Rickard Svensson, CMO at Cool Company, about why PR and Word of Mouth should be owned in-house, why the labor market is fundamentally changing, what that means, and what challenges Cool Company has when it comes to digital marketing in the future, and much more.
Rickards' career began on the consulting side as a communications planner at a media agency. He has subsequently built a solid career as an agency manager at a PR agency, a Nordic marketing manager at SABMiller for brands such as Peroni, Grolsch, Miller, and a Nordic and Central European marketing manager for Schweppes in Amsterdam.
Since 2019, Rickard Svensson has been marketing manager for one of the Nordics and UK's most interesting freelance companies, Cool Company. Cool Company is a self-employment company with employer responsibility where collective agreements cover their private customers. They help everyone from programmers to creators and plumbers do what they do best, ensuring invoices are sent, and wages paid, all while being insured and safe in their practice.
Since Rickard started as CMO, he admits that the role of the marketing manager has changed a lot, and even more so since he started his career. Rickard elaborates:
– The media, as we know it and consume it, has fundamentally changed, and what was obvious yesterday is today's history and, in many cases, outdated. Therefore, the marketing manager's most important role is to keep his eyes on the horizon to see where we are going and how we can get there. It would help if you were willing to test new ideas and abandon old ones as the landscape changes increasingly rapidly. It is also the main reason why I am still in my role. Constantly evaluating how to do things to solve the task is a challenge that tickles my competitive spirit, where the results - above all, in a digital environment - are immediate.
"Many have taken the new job freedom to heart and become digital nomads, while others saw it as the opportunity to feel the peace of the countryside while having a stressful job"
Rickard's team is extensive, working with internal resources and consultants, agencies and freelancers. But how do you choose what you should have internally and externally? Rickard is happy to share his best discoveries:
– As the landscape changes, I have realized that PR & WOM must be something that you own and have in-house. This applies to the classic press contact and increasingly to how you express yourself in all types of media and channels. As everything is digitized and a click away, the company's "biography" must be something you own and constantly develop in contact with customers and the media.
– With most of the daily content production in-house, we build further with the skills we need to work our way up through the so-called "funnel". We work closely with our employees and marketing consultants for organic and purchased search and social media. I ensure that our internal skills in the company and those we bring in are integrated into our marketing team to facilitate knowledge and information sharing in the best possible way, but above all, strive towards the same goal. Setting a clear target image for the joint team is more important than ever.
Self-employment is increasing
Even if, e.g. ChatGPT broke through in 2022, it won't be until 2023 (and beyond) that we will start to see the fruit of what AI means on a broad front, Rickard believes. According to Rickard, 2022 has been a year in which politicization in social media has become even stronger. He develops his reasoning:
– Platforms like Meta were already in the news with the US presidential elections. Still, you can also see how TikTok, Telegram, Twitter and other platforms become political clubs and a division into "us" and "them". Therefore, as a marketer, you must know the discourse and do your homework before latching on to trends.
What about other trends to keep an eye on then?
– The most significant macro trend that affects us is how the labor market is fundamentally changing. This is due to two fundamental reasons; to a much greater extent, we can choose who we want to work for and where we want to live. Before, these depended on each other and constituted a career and geographical limitation. Today, more and more people are choosing to work for themselves, that is, to be self-employed. In 2022, 32% of all workers in the United States were self-employed. As early as 2028, half are expected to work for themselves as contractors, whether they are consultants, freelancers or food delivery workers. We also see this trend in Cool Company's markets, where most companies in Sweden are one-person companies, and demand is increasing for qualified labor who can work on assignments and projects.
– With the pandemic, the opportunity to work remotely increased, and you no longer had to be in the office five days a week. In the US alone, about 5 million have moved more than 3 hours from where they have their office and about 20 million more plan to move shortly. States like California are losing in favor of Texas and Florida. In our markets, we see how London and Stockholm are being left in favor of satellite cities and peripheral municipalities. Many, especially younger people, have taken the new job freedom to heart and become digital nomads. In contrast, others have seen it as the opportunity to feel the peace of the countryside while having a stressful job. Overall, it is a structural upheaval of work and home that we have not seen since urbanization began.
Finally, Rickard shares some words of wisdom for those of you who have recently stepped into the role of CMO or who are striving to grow in your professional role as a marketer:
– One of my old bosses once told me that a marketing manager needs to be a mix between farmer and visionary. A visionary without an idea of implementation remains a dreamer, while a farmer without an idea of how to improve his lot remains in his place. For those who want to become a CMO, you need to dive deep into your company's category and, above all, understand your business. But it would help if you looked outside it to get new ideas and inspiration.
– For those who want to become CMO, I encourage you to have a broad field of vision and curiosity to test new things and approaches to challenge yourself and your company so that you continue to develop. As CMO, it is also your role to get the others in the company on the brand journey to be made. It may seem obvious to you what the path looks like, but you will reach the goal with your employees on the journey. Therefore, you must remember the value of internal marketing and spending time selling your goals so that everyone understands where you are going.