Times of Austerity Generate The Boldest Leaps In Innovation
11 May, 2023
Justin Hanneman, Senior Director of Marketing at Equifax UK, unpacks how times of austerity generate the boldest leaps in innovation, how businesses need to better understand the unifying power of great marketing and how storytelling builds the trust that feeds brand and product reputation.
1. What inspired you to pursue a career that embraces marketing?
Studying Business at University as a naive under-graduate I somehow got it in my head that marketing was actually ‘economics in practice’ where you get to manipulate supply and demand or perception of this in real life. How dumb was I?
2. What are the biggest challenges currently facing your marketing team?
Lack of understanding from other parts of the business in just how marketing can truly drive new business growth.
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?
Science like nature always prevails.
4. In marketing, when is it ok to to rely on A.I. and when do you think you definitely ‘need a human’?
A.I is absolutely needed to help us all spend more time doing less repetitive, more interesting problem solving and deeper engagement. Recommendation engines, behavioural segmentation and even some simple content creation around newsletters are all now well and truly able to be automated and so as always, we should focus attention on everything else like differentiated value through higher level service and personalisation, maybe kick back to offline channels where A.I suffers most to stand out?
5. How is your approach to marketing affected by times of economic turbulence and increased cost of living?
Our experiments need to be more frugal as our core communications around brand and products are stripped to a minimum and our lowest cost acquisition campaigns and channels take priority. It’s less exciting as a growth marketer but like Autumn, time to cut back, trim the roots and get ready for new growth as seasons will change. It’s also the perfect time to innovate. If necessity is the mother of invention then its in time of austerity where the coolest leaps in technology and process usually come from. Definitely not a time to bury your head in the sand.
6. How do you adapt a business and marketing strategy to embrace the latest trends and keep ahead of the competition?
Ask your customers and then your prospects. It’s really that simple.
7. What role does your company’s purpose and environmental strategy play within your marketing strategy?
We exist to power the world with knowledge according to our positioning statement. What’s clearer to me is our internal purpose statement which is to help people live their financial best. And so as a Marketing team, our job is to fill in the middle.We must focus on the ‘How’ in order to bring these statements to life, make sure our Products link to customer jobs to be done with these statements and do it simply and clearly. We must be able to prove and demonstrate this time and time again and unlike our competition, bring the End Use case and human benefit forward in the headlines and imagery.The opposite is normally true in our industry, heroing abstract features, not benefits like speed of integration, compatibility and other hygiene ‘me too’ type of reasons to buy.So our job is relatively easy.
8. How important is storytelling when maximising your customers’ engagement with a campaign?
Someone described the definition of a Brand as ‘a promise delivered’. Stories are based on drama with characters or players that go through ups and downs. They are also the vehicle we rely on that drives our knowledge, decisions and generally progress on all accounts. In essence it’s the raw ingredient of trust that feeds brand and product reputation, preferences and beliefs which ultimately affect trial and repeat buying. Now can anyone tell me that storytelling isn’t important in driving engagement?
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 greatest alternative to pitching is to simply try out small, insignificant projects together to get a sense of the value of a new agency or team in how well the capabilities, ways of working and general chemistry match. The reason why this is not common is because clients have nothing to lose from agencies pitching at them and gain a lot in the process. They also are the buyer and so the power is with them. It’s not very fair but it’s the way the market dynamics lean, despite the cost of these pictures inevitably get paid by clients in the end. Go figure.
10. From a marketing perspective, what’s coming up for your brand or business in 2023?
Less is more in 2023. We have pushed out far too much content over the years and like young children, jump a lot from one shiny new campaign concept to another without paying enough attention to the Objectives and also linking back to core Campaign concepts and Product lifecycle comms. With budgets under increased pressure, bootstrapping is needed to sharpen the mind and so when 2024 comes, we’ll be sharper than ever in knowing where to focus our attention and growing marketing budgets.
11. If there’s one thing you know about marketing it is…?
I still think it could be redefined as Economics in Practice but this would mean all the Heads of Technology, Operations, Finance, HR would need to form a mutiny and tell everyone in Sales, Distribution, Product, Pricing, Digital and Channel departments that they all now report to Marketing which I can’t see happening anytime soon.
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.