Dawn-Elizabeth Howe

Tombola is the biggest Bingo site in the UK. As Head of Marketing I am part of the senior management team and I’m responsible for the acquisition strategy. My role is to drive new players to the site. This is achieved through managing the substantial marketing budget across on and offline media channels. The challenge is to constantly deliver volumes of new players whilst at a low cost per acquisition (CPA). I do this by constantly reviewing existing channels and up and down weighting spend in accordance to what drives strong results. The role is hugely varied working across marketing channels – Tombola’s core spend is on TV – it’s always fun producing new TV adverts and setting up sponsorships deals. In the past this has included ITV’s Emmerdale and also Sunderland Association Football Club. We also advertise in magazines, run events and have presence online with affiliate marketing, pay per click (PPC), search engine optimisation (SEO) and display.

My career actually started at the University of Northampton – my first role was a Marketing Assistant from November 1998 to May 1999 on a government funded project getting small and medium sized businesses to consider employing graduates. This first role gave me lots of exposure to aspects of marketing from branding to direct sales and I was sure I was on the right career path so was delighted my second job to accept a Sales Representative role for a train operator in London. Having proved myself by getting the highest number of sales in the team I was offered a role in the marketing team to manage third party marketing activity which included managing the sales reps! Two years later, I was head hunted to another train company and part of this offer included sponsoring me to attend evening classes and study for a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing.

Firstly, I would not have been able to get a job in marketing in the first place if I didn’t have my degree. During my final year at the University of Northampton, I set up a meeting with the careers advice department to discuss getting a further qualification in marketing after completing my BA degree. However, I was given sound advice to get a job and see if the company would sponsor my further education – and this is exactly what happened. Whilst experience is great, it was really grounding to then have the theory to apply to strategy and planning, again this also helped me gain more confidence when presenting marketing plans to company CEOs when bidding for budget each year! Having a couple of years’ experience before my diploma meant I could apply my theory directly to my work and this was hugely beneficial.

Marketing is a fascinating, constantly evolving discipline. During my fifteen years’ experience I have seen huge digital growth, creating new products (smartphones, online Bingo, apps) and marketing channels (mobile marketing) so I never really stop learning as there is the need to keep moving forward and embracing new technology to engage customers.

Whilst my degree qualification wasn’t vocational it gave me the building blocks I needed to get my career off the ground. My first couple of jobs required a degree entry level and this qualification gave me confidence and theoretical process to apply within the working environment – I know I wouldn’t have the career I have now without it.

I’m a big believer that luck doesn’t just happen – you make it happen through hard work. Research companies thoroughly before interviews and don’t be afraid to approach companies directly even if you have been given an agency contact. Try and get work experience in summer holidays – even if it’s only a couple of weeks – this will be a big advantage on your CV. I studied American Studies with Media Studies. As my degree included Media studies after two years’ work experience I qualified to study for my post graduate marketing diploma.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University of Northampton – the lecturers were passionate and really supportive. Personally, the social life was great – I met my husband here and made some great friends that we regularly still see today despite there being hundreds of miles between us.