Above and beyond the call of duty

Senior experts debate the future of marketing, the essential skills to succeed in 2014, trends to watch out for and team structures for a digital age.

The panel (l-r below)



Adrienne Liebenberg, global marketing director, Castrol B2B

Jeremy Corenbloom, marketing director, Match.com

Jackie Nixon, head of marketing, Cisco UK & Ireland

Nina Bibby, marketing & consumer director, O2 (Telefonica UK)

Javier Diez-Aguirre, director corporate marketing EMEA, Ricoh Europe

Lorna Kimberley, marketing manager, Mizkan Europe (owns Branston Pickle and Sarson’s vinegar)

Charles Allen, head of marketing, Arsenal Football Club

Marketing Week (MW): How central is marketing to your business and how might that develop this year?

Charles Allen (CA): Marketing ‘owns’ the relationship with our consumer – Arsenal fans – so that is central. In an organisation with as many product offerings as we have, marketing needs to sit at the heart of it to profile and segment the most appropriate fans by each offer. As our understanding of our domestic and global fan base improves, this will become even more important.

Adrienne Liebenberg (AL): Marketing at Castrol brings together analytics, commercial, creativity and conversations. We are the only function that must connect all these dots and thankfully we are afforded the space to do so.

We get to participate at the table only because we keep generating profitable ideas and deliver them.

Nina Bibby (NB): I have recently started my role at O2, but it is already clear to me that marketing plays a prominent role across the business. There is recognition and respect for the importance of the customer and brand. I sit on the board, reporting to the chief executive Ronan Dunne. In addition to my marketing responsibilities, I also have responsibility for the consumer business profit and loss, ensuring that marketing is at the epicentre of decision-making around our core business.

Javier Diez-Aguirre (JDA): Marketing has historically been responsible for brand, PR and communications, including social. Within that scope, the marketing function is central to all of these activities within Ricoh, across Europe and beyond, taking a lead role in strategy, messaging and platforms. However, 12 to 18 months ago marketing started to move closer to the centre of the business, not just the brand.

Lorna Kimberley (LK): In terms of development, marketing is heavily involved in setting the strategic direction for the business and individual brands, as well as playing a pivotal role in delivering the creative platforms that can work alongside the commercial division’s plans.

Marketers need to be phenomenal storytellers. Taking a routine approach to marketing will deliver only routine returns, so be extraordinary

MW: What do you expect from the people who report to you, specifically in terms of helping marketing play a more strategic business role?

Jeremy Corenbloom (JC): My team’s role is to be the voice of the consumer within Match.com. When interacting with those outside marketing, we always need to ask ourselves ‘What would the consumer think of this? and ‘Does it give our members more of what we know they need?’.

CA: I expect my team members to think broadly and be curious about fan behaviour. I expect them to start by walking in their shoes and understanding what drives their behaviour.

Being aware of the various influences on the business and how to react with agility is a key skill but should be underpinned by a long-term strategic view of what we are trying to achieve.

NB: Regardless of the business or sector I am working in, there are three things that I always ask of my teams. First, have a deep understanding of the customer – it is fundamental to what we do; customer insight must be the starting point for all of our work. Second, be clear about the business objectives and how our activity delivers against these objectives. Finally, creativity is essential to cut through; marketing has a mission to look to the future and innovate against that future.

AL: Marketers also need to become phenomenal storytellers. Creativity is more important than before – taking a routine approach to marketing will deliver only routine returns, so be extraordinary. I love marketers who keep looking for dreams that can make a difference and change the world – this is where great brands come from.

JDA: We expect people to be two things: first, a specialist, with a deep and specific skill in an area of importance; and second, commercially aware generalists, who can see the big picture and connect the dots between a variety of problems, opportunities and solutions.

We also look for people who can influence others. People also need to execute well. It is easy to scratch the surface with change; it is more difficult to see change through to its full detail, across the business, in every channel. This takes drive and perseverance.

LK: Our team has diverse experience – none of our staff are from the brands that we acquired from Premier Foods. Each person has a fresh way of thinking, bringing key aspects they have learned in other roles or sectors in to what we do. We always need to be thinking three or four steps ahead. It is not about just delivering good marketing communications – ideas need to be able to run over several years, with different twists that spark consumer interest and keep on delivering return on investment, so vision and forward-thinking are key to the business in every sense.

Marketing is at the heart of the business at Arsenal in order to profile and segment its consumers – the fans

MW: Are you fully equipped for your role? Where and how are you dealing with knowledge gaps?

JDA: I do feel equipped but the most important thing I have learned is to learn quickly and learn often. It is a never-ending process.

LK: Truly understanding the power of all things digital and word of mouth is something you can never stop learning about. We live in a world where we need to keep on generating ‘talkability’ through all forms of experiences, and that is why I love to work with team members who live and breathe these media platforms as part of their daily lives.

Jackie Nixon (JN): It’s difficult to imagine five years ago the rise of mobile shopping and the extent of our digital engagement. You always need to be looking 10 steps ahead and seeing where technology is going. As a marketer, it is imperative you are flexible, open to new ideas and bold enough to stay ahead of the curve and embrace changes. Perhaps most important is not allowing yourself to be trapped by past successes, because what worked 18 months ago may not work now.

JC: Every day we learn more about consumer trends and the depth of our knowledge continues to increase as a result. A good example is mobile use, which is an area that marketing directors have needed to gain a better understanding of in the past few years. In our online dating category, many consumers use social media later and less frequently than in other categories. It is important that we understand why that happens in order to help inform our marketing decisions.

What is important is not allowing yourself to be trapped by past successes, because what worked 18 months ago may not work now

AL: Top of my mind is how do I build a workable digital B2B advocacy strategy; how do I use open innovation or crowdsource innovation; and how do I find and keep extraordinary marketers? I also ask how do I satisfy the ever-increasing hunger for content; what is the future of content marketing for Castrol and what metrics really matter? I am also thinking about what ‘relationship marketing’ really means in the B2B context, how can we better communicate with internal investors; and how do I identify the real passion networks? As a result, I have created a new customer experience and thought leadership team to report at the highest level of marketing.

NB: I am not sure any one individual can be fully equipped, which is why I place so much emphasis on great people. Recognising, nurturing and growing talent is at the heart of a great marketing function. My role is to bring talent together into high performing teams, with individuals who complement each other and myself, which have goals and resources to deliver.

MW: Is the structure of marketing teams changing? What might they look like in the future?

NB: Clearly, a big change is the expanding role of analytics in the world of big data. Marketing teams have moved from a world of generalists to more specialists. Within this context, the role of the chief marketing officer is to orchestrate the different specialist teams and integrate.

CA: We will see more specialisms – particularly in the digital arena, which may mean that people who want to have a more general marketing experience and aspire to bigger leadership roles within marketing will have to think carefully about how they build their careers.

JN: Our local team has a digital marketing manager but everyone is expected to know digital and be comfortable executing it; digital is very much the now and definitely the future.

MW: What will be the trends to watch for this year? Which trend will you focus on?

AL: Castrol is rapidly adjusting from the concept of marketing as a loudspeaker and embracing its new role as a magnet. We are focusing on thought leadership and are building a content platform which we will use to access conversations about forward-looking concepts with the executive suite.

We will launch this in 2014 and plan to build on it as an annual repeatable property. We will see more of our world going ‘so-lo-mo’ (social-local-mobile) and we are going to adapt the ways we listen, converse and activate in the market as a result.

JC: A trend that is set to grow is the way in which brands will market to single households. Euromonitor research found that the number of people living alone globally will rise from around 153 million in 1999 to 331 million in 2020. The traditional demographic traits such as age, gender, education and income, are no longer enough to obtain effective results from segmentation.

JN: There will be the continued focus on making the best use of budget. It will be interesting to see how B2B companies continue to hone social media content and how you identify the return on investment from it. Twitter’s IPO begs the question of whether there will be a new service around the corner if current users are irritated by further monetisation.

JDA: Positioning will be more important. A recent report from consultancy firm McKinsey said that a business can make no more important a decision than its target market and position. I agree and that is why we have invested a lot of time to make sure we understand who we sell to and what we sell. We have always talked about accountability but marketing attribution is coming of age via technology and data, and real-time data will drive decision-making more often this year.

MW: What will be the biggest change to your role by this time next year?

JDA: We are being asked to become more accountable and to show the revenue implications of our strategies. We will be using business intelligence, analytics and financial measurement tools in our daily work more often this year.

NB: I do not believe my role will change dramatically from the fundamentals. There will be new challenges, given the speed with which digital services evolve. But customer insight, delivering against business objectives, innovation and great talent will always be at the heart of the CMO role.

JC: Mobile and social will continue to play a pivotal role in positively disrupting our business. Our consumers are changing the way they would prefer to meet people, opting for face-to-face. To be prepared for these positive disruptions, marketing needs to listen to its audience. We need to ask what they are saying about our product.

CA: I would like to be part of more conversations that start with ‘We know’ and fewer that start with ‘We think’. That will tell me that we are making good progress with understanding our data.

Viewpoint: My ideal marketer

Adrienne Liebenberg, Global marketing director, Castrol B2B

An ideal marketer has leadership skills to drive strategy, innovation skills to catalyse the future, commercial skills to make things work, and resilience to recover from failures. They should continually develop their commercial acumen and bring a boardroom mindset to conversations, using clear business criteria to make decisions.

Spectacular marketers apply impartial logic towards their own creativity and possess an ability to think like our investors and customers. Each team member is trained by finance on building and understanding financial cases and critical business measures.

The world is increasingly uncertain and there is so much choice. People love choice, but the tension levels are rising so our marketers need to keep their anxiety in check, and create simple ideas that people believe in.

Liebenberg’s marketing team of the future comprises a chief marketing and IT officer, chief listener, conductor of conversations, customer experience & thought leadership officer, king of content, head of big data, red tape destructor, futurologists and business model analysts.