4 lessons from a lifelong marketer

Brian Macreadie has lived through everything from successful mergers and rebrands to not-so-successful campaigns. Here are his top lessons learned from nearly 30 years in the industry.

Alisha Lyndon

by Alisha Lyndon

June 1, 2022

Actionable Insights

4 lessons from a lifelong marketer

Brian Macreadie, Head of Marketing at international law firm Addleshaw Goddard, has lived through everything from successful mergers and rebrands to not-so-successful campaigns. Here are his top lessons learned from nearly 30 years in the industry.

Communication will help any merger or acquisition

“I’ve been through a few acquisitions and mergers and they’re incredibly tough. I’ve found the secret to success is being as open and transparent with the other side as possible, so that it’s a true merger – two businesses coming together, sandwiching the name together, retiring old websites, combining all these lines, redoing a new brand.

There’s a heck of a lot of tactical work, and then the bigger longer-term thing is deciding our new combined competitive positioning. That is, of course, complex when you bring two different cultures together. And it’s a good time for marketers to shine. We worked with agencies a lot to help us through that. It was just a case of bringing the right people together, getting them in a room, forming that team bonding, making sure there were no elephants in the room, being honest about what we’re all nervous about, what we’re excited about, and where we want to go. Every merger is different because of the cultural nuances. You know, if you’re bringing European, Asian, Middle Eastern and American businesses together, communication is the answer.”

Brand: a marketer’s time to shine

“I think that working out what our new positioning, our competitive point of difference that we want to ram home, and seeing it launched in the market is incredibly important. It’s tough, because in the legal sector, for example, there are thousands of firms out there and USPs are relatively rare if we’re being honest with ourselves. So picking a competitive position is tough. It’s a big moment for a marketer, and I think a good chance for us to shine. Your brand is something that is almost uniquely bequeathed to marketing teams. It’s a great place to shine and add value, especially when it works and the market responds well.”

The lesson I've learned is you're not going to get distinctive results from indistinctive tactics.

Brian Macreadie

Creativity and imagination should be at the core

“We’re a premium 250-year-old brand, we work for well over 100 FTSE businesses and we’ve been doing so for many years. But it’s also a contemporary business and we understand that we’re here to solve people’s problems – and creativity and imagination are at the heart of that. It drives everything that we do from our communications to our hiring, to the way that we look at go-to-market plans, and quite a lot of the innovations that we develop, we’ve got teams of people dedicated to looking at new ways of working for our clients. I know, it’s a cliche, but it’s like a stick of rock – if you open up our business, imagination and impact run through the core of it. It’s just a brilliant opportunity for a marketer to work on those values with a bunch of people that are committed to delivering on them.”

Pushing boundaries pays dividends

“We do a lot of exercises where we look at what our rivals are doing in this space. And people know that if you try and do the same things in the same way as everyone else, it’s not going to achieve much. I’ve run campaigns across my career that have utterly stank and didn’t achieve much. But if people use campaigns, communications, and tactics that underperform as a rod to beat people up with, I’m not sure it’s a great culture, I think it’s just an opportunity to learn. I heard this quote recently: ‘you can tell when something’s changed in the law, because I’m guaranteed to get 100 boring blog posts from law firms the next morning.’ It made me smile and wince at the same time. The lesson I’ve learned is you’re not going to get distinctive results from indistinctive tactics. Of course, when you’re doing thousands of things a year, you can’t do everything distinctive, but the ones that matter, they have to stand out from the crowd. You have to push boundaries and you have to be creative. Because in my experience, when I haven’t pushed boundaries, it hasn’t achieved extraordinary results. And when I have, it’s had a far more dramatic effect on attention and behavior change.”

Listen to Momentum’s Alisha Lydon in conversation with Brian – and many other marketing leaders from top-tier organizations – on the Account-Based Marketing podcast.

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