In her role as Head of Brand at P&G, Roisin Donnelly has a first-hand view of what's needed to ensure marketing teams can thrive in today's rapidly shifting digital landscape. Here she reveals the some of the approaches to learning and skills currently in place at P&G that help the company attain digital marketing success.

October 2015

When P&G learned about the chance to participate in the Talent Revolution Survey, Head of Brand Roisin Donnelly was keen to seize the opportunity. "We wanted to get a fix on what our strengths are and where we can be doing better," she reveals. "We're a learning organisation. We only start people at the bottom, some straight out of university and others from other industries, and we only promote from within, so talent is incredibly important to us. It's incredibly important that we invest in our people to make sure they're constantly learning and can grow."

Now that the results have come back, she's happy to report that the value is already clear. "One thing that struck home was that things we've done for a long time we're better at," she says. "So search is a great example; we've been at it a long time. Where our numbers are lower — and where there's a massive opportunity for the whole industry — is mobile. More and more consumers are using mobile, but as an industry we're really not looking at mobile first and how we can succeed there."

Insights from the survey are having an impact on how P&G's marketers approach their work. "One thing we're doing is rather than looking at a new ad on a huge, giant screen at the agency or in the office, we're looking at how it appears on a mobile screen. Is it working? Can you see the brand? We're making sure that ads and sites are not just mobile-enabled but are mobile-first."

When it comes to filling the gaps, she believes that marketers hoping to improve their digital skill sets would be wise to start with the basics. "Understand your consumer. There's no substitute for really spending time with them, whether you're client side or agency side. When new things pop up, really look at them because that's where the consumer is. But remember we're talking to people — that's marketing. If we're tech-obsessed and not people-obsessed then we won't win."

While having a keen focus on people is vital, Roisin admits that driving digital learning forward often requires expert help. "We're quite realistic," she nods. "We can't be experts in everything, because things are changing every day. We believe 70% of learning is on the job, 20% is coaching and 10% is through courses. Partners are important in helping us measure, test and learn, and showing us what the possibilities for the future are. "

Her advice to other companies hoping to succeed in digital? "Start with the consumer. People talk about the 'digital consumer' — there is no such thing! We're talking about people. It doesn't matter what industry you're in; you have to have an understanding of your target audience. So we need to talk to young men about Gillette, we need to talk to older people with denture fixatives — we've got to understand their digital life. What are they doing? What are they using? I think the only way to do that as a marketer is to really immerse yourself in that experience and spend a lot of time in digital yourself."

For marketing departments currently wondering how to tackle their Talent Revolution Survey results, she urges optimism. "I think if you look at everyone surveyed and then look at your strengths, then make those strengths even better. Don't rest on your laurels or become obsessed with your weaknesses. Building your strengths is a great opportunity to create huge competitive advantage."