1. What inspired you to pursue a career that embraces marketing? 

I’ve always been interested in psych

ology and what makes people tick. Why people do what they do, and the ability to affect and alter that. Marketing to me is a very practical application of that. That is why I love it. 

2. What are the biggest challenges currently facing your marketing team? 

Continue to differentiate our services in an ever-growing competitive landscape and highlight how we offer much more than just payments. Klarna has been at the forefront of BNPL’s growth for 17 years. But BNPL is just one feature; with the right messaging and distribution channels, our focus is to now show how we deliver an outstanding, personalised end-to-end shopping and payment experience that builds loyalty and trust with our consumers, while being a growth engine for our retail partners. 

3. Science vs Art: With scientific data-driven marketing at one end of the spectrum and genius creative ideas at the other - which side do you lean towards? 

I think marketing is more of an art than a science, but data is essential in driving results. People might get really excited about a flashy celebrity campaign, but don’t underestimate the power of a world-class CRM email, as both will move the needle for the business. If you look at the journey Klarna has made over the last couple of years, the secret sauce of our success is very much in combining both art and science; beautiful design with hard-core tech banking, which no one has ever done before. 

4. In marketing, when is it ok to rely on A.I. and when do you think you definitely ‘need a human’? 

AI is an incredibly powerful tool for marketing. There is major potential for generative AI in fintech, and we are actively looking at how the technology can offer consumers better financial and shopping advice, as well as a more personalised experience overall. While humans are still at the core of making very complex business decisions, AI can create more efficiency, enhance strategy, and allow us to focus on the more emotional layers of marketing. 

5. How are you riding the storm of economic turbulence and increased cost of living? 

Our approach generally remains the same. Especially now, consumers deserve better value, sustainable credit options that help them take control of their finances- which is why over 150 million consumers globally use Klarna’s interest free products. Our products save people time and money with the option to pay immediately in full, or with our interest-free Pay Later products which provide short term repayment plans and strict eligibility checks on each purchase, so we only lend to those who can afford to repay. 

6. How do you adapt a business and marketing strategy to embrace the latest trends and keep ahead of the competition? 

Market research is critical in understanding the different audiences across our markets and scaling globally while maintaining local relevance. We constantly test to see what works and what doesn’t, and ultimately some things will fail and some will succeed. We tested livestream shopping, which did not turn out to be the right fit, but are now experimenting with other forms of content such as shoppable video and virtual shopping, which are already seeing high engagement rates and driving business results for retailers. 

7. What role does your company’s purpose and environmental strategy play within your marketing strategy? 

As part of our mission to help consumers shop smarter and be more informed, Klarna offers a range of tools in the app that empower consumers to shop more consciously and support our planet’s health. From CO2e insights for all purchases, to promoting conscious brands and sustainable products, our focus is to ensure consumers are equipped with greater transparency and actionable insights to help them make more informed shopping decisions. 

8. How important is storytelling when maximising your customers’ engagement with a campaign? 

Storytelling is key in showing our true brand and the value we bring to consumers and retailers. Klarna used to be another financial company in a sea of boring blue corporate logos and suits, typical of the traditional banking industry. But as we began to challenge the business models of these distrusted financial systems and predatory high cost credit card companies, we wanted to disrupt the category by challenging what has been the norm. 

Consciously choosing the colour pink for the brand logo was the first small but symbolic step in this. Our brand also communicates and acts differently than many typical financial institutions. Instead of me trying to explain Klarna’s offerings, people are more likely to listen if they hear it from Snoop Dogg or Paris Hilton. Our brand is more approachable, user friendly, and speaks a language people can relate to, which builds trust. 

9. Creative agencies rail against the time and resource spent working on pitches to win accounts: is there a realistic, fair alternative to the pitch process? 

I unfortunately believe that there is a fundamental lack of alignment between agencies and clients when it comes to incentives. I am a naive believer in a performance based approach to agency relationships, although it has yet to be proven in practice. 

10. From a marketing perspective, what’s coming up for your brand or business in 2023? 

We are laser focused on making Klarna the ultimate end-to-end shopping experience for consumers and continuing to be a growth partner for our 500,000 retail partners worldwide. We recently launched a search and compare tool to help shoppers and the best price for their product across thousands of retailers and are expanding our suite of marketing and ad solutions for retailers, which includes a Creator Platform to connect brands with creators to optimise and manage campaigns at scale. 

11. If there’s one thing you know about marketing it is...? 

Behaviour creates attitude, NOT the other way around. The main purpose of marketing is to increase the likelihood of people trying and using your product. Using the product builds the brand. Not a brand campaign. 

Little Grey Cells is Tim Healey’s weekly profile interview platform where leading marketers share their valuable insights and experience, presented by Worth Your While.

Outsourced Marketing Director and best-selling author Tim Healey collaborates with senior marketers to help them have more time, less stress and clearer marketing strategies through his consultancy Shoot 4 The Moon Ltd. Book your meeting.

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