From Virgin to John Lewis to MoneySuperMarket: One marketer on going from brand to digital

MoneysupermarketLloyd Page always wanted to worked to work in marketing. He studied business and marketing at A-level before reading marketing at Northumbria University, the first university to offer a four-year marketing course.

Page started his marketing career at Virgin Trains, which he describes as “very near to the top of the pile in terms of marketing and brands” because it was a customer champion. “It felt very focused on the customer and employees and letting the business results come off the back of that,” he explains.

He spent eight years there “learning the trade” before moving to Vodafone just as the first iPhone launched. It was a global role based in Dublin with a strategy of trying to “bring the world of content and contacts together”.

Two-and-a-half years later, he decided to move back to London for both professional and personal reasons.

“The global role [at Vodafone] was a big gig and one of those in-the-centre jobs, so setting frameworks within which the operating markets would execute,” he explains. “But two-and-a-half years of travelling the globe wore a little bit thin and I missed the closeness to the execution.

“It was time to go back to that and return to London because we were starting a family.”

Back in London, he joined John Lewis in a new role as head of brand. In 2010, John Lewis’s marketing department was not very mature and he was tasked with unlocking the power of the brand to drive growth. That involved the John Lewis Christmas campaign, which was just kicking into gear in 2010, but also the retailer’s role as the official partner store of the London Olympics.

Page then moved “quite purposefully” to a head of online role on the JohnLewis.com team. At the time, the centralised marketing team and the digital team were quite separate and he reported to online director Mark Lewis, who went on to be CEO at his current employer – MoneySuperMarket.

Page believes his career trajectory has mirrored the evolution of the marketing industry, starting in a brand-advertising function before moving into digital. He believes key to management now is being credible and having “enough” knowledge, while being comfortable that no one can know everything.

“From a cultural and empowerment point of view, and giving people the opportunity to fulfil their potential, I believe you get the best out of everyone and everything in that space.”

A chance to be creative

Virgin Trains, various roles (2000-2008)

Virgin Trains“Virgin was a great playground to learn my trade and it had a cause: really improving rail with new rolling stock, new timetables – everything was going to get better for the customer.

“It ticked a lot of boxes for me and the opportunity to execute with a Virgin brand meant you had creative licence to be dynamic.”

Taking on a global role

Vodafone, various roles including head of consumer content (2008-2010)

“My first year here marked the iPhone launch. We were partnering with Apple, and also BlackBerry was around at the time so it was there in the mix. We were also developing our own propositions and trying to enable customers to have greater control and consolidating what had become fragmented. That space of trying to bring your world of content and contacts together.

“It was a global role, so it was a big gig and one of those in-the centre jobs setting frameworks within which the operating markets would execute.

“[Perceptions of Vodafone in the UK] are very different [to globally]. It is one of the leaders but that was challenged by compelling propositions from the likes of O2, which is really well invested in and customer-focused. Compare that to, say, Vodafone India, where the brand is seen as pioneering, innovative and on the front foot driving connectivity across a huge customer base.

“I did Vodafone for two-and-a-half years out in Dublin. It was good fun, I was with David Wheldon [now RBS CMO] and there was a crew of us running around. But two-and-a-half years of travelling the globe wore a little bit thin and I was missing the closeness to the execution from being in a global role.”

The start of the iconic Christmas campaign

John Lewis, head of marketing, brand (2010-2013)

John Lewis Partners“The new head of brand role felt like a fantastic opportunity at a 150-year-old retailer that had only had a meaningful marketing department for a short period of time.

“It was trying to unlock how to leverage an iconic brand that has so much meaning to so many people from a marketing sense to drive growth in that brand and the business objectives.

“My big focus, in the short-term, was the Christmas campaign. The marketing director went on jury service on day one and we had the campaign land where we had a few little challenges to manage.

“In 2012, it was the London Olympics and we were the official partner store so that was part of my focus, and launching the first new department store in London for 20 years with the Stratford site. We were also launching small and midsize formats, so that was also in my remit.”

A taste of online

John Lewis, head of online marketing (2013- 2016)

“I moved to the head of online role, which was in the johnlewis.com team. The digital marketing team was around 30 when I joined and it was essentially digital performance media – search was the big focus but there were other channels we were growing. Equally, a part of the objective was to drive footfall to shops.

“It was a crash course in getting up to speed but that proved effective and we had three years of double-digit traffic and revenue growth in the three years I was leading the digital marketing team, while trying to draw that closer connection to the central team.

“Just as I was leaving, we decided to combine the digital marketing  and the central teams. That was a very active choice of words. It wasn’t digital into central, it was a coming together and keeping the best of both.”

Breaking through as a ‘genuine challenger’

Virgin Media, director of brand and brand communications (2016-2018)

“I was excited by the opportunity to build a genuine challenger to Sky and BT and an entertainment brand at Virgin Media. It was obviously famous for having the fastest Wi-Fi and connectivity, but its TV proposition was being improved significantly and bringing that connectivity and entertainment together, that felt with the Virgin brand like a very compelling proposition.

“I had a brief to leverage that powerful proposition and ultimately be more Virgin, and do all that brand driving with a very keen eye on the role it was playing in the commercial performance of the business. Virgin is a trading-focused business, so that was what I achieved with the team over two years.

“Then I was feeling like maybe there was something more for me and it was also a time of management change at Virgin Media.”

Relaunching the brand

MoneySuperMarket, brand and marketing consultant, then marketing director (2018-present)

“Mark Lewis, who I had worked with [in the digital team] at John Lewis, was maybe a year-and-a-half into his tenure as CEO and I joined as part of his reinvent strategy.

“There’s a real narrative of ‘do our core capability of price comparison, switching and saving even better for our customers, but also reinvent ourselves’. We are moving more towards being proactive and personalised based on the data we have, our offers and propositions, and services like bill management and credit monitor.

“The first brief was on a contractor basis to help relaunch the brand. That tied closely to the business strategy because the old brand platform didn’t have the breadth to cover the full experience.

“Now, [as marketing director] it’s how we evolve our strategy. The company is driven by technology, increased competition from established businesses, disruptors and fintechs and the almost choice paralysis that our customers can sometimes find.

“With everyone’s lives becoming busier and more demanding, there was a  opportunity for MoneySuperMarket to play a more meaningful role.”

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