Moving up the food chain
by Andre Santos, Director of Marketing, Freesat

Andre asserts marketers can escape their siloed roles as comms departments and instead emerge as a leading player in driving an organisation’s sales.

26th July 2021 Read time: 40 minutes

Marketing teams used to be the lifeblood of organisations way back when. Thanks to mechanisms to collect customer data, their power within organisations makes them immensely valuable once again. It’s time to move up the food chain and beyond.  

The marketer’s role seemingly shifts as new platforms are developed, processes are automated, and technology advances.  In some cases, the modern-day marketer is put into a category that sits nowhere near the decision-making table. 

However, marketing teams can escape their historically siloed roles as comms departments and instead emerge as a leading player in driving an organisation’s sales, according to Andre Santos, the Director of Marketing at Freesat.  

He joined the What’s Possible Community to help us understand how to embed growth marketing into an organisation’s mindset. 

Freesat is a free-to-air satellite television service owned by the BBC and ITV. In the last three years, its business model has changed significantly, creating a big opportunity for marketing to take the leading role in its transformation. 

Freesat’s marketing team does more than your typical modern-day marketing squad.  

Marketing within Freesat is probably more of what it used to be like in the olden days. We are not just a comms department, which I think a lot of marketing departments now tend to be – especially in smaller organisations“. 

Santos says his team is semi-structured around the traditional 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, promotion – with a couple of remixed elements in the mix. 

Inside his team, a sales unit looks after pricing and promotions of projects being run and indexes the channel partners they deal with and do business with. 

Further inside their team sits the public relations consultants as well. The team also tends to customer retention elements, which Andre notes, typically sits outside of the purview of marketers.  

We have a much more rounded view and a greater set of tools that we can use to get the Freesat name out there,” he says. 

The person at the helm of conducting that orchestra of teams is Andre, who says his primary focus is on two things:  

  1. Get people to join Freesat
  2. Get people to stay with Freesat  

The marketing team’s strength lies in the wealth of data they have access to. They are at the forefront of understanding who the Freesat customer is and what their habits are. Having this data helps push the marketing team’s credibility higher within the organisation.  

How data informs the marketer 

Freesat has become data-led and continues implementing data collecting measures to understand their customers at a more detailed level.  

Their current databases can see who their customers are and where they bought their set-top boxes. However, once customers have set-top boxes up, the richest data the marketers at Freesat can collect is customer’s viewing habits.  

Andre says that this database eliminates any misconceptions the marketing team has about their customer. Customers might say they like sports and documentaries, but they watch Love Island every night in reality. 

There is a distinction between what your claim behaviour is versus what your real behaviour is,” Andre remarked. Equipped with that information, the marketers can better tailor their personalised recommendations in the messaging and editorial content they send to customers.  

Andre notes that Freesat will become even more sophisticated with the insights they collect, and that will continue to assist them as they get potential customers on the path to conversion.  

The purposeful marketing team  

Andre says that marketers have to take on more technical skills to keep the heart of their marketing team pumping but, most importantly, helping the business achieve its goals.  

He encourages the marketers to take an interest in more specialised parts of the businesses they work for. He advocates for the marketers to be the glue between business areas that typically might have never spoken to each other.  

The original principles in marketing are rising again in the new normal established in the last year and a half. Andre reminisces about his first marketing mentor in his agency days. The mentor always told him to study the past to understand what marketing and advertising agencies used to do. A lot of what was taught back then is suddenly applicable again, with a back-to-brilliant-basics approach to marketing.  

Consequently, due to city retailers seeing less and less foot traffic thanks to the pandemic, Freesat has also resorted to hyper-localised targeted marketing. They now do door-drops and radio ads in certain regions to try and win over new customers. 

Teams are getting smaller; budgets are getting smaller. Therefore, you are being asked to do more with less. People need to start to have a greater appreciation, a greater sense of how these things tie together“.  

Consequently, with smaller teams, every marketing operation actioned must be laser-focused, narrowly targeted, and hit the nail on the head. 

Santos advocates for a marketing team where iron sharpens iron. Each specialist in the team is encouraged to knowledge-share and build the rest of the team up. All in all, the efficient, data-led, multi-faceted, technically skilled marketing team seems to be the recipe for success.