Success in Marketing and Business Starts with Teamwork
Trond Atle Smedsrud is EVP Innovation and Marketing at Aker BioMarine, leading the company’s global innovation and marketing function. He is responsible for the company’s marketing activities in USA, Asia, Australia and Europe. He also holds the responsibility for Aker BioMarine’s innovation efforts, including a major research project involving the U.S. Army Rangers. Trond Atle is a competing triathlon athlete, coming third in this year’s Swissman Xtream Triathlon, one of the world’s most challenging races, as well as among top 100 in the New York Marathon. Trond Atle Smedsrud recently took home “The Marketer of the Year” award at the Young Leadership Talents in Norway. These are his tips for leading a team and finding success in marketing and business:
Challenge Your Team
Work is never a one-man show. In fact, it is more efficient to be completely dependent on the talented and dedicated people around you. I try to encourage my team members to embrace new roles and to take on new challenges. I like to challenge everyone to think that when they are close to managing their existing role, it may be time for them to move on and dive into new tasks. I am an advocate for freedom at work. I think my team members actually perform better when they are given the freedom to make their own decisions. They often search for advice, but I try not to make decisions for them. Since they have the competency and in-depth knowledge on certain projects, I trust them to follow their instincts. I may bring new perspectives into their decision making process, but at the end of the day they must make their own decisions.
Remain True, but be Willing to Adapt
I never had a clear career goal, but rather more of a direction. When the world changes as quickly as it does today, I think it’s important to have flexibility when seizing opportunities. If you are too focused on milestones, you may not be able to identify and utilize unexpected possibilities which are actually great for helping you move forward in your career. And humility definitely goes a long way in business. In order to go far, it is important to always remain true to your values. It’s about simple values, like being humble, treating people with respect and helping other people succeed.
Curiosity and inspiration are also great attributes to have when it comes to success. It is very important to always keep your antennas out and look for inspiration, it’s all around you. For example, At Aker BioMarine, we work with a lot of fearless, risk-taking and innovative start-ups. They have a mindset that many larger companies should learn from.
Find the Right Balance
Physical activity is important to me and I am keen on finding the right balance. It is important to keep priorities in check. If everything is equally important, you will burn out quickly. Working consistently over time matters most. You need to define your key focus areas and deliver 100 percent on them and accept delivering 80 percent on the rest, which is often more than enough to get a good outcome. And when I say balance, I do not only restrict it to the workplace. In order to live a fully balanced life, you need to incorporate activities and projects (outside of work) that make you happy and fulfilled. Take time for yourself to breathe and enjoy life or it might pass you by.
Understanding B2B and B2C in a Digital World
Today, much of my work is focused on B2B marketing. The right-out-of-school marketers have a solid understanding of how to market toward consumers, but don’t have enough knowledge about effectively reaching other businesses. 70 percent of all businesses never target consumers; they operate in a purely business to business matter, however, a B2B purchaser is influenced in the same way as a consumer. People are after all people, they like to be educated and engaged. Personally I think that many B2B companies should think more B2C in their approach to marketing, and it’s equally important for B2C marketers to understand the fundamentals of B2B.
The same rule applies for research when it comes to B2B. More than 90 percent of all marketing research in the field is B2C, although only 30 percent sell directly to consumers. B2B marketing often focuses on one-to-one sales dialogue, but at the same time we know that 60 percent of the decisions are made even before the first sales meeting is booked. This brings in the unlimited possibilities of digital communication. The biggest challenge is to utilize all the possibilities within the digital space. To be able to capture and analyze data, and act upon it – are and will be – a key component in future marketing. The digital era is demanding but rewarding if you manage it properly. This applies for almost every industry, company and department today.