Aldi’s Adam Zavalis on what makes an award winning marketing team

Supermarket chain Aldi has enjoyed a long run of success in the UK thanks in large part to the strength and skill of its marketing team. Marketing director Adam Zavalis outlines the key to its set-up.

At the Marketing Week Awards last month, Aldi won two of the top awards – Team of the Year and Brand of the Year – in recognition of its continuing business growth and recent executions such as its partnership with the Great Britain Olympic team.

Aldi’s UK marketing director Adam Zavalis, who currently heads up a team of 19 at the retailer’s headquarters in Atherstone, Warwickshire, believes there are several core attributes to building a successful marketing team.

“An effective team is made up of complementary skill sets, great people managers and personalities with the right mindset,” he says. “[They should be] hungry to keep learning, not afraid to share their knowledge with others and [willing to] embrace change and be agile.”

Zavalis adds that his marketing team constantly searches for “marginal gains” that will help it improve and maintain its momentum.

“Effective teams need to understand the direction of travel that you as a brand and organisation are headed in,” he says.

“The individuals within the team need to understand their roles and responsibilities and collaborate across departments so they can make significant contributions towards achieving those goals and know how to take all stakeholders on the same journey.”

A strategy of continual improvement and “constant progression” is also core to both the development of the team and the work it produces.

“We never rest on our laurels or take anything for granted,” says Zavalis. “If we’re fortunate enough to gain a degree of success we may pause for a short while and celebrate but most importantly we learn from what went well and also what didn’t quite work for us and build on it.

“It never stops and we know we’re simply the current custodians of this great brand with a duty to keep driving us towards greater growth.”

In order to keep focus on its core objectives, every meeting the team holds has a clear a purpose and goal.

“Everyone should go into the meeting knowing what they expect to get out of it, what’s expected of them and what they need to do as a result of the meeting,” he says.

“Having said that, as marketers sometimes we need [longer] meetings for ideas to flow and that can take time. Sometimes that [can make people] feel uncomfortable when they’re under pressure and have a thousand other things to get done but if it’s managed within a framework then it’s those moments that can lead you to something unique, compelling and sometimes something very special.”