Don’t rely on marketing alone to solve a crisis, Vodafone marketing boss says

vodafoneMarketing alone will not haul a struggling business off its knees, Vodafone’s chief marketing officer has said, after admitting that one of its own priorities to rebuild the embattled brand was to win over disgruntled staff.

Kim Clarke said Vodafone was beginning to get back on its feet after a turbulent period which saw the company become the least trusted brand in the sector.

Not only did public sentiment slump – and one million customers desert the network – but “our own people stopped believing in us”.

“That for me was telling,” Clarke told a room full of marketers yesteday .

“We have a thee year turnaround program and are half way through that,” she said, admitting that while it was making good progress “we still have a long way to go”.

Clarke explained that one of its initial objectives was to convince its own staff that Vodafone had the right strategy to improve its ailing fortunes.

“You must make sure you treat it as a change program. When this sort of thing becomes a marketing program you have completely stuffed up. You need to engage your entire business in the transformation and start with your own people and engage their hearts and minds,” she said.

Clarke said there was “no big fix” to its trust issues, which stemmed from widespread network issues, but, on the positive side, she told delegates at the Association of Data Driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) conference yesterday that there was also “no secret recipe”.

“The biggest thing we had to do was fix the network and then look at brand engagement,” she said.

Steve Woods  





  1. George Wheeler
    30 Jul 14
    1:42 pm

  2. Images sent via SMS still take about three days to arrive at their destination via Vodafone so indeed Kim, you’ve got a lot more to do than tell me about how good your network is.

    I guess you’re right that marketing alone will not solve this, but alas, that’s all that you’re delivering.

    You’ve taken on a job that is akin to ‘Position Vacant – Titanic Captain’ and I wish you well in being the boss of marketing for a network that is still, by your words, about 18 months from being ready ?

    I’ll be gone by then once this contract ceases. No amount of enticements short of carrier pigeons and a colour printer to deliver my images to the recipients within a 4 hour timeframe will sort this out.

    And a little reminder, I pay for a top level service on your alleged ‘network’ and you still do not deliver what I am supposed to get for that.

    Get a time machine and go back and do not merge with ‘3’ as it all went pear shaped from there.

    Thanks for the reminder to look at plans with ANYONE else.

  3. Mike
    30 Jul 14
    2:05 pm

  4. Vodafone suffer from a typical Australian business premise – do what makes our life easier, not what makes a good product for our customers.

    Good ‘ole ‘half-arse-it’ Australia… =/

  5. As someone who went...
    30 Jul 14
    3:22 pm

  6. It was a truly unspired talk. It’s worrying that a CMO’s big strategy is telling people, hey the network works now, and then hanging their hat on bring back no plans.

  7. Gezza
    30 Jul 14
    4:34 pm

  8. I was also at this presso and I found it to be fascinating and impressively honest and informative. As far as I could tell the majority of the audience felt the same.

  9. Staff are your brand
    31 Jul 14
    2:04 pm

  10. Interesting mention from Kim Clarke on the battles to win over staff as well as of course customers, to benefit the brand.

    Product, service and staff are your brand. Today, with social media and disgruntled clients having the ability to air their views to all and sundry online, a business needs to perform. If they do not perform then they will be held to account and no amount of tv, print and billboard ad’s is going to improve your brand. Actions speak louder than advertising, welcome to 2014.

    If I were looking for a new phone provider I would not be influenced by advertising. I would jump on review sites, ask my friends and colleagues and social proof the hell out of it, until I know I am finding the right plan for me. I do this before I stay in a hotel, eat at a restaurant and buy a car.

    Voda need to:
    1) Hire great staff, who can:
    2) Create and maintain an amazing product, and can also:
    3) Offer fantastic customer service

    As a result:
    – Customers will be happy
    – Staff will be happy

    EVP is massive and creating a great culture, with good benefits is a must in 2014, if you want to attract the best staff. Having a great offering is the real puller though. if your offering is going south, why are good people going to join your course (unless they are mega great and are being hired to fix it of course).

    I am sure that many staff who were previously proud of saying they worked for Vodafone are reluctant to say where they work when they meet people at a bbq, because it’s the same old “you guys have had it / are having it tough…” conversation… You might sponsor the F1 and the cricket, but you can’t offer your customers a signal, so your brand will get smashed. Staff will have their heads down and if staff do not believe then you are on a slippery slope.

    Does the marketing dept (product) get involved with employer brand or is it managed by recruitment?

    Check product review:

  11. Staff are your brand
    31 Jul 14
    2:06 pm

  12. cause*