Welcome to the “Marketing Heroes” series, where you hear CRM marketing stories from the field, from your peers across the globe.
Our intention is to highlight the stories of marketers who solve critical business problems, deliver transformational customer experiences, and drive impact every day in their organizations.
Marketers are at the center of our business and we want to put their stories front and center, too.
Today, we’re talking with Thanh-Mi Hoang, CRM Animations Manager at Darty, European leader in omnichannel distribution of household appliances and electronics.
This interview is also available in French.
Please introduce yourself. What’s your position and current company? How long have you been working in marketing/CRM?
Today, I am CRM Animations Manager at Darty, within the French group FNAC-Darty. We sell household appliances and electronics, and are the European leaders in omnichannel distribution. Before that, I worked for 4 years in the Beaumanoir group, as Campaign Manager, then CRM Manager for Morgan, a French women’s fashion retailer. I started my career at Marionnaud as local CRM Project Manager for about 3 years. I started working in CRM right after the end of my studies.
What are one or two things you typically do during the first hour of your day that lead to a productive day?
I always start by checking out the numbers, the turnover generated the day before by the campaigns currently running. At Darty, we receive automated email reports that are published every day at 7am.
It’s almost the first thing I do in my day as I wake up!
Aside from that, I also check my meeting planning, and the campaign planning for the next few days. We have about 15 running every week and it’s easy to forget one or two.
What is one marketing “best practice” you’ve applied in the last few months that had a positive impact on your role? How has it helped you?
I’m not really sure I could talk about a marketing secret.
But I’d say that in the last few months, my habits have been a little shaken.
I usually trust my instincts quite a bit—my marketing knowledge and the experience I’ve acquired in email campaigns and marketing strategies.
But in CRM, most notably in the last few months, we’ve had to question a lot of our assumptions. Everything we believe, say or do has been impacted by the crisis.
So we’ve had to do tests, anytime we were uncertain. A/B tests on several topics: email creatives, volumes, targeting, and more recently, on our targeting tools.
You can’t rely on elements that haven’t been tested recently.
It’s important—things move fast and what was true a year ago can be challenged 6 months later.
Which is even more relevant in the context we are currently living in.
We have recently rechallenged our targeting tool, Tinyclues, comparing it to more traditional targeting methods. We’ve been using this tool for years within the group, and as for me, I had already used it at Morgan. I had no doubt: the results have been very conclusive! It comforted us in our strategy and today, we can safely affirm to internal stakeholders and partners that our targeting is more efficient.
A proverb says: “In every crisis lies the seed of opportunity.” What was your opportunity during the crisis?
We’ve witnessed, I think, a sort of skepticism of the power of emails, which we manage in our CRM team. They represent a major part of our daily work.
We’ve wondered if maybe it’s becoming a bit of an “old school” channel, or at least not as powerful as it used to be.
But in reality, the crisis has reminded us that email still is, more than ever, an excellent communication channel, a real business driver, and always in touch with our clients.
So yes, email is still an attractive channel to work with. And the good news is— this is our expertise! We’ve managed to pull off our best season during the crisis.
I think email will still be a major player for the foreseeable future.
Crisis aside, what in your current or previous organization has the biggest impact on your marketing strategy?
I think that crisis aside, but crisis still, what matters today in our strategy and in everything we write is… optimism.
Look on the bright side of things, be positive, maybe also put things in perspective. We need to try and think on the upper range, to always reach for higher grounds.
I think that today, we really need optimism.
Even while defining our strategy, or while planning the email content for the months and years.
We need to think differently and to understand that there is a solution to every problem we encounter.
What books, blogs, or thought leaders have greatly influenced your career, and why?
Lately, I really like what Welcome to the Jungle is doing. They have great advice, and their articles help me contextualize what’s happening outside of my company. It helps me keep a sense of proportion, in quite a funny way. I really like them.
I’d also like to tell you about a book that I’ve really enjoyed recently. It is “The Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. On a professional level as well as personal, the idea to take things step by step is essential.
It’s true that sometimes, you have mountains to climb and you’re drowning in an abundance of projects. What I liked in this book is the idea to organize yourself differently to absorb the workload.
How has an apparent failure as a marketer set you up for later success? How did you bounce back?
I have tons of marketing failure examples!
It’s actually quite a sensitive question, because I’ve made mistakes, but can’t really confess them in a professional context.
But did these errors turn into success?
By understanding my errors, I aim to never do them again. Or at least, to do better the next time.
If you had to give one piece of advice to yourself 20 years ago, what would it be and why?
20 years ago, I was 17.
That’s about the time when you start making your first decisions.
I was actually thinking about that recently.
Because of the crisis and how old we are, because of everything we’ve gone through, the youth we had and the experiences young people won’t have today…
I was thinking to myself that I don’t have any regrets.
If I had one piece of advice to give to myself 20 years ago, I wouldn’t necessarily be giving the advice to do or not do any particular thing, but maybe to trust myself more.
It’s something I’ve started to develop and that I still lack a bit today, but it’s something that can be worked on.
It’s an essential theme today, especially for women at work.
To tell yourself that if you want to achieve something, it’s possible. You just have to try.
That brings us back to the idea of optimism you were mentioning earlier.
I have the feeling today that it’s difficult for younger generations to have a positive outlook on things.
Especially without the necessary distance to tell yourself that today, you’re not doing okay, but that tomorrow will be better.
That’s what I’d say to myself 20 years ago.
And what’s your marketing or life mantra?
You need to tell yourself that for every problem, there is a solution.
This solution won’t necessarily be obvious, and might require tremendous effort, as well as a lot of help from your team.
But I swear, there is no question without an answer.
One of my old bosses often told me: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
You can’t apply this saying to everything, but it still helps you move forward and accomplish your goals, without asking yourself too many questions.
Visit our “hero series” right here on this blog using the category: “Marketing Heroes” to see other stories from the field.
Want to share your perspective? Do you have someone in your network you want to recommend for this series? Let’s connect!