The CMO Show:
The CMO Show: Paul Berney...

Mobile. It’s an unavoidable channel to reach target audiences and has become the most dominant aspect of digital strategy. But is current practice still best practice?

With more than 30 years’ experience, including five years spearheading the Mobile Marketing Association, Paul Berney is a juggernaut in the mobile space bringing learned wisdom and a new perspective to a much-discussed subject.

As Managing Partner of mobile marketing education and advisor service mCordis, Berney is providing clients with guidance that goes against the common grain of mobile strategy.

“For me the term ‘mobile first’ is a misnomer. It suggests that you have to do everything via the mobile channel and everything has to be pushed towards it. Mobile has to play its part as part of a marketing mix.”

Berney also has strong views on how marketers are missing the point in their digital strategy – especially in cohort segmentation.

“I absolutely hate it when brands tell me that their target market is millennials. It just drives me crazy! There is no similarity whatsoever between a 35-year-old millennial that’s married with three kids compared to a 23 year old just left university. Although they both fit in the same bracket, it’s just lazy sloppy marketing.”

Tune in as JV and Mark Jones break down the new era of the ‘connected consumer,’ how we’re getting it wrong with audience segmentation, and why Google knows more about you than Facebook does. 

Listen to the podcast below and subscribe on iTunes and SoundCloud.



The CMO Show production team

Producers – Megan Wright & Tom van Leeuwen

Audio Engineer – Jonny McNee

Design Manager – Daniel Marr

Graphic Designer – Mitchell Marr

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Jeanne-Vida Douglas (JVD)
Mark Jones (MJ)
Paul Berney (PB)

Mark: Our guest is Paul Berney, managing partner at mCordis. Thank you for joining us Paul.

Paul Pleasure to be here, thanks for the invitation.

JV     What are some of the most important messages you’re sharing with people at the moment?

Paul So we see mobile as both the catalyst and enabler of bringing in the era of what we would call the Connected Individual.  All of us are connected all the time, you know, we’re – through our mobile devices and through, you know, household, internet of thing devices, etc. So, we’ve become more and more connected.

In fact, I would argue that we are permanently connected.  But what we saw was tonnes of marketers and agencies talking about there being this constant world of a connected consumer and we don’t think that’s right.  I don’t think it’s about the connected consumer because we’re only a consumer in fractions of our day.  So our view is that if you live in the world of connected individuals then you must create connected brands that fit into their lives which means you personally have to become a connected marketer.

Mark Could you give us some examples of what that might mean at a practical level, so if you’re a connected marketer, I think the concept is pretty straightforward but I wonder what we’re missing.

Paul For me connectedness is about connecting on four different, if you like, human dimensions.  It’s about physical, digital, emotional and sensory or sensorial connections all together.  And I’ll give you a good example of that.  In the US now Starbucks has about 25% of its revenue comes from people who pay via its app and 5% of that comes from what Starbucks calls ‘Pay and Go’.  The ability to order your drink on your phone and then go and pick it up in person on your morning commute or on your way into work.

For me, you know, what Starbucks have done there is they’ve merged both digital and physical experiences together, you know, you switch from one to the other.  You are enabling everything to take place via the digital device but to collect a physical product.  And what you definitely do is solve a customer problem.  Because the problem you’re solving is that people hate queueing.  

Marketing has certainly got to recognise that in the era of the connected individual we want greater and greater personalisation.  We want on-demand, we want real time and we know we can have it and once somebody’s given it to us in one part of our lives, we want it in all the other parts as well.

Mark How do we take that idea and apply it to mobile first marketing?  So in the Starbucks example, they’ve already got a marketing program in place and budgets and people and so on and then they tack in this new experiential thing. But how does that become mobile first?  What is it that makes it mobile first?

Paul Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the term ‘mobile first’ in fact.  You know, I think probably when I started in mobile,  you know, 14 years ago or so, I would have been seen as an evangelist for mobile and was constantly pushing it and actually over time what I’ve come to recognise is that actually, you know, marketers are not going to stop using TV and radio and mail and newspapers and everything else.  Mobile has to play its part as part of a marketing mix. And so for me the term ‘mobile first’ is a bit of a misnomer.  It kind of suggests that you have to do everything via the mobile channel and everything has to be pushed towards it.

TV still works across large parts of the world for what TV does well which is, you know, telling brand stories in a big colourful way to a broadcast audience.  Whereas mobile allows brands to connect on an individual level.  Those two things can co-exist and should be done side by side.  So the message here is that you need to figure out what are the challenges that your consumers have, your – the connected individuals you want to reach out.

JV     Now, Paul, you’ve gone from holding marketing roles to senior management roles and sort of then back into the realm of marketing. How has your time in management affected your approach to marketing and what do you think CMOs need to understand when it comes to communicating with other C-level executives.

Paul That’s a really interesting question; no-one’s ever asked me that before.  

I think there’s a lot of people who don’t work in marketing who still see marketing as a function only.

JV     Mm-hm.

Paul I retain the belief that actually marketing is more of a total approach or a philosophy of a way of going about doing business but you have to understand that many parts of the business see marketing as advertising or as PR and certainly when you deal with salespeople in business they see you only as a lead generation engine.

JV     Mm-hm.

Paul And, I think it’s incumbent upon senior marketers and CMOs and marketing directors to demonstrate their value and to provide real clarity around the role and value of marketing to the rest of the business.

Mark I get this sense that we’re learning really new interesting things about our engagement with consumers through the process of marketing because we are so connected, because there is so much data available, that it actually changes the way we think about customer experience, yeah?

Paul Yeah, I think so.  I think what we’re learning is context.  We’re learning the context of the individual. You know, a great example I talked through very recently with a financial services company.  When you sell insurance it is, you know, largely sold on the basis of actuarial tables.

You know, possibly the dullest job in the world is putting together actuarial tables!  Which is working out, you know, kind of in aggregate what do we think this person is like?  Well you don’t need an actuarial table if you can connect with the person and have the individual give you the data that tells you exactly what they’re like.  Exactly what they’re doing, how fast they drive their car, how often they exercise, what they eat, what they sleep. I think the insurance industry is primed to be radically overhauled by creating insurance policies that are worked out for the individual based upon their individual behaviour all of the time.

JV     If you think about it, it’s all about the demise of demographics because what we’ve traditionally thought of is people who are more or less the same age and of more or less the same background have more or less the same kind of desires.  But if – but you know, Ozzy Osbourne and Prince Charles are both 67 year old Brits…

Paul Yes.

JV     But what do they have in common?  Everything and nothing.  And the same can be said for Millennials, the same can be said for any group of people that we’ve traditionally been characterising based on some vague demographic trends.

Paul Well, exactly.  I absolutely hate it when brands tell me that their target market is Millennials.  It just drives me crazy!  There is no similarity whatsoever between a 35 year old Millennial that’s married with three kids and a mortgage and has been at work for, you know, 13 years compared to a 23 year old just left university.  Although they both fit in the same bracket, you know, it just lazy sloppy marketing to say that your target demographic is Millennials.  

Paul Using personas is better, using the data from the individual is – is the future.

Mark And how do you do that at scale?

Paul The only way you do that at scale is to use the data that comes from and goes to a mobile device because it’s the only thing that you can know every single one of your clients and customers and consumers is carrying around with them all day long, every day.

And you know, there’s a couple of challenges to that.  One is simply having the software that will allow that cross-device recognition, the second that is, you have to have consumers that are willing to opt in to share with you that data which means they have to see some value in doing that. I think many brands fall down on that by not giving any idea or even not having any value for people to share the stuff, you know, that the endless numbers of people who say, you know, do you want our loyalty card without ever giving you any idea of what you would get from that other than, you know, I’ll give you a discount off stuff.

JV     Are there any other examples of technologies or approaches where, effectively, marketers have been able to encourage us to give them the information in the way that they’re hoping to?

Paul A lot of the data that’s on Facebook is not particularly accurate in my mind. It’s a kind of truism to say that you know, Facebook knows what you say, but Google knows what you think.  Because Google’s actually recording what you’re really doing and what search terms you’re really asking about rather than the public persona you might want people to know about on Facebook.

JV     Now when you’ve got this kind of insight into marketing and especially digital marketing, it makes you quite fussy I imagine about the way you’re being serviced by different companies.  What is it that you’d really like to see as a service or as an offering that would make you a particularly happy customer?

Paul Oh yeah, you’ve picked on the thing that [laughs] that probably drives my family crazy is that being a marketer I am constantly irritated by sloppy and lazy marketing by people who don’t have any clarity in their message, who cannot tell a story about why I would be interested in their brand.  In particular technology companies drive me crazy with their inability to tell you why you would want the technology rather than what the technology does.  So the brands that I connect with most are those that really understand their customer and they understand the individual who they’re working with and they’re very clear about what their value add is.

And I’ll give you a good example of that. You have a Rapha store in Sydney.  Rapha started as an online clothing brand then opened up stores.  All of its stores are coffee shops because Rapha quite rightly understood that its customers, cyclists have a link with coffee.  They have fantastic online content and mobile content that’s about both cycling the sport but also cycling lifestyle.  The thing that I really love that they’ve done is they’ve started a Rapha cycle club, which, you know, you can join, not cheap, by the way, but you can join.

And they created an app that allows you to connect with other people who are in the club in your area so that you can organise rides. So the whole thing is organised by mobile and over digital channels but it’s very definitely an end physical product but has a strong Rapha brand presence both physical and digital.

So for me, they’re a great connected marketing brand.  You know, they’ve understood the blend of physical and digital, it’s very definitely a sensorial experience riding out on your bike and for some of us, an emotional one too.

Mark [Laughs] And you know, caffeine powered at the end.

Well obviously there is a long way to go for many companies to get their heads around how to connect all those various dots but you’ve given us a lot of insight, so we appreciate that today, thank you very much.  Now, before we let you go, Paul, we did want to ask you if you’re up for what we have affectionately started calling the rapid fire round, 21 questions with Mark and JV.  Are you up for some pretty random questions?

Paul Yeah, go ahead.

You’ve asked me questions that no-one has ever asked me in an interview before, so I’ll look forward to it.

Mark Now let’s see if we can do the same again.  Go.

JV     What are you grateful for?

Paul My family.

Mark Do you like rain?

Paul I’m English, so yes.

JV     In the movie of your life, who would play you?

Paul Russell Crowe.

Mark Beach or mountain?

Paul Mountain, cycle up.

JV     And down again.

Paul And down.

JV     What’s your greatest career fail?

Paul Oh – well, bizarrely telling people that podcasts were an utter waste of time when they came out!


Mark Oh the irony!  Chocolate or Strawberry?

Paul Strawberry.

JV     Best ever career advice.

Paul I don’t know.  I can’t recall one single person giving me one single piece of advice, but my best ever career advice, is something around having clarity of message.

Mark Yep, summer or winter?

Paul Spring or autumn, one or the other, yeah.

JV     Excellent.  Who is your hero?

Paul Ah, my dad.

Mark Scrunch or fold?

Paul [Laughs]

Mark There it is, that’s the question…

Paul Fold!

Mark He’s a folder!

JV     If you weren’t a marketer you’d be a…

Paul Professional cyclist.

Mark What did you have for breakfast?

Paul Tea and toast, very English.

Mark You are so English.  Well done.

JV     What would you rather have had?

Paul Than tea and toast?

JV     Mm-hm.

Paul No, nothing that is my breakfast of choice everywhere.

JV     Excellent.

Mark Reference the English thing.

Paul Yes.

Mark The last conversation you had with your parents?

Paul Ah actually about an ultra run I went on at the – the previous weekend.

JV     Speaking my language.  If you could change one thing about the marketing industry what would it be?

Paul Oh, that’s easy, please stop talking crap at people and learn how to speak in client’s, customers, consumers, individual language.  Talk like a normal human being.

Mark Oh hooray for that.  This is a hilarious question, can you ride a bike?

Paul Yes.  Although not particularly well my friends would tell you.

JV     There you go.  What’s your greatest frustration?

Paul I would probably say, technology, the number of times you hear me swearing at technology then, yeah, technology that doesn’t –

Mark Dogs or cats?

Paul …that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.

Mark There you go.  Dogs or cats?

Paul Neither.

JV     Touch, taste, sight, hearing or smell, which would you sacrifice to save the rest?

Paul Smell.

Mark Favourite book.

Paul Okay, genuine answer, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

JV     I love that, I think that’s not the first Pride and Prejudice we’ve got, I think we’ve had that book before.

Paul Although I should have said Marketing Principles by Phillip Kotler shouldn’t I?


JV     If you had to change your first name what would you change it to?

Paul Daniel.

Mark Very nice that’s my son’s name.

Paul And mine.

Mark There you go.  Well, Paul Berney, managing partner at mCordis, thank you very much for joining us, it’s been a pleasure.

JV     Yes, thank you for sharing your frustrations and some of the answers to them as well.  It’s been fabulous.

Paul Thank you for, without doubt, the most interesting podcast interview I’ve ever done.

JV     Oh score!

Paul And I’ve done lots.  And I still take back what I said years ago about podcasts being a waste of time.

JV     Well this podcast is clearly going to be extraordinarily successful!

Mark We’ll catch you later, thank you Paul.

Paul Thanks folks.

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