After an intensive weekend in Mastering Metrics delivered by Joe Shami in Bucharest for the Romanian professionals registered in the Professional Diploma Program, I had the opportunity to get an interview where he generously shared thought and knowledge regarding his experience, both as a practitioner and as a tutor, helping marketers get an international certification with Oxford College of Marketing and Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). Joe will be in Bucharest in March 24th and 25th for an intensive training at Institutul de Marketing.
Joe Shami’s main area of expertise is in sales and marketing. His career started in the travel industry where he worked as a sales and marketing advisor for one of the largest tour operators in the world, Thomson Tui. This involved travelling to all their major destinations bringing together new ideas and using innovative technologies to help increase sales and new product development in a traditionally mature market. Appreciating the rapidly expanding use of technology in the workplace, he spent a year studying for an MSc in Information Systems and continued his education a year later with an MBA. As the general manager for specialised management consultancy, he worked closely on the Royal Bank of Scotland/Nat West account,[ranked as the fourth largest banking group in the world]. He worked with a group of world class specialist consultants, banking staff and their customers in the SME market. The objective was to help the owners of SME businesses to develop their own strategic thinking whilst at the same time working alongside their bank managers.
Since 2002, he has run his own consultancy providing help and advising a variety of business; from an IT start up in the website subtitling sector to marketing communications and strategy training for Cisco Systems. He has been appointed in the French equivalent of an associate professor at the University of Perpignan in France and lectures on a regular basis on strategic marketing at Masters and MBA level in Europe, the Middle East, and in the USA. He also works with professional marketers in gaining their professional qualifications through the Chartered Institute of Marketing as well as bespoke sales and marketing training for clients.
Which are your professional mistakes and, also, the main achievements in your marketing career?
One of the biggest mistake in marketing, was early in my career when I opened my own restaurant and I didn't make any formal marketing. I didn’t really understand all issues about pricing, cost control, portions and such things. I didn't understand how to run the business, as well. In terms of profit and loss, financials, that’s where the lack of experience and know-how made the difference.
Marketing is often seen as a tool in achieving short term objectives rather than as a strategic activity.
Most of the time when I worked with large organizations, from a variety of different industries, I dealt with strategies, marketing advocacy, in terms of delivering new products, lead generation, running marketing programs. So, I have delivered results for big organizations and for my own company, as well. I can tell you now that from my previous experience, in terms of achievements, you must be more measurable and more specific in what you are trying to achieve and then analyzing what it has worked or not. My experience of larger companies is that they didn't lay out exactly what it is they wanted to achieve. So, sometimes, the results are not as precise as it should be: marketing is often seen as a tool in achieving short term objectives rather than as a strategic activity. When I’m dealing with MBA students or Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) students here at Oxford College of Marketing, who are professional marketers, I see them as I was myself long time ago. If you don't have a strategic thinking you will continue to be tactical - make brochures and organize exhibitions. This is the reality: unless you have smart objectives, you will not be successful.
Why should marketers attend Oxford College of Marketing courses and aim for CIM certification?
I think an accredited Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) qualification is important. They are accreditations for professionals. What is interesting is that the professional qualifications tend to be harder and by harder means that not everybody passes. In a university, almost everybody passes. Within a professional qualification program, you might have to re -do it not just reschedule the exam and reset, so you must start it all over again. Here it is more challenging: all your activities/ assignments are based on your company /employer with focus on the results and application rather than theory. Also, Oxford College of Marketing has a big range of resources available to students: case studies, tutors, (intensive weekend classes), monthly meetings to their teachers, blended learning combined with online courses, meetings and seminars with their teachers, as we have this weekend here in Bucharest. It's adaptable, flexible and more suitable for the students and their daily program.
All your activities/ assignments are based on your company /employer with focus on the results and application rather than theory
What are the advantages of traditional marketing in comparison with digital marketing?
It depends on your business and the customers you want to talk to. But basically, digital marketing, in terms of marketing approach, is almost the same thing with the traditional one. In the UK, we use to say " it's the same wine, just in a different bottle “. Yes, we have different marketing models which must be adapted for the digital world, but in the end of it, the approach should be the same. The actual process is similar. In digital world the tools are changing much quicker. In comparison, in traditional marketing what we see is that changes are happening very slowly. There are quite few new models that are more less 40 years old. At the same time, digital is just a refining of the traditional marketing, using different channels and platforms. It’s much more emphasis on digital side. Also, when we are talking about CIM, for example, all traditional modules have a new digital part. In some industries digital is coming back to traditional, there is a blurring between of the two.
Digital is just a refining of the traditional marketing, using different channels and platforms
What are the challenges for marketing professionals in UK?
Their activities are becoming more focused. We can see that that each marketing professional belongs to a certain niche. We cannot talk anymore about general marketer who does different sorts of things as in the old days. At the same time, their workload is higher. But, here comes the good news: Jobs Index have shown that the number of marketing jobs advertised in the UK rose about 20%.
What can you tell us about Brexit? What is the impact on companies and marketing?
We don’t know anything. There is no plan A, B, C for any company in U.K, marketing included. This is the right sentence: nobody knows what is going to happen. I can be certain of only one thing: the young people of tomorrow will want to learn anywhere in Europe, will want to work and travel freely anywhere on the continent. I still hope that will be the case. This freedom of movement is very important.
Marketing experience first and then teaching?
Things are changing. As I say in my class: I am not teaching anything, but the students are learning. In the old days, I would be talking in front of you and you'd be sitting and writing everything down. It doesn't work that way anymore! We need to have students engaged and once engaged then the learning begins. So, what we've done is that we changed it around: it’s not me teaching, it's them learning. The things we are doing are activity based, but we flipped the classroom. Some time ago, we went to the class and the teacher would told us " here what we need to learn today, here is your homework. What we do now is the opposite: it is activity based in the classroom. Our homework is to read and learn the chapter (the lesson) and then, in the class, we do the homework (the activity). What we are trying now at Oxford College of Marketing is to create an engaging learning activity. We want you to learn with other people, not just sitting at your desk at home and learn by yourself. We are all working together. Today, in the class, we talked about “gamification”, so we've done the activities more like a game that we’ve played together. It's more interesting and hopefully people will learn more. Students prefer doing it, rather than seeing it or hearing it. So that's one of the big difference in teaching today.
At the end of this marketing metrics training in Bucharest, you did a student satisfaction survey. Why?
It’s like everything in marketing. You need make sure that your customers are engaging and what is their perception, regarding what has been planned and what has been delivered. Also, I need to get that feedback and to know as soon as possible if something is not working, then I can correct it. If you don’t ask, you don't know what the answer is. Nowadays, you can be flexible and change it very quickly. When you come to a course like this, you cannot design the course until you meet the students. Maybe the session is too hard or maybe even too easy for them. When I get the feedback, I can adapt the course: they might prefer it more focused on the activities or they might prefer more of the information and theory provided. If you want to learn marketing, I always say “Ask your customers!” They want to tell you the answer, and they want you to ask them.
If you want to learn marketing, always ask your customers!
How do you find the Romanian students?
I really enjoy coming here, I see the students as very focused, they have this willingness to learn and they have good vibe. And I mean what I say. The quality of the students is very high and it's really satisfying to come here to Romania again. I love it, because the quality of work that I get is very high.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I really try hard to get to the theater at least once a month with my wife. We like to try new restaurants, to have quality time together. What is really interesting is what is happening with TV: you can now see good quality TV series such as “Mr. Robot or “House of cards”. All the sudden, it’s not just about 1 or 1/2 hours of telling a story in a film, but 10-40 hours of good story telling, character development and great acting. Now, in the UK, there is a new trend: box binging. You don’t watch one episode over the week -end, you watch the whole series. It’s strange how we’ve started to change our leisure time. We’ve come to the point where I want to watch the whole tv series when I want and how I want. I am starting to see it from the millennial’s perspective especially with the rise in popularity of Amazon and Netflix; I am like them now: I want it now, I want it all and ,more importantly, I don’t want to have to wait.