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

Many, many distant moons ago it was the desire to express the creative side, and mediocre artistic talent that lay within, by going agency-side but it proved enormously difficult to get the foot in that door at that age. I chose to stealthily get to it via going client side and have never looked back. At a crossroads in my career I was lucky enough to get a place on the Marketing Academy, run by the magnificent Sherilyn Shackell, and that year of learning from the great and the good confirmed this was the path for me – marketing done well, particularly in financial services, can changes lives and I firmly believe it is more influential than ever with consumers and boards alike. 

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

Engagement. We are in one of the most mistrusted parts of the financial services sector of which there are many trust me! I have a conundrum many senior marketers will never face – our customers don’t want to be a customer of ours, as they have been avoiding problem debt, and if I do my role well they won’t be a customer of ours ever again. Tremendously sadly we see the same customers falling into problem debt, and as noble as it sounds, I’d love to look back on my time with Lowell saying I helped people break the cycle and we didn’t see any of our customers again – what a marketing 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?

I’m a fence-sitter as it depends what challenge you are trying to succumb. Recent roles have taught me the importance of ensuring your team has an analytic, independent, view to marketing performance that informs your creative talent. When choosing roles it’s vital that you are given the ability to take people with you, to execute your thinking and the ability to make the changes you want. I’m blessed I have that right now which means I can hopefully sense when the data drives the decisions or the creative idea does. 

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

My marketing career has solely, and deliberately, been within financial services with the key reason being that when a strong financial services brand is needed it can be life changing – whether it’s challenging the system with the best savings rates at Atom bank, helping a new parent at Aviva with free life insurance or removing the enormous mental health impact of problem debt at Lowell. Given this, and the heavy and necessary regulation in financial services, I’m firmly in the place of making sure the human touch is there. Most brands want to make sure the simplicity of digital engagement is available and is smooth but when it comes to making that choice about where you spend your money, to look after yours and your families futures, the reassuring human touch will always be needed. 

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

The most important thing for us is to ensure our customers are coping with the turbulence. I’ve seen many a lofty, purpose-driven, set of marketing execution that doesn’t deliver but I hope that we have stayed true to our core. For example, I’ve had the backing of our Exec team to give away free credit-scoring in our new app to help customers understand the impact problem debt has in this space. We also have a free benefits calculator and a relationship with the wonderful fintech, Snoop, to help customers find the money to pay off their debts. 

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

Vital and I think this is the case in all service sectors – you’re asking your customers to part with their money for something that can be intangible after all. Establishing trust is about communicating your service, your performance and your user experience. The best marketers I’ve had the pleasure of working with genuinely fall in love with the problem they are trying to solve and that comes out in the story they tell of their brand. 

7. 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. Keeping connected with the industry’s talent and work still remains vital and alongside this ensuring you have the credibility and trust within your organisation to show who you want to work with and why – marketing’s influence ever grows and therefore the confidence in the marketing teams choices has to be trusted. Platforms exist now that ensure creative, media, design and communications agencies can showcase their work to communities of brands and senior marketers which can help even the most stubborn of CFOs understand the value of pitching! 

8. If there’s one thing you know about marketing it is…? “If you hire Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel don’t hold his hand while he’s painting” 

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.