Speaking at the Marketing Week “What makes a modern marketer” Advertising Week Europe panel today (3 April), Adam Johnson, marketing director at Nokia UK said marketers needed to accept that they are “no longer their target audience” and should build a team that reflects the customer demographic. Otherwise brands can become “totally out of-sync” with their target audience, he added.
Johnson said: “Working in technology is a ridiculously fast-paced industry and if you miss an innovation break, as Nokia has done over the last three or five years, then you almost miss a generation in terms of understanding how they consume media. The thing I’ve learnt is to surround yourself with young people to stay on top of those habits.
“Otherwise you get driven in certain areas by your media agency, for example, or use your own consumption habits to make decisions. You have to surround yourself with people who are going to be challenging you with new ideas. It’s about learning how to keep on top of new media channels and how I can influence my global colleagues about new ways to build consumer demand.”
Fellow panelist Victoria McIvor, marketing strategy and planning manager at British Airways, echoed the sentiment and added a wider knowledge of the business is key to those marketers hoping to become leaders. Marketers need to be “T-shaped” – a specialist in something but also need to have the general skills to tap into what other parts of the business are doing.
She added: “Marketers need to have the generalist skills to be able to understand what areas like finance, legal, sales and customer services are doing. You need that wider knowledge in order to get ahead. It’s not about needing to be a specialist or a generalist. You need to do both if you want to lead a business.”
The panellists also called for agencies to be commercially in-tune with their clients. Agencies are not always willing to “get their hands dirty” when it comes to understanding a marketers’ need to lift sales, they added.
Johnson said: “Agencies need to really get involved in the business of the business rather than being one-step removed, which is very easy to do.”
McIvor added: “Agencies need to understand what the commercials are. A great piece of work that has won loads of awards is fantastic but if it’s not going to get a bottom onto a seat then we don’t care. It’s about understanding what’s going to drive somebody to purchase something from our organisations rather than something that’s a beautiful piece of work.”