The Fishbowl: Phil Ricketts, Marketreach
The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions will be drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.
This week is Phil Ricketts, wholesale commercial director at MarketReach.
Phil Ricketts has held various positions in partnerships, strategy, marketing, sales and business development at Royal Mail and MarketReach since 2002.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a young boy, sports meant everything to me, especially football, and I had dreams of becoming a professional sportsman.
I was on track to fulfilling this ambition as I played for Reading Football Club as a teenager. I absolutely loved it, but unfortunately, those dreams of becoming an athlete were short-lived due to injuries when I was just 16.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
I live by the motto “life is not a dress rehearsal, so enjoy every day.” I strongly believe in spending your time doing what you enjoy.
But fulfilment also comes from ensuring you feel challenged, and having the opportunity to continually learn and develop. This is particularly true for the roles we choose — life is too short to be stuck doing something that doesn’t fulfil you or helps you develop.
Outside your own company, which sales team is doing really well?
There are lots to celebrate. In the media industry, you could say out-of-home (OOH). Much like direct mail, it’s a traditional channel that is growing and innovating through tech and digital, and that’s impressive.
What is one non-work related goal that you would like to achieve in the next five years?
I am a big fan of the BBC show, Race Across the World, and I would love to do my own version of it (clearly on a much bigger budget and minus the overnight coaches and trains).
I would also love to travel across South America, which is a big life goal of mine. Visiting at least six countries on that continent would be phenomenal.
**Peer question** What has been your most embarrassing professional moment?
I’ve had many unglamorous moments, one that sticks in my mind includes falling off stage whilst presenting an industry award… It still makes me cringe when I think about it. Definitely memorable for all the wrong reasons!
Early in my career, it also always felt embarrassing doing something new or out of my comfort zone. I have learnt over time that sometimes you just have to take those risks and do it. It’s all part of life and learning and you’ll feel better for putting yourself out there and trying — even if it fails.
**Question from Verica Djurdjevic, chief revenue officer, Channel 4.
What keeps coming up in conversations with clients at the moment?
Making sustainable choices is a major topic with clients; it is one of the reasons why earlier this year we partnered with consultancy firm WSP to launch the UK’s first Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of mail. We also commissioned a 360 environmental analysis through C&E Advisory. The findings helped show that if we take every opportunity to regenerate, reinvent, reduce, reuse and recycle, mail can contribute to a circular economy.
But critically, we also wanted to help brands to make informed choices about how to produce mail more sustainably so we designed an interactive LCA tool on our website so that our clients could compare the carbon footprint of the 10 most commonly used mail formats.
We also get many brands come to us saying they are struggling to maintain engagement, particularly consumer brands in these difficult cost-of-living times. Our data shows that 95% of mail is engaged with, and 30% leads to action, whether that’s consumers buying, donating, going online or sharing it with someone. It’s a great solution within the marketing mix for clients looking to maintain and deliver results in the current economic climate.
**Peer question** How do you develop, motivate and engage your team in a hybrid working environment?
This is very topical and can be a challenging leadership conundrum for many teams. Hybrid working has many benefits but also drawbacks and impacts on individuals and teams in different ways.
I don’t believe there is therefore a one-size-fits-all approach and it is important that everyone is treated as an individual and that high levels of trust are established in my teams’ decisions and choices. I encourage them to be honest with me about their professional needs so that they can thrive in their roles.
Circumstances change all the time and we’ve got to adapt, so it’s important that you check in regularly with everyone, listening to their concerns or suggestions and ensuring that everyone has the right level of support and working environment to thrive.
**Question from Mark Bucknell, chief commercial officer at JCDecaux UK.
When did you last change your mind about something?
The world moves so fast and when new information is available, sometimes it can challenge the original decision you made, and it requires change. And this is OK – you have got to constantly refresh what you do, and life is sometimes about taking calculated risks. Fail fast, learn and move forward.
**Peer question** If you could work anywhere in the world, where would you and why?
Vancouver in Canada. It’s a small city by the sea, so great for being outside and providing me with that work/life balance, which is important to me. It also has a good climate — I could go skiing in the winter and the summers would be comfortable. Barbados, of course, also comes to mind, but the rum punches in the sun would be too much of a distraction!
** Question from Lydia Parker, head of international agencies at Samsung Ads Europe.
What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
I’ve got a perpetual yearning for education and learning new things. I still have an avid interest in sports, and I find topics related to high performing athletes, the human body and wellbeing really fascinating. So who knows? You could find me further indulging my interests through higher education in some way or another.
Read more Fishbowl interviews here and see what media’s top salespeople say about working in the industry and what concerns their clients. To suggest an interviewee, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.