Direct Line: Marketing effectiveness acts as a ‘Trojan horse’ to being a more customer-led business

The insurance brand believes implementing a culture of effectiveness can help CMOs drive legitimacy in the board room and get CEOs and CFOs on their side.

mark evans direct line isba conference 2019

Direct Line says implementing a marketing effectiveness culture has acted as a “Trojan horse” to allow it to become a more customer-led business, and believes it is critical for CMOs to encourage this way of working to gain more influence in the board room.

Speaking at ISBA’s annual conference today (5 March), the insurance brand’s marketing boss Mark Evans said Direct Line Group has seen two big benefits since it began implementing a culture of effectiveness.

“The most obvious is that we can improve the organisation. What matters more than driving the success of the business and brand growth, and profitable growth at that?,” Evans said.

“The second is less obvious. It helps to act as a Trojan horse for a more customer-led business. It drives legitimacy in the board room so you can start to have the conversations you really want to have because you’ve got the CFO and CEO on side.”

It is this stakeholder management around marketing effectiveness that is also a CMO’s number one challenge, Evans said.

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“I always say as a marketer if you’re really proud of your ads, show them to your mum, don’t show them to the board. What you want to be showing the board are your cost per acquisition, return on investment, how you’re managing the media landscape so they understand that you’re on it. That’s the ticket to having all sorts of other conversations you’d like to have in your organisation.”

Showing how effectiveness has risen up the ranks of priorities at Direct Line Group in recent years, the business published its results today with the first two messages focused on what it is doing on its brands and customer experience. Evans said these wouldn’t have featured on the list at all three to five years ago, let alone at the top.

However, Evans said marketing effectiveness is a work in progress and there is still much more to be done.

While he believes marketing effectiveness is “alive and well”, he said it is not being applied with the same rigour across all businesses, which has led to a Darwinian “fork in the road”.

“There are those brands and businesses which are really struggling and are under water not able to deal with the complexity and sophistication of the media landscape, not having the right conversations internally and getting lost and drowned out in the conversation,” he said.

“Then there are other businesses which have the tools and the techniques to have commercial legitimacy and credibility inside the organisation to change the dynamic and even the perception of marketing and deliver greater commercial return to the organisation.

“In many ways it’s just a Darwinian thing, it’s just a process inside marketing functions across the land: those who are thriving and those who are barely surviving.”