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

I did the typical graduate thing and kind of fell into a career in market research. But I found it a bit too…transactional. I was more interested in the problem solving aspects of marketing – understanding what makes people do what they do. So I spent a couple of years reading up on people like Sharpe and Rumelt, and then was lucky enough to find a boss who hired me into a brand strategy role despite being heavy on theory but light on experience.

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

To have the combination of long-term trends, causal results and case studies that demonstrates that marketing investment is critical ‘whatever the weather’.

I’m lucky to work for an organisation that has a firm belief in marketing as a growth driver and continues to invest in brand despite economic uncertainty. Like every company, completely fair and reasonable questions are asked about our marketing investments - exactly the questions that I would ask! As is the case for most marketers, having robust and evidence backed answers to these questions is our biggest challenge. 

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?

As with many things in life, I strive to be in the middle.

My observation is that marketing has historically been seen as a creative pursuit. Over the last decade though, the proliferation of digital channels and martech has led to a kind of over correction towards science.

For me, the science should come in the earlier stages of the marketing process. What problem will we solve, how will we drive the business, what’s the size of the prize? And then the art comes in how we deliver this. Novel, creative, exciting solutions to scientifically defined and quantified problems.

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

I see AI as a way to help make our marketing and work more creative and efficient. But our ultimate goal is effectiveness. There are so many variable factors to this, both subjective and objective, that it takes a skilled human to plot a course to really effective marketing.

5. How is your business 'Riding the Storm' of economic turbulence and increased cost of living?

LinkedIn can’t impact the price of a pint of milk or how much someone’s gas bill is. But we can give everyone the means to maximize their potential and address the cost of living that way.

Our company vision of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce becomes even more relevant during economic downturns. There is no other brand in the world that can do that like we can, be that through new jobs, developing skills, building beneficial connections, finding new sales leads or many other ways.

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

I don’t want to calibrate our marketing around the latest trends or what our competitors are doing. We calibrate our marketing around the needs of our members and customers.

Sure, these can be influenced and flexed by what our competition is doing and emerging trends. But human nature and needs don’t change as rapidly as we suppose. Bill Bernbach said human nature took 1 billion years to develop, so any changes we observe are mostly superficial. Whilst it’s fashionable to talk about changes to behaviours, marketers should be looking deeper for the consistencies.

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

Our company vision is a guiding light for us, and a major talent draw too. My job is to turn that into an actionable marketing strategy that will help us grow the careers of our members. Zeroing in on career growth helps us communicate at a much more practical level.

For instance, we have just rolled out a new creative platform, ‘Find Your In’, which is helping us articulate all the different ways LinkedIn helps people reach their potential. If we can do this consistently over a long period of time, realising our bigger picture vision will take care of itself.

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

It is critical. We know that people remember and pay attention to stories more than anything else. Over the past few years, we have been evolving our storytelling from focusing on real members; to more of a ‘stylised reality’.

Our recent campaign in India is a great example of this. We set it in a carnival and used metaphors to dramatize the experience and benefit of using LinkedIn. It’s the storytelling that takes planning your career from being a stressful, onerous task; to being exciting, inspiring and fun. 

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?

Yes. Fewer pitches.

I want to build long, long term relationships with our agencies. I don’t think we see this happen enough. And I think there are reasons for this on both the client and the agency side.

On the client side, agency management and brief writing are underdeveloped skills, and team churn causes ‘new broom syndrome’. And on the agency side, many will price aggressively at the start of a relationship, overservice, and then have to pull back, which creates dissatisfaction. And on top of that, too many agencies over-index on finding creative solutions rather than helping their clients better define business or marketing problems, which undermines results.

So don’t change the pitch process. Create longer, better relationships between clients and agencies and so fewer pitches are needed.

 10. From a marketing perspective, what’s coming up for your brand or business in 2024 and beyond?

There are some incredibly exciting developments in the works that will make LinkedIn an even more effective way to grow your career.

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

Diagnose. Plan. Execute. Every time. No exceptions. 

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.

Marketing Director and Brand Manager Tim Healey provides strategic marketing support that maximises the opportunity for success. Book your 15 minute meeting.

You might die tomorrow so make it worth your while. Worth Your While is an independent creative agency helping brands do spectacular stuff people like to talk about. wyw.agency.