In today’s ‘Day in the Life’ we speak to Lars Lehne – the Group CEO of digital marketing performance group, Incubeta.
Lars gives us some insight into what it’s been like to take on this new role during the pandemic. Plus, he passes on some learnings from his previous role at Google, and gives us his predictions for the future of digital marketing.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Incubeta is already a very successful company, so my role is to keep the company steering in the right direction and unite the three brands which make up the business – NMPi, DQ&A, and Joystick – into one strong global company.
As the new Group CEO, my aim is to provide the company with a unified voice and bring the global team even closer together. I’m also going to be keeping my eyes on any new innovative companies that I feel will add value to our clients and that will complement our existing services.
Talk us through a typical day…
Without the typical travel that used to dominate my daily routines pre-Covid, the mornings are reserved for family and personal time. I still wake up early, around 6:30am to prepare breakfast for my three children and get them set up for homeschooling. I then go through my first emails of the day.
Every other day I go for an 8-10km run and start my daily office routine following that. The days I don’t run I walk the dog and settle into my home office for the day. Even on the days I do go for a run, I still find taking the dog out is a much needed distraction. Most of the days are packed with back to back video conferences.
Starting a new global role in a pandemic turns routines upside down. All introductions happen on screen, so I tend to have 10-12 hours of 1:1s every day. I keep my lunchbreak fixed between 1-2pm so that either myself or my wife can prepare food for the family, before being back behind the screen to start the afternoon. Usually, the days for me finish around 7-8pm, followed by family dinner. Later in the evening or on the weekends I find the time to gather my thoughts and write, build on company strategy, put together presentations or to go through longer emails.
How do you maintain an effective work/life balance?
I once learned from a highly admired manager at Google that what isn’t in your calendar isn’t going to happen. So I try to plan my days a couple of weeks in advance. I will block out time in my diary for running, lunch, emails and all sorts of other things in my schedule that remind me to look after myself and enable me to maintain that balance.
I still take the freedom to skip the blocks from time to time, but in general it very much helps in retaining control over my days and life – especially when everything is stored on the cloud and everybody has access to my calendar so things are sometimes externally added.
How has strategy changed at your company?
It has become a much more collaborative effort which has led to more transparency. New collaborative tools have been implemented and cloud computing has become the new normal. On the other hand, this has led to more demand from the teams and business units. At times this can be quite challenging but it generally leads to more buy-in and better, as well as faster, results and processes.
How has customer behaviour (or your clients’ customer behaviour changed during the pandemic?)
With no real-world experience available anymore, customers have shifted most of their activities and experiences online. The pandemic has created a new online normal and accelerated digital activity which would have otherwise taken years to achieve. Here, entertainment, commerce and news have been the winners.
With that, many of the hurdles that have held people back in the past have been overcome overnight. Now that most people live online, it’s pushed traditional brick and mortar companies to do business online but has also brought privacy concerns and the way personal data is being used to the fore.
Although there will be an overwhelming demand for real world experiences post-pandemic, the boundaries of online as a life enriching instrument have been pushed significantly and will never reverse. The use of online and its devices has finally made it the swiss army knife of the 21st century.
What do you predict for the future?
As digital continues to become more prominent in our lives, I see heavy investment in ecommerce as retailers and brands adapt to consumer demand during Covid. I also think there will be a renewed focus on enhancing the consumer experience online and providing virtual experiences which feel just like in-person shopping experiences.
As privacy regulations continue to evolve, all businesses should continue to keep abreast of how they are using and storing personal data. Investing in first-party data is going to be crucial so companies can stay competitive. As the digital ecosystem becomes more saturated this is going to be increasingly important.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
Don’t lose focus. Don’t get distracted by every new trend but be open to experimenting and trying new ways of doing things. Always dare to learn and improve.
If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s to adapt quickly and don’t worry too much about perfection. It’s important to fully embrace digital, in the way you work and how you think about your customers. The changes we have seen in the last 12 months have turned the way we work and live upside down. Processes and technology we thought would never be possible have turned out to be very successful. With this in mind, we should all embrace the future positively and open to jointly build a “new normal” that is not about going back but building a great new future.