‘No amount of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing can make up for a lack of cre­ativ­ity’


Bent­ley is mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor at Money­su­per­mar­ket.com – a role he took on in Fe­bru­ary 2016. He pre­vi­ously held the same po­si­tion at sis­ter com­pany Trav­el­su­per­mar­ket.

It’s easy to in­spire your team when your or­gan­i­sa­tional pur­pose goes be­yond the bot­tom line.

Money­su­per­mar­ket.com only makes money if our cus­tomers save money. Last year, we helped seven mil­lion fam­i­lies save £1.8bn on their house­hold bills – I feel for­tu­nate to work in a busi­ness that does well by do­ing good. My team is evan­gel­i­cal about work­ing with our 700 part­ners to find new ways to help cus­tomers switch quickly and eas­ily to a bet­ter deal on their en­ergy, in­sur­ance and bank­ing.

Pur­pose is im­por­tant, but so is per­spec­tive.

Ev­ery day at Money­su­per­mar­ket, I’m mak­ing de­ci­sions that will en­able more peo­ple to save more money in more ways. That gives me a real sense of pride and pur­pose, but it’s also im­por­tant to keep per­spec­tive. I try to lead in a way that will make a mean­ing­ful dif­fer­ence to our cus­tomers and our or­gan­i­sa­tion, and try to keep per­spec­tive around the risk of get­ting it wrong. I would rather try to make a dif­fer­ence and fail than be just a safe pair of hands.

You could say my mar­ket­ing ed­u­ca­tion has been back to front – I learned the most im­por­tant les­son last.

I of­ten hear how the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion has changed the way mar­keters ap­proach their jobs, but my ca­reer started in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, so I’ve never known any­thing dif­fer­ent. As I’ve grown into broader lead­er­ship roles, I’ve had to learn about more tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing. I still be­lieve dig­i­tal is key to tar­geted and ef­fi­cient di­rect re­sponse ac­tiv­ity, but no amount of dig­i­tal or per­for­mance mar­ket­ing ca­pa­bil­ity can make up for a lack of cre­ativ­ity or poor sto­ry­telling. Prof­itable busi­ness growth is only sus­tain­able when it’s built on a foun­da­tion of bril­liant brand ac­tiv­ity and, of course, dig­i­tal chan­nels have a role to play there along­side TV and other mass me­dia.

Data is our great­est as­set and some­times our great­est li­a­bil­ity.

We’re sur­rounded by so much data, and tech­nol­ogy and me­dia com­pa­nies es­pous­ing the ben­e­fits of big data, that we run the risk of los­ing fo­cus on cus­tomers, de­vel­op­ing ex­cep­tional ex­pe­ri­ences and telling com­pelling sto­ries. I also think the real-time na­ture of busi­ness in­sight now lends it­self to short-term de­ci­sion-mak­ing and an im­pa­tience for re­sults. I was re­cently asked about the per­for­mance of a cam­paign be­cause of qui­eter trad­ing over the Easter hol­i­day, when that cam­paign had been live for less than a week. That’s what hap­pens when you have real-time ac­cess to data but for­get the hu­man in­sight be­hind it. I ad­mire brands that walk the talk. John Lewis was founded as a busi­ness pow­ered by its peo­ple and its prin­ci­ples – and it’s still up­hold­ing that vi­sion. I like the fact that an or­gan­i­sa­tion that is older than 100 is held up as a lead­ing ex­am­ple of ef­fec­tive mar­ket­ing and the power of en­gag­ing ad­ver­tis­ing. Bar­clays is an­other ex­am­ple. It re­alised that the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion risked mak­ing life more dif­fi­cult for both the young and the old, so it cre­ated its Dig­i­tal Ea­gles pro­gramme. Not many brands can claim to be as suc­cess­ful in bridging the gap be­tween rhetoric and re­al­ity.

Lead­er­ship is about hav­ing a long-term view and get­ting out of the way of your team. De­liv­er­ing re­sults earns you the right to lead oth­ers, but lead­er­ship doesn’t come nat­u­rally to most. I’ve had to work hard to get my head out of the de­tail and give my team space to grow and per­form. I try to only fo­cus on two things. How do we help more cus­tomers save more money in a way that also en­ables our busi­ness to grow? And how do I help the peo­ple around me ful­fil their po­ten­tial and, in so do­ing, make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to our busi­ness and our cus­tomers?

I’m sur­rounded by a tal­ented team who are busy de­liv­er­ing value for the busi­ness ev­ery day. My role is to make sure they can see the wood for the trees by pro­vid­ing a longer-term per­spec­tive of the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges faced by our cus­tomers, our busi­ness and our mar­ket­ing func­tion – in that or­der of pri­or­ity.

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