Welcome to our Marketing Heroes Series. In this series, you will hear marketing stories from the field from your peers across the globe. For the past 6 years, we’ve watched the individuals we work with evolve, grow, and soar. Our clients are at the center of our business, and we want to put their stories front and center too. Enjoy!
Marketing Hero Questions
This series focuses on 7 questions to highlight the stories of marketers that solve critical business problems, deliver transformational customer experiences, and drive impact every day for their companies.
Today, we hear from Julie Bidault, Customer Marketing Director at Oui.sncf. (This interview is also available in French)
Featuring: Julie Bidault – Customer Marketing Director – 12 years of experience
Location: Paris, France
What are one or two things you typically do during the first hour of your day that lead to a productive day?
Organizing my agenda is key to kick-start my day, and it’s one of the first things I do.
At the beginning of the week, I try as much as possible to organize my schedule by booking some timeslots for myself to focus on specific tasks with defined goals in mind.
At the beginning of each day, I do a second review of my to-do list and scheduled meetings with top priorities in mind. Like many, I also check my emails early in the morning to make sure that there are no emergencies related to production or the news that could, for instance, impact our customers in their travels. If everything is OK, I try to take 30 minutes to 1 hour to process “quick” emails that take less than 5 minutes, to unload the mailbox, (and my mental workload!).
The subway ride is an important moment for me – I would even say enjoyable! It’s an opportunity for me to disconnect, gain some perspective, read the news or a good book!
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?
Going back to basics!
We may tend to lose ourselves in the sea of possibilities offered by technology, and forget that it’s a means to an end rather than an end in itself.
For me, it is important to go back to the basics of marketing: what are our business objectives, customer expectations & behaviors, potential offers and the market, in order to define a customer-oriented marketing action plan (i.e. starting from client expectations, and not from the offer). Once the framework is defined, it is then more valuable to “play” with the available tools!
All the work done around customer life cycles has helped us meet our key business objectives.
In the Display team, we also worked on a client-centric strategy: we first define high-priority audiences and we send them the most relevant messages, not the other way around. The strong performance of these strategies has also helped change mindsets internally: moving away from a purely promotional vision by demonstrating the business interest of addressing customers with the right message.
What in your current or previous organization has the biggest impact on your marketing strategy?
The customer marketing department is celebrating its first year and when I took office, my first priority was to build our marketing strategy, communicate it to everyone, and make it operational and actionable for the teams. I also wanted us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture for our daily actions: remember why we do what we do, why it’s important, and how it fits in the company strategy.
To do this, taking the time to communicate with the entire team via meetings or seminars was a key element, although I think there’s still room for improvement.
During these meetings, I make sure to open everyone’s chakra by sharing customer and market studies to always have the customer at the center of what we do, by putting everything in context, reminding everyone of where we are in terms of company performance, and by involving other entities (this helps to understand other’s priorities and streamline collaborations). These are more management practices for marketing purposes, but they are very important to me.
A marketing strategy, as relevant as it may be, has no impact if employees are not committed to a common project.
What books, blogs, or thought leaders have greatly influenced your career, and why?
It’s hard to say! Since I was little, I have always been interested in technology and innovation, and I have always followed several websites and blogs on the subject. Now, I use Twitter for that purpose.
I wouldn’t say they influenced me, but I still find the lives of transformational leaders like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, or Xavier Niel very inspiring! I have a lot of respect for people who have chosen improbable paths and have built innovative companies from almost nothing.
Also, I follow a lot at the flourishing start-up ecosystem.
How has an apparent failure as a marketer set you up for later success? How did you bounce back?
The most difficult aspect of my job is often to get several cross-department entities on-boarded on common projects. Marketers play a central role in the company, and they need to work closely with sales, product, finance, legal…
I’ve always had very transversal roles, but sometimes you can find yourself backed against the wall: different objectives, internal conflicts, or reorganizations … These are just some examples of what we can face when wanting to align everyone towards a common goal.
How did I bounce? By positioning myself as a facilitator and playing the transparency card: making sure to explain, accompany, and understand the limits of others.
It’s a job that requires everyone’s collaboration. We can’t move forward without the help of others.
If you had to give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be and why?
- Keep cool: have perspective, always have fun, go back to the reason we do what we do, and remember why we move forward.
- Have a sense of proportion and focus your efforts on the right priorities, and don’t aim for perfection, it’s exhausting!
The advice is still applicable to my current self!
What is one marketing principle you try to live by?
Always put the customer at the heart of everything we do to stay focused on what matters the most.
Visit our “hero series” right here on this blog using the category: “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!