The Blog.


The Day I Quit My Job. What They Don’t Teach You At School.

23rd July 2018


Who remembers being asked at school (at least once) what they wanted to be when they grew up? Did you actually know the answer? If you did know the answer have you ended up doing what you predicted or have you gone down another path?

When you graduated school or university was it assumed you would get a job working for someone else? Did you find people seemed predominantly concerned with how much you would earn and what your job title would be rather than what you would actually be doing or where you’d be going?

If any of these things ring true for you then we’re on the same page. When I was in the education system the one very useful piece of advice that no one gave me (apart from perhaps my parents) was that not knowing what you want to do is totally fine, in fact it’s normal. You aren’t supposed to know what you want your whole life to look like at a young age, in fact there are people in their thirties and forties still working it out. Now don’t get me wrong i’m not advocating a lack of direction or encouraging laziness or indecision, just the thought that “not knowing” is okay.

It may seem a little cheesy to say, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” but I honestly think this saying couldn’t be more true. And yet the number of people complaining “I hate Monday’s” is astoundingly high.

Why? Because what “they” should really be saying is, do what you love and the rest will come, chase the lifestyle, chase the dream. If you “do what you can’t” one thing’s for sure, you’ll be unique. Many people are happy to settle into a routine, work their way up the job title and salary ladder and watch the pay check roll in like clockwork every month. To many, this is the dream, and there is nothing wrong with that, good for them — but it’s not for everyone.

Two years ago I set out on my own. I was working for a reputable organisation and after a few years I realised there was little room to grow and, as much as I was fond of the company, there was no chance to chase my dreams. So I became a Digital Marketing freelancer, (storyteller) — with the aim of building my client base to eventually run my own creative agency.

The day I quit my job I couldn’t help but notice the look of surprise on people’s faces when, almost uniformly, they asked me “who are you going to work for,” when I answered “myself” they simply looked at me like, “yeah right, so we’ll see you in a year when you come back looking for a job, you must be out of your mind.”

Lesson number one, never underestimate ambition; it comes in all shapes and sizes.

I’m now two years down the line with Hannah Cotterell Media and what have I learned so far?

1. You don’t have all the answers, nor should you. If you’d asked me as a kid if I would one day be running my own Digital Marketing operation I would probably have laughed.
Lesson two: you don’t always know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, that’s okay.

2. Learning. I have learnt more in two years working for myself than I ever did working for someone else. Since going it alone I have learnt photography, drone flying, how to edit videos and operate camera equipment as well as general SEO, Google Advertising skills and website building. The list is endless. Why? Because I had the time and I was interested. 
Lesson three: if it interests you, you’ll own it, especially when there’s no one else to do it for you.

3. Money. Yes it’s scary being responsible for your own paycheck and yes sorting out taxes is definitely NOT fun. Conversely the opportunity to earn more is higher and with greater reward. 
Lesson four: chase what you love, do what you can’t, follow the lifestyle and the rest will come.

4. The chase. Never become complacent, always hunt new work. If you’re not a sales person then you will need to be.

5. Forget the nine to five. Work when you’re productive, when your clients need you to and when you do your best work. There is no more Monday to Friday, nine to five, you just get shit done. This outdated ideology that we all need to march in like penguins and work together at the same time is honestly baffling. Life’s not a treadmill, no one person is the same, so who’s to say we all operate efficiently at the same times of day? 
Lesson six: be good at what you do, never let your clients down, always get the job done and no one will care where or when you do it!

6. Loyalty. Earn the respect of people you work with, it will result in more work and you will learn to have each others’ back. 
Lesson seven: the easiest business you will ever attain is through referral.

So what do you say to the young kid who’s yet to work all this out?

Never be afraid of failure, be afraid of never having the nerve to try at all. If you fail, learn from it, reset, pick yourself up and start again. Take criticism well and learn from that too, but remembers sometimes haters will be haters, don’t let them get you down. What one person can do, so can another. Some of the best entrepreneurs in this world have failed many times over before they succeeded, the difference is they didn’t give up.

Chase The Lifestyle. Chase The Dream. The Rest Will Come.

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by the number of times I fell down and I got back up again.”

Nelson Mandela.

Hannah Cotterell

Why Storytellers Are The New Marketing Masters

1st April 2018

What is a story, what relevance does it have within marketing media and why on earth is it important? Didn’t we leave story-time behind with our parents when we were kids?

It could be argued that storytelling has never been more relevant or more important for modern brands looking for longevity and loyalty with their customers. For ages I have been talking about what I call “Spider Marketing”. We all know in the modern day our audiences have shorter attention spans (I am definitely one of them), less time and a greater tolerance for ignoring blatant advertising.

It used to be the case that marketers would create a product/brand based advert and print it in a magazine, maybe on a billboard or two and hey presto the word was out there! Today our customers need to hear and see our message from a variety of sources, numerous times, before the message even starts to sink in. Oh and to make it more complicated there are now seemingly endless communication platforms to talk to them through.

A few years ago I was sitting in front of my boss trying to explain how I saw marketing communications working effectively. The best way I could describe it was by likening it to a spiderweb of communication. You have your core of the business where you have all your “buzz,” everything you want to talk about. You have your website to host this information and then you have a spider of communication platforms to get that message out. This may be through social media sites, forums, exhibitions, sponsorship, magazines, ambassadors and newsletters, to name but only a few.

So where does storytelling come into all of this?

Look around you and you’ll probably see that you and your friends follow stories all the time! For me it’s everything from the Volvo Ocean Race to the Meerkat that provides my car insurance and lives in a manor house. Oh and lets not forget the Budweiser Clydesdale carthorses that I just can’t get enough of.

It is my belief that audiences no longer like being attacked with overtly sales based adverts promoting a product or service that intrudes on their day, its USP’s (unique selling points)and lots of the boring reasons why we should all part with our hard earned cash for it.

I believe that every brand has a story and so do its products, services and even its clients. If you can find clever ways to use those stories to showcase your brand in a way that is engaging, not only will your customers and potential customers want to “follow” your brand, to feed their own addictions, they may even become your most valuable ambassadors.

Emotional purchasing is one of the strongest assets we as media professionals, marketers, storytellers (whatever you want to call us) can tap into. Many overtly corporate companies will tell you they don’t have budget for this “fluff” or the time and inclination to waste time on this; with staff frightened of creativity in favour of accepted mediocrity.

They absolutely cannot afford not to.

It doesn’t happen overnight.

Okay so you decide your brand has a character and that character has a story to tell. You are four months in and you bin the whole idea because the world isn’t talking about you yet and, “I can’t see a direct correlation with sales so it’s total rubbish!

Don’t be so short sighted.

These things don’t happen overnight and to get people to buy into your story you need to be very consistent and persistent with your message, your brand and what you have to say, stick with it, be proactive and the interest will grow. If you don’t dedicate the time to being interested yourself, to making your team interested in it, you can hardly expect your customers to buy into it as well. You and your team are your story, so own it.

This is all well and good but how is storytelling going to sell products and services? Every time someone follows your story, engages with your brand, likes your page and talks about you to a friend you are getting exposure. Nothing is stronger than word-of-mouth.

A few years ago I started building the brand from a sailing team called Team Maverick. I built their website, designed their social media and content strategy and starting telling the story of the unique team who were shaking-up the yacht racing industry. For the first six months I was posting videos and photos and emotionally engaging shots with attractive inspiring captions encouraging people to #BeaMaverick, seemingly only a few people were listening. But both myself and our team believed in our brand and what we stood for.

Then the tide turned. One day our team suffered a particularly tough race, we had to retire with a broken boat and a forlorn crew who’d put their heart soul and blood into the boat and the race. Arriving with an escort in the dark, in unsociable hours of the morning to a seemingly empty dock, Team Maverick passed a bar that was throwing a rowdy late night party. As the team passed by; the bar turned off the music and the partygoers, who had been following our story, started chanting — “Maverick, Maverick, Maverick, Maverick, Maverick.” The following day we had lots of followers professing they wanted to #BeaMaverick.

Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling.

When I started out on my own nearly two years ago I had no idea I’d end up where I am today. My experiences and the amazing people and brands I have worked with in this time have only reinforced my belief in storytelling and the strength it can build within great brands around the world.

It is my hope that companies will begin to think bigger, get out of their, “corporately mediocre box,” and not be afraid to break the mould, shake things up, make mistakes, pick themselves up and go again.

Remove the red tape, give employees more freedom to be creative and see where it takes them and you. I believe your audiences will respect you for it and if anything will reward you better with their loyalty!

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out.” Dr. Seuss

You can find out more about me at:

If you got this far in the article, thank you for listening.