Sophie Light-Wilkinson is VP Marketing EMEA – we caught up with her to ask about what she does, how she does it, and what advice she has for marketers at the beginning of their careers.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
SLW: I’m responsible for the growth of business and the brand at Bazaarvoice. My job is to ensure that we are customer-designed and marketing-led across every aspect of our go-to-market — understanding who we sell to, defining our positioning and narrative, and thinking through campaign strategy. I lead a team of brilliant marketers and sales development reps that create awareness and urgency for our brand and drive demand for our solutions.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
SLW: Ultimately, I report to our customers. I’m on the leadership team within our newly-formed global CRO organization—which looks after the entire customer lifecycle.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
SLW: Being a B2B marketer isn’t easy. First and foremost, you must have a customer mindset: know how they learn, make decisions, and what they are trying to achieve. I think about this every day. This requires a willingness to listen, but also an ability to translate what you hear into value. Second, how we connect with customers is evolving. They want more control of their journey, and that puts a lot of pressure on how we create marketing experiences. We are constantly trying new ideas – and, frankly, being humble, admitting mistakes, and moving on quickly are probably the skills that help me most.
Tell us about a typical working day…
SLW: I start my day with yoga. It clears my mind, gives me energy, and allows me to focus. Then, each morning we run a standup with the leadership team. From there I’m bouncing from conversations with team members, partners, and customers. Like everyone else, I’m swamped with emails and meetings. I’ve learned that the fewer emails you write, the fewer you receive. And for meetings, I always ask, “What’s this meeting about and when will I know it’s done?” This keeps people honest and lets me manage my time better.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
SLW: I love that we are constantly evolving our go-to-market to be truly customer-led. This requires bringing product design, marketing, sales and customer success teams together in ways that, quite honestly, had been siloed before.
What sucks is the state of retail – much of this is outside the control of the retailer. There are economic, competitive, and technological disruptions that are real headwinds to success. And consumers don’t respect heritage in retail as much as they crave agile and new thinking. This makes it challenging for many retailers. That said, I’m seeing more and more established retailers evolving their business models and seeing great results. We just need to do more of this and quicker.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
SLW: Peter Drucker famously wrote “the purpose of a company is to create and keep a customer.” My challenge is to find the companies that make the best customers. Who are they? Where are they? Are they customers today? If not, how can we make them a customer? If you get this right, all the other KPIs fall into place. You’ll get more net bookings (and faster), more adoption, and less churn… which leads to more advocates. A happy customer is your best form of marketing.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
SLW: I’m a pen and paper girl—my notebook is an extension of my brain. I also get a lot of advice (and opinions) from my team, partners, and customers that help me be successful at my job.
How did you end up at Bazaarvoice, and where might you go from here?
SLW: Joe Rohrlich, our CRO, approached me to transform marketing from something that was largely event-led to a more modern and sophisticated approach. Having been in adtech, I was ready to try and grow a martech SaaS business. We’ve assembled a terrific team. For me, people are the most important aspect of work. Whatever I do, wherever I go next, will be because of the people I work with and learn from.
Which ecommerce experience has impressed you recently?
SLW: Ecommerce is at the point where when it works best when it’s invisible. I’m impressed when I don’t have to think about it. From looking something up, reading a good review, tapping to purchase and having it arrive without effort is what we all expect. When there’s a snag we get impatient.
What advice would you give a marketer wanting to start their career in retail?
SLW: There is a lot of opportunity for big thinking in retail—bringing together digital innovations both online and in physical store locations. But you must be patient as there is a lot of old “plumbing” that needs to be removed from the system to make room for new ideas.
With that said, no matter what industry you’re in, my advice is to do the work that is meaningful to you and surround yourself with people that inspire you to be your best self.