Harriet Durnford-Smith is VP Marketing & Growth at Adverity, an analytics platform, which, according to its website, delivers “automated data acquisition, simple and powerful visualizations, and augmented analytics of all your data.” We caught up with Harriet to find out more about her role.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

My job has a fairly broad remit – I’m responsible for overseeing all marketing activities across the company, managing teams around the world to ensure everything we do has a clear purpose and aligns with our overall business objectives, yet is tailored for each region. I also work closely with the leadership team to advise on product positioning and go-to-market strategy.

How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?

Since the pandemic, I definitely spend more time looking at our reporting dashboards to identify micro trends, ensuring we can remain nimble and relevant for our customers, which is really important, more so than ever.

I have also noticed an increase in the amount of calls day-to-day – brief conversations in the office are now meetings scheduled in the diary, but overall, it’s not a huge change. I’m used to working with teams in different locations, so the transition to working from home has been relatively seamless. Our strong company culture has ensured we all feel connected, and everyone makes a concerted effort to socialise too, something that’s demonstrated from the top down – it’s a really important part of our company ethos.

What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?

My favourite tools are Asana for project management and Slack for communication. Although one of the best functions on Slack is the ‘deep dive’ option, at least that’s what we call it! If we are head down in a task and would prefer not to be disturbed for a couple of hours, we change our status to the swimming (or drowning!) symbol and we all respect what it means. Sometimes it’s far too easy to be ‘always on’ and constant notifications can become more of a distraction than a help at times.

Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?

Companies that have quickly adapted and pivoted their business model have impressed me the most. Without the ability to change, many brands would not have survived the last few months – for example Covent Garden Market is now selling fruit and veg boxes direct to consumers.

I also admire brands that are genuinely making a difference and proving their brand values run deep. I have always been a fan of Pret and their marketing campaigns, and their gratitude to NHS workers has reinforced that for me. Likewise, Ocado has prioritised its most at-risk and loyal customers by holding delivery slots, and even though they experienced technical issues, the sentiment behind the action is so strong that customers are willing to forgive a few glitches. That kind of loyalty is priceless.

What changes are you making to help your brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?

We understand the increased pressures on marketers to justify every penny and the need to demonstrate a tangible ROI. When marketing budgets are often the first to be reviewed, being able to understand the potential repercussions is invaluable.

For example, our tools provide marketers with the ability to show the potential effects of cutting budgets, which can often help avoid the wrong decisions being made. In such a rapidly changing situation, it can be easy to make knee jerk reactions based on emotion, but as a data-driven industry we must practice what we preach and base business decisions on real-time information and data insights.

At Adverity, we have always been about optimisation and making efficiencies, and this has only become more important during the pandemic.

What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?

Marketers have been on a digital transformation journey for some time now and were possibly some of the earliest adopters. But Covid-19 has accelerated change for many, and in some cases forced brands to catch up and innovate to keep pace with their competitors.

Mindsets are shifting and marketers are adopting more agile marketing techniques to test and learn, in flight, and continuously adapt to what the data is telling them. It’s not a new or unforeseen trend, but it’s much more present now thanks to Covid-19.

What advice would you give a marketer right now?

It’s easy to say the brands that invest in marketing now will benefit in the long term, and I fully applaud those that are brave enough – and have the budgets – to do so. Yet we also understand that for many, survival in the short-term is priority and with or without a global pandemic, marketers are constantly asked to do more with less.

Every marketing pound needs to be accountable and results need to be made visible across the business. I believe the days of six-month or year-long marketing plans are over. We need to be nimble and pivot more frequently based on data – and that data needs to be accurate to inform the best possible decisions, at speed. Understanding how automation can free up more internal resources to focus on strategy will help brands accelerate to the ‘new normal’, and enable marketers to generate the greatest ROI on their spend.

Marketers must seek to constantly realign their marketing plans to the industries or customer segments where there is demand. Post-Covid-19, the brands that can quickly ramp up activity based on the needs of their customers will have the best chance of succeeding.

What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your brand?

In terms of planning, we will always have a clear and long-term overall business strategy, but the way we get there will change. For the marketing function specifically, it’s become hard to plan years or even months in advance, and we shouldn’t need to. We have the means to be able to test and learn in real time and make continual adjustments to our approach, to ensure we are constantly delivering against customer objectives.

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