizarre feedback) from one of the East Midlands most well-renowned digital agencies, I hadn’t made much headway.

So, when Origination was phoenixed into a new company, Three Sixty Media, – and even though I was offered to continue my role – I knew this was the kick I needed to move on.

In that time, I’d successfully pitched myself to, and accepted a role with, another Derbyshire agency.

The connection to my old school, which was still a client, was the headteacher at the time and my direct client contact, was naturally well aware of Origination’s troubles and put me in touch with a husband and wife team who ran StormDFX – a retail design agency.

I’d pitched myself to become Storm’s marketing manager, with a focus on digital, which I felt was where I was at the time – although that would turn out to be naive.

While I learned about the impact of design in-store and a lot about POS, I’d never found this to be a settled role, with something never clicking. This decision was made for me before the end of my six months probation period when I was let go.

And while I was obviously annoyed at the time, I knew it was the right move for everyone.

Ironically, in moving to this role, I’d wanted to do less client work, but this was still my core skill at the time, and if I’d leaned into it more, it might have been a different story.

You live and learn!

Opportunity number four arrives

Now jobless and wondering what next, I contacted Trevor  to see if he could keep an eye out for any opportunities for me.

He was now running his own PR and digital agency, Tank.

Being the helpful soul he is, he immediately put me in touch with two of Tank’s clients – one for chat and advice, the other with a potential interview opportunity.

Both meetings were useful in different ways, but the interview didn’t work out. Re-reading my feedback at the time, they’d progressed two people more senior than me – although in the end they never hired anyone.

Go figure.

However, this annoyed Trev, and clearly got him thinking and, with no indication of what would happen next, we met up for a chat.

In short, he offered me a restart at the end 2015, a role as a digital marketing exec, and to learn the broad areas of digital marketing – social media, SEO and PPC.

It was a more junior role, a lower salary, further from home and with more logistical challenges (soon to be a dad and a longer commute)...

And it was perfect.

The Tank rolls on

Over the next five years, with a pandemic towards the end, I steadily progressed at Tank, rising through the ranks with three promotions to eventually running my own department as head of content.

I reaffirmed that I really was strong at client management, as well as found a real ability for social media ideas, planning and strategy, and significantly more marketing nous.

Critically, I also found a massive passion for mentoring, team development and being a conscientious team leader and manager, in my own unique way.

There was plenty of back and forth as, while I was still in a digital role, I quickly moved away from SEO and PPC, and focused more on digital client management and social media.

For instance, I helped to develop digital PR as a revenue stream, and while better people than me do it for Tank now, I’m happy that I was able to kickstart its early years, as well as push the realisation internally that it was absolutely critical to digital performance.

But in reality, social media, content and general marketing were where my skills lay, and a new client would eventually change my career again.

A (blue) lightbulb goes off

In the Autumn months of 2019, with no idea about a global pandemic, lockdowns or the trials of attempting to buy toilet paper, I met a company called Blue Light Card for a new business meeting.

I was regularly asked to attend new business meetings as I strongly believed in what we did and, it seemed, was able to pitch it well.

During a new business meeting, I rattled off why Tank would be the perfect PR partner for a company of 20ish people that had just appointed its first head of marketing – my now manager, Rach.

Leading the pitch and proposal process, we won, and in a really fun kick off meeting, I handed it off to the PR team.

The results they achieved were nothing short of unreal!

So, when Covid hit, Blue Light Card really took off thanks to these huge PR wins, extra focus on the Blue Light community (most obviously the NHS) and its incredible internal team turning it into the behemoth it is now.

Towards the end of 2020, I was brought back onto the Blue Light Card account as part of a six months social consultancy project, all still remotely of course.

This coincided with me slowly realising that I was ready for a career move.

And it just so happened I’d found the perfect place to try and achieve this… if there were any jobs!

Fortunately, there was and after one of my boldest moves to date – giving Rach a ring one Friday afternoon – I interviewed and subsequently was offered my current role as senior digital marketing manager, starting in September 2021.

It was sad farewell to team Tank. I had to get a photo at the bar for my obligatory, but super heartfelt, farewell LinkedIn post.

As for now, you’ve already read what I do…

If you read this whole page, honestly, thank you. The whole point of this dramatically long section is to give a genuinely honest account of my career, where some (or all) of it may resonate with you.

And also to help explain why I think I’m able to offer some learnings, ideas and inspiration in my more regular posts.

Thank you… again.