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How CEMEX UK marketing boss became Marketer of the Year

How CEMEX UK marketing boss became Marketer of the Year

By UTalkMarketing Editor, Clark Turner.

Let’s face it, marketers can sometimes have a tough time of it in the boardroom justifying budget and spend to company CFO’s and CEO’s.

But what if you could get buy in to your strategy and support from across the company while demonstrating marketing works in raising revenue? There are definitely some lessons to be learnt from one marketer who has done just that.

Named as the Marketer of the Year 2010 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Marketing Director for CEMEX UK, Magnus Halvang, has been responsible for transforming the company business. His work has also seen the institute honouring him with their award for Marketing Excellence. In a nutshell, this is man who knows marketing.

Over the past three years he has moved marketing from the periphery to the centre of CEMEX UK, a leading a leading supplier of cement, readymix concrete, mortars, screeds, aggregates, asphalts and roof tiles etc.

With a £1bn annual turnover in the UK alone, clients stretch from supplying builders of the Olympic 2012 venues to householders and SME’s carrying out DIY work.

Halvang’s transformation of CEMEX UK has been no easy task. When he first joined the company, one of the biggest obstacles was that the company had no marketing strategy whatsoever.

The market is dominated by four major players. With no clear differentiation between them, the CEMEX marketer has been responsible for creating a very visible brand identity. But the company is also faced with competition from smaller independents who have the advantage of being able to concentrate their marketing efforts to just one locality.

“There was no marketing strategy so I had to develop if from scratch,” explained Halvang. “I took a blank piece of paper and sat with the UK president to discuss business goals, then went to the vice president before coming back to the president with a goal alignment plan.

“It was beneficial as I was able to use their words and terminology in my plan which meant they could instantly relate and felt immediately involved. From the goal map I went on to develop a strategy and some ROI calculations, which they were delighted with.”

That strategy has included umbrella branding together with project activity marketing.

“It was quite a task but the plan meant that all the departments could see how all the bits fitted together,” he added.

Central to marketing has been the promotion of the theme of innovation. It’s what customers are looking for despite CEMEX operating in a commodities industry. Putting sustainability to the fore has also been key, being a big issue for the industry and filtering all the way through company practices to HR, equal opportunities and securing carbon friendly accreditation.

“The key thrust of the strategy was that it was aligned to the business and its objectives. So we looked at the development of premium products and created a brand with supporting literature and a commercial plan,” Halvang explained.

“There’s also been internal training and education on the new products as well as educating architects and engineers. It’s about targeting the main influencers and decision makers in the bid that education will lead to sales.”

Halvang has also been responsible for a commercially focused web strategy, concentrating on not simply an increase in web traffic, but the quality of the users themselves.  PPC has seen traffic has increase three fold, but the value of enquiries has increased six fold.

For smaller operators and individual DIY fans, a microsite has also been developed – The outlay cost was made back in just 30 days, with 26 per cent of users completing the journey to purchase.

Perhaps not surprisingly, CEMEX has been active in the social media space too. A global plan has been in place for some time, tapping into all the major channels but activities are now being localised for UK consumers.

“People are not always going to say nice things but it’s about managing expectations,” explained Halvang. “But our experiences so far have been good and people have made more good comments than bad.”

Meanwhile internally, the marketing boss has managed to secure backing for the marketing programme with its strong focus on business.

“Talking to managers is critical – about driving the business, targets, premium products – rather than actually talking about marketing,” he said. “On the back of that it’s about collating ideas and then taking everyone with you so they almost believe it’s their plan. Then you just have to prove yourself.

“It’s vital that the planning model involves different departments and talking a lot to people one on one definitely works while remembering that strategy is a living thing.”

So as Marketer of the Year, does Halvang have any advice to pass on to his marketing peers?

“Marketing should not be so much about talking about marketing, but more about business and how to drive people forward,” he said.

“Marketers also need to remember that things take time and need to be done step by step.”

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