There’s a simple equation that goes awry because of the complexities surrounding sales, according to Direct Line Group’s head of strategy, sales performance and customer experience, Ann Constantine.
While the industry is debating the future of finance, it shows that this equation is related to the main point of the work being done and what the marketers are trying to achieve. Without focusing on that simple idea, the customer’s needs often get lost along the way, Constantine says.
“Sometimes it’s backwards and when you talk about media and success it’s the same thing. Is that what we’re trying to offer to our customer?” he writes. “You’re trying to offer something that’s exciting and that sticks in people’s minds.”
By encouraging his colleagues to refocus on the customer, Constantine can see the discussion progressing in the context of big data, while entrepreneurs debate where the “next leap” will be.
“Is there a need for new measuring instruments? Maybe it is, but you have to go back to your financial resources and we are in danger of losing that and being blinded by ‘shiny things’ and data problems,” he says.
There should not be one weapon. You should have a tool bag and you pull out the one that is most suitable for what you are trying to drive.
Ann Constantine, Direct Line Group
Advertisers can, however, become wedded to a particular strategy, he says, while the key to success in Direct Line marketing has always been about not having “all your eggs in one basket.” Having a diverse portfolio of different types of financial assets at your disposal will benefit investors in the long run, Constantine argues.
“We use different types of media. We find as a brand with a heavy TV that is still the best tool for analysis, second to the other. What you do is complement this with other tools, especially where you are playing in different channels and you can have a small amount of money that would not be possible due to the traditional economy ,” he explains.
“There are some companies that still seem very high, but the story is not. The story is down to the differentiation between the channels, between the customer groups.”
Direct Line encourages its suppliers to constantly look for new ways to measure efficiency. This is especially true when researching new methods, which can be tested in different ways. However, marketers must accept that perfection is unattainable.
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“You have to accept that you will not be able to measure 100% of the money you spend accurately. There will always be something to do about things. Or where the money is not really there to drive ROI, it comes to brand awareness,” says Constantine.
“It depends on how you’re measuring and the method you’re using against it. There shouldn’t be one tool. You have to have a bag of tools and you pull out the one that’s most appropriate for what you’re trying to drive. With big data and frequency, all the tools will grow.”
He remembers the past when the economy gave out readings every three months. As the speed of the market increases, so do the forces that have been trying to keep it from running smoothly. Although Constantine believes that the idea of reaching a daily test is “false”, he sees the evolution of financial instruments as a key factor in driving business growth.
The secret to success
Direct Line Group’s journey to success has required long-term commitment from the entire organization. Constantine is proud that the company won two IPA Effectiveness Gold Awards in 2016 and 2018, remembering that the insurance company was the first non-institution to submit an IPA paper.
He sees how the business has developed its own technology for success, focusing on finding the right talent rather than just looking at the number of employees.
The team evolved during his nearly 27 years at the company, with Constantine taking the position of head of market and competitive intelligence in 2005. The head of research was added to his remit in 2010, before being appointed head of intelligence and commercial success. 2015. By 2018, customer experience was added to Constantine’s role.
From his experience, he believes that the key to success is having the right internal talent, working closely with small businesses and finding great business. Constantine and his team, for example, have given a useful presentation to non-Direct Line Group managers, including an explanation of how they measure brand equity.
We didn’t follow the crowd like that. We let our internal statistics and emotions influence the decision.
Ann Constantine, Direct Line Group
It is important, he explains, to put the effective discussion on the business and make sure that the measure does not enter the financial or other part of the business. Additionally, results cannot simply be presented to the leadership team and pushed down. Direct Line’s idea is for these effective conversations to be shared with colleagues throughout the organization, who can then respond.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done from a team standpoint, but also from a commercial standpoint. What Mark [Evans, former managing director of marketing and digital] created by his leadership team was much bigger than it was when he came in,” he said.
“There are many problems that have happened, but what we are proud of is that we understand the needs of the business. It’s not just going blindly saying ‘It doesn’t work’ or ‘You can’t do that, because it won’t pay off’. It’s being included in the business, having the conversation and the team will understand what the goals are and how the organization is it’s working.”
Constantine is well aware that not all companies in 2023 are as advanced as Direct Line Group when it comes to marketing. He cited Marketing Week’s exclusive Language of Effectiveness survey, which found 51% of the 1,610 people surveyed agree that marketing effectiveness is not a well-known and often undervalued area of their business.
Indeed, only 15.6% of the sample strongly agree that marketing is a well-known function in their company, with a clear structure, detailed processes and chain of custody.
“I’m still amazed at the Language of Effectiveness figures around people who don’t have a certain skill set in their group how much time they spend on TV,” he adds.
From the 90s to now
Reflecting on his 27 years at Direct Line, Constantine sees how marketing concepts have evolved. He remembers the mid-1990s when there was “a lot of money” and the measurement was less than it is now.
“Much has not been discussed and things have not been tried or tested. It was too much, to put it to life. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t pull it really fast,” Constantine remembers.
The lack of aggressiveness and behavior involved in the marketing of the 1990s was a “double-edged sword”. The culture of success came from when most businesses were seen as a test bed for new ideas, in a place where every aspect of work was thoroughly tested and the business case had to be put in place before anything else.
Looking at the situation in 2023, he sees the business performance as “slightly relaxed”, although the budget is smaller compared to the 90s when businesses want every penny to work harder. He also believes that this type of tree has taken on a more important role than a few years ago.
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“We have returned to a lot of things that we try and learn, exercise, but not as much as we would have done years ago. But still understand what the cost will be, what our profit will be, either through the lens of ROI, or through a different metric, Constantine explains.
During more than two decades at Direct Line, Constantine saw the advent of digital marketing, the rise of price comparison websites and the rise of competitors in the sector, as well as the global recession, pandemic and crisis pricing.
He remembers that brands across the insurance industry shifted a lot of their money to digital as new strategies began to emerge. The Direct Line Group took a different approach, refusing to jump solely on the “digital bandwagon”.
“We had money in digital, but we did not make a big U-turn to be there. Actually there were several companies that said a few years later that the money was not paying the wages and they were wrong, Constantine remembers.
“We have always been focused on our operations. We have a lot of problems. We are very mature and people who know the industry, know the media, know the work and are always helpful, instead of just relying on what the agencies have done and advice. “
He also recalls a similar process when Direct Line became one of the first in the insurance industry to issue door drops after seeing their service fail to pay.
“I want to think about some of the things that we were a little bit ahead of in terms of going: ‘That’s not the right way for us,'” says Constantine.
“We did not follow the crowd and say this. We let our internal statistics and our thoughts influence the decision instead of going: ‘There’s a big shiny thing here called digital, we need to pour everything into it, because that’s what everyone else is doing.’
Looking back over the years gives him a picture of the economic crisis plaguing the country. Constantine saw that in the type of crisis it becomes a “safe place”, so he believes that the value of this type will not disappear.
“There are things that people can relate to, but people just fall in love with the brand, connect with people,” he adds.
“There will be different burdens on this depending on the industry, but I’m going to go back to the brand that will be the most important to the customer. The brands just need to improve and they won’t think they have carte blanche to charge what they want.”