Beware buzzwords and trust your gut instinct, say senior Burberry, RSA, Visa marketers

Nick Jones: head of digital and CSR at Visa Europe
Nick Jones: head of digital and CSR at Visa Europe

Marketers must be wary of buzzword "obsessions" and learn to trust their "gut" instinct, according to a panel of marketers speaking at Advertising Week Europe.

The session, called ‘The Marketer Perspective: The Year the Buzzword Became the Reality’, debated whether 2014 will finally be the year that a "perfect storm" of mobile, social and content innovations change the industry for good.

However, panellists including Paul Graham, vice-president engagement marketing at Burberry, Abode EMEA marketing director, digital marketing, John Watton, and Pete Markey, RSA’s chief marketing officer, warned that marketers must not allow themselves to be blinded by the latest "buzz" in the industry.

Graham said: "There’s a thought that collecting big data will get you out of trouble and pave the way to an answer. Then you hide behind it instead of using your gut instinct. It’s about talking to your customer, knowing why you’re talking to them."

"The human brain is the most awesome machine we’re never going to better. Listen to your gut instinct, all those conversations you’ve had over 20 years, successes and failures, they will have accumulated to tell you whether to do something or not."

Markey added: "I hear so much about big data without a real idea of what to do with data. You need insights to use it to do something to transform your business. Marketing can be stifled when you’re waiting for the sausage machine to give you the answer."

Marketers must also beware of overcomplicating their strategies in pursuit of buzzwords and, in doing so, losing the support of senior colleagues.

"The risk with buzz is when you become obsessed with it and make it the core of your marketing strategy," said Greg Levine, former global marketing boss at automotive brand McLaren.

"Keep it simple. The biggest challenge as marketers is keeping our fellow board members along the journey. If you overcomplicate it you’ve lost them."

Nick Jones, head of digital and CSR at Visa Europe, agreed that marketers must "retain the showman’s touch". He added: "You can’t just buy the logic, there must be magic as well."

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