Carolyn Hyams is a content marketing visionary, and the brains behind one of Australia’s most compelling corporate owned-and-earned media success stories.
A true people powerhouse, Carolyn helped to build Aquent in Australia into what it is today – a global recruiter that helps organisations find, grow, and support their most valuable resource: employees. Carolyn conceptualised an entirely new way to reach her audience by embedding social media and content as part of the company’s DNA.
“We were the first recruitment agency to focus on social and content marketing to build our brand,” Carolyn says. “No paid advertising!”
Carolyn recently celebrated her 20-year work anniversary with Aquent. So, as we approach 2022, we look back on her decorated career and discover her most important lessons.
One of her biggest achievements was leading the marketing and brand development that launched Firebrand Talent in 2010 with the opening of 10 offices in eight countries on the same day – and with no marketing budget. Within two years, Firebrand had won Best Boutique Agency and Best Brand at the Recruitment Excellence Awards, and made a name for itself as a leader in the digital marketing and creative recruitment space.
Prior to Firebrand, Carolyn helped to grow Aquent’s international recruitment business in the Asia Pacific region and Europe, building it from four offices in three countries to 18 offices in 11 countries outside of North America. Aquent won many awards including Best Specialist Recruitment Agency (SEEK awards) and Best Multinational Agency (Recruitment Excellence Awards).
With her strong focus on Aquent‘s social media and content activations, and collaboration with industry experts on the Aquent blog and #Digitalks events, Carolyn harnesses the collective effort to gain awareness at scale and a larger share of voice. And her ability to weave together the intricate threads of data, customer and content delivers standout business results.
What sets Carolyn apart is her drive for professional growth and development. With no previous marketing experience but with a boatload of potential, she was offered a dream role as an Asia-Pacific marketing associate at Aquent, and says she knew that was her moment to make things happen.
“My future boss and mentor Greg Savage saw potential in me, and for that, I’m forever grateful.”
Fast-forward two decades and Carolyn is now at the helm, steering her team toward new digital opportunities that have the power to get people talking. And while the industry is ever-changing, Carolyn’s ideals have held fast, and she remains a passionate “enemy of average” who is constantly learning and looking for ways to improve.
What do you do?
Since 2013, I’ve been the marketing director at Aquent Australia. We’re a global workforce solutions company, and the world’s largest recruitment specialist in digital marketing, creative and development.
I’m responsible for the digital marketing strategy and execution for Aquent in Australia. I apply a local and international lens to marketing across digital, content and social media, as well as brand development and strategy on everything from sponsorship and events to design.
The thing I love most about digital marketing is that everything can be tracked and measured. Analysing the results of your marketing initiatives, good or bad, is such an important step in building your campaign.
There is no use repeating the same things over and over again and expecting a different result, so everything we do needs to evolve and be optimised for improvement.
I really enjoy mentoring and helping others. I often hire people in my team who are hungry to develop their career and digital marketing skillset. Helping those with an innate sense of curiosity and an amazing positive attitude to grow in their role gives me great satisfaction. I want to see them build their personal brand and achieve the goals they’ve set themselves.
What mantra are you living by this year?
My mantra is “lead with empathy”. The past two years have been very tough for everyone, including job seekers and our clients.
We’ve been very sensitive to this fact and have ensured that any marketing we do is helpful, valuable and empathetic.
What’s the most important thing marketers can do to drive commercial outcomes?
Stop talking about yourselves and start focusing on your customers’ needs. And let the data do the talking. I’ve learnt that the easiest, most authentic way to the hearts and minds of our talent and our clients is to first build trust in our brand. Build the relationships, provide value beyond what is expected, communicate well and often, and everyone reaps the rewards.
What’s a cracking book you’d recommend or podcast you swear by?
I’m an avid reader and one of the best books I’ve read recently is The Choice by Edith Eger. It’s a true story about how Edith survived the holocaust and came to realise that she could choose how to respond to such adversity. She became a psychologist, so the book is filled with incredible advice about resilience that anyone can relate to.
I also loved Trevor Young’s book Content Marketing For PR: How to Build Brand Visibility, Influence and Trust in Today’s Social Age. It’s so practical in nature, with lots of case studies.
Who are your go-to thought leaders, and why?
When it comes to communicating brand purpose and vision, Richard Sauerman – aka ‘The Brand Guy’ – is the one person I look to above all others. We’ve engaged him multiple times over the years to help us articulate our brand purpose and vision. He always hits the nail on the head, without fail.
I’ve also known Trevor Young for many years and I continue to learn so much from him. He truly believes in building trust and reputation in your brand through value-added content marketing, as well as building your village of support through generosity of knowledge.
I have to mention Greg Savage, too. He employed me in 2001 and we worked together for 13 years, growing the Aquent and Firebrand brands. He was my manager and mentor and taught me everything I needed to know about recruitment.
Our favourite qu: What’s your top beer or wine recommendation?
I love drinking smooth red wine (bonus points for organic) and single malt whisky. My favourite red wine at the moment is a tasty Moroccan number, Alain Graillot Tandem Syrah du Maroc 2015.
My favourite whisky, on the other hand, is the Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or single malt – it’s spectacularly smooth.
We think our eDM Story Lab is pretty cool – hopefully you do too.