Leaders in Marketing: Jasper Martens

21st Nov 2017
Jasper Martens is VP of Marketing at PensionBee.

What should marketers be paying more attention to that they currently are not?

JM: A lot of marketers tend to forget who they are doing it for in the end! The lack of understanding of their customers is sometimes mind-blowing. A lot of pension brands have no idea who they engage with or figure this out when it’s too late: a “wake up” letter at retirement, probably sent to the wrong address because their customer moved house 10 years ago.

What are marketers currently paying too much attention to, that they really don’t need to care about that much?

JM: There are two things that we can really do less of: AI and…. hold my avocado…. “millennial marketing.” Most marketers will already work with AI solutions in their marketing stack, whether this is sending optimised emails or lookalike audience targeting through the Facebook or Google ad platforms.

Do you need to purchase a super-expensive new-age marketing automation platform and make your marketing team redundant? Probably not. Probably best to take a healthy interest and see how automation and artificial intelligence gradually can help you be smarter and effective in engaging with your audience.

That audience can’t be baby boomers, or millennials, or whatever else you think you should call them. Spend less time on generalisation. Spend more time getting to know your customer better. You will soon realise there is no such thing as a millennial!

How did you end up working in marketing?

JM: My father enjoyed a long career in marketing and communications in the health sector. I think I got the virus off him.

I’ve always been passionate about engaging and educating people. I had my own village newspaper when I was 12 and I volunteered on the local television channel when I was 16. After studying Public Relations and Social Cultural Science in Amsterdam I had a couple of jobs and ran my own marketing agency.

One day, I was optimising a PPC campaign for a skin laser treatment company in Amsterdam, the next day I was running a website for one of the biggest Art Exhibitions in the Netherlands. It was fun. In 2009 I ended up in London (you follow where your partner goes, right?) and found myself doing digital on a slightly bigger level for an insurance company.

If you were starting your career again tomorrow, what would you do?

JM: I would have made sure I had a basic understanding of coding and using data in my decision-making. These two skills are essential these days if you’re working in marketing. I had to learn them later on. These days I would not hire a marketer who cannot read or understand code or data sets.

What’s the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done in marketing?

JM: Build a brand from scratch, literally building it from day 1. My job at PensionBee has been the most satisfying, risk-taking, nerve-racking, enjoyable thing I’ve ever done in marketing.

Which books should every marketer read?

JM:  The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (I know, not explicitly marketing, but super important if you want to build a brand from scratch) and Contagious by Jonah Berger. Skip the scientific marketing books and theoretic models.

Throughout your career, who stands out as particularly impressive among the marketers that you have come into contact with?

JM: I’ve learned a lot from Jeremy Waite, now a global leader of CMO programs at IBM. What an inspirational guy! He’s also helped me to become laser-focussed on using data in marketing decisions.

Jason Stockwood, now global CEO of Simply Business, my previous employer, threw me in the deep when Simply Business was scaling up and opened my eyes on what direction I needed to take. Both originally come from Grimsby. Must be the sea air.

There are many others such as Alastair Douglas and Anna King who have taught me a particular aspect of the marketing mix. The list is long, in reality, there are many great marketers you can learn from.

Could you characterise your own distinctive approach to marketing in a few words?

JM: True marketers are behind the brand, living and breathing it. I cannot market a mediocre product to a customer. If I don’t believe in the product, the brand, its purpose, there’s no point in me even getting started.

Leaders in marketing questionnaire jasper martens

Read more answers from marketing leaders elsewhere on our blog. You can also find out how Amigo enables marketers to become leaders in their organisations by eliminating the marketing execution gap.

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