“When I arrived three and a half years ago, the ambition was to build an organization and a marketing strategy to drive the growth of the company. I think of growth as three “R’s”. Growth for the brand, which is the reputation; growth for our clients, ie relationships; and the growth of our business, which is turnover.
Teresa Barreira laid out her vision before meticulously describing the steps to be taken to achieve it. Barreira is SVP, Global Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of the digital transformation consultancy Publicis Sapient, present in 17 countries and serving clients such as Walmart, Nestlé and Audi.
Start with the strategy
“I started by building an agile, entrepreneurial and – most important of all – data-centric strategy. I describe it as content-based, problem-oriented, and results-oriented. The overall measure of success can indeed be defined as growth, but surely there are other intermediate measures by which you know if the strategy is working?
“Everyone on the team has individual metrics,” she said, “but we all have collective results that we collectively own. We win together or we lose together. An example is the pipeline.” We “We have set a target for how much marketing-influenced pipeline we need to deliver. We own that as a group although there are probably people who are more responsible for it. This is an important metric for us.”
Other metrics, however, can offer indications of progress, especially if they are reviewed from year to year. “I like to watch how we are progressing against the individual measures,” she said. “We also look at the routes. I moved away from the countryside. We’ve gone from creating campaigns to activating the journey, and that means something sustainable and long-term. The countryside is like the fountains of the Bellagio: a lot of effort going up, you are standing for five seconds, then you come back down.
The performance of the course is constantly reviewed: “Next, we optimize for performance, for efficiency, for quality. The idea is to continuously optimize and then you can see the growth.
An example of a Publicis Sapient journey is the Digital Life Index, an extensive and ongoing global research initiative focused on our new digital lives. This is not transactional content, in the sense of a simple attempt to sell the consulting services; he aspires to enlightened leadership. “It’s a great example of travel,” she agreed. “The goal of the Digital Life Index when we launched it was to have something that we were going to build over time. The goal was to collect data on how people interact over time, for example, with shopping, with banks, with travel, with their health. “We’re in the third year with the study,” she said.
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Hiring for the diversity of thought, experience and background
Barreira was convinced that she needed a certain type of team to implement this strategy. It meant looking for new talent. “We have about 150 people on the team today,” she said, “and I think 70% of them are new – they’ve been here for less than two years. I wanted to hire people who had the right skills, the right mindset, and the right experience. I brought in a lot of people who had never worked in marketing. My first hire had never had a job in marketing or even in a corporate environment. I was hiring for the diversity of thought, the diversity of experience and – very important – the diversity of origin. In my team today, 80% are women and 60% come from various backgrounds. It is important to integrate this into the product, into the service and into our thinking.
These statistics reflect a remarkable level of diversity compared to today’s corporate standards. How was it reached? “It has to be intentional,” Barreira said. “I believe most companies have a positive intention. Sometimes the problem is that it takes a long time. If you want 50% of your leadership team to be women, you have to make room. It’s not just about hiring.
She added, “I had two roles that I wanted to hire black women for; you have to say, that’s who I’m going to hire – someone who’s amazing in the role, but also has that experience. The candidates exist. You just have to look for them.
Enter the gondola
Barreira’s organization is clearly structured as an agile organization. Although she occasionally uses the term “agile”, she prefers to speak of “pod model”. “The pod model was created to help accelerate agility, but also to accelerate collaboration,” she said. She compared it to an operating room where surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologist come together with the common mission of saving the patient.
“A pod is the same – it’s a virtual pod where we have different skills. We have a pod for each industry (we marketed by industry) and we also have a branded pod and a social pod. Some people stay in a pod all the time – like a designer or writer – but others get in and out of the pod and work in multiple pods – like a data scientist or someone who does course management or website analysis. These individuals come and go. These people come together in this pod construction and they imagine, solve and execute together. “
A culture of celebration
“The last thing is to have a culture that celebrates experimentation and even failure – we call it learning,” she continued, “a culture that empowers people and allows them to innovate. We allow people to make decisions as if it were their business. You make decisions, but you are also responsible for them, good or bad. I think that has served us well, especially during the pandemic, we allowing you to make quick decisions and prioritize speed to perfection.If you don’t have that culture, none of that will work.
An unusual cultural element at Publicis Sapient is the recently introduced possibility to work, not only remotely but internationally. “It’s really exciting,” she said. “You can work six weeks a year from any country. We can help you find accommodation and get a visa and we have a 24 hour hotline that you can call in case of any problems. I think it’s an amazing experience for everyone. It’s good for existing employees and it’s also good for attracting talent.
It’s not four steps and it’s done. Hiring, of course, is a never-ending process, but there is more. “One of the things that we constantly do is evolve. Our strategy is continuous; it is a living document. You keep iterating, you keep adding to it.