Russell Fletcher, Vice President of Customer and Trade Communications at Coca Cola shares his insights and advice about the Marketing field from his 31 years of experience.
What is your job title at Coca Cola?
Vice President, Customer and Trade Communications
What duties does your job entail?
I am responsible for key industry associations across our Retail and Food Service businesses, communication strategies including business to business advertising, editorial, public relations and our large Trade Shows and industry events. I also have general management responsibilities for our two state of the art customer collaboration and innovation centers where we meet with customers to work on solutions to grow our businesses together.
It sounds like you’re responsible for many different segments, what does a normal day in the office look like for you?
One of the things that I really love about my job is that there is a lot of variety from day to day. One day I might be working with my team and our agencies on the communication strategy and elements for an upcoming Trade Show and the next day I might be working on our next Trade Media Campaign and PR efforts. I also travel frequently to attend our trade shows and events and to meet with our customers and business partners.
With all of your marketing efforts which digital marketing tools do you utilize the most?
My role is focused on Business to Business Marketing directed at our existing or potential Retailer or Restaurant customers. My team does online advertising in digital publications and e-mail newsletters, banner advertising, content marketing through our Trade Media partners, and some Social Media. We’ve also tested some Pay-Per-Click Advertising but that is not currently a regular part of our mix. We also work closely with the team that manages our B2B website which does frequent opt in e-mail marketing.
What steps in your education and career led you to this point?
I was a Marketing Major in college and have spent my entire career in various Marketing roles. I’ve held roles focused on Marketing Research and Analytics, Promotions, Product and Brand Management, Channel Marketing, Sales, Advertising, PR, and Communications. I have learned and grown through each of those experiences which have led to greater opportunities throughout my career.
How long have you been working in the marketing field?
I’ve been in marketing for 31 Years and the last 19 of those have been with The Coca-Cola Company.
While working in marketing have you noticed any significant changes in the job, particularly in the new digital age?
Absolutely. Macro forces are impacting the underlying consumer context and the commerce landscape is changing how we understand, engage, and fulfill consumer needs in real time. Route to market has become route to me. Tools and consumer touch points are rapidly advancing due to digital adoption and hyper-connectivity. Consumers expect more and are redefining value. As marketers we must move beyond the whom and better understand where, when, and why. We must better engage consumers in new ways as they move to a reality that does not really differentiate between physical and digital engagement.
There is a great quote by Justin Trudeau, “The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.”
I love that quote! While working in this fast paced and ever changing field what is the biggest challenge you’ve had to face on the job?
One of the biggest challenges I face is the demand on my time and the workload of my team. Time is limited so I really focus on time management, prioritization, and aligning the work of my team on the work that drives the most value for the company.
Are there any exciting projects you’re working on that you can tell us a little about?
We just completed a 6-month renovation of one of our Customer Collaboration Centers in Atlanta. The former space included an actual Grocery Store, Convenience Store, and Restaurant. The newly reimagined space has been transformed to be highly digital. The highlight of the new space is a state-of-the-art digital immersion area which is dedicated to help us collaborate with our customers to illuminate and win the shopping & dining pathways of the future.
For more information on the Customer Collaboration Center visit: https://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/new-kolab-collaboration-center-immerses-retailers-and-restaurant
Wow, the new Collaboration Center sounds like a space that Coca Cola really embraced digital and the Internet of Things. After being in this field for years do you think there are any particular attributes that make someone a good marketer?
There are a lot of attributes that make someone a good marketer but a few of the key things I look for when I’m hiring someone include; Drive, Passion, Proactivity, Accountability, and Strong Communication Skills.
Lastly, what advice would you give a student who is interested in pursuing a career in marketing?
A career in Marketing provides countless opportunities with a wide variety of different jobs depending on your interest, passions, and skills. The actual work can vary drastically so take the time to investigate the various options, requirements, working environments, and industries. And, spend time thinking about what you would really enjoy. Don’t overlook smaller Marketing Agencies. These often provide a great opportunity to gain experience in a variety of marketing disciplines while working with a wide variety of clients and businesses in a short amount of time. These roles often lead to great marketing opportunities within large corporations as we frequently hire marketers with agency experience. But most importantly, have fun!
I would like to thank Russell Fletcher for his time and sharing some invaluable things he’s learned and experienced throughout his successful marketing career.