It’s 8am on Monday morning, and Aviva’s Brand & Communications Director Peter Markey answers the phone chirpily. “The sun is shining! I’ve just arrived at work,” he says while entering the insurer’s London-based office; it makes me appreciate his proactive attitude at such an hour.
Responsible for the UK’s brand & marketing strategy both internally and externally, Pete also leads marketing trading for the A-rated insurance company. He has a strong influence on the way Aviva sells its products, each of which he knows back to front.
Pete’s `hands-on` approach to business exudes; it’s an unlikely trait for a man of his seniority. He’s a busy man at that, but I am eager to pick his brains on behalf of young, hungry marketers- and Pete is more than accommodating.
The 20-year-strong marketer opens up with a cracking statement, and I just didn’t expect it. “Always remain curious”, he said, “Marketers succeed by being curious.
“Find out how your business makes money, what the sales team or finance department is up to.
“Dedicate time to working in areas completely unrelated to marketing”.
The CIM Chartered Marketer explains that you can’t successfully market a product if you don’t understand why it is priced a certain way. It makes sense. You can’t lock yourself away in an ivory tower and expect to be able to do your job properly. This is the difference between a successful marketer and any other Tom, Dick, or Harry.
He said: “It’s not just the trade you need to be aware of, but tools, the business environment.
“Most importantly, never stop learning.
“I’ve been guilty of this, but you can’t stop learning just because you’ve got a job”.
Pete has a seasoned background in insurance- having worked in various marketing roles for RSA Group, MORE TH>N, and the AA.
During his time as CMO for the Post Office, he played a key role in overhauling the organisation since its split from Royal Mail.
With such an expansive background, I am eager to know how Pete started out.
Working towards a degree in Corporate Communications at Southampton Solent, Pete worked part-time as a Market Analyst for British Gas. Skilled in marketing, PR, journalism, video production and graphics, Pete quickly worked his way up the ranks until he became Marketing Director of the business.
During his career at Centrica’s British Gas, Pete worked on a project which resulted in the acquisition of the AA and telecommunications company One.tel.
He said: “People took a chance on me, and I am so thankful for the window that gave me the opportunity.
“I worked blooming hard and it paid off.
“I believe that if you are tenacious, it is possible to get ahead without going down a traditional route such as a graduate scheme”.
Pete is still in touch with his old team at British Gas, and says he owes a lot to a certain someone.
He said: “I worked alongside Mike Holliday-Williams at Centrica and MORE TH>N.
“He is the best success story of a marketer moving into a commercial background.
“This is apparent from the figures he hits at Direct Line nowadays”.
Upon parting, Pete gives me some welcomed advice. He said: “Always listen when new buzzwords come up in marketing.
“Sometimes I wait and see, like when Second Life came about, and other times I will ride the wave like with Facebook.
“Half of it is looking at data, the other half is gut feel”.