What inspired you to pursue a career that embraces marketing? 

I never set out to be a marketer originally – I wanted desperately to be a photographer or a music video director so I came into this industry from a creative background. 

That being said, my skill set was digitally native so marketing combined everything I had at the time. I’ve always been a fan of brands, so it was an unplanned but natural career path for me. 

What are the biggest challenges currently facing your marketing team? 

One of our biggest challenges on the horizon is a move to cookieless attribution and first party data. It’s a big shift in thinking, especially for a brand like ours where search acquisition is the backbone of our output. 

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? 

Without copping out, I’m firmly in the middle when thinking commercially. There is a heavy requirement in marketing, especially in retail, for both of these. I am however a little wary of data-driven, black box attribution - and much more confident in the team’s intuition and gut-thinking. That’s our strongest weapon. 

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

I don’t think we should ever rely on A.I - but harness the power of it to drive incremental performance. A.I and the emerging tech around it is exciting but we need to be careful and constantly ask ourselves whether we’re meeting our audience’s needs with the solutions we present. 

The Metaverse: are you ‘in’, ‘out’ or ‘not sure’?

Many of us are already ‘in’ to some degree. Communities like Fortnite, Call Of Duty, Roblox and Rec Room are metaverse arenas. 

I’m less sure on a central, singular metaverse - at least not any time soon. It all sounds a bit Habbo Hotel with VR goggles. 

How is your approach to marketing ‘riding the storm’ of economic turbulence and increased cost of living? 

Our way of communicating with customers is of course sensitive to economic rumblings, especially as a retailer with a fairly considered category and large average basket values. 

Our approach doesn’t necessarily change - continuing to build a brand during recessionary periods often pays off in the longer term. We’re always reminding ourselves that we’re not just building a pipeline for tomorrow, but creating foundations for the years beyond. 

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

Something I've always instilled into our team is ‘create work that you’ll want to tell your friends about when you’re down at the pub’. 

Whether that’s a bold, exciting new creative or really innovative, cutting edge martech - if you get excited about it - it’s likely that you’re onto a winning approach. 

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

Storytelling is hugely important, and creating feeling through advertising is the only real way to drive engagement. 

Who is going to be engaged by a wide shot of a sparkling bathroom suite in an ad-break for Bake Off? I certainly wouldn’t be. You’ll rarely find product shots or lifestyle imagery in our campaigns, but you’ll always find engaging stories and fun narratives. 

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? 

We recently began working with Leo Burnett, our first ‘top shelf’ agency, and that account was awarded without a formal pitch. I don’t really care for pitches, but I love it when a potential partner texts me out of the blue with a fun idea or the seeds of something great. 

It’s entirely unrealistic to expect an agency to pitch a fully formed, ‘knock your socks off’ creative in a three or four week window without a deep understanding of the brand, its objectives and its stakeholders. 

When working with any new partner – creative agency or otherwise, my primary questions I want to answer are, ‘are these people as invested in our success as I am?’ and ‘do I think they’re capable of helping us to achieve our goals?’. 

Nothing else matters. 

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

We’re continuing with the launch of our new brand platform, Boss Your Bathroom which has been really well received. We’re keeping a really close eye on emerging tech and how it can supercharge our output. Even though we’re now the UK’s largest bathroom retailer - something we’re hugely proud of - every single day we’re asking how we can grow our business. I’m glad that we still have our challenger brand mentality, despite our success. 

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

Brands win. A strong and salient brand can help to side-step economic pressures, race-to-the-bottom pricing and most other headwinds. Build a brand customers want to buy from, and importantly, trust. 

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.