FX, please introduce yourself to our audience. What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing, and how did you get your start in the field?
My name is Francois-Xavier, aka FX. I have built my career through diverse Marketing roles across Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. I am currently the North America Chief Marketing Officer of Capgemini Invent, for which I lead its high growth Marketing function across three brands, Capgemini Invent, frog and Synapse. I find great pride in enabling these great brands to win hearts and move markets.
I am a natural storyteller and have been drawn to Marketing for its ability to shape the future of businesses, being the first enabler of the business strategy and a true growth engine. Not many roles allow for the combination of creativity and deep focus on analytics. I started my career building social media channel consumer relationship strategies at the time digital became dominant as a channel.
What do you think sets Capgemini Invent apart, and how do you leverage these strengths in your work?
Capgemini Invent sits at the center of innovation, creativity, data and consulting. This unique set of capabilities offer the option to define what’s next for our clients. In North America, Capgemini Invent is set apart because it has the ability to bring innovation across the full product and services lifecycle – from design and complex engineering solutions, to scaling and manufacturing, sustainability and circularity.
Access to this pool of expertise and know-how allows us to challenge our clients in our thought leadership and in the stories we tell to encourage them to get the future they want.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a marketing leader, and how have you overcome them?
In my different roles, my challenge has always been to build up the team quickly with the adequate skills and capabilities needed to deliver on our strategy at a pace that both shows progress fast enough while ensuring the long term success of the team.
Skills become more and more specialized, particularly as we progress and improve in data and analytics around our activities, allowing us to extend into new channels while needing to remain creative with real-time marketing, intent-based placements, subject matter expertise in new thought leadership priorities. It becomes difficult to find the right talent, the right third party vendors to keep up with all our needs while building an ecosystem that makes sense.
Great Marketing, therefore, comes with a seat at the leadership table with the ability to manage expectations as Marketing activities scale and take the required time to translate into results. Marketing and communications really allow businesses to accelerate toward where they want to be. Having a head start on the company strategy and a deep understanding of how the market moves to anticipate some of the future needs is therefore particularly important.
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and technologies, and incorporate them into your strategies?
The best way to stay updated on what is coming is to learn from others. I try to interact with peers and follow a few top CMOs on social media. Many of the trends that impact my current industry may actually come from very different sectors of activity. Staying in tune with what happens in the start up and scale up world and the technology landscapes that are enabling new experiences and marketing tactics both allow me to contextualize and draw plans in my domain.
Having lived in Asia for most of my adult life, and overseas for a very significant part of my life, I have developed a habit of observing and learning from different cultures. Customer habits and expectations from their brand experience, retention strategy, and interaction style varies greatly and fully impacts the channels and tactics marketers may use to reach them. The way the superapps transformed Marketing in China about ten years ago, starting with the younger generations, the rise of key opinion leaders, ecommerce etc slowly became the reality in the West too.
Marketers need to put their customer first and learn from them – the way their habits change and evolve is the first indication of future trends and relevant tech to reach and touch them.
What are some of the most effective marketing campaigns you’ve worked on, and what made them successful?
It’s important to remember that the most effective and impactful messages are always shared between people, not between brands and people.
Similarly, our most impactful storytelling has been created by enabling our customers to share their transformation stories as powered by Capgemini. The ability to tell their full transformation story, showcasing how our clients have revolutionized their business, built new products and accelerated their operation, has allowed us to demonstrate our ability to be strategic along the full spectrum of expertise we offer.
Challenging our clients in the thinking at the core of their strategy is at the center of our value proposition. Building client success story campaigns has allowed us to tell these stories to other clients and targeted audiences to reach leadership groups and businesses in similar sectors.
How do you measure the success of your marketing efforts, and what metrics do you focus on?
Marketing leaders are the growth champions in the organization. I track the Return on Investment in marketing across two dimensions, growth in mindshare and growth in market share.
Mindshare covers the brand power, increased recognition and higher brand value which greatly improves win rates on deals and accelerates the consideration stage. I stay tuned in with brand perception surveys and client feedback to understand awareness levels and brand attributes in the different markets that I work in. Press share of voice, total media impressions and website visits also are things I look at closely through a regular dashboard.
Marketshare is driving most of the efforts on a day to day basis. In North America, we track very closely the Marketing Qualified Leads, which we define as scoped opportunities coming from one of our campaigns and our influence on sales bookings (which we tag with the campaign origins in our CRM).
What role do customer insights and data play in your marketing strategies, and how do you gather and analyze this information?
Customer insights are a key driver for us as they inform our annual marketing plan each year and the specific strategies and messaging that comprise this plan.
We focus our attention on the content, events, and tactics that our clients have expressed made an impact on them through either their qualitative or quantitative feedback. These key moments are vital in shaping our future marketing strategies.
For example, we recently received feedback from a large retail client that they valued our content around design operations – now, we’re actively crafting a new campaign to delve deeper into that topic. We can also use customer insights to target audiences that have already displayed interest in what we do. We specifically showcase ads around frog’s product development capabilities to clients that have indicated interest by searching for “frog design” or relevant terms and we leverage dynamic ad displays in the places where potential clients would choose to spend their time online based on what we’ve learned.
In terms of gathering this information, we constantly monitor performance metrics across all channels. These insights are indicators as to where we should focus our attention and efforts. We also gain valuable insights from regular interviews with our client post-campaign to understand how they feel about our work with them. This allows us to build out certain archetypes that we can keep in mind when building our future campaigns. This is particularly valuable as oftentimes some of the clients our brands attract are different from the traditional B2B2C clients – whether that be because they’re more risk-averse or rather consider themselves to be agents of change. Their needs are unique and understanding those better through the insights we have allows us to connect in a more impactful way.
What are the biggest mistakes you’ve seen companies make in their marketing efforts, and how can they avoid them?
As the CMO for a B2B organization, I am marketing professional services. This means ensuring the expertise of my colleagues is showcased and highlighted in a way that increases our relevance in the marketplace and among the buyers of B2B services (A group I am part of when I procure tools for my team, analytics, events etc.)
Hard selling in the outreach, focused on capacity is often off putting me as a buyer. I am on the receiving end of countless calls, Inmails, and emails that showcase innovative solutions but often find the outreach disingenuous in tone and in content.
I think a good way to work around this mistake and cut through the noise is to focus on the value delivered to the audience with useful information, training and real connection over the service being promoted. B2B campaigns should focus on informing and connecting the audience, offering peer to peer connections before the introduction of the sales cycle. Of course building brand recognition ahead of this exercise is a great success factor.
How do you balance the need to be innovative and take risks with the need to maintain a consistent brand message?
The right content strategy has set rules that plan for creativity. While about 70% of content developed may be expected, it is important to ensure 20% pushes the boundary and challenges the consumer. 10% of the content must be unexpected and a little risky. It’s a rule of thumb that can be built along the different stages of nurturing in planning for campaigns.
Having an editorial approach to content planning, with key themes and messaging to articulate the value proposition within an umbrella brand story gives a framework that allows for a range of innovative content ideas.
Beyond brand messages, today’s customer expects innovation in the experience that is given to them. Retail time marketing – leveraging data to creatively surprise the customer with tailored interactions across physical and digital touchpoints – has pushed the boundary of possibility in brand storytelling. Meeting customer expectations for the kind of cutting-edge experiences they want requires Marketing leaders to be innovative in their thinking, understand their customers better, and be ready to deliver personalized and pleasant brand experiences in real time.
How do you approach creating a strong brand identity, and what are the key elements that go into it?
A professional service brand is only as strong as the people and experts who make it. Our clients experience our brand through the projects that are being delivered by our colleagues and the innovative ideas they provide and through the extensive expertise they have.
For this reason, employee advocacy is very much part of our marketing mix, almost its own channel. Because of this business model, our company culture becomes our brand identity. At the core of it lies our values and our purpose.
For this reason, our brand signature “Get The Future You Want” encourages both our clients and our colleagues to take an active role in innovating, upskilling, disrupting and sustaining their development.
What are some emerging marketing trends that you’re particularly excited about, and why?
At the risk of not being very original, generative AI is the number one trend today that I am particularly excited about. Its positive potential equals its risk and threats in magnitude.
I am particularly interested in its ability to boost productivity and capability in content production – particularly copy writing and copy editing. Working together with marketers, guarantors and ambassadors of the company IP, these new forms of AI can dramatically improve ability to publish relevant and targeted content to segmented audiences.
I am also very impressed by its ability to generate images. While a designer’s ability to visually represent concepts is limited by an imagination barrier, generative AI can break commonly accepted limits and leverage know-how from nearly anything to visualize a set of words. In so, it ends up being often more creative, or ground breaking than the human mind. Working together, there really is the possibility to be a lot more creative.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during your career in marketing, and how has it influenced your approach to the field?
Your customer is everything, everywhere, all at once.
It is easy for marketing to become an introspective function in the organization. This is particularly true when it comes to brand strategy as identity definition needs to be aligned to some business and company soul searching.
The Marketing function need not to stay in their lane but rather, always bring the voice of the customer to the table in strategic conversation. This means to consider our roles as constant challengers of our other business counterparts in the organization, in product strategies, delivery, sales and portfolio.
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