Category Archives: Marketing

LATAM to Europe + Fearless Girl – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with President of McCann Worldgroup Europe

Interview starts at 20:49

In my final csuitepodcast interview from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Pablo Walker, President of McCann Worldgroup Europe where we talked about the culture differences he’d experienced since moving from Latin America to Europe, plus his thoughts on the 3 x Cannes Lions Grand Prix winning campaign, ‘Fearless Girl’.

Chatting with Pablo Walker , President of McCann Worldgroup

Chatting with Pablo Walker , President of McCann Worldgroup

Pablo has been at McCann for about 25 years, with much of his career in Latin America but moved to Europe a few years ago.

In terms of cultural differences between the two markets, for Pablo, the obvious one in terms of the consumer is language, as in Latin American there are two main languages – Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese and as both are similar, he said that if you speak one, you can understand the other.  However, by contrast in Europe there are more than 30 languages. Therefore, he thinks that in Latin America, there is a lot of cultural activities, such as music, TV and literature that works everywhere in the same way, so there is a regional culture there, but in Europe it is country by country culture, and so he thinks that this makes it much harder to have regional level impact in Europe with the same kind of communications.

From a business perspective though, Pablo cited labour flexibility as a key difference, as he said that in many countries in Europe, it is very inflexible and so in today’s market, where you need to reshape your business very quickly because it may be changing in a very dynamic way, you need flexibility to adapt your structures and he thinks that, compared to Latin America where it is easier to do, he thinks it is very difficult to do this in Europe as it’s slow and very expensive, making it harder for companies to invest, meaning it’s not good for employees either and therefore he believes that this is a dangerous situation.

One thing that is the same across the markets, however, is that the clients are looking for the same everywhere – they all want to improve their top line and want ideas that have an impact in their market that can be measured, whether that market is developed or emerging.

From a creativity perspective though, Pablo said that both regions can learn a lot form each other.  He feels it is more comfortable in Europe, possibly due to the wealth of the region, but in Latin America, you may be able to develop ideas that are more difficult to be acquired in Europe, but then you can implement them more easily in Europe as it may be more difficult to do so in Latin America due to cost. Overall though, he feels that Multiculturalism is an asset in the industry and so believes we need people from different nationalities and gender as his business is one of ideas and those come from everbody.

It was great timing to be speaking with Pablo given McCann had picked up multiple awards at Cannes Lions for their Fearless Girl campaign, including 3 Grand Prix awards and naturally, Pablo was extremely proud and happy with the recognition it was getting.

Fearless Girl (image via Wikipedia)

Fearless Girl (image via Wikipedia)

Fearless Girl was created for McCann’s client, State Street Global Advisors, a New York investment firm, and involved the commissioning of a statue of girl of around 12 years old, that was placed directly opposite Wall Street’s Charging Bull sculpture.  The aim of the campaign was to promoting gender diversity, whilst raising awareness of State Street’s ‘SHE’ fund, which invests in businesses with female executives, among financial communities and was launched to tie in with International Women’s Day, which took place in March.  Pablo said that whilst the initial idea was to place the statue in Wall Street for just one week, due to it being so popular, the aim now was to now keep it there for at least one year.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Content Marketing and all things Barbie – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Mattel

Interview starts at 11:56

In the second part of my final csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Catherine Balsam Schwabar, Chief Content Officer at Mattel, on the topic of Branded Content, plus and all things Barbie!

with Mattel's Catherine Balsam Schwabar

with Mattel’s Catherine Balsam Schwabar

Catherine talked about how content is an expression of the brand in a different format and how brands are now looking at different ways to connect to consumers through the stories the brands have to tell.  She felt that Mattel were in a very fortunate position in that their brands are story driven and much of their narrative is around characters, which allows them to connect with both children and parents and a very content led environment, which works extremely well for them.

Catherine explained that Mattel has always led from a narrative driven standpoint and in fact were among the first companies to advertise to children on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with Disney. But they have been producing content for a long time, when you consider the likes Thomas the Tank Engine or the movies that have featured Barbie in the past.

In fact, Catherine said that the narrative around Barbie’s character continues to evolve.  Barbie now has two new TV series coming out:

‘Dreamtopia’, which is actually about Chelsea, her younger sister:

Launching later this year, ‘Barbie’s Dream House Adventures’, which will be about Barbie and her sisters and puppies and the adventures they have.

Mattel think of Barbie as a person – she is now YouTube vlogger with Twitter and Instagram accounts, and in fact is very active on social media, plus she is now a fashion icon.

Whilst there has been some controversy recently around body image, Catherine said that within the Fashionistas line, Barbie has a celebration of diversity with different ethnicities and body shapes, which has been taken forward with Ken too, with the launch of a new selection of diverse dolls. She added that Mattel tries to think about diversity in all its products and that no matter who you are, you should be able to find yourself in the characters that Mattel is giving you to help you imagine what you can be in the future.   She said that this can be seen in BBDO’s ‘Imagine the possibilities’ campaign where the diverse dolls are seen front and centre in not only how the brand expresses itself to the consumer but also how the girls are expressing themselves back to the brand via social media.

Content is very effective for Mattel.  Catherine said that they recently teamed up with Hudson Media and ABC in the US to make a show call ‘The Toy Box’ where inventors bring their new toys to the show to be judged by kids.  She said it was very successful and the winning toy [ArtsplashTM], launched in May, sold out in many markets, and then appeared on eBay for four times the original price! A second season of The Toy Box is now in production.

They have a similar measurement around content they produce on YouTube for Thomas the Tank Engine and Hot Wheels, where they see a correlation between the connection their consumers have with that content and rising sales.

Catherine said that as long as the company is connecting authentically, on the right platform, reaching the right audience at the right time, it works for the business.  However, their biggest challenge is in keeping up with the rapidly changing relationship that consumers have with their screens.  Therefore, when thinking about narrative marketing, Mattel need to write for all different screens simultaneously and on a global scale.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Data & Creativity – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Microsoft & H+K Strategies

In part one of my third csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with two previous guests of the show, Scott Allen, CMO of Microsoft UK and Vikki Chowney, ‎Director of Content & Publishing Strategies, H+K Strategies about Data & Creativity.

Chatting with Scott Allen and Vikki Chowney

Chatting with Scott Allen and Vikki Chowney

Scott had been part of a panel session at the Festival with other CMOs from Pinterest, Dropbox and Hilton Hotels in a session entitled ‘Clash of the Titans – Where data clashes with creativity’.  He explained that it was to see how CMOs can best use the wealth of data available to them, as they tend to be rich in data but poor on insight.  Within his panel, Scott said they discussed whether or not companies are too data focused at the expense of creativity within your marketing plan, or visa versa, hiring for a modern marketing organisation if you are thinking about data and having more technical proficient people in your team, how we make data more meaningful and whether there is a need for both global and local content anymore as the data is so specific and so does the word ‘glocal’ go away now.  It was therefore a number of those topics that I wanted to therefore expand on during our podcast interview.

Vikki said that one aspect of this area that excited her was audience mapping, explain that from a PR perspective, you are now able to get great and very granular audience insights, something that is no longer cost prohibitive, which if used appropriately, can inform creative ideas.

In terms of hiring, Scott had previously said on the show that I produced in association with MOI Global, that he would like to hire people who are part creative and part scientist, but he added that it’s not a skillset that is easy to find. However, he said he looks to employ people who are business savvy, i.e., those who look at business objectives first rather than marketing tactics first, but he also wants them to have an analytical and data interpreter’s mind set. He added that whilst there is a growing use of AI technology, without the human intervention and interpretation, it doesn’t become that meaningful for you. Finally, Scott feels that the ideal people need to be comfortable integrating into the creative side of the marketing team, so the data team and creative team can lead the campaign strategy and planning together.

This all aligned with the profile of people that Vikki said H+K Strategies are recruiting too, which has changed from people with classic traditional agency experience. She said that her agency are now hiring from publishers and digital agencies, plus people who build things, so that they can work with data creatively, giving them very specific roles built on those outputs and expertise, rather than broad/brushstroke agency titles.  She said that the key to making it work is to ensure that everyone collaborates and doesn’t work in silos.

When it comes to data and creativity working together, Vikki gave an example from a recent Intel project where, using audience mapping, they looked at where people spent their time and what they were interested in. The project was in partnership with the RSC, during the showing of the Tempest at the Globe Theatre in London. She explained that by using data, they saw that the audience Intel were trying to reach about the project were high users of Snapchat, and so as a result, they came up with the idea to run a Snapchat filter – a nice simple way to use a platform already being used by the audience in a cool way.

Finally, Scott explained that data can also help you decide what not to do. As an example, he said that instead of doing something you’ve always done because you thought it was successful, data allows you to be even more uber-targeted.  He gave an example of instead of running a generic event on a particular date, you could use data to say, we need to do an event, in Manchester, on this date, with this audience and this profile, because we’ve done some propensity modelling, and these customers are likely to want to purchase from us so that you bring the right people to the venue at the right time, which will make the event more successful. Scott always tells his team to look 90% forward and 10% backwards and he said that this is a good example of how they do that.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

The Anatomy of a Trend – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with WGSN

Interview starts at 31:15

Chatting with WGSN’s Carla Buzasi

Chatting with WGSN’s Carla Buzasi

In the final part of the second csuitepodcast that I recorded in Cannes Lions, I spoke with Carla Buzasi, Global Chief Content Officer at trend forecasters WGSN, who had earlier been presenting at the festival about how to predict and dissect the anatomy of a trend.

Carla explained that at WGSN she has a huge team of journalists, data analysts, consultants and product experts who go out and look for tiny bubble-up trends. These are then all brought together twice a year at the company’s Trends Days, where they then look for common themes, which they then use to predict two years ahead, what will become the big macro trends on how we will live our lives. Carla said that there is a difference between fads, trends and movements. She believes that, whilst some trends do die off, most of them are constantly evolving.

In the past year alone, members of the team at WSGN have been to 95 different countries, visited 89 music festivals and 2755 catwalk shows, looking for trends where people are, or where people are doing interesting things. Some of those places that her team have visited include Coachella, the World Retail Congress and Primavera Sound, plus she had colleagues at Cannes Lions in a reporting capacity too. Alongside these events, Carla said they also monitor hundreds of blogs and social media influencers and that to be a trend forecaster, you must have a very broad and open mind.

Carla said that businesses use the information that WGSN provide according to their customer base, so if a business is targeting someone who is cool and edgy to buy their clothes or stay in their hotel, then they need the early trend predictions.  However, mass market retailers or bigger supermarkets tend to want more established trends. For example quinoa is now on all supermarket shelves, but it would not have worked five years ago – the trend needed to be established.  So one very new trend they are saying to look out for is Rosemary water.

One trend that is very important to Carla is the improvement in diversity in the industry and she said that we’re at the stage where the influence is there because there are some amazing women at the top of the industry who are very visible, on stage in Cannes, are reported in the newspapers and write books. However, she doesn’t feel that we are at the stage of mass adaption and so whilst people love to talk about women in leadership roles, she doesn’t think enough companies are making that happen.  She therefore thinks that the industry is on an upward curve, and whilst she remains very optimistic, she said that there is still more work to be done.

Another trend we spoke about was wearable technology and Carla said that in the future, your fitbit will be built within the fabric of your clothes and you won’t even have to input what you have eaten as the calories can be counted through your sweat! There will also be wearable technology that will be able to detect STDs. Carla said that the CEO of fitbit would like the wearable tech to become like wearing a seatbelt in that you won’t leave home without being able to collect data on all aspects of your life – we are obsessed with data, so Carla sees a bright future for wearable technology.

As for the trends that Carla noticed at the Festival, she said she was going to say Goat Yoga [seriously!] but she hadn’t seen so much of that in Cannes.  Instead, she said that in her presentation, she had used the catchphrase ‘bored is the new black’ and so people need to embrace boredom more than they do at the moment – we never pause, we are always looking at our phones.  However, she said that it’s really important to give your brain time to recharge and reboot, adding that people often say they have their best ideas in the shower, which is probably because there is nothing there to distract them.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Brands and Music Artists + Era of the Engineer – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Young Guru and Jerald Cooper

Interview starts at 19:07

Chatting with Young Guru (left) and Jerald Cooper (right)

Chatting with Young Guru (left) and Jerald Cooper (right)

Part three of the second csuitepodcast that I recorded in Cannes Lions was probably my favourite interview this year at Cannes, as I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with two truly inspiration gentlemen – Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer, Young Guru, and talent manager and entrepreneur Jerald Cooper.  Guru is best known as Jay-Z’s personal music engineer and has been described by The Wall Street Journal as ‘the most influential man in hip hop that you have never heard of’.  He had just taken part in a panel discussion organised by FleishmanHillard titled ‘Talking Tunes and Human Truths’ that took place in the ICCO House of PR, where they discussed how music effects people and how to become and remain authentic to what you are doing – he feels that authenticity is a huge part of advertising, PR and marketing.  He also said they talked about the challenges of choices you have to make when dealing with PR in terms of issues you may want to represent and how you can best do that, as well as how agencies can work with the creatives [music artists] they want to use.  We therefore continued that discussion in our podcast interview, but also got on to chat about their own project called ‘Era of the Engineer’.

In terms of how brands are working with musicians, Guru explained that it’s very different now – it’s no longer about assuming if you align your product with an artist, then the artist’s fan base will move to that product.  Instead, the fan base needs a reason to like the product and so the product has to fit into the life of who those people are. It’s therefore not about choosing the biggest artist to fit with your brand but the most effective.

Guru said that now is an important time for artists to be working with brands, particularly as the music industry has changed, with album sales that artists used to rely on not as large anymore due to the internet.  However, he said the artist has taken the album out of the centre of the circle and replaced it with themselves as the brand.  He therefore believes connecting with companies that can represent or support your brand as an artist is great, but those companies still have to coincide with the ethos of what you are as an artist.

When discussing how Young Guru works with brands himself, Jerald added that one of the key aspects in choosing who you work with is ‘purpose’, both on the brand and artist side.  In fact, he sees it as a trend where he feels that in the next three years, there won’t be a marketing campaign without purpose, which lead nicely onto the subject of Guru and Jerald’s own pet project, ‘Era of the Engineer’.

As a young black male growing up, Guru said that he was into engineering, wanting to know how things were built and constructed, but it was hard to get his friends involved as it was something that was seen as uncool and nerdy. His plan, therefore, with ‘Era of the Engineer’ is to make tall types of engineering cool – not just musical engineering and the draw of working with the highest paid artists, but the understanding that everything has been engineered.

He gave examples, that, as he described, may not be seen as sexy, but running the sound at the McDonalds Drive Through has to be engineered and it’s a job that pays! Therefore, whilst he can draw kids in through his involvement in the music industry, he can then show them all types of engineering. He said that at the moment, coding is the biggest thing and that everyone wants to invent an app, sell it and be the next Mark Zuckerberg, yet there are countries that need infrastructure. and that we will need people who know how to build roads and maintain them. He feels that whilst coding is important and is the language of the future, we need all other types of engineers – we live in a physical world, so we need people who know how to build the physical things, be that roads or the spaceship that’s going to go to Mars.  He added that it is all very nice to make the next app that is sold for millions of dollars but it is rare to achieve that, just like only 10% of people make it as professional sports people.

Jerald added that it will be hard for anyone to try and identify something that has not been engineered and so entering into engineering via sports or any part of culture makes it cool.

Guru and Jerald therefore want to change the culture – they want it to be important to know the facts, to get to the stage where your friends will think you are weird if you don’t know this information. For example, even if you are into fashion, the machines that make the clothes have been engineered, and if you think into the future, you’ll need engineering to make the 3d printers that can make shirts or sneakers.

You can find out more information about Young Guru and Jerald Coopers’ project on the website – eraoftheengineer.com.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Changing the language of communications – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with McCann Worldgroup

In part one of my second csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Harjot Singh, Chief Strategy Officer, McCann Worldgroup EMEA, about the language used in the communications industry, which he has some strong views about and something it felt he hoping to see a culture shift from within the industry.

Chatting with Harjot Singh (left)

Chatting with Harjot Singh (left)

Harjot said that whilst we are living in a time of new realities, old and outdated language are still being used, and so whilst everyone in the industry wants people to like them and says things like “we want to engage, co-create, participate and collaborate”, he said that they call people a target, as in target audience.  To Harjot, a target is something you shoot at or throw things at, with the aim of destroying it- it’s about precision and how hard you hit it. There is no engagement – it’s one way – and he certainly doesn’t want to be a target!

When you then look at the second part of that target audience term, Harjot says that an audience watches a movie in a dark auditorium – they allow a movie to go over them, that it is a passive thing and that you are not joining in or getting involved.  He added that audiences are passive by definition, but we don’t want them to be passive with the messages and conversations we are trying to create.

Harjot is therefore trying to change the language his agency uses as he believes a different discourse is the beginning of a different outcome.  Therefore, at McCann, they do not call people targets, they simply call them people, and instead of message they use engaging conversations and experiences. They also refer to an audience or group of people or communities.  He added that they are also changing the language within their creative briefs and that, in fact, even the word brief has finite possibilities, which is why he refers to it as a springboard instead, as this creates more possibilities.

For Harjot, this approach is simply common sense!

Whilst he continued on his soapbox, Harjot said that this was his ninth visit to Cannes and that he had lost count of the amount of times he had heard the word authentic – it’s another one he feels needs to be reinterpreted as he believes everyone talks about it in a fixed state and that some companies use it as an excuse for not changing. Change can be authentic – for example a chameleon changes colour all the time because that is authentic to the chameleon. Therefore change can be authentic and in linking that to marketing, he said that brands sometimes make excuses for not doing things a certain way because they say it’s their authentic self, but if you are consistently inconsistent, that can be pretty authentic as well! He therefore said that we need to engage with this authentic conversation in a new context – one that’s about improvising, flexing and greater agility.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Convergence of art, technology and healthcare – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Havas Life Medicom & Lucy McRae

It was fantastic to be back at Cannes Lions again this year, made possible by my show sponsors Capstone Hill Search.  Once again, I was set up in the ICCO House of PR, where I managed to improve upon last year’s efforts by interviewing 23 fantastic guests across four podcasts, producing over 2hrs 15mins of content.

The series of shows started off with a fascinating chat with my first two guests, Zuleika Burnett, Executive Director for Creative and Innovation at Havas Life Medicom and Body Architect, Lucy McRae, who had spoken together on the Inspiration Stage at the Festival, probing healthcare frontiers through convergence of art, technology and health.

Chatting with Zuleika Burnett (left) and Lucy McRae

Chatting with Zuleika Burnett (left) and Lucy McRae

Their talk covered three key aspects: vulnerability, serendipity and exquisite risk.

Zuleika explained that they looked at extremes from the superstars in health, to the speakers at Cannes, to the healthcare heroes, i.e., those on the frontline. She said that art and science fiction can drive culture and innovation and that design thinking can shape the future of health.  She was particularly excited to be speaking with Lucy as she felt that lessons can be learnt from the way Lucy approaches creativity and that agencies don’t focus enough on the artistic and creative type of work that she produces.

To understand how creative Lucy is, you simply need to watch some of her work, two examples of which, ‘Make your maker’ and ‘Future day spa’ are below –

MAKE YOUR MAKER Short Film from Lucy McRae on Vimeo.

FUTURE DAY SPA from Lucy McRae on Vimeo.

Lucy’s work is incredibly creative and reminds me of episodes of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror.

Lucy said that ‘Make your maker’ was about exploring the extremes of genetic manipulation, that she was curious about the deliberate modification of life and genetic engineering and that she became fascinated in her own genetic makeup.   The film is about a woman who uses technology as a liquid, who then blends together gender and ego, like a chef would make a cake, with the aim of cloning her own body and eating it to enhance your senses.

Whilst Lucy admitted that the idea of this is absurd, she said the point is to hover the imagination and question which ‘what ifs?’ could exist. How can we bring in mindsets that design with doubt, as this is seen as a weakness?  However, she feels we can use this as a tool or gateway to innovation.  She believes that pivotal moments occur when you are out of your comfort zone and told a story of being on a bus in Canada and willingly putting herself in an uncomfortable position as she introduced herself to a NASA economist. He went on to explain that NASA are concerned with the complications of growing a foetus in zero gravity. It was from this time on that she wondered how can we understand far future ideas like zero gravity and how can it benefit health and life now.

Another example of Lucy’s innovative thinking is in the creation of swallowable perfume – a cosmetic pill that works from the inside out. It turns the body into an atomiser and if colour is added too, we sweat cosmetics. Lucy had presented this idea before the market was ready for it but she’s since had interest from cosmetic houses about commercialising the idea.

Bringing this back to the theme of their presentation, Zuleika said that they had referenced six stories from the Havas Lynx healthcare heroes campaign, which show how vulnerability, serendipity, and exquisite risk come to bear.

One example that Zuleika talked through was when the Royal Free Hospital wanted to grow tissue into a human nose and were looking for someone to mould a human nose, so they could grow it biologically. They found Matt Durran, a glass maker. He took on the challenge and went into experimentation mode and came up with an ideal solution that worked.  The hospital never thought they would work with an artist and Matt never thought he would work in healthcare. This is an example of Serendipity, which is about beautiful chance.

Both guests had a final message to the industry summing up what we’d discussed:

Lucy was interested in provoking people – are they coming from a place where they want to be or are they coming from a mindset that utilises doubt and vulnerability. What if everyone operates from a place of more risk how would that pan out?

Zuleika said that there are exciting opportunities of how we do things in the future. As designers and innovators in healthcare, they play a role in bringing patients and healthcare workers into their work, and there is a need to break down barriers between agencies and the people on front line.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Building a modern marketing organisation of the future Pt.4 – csuitepodcast interview with B2BMarketing & the DMA

Interview starts at 35:09

In the final part of episode 45 of the csuitepodcast, I spoke with Julia Porter, a Business Adviser and Board Member of the DMA and Joel Harrison, Editor-in-chief of B2B Marketing.  Having previously spoken to three in-house practitioners in the podcast, it was good to get a perspective from two experts looking inwards too.

L-R - Scott Allen, Joel Harrison, Gemma Davies, Russell Goldsmith, Julia Porter, Lorraine Graves

L-R – Scott Allen, Joel Harrison, Gemma Davies, Russell Goldsmith, Julia Porter, Lorraine Graves

As an external consultant and non-exec, some of the key areas that Julia looks to her clients to focus on are around how they leverage data and digital, for example, measuring performance against business goals, as well as not getting too wrapped up in the complexity of the technology and ensure that everyone has complete focus on the customer experience and understands who their customer are.

Joel added that he has noticed a trend to moving towards agility in marketing teams’ structures. He said that previously, an organisation would have fixed resources, fixed teams, set timelines and deliver to a schedule.  However, his view was that this is not applicable anymore – flexibility is key as marketing teams need to be responsive to situations.

A theme that ran through all the interviews in the podcast was the challenge facing marketing departments of there being so much data available.  Julia said that they must not be over whelmed by it, but be clear of the outcome they want to deliver. If the company goals are clear, they will be able to use the data but the organisations have got to be agile.

According to Joel, there are many tools available for every budget and all necessary needs to collect and analyse data but the ability to read it must now be a core competency. However, he believes that this task will eventually be taken over by AI.  He said that AI will replace all volume orientated predictable tasks and data analysis is one example. Whilst that may concern people though, he thinks that it will also open up new opportunities.  He gave a recent example he’d seen of a tool that allows you to process content, audit it, value it and design your next piece of content, all carried out instantaneously in a way that humans couldn’t do.

Julia agreed and said that AI will take away repetitive tasks, which allows time for creativity.

Both Julia and Joel spoke of the attributes needed by a modern marketer. Julia said the team will need leadership, functional and specialist skills and as well as an aptitude for managing or at least leveraging data for the business but personal skills are becoming very important too. A person needs to be curious, creative, have a ‘can do’ attitude, and be a self-starter who is collaborate and comfortable with complexity as they will have to learn as they go, building a portfolio of skills, as the ones they have now are not likely to be the same as those needed in 5 or 10 years.

Joel agreed but also felt that something that is often overlooked is business aptitude, understanding the bigger picture for the organisation.  He said that B2BMarketing had recently carried out some research on the careers of their clients and those that were most successful were those who planned their careers carefully – creating milestones and setting objectives.

Finally, each of my guests shared some advice to those wishing to develop a modern marketing organisation:

Joel said that as a marketer, curiosity is fundamental. For the leaders, his advice is to invest in nurturing and developing their team members.

Julia’s advice was to ensure the marketing leader is close to the CEO and the FD as they need to be doing marketing activities to help business grow, if the team can see this, they will be motivated.

This episode of the csuitepodcast was sponsored by B2B creative agency, MOI.  You can find out more about their series of Disrupt Forums by visiting moi-global.com/disrupt/

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Building a modern marketing organisation of the future Pt.3 – csuitepodcast interview with MOI

Interview starts at 25:46

The third part of Episode 45 of the csuitepodcast featured the Managing Director of my show sponsors MOI, Matt Stevens, who I spoke to over skype from Singapore.

Matt Stevens, MD MOI

Matt Stevens, MD MOI

I was talking to Matt ahead of interviewing the panel members of MOI’s Disrupt Forum and he said that he chose the topic of ‘building a modern marketing organisation of the future’ for the event as he felt that business buyers are changing the buying process faster than marketing and sales organisations can change themselves. He added that customer behaviours have changed quite drastically in the consumer world, and these behaviours are now being seen in the purchasing of low value business technologies and even complex enterprise sales. On top of that, cloud technology, in the technology sector, has completely changed the way organisations are able to sell to their audiences, in some instances completely transacting online, providing a completely different challenge to B2B Marketing. His aim, therefore, for the series of forums is to therefore provide marketing leaders with knowledge and understanding, allowing them to share best practises, so they can respond to this change and effectively sell their technologies in today’s world.

Matt feels that the speed of change is catching everyone out, especially around buyer behaviour. A lot of the focus in the forum is around culture and he believes that is difficult to shift, adding that from a marketing perspective, there is an expectation to be able to respond in real time, but keeping up with that change is very difficult. He said that marketing therefore needs to be agile and learn to think of change as a constant, not a response and that we need to understand how we can keep up with customer behaviour change in B2B marketing.

Another aspect that Matt touched on is innovation budgets, enabling businesses to keep up with change.  He believes more innovation budget should be put into piloting techniques in small doses, thinking about fail fast, but succeed quickly, as this gives you the ability to prove results to the rest of the business, which allows for change to become a priority as it can be seen as beneficial to the business as a whole.

Marketing mind-sets within marketing organisations have changed according to Matt.   Whilst marketing is being held back by rest of the business, he said that the one saviour is around customer centricity – we live in a customer centric world, which puts marketing in the right place to drive change. However, he also believes that there is still a lot to be done for marketing to truly transform.

Matt added that we live in a world of influence that we can’t measure as effectively as we used to.  Therefore, to respond to the modern buyer, he said that we need to look at the cultures within the organisation, but the process and measurement behind that culture needs to fundamentally change too.

Disrupt forums are run London, Singapore and San Francisco and Matt has seen there are cultural differences across three areas. In San Francisco, around Silicon Valley and broadly out to North America, Matt said that they are more receptive to pioneering news concepts and piloting new ways to engage their audience, and there is a lot less resistance from the rest business because the theory of failing fast is widely embraced.  However, in Asia, their budgets are smaller, they have a tendency to stick with the success that they have seen in more traditional forms of marketing as there is less risk. He therefore described the two regions as polar opposites, with EMEA sitting right in the middle.

In summary, Matt thinks that one of biggest gaps is the measurement piece.  MOI’s own research from the Disrupt Forums has shown him that marketing leaders see their biggest gap is in the strategic minds within their marketing organisation. He therefore thinks there a need to understanding how to build programs, rather than the execution of their individual elements, that join together to achieve the ultimate goal of revenue.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Building a modern marketing organisation of the future Pt.2 – csuitepodcast interview with Microsoft & Apttus

Interview starts at 6:25

The second part of Show 45 of the csuitepodcast continued the discussion about ‘Building a modern marketing organisation of the future’, that I recorded at MOI’s Disrupt Forum.

L-R - Scott Allen, Joel Harrison, Gemma Davies, Russell Goldsmith, Julia Porter, Lorraine Graves

L-R – Scott Allen, Joel Harrison, Gemma Davies, Russell Goldsmith, Julia Porter, Lorraine Graves

My two guests for this part of the podcast were Scott Allen, CMO at Microsoft UK and Gemma Davies, Marketing Director of Apttus, a Quote-to-Cash and Contract Management Cycle Technology Company that, as Gemma describes, drives vital business processes between a buyer’s interest and the realisation of revenue

Given the topic of the evening was about building marketing organisations, we started our chat by looking at both their team’s structures and the kind of people they look for.  Scott said that the way he hires has changed over the last five years, with his team now being part scientist and part creative. He explained that traditionally, your marcomss professionals would have been great at content marketing, understand digital, good at social engagement, social media, social listening, and great at delivering local experiences, events, but now they also need to be part scientist, which means they need think about how they are more of a financial analyst, more technically proficient, understand data and how to analyse it and how to use data to make forward making decisions. Scott often tells his team to look 10% backwards and 90% forwards as he believes that if data is used in the right way you can absolutely deliver marketing better than the competition, but also make you better marketers too.

In comparison, Apptus clearly has smaller and more nimble local teams than Microsoft, with individuals performing multiple rolls.  Gemma said this means there are less specialists and more generalists, which she believes gives their employees the opportunity to maximise their learning and development.

Both Gemma and Scott agreed that their organisations are sales led – in fact, Scott feels that ultimately all organisations have a sales led focus.  We therefore discussed where the process begins to shift that focus to marketing.

Gemma said that every marketing function has to start with the business outcome in mind as when this goal is understood, they can ensure they have right performing team in place with the right skill sets.

At Microsoft, Scott encourages his marketing team to see customers more, to add value and often open doors within customers that the sales team wouldn’t necessarily get in front of. They think about the customer first and ensure that marketing is embedded in what he describes as the ‘sales rhythm’, so that they can understand what the sales team needs to achieve and what the customers do, which, according to Scott, ultimately makes them better marketers.

In continuing with the theme of building a marketing organisation, and whether culture of the business can be driven by the way the marketing is led, Scott said that everything needs to start at the top with the mission statement.  At Microsoft, that is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. Underneath that statement though, is the strategy, i.e., what you are trying to achieve and what ambition you have to achieve that strategy.

As a leader, Scott therefore talks about creating clarity, generating energy and setting the team up for success, which he then hopes drives a culture of a SMO team that people want to be a part of.

Scott is running five programmes in the UK:

  1. Customer obsession – understanding customers better, running storytelling days, putting posters of customers up to see what they are doing, inviting customers to team meetings.
  2. Growth mind-set – allowing the team to take time out to think of some of the things they wish to go forward with.
  3. Being diverse and inclusive – not just male to female ratio but in terms of different skill sets, mind-sets, and a mix of introvert and extroverts.
  4. Making a difference – bringing back to the team some of their personal passions, for example charity work as a team.
  5. Looking beyond the marketing department – look at how other resources within the business can be marketers for the organisation too.

Gemma felt that their two companies were closely aligned and have a similar approach.  She said that Apptus has a cultural mentality around ’one team’. She has a big internal initiative where, like Scott, she sees every individual within the organisation as a marketer, where they all have a responsibility to represent the business. Marketers are now taking ownership of this cultural piece, which linked well with the theme of the conversation as she felt that marketing is at the heart of the business, driving the strategy and the business culture.

Scott added that you need to bring the vision of the CEO back to the team so that they can relate to how they can make a difference to make the business grow and be successful.

Each of my guests gave an example of how their team’s work develops into a campaign and starting with Scott, he gave the example of ‘Future Decoded’, a Microsoft 2-day event taking place for the fourth time at Excel on 31st October and 1st November that attracts around 11000.  Scott explained that it’s seen as a chance to change the mind-set of customers of where Microsoft is going and the innovation they are driving.  Whilst it’s a marketing led event, Scott said an army of people from within the organisation that are needed to ensure its success.

Gemma’s example was their Apptus ‘Accelerate’ event, which she described as the “quote-to-cash event of the year”, which took place in May in San Francisco, which had 3,500 attendees from multiple industries.  She said that key to its success is bringing their partners, experts and different people from the organisation together to change and shape the industry going forward.

Finally, in keeping with the theme for the podcast, each speaker gave some advice to companies wishing to create a modern marketing organisation.

Scott’s advice was to:

  1. Always be yourself, break what you need to achieve now into constituent parts that add up to the whole.
  2. Look at what other organisations are doing in their marketing.
  3. Take your leadership team with you on the journey.

Gemma’s advice was to focus on the business outcome, understanding the direction of the business and having clear accountability and responsibility for what the marketing function needs to deliver. She also added the need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team and to fill the gaps.

Thanks to B2B creative agency, MOI, for sponsoring this episode.  More information about their series of Disrupt Forums is available at their website.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!