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Trendsetters: Russ Findlay of Hiscox Talks about Data, Individualization and B2B Marketing's Evolution...
In his role as Head of Marketing for Hiscox Insurance, Russell Findlay runs two distinct marketing operations—one geared to the business-to-business concerns of the company, and the other for the business-to-consumer initiatives directed to the small business community. He's finding, though, that in a data-driven world, B-to-B strategies are now informing consumer marketing.
Findlay believes today's business world, with its constant stream of information and its terabytes of data, has fundamentally changed marketing, and essentially blurred what marketers once described as B-to-B and B-to-C disciplines. He adds, "B-to-B marketers, or those with a more direct-to-consumer model, know a lot about an individual customer. They retain customer records, there's a CRM system with interactions and a sales history, and they know their customers' names. Consumer marketers once saw their potential customers as an aggregate, and they needed to reach segments of them. Yet the digital revolution has changed approaches to individualization with customized products, as well as new levels of segmentation and predictive analytics."
He acknowledges that turning data insights into meaningful action is indeed the future of marketing and of business. But when asked if tomorrow's winning brands will be those that use data effectively, Russ Findlay hesitates. He says, "We won't see 'push button' marketing where we put all available data into a black box that spits out a marketing plan. There's still going to be an art to marketing effectively. Marketing has always been a blend of art and science. The percentages have shifted today where we may be approaching a 50-50 ratio of both—a big change from when marketing was more art or perhaps gut.'"
Yet, he emphasizes, "Creativity will always remain as the glue that connects people to the emotionality of the products."
Russ Findlay has always viewed himself as a sales-driven marketer, which helps bridge his varied marketing roles. "My job," he says, "is to deeply understand our consumers' motivations, and my job as a marketer is to create demand and to make the market for my products. Through marketing, Hiscox has built a recognizable, requested brand. This is the essence of brand value, and it's a 'proof point' for investors who now understand we have something unique when consumers ask for us by name."
Hiscox, a global player with strong UK roots, provides professional liability, property and specialty insurance to businesses through brokers, which represents the B-to-B side of Findlay's marketing equation. However, the company also sells insurance directly to small business owners—whether startups, nano-businesses or thriving small employers, which requires a more classic consumer marketing approach. In fact, Russ Findlay and Hiscox have been making headlines and winning awards for challenging insurance convention by bringing a new brand positioning to life with the memorable tagline Encourage Courage.
The dramatic business-to-consumer campaign highlights entrepreneurial apprehension about successful growth, and features men and women who took chances to open and expand their own businesses. It is built on the insight that nothing great can happen without risk. According to Russ Findlay, "Insurance advertising talks about minimizing risk, not embracing it. Instead of fearing risk, we should fear not taking it." While Hiscox had been actively supporting small business owners, they've also succeeded in building the value of their own brand.
Russell Findlay is a 20-year marketing veteran, but is new to the insurance industry. He joined Hiscox at the end of 2013, following marketing roles at Pepsico, Unilever, IHOP and Major League Soccer. No doubt, his extensive background contributed to this fresh approach for Hiscox and its ability to disrupt an entire global business category. He was named an Internationalist of the Year 2014 for his work with Hiscox.