Belkin CMO: ‘There’s No Offline Or Online. Just Marketing.’

belkinSometimes good marketing means less marketing, according to Belkin CMO Kieran Hannon.

“Wherever we’re able to provide a superior experience backed by data, we do,” said Kieran Hannon, CMO for Belkin. “Otherwise, we’re more about minimizing our interaction with people so they can get on with what they need to do.”

Each of Belkin’s three brands requires a discrete marketing approach. Belkin is accessories, Linksys is home networking and WeMo is smart home automation. “Each category brand lives in its own environment with a clear, defined set of competitors,” Hannon said.

Hannon spoke with AdExchanger about Belkin’s ongoing marketing investment.

AdExchanger: Most of your products are sold at retail, either online or off. How does this affect your marketing?

KIERAN HANNON: We don’t think of offline and online marketing separately. There’s just marketing and everyone is responsible for 360-degree communications for the whole brand.

In the past, some people worked on the global toolkit, but they’d have no understanding of how the brand was brought to life in-store because the channel marketing team was responsible for doing that.

Now, the channel marketer and integrated marketing manager are touching all of those points across the spectrum, so they understand how the brand manifests itself offline and online.

How important are ratings and reviews on Amazon and elsewhere?

Reviews are the new form of content marketing and ratings are incredibly important to us. We once accelerated our product road map by nine months for the WeMo light switch as a direct result of social feedback.

What’s your paid media approach?

We do spend a lot on paid media, both top- and bottom-funnel activities. We don’t see the funnel as an inverted pyramid, but as a circle that needs to be constantly nourished.

Context is so important for a good brand experience. You have the lean-back mode when people want to absorb a lot more and the lean-in when they want a quick mobile moment.

How do you leverage in-store as a marketing channel?

We’re constantly testing product, packaging, messaging and different point-of-sale experiences. For example, with our TrueClear Pro advanced screen care product, we recognized 90% of people want some level of screen protection on their device, but only 10% invested in it because misalignment and bubbles made it a bad experience. So we spent the last three years looking at ways to make this a better system. We reinvented the experience where we systemized the screen application and [scaled it] across Apple retail stores worldwide.

How has Belkin’s relationship with its agencies changed?

We’ve got a great internal agency for each of our four brands and we do use external agencies as well to complement one another.

My background was in agencies, and I tend to think agencies that lose sight of a brand’s objectives tend to fall by the wayside when they get caught up in their own internal constructs. What’s the business objective that leads to the marketing objective? A lot of people just focus on the creative objective. You need a straight path from business to marketing to creative objective.

Interview edited for clarity and length.

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