Peter: Hello and welcome to Episode 7 of the corporate digital marketing podcast. I’m your host Peter Applebaum. And we’re going to talk about choice today. Choice is what you’re talking about when you’re working for a large organisation like Bayer Consumer Healthcare. You’ve got lots of different brands with different target markets, different objectives, different budgets. So, that’s one of the challenges for an organisation like Bayer as it is with companies like Nestlé, Unilever, Procter and Gamble. So, speaking to people who are focused in the digital space and helping organisations like that and of that size decide what to do with whom, where is – I think – quite a challenge and quite insightful. So, we’re going to be talking about that. There’s also something that’s become a bit of a recurring theme in the podcast is that we’re talking to executives and organisations and they’re saying there is a will to evolve which is critical of course. When I’m talking about a will to evolve, it’s from traditional ways of doing business to new ways that incorporate digital in every respect, primarily in marketing as we’re talking about here. Brands we’re talking about for Bayer are primarily B2C but there is also a B2B element as well, and we’ll explore that. So, I would like to take you to the interview we had with Keira.
Peter: I would like to welcome Keira Parry who’s the Digital Acceleration Manager for Bayer Consumer Healthcare. Keira, welcome to the corporate digital marketing podcast.
Keira: Thank you, Peter. It’s good to be here.
Peter: Oh, my goodness it’s good to finally catch you! This is a woman who is going all around the world on a regular basis, so you’re accelerating your frequent flyer points by working with Bayer, which is a good thing.
Keira: Indeed, it is.
Peter: So, on that point, what actually led you to the position you currently have with Bayer?
Keira: I recently moved back to Australia after about a six and a half years stint in the UK where I worked at a combination of media agencies, publishers and most recently a big FMCG company. And my experience across all of those positions was really looking at how we drive digital and media transformation and change. When I saw the opportunity at Bayer I thought it was a really good challenge to actually come into a business that’s quite heavily regulated and explore how we could actually make digital work to achieve brand objectives. I think as an organisation, Bayer has a really nice story to tell. We’ve got a lot of products that make a positive impact on people’s lives and I think digital is the perfect platform to bring that story to life. And I’m here to help make it happen.
Peter: We’re obviously going to expand on that throughout this conversation. Given that you have such a varied background on both sides of the barbed wire fence on the agency side but also on the client side, what was it about that opportunity that appealed to you as opposed to others? I know there is a bit of a skills shortage in the digital space in Australia and people like yourself, with blue-chip experience would be in high demand.
Keira: I guess for me it was the opportunity to really own the digital road map and drive the journey for the organisation. There’s a big focus from a global and a corporate perspective on digital at the moment but I feel that the word digital in itself can mean everything and nothing at the same time. So, it was the opportunity to really map out what digital looks like for Bayer here in Australia. So, looking at everything from kind of digital marketing content creation through to e-commerce and how we prepare for the arrival of certain players into the e-commerce market as well.
Peter: Such as Amazon.
Peter: One of the things that appealed to me about speaking to you is you see digital as a facilitator and not an end in itself. I think there are a lot of organisations and perhaps people that work within those organisations say that we’ve got to build websites, we’ve got to build apps, we’ve got to build e-mails and those sorts of things. What you see, as you say, is digital transformation for the organisation. Could you expand a bit on that?
Keira: Absolutely. It’s all around how can we use digital to drive our overall objectives whether that be for the organisation or for each of our brands. I think quite often you have a brand strategy and a separate digital strategy but really they should be fully integrated because digital is a channel which you can use to actually achieve your overall objectives.
Peter: And what attracted you to take your career down the digital marketing or digital transformation path.
Keira: It’s always been an area that’s interested me.
Peter: Being a millennial?
Keira: Absolutely. Being a millennial. And I’m a consumer who is constantly attached to my phone. I believe it is a very effective way to reach people. I see all of these amazing disruptive organisations being built out of the digital age. And to me I find that really inspiring.
Peter: Well speaking about inspiring, what recommendations would you have for executives who are also working in medium to large corporates who are listening to this podcast and are saying ‘well Kiera has taken this leap and she feels that there’s a great deal of scope for her career moving forward’. What recommendations would you have for them?
Keira: Test, learn, fail and keep going. I think you know quite often we spend too much time thinking about the ‘what ifs’ and trying to prove that something will be successful before we actually dive in from a digital standpoint. And I think just dipping toes in the water and trying lots of new different things is the best way to go about it. Obviously, make sure that you know what you’re doing is designed to meet your overall objectives but don’t be afraid to fail.
Peter: Which is a pretty scary word for a lot of people in organisations. Could you expand on how you got beyond any concerns about failure and how that may impact on your career? Because it’s not very compelling to said: Keira says ok, test, learn, fail, err. Everything else I can get and I enjoy, but failing, not so much.
Keira: I guess that goes down to ensuring that you have the support of the business as well and demonstrating how you can actually learn from your failures. And it’s not just ‘oh that has happened, let’s never speak of it again’ but actually really owning the journey and the experience that you had throughout that failure.
Peter: Actually, one of our earlier interviews was with Joe Millward from 3M and he expanded quite a bit on that about having managers who were supportive of him and as you’ve said failing and not necessarily achieving objectives; obviously there is a financial cost associated with that and an opportunity cost as well. So, that actually leads us nicely to our next question which is: Was it difficult to convince internal stakeholders about the value that digital can bring to their brands, be it for senior or middle management?
Keira: I think given digital from a Bayer perspective is a very big focus and priority across the globe at the moment, it’s probably been easier than in previous organisations where that hasn’t necessarily been the case. Everyone is really passionate and wants to get involved and wants to accelerate. The challenge that a lot of corporations of our size will have is looking at the processes and the tools and the infrastructure internally to actually allow you to be agile to learn from your failures and to make changes straight away.
Peter: So, why is it a focus within Bayer? What is driving that focus and commitment to digital?
Keira: It’s that understanding that it’s where consumers are, it’s where they’re spending a majority of their time and for us to be relevant, we need to not only be in front of them at the relevant moments but providing that really key relevant message to them as well.
Peter: And look, Bayer is a very long established organisation that’s been around for many decades. Do you find that there are institutionalised processes and systems in place that you are battling against every day to get these things implemented?
Keira: Yes, with every large organisation that’s a challenge regardless of how agile or digital they are. I think even if you look at the likes of Google and Facebook I think there are processes there that define what they do and they have to battle against for new innovation as well. It’s very much the case here. It’s about bringing people on board that journey, not just focusing on digital change within the marketing department but making sure that our medical and our regulatory and our legal teams are all actually educated on the journey and what we’re trying to achieve and why it’s important and all of a sudden, you’ve got partners to actually work on defining new processes with you.
Peter: And given your experience in other organisations, what do you think is different with Bayer? I know you mentioned that there is a commitment here that digital is where consumers are and what they’re doing on a regular basis. But what are the challenges that you find are unique within Bayer that you haven’t found before.
Keira: I haven’t worked in pharma before, so the medical and regulatory approval process is different. I don’t see it as being a difficult process to overcome. We have fantastic people who work in those departments of the organisation who are committed to finding the best solution for us to accelerate in the digital space. But that’s definitely been from my perspective an area that I’ve had to educate myself on as well because it’s all new to me.
Peter: And is part of your role educating internal stakeholders?
Keira: It’s a really big part of what I do.
Peter: What form does that take?
Keira: It’s a combination of things, whether it be sitting down and having a chat with people in different departments just to bring them onboard with the journey. But we’ve also introduced capability building programs from our marketing, category and sales team as well to ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge that they need to succeed in the digital world, the knowledge that they need to make sure that we’re asking the right questions of our agencies and that we’re getting the value out of all of our partners in this space.
Peter: And without naming names of course, do you feel that as part of your digital transformation you have turned people around internally who may have been skeptical and are now adherents and believers?
Keira: Yeah, I would say so. I think I’ve definitely noticed a shift in mindset over the past couple of months and that’s not me alone but it’s actually core people within the business who believe and understand and can help you to spread the word and articulate that to a wider audience. I think so long as you can demonstrate how did digital can be used to fulfil the overall objectives of the brand or of the organisation, it’s a much easier job to sell in as opposed to saying, ‘hey we need to be doing this from a digital standpoint because that’s what everyone else is doing’.
Peter: It’s what everyone else is doing and I guess you coming up potentially people going ‘we’ve always done it this way’ but by the sounds of things you haven’t perhaps come up against that so much here as you may have done in previous organisations?
Keira: No. And I think you know they were someone in my role previously so it’s a journey that they’ve been on for quite some time. But I think most people understand the importance and want to get involved as much as possible.
Peter: And leading on from that obviously is what metrics do you use to measure the success or otherwise of the digital programs that you’re helping to create or are creating.
Keira: It totally depends on what our objectives are. So, I’m a big believer in looking at – and I’ve mentioned this a few times – looking at what we’re trying to achieve from a brand standpoint is a growing awareness and an increasing consideration. Is it actually driving sales and measuring accordingly? Obviously, it’s more difficult when you’re not selling direct to consumer to measure that sales uplift. However, we put proxies in place using various digital media metrics for each of those key objectives.
Peter: So, what are some great results. Whatever the metric is that you’ve achieved since you’ve worked with your teams to achieve since you’ve been here?
Keira: I think outside of the brand side of thing we’re running a capability building program at the moment. It looks at the uplift of knowledge before and after taking some of the lessons.
Peter: Within the organisation or with trade partners?
Keira: It’s for the internal stakeholders. We’ve seen quite a significant uplift in terms of knowledge of the team. And for me that’s what makes me really proud. It’s obviously great to see that digital is driving results in terms of your brand awareness and your sales but internally if we’re getting it and we’re starting to operate in a better way the rest will come.
Peter: Of course. That’s brilliant. And do you benchmark your programs against any competitor initiatives?
Keira: Where available, we will absolutely use benchmarks and data from the wider industry to benchmark ourselves. I think as well as looking at the pharmaceutical industry, when we look at the digital space your competitor is no longer your onshore competitor but anyone who is vying for the attention of a consumer and our barocko consumer is buying a hell of a lot of other products as well. So, as well as comparing ourselves to competitors it’s how do we actually compare against the overall industry.
Peter: Right. I remember working Kellogg was one of my clients at one stage. I remember someone from Kellogg was saying ‘what we’re going for is share of stomach’.
Keira: And I think Netflix have now said that their biggest competitor is sleep.
Keira: Yeah. So, I find that quite interesting because they’re not looking at the likes of Amazon as a competitor. They’re looking at stuff that takes up time for the people who are watching.
Peter: There you go. So, Netflix is destroying the sleep patterns of world.
Peter: What did Bill Gates say? He wants to have a computer on every desk.
Peter: Well there you go. So, they want to stop people sleeping, Netflix. OK, so is your digital marketing primarily B2C focused or are you looking at B2B opportunities as well?
Keira: A little bit. It’s predominantly B2C. But we obviously have relationships with customers and with healthcare professionals. So, there’s an element of that associated with it as well but most of my time is spent working out how we market to consumers.
Peter: Is that because obviously it’s consumer healthcare so your brands are consumer facing but you’ve got the pharmacies you’re talking to, the supermarket chains and maybe the convenience stores as well and maybe other places where your products can be placed. Is it because B2B in the consumer brand context is all too hard?
Keira: No, I don’t think so. I think we absolutely do focus on those areas as well. But at the end of the day it’s concentrating on delivering the right messages to our consumers and our shoppers. We can sometimes facilitate that message through key customers or other partners. But usually it’s best coming from us.
Peter: Do you find that your key customers – the trade partners, they too have a digital focus?
Keira: Most of our partners now have dedicated digital resources and they’re introducing initiatives to make sure that you’re not just focusing on your onshore presence but what you’re focusing on from a digital standpoint as well.
Peter: And do they incorporate that into their negotiations or discussions with you to say ‘Well we’re doing this, you’re doing that from a digital point of view. Why don’t we dovetail those initiatives so we can get a far greater outcome for both of us?’.
Keira: It’s definitely an area of collaboration looking at our customers but also looking at that agencies that we work with, looking at the media players that we partner with. Everyone is on a journey because it’s an area in an industry that is ever evolving and changing all of the time. So, the more that we can partner together to actually coordinate and drive initiatives together I think the more powerful our communications and beyond will become.
Peter: And are you the sole digital focused resource within Consumer Healthcare or do you have other people who work with you.
Keira: Right now, it’s just me.
Peter: Lucky you.
Keira: But there’s a commitment from Bayer to build resource.
Peter: And what organisations do you think are doing digital marketing well either in your space in Australia or elsewhere.
Keira: Great question. I’ll use the Netflix example again I think there’s not a better example of a really data driven company that is not insular. They don’t look at their competitors. There’s been other streaming services they look at their competitors as being anything competing for attention. They use data to personalise and they do that incredibly well. They use that data to inform future content creation. They’re a great example of how digital can really transform not just what you’re trying to do from a communications perspective but overall substance.
Peter: And speaking about data, is data a key focus for you within Bayer.
Keira: Yes, absolutely. I think along with most organisations at the moment, we’re trying to better understand the data that we have available and how we can use that data. There was a trend for a couple of years talking about big data but…
Peter: Now it just data.
Keira: Exactly. For me it’s about meaningful insights and how can we actually use that data to benefit a consumer and to provide them with a valuable message or to provide them with something that is actually going to provide some sort of utility for them.
Peter: So, let’s drill down a bit into that, so what does that mean? I mean everyone always hears about data, data mining, data marketing and all these types of things which is very logical. But from your point of view, Keira, both within organisations you’ve worked in previously and within Bayer, what is the physical or the actual manifestation of using data to better understand and work with consumers.
Keira: Using data to almost build up profiles and understand the needs states of various consumers. So, if they’re in research mode and maybe they’re planning to get pregnant and they are madly researching everything on Google how can we actually provide them with an article that’s going to be really interesting and useful for them whereas if they’re someone who is maybe second time pregnant watching YouTube videos of pappe happy with their two-year old how can we deliver them something that’s short snappy and going to provide them with utility in that moment of need. For me, it’s all about making the journey as easy as possible from a consumer standpoint.
Peter: And how does that then play into the digital marketing programs or campaigns that you launch into the marketplace?
Keira: It’s that personalisation piece. It’s not that one size fits all creative. It’s looking at developing dynamic creative looking at developing articles and richer content on the back of the insights that we get. For me, I always draw a Venn diagram that looks at the sweet spot between what consumers want to hear and what we want to say. And for me, data really helps us to understand what that part is referring to.
Peter: And are your digital media partners able to facilitate the hitting of that sweet spot for you and the consumer.
Keira: Yeah, absolutely, media partners for sure. As with any data strategy though it’s looking at what do we have here internally that we can potentially utilise. And then what we can work with partners to access as well.
Peter: What do you feel are the most effective media partners or media channels. And I understand that’s going to vary depending on objectives and brand but what in your experience are those?
Keira: If you look at the likes of Google and Facebook the data that they have access to is phenomenal.
Peter: And scary.
Keira: Yeah, absolutely. Very scary as well. You know it’s not just necessarily data that they collect on users which is very powerful in itself but they have partnerships in place with the likes of Quantium for Facebook, for example, which can even further strengthen what they’re able to provide and how we’re able to target our audience.
Peter: Are there privacy concerns? This is probably a silly question because there are always privacy concerns but because you’re a healthcare company in the pharma space, are there even more privacy concerns because of the regulatory environment in which you operate?
Keira: Absolutely. We’re very cautious of making sure that we’re not collecting or using any data that we don’t have a right to. And I think that goes back to the point around big data or insightful data as well. I don’t care or want to know what John on Pacific Highway is purchasing from us but collectively what trends can we see and what insights can we gather from that data.
Peter: So, it’s data sets as opposed to going down to hyper-personalisation.
Peter: Where do you see the digital marketing will be in five years’ time?
Keira: If I could answer that I would probably be…
Peter: Starting the next billion-dollar platform, the next Snapchat.
Keira: Exactly. I think we’ll see AR really find its feet. You probably had this answer in every podcast…
Peter: Yeah. I ask the same questions, so I get the same answers, that makes sense.
Keira: AR will really find its feet. We’ll see chatbots and artificial intelligence take over the world.
Peter: Mobiles and blah blah.
Peter: OK. Let’s mix it up a bit.
Peter: 12 months.
Keira: 12 months?
Peter: Which in digital years is probably 10 years.
Keira: At 12 months for us, augmented reality. It’s believed that the next handsets from the likes of Apple and Samsung will have better augmented reality technology built into them. I believe we’ll start to see a lot more uptake from a user and a consumer standpoint in that space.
Peter: So, it’s not just putting bunny noses on photos.
Keira: No, I think we’ll see a bit of a shift change in terms of how that is used. You know beyond entertainment and it won’t just be 18-year old kids on Snapchat doing that. I’ll probably start to see my dad playing around with augmented reality over the next 12 months.
Peter: Putting himself on a cricket pitch facing someone from England or something like that in the Augmented Reality ashes.
Peter: So, how do you see that that’s going to make a difference to a brand marketer like yourself?
Keira: I think it’s twofold. First of all, from a consumer perspective how do we add value? Is it through providing an entertaining experience for them or is it through providing them with utility. If they’re dealing with a serious condition, how can we offer them advice and utility beyond ‘here’s our product’. And then I think if we look at more of a customer or HCP standpoint, how can we better use this technology to ensure that our healthcare professionals are aware of the benefits of the products and how we can actually utilise those and how they can provide instructions to consumers.
Peter: We’ve already seen the enormous impact digital has had on the traditional media such newspapers, for example, they are in a bit of a death spiral so it seems. Although I’m sure they would disagree. Advertising, the nature and role of advertising seems to have changed quite dramatically to this point. How do you see the progression of AR and AI and other types of new technologies are going to impact on the traditional advertising space? Will there be a TVC in five years’ time?
Keira: There will be a piece of video content there won’t be a TVC in my opinion.
Peter: Bold prediction, Keira. I fed you that one but thank you.
Keira: You may have a piece of video content that runs on TV. But it won’t be ‘hey here’s a 30 second TVC’. Quick let’s develop some additional assets to support it.’ I think the hero piece will look very different. Brands are already playing in the AR space; some doing it really well, some not doing it. I’ve seen some good examples from the likes of Coca-Cola who are usually a first market with experiment.
Peter: They’ve got the budget, they’ve got the market position.
Keira: Absolutely. And even some of the other more traditional from FMCG players there’s been some good examples from P&G. I think across Europe and the US as well. So, I think we’ll see a lot more brands playing in that space. We’ll probably see a lot of examples of brands trying augmented reality for the sake of trying it without actually thinking about that value exchange for the consumer.
Peter: The shiny thing.
Keira: Exactly. And I think that’s where the brands need to think about what’s the point of difference. What am I providing to the consumer that’s really going to add value. Because if you’re asking someone to scan your product or scan something there’s got to be some value for them.
Peter: I actually was having a conversation with another client this morning and he was quite cynical. He said, ‘look everything is about digital these days and we see in the trade press virtually 50 percent of marketing dollars are being spent on digital’ which is mind blowing because when I started it was like 1 percent 2 percent. Do you feel a lot of organisations are doing it for the sake of it and don’t really get it?
Keira: I think some organisations would definitely be doing it for the sake of it. They’re probably not getting the results that they should be from that but so long as they’re learning from that I think it’s okay to experiment.
Peter: Which goes back to the fail thing.
Keira: Exactly. But I do think the beauty of digital is that we are able to track results it’s much more accountable than other media.
Peter: Pretty scary, let me tell you.
Keira: Yeah. And we’re starting as an industry to hold publishers and to hold agencies accountable for that; transparency of data. And I think that needs to be something that we continue to drive because it’s been a topic that so many people have shied away from for so long. There’s some dodgy ingrained practices potentially that happened as well.
Peter: And I think the marketing industry or the advertising industry broadly, it’s been this hay ride, it’s like ‘all this money is coming in and well let’s focus at the front of it where we’re spending the money and booking the media. And what happens after that? Well it will take care of itself. The old 50 percent of my marketing advertising budget is wasted; I’m not sure which 50 percent.’ So, no more.
Keira: Yeah, Absolutely. And that requires resources to make sure that you’re keeping an eye on that on an ongoing basis. It’s not something you plan and leave. So, businesses need to consider the way that they’re operating from that standpoint.
Peter: Ok, Keira. Final question: What are your top three tips – and we ask everyone this – what are your top three tips for other corporate marketers looking to optimise their social media digital marketing initiatives?
Keira: Let’s see, number one: Listen to your consumers. What are they interested in hearing and what do you have a right to talk about and make sure that you are developing content with that insight in mind. I would say number two is going for it. Once you’ve developed a couple of pieces of content, test them live against each other and see which performs best and make optimisation decisions based on that. And I would say the third one if you’re trying to drive digital transformation is identify key people within the organisation key stakeholders across functions who can really support you, who get it and understand it and can help you drive it. Because if you’re a single person or a single department of an organisation it’s going to be a lot more difficult to do than if you’ve really brought people along that journey with you.
Peter: Three great tips. The final one which is interesting and I hadn’t heard that before but it’s a key one and that is having stakeholders across the different areas within the organisation. If you’re looking to join a company as a digital marketing manager or a digital transformation or as digital acceleration manager, as you are, Keira, how will you know that? I mean how will you know where the will of the organisation is to work together collectively to achieve those objectives?
Keira: I don’t think you will ever know 100 percent before you join an organisation. But when you do join an organisation, it’s about meeting as many people as you can, understanding what their passions and motivations are, demonstrating how digital can help them achieve those passions and motivations and then bringing them onboard. I think it’s building that relationship and building that trust from the very beginning.
Peter: Awesome. One of the things I love about doing this podcast is I learn something from everyone I speak to and I’ve certainly learned a lot today, Keira, and I’m sure people who listen to this will be learning new things as well. So, thank you so much for your time.
Keira: Thank you for having me.
Peter: So, there we have it another one in the can. I’d like to thank Keira Parry very much for her time and also giving us the insights that we always get when we speak to people of her calibre. I think one of the key tips I took from the discussion is the need to get by it not just from the CMO, CFO and CEO but also other departments within the organisation. You’d think logically that you would need to focus on merely the marketing and maybe even the sales teams as well as senior management. But I think it’s a smart strategy to involve other parts of the organisation to ensure there’s universal buy-in to ensure that things go well. So, as we said, the recurring themes we’re talking about with many of our corporates is the need to create that buy-in. And also educating people in the organisation as to what the opportunities are and making it easier to actually implement the programs that we’re talking about. And finally, of course we talked about choice where you have so many brands, what do you do, when and with whom. But that’s what this podcast is all about to give illumination to all of those sorts of wonderful and fun things. So, thank you for joining us again. And we look forward to speaking with you again soon.