Moving away from Marketing Jargon and Closer to Transforming Marketing into a Growth Engine with Caroline Harrison from HSBC UK

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“I think if I could reset one thing in marketing, I would get rid of all the lingo and acronyms that we use. Because I think that makes it quite difficult for people who are new to marketing or outside of marketing to understand what we’re talking about. And I think if we simplified the language that we use, we would be able to communicate much more effectively and be seen as a revenue driver rather than a cost.” Caroline Harrison of HSBC U.K. on her marketing reset. 

On the latest episode of Time For a Reset: The Marketing Podcast with Global Leaders, your host, Paul Frampton – Global President at CvE Consultancy, is joined by Caroline Harrison, Director and Head of Digital Marketing at HSBC UK

Caroline has over twenty years of experience in digital marketing leadership at legacy brands like HSBC UK, American Express, and Barclays. She unpacks the playbook for CMOs of today and tomorrow to deliver targeted business outcomes and to enable marketing to pivot from a cost centre to a revenue driver. 

Caroline believes that simplifying the jargon used in marketing would make communication more effective and help marketing be seen as a revenue driver rather than a cost, and explains that she encourages her teams to understand the business objectives and align their marketing efforts accordingly. She emphasises the importance of prioritising tasks and focusing on effectiveness and efficiency to deliver value.

Her take on the role of performance and brand marketing is that it’s crucial to think about the full spectrum rather than separating the two. She explains that customers do not distinguish between brand and performance marketing, so marketing efforts should be cohesive and work towards overall business goals.

Here are some talking points from the episode.

 Aligning Marketing Strategies with Business Outcomes

Caroline encourages starting the alignment process by sitting down with the stakeholders and understanding what the business is trying to do; this will enable you to define clear priorities. Next, ensure that the marketing strategies have measurable outcomes and align with the overall business goals.  A brilliantly executed marketing strategy that doesn’t deliver business goals is of little value. 

“You can do a brilliant job, but in marketing, you can be busy fools if you’re not careful. So you can spend your whole life ensuring your inbox is tidy and setting up brilliant campaigns, but if they don’t deliver on business goals, you haven’t provided value to the business.”

Right Housing: A Fine Balance Between In-Housing and Outsourcing

Right housing is the delicate balance between hiring in-house talent and outsourcing tasks that work best for your business and help deliver the desired marketing outcomes. Caroline explains that there are some areas where you need to be close to the data and manage the activity in-house; search and paid ads are two examples where it makes sense to hire talent and in-house the process. Meanwhile, managing all marketing activities in-house on a day-to-day basis is resource-heavy, and it makes sense to build a right-house framework where critical marketing activities where you have the required talent are retained in-house, and the routine and resource-heavy activities are outsourced. Right housing enables you to keep your internal team tight, agile and focused on delivering value. 

“I want to ensure that we always own the data. And then we just moved product by product, really, to see whether that would work, and it made sense.”

Caroline concurs with Paul that measurement and attribution do not receive enough attention in marketing. She believes that measurement is fundamental, and emphasises the importance of having the right data and metrics in place to make informed decisions. She mentions the use of econometrics and first-party data to track and analyse marketing performance. 

She also mentions the importance of getting closer to the business and fostering collaboration across different teams, sharing her current focus on improving communication with existing customers at HSBC. She highlights the need for strategic alignment and personalised communication supported by technology and infrastructure, and acknowledges the challenge of managing multiple teams in a matrix organisation. 

A Few Words About Caroline Harrison

People who know Caroline professionally use brave, disruptive, dedicated, and passionate to describe her. She is fearless in asking the right questions and challenging the status quo. As a consummate digital marketer, she ensures that digital performance is underpinned by tangible and measurable results. 

Caroline provides authentic leadership and creates an environment of openness and trust. Her knowledge of digital marketing enables her to support both the vision and the day-to-day details. However, her passion for innovation and driving change is particularly inspiring. Caroline’s 20+ year career in digital marketing cuts across global brands like American Express, Barclays Bank, and HSBC UK. 

Join us on Time For a Reset: The Marketing Podcast with Global LeadersTune in to the latest episode of Time For a Reset: The Marketing Podcast with Global Leaders, where we sit down with representatives of household brands to uncover the secrets behind driving transformation in today’s rapidly evolving world. From shifting consumer behaviour to the increasing importance of marketing in driving business growth, this podcast delves into the strategies and insights that are shaping the future of marketing.

You can read the full transcript episode here.

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