Catching Up With Steph Turner
Hey, everyone! Today’s post is an exciting one – a mini catch-up Q&A with Steph Turner. Steph was one of the first people I interviewed for On The Pit Wall, back in April last year. Since then, Steph has entered motorsport full-time with a race marketing position at Formula E. Recently, I spoke to her to talk about her job and her experiences working for the revolutionary series. Enjoy and be sure to give On The Pit Wall a follow on Instagram!
So, Steph, how did the position at Formula E come about?
“It was actually something I saw on LinkedIn, during a period of time when I wanted to get into motorsport so badly. Last time we spoke, I’d been doing a few bits here and there with F1 in Schools, Total Karting Zero, and Driven By Diversity, so I kind of dabbled a bit. I wanted to find a full-time job in motorsport. So I saw that Formula E were looking for a marketing executive, which I applied for. I got down to the final two, when the third lockdown happened December 2020/January 2021. There were actually two positions open, one on the brand side and one on the race side of the marketing team. Unfortunately, the role I was going for had been pulled due to COVID. Around six months later, I got an email out of the blue from the marketing team at Formula E asking if I was still interested. I was like ‘absolutely!’. It all happened very quickly, a couple of chats after that I had a job offer. In a sense, the process was very linear. Got there in the end!”
Your role at Formula E started in brand marketing but then a few weeks later, you started a job in race marketing. How did those positions differ?
“Brand marketing is the role that I started in at Formula E. That’s very much looking at how we promote the brand and the championship as a whole – whether that’s season by season doing brand campaigns, working on CRM (customer relationship management), or fan comms. It focuses essentially on the ways to promote the series and grow the fan base, either through our gaming products, influencers and content creators or other touchpoints like that.
In terms of race marketing, that’s focused on the racing product and the events that we run. So rather than looking at the brand as a whole, race marketing is distilled into local promotions, like promoting ticket sales to races in the cities we race in. Our number one goal is to fill out every venue we race in. Getting people in London, or Rome, or New York, to know there’s a race on, to buy their tickets, and to bring a buzz to that city.”
And what is the travel like for your job?
“This last season, I travelled to every race, which was my own choice. The way it works with my role is that I technically don’t have to, but it was just myself and my manager this season. We split the calendar in half and each led fifty percent of the races. But as it was my first season, I was really keen to go to all of the races and get a flavour of how each race differs – they have their similarities, but different markets operate differently.”
How do the races differ?
“The main way is culture and the ways of working across different markets. In Formula E, we race obviously in not just Europe, but in North America, Africa, and Asia too.
So that’s the key difference but also some races will be promoter led, like Formula 1. That means the promoter will buy the rights to run a race and will have the name of Formula E above the door, so to speak. They put on the events and use their own budget. In terms of operator races, it’s where we at Formula E run the race ourselves. For my role, that determines how much I input and the way I input.”
Huh, I never realised there were two separate types: operator and promoter-led events.
Actually, last time we spoke, you weren’t working in motorsport, but at a marketing firm. I wanted to ask, how has the transition been, applying those marketing principles to motorsport?
“It was different in the sense that I’d never worked for any motorsport brands officially, but because I like to think I know the product very well after being a passionate fan for many years, I felt it was quite easy to blend into the ways things are done at Formula E. And that was because I already had a kind of insight to the products and theories. In terms of the actual marketing skills, however, after joining on the brand side they asked me if I wanted to make the switch on to the race side. That was as they’d seen my soft skills, interacting with people at the London E-Prix (Steph’s first race) and they felt that I would excel even more on the race side. And I love it, but that way of marketing is very different to what I’d known previously. Essentially, it’s live event marketing – like promoting ticket sales – and that was something I’d never done before. So although you can apply the principles of marketing, you have to do it in a slightly different way. It’s been a learning curve, but something that I really relished and found really interesting. Because I love learning. This opportunity, well, it’s been great to apply and learn some new skills.”
Hmm, so there were new skills that had to be developed along the process.
“Yeah, exactly. Although I’d worked internationally before, there are obviously some cultures and countries that I had not yet encountered that I now am dealing with. So there’s the learning how each market operates differently. But then it’s also how you sell to consumers, because in my last role, it was very much a B2B marketing agency. Whereas now, my objective is to sell these tickets to consumers, everyday fans.”
Interesting. And what have been some of your favourite experiences since joining Formula E?
“That’s a good question because it’s been such a whirlwind year. Definitely the travelling, getting to see different countries, being very much on the go. Of course, alongside working with such a talented team and learning so much from them. It really feels like a travelling family, a travelling circus. I love that aspect.
But then in terms of actual work and what we’ve delivered, turning the Empire State Building in Formula E blue the night before our doubleheader was a pinch me moment. We were watching from a rooftop, where we were capturing content for our digital channels. And the moment when the lights just turned on. Amazing. Throughout the night, they got brighter and stronger. The New York City skyline is so iconic and to see that we’d kind of taken that over was super, super cool.”
Massive thank you to Steph for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak to me for On The Pit Wall! It’s been so great to keep in touch throughout the past year and I wish you all the best in the future.
Check out my first post with Steph for a more in-depth look at how she got into motorsport and her previous projects.
COVER IMAGE CREDIT: @stephjturner_ on Instagram