Are marketers the new CEOs?

By Morgan Fitzsimons, ASOS

I attended the Marketing Society’s CEO Conversation with Peter Duffy who has recently taken the top job at Just Eat.

Just Eat has rapidly grown into a global company but some analysts are suggesting that Uber Eats and Deliveroo are gobbling up the company's market. In a fast paced digital race and with sales targets of over one billion pounds this year I was keen to understand how Peter applied his marketing experience to his current leadership role.

Peter has a great track record having won the Marketing Society’s Grand Prix and Marketing Leader of the Year title whilst at EasyJet. Here are my outtakes on what an ex-CMO can bring to the role of CEO:

  1. Data is challenging and it’s our job to simplify it – As marketers we need to make sense of customer data and define the things the business should focus on. It can be intimidating but you just need to break it up into small manageable pieces.
  2. Part of the job is understanding how to justify the unjustifiable – “Right from the start be open, be honest, and don’t try to spin it”. When things go wrong you need to understand why and use them to change the organisation.
  3. Authentic communication is key  – Not only from a customer perspective, but also from an internal employee perspective. Understand your values and what matters to you and then communicate it regularly. Realise the impact your actions have on those around you and that being CEO is the role of communicator. “If you don’t get what I’m saying, it’s not your fault, it’s mine.”
  4. Don’t be static and champion the customer to stay ahead of competitors – An example of this was the move from free seating to allocated seating at Easyjet. The business was very operational but we knew customers didn’t like the race for their seat each flight. In order to change the focus from operational to customer-first we had to conduct research and prove the change wouldn’t reduce efficiencies. As a result customer satisfaction soared. Listen to customers, understand what they want next, then look at how you commercialise that and get it to market quickly.
  5. Understand the importance of good people and how vital they are to the success of an organisation – Don’t undervalue the importance of culture carriers and their impact. Make sure you look after brilliant people. You have a responsibility to keep them protected as they are irreplaceable.

By Morgan Fitzsimons, Global Head of Engagement Marketing at ASOS