Digital Business Strategy, Interviews

Zurich Insurance: Transmedia branding for business success

Monika Schulze
Global Head of Marketing, Zurich Insurance Company Ltd.

Monika Schulze, Global Head of Marketing at Zurich Insurance Company Ltd., told us about her approach on implementing transmedia branding as a highly efficient marketing tool. Monika moved into the role of Global Head of Marketing in 2014, following over five years at Zurich Insurance Company Ltd as Chief Marketing Officer. In this role she took the lead in driving customer centricity and developing digital assets, including the launch of a successful social media platform. She joined Zurich from Unilever in May 2008, where she worked in senior positions in several countries as well as on a global level. In her function as Global Vice President for the brand “Knorr” she was responsible for the US, Canada, Japan and Europe.

The topic of your case study at Rethink! MAD Minds Europe 2016 will be about transmedia branding for business success. Could you give more insights into it?

Monika Schulze: Your audience, competition and an overcrowded communication environment make the tasks of standing out and reaching your target customers more and more difficult. We as marketing professionals have to find new and innovative ways of understanding and reaching out to our consumers and clients. In the old days of marketing, we were able to have tight control over our branded activities. Today, consumers have the ability to co-create your brand. Instead of feeling threatened, good communicators use this opportunity to create something new and more efficient with better results.

Successful brands today avoid promotional activities but offer engaging content instead – relevant content that people read, then ideally add their own comments, and pass on to their own networks. A compelling story – rooted in deep customer insights – invites people to participate, and makes it personal and relevant in a way that is difficult for a brand to achieve on its own. This is key in building strong relationships between your brand and your customers. Transmedia branding has evolved as professionals have increasingly recognized the limitations of traditional advertising. We are now using our customers to overcome these hurdles. Instead of bombarding audiences with brand messages, transmedia campaigns are engaging people in compelling and engaging conversations in multiple channels. An effective transmedia campaign uses more than one channel and the audience spreads the story across additional channels.

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced when designing a consistent brand experience at Zurich Insurance Company and how did you respond to these?

Having worked in different positions in local as well as global jobs, I learned a lot of lessons and I still have a lot of discussions, if it makes more sense to have a global or local approach. If we are honest about it, it is quite challenging to develop good communication and it is quite resource intensive. Great communication platforms and ideas are most often developed with highly skilled and high performing teams, and with enough iteration rounds to get from good to excellent. Consider for a moment the economies of scale you create by a single global advertising campaign compared to creating separate campaigns for dozens of markets. Moreover it is much easier to get the most talented people working on our behalf when you have global accounts.

We have another good reason why global marketing is important: Digital marketing and social media. The world is changing quickly and not everybody can be an expert on for example customer segmentation and customer Life-Time-Value analytics, programmatic buying and developing great stories people can relate to. Therefore, a global approach is without a doubt a beneficial strategy and position of market strength. However, reality shows that working together with global and local teams is often a challenge. I believe in strong brands and successful global brands being a cornerstone of the success of a company. I equally believe in what I call “Freedom within a Framework” and using the power of a strong team with all employees as well as local and global teams working together towards one vision.

As a Head of Marketing, how has your role and your internal marketing strategy been affected over the past years by the increasing digitization?

For me digital media, digital communication, and advances in technology are some of the best things to have happened to our community, as they hold a huge potential and increase our ability to target and engage with our customers in a more meaningful way.

Which areas of marketing are of particular interest to you?

There are a lot of studies with statistics that show that if you have a strong brand, customers are more willing to consider purchasing and paying a premium for your brand. This applies to B2B or B2C. We have several examples within our campaigns, which show very good results especially for Social Media. Measurement and connection to sales is key though. If you manage to establish a clear correlation to the business, you move marketing from cost to Return on Invest. I am curious to see other examples for B2C as well as B2B.

What are your expectations from the presentations and networking sessions at Rethink! MAD Minds Europe in London?

I once read “A strong network is like money in the bank.” I liked the analogy and this is one of the reasons I join conferences such as MAD Minds Europe. It is great to meet likeminded people, listen to their opinions, get inspired, and grow your network.

Thank you for your time to participate in the interview!

Interview partners: Nikolaos Kapetanis and Monika Schulze

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