She’s worked for some of the best-known brands in business.
Now Clare-Marie Taylor is forging a future for herself helping small and medium-sized firms map out their marketing strategies.
Clare-Marie, who hails from Peterborough, has set up The Marketing Department based at her home in the semi-rural setting of Holmbridge.
She brings to the venture 15 years experience in senior level marketing and communication roles working for successful brands in manufacturing, retail, leisure and the charity sector.
Her career has taken her from travel giant Thomas Cook and electrical appliances firm Hotpoint to Colnebridge-based nursery goods firm Mamas & Papas, Manchester’s Chill Factore skiing and snowboarding centre and the Bradley-based Forget Me Not Chldren’s Hospice.
Clare-Marie discovered her passion for marketing while studying for a degree in modern European studies from Nottingham Trent University.
“I was on placement during my third year working in the marketing department at Thomas Cook’s head office,” she says. “I realised that marketing was what I wanted to do.
“I had been a bit unsure about a career, but I spent the summer working there and absolutely loved it.”
Clare-Marie later applied for a role in marketing at Hotpoint in Peterborough, where the company paid for her to complete her Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications.
In 2005, she moved to Huddersfield to take up the post of head of retail marketing at Mamas & Papas, where she played a key part in developing its franchised stores overseas – advising franchisees on marketing matters at events staged at the firm’s head office.
She spent almost seven years with the company before taking a change in direction to become head of marketing and communications for the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.
“I wanted to bring more balance to my life,” she says. “I’d been working in the fast-paced corporate environment for 14 years and by that stage I had two young children.
“At the hospice, I worked three days a week to help get their marketing strategy in place.
“I was on the senior management team. It was a brilliant opportunity to work in the charity sector.
“I was able to use my skills to raise awareness of the fantastic work they do and help them raise much-needed funds. That was a really interesting journey for me.”
Last September, Clare-Marie left the hospice – by which time her young son had started school – and she was able to call on her retail experience once more working as brand manager for Chill Factore.
In March this year, she took the plunge by setting up her own business.
She says: “I started off with nothing more than a laptop and my mobile phone – and that was it! Now I have five permanent clients and I work on an ad hoc basis on one-off projects for several other businesses.”
Clare-Marie works with a diverse range of organisations, including the Leeds-based Candlelighters charity; Brighouse-based Stromberg Golf; Wakefield-based training and development business Purple Pebble People; Northlight Design Agency; Cavalier Carpets, of Blackburn; and Yorhealth.
Clare-Marie also helps organisations such as the Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust and health improvement specialist Live Well.
Along with marketing strategy, she is able to help in areas such as design and artwork, social media and PR and event management.
She loves the diversity of working with different types of businesses – firms with small or large marketing budgets – and the challenge of engineering a new campaign or marketing project.
“I support small and medium-sized businesses that don’t have an in-house marketing function,” says Clare-Marie.
“My key focus is around marketing strategy – looking at businesses and what they should be doing to connect with their customers. It’s been brilliant and I love every minute of it.
“I’ve been able to collaborate with other agencies on specific projects, too. I’m all for co-operation with others because it’s all for the benefit of the client.”
She says: “People come to me with an area in which they need help, such as social media.
“I like to go into the company and ask what they are trying to achieve. I go back to basics with them and encourage them to look at the businss overall.
“Even big companies with their own marketing department need someone to look at things objectively – someone who isn’t reluctant to say what they think.”
Clare-Marie says The Marketing Department is growing to the extent where she will soon look to bring in a graduate on placement. “The workload is starting to increase,” she says.
Working from home has proved a succesful tactic for Clare-marie. “I have to be strict with myself about separating work and home life, but I’m very motivated,” she says.
“I do the school run and I will work from 9am to 3pm – and then it’s back to work in the evenings. It doesn’t matter if I’m still working at 1am. I am a bit of a night owl!
“I love the flexibility. I can go for a morning run and then settle down to work.
“There’s no corporate constraints – no working 9 to 5 or 9 to 7. I think more big companies should invest in flexible working so people can go for a run or visit the gym. It makes you more inspired to work.”
Her surrondings also provide inspiration for Clare-Marie, husband Richard and their children Isabella, seven, and Harry, four. Walks around local beauty spots such as Digley Reservoir are a regular feature of their spare time.
Says Clare-Marie: “I am very fortunate to live in a really beautiful place.”
Family: Married to Richard with daughter Isabella, seven, and Harry, five
Car: Fiat 500
Holidays: We have a villa in Nice in the South of France.
First job: Marketing assistant for Thomas Cook
Best thing about the job? It doesn’t feel like a job. I love what I do. I have the work-life balance I always wanted
Worst thing about the job? Nothing! I even enjoy doing the bookkeeping, having managed budgets in the past
Business tip: Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself you won’t be successful in business
Work: Strategy, marketing, PR, social media and event management
Phone: 07973 916942.