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

When I was 16, having taken Art at school and being dead set on becoming an architect, I discovered by artistic skills where not really up to scratch. One of the few subjects I could change to, was Business Economics. It’s here I discovered my love for brands, branding, research, economics. From there the next step was easy – Bachelor of Business Science degree with a Major in Marketing, Economics and statistics, and then off to P&G.. the real school of marketing 😊 

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

It’s pace and volume. The quantity of output given the fragmentation of media is a huge challenge, and how you ensure quality but an efficient and effective cost. The constant changing landscape of digital martech and trying to see through the jargon. What actually works, what is actually efficient and effective, and off course the age old problem that everyone in every organisation is a marketeer – now made worse with ecommerce trading overlap. 

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? 

More art than science. Even behind the science is a human, a click is a human, a customer. So for me its still the art of perception, positioning and communication and the science behind finding more of those people who that story resonates with. At the end of the day you still build the brand through changing human behaviour, getting someone to choose your brand over another, buy more, trade up etc. Human behaviour is not an exact science. 

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

I think it is OK and necessary as you can see the returns when you let the algorithm do what it does best. Often in these situations the human intervention and effort on return is not there. But this is not to replace humans, to ensure what we create is fit for purpose, is on brand and appropriate. 

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

You need to be even closer to the emotion of the consumer and the mood of the nation and ready to pivot if the mood moves. It also requires some careful inward looking to understand the element of your brand that resonates the most, and ensure you make that element famous. We need to avoid jumping on comms bandwagons in a non-authentic way.

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

It’s important you know your brand strengths and differences. Following trends and competition, without being true to your brand will compromise your long term brand building. So by understanding your brand, you know when to defend your attributes versus competition and build others when the trends are on your side. 

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

We are driven by our brand believe that connectivity can improve life so look to include this across our communication calendar. Specifically on our purpose we have a very clear agenda to help eliminate digital poverty so have pivoted funding and campaigns towards driving this agenda. Our environmental and inclusion strategy underpin our brand behaviour, so we do not just say. We ensure we deliver on our commitments across all our communication and brand activity. 

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

Story telling is key across all communication as it creates relevance and memory. The power of that story, or meaning behind that story varies across our communication types. Naturally our brand love campaigns have bigger, more emotionally charged stories. For an invisible product like ours, the story and what we enable is key. 

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? 

The pitch process allows clients to cast the net wide and get to meet agencies beyond those in their personal or professional network. Without that you know who you know and who you have worked with before. There is a simpler pitch process that is more about chemistry, ways of working, cost and challenging thinking – rather than just always trying to buy a finished idea. 

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

Our cost pressure driven by economic conditions and media inflation remains a focus for us. How do we create the ever increasing content demands, for less without loosing effectiveness. We have a very clear roadmap and story we want to deliver, and hope the wild around us stays a little more predictable stable so we can focus on excellence in execution rather than constant pivot and adopt. 

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

It's the best role in the C suite! 

Maria Koutsoudakis,was interviewed by Tim Healey (Little Grey Cells), on behalf of Worth Your While 

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.

Senior marketers and brand managers have more time, less stress and clearer marketing strategy and tactics by collaborating with best-selling author and outsourced marketing director Tim Healey. www.shoot4themoon.co.uk