Brand and Demand: An Interview with T. Rowe Price’s Head of Global Marketing Theresa McLaughlin
Chiaki Nishino, president at Prophet, speaks with Theresa McLaughlin, head of global marketing at T. Rowe Price, on the evolving role of marketing within financial service organizations.
Theresa McLaughlin is the head of global marketing at T. Rowe Price. Before T. Rowe Price, McLaughlin served as an executive and CMO at global financial services firms including eight years at TD Bank Group as executive vice president and global chief marketing, customer experience and corporate citizenship officer.
McLaughlin previously was at Citizens Financial Group, a division of Royal Bank of Scotland, where she served in various leadership positions over her 18-year tenure, including chief marketing officer, head of corporate affairs, internal communications, enterprise customer experience and innovation and director of product management.
Chiaki Nishino: Given the disruption of the last few years, marketers are often asked to take on greater accountability to demonstrate immediate impact and ROI of marketing investment while creating tighter alignment with the business outcomes. Has that been your experience? If so, how have you shifted your strategy to show impact?
Theresa McLaughlin: It is a very interesting time to be the global head of marketing especially when considering the evolution of digital transformation. When I was at TD Bank Group, the organization’s investment in third-party digital increased from 5% to 50%. Now it’s shifted to first-party digital investments.
When the digital transformation first began, it wasn’t about brand storytelling but performance marketing. It quickly became a competition of performance marketing versus brand marketing. And that probably needed to swing in this direction to ensure there was a return with performance marketing investments.
But when COVID hit, the proliferation of content in the media became intense, and organizations needed to shift to build more authenticity.
Given all I have seen, I’m a big believer in brand and demand. I want to ensure that my budget in brand, individual business unit marketing and incremental campaign budgets are all looked at through an integrated model of brand and demand. Ultimately, I want to drive the brand into the product experience and the performance marketing strategy.
CN: How have conversations with your C-suite and board changed as you take on new accountability in driving and proving business value?
TM: There absolutely is pressure to demonstrate ROI, but as the global head of marketing, my job is to lean into storytelling. For example, we pull together the story and data in the right way, to show how we are influencing the full-funnel experience for our target audience and clients.
When communicating the brand investment, I lean into classic upper and lower funnel brand metrics, but brand is about what clients say it is, not what we tell them. Therefore, metrics like NPS really matter when talking about the brand experience. I expect tough questions from across the executive team, so I lean into data to tell the story that proves marketing’s ROI. What got us here is not going to get us there, which is why we are making the case for brand investment.
CN. How do you partner with other internal business units and teams to unlock new opportunities for driving growth, and how has this evolved in recent years?
TM: T. Rowe Price is a global organization, so sitting within that global distribution organization is essential.
When partnering with my sales organization, I’ll start by standing up with the sales management team and collaborating on initiatives such as lead management, product marketing and positioning, and RFP management as just a few examples. Cross-functional leadership is crucial not just for marketing but to deliver better business outcomes that truly meet the needs of our customers.
CN: In our research, we found that effective marketers work to build modern marketing organizations and experiment to win. Do you have any examples you can share where you’ve been able to implement these two principles effectively?
TM: At T. Rowe Price, every part of marketing is in a constant state of transformation, which is why the principle “experiment to win” resonates with me. We have many opportunities and playgrounds where we can test and learn new strategies and techniques, and our team’s new talent has upgraded our approach to experimentation.
In terms of building a modern marketing organization, getting your operating model is critical. It is vital to take an integrated approach to the operating model. This is why it’s crucial to be a “T-shaped marketer” who can play a more fluid and integrated role within your organization. To build an integrated marketing org, about two-thirds of our team sit in the center, but a third sits in the business, so we avoid operating in silos and get greater connection points to move our marketing agenda forward with the buy-in from other functional leads.
In my role, I often see myself as more than just the global head of marketing. In addition to being responsible for marketing, I need to think about CX, talent, digital, sales, and lead generation – it’s true capital marketing. My role is often that of an integrator, and to do that successfully, I need to convince other functional leads – who aren’t marketers — to find points of collaboration. I often approach this like I would a marketing campaign. It’s all about creating seamless experiences that put the customer at the center of everything we do.
About Chiaki Nishino
Chiaki Nishino is Prophet’s president and a member of the organization’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors. In addition to leading Prophet’s North American business strategy, she oversees the organization’s global Women in Leadership and Diversity efforts. She brings extensive experience in growth strategy, customer experience, brand strategy and marketing. She’s led clients in financial services, communication and healthcare to new avenues of expansion. And she’s an industry leader in customer engagement and marketing accountability, having spoken at the Conference Board and the Association of National Advertisers. Before joining Prophet, Chiaki was a Partner at Lippincott Mercer, and worked at Mercer Management Consulting and Dell Computers. Are you interested in talking to Chiaki? You can contact her here.
ABOUT THE SERIES
In our new series, Brand and Demand: The Interviews, Prophet experts sit down with CMOs and marketing leaders who are unlocking demand, driving uncommon growth and building relentlessly relevant brands to get their takes on the top trends, challenges and opportunities they face in today’s disruptive world.