Very’s CMO: Understanding the 3Cs will help marketers break through the ‘sea of sameness’

Finding ways to make sure that marketing is connected to all parts of the business has been key in differentiating The Very Group and Tesco Mobile.

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To truly differentiate, marketers must ensure they build their strategy around the three Cs, according to Jessica Myers, CMO at The Very Group – company, customer and competition.

Understanding all three was one of the first things she did on joining the business 18 months. This entailed understanding the company and how it makes money, digging into who its most valuable customers are, and getting to grips with the competition. “Understanding all three will help you break through the sea of sameness,” she said.

But the real success of the Very story is in its data capabilities. Talking at Advertising Week Europe today (16 May), Myers explained how Very has 4.8 million customers across 10 different categories and over 2,000 brands. “The shopper data we have across all of our channels is incredible,” she noted.

She claims to be sitting on the UK’s largest data asset – particularly as The Very Group model collects financial services data information for many of its customers who will use one of its payment plans – and “having all that data at our fingertips is very powerful”.

Very’s CMO on harnessing a ‘huge’ amount of data to bring more meaning to the brandMyers believes that the job of a marketing department is to drive “accelerated business growth” and utilising data effectively is key to that. She commissioned a piece of value-based segmentation, as well as an attitudinal-based piece of segmentation, so she knows exactly who her most valuable customers are, how many there are in the UK, where the headroom for growth is and where she will find them.

This isn’t just internal information either. Myers puts that data in the hands of her agencies as well. “It’s a we thing, not a me thing,” she said. “Our agencies are an extension of our own team, if everyone doesn’t have access to the same data then how are we going to work together to create the magic?”

From that, the most important part, communicating the value of marketing to the board. Myers makes sure that “every single pound” they spend is connected to the value they deliver for the business. It’s worked, too. She says that 18 months on from being appointed she has just received a “significant” increase in her marketing budget.

“And the most part you’ll want to hear is that significant increase has come mainly to our brand budget,” she said. “We are really changing the balance between brand and performance by being able to paint the picture of just how important the brand spend is for driving those loyal, highly valuable customers who buy into our proposition and are incredibly sticky.”

Every little helps

Talking on the panel alongside Myers was Tesco Mobile’s chief customer officer Rachel Swift. The business has seen huge success over the past three years, gaining double-digit market share growth in a market that Swift admits has no real room for growth with mobile penetration sitting at around 98%.

How they’ve done that has come down to employing a “clear brand strategy” that is “compelling and differentiated” and that the whole business understands. “Brand and marketing communications can only play a very small role in turning the dial in consideration of the brand overall,” she said. “It’s important to really make sure that everyone in the business understands the brand strategy and the role they can play in achieving it.”

Swift also embarked upon a transformation journey for the brand that turned it into an agile business that could be much quicker in the way it gets product and service to market. While it was tough to change those neural pathways, she says, the brand is starting to see “green shoots” and it now has an “empowered, motivated group of colleagues” who are relishing working for a growing business.

This Much I Learned: Tesco and BBH unpack an award-winning agency/client relationshipTesco Mobile also started to make greater use of its ties to Tesco itself. A review of its brand strategy revealed that “leaning into” the benefits and brand attributes of Tesco would help it stand out. Telco is, after all, a bit of a commoditised market, she said, so it’s hard to differentiate, but by relying on the traits that the great supermarkets do of “brilliant value, great quality and excellent customer service” has really helped the brand to stand out.

That connective nature could still pay dividends in other ways as well. Swift looks at The Tesco Group’s Clubcard data opportunities as a huge potential lever for growth as of its 24 million customers only a “relatively limited” number of them are Tesco Mobile customers.

“The headroom for growth is massive,” she said. “Connecting the dots, not just from a brand and marketing perspective, but also from a data and personalisation perspective is definitely where we see the opportunity for us.”