This week’s interviewee is Blake Cahill, SVP Global Head of Digital Marketing & Media at Philips.
Cahill gives us the lowdown on what it takes to work in marketing at a multinational.
(If you are a marketer working in pharma, we’d love to hear from you. Or, if you’re looking for a new role, check out the Econsultancy jobs board.)
Econsultancy: Please describe your job. What do you do? And who do you report to?
Blake Cahill: I came on board to lead Philips’ digital transformation journey across marketing and digital which, as you can imagine, is a varied and global role by the nature of the business.
To reflect the evolving digital marketing landscape, my role and responsibilities actually changed slightly earlier this year to encompass heading up Philips’ digital media remit. This is due to the fact that digital media now takes on a much larger share of ad spend and is increasingly important for marketing activities.
Day to day, I am responsible for unifying, streamlining and landing digital capabilities, tools and ways of working across the Philips’ ecosystem of 10 business groups (B2B and B2C) and 17 markets that encompass 100 countries. I ensure consistency and unlocking digital and media results and effectiveness.
I report into Tomasz Lisewski who is our Global Head of Brand, Communications & Digital and Marketing.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
BC: First and foremost, a solid background in marketing and keeping up to date with the latest trends and innovations is vital, but in addition to this, I cannot stress enough the importance of strong data analytic skills and a ‘big data mind-set’. Being able to analyse data and derive valuable insights from our customers is paramount to delivering effective marketing activities and can honestly be the difference between a program or campaign succeeding or failing.
Solid communication and team working skills are also an absolute must for my role. Within an organisation like Philips – which operates across multiple markets – it’s imperative that all my teams are aligned and clear on our strategy and objectives. This means that we are able to deliver a consistent, personalised and relevant brand experience for our customers, regardless of geographic location.
Finally, it goes without saying that both strategic and creative thinking are fundamentally crucial in coordinating across a matrixed organisation with multiple functions, removing silos, and making sure we are agile and able to creatively adapt to the fluctuating world of technology-driven marketing.
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
BC: A day typically starts with a scan of the social media conversations happening about our brand and a few posts and re-shares of various leaders or businesses content. This is made easier because we have a 16 screen social command centre in our workspace where we monitor global conversations happening around Philips. Then, I check in on various CRM campaigns and check through my emails in order to further land programs or initiatives with markets and businesses.
On a weekly basis, I drop by our Voice of Customer phone booth where I listen in on customer service calls to hear where we can make improvements. Throughout the day, I will scan various marketing and digital publications to stay on top of trends and mishaps around the globe from other brands and agencies.
Finally, if there is time, I drop by our A/B testing team who are always cooking up clever tests to help drive increases or changes in experience and conversion. I’m always amazed that simply moving an image or text from the left to the right or up or down can have such an impact on customer experience.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
BC: The aspect that I love most about my job is constantly pushing boundaries and working with the global network to re-invent our organisation, and digital marketing and media strategy. Philips as a business is over 125 years old – during which time it has transformed from an electronics company to a healthcare technology company – so it’s an extremely exciting period for us, and to lead the digital transformation and re-branding journey is both fascinating and rewarding for me.
The challenges which come with my job are similar to those of other large global organisations. Namely, co-ordinating multiple geographic locations and time zones, as well as tailoring marketing activities for locations can be challenging and a longer process than you would normally like. However, this brings with it great insight and learnings into how varied markets operate and customer demands across the globe – which is invaluable for us.
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
BC: We have a lot of goals in digital, as you can imagine, but the main one that drives us is our customers. We look at a number of leading and lagging KPIs to drive focus such as search engine results, social engagement, ratings and reviews, CRM database growth, Net Promoter Scores, e-commerce results and media efficiency and effectiveness.
This gives us a view into whether all our various programs are helping to drive a better experience for our customers and ultimately drive better business results for Philips.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
BC: My favourite tool and one that is invaluable for our teams is our Digital Command Centre. This is a large bank of screens displaying real-time performance of marketing efforts across the business. Using the Digital Command Centre, my team is able to draw from the global marketing, ecommerce, CRM, communications, and IT departments to get insights in to the mind of our customers and therefore better inform our decision making, centred around our customers’ needs.
E: Which brands have you been impressed by recently in your sector or across digital?
BC: For me personally, Suitsupply (a retail brand from Holland) has been really impressive in the digital space, after taking a hyper digital approach both in-store and online in order to grow across the globe.
The company brings digital into traditional brick-and-mortar stores using digital signage throughout which displays the Suitsupply branding and also information gleaned from social channels, sales data received in real-time and actual customer feedback, to paint an authentic picture of the brand for customers.
What’s also impressed me is that Suitsupply use social messaging applications to offer a hyper-personalised customer experience but are also really innovative and have even been using Uber Rush for urgent deliveries and transporting customers to stores at speed – which I personally think is a great example of brand innovation through tech.
Adidas too has impressed me by taking the bold step to shift more of its ad budget away from traditional channels like TV, to digital channels with a focus on mobile as this is where many of its customers are. It’s inspiring to see a brand make a bold move like this but makes complete business sense and I think that many others will follow suit, if they haven’t already done so.
E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work clientside for a big company like Philips?
BC: My advice for anyone looking to work for a large organisation is to have a global mindset and an interest in working across geographies, on a large scale. For working at Philips specifically – where we have a company goal of impacting three billion lives a year by 2025 – a true interest in having a tangible, positive impact on the world around us and a desire to work for a company which values this, is paramount.
Ultimately, improving lives and customer experiences is core to our business as a healthcare technology company – from our medical devices in hospitals to our Health Suite and Philips Foundation supporting humanitarian causes – so an interest in healthcare innovation contributing to a better world is vital.
More on pharma: