Apparently you’re meant to do reading in University College London’s ‘reading week’. I took it to mean a half-term for the lecturers, and decided to ask Richard and Matt if I could spend a couple of days with them at Space instead. They agreed, and were willing to help me out and show me what they do.

Who am I and how did I end up here?

I’m a second year History student at UCL. Probably quite important to be reading, then. But I thought coming to Space and learning more about what interested me was preferable to learning about the folk from Massachusetts who rolled a giant cheese all the way to the White House for President Jefferson in 1802. Quite topical really.

Enough cheese already

Ok, so. Space Marketing and Communication. I know what marketing means; selling stuff, right? And communication, one of those buzz words that litters my CV. (Basically means that I can talk to people. Lots of different types of people. Foreigners, too.)

It actually turns out that Richard and Matt do a lot more than selling and talking. I’ve been to networking breakfast, (first time since September 2015 that I’ve seen 7am), seen how email marketing works, researched and identified good and bad copy, and sat in on a meeting about R&D tax. Is it wrong that I enjoyed the tax bit?

Down to work

I spoke to Richard this morning about knowing how customers buy in order to sell to them – and the training and information that they give to their clients. We identified some different stages of a buying process – from having a need for something, through to making an informed decision on a potential purchase, based on your options.

That all seemed fairly simple to me. I wanted a car over the summer, I realised I could afford a BMW (manufactured when I was 6), and after looking at a couple, I bought one within my price range.

Getting spooky

I also bought some clothes online at the weekend. Now, this is where it gets interesting. The same steps occurred – I wanted, I shopped around, I bought. However, I realised that it hadn’t been so much of an autonomous decision. New Look had sent me a 20% off ‘birthday’ email. I went online, looked for what I wanted, and bought it, getting my 20% off.

Had the items been sitting in my basket for a couple of days, I’m sure they would have reminded me, letting me know they had a solution for filling my university wardrobe. Richard told me to expect another email soon, offering me the best of their autumnal collection and dangling another carrot in front of me ready for a pre-Christmas sale.

So, from starting to look for clothes online, to ending up being ingeniously, yet carefully harassed and manipulated by a retailer into a sale, it’s fair to say I’ve begun to see advertising and marketing from a completely different viewpoint. I don’t even like New Look that much.

They knew me, they sold me, and I bought it

From the information I provided online – my date of birth, two addresses (classic student) and what sort of clothes I was after, they can begin to build a profile of me, and therefore shape their marketing strategy to influence my future decisions.

Pretty clever stuff hey. Until this morning I’d never really thought about how you can be sold something so easily, as long as you’re being drip fed the right information, at the right time. Not too much, not too little. All the while building a client-business relationship.

Not just two old blokes with bad jumpers. I’ve actually learned something

I guess this shows that Richard is good at what he does. (Not that I have to say that, at all…)

Back to the cheese. And the unrivalled importance of the English canal system in the Industrial Revolution. Or whether it really was a revolution. Anyway, I can firmly say that I’ve really enjoyed my time here at Space, and learned a lot about what Richard and Matt do for their clients.

I’m sure I’ll think differently about marketing emails I’m receiving, and whether adding a Mulberry handbag to my Selfridges shopping bag means they’ll send me a 20% off voucher. Wishful thinking.

Thank you to Space for a really great couple of days!