7 min read
Hi, marketing lovers! I don’t know about you, but for me, it already became a habit to take notes from inspiring marketing stories every Wednesday. Are you in for a new round of fresh insights?
Our guest today is Dave Smith, Brand Strategist, and MBA graduate (Kelley School of Business, Indiana University) whose career thus far has focused on building both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage brands. Dave has had almost a decade of experience in brand management and experiential marketing working for global companies like Coca-Cola and Heineken amplifying iconic brands such as Powerade, Dos Equis, Strongbow Hard Ciders, and Amstel Light.
There is no art without science
Some marketers consider that data kills creativity. I remember this topic was also discussed previously with Geoff Desreumaux in a previous episode. This time we have a different perspective on data vs creativity.
“There is no art without science. Data-driven insights are imperative to everything that you do in brand marketing. I think it’s important to have an eye for creativity, but as someone once told me in business school, <<You are not a creative!>>. It took me a while to understand what they meant as someone who literally identifies as a creative person. But that comes with the naive nature of somebody who’s trying to learn.
But basically what he meant was that you are not being paid to provide this service. You’re being paid to assess, to give your opinion, and to add it to a broader strategy. You don’t just put pieces in the right place. No pieces should go anywhere, without understanding why. So whether that’s working with your insights team, or being sharp with Nielsen or IRI data. Just being able to tell a story with the data.
Experience and gut are important. You can trust them, though, after you have experience with making decisions rooted in data.”
Brand management is a complex part of marketing and it requires a mix of creativity and data. You take the insights from data, attach them to a complex strategy, and establish a set of creative initiatives. Every marketer has a different take on the relationship between data and creativity. I believe they work best together. I also believe one can’t be great without the other.
Put in the work and use both hands
Believe in your potential and don’t stop until you reach your goal. Dave is a great example in this case. Changing his career and starting from almost 0, he knew that he had all the knowledge and skills needed to become great. That’s exactly what happened in the end.
“The best word that describes what got me where I am at the moment is persistence. When I graduated from business school, I didn’t have any jobs lined up. At that moment, I was living in Chicago, Illinois with a family member.
In 7 months, I had countless interviews and heard countless <<No!>>. I was first looking at a very small pool of companies that I wanted to work for. I went from that to just wanting to work for any company and have the title <<associate brand manager>>. I had the qualifications, I was just trying to get my foot in the door. That led me to a National Black MBA, which at that point in time was an opportunity. All the top companies were there and I was able to have three or four days of interviews and networking. I knew I was going to network with Coca-Cola. I ended up getting a final Skype interview and I did not get it.
At that point, I thought, what’s next? But the great part was that the interview was for Coca Cola Houston. They actually referred me to Coca-Cola New York and I ended up working on Powerade. So all that being said, the persistence of going through the process, of really digging in and asking for feedback, something finally worked. That was how I got into brand management. I put in the work, not only hoped. I put in the work for things to come together, really using both of your hands. ”
You can get a lot of “noes” when you try to build your career. Rejections shouldn’t take you down. They shouldn’t change your perspective or your self-worth. Perseverance should be the basis of your personal strategy to get where you want to.
Brand managers should be resourceful, analytical, and clever
Brand management is quite a complex part of marketing. A good brand manager should have a combination of skills. Having incredible experience at big brands such as Coca-Cola or Heineken, Dave shared great points about being a successful brand manager.
“If I’d have to describe a good brand manager in 3 words, I would start with resourceful. Everything you need exists. Going back to the data, I’m not pulling a strategy out the ether, right? Everything that I had was proceeded by a step that led to it. I had a meeting with operations. I met with my agency this morning. I know what POS I want to execute. Finance told me how much money I have on my budget. You can go back and have everything at your fingertips. A problem might be trying to search and find all these things at one time.
Being resourceful. Knowing how to save files. Having the right people on speed dial. Having a relationship with someone to ask them that question that you’ve asked 50 times before. You have to really be resourceful and understand how to get things done.
The second one would be analytical. I already said it, there’s no art without data. And the last one would be clever.”
I totally agree with Dave’s perspective. Brand management is a combination. You need the pragmatic departments of a business, like operations or finance. You also need the creative ones. That’s why a professional in this field should have a combo of skills.
Fantastic episode here! Dave’s journey revealed so many useful lessons for us.
This is just a quick summary, but many other insights are just one click away!