Aimfor interviews Sofia Brandberg, CMO at Casall, about the importance of learning to prioritize what is essential, what is important to her when building marketing teams, why the owned channels play a more significant role now than before and what trends and challenges she looks ahead.
She is a civil engineer who started her career in marketing. Perhaps not the background most people associate with an "engineer"; however, Sofia emphasizes that it is the perfect combination for her. After ten years in FMCG, where she sold chocolate balls and yoghurt, she learned the basics of marketing and business. She changed industries a couple of times before finally landing at Casall.
– My industry changes include both the gym industry, which is wholly subscription-based, to landing in training fashion where I am today. It is initially a huge challenge to change industries, but once you land, it is amusing to try something new and not just do the same thing repeatedly.
Sofia does not see any sign that the role of CMO will become less complex going forward, but rather the opposite. She believes that you will be expected to have a helicopter perspective and still be able to find answers to the details. Sofia elaborates:
– You have to like that development and learn to navigate it in a way that still means you don't get lost in the fact that the basis of the job is to touch the target group and create an emotional connection to the brand and a desire to have the product. The only way to navigate the complex CMO role is to develop your leadership and build strong teams with trust. She says to keep the passion alive in the team and show the impact of the big moves but also of the value of the thousands of minor tweaks made to communication devices to optimize every day.
“My best decisions are connected to my recruitment - if I had to choose a superpower, it would be to be sharp at recruitment. The work of choosing the right team, both in terms of competence but also in terms of personalities, is something that I think is both fun and important”
Sofia says her best qualities are how she builds her team. She links her best decisions as CMO to recruitment, but she is generous and also shares her worst:
– My best decisions are connected to my recruitment – if I had to choose a superpower, it would be to be sharp at recruitment. The work of selecting the right team, both in terms of competence and personality, is fun and vital. Since the marketing manager's role is, perhaps, broad today, this superpower becomes even more critical to be able to deliver together as a team for the company's good. My worst decision is connected to not trusting my gut in an agency choice. The collaboration rubbed off for a while, and then I reassessed and made the decision that my soul always knew was right.
So, what is the most important thing to consider when building teams? Sofia lists four essential points.
– Think more extensively than the team. I need to see the "extended team" and see how I can best build my team to collaborate with, for example, our sales teams. If there is a resource that I cannot prioritize in my team, I may be able to seed support from another team and vice versa.
– A limited marketing budget challenges the idea, and we must be able to handle most things on our own to keep fees and production costs down. Our products are technical, and there is a lot of detail, and as the team learns over time, together, we will be best able to build the brand together and with agency collaborations at well-chosen times.
– The next area is about tip versus width. It would help if you had profiles with a clear point but are happy to broaden when the team needs it. Everyone in the team is equally important and contributes within and outside their area. Finally, mix. A mix of personalities that creates a dynamic where work is fun is essential to create a well-functioning team.
Home exercise takes off
The corona pandemic was certainly not a trend, but it catalyzed Casall. Restrictions on how many people could stay inside gyms paved the way for the return of home training. Sofia tells more:
– Training equipment is a large part of our business, and the company had to fight to get enough equipment to satisfy demand. The downside is that customers are sitting on large stocks now so the hangover will come. It is an incredibly complex situation from a business perspective for companies like us and retailers. It is a tricky situation business-wise, but to our advantage is that we have a breadth of sales channels and stand on two legs in the form of training clothes and equipment. When the customer returns to the gym, clothes sales go all the better instead. Keeping the marketing plan flexible becomes a key to supporting the business where it is most needed.
Finally, Sofia gives her top tips for future CMOs:
– Be prepared that a large part of the job involves branding and marketing, but an equal part involves logic, business acumen, and an eternal balancing act. A balance between long-term and short-term sales, quality and cost, in-house and agency collaborations, data and feeling. If you find those parts fun and understand their importance, you will enjoy your job.