Our Business Development Director Natalie Turner gives her predictions for the creator marketing industry. The former nurse and advocate of ‘squiggly careers’ tells us how she broke into creator marketing, and underlines the importance of inclusivity in tech.
Where are you from?
I’m a Cumbria lass! I’m from Walney Island which is off the coast of Northwest England. My hometown is actually famous for the Trident nuclear programme, but there is some beautiful countryside there!
What’s your professional background?
I didn’t start off in creator marketing. In fact, I’ve had a bit of a squiggly career! When I was 18, I moved down south to London to train to be a nurse. I went on to work as a pediatric nurse for about seven years. It was during my time in the capital that I met my partner who’s Hungarian.
We ended up moving to Budapest for eight years and I worked there at an American clinic and learnt Hungarian. After a while, we decided it was time to move, but didn’t want to go back to England so we just thought, why not Berlin?
My daughter was two when we moved here and I wasn’t working yet, so it gave me a bit of time to think about what I wanted to do career-wise.
How did you make the transition from nurse to working in business?
I began running a project called Bei Girls, which was about empowering and inspiring young women. I started doing workshops, and then I met some awesome women who worked in startups and I started to think oh yeah, maybe I could do that! After attending several meetups I ended up falling into creator marketing.
Pediatric nursing and business development aren’t typically linked, but I learnt a lot of transferable skills. In nursing you learn people skills – you have to deal with individuals at the most critical times of their lives. You also learn time management, since everything has to be punctual from medication to planning procedures.
I have a philosophy that it’s great to have people who work in business who do and don’t go down the traditional route. I think they both bring different ideas and approaches. When you meld them together, you get the best outcomes.
How do you juggle family life with working?
I have a 7-year-old daughter and my son is 10. He’s really into computer games – his favourite is Fortnite. So I get to learn a lot about gaming creators from him!
It’s definitely a juggle. Luckily Matchmade is pretty remote-friendly, so being in a place where the schedule is flexible definitely helps. The company fosters an environment of trust, so we know that we can depend on each other to pick up on work if something comes up.
If I need to take the kids to the doctors or dentists, it’s easy to take time away and make up for it later. Having really understanding colleagues is also great. I think my biggest challenge this year was working from home with the kids there and homeschooling in a language that I don’t speak. It’s been a challenge!
Your dog Keksi is a regular zoom guest!
It can appear calm but behind the screen but it is sometimes absolute chaos!
How has your role changed over time?
I think in a startup your role will always change and that’s inevitable. I do business development but I’m also a team lead. Because of my previous experience, I can also jump in and do some campaign management stuff, and I run the women’s working group, so I do a bit of everything.
My weeks always look very different. I’ve been at Matchmade for about a year and nine months now, but time flies!
What are your career highlights?
I love going to the Helsinki office, and having the chance to meet people in person and do some nice activities not directly related to creator marketing.
In terms of achievement, Matchmade has just been growing month by month, breaking records. There’s been a lot of hard work and blood, sweat, and tears to get to where we are now.
It feels like the pieces of the puzzle are finally falling into place. We are a startup so it means we’ve ultimately been reinventing the puzzle altogether! I think the way we’ve grown this year has just been phenomenal and it’s been super exciting to be a part of that journey.
What do you find exciting about this industry?
I feel like there has been a shift this year. It’s like at first people didn’t take it seriously, but now that’s changed. We have the opportunity to mould the industry in a way that is more transparent and fair. Those are our core values.
I’ve spoken to thousands of advertisers over the last four and a half years, and people always cited the need to make creator marketing scaleable. We had a theory on how to do this, put it in action and now it’s yielding great results, it’s really exciting.
So what is this theory?
Well unlike many others in the industry, we aren’t an agency, but essentially a tech company and a platform.
When you work with an agency they tend to have a set of pre-selected influencers on their books and they will be the ones who you could potentially work with. However, not all of them are necessarily a good fit.
With us, we are looking for the best fit in terms of audience and demographics. We have a large number of creators, managers, and sometimes even agencies, they can all work on our platform.
We have the technology to track down the right creators worldwide, even if we don’t work with them yet, so there is an ever-expanding network for our customers.
Ultimately, it’s a numbers game, the more creators we have, the better we can match and predict the outcome.
We are not interested in exclusively signing or ‘stealing’ talent. We just want to find the best creators that match the campaign – hence the name Matchmade. I do have to remind people we are not a dating agency!
How do you think the industry is going to evolve?
When influencer marketing first became a thing, there weren’t really any metrics. It was more a case of I’m gonna pay someone something to talk about something and I’m gonna hope that that has some effect.
What we’ve found over time is that you can have everything exactly right, you can have the right channel it seems, the right brand match, the right audience demographics, but then the video tanks.
There can be so many variables as to why that is and the way that we’re definitely moving is to have larger quantities of creators with less followers to increase the predictability and performance.
This is great also for smaller creators, since it gives them more opportunities to get paid for their hard work. They didn’t really have that before. Normally, it can be tricky for midsize accounts to find good sponsorships.
I always see with creator marketing a lot of people either come to it for brand or for performance and to me it sits in the middle. I would like to see more companies catch on to that and give a portion of their budget to both.
‘Creator marketing’ is a new and emerging term, what is the difference between a creator and an influencer?
Creators have accumulated a loyal audience because of their creativity and authenticity.
We see creators as someone who gets to create the content that they really love. In addition to that is working with brands who see that creativity as a bonus and something that they can tap into but not spoil.
When influencer marketing first started, the word of mouth was much stronger. There was more trust and sometimes you didn’t even know that some things were paid. Since the lines are not blurred, everything is more obvious, and now the term ‘influencer’ has more direct commercial connotations.
An influencer is more associated with someone who uses their influence to make people buy things, and that’s not always a good thing.
What challenges have you experienced as a woman pursuing a career in tech?
In one recent experience, I was interviewing people for a job. I asked the candidate if they had any questions and he was like “oh I don’t think you’ll be able to answer them”. I was like hmm, okay, why don’t you try me and then he went on to ask like three very simple questions about my job which I answered. I don’t think they did their research and realised I was the direct manager for that job. Maybe they thought I was a secretary or something.
I guess there’s always this element of not being taken seriously, but I’m a loud northerner, so I’ve never really allowed it! If someone speaks over me I’ve learnt to approach them for a quiet chat. I don’t think people do most things intentionally or to be horrible.
At Matchmade if there’s a problem we can talk about it. Everyone would be like let’s work on it and that’s a really healthy work culture, it’s how we can grow.
How do you think the industry can better cater to women?
If you grow up in different places and different cultures and different schools, you will challenge ideas more, and it brings so much more to the table, so it’s a win-win.
Often I hear the argument ‘oh so I should hire someone just because they are a woman’. Literally, no-one ever said this and it sounds dumb! There are lots of smart candidates from different genders and backgrounds, just make sure you are reaching them, interviewing them. . You can find people from all different backgrounds and cultures. You just have to look and be aware.
Even in job descriptions, it can be very telling if the job description says like oh yeah beer and pizza on Fridays, that it’s a bit focused on men.
Women are more likely to be caregivers for children or elderly family members, so having something like part-time or job shares opens up the market, so that is another way.
Do you have any advice for people that might want to get into business and creator marketing?
To be honest I literally just talked my way in!
I went to a lot of events. I met my last employee at one and said, look I have no experience but I’m pretty sure I can do this, could I work for free for you guys for a few months. I was working during the day and then doing my internship in the evening. That turned into a full-time role and I started to work in the industry.
What I love about the world we live in now is you can have these squiggly careers. Back in the day, it was like if you were a nurse you’re probably a nurse for the rest of your life.
I love learning but I’m not really a big supporter of the current educational system because I don’t think it breeds learners. I think it breeds people who learn in a specific way. There are so many ways you can learn these days, for example, all the courses online.
My advice is: just do it, if it works out it works out, if it doesn’t awesome now you know. It’s better than thinking oh I wonder if I’d have done that. It’s a learning process.