Magazine article Marketing

Power 100 Voices: Front Runner

Magazine article Marketing

Power 100 Voices: Front Runner

Article excerpt

Nina Bibby, marketing and consumer director at O2, believes marketers and marathon runners have a lot in common - it's all about focus and commitment. The brands that go the distance are those that focus less on their products and more on customers' lives.

This April thousands of people once again took to the streets of London to run in support of some of the world's worthiest causes. Despite vowing 'never again' after tackling it in 2012, I ran the London Marathon again this year, raising money for the NSPCC, a cause close to my heart and also close to O2.

During the hours I've spent pounding the pavement to train - many hours in my case, owing to my slow pace - I have had ample time to reflect on just about everything from the existential to the tangible, from the embarrassing headlines emerging from my native US to the future of Europe, from how to organise our house move to what else O2 should be doing on behalf of our customers to win in the marketplace. And I realised that a strong analogy can be drawn between our own daily craft of marketing and what runners have to do to complete a marathon. My training regime has been built on technical insight and gadgetry. My running gait was filmed to ensure I bought the right running shoes; I have the latest Jabra Bluetooth headphones to enable my Jabra fitness tracker to provide constant updates on my progress; I have a carefully constructed playlist that matches my target heart rate (yes, really); and a collection of gels and pre-/post-run hydration drinks. All this has surely helped me along the way but, ultimately, it is my focus on why I am running - for a great cause - and my emotional commitment that gets me through the infamous 'wall' and to the finish line. As marketers, our finish line - in our bid to keep customers centre stage - is much less easy to spot than Buckingham Palace. And with technology developing at such a speed, it's easy to get distracted by the myriad possibilities open to us, rather than focus on what our customers want To build brand advocacy, we have to focus less on our product or service and more on our customers' lives. We have to seek out the broader role we can play - our 'why' - and find brave new ways to be a visible and active participant in their journeys.

This might seem counterintuitive, coming from the marketing director of a tech company, but to build a genuine relationship with the customer, we can't rely on digital interactions alone. …

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