People are always saying marketing has changed. They go on and on about the complexity of digital marketing, content creation, SEO and marketing automation. There is a myth that the fundamentals of marketing success are vastly different than they were twenty years ago. You don’t need to be a technical whizz kid to win customer loyalty.

I hate to break the illusion, but the reality is that twenty years ago the secrets of marketing success where the same as today and they probably always will be. The good news is that by tapping into a few classic marketing strategies not only will your job be more exciting, but you’ll improve your marketing ROI.

Compelling branded content will always win over the hearts and minds of customers. The channels and vehicles you use to share this are secondary. Innovative, forward-thinking brands win market share – as we did during those glorious days in the 90s at Sun Microsystems and Nokia a decade later – through informative thought-leadership that pushes flagship services and products. Agile brands sell.

Here are the secrets of marketing success that powered my thinking since the start of my career through the 90s to this day…

Creative Brands

Create a brand that stands out and grabs customer attention. By engaging your audience visually and with bold and brave stories, your brand can stand out in the market. Strong professional creative ideas have always stood out and driving past billboards I have commissioned on the A4 out of London or getting front page headlines is always a thrill. Today this creativity needs to work at a micro level too, with every post on social media needing to capture your brand. Be known for something – you’re the company behind X – then shout about it with a striking visual. We positioned Sun Microsystems as the dot in dot com – a creative idea, that captured the vision in an easy to understand way and attracted customers. It still looks as fresh today as it did when we launched it.

Punchy Content

Create punchy content to educate and excite customers. It’s all about adding value with informative content and insights. Be a genuine thought leader, show your passion and focus on authentic content. All the talk of SEO being critical for Google is true, but authentic content attracts interest on every channel. At Nokia we created the ‘Connectivity Index’ which ranked a location’s link between connectivity and its economic performance. We showcased in a video documentary, the impact of connectivity on lives around the world from shanty towns in Cape Town to art houses in New York in a campaign called, ‘Round. The World Connected’ The memories of these campaigns are as vivid now as they were then. Customers are always attracted to real insights.

Be Integrated

World class campaigns take a lot of thought and integrated deliverables. Focus your time on developing a strong value proposition and original content that you use across a range of deliverables and channels. By integrating this across multiple touch points you can ensure you attract engagement throughout the sales cycle. Its also important to avoid being too vanilla and spreading the campaign too thin. Integrating video or live stories has really boosted engagement on our campaigns recently – just like well timed PR always has done. Don’t try to leverage everything but be brave and make it work together.

Use tools and agencies

Effective use of internal and external agencies tools and resources has always been a differentiator. Sometimes it feels impossible to keep on top of everything internally, especially with increased job mobility. That is why I have always been a big advocate of using tools and agencies as an extension of your team. There are a range of tools that can make your life a lot easier such as Yoast, Semrush, brand monitors, and Post planner amongst others. A handful of great agencies and tools gets incredible results. I can always remember my US colleagues being amazed by the productivity of the UK team. Our secret was always down to resourcing. Marketing tools are always evolving, and we can get a more comprehensive insight of our audience, their behaviour and how they respond to our campaigns than ever before. These tools help keep us all accountable.


Speed to market is important, and your brand needs to be the first with new products and services or the first to produce the hottest new e-book. At Sun Microsystems and Nokia, we capitalised on the first mover advantage but that does not last for ever. With the social tools today, you can build agility into daily planning. Being relevant and topical has always won customers but being agile is a mind set. Think outside of the box and fast like when I created the new digital media centre in the ICA in London and published essential guides on the dot com boom – it attracted coverage and customers.


It makes the dream work – Your team members should be internally working together with HR, Finance and Sales. Marketing sits at the heart of the business and employees should bring the brand to life. Getting seamless teamwork with agencies, partners, colleagues takes open and powerful communication.

Promote your ROI

Get visibility in the boardroom and promote your marketing impact on the business. ROI helps justify more budget. Show your impact, test and refine, and do not be scared to balance this with your gut feeling.

Why do more and more marketers focus on the complexity of marketing and technological developments, website backend and SEO? Yes, the digital infrastructure is an important foundation but the strategy, the creative idea, the content and the integration of everything together is what sets you apart. With the rise of robots, much of the technical backend of marketing will be automated. This means marketers can get back to basics and be truly integrated creative souls. Embrace the digital trends, but don’t give up the old.

Marketing is all about creating a great user experience on your website, social media, in the office or at an event. This starts with the brand and a creative mindset. Think outside of the box, find something interesting to say and you can capture your audience’s attention. Surprise them. To me marketing has always been full of surprises and I think it always should be.

Want a free 1-1 with me on ideas to enhance your marketing efforts through digital? Get in touch:

Marketing Expert

Originally posted on Linkedin