What keeps Andrew Zimakas up at night

The CMO at Tangerine on dealing with the cult of busy, keeping consumers' trust and finding true campaign integration.
Photo-Colour Slides-Andrew Zimakas

We’ve got a new series, asking top marketers across the country about their biggest fears and concerns. What are the things of marketing nightmares? First, we chatted with Kraft CMO Tony Matta, then Caroline Losson, VP marketing at Natrel and Christine Kalvenes, CMO, PepsiCo Foods Canada about their fears and challenges. Today, we catch up with Tangerine’s CMO Andrew Zimakas about the problems he faces. 

What keeps you up at night?

Pace and thoughtfulness: we’re in a reality where the world and technology are moving at such a rapid pace, that consumers’ expectations are shifting, and new digital trends and technologies are emerging faster than what we’ve ever seen before.

There’s an addictive pace of technology, where we have to move faster, reply quicker, digest more info, and all of this begs the question on whether we [as marketers] should be more focused on slowing down, so we can remain more thoughtful and strategic as opposed to always trying to keep up.

And with more data, technology and more points of contact, along with less time, I think our jobs are more challenging than they’ve ever been before.

The way I see the problem manifesting itself is, there is rapid expectations on the part of marketing executives, and on the part of the marketing organization as a whole, that we’ll be nimble, we’ll execute quickly, we’ll take advantage [of opportunities] in a tactical way in a day-to-day, hour-to-hour, even minute-to-minute basis.

But the expectations in terms of driving the business and brand strategically haven’t changed. In fact, if anything, as the CMO gets a seat at the C-suite table, those expectation [driving business result in a more thoughtful way] have gone up. But there is a heightened demand to ensure that in the moment, we’re aware, we’re capitalizing, we’re executing, because of this always-on, just-in-time world we’re in.

Is there a solution to that?

I think the busyness of today requires a conscious effort to take the time to make sure we’re being thoughtful and strategic. And this is with recognition that we need to remain nimble, innovative and forward thinking, but sometimes what’s required is just taking the time to reflect on where we’ve been in terms of data insights and key learnings in order to figure out where we’re going.

It’s so easy to prioritize everything these days – what’s hard is trying to focus on those few things you know are going to work well, are going to have a huge impact and help the team achieve the desirable outcome.

Agency relationships [are] more important in this environment than ever, and these relationships are going to continue to evolve into true partnerships from vendor-type relationships. And whether you’re using a best in breed [agency] or using a broader service offering from one or a few partners, integration will be table stakes in helping marketers stay ahead and on top of the trends, while meeting their business objectives.

What are some other issues you’re grappling with?

There’s a long list, but one is keeping trust of consumers.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to do. There’s been a fundamental shift in what consumers expect from brands and how they interact with them. So this now needs to be top of mind from a marketing perspective.

Consumers interact with brands on their own terms, they expect transparency and authenticity – and we’re in a world where we can’t hide behind office walls. And consumers expect us to always be engaged and have a two-way conversation, because that’s how they’re engaging. We can spend millions on TV advertising and raise awareness, which does achieve a certain objective. But after that, we really need to think about how we can be more authentically helpful to our clients. So how do we build and maintain that relationship, not only in terms of marketing, but in terms of how we deliver our brand promise in a number of different ways. And we’ve got to do that in the context of still meeting our broader business goals.

And we’re doing a good job with this, but there is a realization that this is a moving target, and that in the future the relationship with consumers is going to become more intimate, more engaged and as a result more vulnerable and dynamic. And you can never take trust for granted.

What are some of the other big issues?

On the digital theme, I think we’ve hit a point where we really need to pay attention to where consumers are seeing the brand and how that’s influencing their behaviour. Digital marketing strategies are being developed in isolation and then integrated into the rest of go-to market approach. And consumers really don’t care if they see your brand on TV, smartphone or tablet. It’s the same to them in terms of the brand they perceive – [they ask] what’s in it for them. So we need to ensure that we’re creating programs and ultimately delivering on the brand promise with the same broader mindset.

In part, it’s about finding that one insight or solution to the business problem and how you’re going to communicate that to a broader business platform and how you’re going to tailor it to different audiences you might have. And as part of that, all marketing departments need to be privy to that insight, and also be focused on the same goal to execute because big campaigns need to come to life in a more channel-agnostic way.

Are you a top marketer with nightmares of your own? Reach out to mhaynes @ brunico.com