The CMO.com eBook brings together a selection of some of the best interviews that have appeared on CMO.com over the last year. In it, senior figures from some of Europe’s best known brands discuss their challenges, thinking and strategy. These candid interviews are full of insight and practical tips about how businesses such as BMW, L’Oreal and Allianz are reacting to the challenges and opportunities presented by new digital economies. The eBook is a fascinating opportunity to get inside the mind of CMOs and is essential reading for marketers at all levels.
Aston Martin Lagonda
Fujitsu UK & Ireland
Guardian News and Media
Transport for London
Inside the CMO mind
Inside the CMO mind
MD Digital Business Strategy, Accenture...............................................................................................4
CMO, Aegon U.K. ....................................................................................................................................................8
Global Head of Digital Business, Allianz..............................................................................................12
Chief Marketing Officer, Aston Martin Lagonda..........................................................................16
Dr Steven Althaus
Global Director Brand Management and Marketing Services, BMW.........................20
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Channel 4..................................................23
Marketing Director, Direct Line..................................................................................................................27
Chief Customer Officer, First Utility.........................................................................................................30
Executive Director of Marketing, Fujitsu U.K. Ireland.........................................................34
Director of Consumer Revenues, Guardian News and Media..........................................38
CMO, Hostelworld Group...............................................................................................................................41
MD, Marketing, Liberty Global...................................................................................................................45
Global Head of Digital, L’Oréal Luxe.......................................................................................................49
Marketing Director, match.com.................................................................................................................52
Inside the CMO mind
Director of Marketing Communications, Mercedes-Benz...................................................55
Head of Digital Marketing, notonthehighstreet.com................................................................58
Global Head of Digital and Social Marketing, Philips...............................................................61
Head of Technology Policy, Policy Exchange.................................................................................64
Chief Marketing Officer, Post Office.......................................................................................................68
CEO GSA, Sony Music.......................................................................................................................................76
María Sánchez del Corral
Director of Institutional and Brand Marketing, Telefónica...................................................79
VP Head of Marketing, Telenor..................................................................................................................82
Marketing Director, Transport for London........................................................................................86
CMO, Three U.K. ...................................................................................................................................................90
Marketing Director, UKTV..............................................................................................................................94
Sir Martin Sorrell
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Narry Singh is Managing Director, Digital Strategy,
at Accenture Strategy, as well as a hugely successful
serial entrepreneur and manager. A Silicon Valley
veteran of some 20 years now based in London,
he’s also one of the United Nations Foundation’s
Top 10 Global Entrepreneurs.
His role at Accenture involves advising CEOs
and their teams on developing and implementing
digital strategy and establishing new ventures,
so he seemed like the perfect person to ask about
how marketers are approaching the question
of digital transformation.
Singh: Fundamentally, marketers are ahead of
their peers in terms of what’s happening in digital.
So there’s two or three things that are changing
about the CMO’s role.
The first is the CMO becoming a digital translator
for the rest of the organisation. One example would
be Keith Weed of Unilever. He’s done a fantastic job
educating Unilever about digital. He’s got something
called The Foundry, and he’s done interesting
experiments with startups. He’s got crowd-funding
of various ideas; they’re looking for a way that you
could have a £100 pound refrigerator that could be
used in sub-Saharan Africa to keep milk cold for kids,
things like that.
There’s a lot of ways you can act as translator and
ambassador. We’ve had CMOs take their entire
leadership team to Silicon Valley for five days,
come out and set up incubators.
The second part is marketing has an incredible
opportunity to talk about the new digital metrics
that will apply to other functions that they don’t see
yet. There’s a shocking lack of a digital scorecard
that coexists and reconciles with the CFO scorecard.
Think of the number of times the CMO has to justify
buying users for engagement, and CFOs have no idea
what that means and how that actually adds value.
There’s more clarity required around digital metrics.
Then a big role for marketers is bringing external
innovation into the organisation. Marketers by
definition are outward-facing, market-facing,
user-facing. And one of the biggest challenges that
large companies face is not innovating fast enough,
and having a Chief Innovation Officer doesn’t
suddenly fix that. But a marketer has the right
antennae and the systems to know what innovations
are coming, and they can sense and respond really
CMO.com: There still seems to be a gap between
marketers and the rest of the board, because
marketers are perceived as doing this fuzzy stuff
where we don’t really know what the benefits
are. How does a CMO influence the rest of the
organisation on the digital journey?
Singh: There are two or three things that seem
to work. The first is that there’s a lot of stuff in digital
that is not fuzzy, and can be measured. And those
very quantifiable, business ROI-oriented discussions
are happening. So that’s one way to increase
credibility, which is “Tell me what digital does for me.”
There’s a quantification part of the journey, which
Then there’s a massive education part. Most
executives – and especially non-executive directors
MD Digital Business Strategy,
By Michael Nutley, Contributing Writer, CMO.com
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In the process of digital transformation, CMOs are critical agents of
– that we deal with have told us that they’re not
so sure they get digital. They say “I’m not so sure
I understand how and when these various trends,
like crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing, impact
our business.” And the “when” is more important
sometimes than the “how”. Because all these things
look like shiny objects and science projects, but
some move much faster than others.
Education is critically important because what we’re
seeing right now is an increased sense of urgency
amongst our clients, but not necessarily an urgency
that’s connected to digital trends. It’s more “We have
to do something because we told Wall Street or
The City that we’d do something on our digital
strategy”. It’s not really linked to something that
says “Because we see these four things happening
in our industry.”
And nothing succeeds better than having a couple
of wins. I go back to The Foundry. It’s a fantastic
example that says “Here’s an innovation hotbed.
And in the next three months you’ll see five
ideas – prototyped – about what digital can mean
for you.” I don’t see why more marketing people
don’t own and manage things like The Foundry for
their organisations. It’s such a fantastic opportunity
The bottom line is, digital is only partly about
imagination and education. It’s mostly about courage.
And I don’t know how you transfer courage.
CMO.com: You’ve spoken at events about
applying the right metrics at the right time,
and not trying to monetise too early. But does
that make the marketer’s task doubly difficult?
If the metrics at the start of the project aren’t
linked to financial metrics, then is it a leap
of faith for the board?
Singh: I don’t think it is. For example, let’s say you’re
a media company and you want to launch a mobile
app that distributes the news. It’s absolutely true that
you can find ways to monetise that if you measure
the daily active users, the session frequency, and the
session length. These aren’t financial metrics; these
are metrics of engagement. If you measure those
three things, it’s not a leap of faith to look at 10
years of data that says other digital properties that
have hit these measurements on those three metrics
have eventually figured out highly profitable ways
How digital metrics – that are focused on user
engagement and distribution – become financial
metrics is not a leap of faith. Their connection is
simply not understood right now. And that’s one
of the aspects of digital education that is key.
CMO.com: Then there’s the question of attitudes
to risk. I’m particularly interested in your idea of
thinking like a VC.
Singh: The moment we advise our clients to think
like a portfolio manager – where you have short-
term stocks, long-term stocks and some things in
the middle – it seems to resonate. And that’s because
nobody can tell you what’s going to happen in the
next three to five years in digital, or anywhere else.
So very often we advise our clients to have
initiatives in their risk portfolio with different time
scales. There’ll usually be two or three big bets for
the next two years. There’ll be a few medium-sized
bets for the next few two to four years. And there’ll
be a couple of long shots.
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CMOs are perfectly situated to act as transformation ambassadors
throughout the business and encourage the CEO to experiment
Now the good news about digital is, experimentation
has never been quicker and cheaper. You don’t need
millions of dollars of investment to experiment. You
can do 25 experiments a year on things that you’re
not completely sure about, but if one or two of them
pop, they could change your business model.
And that portfolio approach seems to work in digital.
What doesn’t work is decimal points in your financial
plan. That just tells you how little you know what’s
CMO.com: What about the new job titles that are
emerging: Chief Digital Officer, Chief Customer
Officer? You were reasonably sceptical about
the idea of a Chief Digital Officer when I saw you
speak. Do you think these job titles are any more
than just artefacts of where we happen to be?
Singh: I think they are. I’m not that sceptical of a
Chief Digital Officer title today. Or even for a couple
of years. All I was saying was that if you have a Chief
Digital Officer right now, it might be okay because
that person could be a fantastic catalyst. But if you
have a Chief Digital Officer five years from now,
you’ve lost the plot. If they’ve done their job, there
won’t be a job for a Chief Digital Officer in five years.
The Chief Client Experience Officer is a very intriguing
one. We see a massive opportunity in somebody
owning user experience and service design. If you’re
a home improvement retailer, for example, service
design is not just being able to buy a drill online,
but going to the store and having somebody
teach you how it works. And then after you use it,
being able to put it on a marketplace where your
neighbours can share it. It’s the entire proposition,
not just one aspect of it.
We’re very bullish about the idea of somebody
owning the user experience, and the Chief Client
Experience Officer to us is a very intriguing way
of having somebody do that.
CMO.com: Is it something people are
Singh: It’s very early. Citibank, for example, has a
great Chief Client Experience Officer group. But in
the next two or three years, we feel some version
of somebody owning the client and the user
experience is highly likely.
CMO.com: How do you envision that sitting
with marketing? If you’re a CMO and somebody
says “We need somebody to be in charge of the
customer experience,” you’re going to say
“Isn’t that my job?”
Singh: It is, but the reason it’s happening is because
in many instances, marketing hasn’t stepped up. You
can either get on board, or you can have it be done
CMO.com: What does this mean in terms of the
skills the CMO is going to need?
Singh: I would go back to those three areas: the
digital educator, the hoster of innovation platforms,
and the steward of user experiences. On the
innovation side, having the expertise and skills to run
fast experiments on what the business could benefit
from, prototyping, identifying of which interesting
technologies you want to actually experiment with,
a scanning function. The skillset required to have
that level of digital factory capability in marketing
is not very apparent right now. But it will happen
in organisations. The only question is whether
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marketing will step up and lead that. Or will it be set
up by the CIO, or the Chief Innovation Officer, or a
highly enthusiastic CEO who will have somebody
earmarked to do it as a special project? It feels like
marketing has as much right to own that dialogue
within the company as anybody.
strongly urge more CMOs to figure out their service
design strategy. There’s almost a skillset for running
the service design academy within large companies
that should be facilitated, if not owned, by marketing.
And service designers and that skillset are quite
rare right now. But that skillset seems to be a big
opportunity for marketing. Those seem to be two
In terms of the digital educator, we’ve seen it varies
by CMO. A CMO with a strong personality, who
can encourage the CEO to test and experiment
with various things in digital, seems to be the most
effective approach right now, rather than having
something more official.
So something we do for CMOs and CEOs is digital
boot camps, where we bring in an executive
team – often in partnership with the CMO – to
go through all the different things that the business
should be thinking about in digital. And what they
can do about it. So it’s a very compressed, highly
intense interaction. More of those, both for the
executive team and even the PLC board, who are
going to be approving decisions and investments in
digital, would be a very simple idea. And those are
different skillsets; that’s not how marketing people
For digital transformation to succeed, the CMO must be the digital
educator, the hoster of innovation platforms, and the steward of
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Managing your pension is vitally important to your
quality of life after you retire, but even pension
providers recognise how boring people find the
process. As CMO of the U.K. arm of life insurance,
pensions and asset management company Aegon,
David Macmillan is leading its transformation into a
mobile-first business, with the aim of engaging its 2.2
million customers more deeply in what’s happening
with their savings.
He spoke to CMO.com recently, and he started
by describing his role at Aegon.
Macmillan: I’m responsible for all aspects of the
marketing journey; from insight to the development
of products and services, and delivery to customers.
I was hired to deliver a business transformation, and
at the heart of that was the move to mobile-first.
As part of our business strategy we had to shift our
entire customer experience away from classic paper
and phone, and put Aegon in your pocket and on
your mobile. We had to reinvent the entire company,
let alone marketing.
The best way to explain that is to talk about
Retiready, which is our mobile-first retirement
experience, because that set out to put our entire
service on a mobile device. That led to a massive
From a marketing point of view, digital marketing for
us is really front and centre of everything we do now.
Clearly it’s a two-way channel, and most important
is how you listen to customers through the device
socially and through such channels as web chat,
which we’ve introduced on an industrial scale.
It’s completely changed the way we think of
ourselves as a marketing team because digital
gives you tremendous access to people.
CMO.com: How has this transformation
changed the organisation, both culturally and
Macmillan: This started with a very in-depth
analysis of what our customers thought of the current
experience. People were fed up with paper and the
phone. They wanted access to information at the
touch of a button, and they wanted to understand
We used three words in the organisation to
communicate this. The first was simplicity. When you
put a pensions and investment company on a mobile
device, you have to simplify everything to within an
inch of its life. With Retiready, we moved from having
8,000 funds to five. Our compliance documentation
went from 66 pages to something you can scroll
through on your mobile device with one flick.
In cultural terms, you have to walk away from
everything you thought mattered and recognise
that customers have a totally different perspective.
Unless you meet them half-way, you’re simply going
to be delivering the same old services, products,
propositions into an environment in which they
just don’t work.
The second word we used was reassuring. It’s really
interesting to me that the number one thing we
get asked by customers is, “What’s the value of my
fund?” We used to issue a 42-page statement once
CMO, Aegon U.K.
By Michael Nutley, Contributing Writer, CMO.com
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“To transform a business, you have to walk away from everything
you thought mattered and recognise that customers have a totally
a year because that’s what the regulator expects.
But a 42-page document doesn’t help answer that
question. People would get to page three of the
document and give up, which is very worrying
for us because it means they’re not engaged in
understanding whether their retirement pot is
going to be big enough for them and whether
it’s going to deliver at the right time.
So reassurance became a real watchword for us.
It doesn’t matter how many times a customer
clicks their mobile; they can see the value of their
retirement fund. They can see it changing, and it’s
surrounded by all the other information they need
to understand it. They can also access our help
at any time from that device.
It’s completely changed the way we operate.
People talk about transformation, but for us real
transformation is moving from being open six
days a week, 9:00AM to 5:00PM, to being open
all the time.
The third word we use is rewarding. We spent a lot
of time talking to our customers about how to make
pensions and retirement interesting. We recognise
it’s deadly dull, but it happens to be massively
important. We realised that if we didn’t make the
experience fun and satisfying for at least 10 minutes
every six months, people wouldn’t have the level of
engagement we know they need.
That’s why with Retiready we’ve spent a huge
amount of time on things like data analytics so your
score is personal, it’s customisable, and you carry
it around in your mobile device. It’s permanently
checking off against the algorithm so that it’s telling
you how ready you are for retirement.
That’s no different from having FitBit on your wrist
telling you that you are looking after your health.
We learned from developing Retiready that
marketers need to understand that digital opens
up ways to involve the customer in an experience.
We’re in an industry that is legendary for paper
and complexity, but you can absolutely transform
that for a customer, and that’s what we’re starting
What’s important for me is that you need people
who want to transform the engagement. You can
hire a lot of digital marketers who are very good at
communications, at social media, at understanding
how your old-style marketing translates into
new-style marketing, but that’s not the same as
marketers looking to develop propositions and
services that drive value creation in the business.
CMO.com: How do you present this kind
of cultural change to the organisation?
Macmillan: We framed the transformation very
much around customer value. We said if we don’t
embrace this transformation, we will find ourselves
left behind in an analogue world while others are
digital, and that could be a deeply unhealthy place
commercially. In short, we framed it in terms of
moving from a product relationship to a customer
relationship. We built some hard metrics around that,
which from a marketing point of view meant that
you could stand in front of the CFO and the board
and paint a very clear picture that unless we moved
in this direction, our revenues and profits were going
to be attacked and shrunk.
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“In order to shift the entire customer experience away from classic paper
and phone and onto mobile, we had to reinvent the entire company, let
CMO.com: And how has this changed
the structure of the department?
Macmillan: Having got the organisation to realise
we had to transform, my first job was to transform
marketing because it was going to lead the overall
transformation. There was a recognition that we
needed new teams and new skills, bringing in
designers and digital experts. We also introduced
analytics and mobile development skills very early
on. As a consequence of that, we threw the existing
marketing structure in the bin and started again.
We used to have lots of product teams, and we
moved to a very simple split where we have an
innovation team responsible for future products and
services; and we have a marketing communications
team responsible for taking these products and
services to market and for maintaining and building
relationships. We also started very early on to create
a digital team at the heart of marketing.
The marketing function overall moved from
being very much product-oriented to be entirely
customer-oriented; from being a relatively slow
decision-making environment to one that’s very
agile, fast-paced and always-on, because digital
We went into that challenge with about 140 people.
We’ve slimmed down to 80, 60% of whom are new
to the organisation. We held onto a lot of core talent,
but we also brought in new talent to bring different
skills and experiences together.
CMO.com: How did you approach training
and bringing those core talents with you
on the journey?
Macmillan: We didn’t have the time or bandwidth to
do a formal training programme. So we put together
an agile team with six different vendors: technology,
integration and marketing vendors. We embedded
30 of our own people with them and created one
big delivery team. We worked together for a year
building Retiready, which meant over that period
our internal guys were exposed to an entirely
What we found works best is if you’re going to move
quickly, get people into the job. Let them get their
hands dirty. In particular, let them understand what
they don’t know, because that’s a perennial problem.
If you go for classroom-style training, you can make
the mistake of thinking everybody’s at the same
level. You can also make the mistake of thinking
that you know everything that they might encounter
ahead of time. We found that just doesn’t happen.
Another aspect is that digital moves so fast that
if you’re not careful, you’re training somebody
on something that’s already out-of-date. Actually,
when people are doing this on a day-to-day basis,
they tend to come to you to say they’ve learned
something new or they want to work on something
else. It’s much more vibrant. I don’t even like calling
CMO.com: What happens next?
Macmillan: In terms of digital and marketing
generally, the pace with which our industry
is changing is going to put a very heavy emphasis
on the need for innovation in design, in particular the
ability to develop products and services for the future
marketplace that are much more design-oriented,
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“Listening to customers socially and through channels such as web chat
has completely changed the way we think of ourselves as a marketing
team because digital gives you tremendous access to people.”
much more experiential. We’re going to see a big
push to hire people who can not just see a couple
of years in advance but can translate customer insight
into products or services.
Within our world, if we don’t have people who can
innovate along the lines our customers are moving,
then we’re not going to move to the next level,
because transformation for us isn’t about the core
products. They’re not going to change, but the way
that people interact with them is set to explode.
I can see peer-to-peer payment processes and
the number of new digital payment models being
developed and people wanting access to their
savings in different ways.
CMO.com: How do you approach that kind
Macmillan: We took an incubation approach to
Retiready. As I say, we took 30 people, we brought in
six vendors. We moved them to an entirely different
building off-site. We allowed them to operate without
any constraint; their own hours, their own policies,
their own dress code even, and we managed to get
the business through to a pretty robust position
before we brought it back.
That’s important, but what’s more important is when
you bring the project back into the fold. If you want
to tap the organisation’s full capabilities, you need
to bring the new project back in as quickly as you
can and then start the next incubation. You want
to avoid ending up with a two-speed company.
One of the most exciting things we’ve done is when
we brought Retiready back in and got the entire
organisation to embrace it so they all felt part
of it. I’m going to continue with that process.
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Carlo Bewersdorf, Global Head of Digital Business
at German insurance giant Allianz, believes the
insurance industry worldwide is at the tipping point
His role finds him at the centre of that disruption,
identifying, prioritising, and driving implementation of
the company’s digital initiatives across all its markets.
CMO.com: Where is Allianz on its journey to
integrate digital into its marketing and its
Bewersdorf: Digital is an absolute priority for
everybody within Allianz, but on a global scale, we’re
at different stages of digitisation. What we’re doing
is fostering and enabling digital innovation locally
and, if possible, scaling globally. For example,
throughout Asia we have distinctive new digital
business models which we are implementing
to test rapidly and in a very entrepreneurial way.
On the other side, on a group level we are starting
to implement totally new ways of developing
digital platforms in an agile way within a
CMO.com: So part of your job is to take learnings
from one country and transfer them to others
to bring everybody up to the same point?
Bewersdorf: That’s one of my responsibilities.
Others are implementing digital initiatives and
platforms, building up digital capabilities and
driving digital innovation.
CMO.com: How is digital organised in the
Bewersdorf: Digital is becoming a holistic
requirement so that everybody at Allianz thinks
digital without being too generic. Several digital
initiatives are driven by a department called Market
Management. There’s Global Market Management
and there’s also a Market Management department
within the regions and within local Allianz companies.
These departments then drive the big digitisation
initiatives along the customer journey, or in trying
to make operations more efficient, or in developing
new business models. Across all initiatives the close
collaboration with Operations and IT is a critical
When you look at Asia, we assign certain topics,
for example social media to Thailand or search
optimisation to India, where they’re already good.
What they’re supposed to do is to set benchmarks,
develop best-in-class examples of these specific
areas and then spread that knowledge throughout
Global Head of Digital Business,
By Michael Nutley, Contributing Writer, CMO.com
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“Digital is an absolute priority for everybody within Allianz, but on a global
scale, we’re at different stages of digitisation.”
the region. Then there are other countries, France
for example, where we’re already pretty far ahead
when it comes to digitisation. We’ve just founded
an accelerator where we fund and develop big data
ventures, and we’re also at the forefront of mobile
marketing in France. So we’re trying to spread the
knowledge which the local companies develop
through a knowledge exchange.
CMO.com: Does Market Management sit within
Marketing? Or is it a separate function?
Bewersdorf: No, Market Management would be
the overarching function and classical marketing
or branding is part of that, as is direct selling, and
there could be digital strategy within that too.
Consequently, marketing and branding report to
the Head of Market Management.
CMO.com: Is digital marketing integrated within
marketing, or do you still have some separation
of digital and traditional marketing?
Bewersdorf: Everybody is thinking digital now
within Market Management, it’s integrated. Even
within a classical function like branding, we totally
think digital because that’s where, even more so in
the future, the growth and the brand awareness are
CMO.com: What are your next steps
Bewersdorf: We’re implementing what we call
a digital multi-access model. We’re trying to serve
and support the hybrid customer; the customer who
might be interested in finding information through
the Internet and maybe getting on the phone after
that and in the end maybe buying from a tied agent.
The next step is to support this with developing
technologies, for example big data analytics or
advanced mobile developments. Things are really
heading towards mobile and we’re not as strong
there as we think we can be within the next few
years. Consequently, we’re implementing the
concept of mobile first.
CMO.com: When you look at your customer
journeys, do you have a clear sense of the role
mobile plays and what you need to be doing
for those particular touch points?
Bewersdorf: It’s an extremely diverse, complex
matter. We do know that for the younger generation,
the millennials, mobile is the first thing they see in
the morning and the last thing they see before they
go to sleep. They define themselves through their
mobile, and certainly through social media. We need
to take into account the combination of social media
and mobile – and also video – when we market to
people, especially from a younger generation. At the
moment, we view mobile as being at the beginning
of the funnel; when consumers inform themselves
about products. We’re not so far advanced that we
can sell a vast amount of products to consumers
via mobile yet. But that will change faster than
everybody thinks and we need to be prepared.
CMO.com: What are your main sales channels?
Bewersdorf: The three channels we focus on are
our agents – mostly tied agents – and brokers;
online and mobile; and also customer care centres.
We’ve mostly used these for service purposes but
they will be more useful in the future as an integrated
sales channel with mobile/online and tied agents.
14 Back to contents 14 Back to contents
We need to take into account the combination of social media
and mobile – and also video – when we market to people, especially
from a younger generation.
In Italy, for example, we have a tool called “Fast
Quote”. As an interested customer, you only have
to answer very few questions on the Allianz Italy
website to get a quote for your car insurance,
compared to 20 or more questions on average.
We’re using contextual data and external sources
to support your request. The actual policy is not
yet sold online but the fast quote is integrated into
the digital multi-access model and the policy sold
through the tied agent.
CMO.com: How important is social media for
you and how do you see it fitting into the
Bewersdorf: Insurance is not an obvious choice for
social media, because social media is all about your
daily habits, about what you are proud to display
to people about your social behaviour. We’re not
about that. We’re not only speaking as a brand to the
private customer, but in addition we train our tied
agents and supply them with tools to enable them
to speak to our customers through social media.
CMO.com: Can you give me an example?
Bewersdorf: One great example is a tied agent
in Germany who is an absolute dog lover. We’ve
supported him with tools and training, and he uses
social media to talk about what he loves most,
and he’s very authentic in doing that. He has not only
amassed a vast following, but he is also one of the
tied agents Germany-wide who sells the most pet
CMO.com: So your vision of social media is one
of supporting individual voices rather than there
being an Allianz voice?
Bewersdorf: That’s right, but we’re doing it on a
pretty big scale. We try to engage and motivate
as many tied agents as we can to come onto the
platform and begin a dialogue with our customers.
They don’t normally work directly into Facebook;
we ensure compliance and all of that through the
We also try hard to find people who are really social-
savvy. We know that if you don’t love it, you won’t
do it. So we put a lot of effort into finding the right
people. If we find them, the rest will follow.
CMO.com: Looking internally, how has the
type of people that you recruit for marketing
Bewersdorf: We need people “who are able to
connect the dots”, to quote Steve Jobs; people
who try to combine all the diverse tools, ideas
and initiatives. They need to be extremely flexible,
creative, and sometimes even courageous to do
that, so we’re looking for people who have a fail-
learn-succeed attitude. That’s on the soft side. On
the hard skills side, there are certainly capabilities that
we haven’t previously looked for in insurance. Search
marketing, real-time bidding, social media, all of
that was foreign to our industry. We’re now building
up these capabilities as fast as we can. We need
specific knowledge because the ecosystem of online
marketing has become so diverse and complex that
no one person can cover all of those capabilities
CMO.com: Where do you find those people?
Bewersdorf: We’ve started to look to the big
e-commerce and digital players. We’re also
more and more trying to find people who are
15 Back to contents 15 Back to contents
entrepreneurial. One specific example would be
the Allianz Accelerator. It’s a small unit we created
where we try to identify ventures and support them
with financial resources and people to help them
grow. Within this accelerator we mostly hire people
who have a really entrepreneurial spirit. They are not
tightly integrated with the normal procedures and
processes of Allianz because that would probably not
be beneficial and they would pretty soon leave again
if they were.
CMO.com: Are you looking for ventures that are
directly relevant to your business, or is there
room for companies whose immediate relevance
Bewersdorf: We’re looking for products and services
that go well beyond our current business models.
An example could be car insurance, which we
think is evolving into a mobility ecosystem. It’s not
only about selling car insurance, it’s about trying to
connect elements of mobility with each other, for
example offering pay-as-you-drive car insurance.
Another example is that we’ve partnered with Nest
in France and plan to combine our products and
services with the functionalities of Nest. We are
still exploring concrete offers, but we could very
well think about a scenario, where they install their
applications and we supply the assistance services
around those applications. We’re trying to build
ecosystems for customers; we want to combine
classical insurance products with services and
applications for customers to support them on
a broader scale within their life.
We are trying hard to find people who are really social-savvy and
entrepreneurial. One specific example would be the Allianz Accelerator.
16 Back to contents
Aston Martin Lagonda is an iconic U.K. car
marque, with a 102-year heritage built on beauty,
craftsmanship, racing and James Bond.
Simon Sproule is the company’s Chief Marketing
Officer. He previously worked as VP Marketing and
Communications at Tesla Motors in the U.S., and
CVP Global Marketing Communications at Nissan in
Japan. Since joining Aston Martin in November 2014
he has succeeded in integrating the marketing team,
and has appointed a Head of Content to manage
both content and digital. I began by asking him
about the opportunities and challenges facing
such an iconic brand.
Sproule: Aston Martin has a strong story, which
gives us a head start. It has a great history and
a beautiful product. You never hear the words
that’s a really ugly Aston Martin. It has beauty
and craftsmanship on its side. All of this provides
a strong marketing platform.
I would say that the care point is making sure the
story remains relevant. For example, the emerging
markets have no sense of the legacy or history
of Aston Martin. They are discovering something
new, so for them the brand is five minutes old. Our
heritage gives us an advantage because people who
are new to the brand will start to discover our story.
It gives them reassurance, but we can’t rely on history
alone. A brand always needs to stay fresh and not be
stuck in the past.
Aston Martin has been bankrupt seven times in 102
years, and it has successfully reinvented itself each
time. It is iconic in the U.K., and deeply understood,
but outside of the U.K., and particularly outside of
Europe, it is perhaps less instinctively understood.
It presents an interesting set of challenges.
CMO.com: How do you go about telling such
stories, and how important is digital in bringing
the brand to life?
Sproule: Content is king, but digital for me is just
a channel; a way of delivering content. What is
much more important to me is the substance of
the stories I am trying to tell, and those stories are
primarily around the product and around the history,
James Bond, racing. We try to share a lot around the
product and the way it is made and the technology,
craftsmanship and engineering involved, as well
as the people associated with it.
Serena Williams visited our factory just before
Wimbledon this year. She went to one of our test
tracks and drove some cars, and said she had never
been so fast in her life. That’s all good content and
Chief Marketing Officer,
Aston Martin Lagonda
By Nicola Smith, Contributing Writer, CMO.com
17 Back to contents
“Emerging markets have no sense of the legacy or history of Aston Martin.
They are discovering something new, so for them the brand is five
it provides colour and texture and context to the
brand. We covered that story using video and Twitter.
There is an enormous hunger from fans for stuff
about Aston Martin, and even if someone is never
going to buy a car, it is important that we respect
their affection and love for the brand. We are serving
a number of different needs with our content strategy
– brand strategy, owner strategy, prospect strategy –
and in the end, it is all down to good storytelling.
CMO.com: How is Aston Martin’s customer
Sproule: The traditional customer for luxury cars –
typically male Caucasian – is no longer true. There
is a radically changing demographic and we have to
adjust our messaging so that we are relevant to that
Our overall market is high net worth individuals. In
the U.K., Europe and the U.S., roughly 60% of our
customers are late 40s and upwards. Our Chinese
customers, however, are about 10 years younger
than our western buyers, and tend to average late
30s. There is much more interest from women
in China too.
CMO.com: How do you ensure that the brand
appeals to women?
Sproule: We would like to see more women as
the principal customer, and it comes down to
products and relevance. Product-wise we are just
about to launch the next generation of sports cars.
What we’re not doing is the so-called ‘pink-it-and-
shrink-it’ strategy, which would be disastrous; we
are producing Aston Martins, and we are producing
Aston Martins that are true to the brand values.
Regarding product design, our CEO, Andy Palmer,
has created a women’s advisory panel of between 10
and 12 women from around the world. They share
their thoughts on what our cars should look like in
future and what functionality we need to include to
appeal to female buyers. For example, steering wheel
thickness, and relative positioning of the paddle shift
on the steering column to the steering wheel: guys
have longer fingers and bigger hands, so if all your
cars are designed with males
in mind, most women won’t feel comfortable driving
the car. This is a wider car industry issue, but we are
paying particular attention to it because in the past
we have perhaps over-indexed on a car designed
by a bunch of guys in the West Midlands. The
new buyer of an Aston Martin is a Chinese female,
and she has to jump in the car and instantly
CMO.com: You mention that 40% of your
western customers are, on average, late 40s
– or Generation X – how do you appeal to this
Sproule: Forty percent of the world’s wealth is
with Generation X and the millennials; that is a
very substantial part of our market and they are
very different to boomers. Their cultural references
are very different; they are the first video game
generation, for example. We have to think about
what will be attractive to a Gen X buyer.
It is quite a complex and nuanced challenge. I took
over as CMO a year ago. We have since taken on
a new agency (WPP), and a new CRM partner
(Salesforce), so we are investing in the infrastructure
to enable us to run with the big boys when it comes
to marketing and communications.
18 Back to contents
“Social media exposed the fact that having lots of silos is highly inefficient
and a poor way to manage a brand.”
It is a work in progress, but a good example is Gran
Turismo, the world’s most successful driving video
game. We created cars for Gran Turismo, which
allows us to service two audiences: our fans, because
they want to be able to race and play with Aston
Martins in video games; and Gen X, our prospective
customers, who still play a lot of video games. Being
relevant in something like Gran Turismo is spot on for
both our fan base and some of our customers.
CMO.com: You are a keen advocate of an
integrated marketing team. How have you
approached this at Aston Martin and how easy
was it to implement?
Sproule: I believe in it completely. We integrated and
formalised it this year, so we work as one team right
across brand management, CRM, digital and social
media, events, shows, PR, CSR, test drive activities,
customers visits to the factory – the whole lot.
But you never do integration without pain and
suffering. The first experience I had with it was at
Nissan, and you take some people on the journey
and some people you leave behind; that is the reality.
The logic for it in my mind is absolutely clear; the
customer doesn’t care which department created
which message; it’s completely irrelevant. I think
social media was one of the tipping points for
integration because you had this ludicrous situation
where PR was saying, it’s our responsibility to post
on Facebook and engage with customers and fans
and the marketing department would say, no, it’s
ours. I witnessed these ridiculous arguments, and
I think social media basically exposed the fact that
having lots of silos is highly inefficient and a poor
way to manage a brand.
But that doesn’t mean to say you lose the need for
specialisation. Brands will continue to have people
who are PR professionals and have no interest
in doing advertising or events, for example. The
important part is ensuring that you are talking
to each other. When you actually go to market,
are you integrated?
CMO.com: How have the skills of your marketing
team changed in recent times?
Sproule: My CEO is an engineer so he thinks he now
has a better skillset for marketing than I do because it
is a data-driven business; analytics have come to the
fore. Marketers need to stay on top of analytics, and
make data-driven decisions.
We now have more people who have a good grasp
of data and can make decisions based on it, and it
is also reflected in the fact that we are moving away
from a patchwork quilt of smaller agencies to bigger
partners who have access to bigger data and can
provide us with bigger solutions and – I believe – can
keep us more up to date with analytics solutions.
It is a combination of agency support plus the right
balance of people in our internal team.
CMO.com: Digital is now seen as a mindset
rather than a channel. How has that changed the
way you approach marketing?
Sproule: One big change is that we now have a
Head of Content, and the same guy running content
is also running digital. We decided that it makes
sense to have one person who has a view over
the channels, and the content needed to fill those
channels. He can make a judgement call on whether
a new car launch story or celebrity story will work
19 Back to contents
best on video or in our customer magazine, for
example, or across all channels.
CMO.com: Which social media channels are
proving most successful for you?
Sproule: Instagram. We reached over half a million
followers on Instagram two months ago, and added
another 90,000 last month, so we’re growing quite
dramatically on that platform. [It now stands at over
700,000 followers] It suits us well because we are
a very visual brand.
We also have over six and a half million Facebook
fans. I think that says that the brand is well loved both
by people who buy cars and people who don’t buy
cars, and that is super-important.
One lesson – and an opportunity – for us is to
invest more in video and to do better on YouTube.
We underperform on video and YouTube versus
what we are achieving on Facebook. We haven’t fully
cracked it with video. I look at the likes of Red Bull
and GoPro, both brands that create awesome video
content, and that is what we need to aspire to.
That said, there is evidence that we are changing
and starting to get video. We recently put out an
awesome piece of content of the new James Bond
car doing 007 using screeching tyre marks. It’s great
for fans, fun for owners and customers, and just great
content. It is an example of us starting to get a little
bit more savvy about using video, which we see as
a big opportunity going forward.
“Marketing is a data-driven business; analytics have come
to the fore. Marketers need to stay on top of analytics, and make
20 Back to contents
In the past 12 months, BMW has launched the first
two cars under its BMW i sub-brand, the BMW i3
all-electric car and the i8 hybrid. According to Dr
Steven Althaus, Global Director Brand Management
and Marketing Services at BMW, this not only
represents a massive shift for the car company
in engineering terms, it also sets “a new normal”
Althaus spoke to CMO.com Europe recently, and
the first question I asked him was how BMW thinks
about digital marketing.
Althaus: It’s easy to think about digital marketing
as what you are doing on Facebook or other digital
platforms, but the bigger context is actually one of
digital transformation. Marketing has to feed back
into the organisation what digitalisation means to
the business model. BMW i is a great example
because it creates a new normal with respect to
digital. It’s more about digital transformation than
just improving efficiencies and shifting from classical
media to digital.
CMO.com: Can you explain what BMW i
is for people who aren’t familiar with it?
Althaus: BMW i is a sub-brand of BMW. BMW
consists of BMW M and BMW i. BMW M is more
the dynamic aspect of BMW; BMW i is more on the
sustainability, innovative side of BMW. The BMW
i3 was designed as the mega-city vehicle with zero
emissions. These cars create a new territory for BMW.
Plus they are a carrier of technology that we export
across the whole fleet.
BMW i means the car was designed and built at a
completely new production facility. It was a holistic
approach from the very beginning, and that’s
imperative because our target customers demand
this. It was not a post-electrification of an existing car,
but a purpose-built design. That starts with research
and development, production and engineering, and
of course marketing and sales need to be at the table.
CMO.com: How did the marketing department’s
influence within that group manifest itself?
Althaus: It all starts with engineering, with the
question: is this technically possible? The limitation
when you ask customers what they want is that
sometimes you’re in the area of unarticulated needs.
Innovation is driven either by clearly articulated
customer demand or, as in this case, by engineering.
DR STEVEN ALTHAUS
Global Director Brand Management
and Marketing Services, BMW
By Michael Nutley, Contributing Writer, CMO.com
21 Back to contents
Community is not getting millions of customers on your Facebook site;
when we introduced the car our strongest allies were existing customers
sharing their expertise with the i3 because people believe people.
The first step in this case was that it was technically
feasible to build a completely new car, and then to
get the company to rally behind it. Marketing played
a role in that; is there a need out there in the market?
Can we actually communicate this? Is this relevant to
people? Can we stretch the brand to BMW i? How do
we get our dealers behind us? To make this seamless,
it was imperative that marketing was involved from
the very beginning.
CMO.com: Did the media choices you made
reflect the technological brand values of the
Althaus: Absolutely. We just got new car buyer
statistics for BMW i3 drivers, and nearly 80%
of those buyers were not part of BMW before.
We had to do something completely different
to attract those people to the brand.
When the project started, we decided to prepare
the stage for e-mobility for BMW. We had two
years of pre-communication on e-mobility before the
actual launch. We used the concept of an ecosystem
of interest. People who might be interested in
e-mobility might also enjoy contemporary art,
architecture, design, fine dining, cooking, travel,
We looked at this ecosystem and asked what are
these people doing? How can we attract them?
These are not people we have within the current
brand so we couldn’t simply go for our existing
customer base. We had to extend it. By using
this concept we found new customers and new
customer segments. And we did this multi-locally.
The concept was geared towards innovators,
tipping-pointers. You might even call them beta
testers. People who are okay if there are still some
lessons to be learned. They give active feedback.
In a way they are co-creating, or co-contributing
to, the story of i.
Then when the car was launched, it was very
important to get as many people into it as possible
because e-mobility is a complex issue. You can
go into marketing and communications, but then
you have to bring people into dealerships and
generate test drives.
CMO.com: How was that done?
Althaus: For the first time we sold direct to end-
customers. We established platforms where they
could register directly for a test drive, and then go
to dealers. We had GoPro’s in the test drives with
the i3 so people could share their driving experience
with their friends, leading to additional test drives.
CMO.com: How much of this feedback from
the beta testers were you actually able to
incorporate into the vehicle itself?
Althaus: A lot. They have opinions, and they
give them to you. We got a lot of comments saying
“this is me and my i3, this is what I shared with the
community”. That’s something that creates customer
CMO.com: Did you look to develop the
community around the i3 yourselves, or did
you find communities that you could talk to?
Althaus: Community is not getting millions of
customers on your Facebook site. We are in an era
of relevance. Communities are so important because
people speak to one another. When we introduced
22 Back to contents
The concept was geared towards innovators, tipping-pointers. They give
active feedback. In a way they are co-creating, or co-contributing to,
the story of i.
the car, our strongest allies were existing customers
sharing their expertise with the i3 because people
CMO.com: How did you encourage that?
Althaus: We launched portals about BMW i
called BMW Stories. When we launched the i8,
we generated tremendous momentum behind
customers’ stories with the car. We stimulated
that with the stories coming from our engineers,
the people behind the i3. This was to make
customers knowledgeable, make them part
of the community because they need to be
aware that they’re not driving just another car.
Of course we use all the existing channels that
we have – Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter
and Foursquare – to be of relevant, and very
importantly, we were working with our dealers.
CMO.com: You mentioned earlier that you
went direct to customers. How did that affect
the dealer relationship?
Althaus: By purpose-building a new car we created
a different value proposition for our customers and
our dealers. The message was very clear that the
dealers were part of this from the very beginning,
and customers would turn to them when it came
to test drives. We had an agreement with the
dealers that we could go direct because it was very
important for us to establish a direct relationship
to those customers from the beginning.
CMO.com: You talk about BMW i establishing
a new normal for the business. What are the
key things that you’re applying to the rest of
Althaus: There are three major trends or
development areas. One is the changed role from
hardware to software, the role that connectivity plays
in the context of this car being a connected device.
Second is how we partner with our dealers. It’s
us and the dealerships together vis-a-vis the end
customer. And against our competitors. It’s not us
against the dealer, against whoever.
Third is the change from owning a car to using
mobility. We see a lot of new business models
coming up in the sharing economy when it
comes to the mega-trend around urbanisation.
CMO.com: What are the lessons you’ve learned
in terms of your marketing?
Althaus: It’s imperative that we redefine the
role of marketing. We don’t simply go for
communication efficiency and effectiveness
and do cheaper marketing, but we explain to the
organisation what the digital transformation actually
means. This requires a different role for marketing;
one that involves much more understanding of what
happens in the outside world, and feeding this back
into the organisation to generate better products,
better services. Then we go for truth well told.
I’m a great believer in partnership when it comes
to how we work with tech companies or advertising
agencies or media agencies. As the global CMO, I
partner with the CIO to produce a common briefing
so there’s a holistic approach within the company,
but also there’s a consolidated approach on the
agency and on the servicing side so we don’t
produce silo solutions.
23 Back to contents
U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 is an unusual business.
It’s a not-for-profit, with a public service remit to be
innovative and to challenge the status quo. But unlike
the BBC, which also has a public service remit, it
receives no public funding.
Dan Brooke has been Channel 4’s Chief Marketing
and Communications Officer since January 2011,
when he was promoted from Director of Marketing
Communications. This is his second spell at
Channel 4. He joined as Head of Marketing and
Development for the channel’s film production
business Film4 in 1998, subsequently becoming
Managing Director of Digital Channels. He was
chosen as the Marketing Society’s Young Marketer
of the Year in 2001 for his work launching
E4, Channel 4’s offering for 15-35 year-olds.
His responsibilities encompass the marketing
department; 4Creative, the broadcaster’s in-house
advertising creative agency; the press office; and
the corporate affairs department.
He spoke recently to CMO.com, and the first thing
I asked him was what he sees as the brand’s key
Brooke: It’s a combination of getting the right
balance between building ratings and building the
reputation of the brand. With the best activities, you
maximise both of those things in one go, but not all
activities do that.
One of the challenges is developing a system for
prioritising the organisation’s many activities and
allocating resource. Working out what resources –
financial, human, and creative – you need to
deploy in order to stand out as the world becomes
increasingly noisy, more competitive and fragmented,
is a constantly moving target.
CMO.com: Where is Channel 4 in the journey
from seeing digital as a channel to having
it as a mindset?
Brooke: Almost everything that we do now is
digital – in the broadest sense – because our
biggest marketing tool is the space between our
programmes, and television is all transmitted digitally
now. Through that and our focus on the digital forms
of traditional media, and the emphasis we put on
social media, I would say getting on for a 100% of
what we do is digital in the broadest sense.
We focus a lot of effort on telegenic media; media
that’s visual and ideally digitally delivered, so
electronically back-lit, ideally with audio. That suits
the presentation of our product very well. There’s
also a much greater likelihood that those media
are connected, which can lead to other activities,
whether that’s recommending something that
you’ve seen an advert for through your social media
feed, or setting a reminder for yourself to watch the
programme, or doing something afterwards once
you’ve watched the programme. It’s a gift for us, and
we’re immersed up to our neck.
CMO.com: What does that look like in terms
of the organisation?
Brooke: There’s no specific digital team. Everything
is integrated so everyone is expected to be up to
speed, and to think about and know as much about
digital as any other means of distribution, whether
it’s for the actual programme or the marketing of the
Chief Marketing and
Communications Officer, Channel 4
By Michael Nutley, Contributing Writer, CMO.com
24 Back to contents
“Almost everything that we do now is digital because our biggest
marketing tool is the space between our programmes, and all television is
programme. Inevitably, because you’ve got to stay
on the cutting edge, there are some people who are
more expert than others, but we don’t structure
it in a separated way.
CMO.com: What does integration mean for
Channel 4? If you’ve got a new campaign
or programme to launch, what does that
process look like?
Brooke: That will be the responsibility of a marketing
manager. They will have skills and expertise in
varying degrees in all aspects of the marketing mix,
and knowledge of all the various different parts of the
organisation that can help deliver the launch. Then
they’ll be thinking in a way that is focusing on the
needs of the overall Channel 4 brand and the needs
of that individual programme, rather than starting
by thinking about what’s the medium in which a
message should be delivered.
Integrated with that we’ve got a whole machine
that helps journalists to write about our programs,
and there’s also a whole machine pushing out
information about programmes via social media.
In addition, there will be a minority of our content
that gets much more, very bespoke support.
CMO.com: When you think about serving
the needs of the project, rather than thinking
channel first, what does that look like? How do
you manage that process while at the same time
accommodating the need for special expertise?
Brooke: That’s difficult. We try and fully integrate,
but there is a danger that, if you don’t also try to both
develop skills but also hire people with particular
specialisms, sometimes stuff falls between the cracks,
or you’re not able to remain on the cutting edge.
Our experience has been when you work in silos,
which normally presents the best conditions for
getting the most expert people in, you have
the expertise but it doesn’t get spread across the
organisation. Whereas when the people are spread
across the organisation, you have to make sure there
are enough people with dedicated expertise in each
area, even though they are never doing jobs that are
as narrow as that sort of expertise would serve.
CMO.com: How do you approach staying on the
Brooke: It’s an inevitable function of the mission and
values that we have as a company. We have a public
service remit from Parliament to be innovative, to
do things that are different, to challenge the status
quo. Effectively, we’re almost an institutionalised
challenger brand in this sector.
When that’s your homework, the whole organisation
is focused all of the time on trying to innovate all
aspects of what we do on a continuous basis, and
obviously knowing where the cutting edge is forms
an important part of helping you create the new
CMO.com: Can you give an example of that kind
Brooke: With the Paralympic Games in 2012, there
were a whole load of things that we did in both the
presentation of the event and the coverage of the
event which had never been done anywhere in the
world like that before.
25 Back to contents
“The whole organisation is focused on trying to innovate all aspects of
what we do, so knowing where the cutting edge is forms an important part
of helping create the new cutting edge.”
That did two things. It turned the Paralympic brand
from being a second cousin to the Olympics, to being
a sibling. It also had a very profound effect on social
attitudes to people with disabilities in this country,
and that came from the very innovative and
risk-taking way in which we tackled the whole event.
CMO.com: How do you approach hiring people
who can work both as specialists but beyond
Brooke: We don’t have a formal tick-boxing
approach to recruitment, but because of the overall
mission of the organisation, we are constantly and
instinctively attuned to finding people who are at
the more innovative, experimental end of things.
There’s a self-selecting element. People who
are either very innovative or have black sheep
tendencies, for example, tend to get drawn to the
organisation. Like in anything, you need a mix of
people, because if you have too many black sheep,
you almost then need a more conventional view
in the mix. But interestingly, over many years, what’s
clear is you don’t have to do any psychographic
testing or anything, because the people and the
company are finding each other naturally.
Undoubtedly, that comes from having a very
distinctive set of values as an organisation that
have been very consistent over a long period of
time. And it’s an incredibly powerful argument
for how much is to be gained from having clear
and distinctive values.
CMO.com: As your business is different from
other media organisations, what metrics do you
apply to your activities?
Brooke: We’re a non-profit organisation but,
nevertheless, we have more in common with ITV
than we do with the BBC, because although the
BBC is non-profit, it generates all of its revenue from
public funding, whereas we receive no public funding.
So commercially, it’s about delivering ratings, which
is both about the volume and also the quality of the
ratings, and then how that translates into revenue.
On the brand reputation side we look at a wide
variety of measures, a lot of them around brand
tracking, but depending on the activity.
To give you an example, in news and current affairs
you can judge by the ratings that you generate;
and you can judge by the extent to which, on your
brand trackers, you’re viewed to be distinctive and
different – as the remit requires us to be. You can
also look at the percentage of the audience that’s
Black, Asian and minority ethnic, for example, or are
young people, because there’s a governmental desire
to ensure that minority groups are as informed as
possible, and therefore able to participate in society
We also look at the wider media coverage that
our news stories create, because you might have
a million people watching Channel 4 news, but if
we’ve broken a story that’s on the front page of every
newspaper and is being covered in other media
outlets, that story suddenly might be reaching 10
or 15 million people.
There are different sorts of mini-metrics like that
across the different genres and the various activities
of the company.
26 Back to contents
CMO.com: Finally, can you explain how
4Creative works and what its role is?
Brooke: It does three things. It creates everything
that goes in between our programmes, which is
a combination of branding and advertising for the
TV programmes that are coming up. Then it does
all of our consumer-facing marketing campaigns.
Then thirdly, because we don’t have any in-house
production, 4Creative has a very powerful informal
role as a source of creative innovation inside the
CMO.com: What was the rationale for having
Brooke: We tried out-of-house and we tried a
combination of out-of-house and in-house. We’ve
found that in the combination between the quality
of the work, the results produced and the cost, it was
much more attractive over time doing it in-house.
It’s what’s worked for us, but a lot of that is because
of the nature of the sector. “Client” organisations
might have difficulty attracting enough creative
people of the highest calibre consistently, because
of the nature of the product sector they’re in. Because
Channel 4’s product is a creative one, creative people
really want to come work here.
CMO.com: There’s been quite a lot of talk
about bringing agency functions back within
the business, particularly earlier this year.
You seem to be ahead of that curve.
Brooke: I can’t see us going back. Very occasionally
we use agencies on individual projects for specific
things, but I can’t see us ever going back to having
an agency on a retainer. For media, yes, but that’s
a very specific activity.
For creative, not only do we do almost everything
in-house, but although we’re not a production
company, even when we’re producing ads, the vast
majority of times we’re not going to an outside
production company. We’re doing it ourselves.
“Our commercial metric is ratings, in terms of both volume and quality,
and then how that translates into revenue.”
27 Back to contents
Marketing Director, Direct Line
Direct Line changed the face of the U.K. insurance
industry in 1985, when it launched as a telephone-
based service. Mark Evans took over as Marketing
Director in 2012, overseeing all U.K. marketing
activity. Following the separation of the company
from its previous owner and an IPO, he’s leading a
rejuvenation of the brand as it attempts to redefine
the U.K. insurance industry once again.
CMO.com: Can you describe the brand’s
journey so far?
Evans: Back in 1985, we were a telephone service,
which was pretty disruptive at the time. Then a while
ago we switched on our Internet business. We were
a majority Internet retailer ahead of many others
and the digital channel is still our most important
channel from a volume perspective.
In early 2014, having completed our separation
from RBS, we decided it was time to go again with
our Direct Line brand. Our sector is struggling for
customers’ trust and we need to do better. We
needed a galvanising thought which really delivers
on our ambition to redefine insurance again.
So we went back to basics and unearthed an
incredibly simple insight, that many customers
find insurance a hassle. When it doesn’t work,
it adds insult to injury in their moment of need.
It sounds obvious, but it allowed us to reframe
our whole purpose, which is that we are not here
to protect people, as the industry generally describes
itself. All we can do is to be there in their hour
of need, put things right fast, and make it simple.
So we’re not “protectors”, we’re “fixers”. As simple
as it sounds, nobody in insurance has ever framed
it in such a simple way.
That was the starting point for our creative campaign,
which uses Harvey Keitel as Winston Wolf from Pulp
Fiction. He is described by consumers as the “daddy
of fixers” and therefore the epitome of our intent to
CMO.com: What’s the role of digital
technology in this?
Evans: There’s two critical ways we use technology.
Firstly, like many businesses, we’ve significantly
invested in our social media channels, so processes
that took a long time are now much more
instantaneous. Through social channel management,
customers can interact with us in their preferred
platform. We can have one holistic view of the
customer and make things seamless for them as
we fix their problems.
The bit that’s more exclusive to us is that, when
things go wrong, customers typically think it’s
going to be an arduous process and it’s going to
take a while. But with the relevant trackers and
digital communication through the process, we
can accelerate the whole experience significantly.
For example, if your laptop is stolen, in the past the
customer would think it might take weeks to replace
and it’s probably going to be a pain. That’s the
general perception of insurance. But now, if they’ve
got proof of ownership, they send that to us. Within
eight hours, we will dispatch the items back to them.
Customers are really impressed with this service; it’s
far removed from what they expect. It’s akin to an
Amazonification of the process.
By Michael Nutley, Contributing Writer, CMO.com
28 Back to contents 28 Back to contents
“Digital is a cultural mindset, saying let’s use technology and make things
happen in minutes and hours rather than days and weeks.”
Another example. If your car has a bump, you send
it away, you don’t know when it’s going to come
back. Whereas you can now send us a photo of
your car with the dent, we assess the damage, and
if it’s at a certain level, we’ll advise you not to drive
it and we’ll come and collect it.
But in the vast majority of cases, it can actually
be repaired at your convenience, and we can do
it within hours rather than potentially weeks, because
we schedule it. Again, it’s an Amazonification of the
process. It enables us to say as a proposition in our
advertising, we will get your car back to you within
seven days, or we’ll pay you 10 pounds a day.
CMO.com: How significant a change has this
called for inside the business?
Evans: Pretty fundamental, both in terms of the
business processes, but also culturally. This is
the part of digital transformation that doesn’t always
get talked about, but it’s crucial. Digital is a cultural
mindset as much as anything, saying let’s use
technology and make things happen in minutes
and hours rather than days and weeks.
CMO.com: How do you drive that shift?
Evans: There’s a combination of things. We have
created a set of values that frame our culture, so
that’s a critical component. Over and above that, the
rallying cry of the brand message has been critical.
There’s a lovely set of words that we’ve used to
represent this thought of being fixers, which is
probably the simplest cultural manual in the world.
It’s two words: “On it”. They say it all, they don’t need
to be decoded or explained. It’s almost an implicit
contract or promise to not let somebody down.
This also applies internally with head office as well
as with customer-facing staff.
We’ve used Winston Wolf internally to carry the
message we want to be fixers, but you can see
“On it” visualised a lot, because we want people
to have that sense of being “on it”. That’s been
the Trojan horse for a cultural shift away from
more passive, reactive behaviours.
CMO.com: How has the structure of the
marketing department changed, in response
to the degree of integration required between
on- and offline?
Evans: Not very much. Digital has been an integral
part of the marketing function for many years.
Within the communication planning process, we
have a digital marketing team who look after PPC,
affiliate, display and so on, and who sit right in
the heart of the marketing function. When we do
our media planning process, we call it connected
communications planning. It all joins up from the
outset, so that hasn’t really changed.
What has changed is that we’ve created an in-house
Digital Services team, which means we’ve been able
to move to a programme of updating our websites
implementing responsive design, and generally
adopting a mobile-first philosophy. Because we’ve
in-housed digital services, they’re on hand, they
know and understand the brand, they understand
the business, they understand the technology. We
see this as a smart thing we’ve done to accelerate the
process of digital change more broadly.
29 Back to contents 29 Back to contents
“Because we’ve in-housed digital services, they’re on hand, they
understand the brand, they understand the business, they understand
CMO.com: What does mobile first mean
to Direct Line?
Evans: The mobile handset is the most punishing
platform to make sure that your communication is
compelling and distinctive. So mobile first is a
Practically, mobile is the fastest-growing means
through which we get quotes, which means that’s
where we need to be at our best.
We do some pretty leading-edge things with
Facebook and others to make sure our advertising
is very effective. Mobile advertising is getting more
progressive in terms of making sure things join up,
so that’s the area where we’re trying to be most
progressive, do more experimentation.
From a customer service point of view, we don’t
define the roles of channels and, crucially, we don’t
try to push people to any given channel for any given
interaction. That would be folly, since customers will
do what they want and the best thing you can do
is to enable them to do everything they want in any
A couple of years ago people thought seamless
customer experience across channels was going
to be really expensive. Now we see it can actually
be less expensive because digital channels can be
cheaper and more nimble than human channels.
We can allow customers and staff to work in a
Google talks about allowing people to work as
they live, meaning that at home they’re efficient,
multi-screening and digital-savvy, so why don’t you
let them do the same at work? To an extent, the role
of the organisation is to get out of the way and let
modern human beings be modern human beings,
regardless of whether they’re buying from us or
providing a service for our customers. How can
you get the best out of people if you’re putting
barriers in the way of the skills and capabilities
they’ve developed in their real-world lives?
CMO.com: What does that look like in practice?
Evans: Take social media as an example. Many
companies still have scripted answers, and they’re
very obvious and annoying. We’ve empowered
people and pushed down responsibility a bit further.
We’re quite progressive in terms of training and
empowering people to respond in real time through
social channels, in a coached rather than a scripted
way. We found that’s very powerful in connecting
with customers, making them feel like they’re being
treated as a person and ultimately getting things
CMO.com: What do these changes mean for
the kind of people that you need to recruit?
And what is your approach to training?
Evans: This is the hardest bit because modern
marketers have got to be digital-savvy and
data-savvy, it’s an absolute necessity in the
world of marketing which has been described as
Marketing 2.0. At the same time, what hasn’t gone
away is the need to be led by big breakthrough
ideas, which is really Marketing 101.
So there’s this demand to meet the needs of
Marketing 2.0 and of Marketing 101. And it’s hard
to find people who have got all of that, which puts
a lot of emphasis on training. We have an in-house
training capability with a heavy focus on digital and
on making sure that we get the balance between
good marketing discipline and modern technological
and digital trends. It’s got to be the combination of
the two, otherwise you could have a department
which comes up with great ideas, but can’t make
them work within the digital media landscape. Or we
just focus on digital execution, but we’re missing the
Whoever you recruit, you know you’re going to
have to train and invest. Underneath everything
else is a need to continuously develop people to
be brilliant in a fast changing world, and that need
has never been greater.
30 Back to contents
First Utility is an independent energy company
focusing on the U.K. household energy market.
It launched in 2008 and differs from the major players
in the market in not generating energy itself, but
buying it in the international markets. It now supplies
gas and electricity to 850,000 U.K. households.
Ed Kamm is First Utility’s Chief Customer Officer.
He joined the company in 2012 as CMO from iconic
online travel brand lastminute.com, where he had
been CFO, COO and President. He became First
Utility’s CCO in 2013. He spoke to CMO.com recently,
and the first thing I asked him was to explain the First
Kamm: We think of ourselves as a different kind of
energy company. Our goal is to reduce consumers’
bills so that they can spend more on what they want
and less on what they need.
We view ourselves very differently to the industry’s
legacy players, otherwise known as the Big Six,
who we don’t think work very hard for their
consumers. Forty percent of their customer base
has never switched provider, whereas with us, all
our customer base will have switched providers
A key part of my role is to challenge the way the
industry works, to make sure that, as an industry,
we do more to engage consumers, and to help them
understand how much they’re spending and where
they might be able to spend less.
More formally, as Chief Customer Officer, I’m
responsible for the overall customer experience
with First Utility. I have responsibility for our service
offering and operations within First Utility. I also
oversee how we position the brand and make
decisions about the products we offer.
A good brand matches up what they say with what
they do. Problems happen when there’s a gap
between those two things. I have responsibility
over what we say, but also whether we deliver that
through the customer service functions.
CMO.com: There’s a lot of talk about the role
of Chief Customer Officer; not many people
actually implement it.
Kamm: I don’t see any other way of operating.
If I want to say something, I’ve got to make sure
we can live up to it. If we’re going to say we offer
great prices throughout the year, then we’ve got to
offer great prices throughout the year. If we’re going
to say that we’re aiming to be the best on service,
Chief Customer Officer, First Utility
By Michael Nutley, Contributing Writer, CMO.com
31 Back to contents
“Our goal is to reduce consumers’ bills so that they can spend more on
what they want and less on what they need.”
then I’ve got to make sure that my service team
can deliver that.
CMO.com: How much of what you do is driven
out of digital perspective and how much of it is
something that is just enabled by digital?
Kamm: We’ve been very focused on the application
of technology from the early days. We’ve always
been focused on how we make it easy for our
customers to do business with us. A typical customer
only spends 10 minutes a year thinking about their
household energy. We want our customers to be
more engaged, so we use text, email and in-app
notifications, and we drive a very digital experience.
Not only from a sales and acquisition perspective,
but also from a customer service and a retention
We don’t do digital for digital’s sake. However our
customers want to interact with us, they can. We
want to offer them as many choices as we can and,
broadly, our customer base has reacted to that.
Ninety percent of our customers have an online
My Account and deal with us via their My Account
or mobile app. Thirty percent of our customers have
downloaded our mobile app and that’s their main
method of engagement with us.
That’s been critical to our business model because
in order to win customers in this business, you have
to have a great price. The Big Six are charging their
customers £284 on average more than customers
that join us. That’s a big revenue hit because we are
buying exactly the same wholesale energy. So we’ve
got to make sure our cost to serve is lower and that
means using automation, using digital channels, and
allowing customers to engage 24/7. As a result our
cost to serve is much lower, with a better customer
experience than the Big Six, according to surveys
CMO.com: What does this look like
Kamm: The digital environment gives you a
much better ability to target, to offer solutions
your customers can engage with in their own time.
We’re focusing on programmatic marketing, how
we integrate the offering across SMS, email, in-app
notification, My Account. We’ll drive programmatic
marketing to drive up our sales activity, but our
model is built around engaging the consumer once
they’re on supply with us.
CMO.com: With programmatic, do you feel that’s
something that you need to be deeply involved
in or is it something your agency manages
Kamm: We use agency partners in some areas
and while we don’t have to understand every
in and out, if we don’t have a good understanding,
then we can’t see opportunities or challenges. It’s
not just about programmatic marketing, though.
It’s combined with brand messages and ad copy
you put out there.
CMO.com: That sounds like an outward-facing
version of the Chief Customer Officer argument.
Kamm: That’s a good comparison and where
problems tend to happen is when it’s in the “not
invented here” camp or “my responsibility only goes
to here”. Even in the teams I don’t have responsibility
over, like finance and technology, if I don’t have a
good understanding of how they affect the customer
experience, that’s my failure. And that failure will be
32 Back to contents
“I have responsibility over what we say, but also whether we deliver that
through the customer service functions.”
represented to our customers. Our approach is to
see it end-to-end because that’s how our customer
sees it. The customer doesn’t know that’s the finance
department or that’s the credit ops department. They
see us the way they see us and we have to make sure
that we reflect that back.
CMO.com: Then we start to get towards something
that looks like a de-siloed organisation. How do
you manage a de-siloed organisation?
Kamm: I’ve seen lots of people try lots of different
organisational structures. At the end of the day,
it’s about how people join together and work. I’ve
been frankly less focused on the organisational
structures and more interested in how people work
together and collaborate.
It’s a cultural issue about “Am I as open as I should
be”. I don’t want people coming in and thinking solely
about their area because no consumer thinks that
way. Of course they have to have some expertise,
but they’ve got to be able to open their minds so
that they can see a process as the customer sees
it. They’ve got to understand what we are trying
to accomplish. Who do they need to connect with
who can fill in the other areas they don’t know well?
Recruitment becomes critical in that. Many times
we look for generalists more than specific experts,
because it is a different skillset to think more broadly.
It’s also about how you operate as a company. We
very much believe data leads to insights which leads
to action. How does what I’m doing in this particular
area of digital marketing influence the customer that
we eventually get coming into our business? What
do they look like throughout their lifecycle? Don’t just
think about the short-term acquisition target. That
broadening of thought becomes pretty important.
CMO.com: How do you see mobile and social
playing out as the business develops?
Kamm: With social, we think about driving
engagement and a conversation with our customers.
We don’t put any sales metrics around it.
Content for us will become much more critical going
forward. How do we educate on what a kilowatt hour
is? How do we communicate when we have to adjust
your fixed direct debit amount? Can we use video
for that? Can we use content for that rather than a
three-paragraph letter? Which tends not to be very
Already through our mobile app we can start
communicating much more frequently with our
customers through in-app notifications. We can
start to give new experiences to our customers. If
we notice something unusual, we can communicate
via the mobile app and they can start to take action.
There’s a huge opportunity to bring consumer tech
to the energy business.
CMO.com: You’re clearly very much behind
the world of the Internet of things, the
Kamm: Absolutely. Give consumers more control
and let them make the decisions. Your thermostats
of old, pretty much everybody set it and left it. I bet
there’s a lot that are set wrong, or you’re heating
rooms that you’re not in, or you’re heating when
you’re not at home. There’s a big chunk of the bill
that could come out through intelligent use of
consumer tech. There’s not enough yet in
33 Back to contents
“I’ve seen lots of people try lots of different organisational structures.
At the end of the day, it’s about how people join together and work.”
We want to start using consumer tech like a smart
thermostat, to say that it looks like your house is
cooling down a little bit faster than we would have
expected. Or your usage seems a lot bigger than
similar homes around you. Here are some things that
they’ve done – like putting in LED light bulbs – that
have saved them money. That’s where we see our
role as educators and we have to find interesting
and engaging ways to talk to customers about
CMO.com: How comfortable are people
with that level of response from their energy
company? Is there a danger that people will
find that intrusive?
Kamm: I don’t yet know the answer to that, because
you’ve got to iterate your way into it. You don’t want
to say, “I can see everything you’re doing.” You’ll end
up with consumers all along the spectrum. Some will
find it incredibly useful. Others will say, “I’m actually
very comfortable. I don’t need you telling me that.”
As long as you can put the consumer in control
of it and let them decide.
Everything we design is very much an a la carte
menu of “You decide how to use your energy,
but we’re here to help.”
CMO.com: That’s a very different kind of brand
voice to the traditional legacy brand voice.
Kamm: I agree. We’re still developing that voice,
and we’ll do a lot of work next year around
solidifying that communication style.
The key thing for us is that we don’t look to the
energy industry for our inspiration. We don’t think
the way the energy industry operates today is the
way forward. We find our inspiration from other
brands, other industries, and so everything we do
is about looking at how the likes of John Lewis and
First Direct and new companies like Graze do things,
and what we can bring from that to our business,
and to the energy business more broadly.
34 Back to contents
The majority of the British population comes into
contact with IT giant Fujitsu every day, but most
don’t realise it. The company powers desktop
services, logistics and back-end systems for clients
including government departments, major retailers
and utilities companies.
Simon Carter, Executive Director of Marketing for
the U.K. and Ireland, spoke to CMO.com about
why digital must not forget traditional marketing
principles, and how he brought marketing back to
board level for the U.K. and Irish market for one of
the world’s largest IT companies.
CMO.com: Can you tell us a bit about Fujitsu,
the brand, the company, and your customers?
Carter: The brand operates in over 100 countries.
It is domiciled in Japan, where it is a well-known
household brand, selling everything from desktop
computers to mobile phones to consumers. In the
U.K., and in most other countries, however, it’s very
different. It’s a business-oriented, services company.
While we do sell laptops and servers and tablets, in
the U.K. 85% of our revenues come from services –
the outsourcing of logistics systems or
the running of desktops for companies.
About half of the business is public sector, working
with HMRC, the Home Office and the Ministry
of Defence. In the private sector, we work with
everybody from the Post Office, Tesco and Morrisons
to Kentucky Fried Chicken, Centrica and Lloyds Bank.
We often say that 99% of the population will touch
Fujitsu every day, even though they probably won’t
realise it. In my previous roles, brand recognition
was hugely important. Here, it is much more about
reputation, credibility and engagement with key
decision makers and influencers.
CMO.com: Where does your role sit within the
company and what does it entail?
Carter: I am the top of the pyramid for marketing
in the U.K. and Ireland. I sit on the main management
board for the region. Every form of communication
to customers, the market, employees, journalists,
shareholders – it all goes through me. I also sit on
the global marketing board and represent the U.K.
and Ireland at a global level. The U.K. and Ireland,
along with Germany, is the largest market [in terms
of revenue] outside of Japan. A lot of the stuff we
do globally originates from us because of the scale
and size of our business.
CMO.com: How do you organise your
Carter: I have four main teams reporting into me.
I have Client Marketing, which is industry-focused.
They deal with marketing directly to customers.
They are organised around public sector, retail,
financial services and manufacturing, and they
customise specific propositions into each of
My second team I call Portfolio Marketing. They
market our products and services – cloud services,
desktops, consultancy and applications services.
These two teams need to work very closely together.
The third team is what I call Marketing Services,
and that’s the execution team. That covers
everything from PR to advertising, running events
Executive Director of Marketing,
Fujitsu U.K. Ireland
By Gina Lovett, Contributing Writer, CMO.com
35 Back to contents
“In the UK 85% of our revenues come from services – the outsourcing of
logistics systems or the running of desktops for companies.”
and marketing intelligence to data management.
It’s simply the coordination of everything we do,
to make sure that we know which customers we
are in touch with, when and with what activity.
The fourth and final team is Corporate Affairs; it’s
quite small, and they look after our reputation with
MPs, ministers, and all the main industry stakeholders
that we have a relationship with. The structure is
aligned closely to the business organisation. It makes
sense to treat marketing as a whole rather than as
CMO.com: How does marketing work
Carter: The purpose is to match what we
manufacture with what our customers want.
There are four principles. The first is about ensuring
customers understand our reputation – that they
know we are one of the three largest IT companies
in the world; that we employ lots of people in this
country; that we pay our taxes; that we’re
well-respected by customers and by analysts.
The second principle is our credibility; that we
actually know what it is we are talking about.
It’s vital that we are seen as experts in financial
services, public sector, or in cloud computing,
or product hardware.
The third aspect is around engagement, and getting
our sales people in front of customers. We also
want to make sure that when our customers see
the Fujitsu brand, they know what it is we do and
that they want to know more.
The fourth and final area is around generating
demand. Once you’ve built reputation, established
credibility, and got in front of the customer, you
need to understand how to excite them with a
CMO.com: How does this influence the sort
of channels you use?
Carter: In terms of reputation, it’s a combination
of word-of-mouth with journalists, or analysts. In
terms of credibility, it’s around writing white papers
and thought leadership, advertorials or PR, appearing
on stage at events and becoming a subject matter
expert. We host a lot of our own events. We’ve
pulled back from supporting third-party events as we
do more of our own, where we have more control
over the content and the branding. Every November,
we host a large customer event for about 10,000
people in Munich. We just had a big event in London
for about 800 customers, where we showed off our
latest innovations to this market.
CMO.com: What’s your digital philosophy?
Carter: My view on digital is very simple. It is
the be-all and end-all of what we do. However,
the approach to digital should be no different to
how brands used to approach what we now call
traditional marketing. It is critical to have killer
creative, make the proposition relevant, get the
targeting right, and the call to action clear and
unmissable. Too many brands see digital as a
cheap way to market, and they throw away the
basics. Digital should not end up being any cheaper
to execute than more traditional means. Cutting
corners usually ends up with poor results. I feel
very strongly about this.
36 Back to contents
Once you’ve built reputation, established credibility, and got in front
of the customer, you need to understand how to excite them with
a great proposition.
CMO.com: What areas of marketing do you find
the most challenging?
Carter: While marketing is important for Fujitsu
in its domestic market in Japan, internationally the
company is much more sales-led in its outlook;
marketing only returned to being a main board
position in the U.K. in April 2014, having been absent
from the boardroom for some three years prior to
that. So, my biggest historic challenge has been in
establishing the role of marketing in what has been
a very sales-led region.
At Fujitsu, you generally have the people who work
on the design and manufacturing side, or those who
are on the sales side. What I’ve come along and said
is that you can’t do either of these bits in an optimum
way without linking them via great marketing. The
main challenge is always demonstrating the value
that marketing brings, especially if that organisation
isn’t naturally marketing-focused.
CMO.com: What sort of KPIs does the board
appraise marketing on?
Carter: Our board gets excited about sales, but as
marketing, we’re not accountable for the final sale.
So I can’t be measured on the volume of value
of sales made, but I can be measured on lead
generation and providing opportunities to start the
sales process. I go back to my model of reputation,
credibility, engagement and demand generation.
These are the things that we measure. In terms of
reputation, it’s awareness in the marketplace and
market share. Is our brand going up or down? In
terms of credibility, it’s around how many case
studies we’ve generated or our customer satisfaction
rating. We also look at how many events we have
run and how many customers have been to them.
It might also be how many employees have been
trained on the latest software proposition.
CMO.com: What role does market research play
in what you do?
Carter: The role of market research today is less
about measuring and much more about creating
content. Recently we’ve been using market research
to generate interesting perceptions for prospective
customers about certain issues. This then gets written
up as a piece of thought-leadership. We’ve just run
a major piece about how prepared companies are
for increasing digitisation of their businesses. We can
then use this sort of research and thought-leadership
for PR purposes, for collateral to talk to customers
about, for speaking at events or for presentations
to customers by our sales people.
CMO.com: Talk me through a recent campaign.
Carter: We recently ran a three-pronged email
campaign to promote cloud computing. We drew
up a carefully targeted list of 50 organisations,
sending emails to the CFO, the CIO and the CMO,
tailoring the message for each. For the CFO, the main
message was about how cloud computing is the
best way to reduce the cost base for the company.
For the CMO, we explained how cloud computing
can boost competitiveness, but for the CIOs, it was
about appealing to their personal needs – to be on
top of their game when the CFO and CMO came
knocking on their door to know more – offering
them meetings to help them with this.
It was a very simple but very strategic campaign
that simultaneously warmed up three prospects
within the company. It got us in front of a whole load