Today we meet Patrick Durante, Digital Marketing Senior Manager at Accenture Interactive.
This interview is also available in French.
Please introduce yourself. What’s your position and current company? How long have you been working in marketing/CRM?
My name is Patrick Durante and I’m currently covering the Senior Manager Digital Marketing position at Accenture Interactive. I previously spent 4 years working at Costa Cruise, covering the responsibility of Global CRM Marketing and leading email marketing campaigns. Before that, I spent some time working for an Italian financial real estate company. And my very first job was already at Accenture! I have worked in CRM Marketing since the beginning. It’s been around 15 years.
So you’ve done Marketing & CRM in different industries? That’s really interesting.
I have indeed a cross-industry experience. Now at Accenture, I’m following two very different clients, one in the automotive industry, the other one in oil distribution, both on CRM Marketing & Loyalty strategies.
What I like about consulting is that you don’t need to change your CV and take job interviews every time you want to gather new experiences. You are working with different clients in different industries and you have to constantly adapt to new contexts without changing jobs. I love that.
What are one or two things you typically do during the first hour of your day that lead to a productive day?
I always take coffee in the first half hour, it is a very key point to have a productive day. I’m Italian after all.
Then typically I have a look at my agenda to set up the day and the priorities.
What is one marketing “best practice” you’ve applied in the last few months that had a positive impact on your role? How has it helped you?
I would say “Get back to basics”.
Everyone talks about efficiency, intelligence, about sophisticated algorithms, but often we’re missing the basics.
I remember at Costa Cruise, as we defined the background strategy for CRM Marketing practices, we were able to theoretically understand the customer and its journey.
Everybody is referring to the customer journey but the journey itself is nothing in your systems, it doesn’t exist. So it’s quite complicated to understand where each customer is on that journey.
Now, in my job, it happens that clients have discussions around many interesting topics and launch great projects, but they can also miss the basics at the same time.
For instance, there’s a lot of talk around NPS to monitor a brand’s strength, to understand how many promoters there are, to leverage the word of mouth. The problem is that my clients were just monitoring the NPS from dealers or retailers, the places where their products are sold. But they’re not a retailer, they’re a brand sold across many different dealers. And the NPS reflects the dealer score.
How do you measure your loyalty if you measure not the customer brand NPS but you’re measuring someone else’s brand?
So if I try to phrase what I got from what you said, going back to the basics, to the KPIs, trying to find the right KPIs to follow, the baseline, the basics of the marketing, helps you progress instead of going to every trendy or buzzword for KPIs that sometimes lead to measuring something that is not efficient for your brand.
A proverb says: “In every crisis lies the seed of opportunity”. What was your opportunity during the crisis?
First of all, the biggest opportunity I had, and probably I’m not the only one, is to have more time to stay with my family, with my children. I think this is a life opportunity. But this is not something related to our professional life.
I think that after this period, we’ll probably change the balance on what is important and what is not.
But it’s not something totally new.
That forces a new perspective on how to balance differently the work and the personal life. I agree with you.
More related to the professional side, for sure the crisis totally disrupted the way to work remotely. Something has changed, nobody can go back like before.
In the end, I’m not 100% convinced that it’s the way to work in the future. I still think that we need to meet each other, especially for brainstorming, meetings, and sharing moments. We need to meet because we communicate not only by voice but with our body. We need a whiteboard, to take a pen, write our thoughts, debate. In a remote setting, there are no digital whiteboards. Collaborative tools are still pretty basic.
To summarize, I think professional opportunities have changed in so little time, and have changed the way we are going to work in the future, onsite and offsite.
Crisis aside, what in your current or previous organization has the biggest impact on your marketing strategy?
I would say the development of new algorithms from one side, and the use of Tinyclues on the other side.
Thanks for mentioning us as one of the biggest impacts on your strategy!
I mean it! I’m not saying this because I’m talking to you.
At Costa Cruise, we merged the Splio capabilities together with our custom-made booking propensity index. Using the two, we were able to answer when the customer is ready to book – with the booking propensity index -, and what they want to book – with Splio.
Putting together these two capabilities had improved our conversion rate in direct campaigns and outbound campaigns from 5% to 17% of retention. It was very powerful.
What books, blogs, or thought leaders have greatly influenced your career, and why?
I will start with Brand Strategy by David Aaker. He’s a professor at Berkeley, from the post-Kotler era. Kotler was initially putting the product at the center of marketing initiatives, but David Aaker focuses on the brand and the customer. Marketing moves from a product strategy to a brand strategy. This book was very impactful on my academic path and today, I still suggest the book to friends and fellow marketers.
Another very interesting book is The Age of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism by Jeremy Rifkin. He was an advisor of Bill Clinton. At the end of the 90s, he postulated that we would get rid of the “property” state of our economic models (to own, to buy, to have a property…) and focus on renting instead. For instance, we don’t buy a car, we rent a car, we don’t buy DVDs or movies, we pay for an online rental streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime. His views have become reality 20 years after the publication of his book. It was a very interesting book.
How has an apparent failure as a marketer set you up for later success? How did you bounce back?
That’s not an easy question. At some point in my career, I delegated a lot to my team, but actually, they were too young to be invested with certain responsibilities and I had to help them with closer guidance.
So you mean you changed your management style, because relying on your team, giving too much responsibility or decision-making power to people with less experience, might not result in what you were expecting. You came back to a model where you were properly driving them in the right direction.
That’s exactly it.
If you had to give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be and why?
Try to learn things on your own, don’t wait for others to teach you.
And what’s your marketing or life mantra?
Life is beautiful. Always be optimistic and look forward to the future. There is no other life.