Global Head of Customer Engagement Marketing at Spark44 (an agency dedicated to the global marketing of Jaguar Land Rover brands) Ahmed Hasan has spent his career carving out success in unorthodox ways.

Responsible for driving the transformation and digital marketing strategy of his clients, Ahmed was formerly Chief Digital Officer at GE Healthcare.

Ian Truscott sits down with him to talk Blink-182, the advantages of failing fast, and why now is a great time for lean thinking marketers.  


What would be top of your rider for your next marketing gig?

A company that knows it needs help, but most importantly is sincerely open to change. It can’t be people trying to prove Einstein’s theory of insanity wrong… which sadly it is in most established companies!

What or who are your marketing influencers?

The inspiration for my marketing career was really the confluence of technology and data that permitted the potential to deliver messaging at a personal level.

If I was Spotify, what would I play for you first thing Monday morning to get you going?

Pretty much any Blink-182 song. All my best strategic thinking is done to Blink-182 on shuffle and at a deafening level.

The curtain pulls back, you step out on the stage of your new marketing gig – what do you open with?

In the modern world, like in the old world the most important thing is to ascertain either the problem you’re trying to solve or the ambition you’re trying to realize. Then breaking that down in to the key drivers to solve, then a capability assessment across tech, data and creative and finally whether you have the work force with the right attitude and culture to drive the change. Wrap all that in to a strategy and vision statement and do it!

The audience is dancing in the aisles, it loves that track. What keeps the house jumping?

Test and learn in a fail fast environment. Nothing feels better than seeing the change. The sooner you can see the benefits, the more people believe change can happen. Actions speak louder than words.

“Test and learn in a fail fast environment; nothing feels better than seeing the change. The soon you can see the benefits, the more people believe change can happen.”

You’re playing a huge stadium; how do you know the audience can hear your tune?

The only KPI for me is the one that identifies whether the problem or goal is being addressed. Sales, leads, cycle time – whatever it is, that is the measure. Under that you can pin a few operational KPIs that roll up to indicating movement. The trick is to keep your KPI measures to between three and five in my experience. Any more than that and you get lost in data.

If there was a billboard chart for marketing trends, what would be your Number 1?

It’s the move away from advertising to a more scientific marketing approach where the potential is to show you what you need, not what you don’t. We’re a few miles from that now, but the potential is there.

What would you throw from your hotel window into the Rockstar CMO pool?

Anyone that thinks change is not going to affect their industry, or that belligerently doesn’t want to change. And the term ‘big data’. We should all be focused on little data.

What’s got you rocking today?

I’m so intrigued by the marketing world today; we’re in a state of mess personalization as opposed to mass personalization, companies keep being convinced they need to spend more on technology, big data is still a myth and no one gets insight. Add to that people bemoaning reducing marketing budgets, it is truly a great time for lean thinking marketers – those that see that what every company has already invested in is enough to drive significant marketing and brand improvements. It just takes some clear thinking, a few theories, some clever people and the freedom to try.

If there was a marketing hall of fame, who would you induct?

Kieran Murphy, CEO of GE Healthcare. He was the one that truly let me play with the tools in hand and with that we did some pretty cool things.

Any final words before you drop the mic?

There has never been a better time to be in marketing. The current global economy and country legislature, plus the apathy of consumers to ads is going to require us to deliver conscientious valuable marketing that does not get in the way of our target audiences, but supports them in their daily lives. Let’s do that.

Find out more about Spark44 here.

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