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

I’ve always been a curious person and got interested in marketing very early in my academic business studies. Being a business discipline that has strong connection with human sciences like sociology and psychology it combines analytics and creativity which makes it a very challenging and interesting discipline to get the balance right. It is an insights driven discipline and we must find a way to address or create unmet audience needs which is thrilling. Combine this with the fact that marketing is the “engine” of any company so for me it is the best place to be in the business world. 

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

Effectiveness and ROI measurement. In a world where resources are scarce and budgets tighter the constant need to justify investments and making sure we delivery growth is bigger than ever.

Also getting the basics right and returning to the 4Ps is fundamental. The hype of digital brings great value, but also lots of distraction so focusing on the basic fundamentals of the discipline is key for commercial success.

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?

Here I would steal with pride from Mark Ritson and use the word “bothism” as I strongly believe it isn’t either or but using both that will drive success and growth for brands and companies. Obviously, there are moments that you might need one or the other, but usually a combination is more powerful in my experience.

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

We are in the infancy of AI and still don’t know a lot about it so anything I say now might be premature. However, AI will surely help with performance improvement and automate more routine work. However, I strongly believe Marketing will always need humans as the art of the insight and the nuances of audiences, customers and stakeholder interaction require empathy, engagement and the human touch.

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

Like many businesses we have had to adapt to the context, but still making sure we continue to put our audiences and customers at the centre of everything we do. This can only be achieved with the dedication and collaboration between colleagues across different functions and regions.

We have continued to develop solutions and innovations that delight our audiences and make their lives more colourful and exciting ensuring they get the value they are looking for in whatever decoration job than enhances and beautifies their living spaces.

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

By being constantly curious and open to the world around us, listening to our audiences and customers to ensure we deliver on their needs, turning insights into action with speed to market and brilliant execution, by collaborating internally in the most effective and efficient way maximising the use of resources, and by doing the right thing when it comes to sustainability, D&I and ESG. It also requires a mindset of test and learn as well as fail fast in case it does not work so that you can pivot to a better solution that delivers to a multistakeholder audience of colleagues, customers, communities, and shareholders.

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

A crucial role! Our company purpose is People Planet Paint which means we strive to do things that enable and empower people, are better for the planet and bring new and better paint solutions to our customers. We also have clear SBTi targets of Carbon footprint reduction as well as others. This is strongly linked with our marketing strategy in terms of innovation development as well as communication, packaging and of course social sustainability. Our key decorative brand (Dulux) purpose is to “add colour to people’s lives” and we do this not only by literally improving and beautifying our living spaces through paint and colour on walls (and other surfaces), but also by transforming people’s lives for the better through the power of colour. Our Let’s Colour program really brings to live the brand purpose through social sustainability initiatives to improve the living spaces of underprivilege people (often together with our 5 year partner – SOS Children’s Villages).

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

Storytelling is the best way to engage audiences as this is how humans have evolved and it still works today. By involving people in relevant and meaningful stories that connect with them in some way drives engagement and thus consideration, conversion, and preference.

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 don’t think so or at least it has not been “invented” yet. I understand the effort it takes an agency to participate in a pitch, but how can brands consider and assess a new agency if we don’t go through a pitch process? It is a competitive world out there and brands must also compete for customer’s attention and preference so in the agency world pitches are kind of a series of “long form ads” to woo the prospective client. And for brands it is always crucial to select the best agency partner that delivers on the goals, contributes to and/or aligns with the strategy, and very importantly fits the team/company culture.

So no, I don’t think there is an alternative process to a pitch. 

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

Some things will continue to be the same like for example insights driven innovation, communication, brand development as well as performance and measurement (e.g. ROI and effectiveness). But some others will be new challenges like the continued fast development of digital and more specifically the expected seismic changes with the rise and democratization of AI. There are a lot of unknowns that will be a challenge for marketing as the business “engine” discipline.

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

It is the engine and connector of the business. It is a value creation discipline and it is here to stay so we marketers need to make sure we continue to drive commercial value through constant adaptation and anticipation of the context to have our rightful seat at the Board.

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.

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.