In the latest episode of the Talk Life Sciences Marketing podcast, host Laura Browne is joined by Hrissi Samartzidou, the Vice President of Global Product Management and Market Development with Thermo Fisher Scientific. Hrissi is currently in the midst of setting up a new marketing division at Thermo Fisher, and so the discussion not only touches on many aspects of data-driven, impact-focused marketing, but specifically on what goes into creating and managing a new marketing team.
The conversation begins with a discussion on the differences between trying to market a product versus marketing a service. Hrissi explains that in all things, her philosophy of marketing is guided by the principle that it is a customer driven function. ‘Customer’ can include everything from partners and vendors to the actual end users.
“We are in constant communication,” Hrissi says “And the key to successful partnership, it's exactly that, is to be in ongoing communication.”
When Laura asks how Hrissi keeps her team engaged on the same shared vision and desired end result, Hrissi admits that it is not easy. It takes “constant effort across all levels of organization”. Most important, Hrissi says, is clarity. Having a clear goal and clear lines of communication allow everyone to know exactly what they are working towards and to then work towards it with as much passion and invention as is possible.
“The clearer the message, the easier it is,” Hrissi says. “All the way to having posters, signs, videos, playing in our factories to remind our people of what ultimately, who is the beneficiary.”
Thermo Fisher uses digital means to measure customer engagement and behaviors, which sparks Laura to ask how the marketing team balances acquiring helpful data with protecting the data privacy of users. Hrissi explains that the company is careful to follow every law governing data privacy.
Hrissi is currently endeavoring to start a new marketing division for Thermo Fisher, building it from essentially scratch after a series of acquisitions.
She describes her major mission statement in putting this division together, saying, “We need to stay up to speed with the market developments out there and all of that underpinned by a culture of continuous customer experience improvements, because, as the marketing department, we control a lot of touch points. So we need to make sure we're driven by the customer on decision making and satisfy [the] customer within every touch point. With that as the charter, I'm trying to develop the right organization.”
With this vision set, Hrissi has begun assembling the team that will bring that vision to life and achieve the goals that Thermo Fisher has set for itself for the next five years. Laura asks how Hrissi is “future-proofing” for such long term goals, which leads to a discussion on how the digitization of data has created both opportunities and obstacles that need to be worked with and around.
Laura then steers the conversation towards “impact-based marketing”, a topic that is close to Hrissi’s heart. Hrissi explains that impact-based marketing is an effort to “reprioritize, in other words, our investments on the tactics, activities, projects that they have the biggest impact, for the particular business or project that we're trying to accomplish.”
She explains that prioritizing based on demonstrable impact is the best approach to take when dealing with the highly competitive world of funding in which Thermo Fisher operates. Hrissi is dismissive of viewing marketing as an artform, preferring to conduct herself as a scientist, studying and responding to provable data.
But as Hrissi admits, it can be difficult to get team members on board with this approach. Part of science is trial and error, with ‘error’ being not only inevitable but ultimately necessary to obtaining the best result. Here again, Hrissi stresses the importance of clarity and training. These priorities help team members understand how even a poor result is part of the process and won’t be counted against them.
As the episode wraps up, Laura asks the question left behind by Paul Kippax of Malvern Panalytical during episode 3. Paul’s question was, “How do you communicate real achievement and deeper motivations behind your companies and products? Everyone likes to claim that their company's going to make the world a better place, but how do you convey true sincerity to a customer?”
Hrissi answers that in the last decade, it has always been a part of the process to include the voice of the customer. This ensures that not only will the client know that their specific brand and identity is conveyed within the marketing, but it also communicates the sincere passion and spirit of the client to customers and partners. By including the client in the process, it makes the final result much more specific and singular.
When asked to provide a question for the next guest of the Talk Life Sciences Marketing podcast, Hrissi asks about how they, this future guest, balances long-term vs short-term strategies and goals.