Marketing only evolves through curiosity

CIO will be the CMO’s best friend”, predicts Federico Barbieri.

Joanna Sinclair, 23.09.2015

“70% of offline sales are generated by online content. Omnichannel is the future for marketing in any industry and the CIO will be the CMO’s best friend”, predicts Federico Barbieri at Aalto EE’s Divia forum. 

“I love the startup culture,” Barbieri explains. “Startup companies have no legacy, no heritage, no resources – but they have a lot of passion and they think anything is possible! Everyone has a say in a startup and new leaders emerge.”

“In old economy companies people are given leaders. Employees follow managers because they are paid to do so. Most of the time the leaders don't hire people to challenge what they do,” Barbieri says.

“Moving fast and challenging the status quo are preconditions to accomplishing change. You can only achieve this with the right kind of people on your team, people who want to follow you as a leader. Security in uncertain times comes from your confidence in leading the change.” 

Finns should build marketing confidence 

Barbieri’s marketing experience has covered everything from niche luxury brands such as Bottega Veneta to household names like Nike and Nokia.

Barbieri has an inimitable way of combining creative and strategic thinking with analytical marketing skills – and his knowledge of digital and technology as growth driving marketing tools make his message up-to-the-minute for the Divia crowd.

Consumers would love to buy Finnish, but you need to have confidence and be proud of what you are selling!”

“Finns tend to lack confidence in the value of what they are marketing. Brazil has the same issue and it is simply crazy. Consumers would love to buy Finnish, but you need to have confidence and be proud of what you are selling!”

“Finland has content; high quality content: product, design, technology, and heritage. These things are not common or easy to achieve! But selling them in the home market is not enough, you must market globally.” Barbieri underlines. 

“How? It's not possible to understand how to market yourself by looking at the world from Helsinki. Most probably a Finn who lives in London, New York, Shanghai, or Delhi has a better picture of the opportunities for Finnish brands. The same happened to me with my own country: I started seeing Italy’s qualities after living abroad for several years.”

Barbieri affirms that marketing only evolves through curiosity: all marketing managers should find a way to dedicate 20 % of their time and 2 % of their budget to something that has nothing to do with a predictable process.

“Traditional companies tend to be very uncomfortable with uncertainties. Day to day, they try to find certainties, act rationally and get predictable results. If you are only rational in your marketing you may be effective in the short term, but not in the long run. If you are too creative you may not be effective at all. You need to learn to combine the two.”

Big Data and digitalization – small data and real life


Barbieri knows you cannot speak of marketing in 2015 without mentioning two favorite subjects for many Finns: digitalization and Big Data.

“Companies need omnichannel marketing strategies, because the customers already are omnichannel. Everything that can be digital will be digital – but never taking the place of real life – just improving it.” 

Do not underestimate small data."

“Big Data is a hyper trend. Of course better data harmonization gives companies a better picture of what’s out there. But marketers should remember that what really connects your proposition to the customer is insight; and insight is not a number.” 

“Do not underestimate small data. Good marketing is about creating an emotional connection with your customer. Small data is peculiar and qualitative information that is very hard to get. Small things are what make your message to your customer super relevant.”

First is not always best

Barbieri recognizes that innovation is a tremendously popular topic in Finland, perhaps even too much so: 

“People in Finland are partial to innovation. Almost as if the only way to move ahead would be thinking of something nobody has ever thought of! A lot can be achieved with quality of execution.” 

“Take Barefoot shoes. They were Reebok’s idea, but Nike just did it better. You can take innovation from someone else and put your efforts in the execution,” Barbieri says and shares a story of how one company is getting a step ahead in the game: “The CEO hired two enthusiastic juniors to work as innovation scouts, reporting directly to him. Every quarter, the juniors look at 100 innovations; they meet with ten companies, and then test three innovations that they report on. The juniors have to prove that a solution has had some impact on customer conversion across all channels, as otherwise the innovation is meaningless for the business. This approach has delivered many concrete ideas. It is not a bad tactic to duplicate.” 

Federico Barbieri has a wide, international marketing and communication experience across very different businesses: grocery, sport, fashion, electronic goods, luxury goods (eg Kering, Bottega Veneta, Nokia, Nike). He  gave a speech at Aalto EE's Divia - Digital Business Network.

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