Is work experience worth your time?

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a few days with Edge Trustee, Andrew Stevens, and his team at technical education company CNet Training in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Andrew is both CNet’s President and its Chief Executive.

In both my course for my level 3 qualification and my current digital marketing degree apprenticeship, marketing theory has always been taught in the context of commerce linked to business. Working for a charity – and especially one that doesn’t rely on fundraising for the majority of its income – has often made applying subject knowledge learned in the classroom to my job at Edge a bit tricky.

So I was delighted when Andrew offered me some work experience with his company and to see how CNet’s marketing team functioned. I was met on Monday morning by the Director of Marketing & Communications, Sarah, and Andrew himself. Between them they introduced me to CNet Training, explaining the company’s history, mission, as well as the ‘proposition’ – that’s marketing-speak for why a customer should use CNet’s services - and market position.

So what does CNet Training do?

Andrew established the company in 1996 and it has grown to become the largest technical education provider in the world dedicated to the digital infrastructure industry. Recognised as a global industry leader, CNet is the only industry dedicated technical education provider in the world to award both internationally recognised qualifications and professional certifications, starting at level 3 and culminating with a level 7 Masters Degree program.

CNet has an impressive client list of multinational organisations, such as Sky, BT, BBC, Airbus, Barclays, Fujitsu and even the NHS. Now I had a better understanding of what CNet offers and their market position, Sarah spoke to me about their marketing plans, target audiences, messaging and competition.

She told me about some of the challenges that CNet face. The most obvious one is that there are currently no standard requirements or necessary qualifications for technical staff in the digital infrastructure industry, so jobs in the sector are perceived as low-skilled. However, there can be serious, costly consequences to employing undertrained staff. One of CNet’s ambitions is to get an industry consensus that basic training should be required They are achieving this through high quality education program, which upskill workforces and positively impact the quality of service they deliver, proving there is true value in a skilled workforce. As the larger companies on CNet’s impressive client list take up more education opportunities and begin to make on-going professional development a requirement, smaller firms have begun to follow suit.

It was interesting to see how quickly I could make comparisons between our organisations and how we operate, but more importantly I was able to identify things that Edge weren’t doing which could be beneficial. For example making better and more synchronised use of our networks to communicate our messages. Sarah referred to this as coordinated messaging.

Getting digi with it

I spent Monday afternoon and all of Tuesday with David, CNet’s Creative Designer.

He talked me through the CNet website, spoke about the importance of a style guide, gave me an overview of the email system and showed me how they curated content for social media and the website, and created video and other visual content.  

Together, we planned and designed emails, taking into consideration the language and time zones of different regions across the world. David also works closely with Tanya, CNet’s Digital Marketing Coordinator, to monitor email click throughs. Between them they redesign emails to attract users to click more links, and increase click through rates which hopefully leads to more enquiries.

David also let me design some visuals and was extremely patient as I continuously asked, “How do I do this?” However, this experience was extremely useful, and has given me the basic skills and knowledge I need to design my own visuals for Edge – as simple as they may be at the moment.

My third and final day was spent with Tanya. She has a crucial role at CNet; throughout the day she gave me an overview of monthly stats and reports, Google AdWords campaigns, campaign tracking and analytics. These are all marketing skills I have been extremely keen to learn more about, so that I can feel comfortable implementing them into Edge’s digital marketing strategy.

Overall, my time at CNet Training was extremely worthwhile. I learnt a lot about marketing and businesses in general, which in the long run will give me a more holistic approach to Edge’s marketing. It was interesting to see a business’s approach and how marketing feeds the sales funnel to help drive sales. This different perspective has given me a new insight in to how marketing tools can be used effectively at Edge. Over time I will be introducing new methods of marketing into Edge’s communications strategy to be more effective and be able to demonstrate a good return on investment. I would like to thank Andrew and his team at CNet for their time and expertise.

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