Opportunities are as much a part of life as challenges; knowing how to recognize the first and hurdle the other lay the groundwork for success.
Peter Neve, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at ACG attributes his success and career growth over the past three decades to mastering this approach.
ACG is the world’s only supplier of end-to-end manufacturing solutions for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturers of tablet and capsule based products. Its range of solutions cover everything from Empty Hard Capsules, packaging film, and foil to tablet and capsule production machines, inspection systems, and Track & Trace systems.
A combination of personal conviction, curiosity, and innovation has enabled Peter to consistently deliver stellar marketing results across vastly different industries.
Peter found himself in the startup game long before it became a buzzword in the business world. It was the 1980s and he was also straddling another nascent sector – Machine Vision (MV) and Industrial ID – with Image Industries, a U.K. enterprise he had founded and was managing.
As is almost invariably the case with startups, Peter had no choice but to wear several hats, including that of marketer. Image Industries had to contend with selling a new technology as an unknown entity with no customer base and a fledgling business team.
Effective marketing was crucial to jumpstart revenue generation and the task fell to Peter. He decided to employ high-impact, cost-effective marketing. It worked.
Image Industries achieved enough success to catch the eye of U.S.-based MV company, Cognex Corporation. They acquired the startup and, despite Peter’s lack of formal marketing training, gave him a marketing position overseeing Europe based on his track record of execution.
With his knack for success in the arena, he quickly rose through the ranks and was appointed Global VP of Marketing.
When asked what he believes are the key characteristics a CMO ought to possess, Peter says that the same skill is critical to any role in the marketing field – an ability to truly put yourself in the customer’s position.
“By honestly answering the strategic questions of “Is it clear?”, “Is it understandable?”, “Does it generate interest?”, “Does it make me respond?”, and “Do I want to buy?”, any marketer can get incredible insight into what might work and what will not long before a plan is implemented.”
He values gut feelings highly, too, explaining, “If you ignore them, they will inevitably come back to haunt you.”
Peter also touches on the challenges he has faced despite embodying his effective marketing philosophy. “Building the right team is absolutely essential,” he stresses, “and this was my first priority when I joined ACG. Without the right people to complement your strategy and implement your vision, it is impossible to deliver on any marketing goals.”
He works hard to prevent tunnel vision from setting in. “I keep an outside-in view of the business and measure the ROI of every activity,” he reveals.
Peter’s decentralized approach is not limited to just marketing products; he also uses it to broaden horizons and bring new thinking to his team. It is the prime reason that he is so enthusiastic about involving external vendors whenever he can.
This approach was on full display in the recent rebranding of ACG that Peter and his team implemented. The aim was to coalesce multiple business and regional brands into a single ACG identity that would be promoted globally.
Reputed brand consulting firm, Landor Associates was chosen to help with the process. They came up with the strap line ‘Absolutely Committed’, which Peter doubts that his internal team would have been able to create on their own.
He believes that it aligns perfectly with ACG’s reputation for customer service and ethics, and with the company’s three beliefs – ‘Collaborative’, ‘Consistent’ and ‘Unrelenting’.
Under Peter, ACG’s commitment to collaboration extends beyond the marketing narrative. He oversaw the recent launch of a mobile app for internal communications, which was designed to foster better and more meaningful interaction between the company’s staff.
Using daily posts, videos, and assorted content, the initiative has been highly successful in keeping the entire organization abreast of the updated branding and new identity. It incorporates the new strap line and beliefs into many of the company’s internal events and processes.
Peter emphasizes that it was critical to complete this internal communication activity before they started their external campaigns that incorporate the new branding. It helps to ensure that everyone in the company reinforces the brand’s values during every interaction with every customer.
Sharing the Secrets
Peter is a good leader and an even better mentor, having dedicated a lot of his career not just to marketing but also to creating cohesive marketing teams who value their differences as they execute a common vision. He is eager to share what he has learnt, while continuing on his own journey of personal growth.
Peter is proof of the fact that a marketing MBA does not make you a naturally effective marketer. “Practical experience, experimentation – without fear of failure – and working within a complex organization structure are even more important than a theoretical background,” he explains.
“Making marketing effective is hard work but a lot of fun at the same time. You have to quickly acknowledge that things are not working, however great you thought the idea was,” he adds. “Learn to ramp up successful programs quickly and keep ahead of the curve in terms of the marketing mix being used.”
“I love it when I see competitors playing catch up with new activities and programs we have introduced,” he smiles.
Another key piece of Peter’s advice is to share every idea and concept with as many people as possible, as many times as possible. Peter acknowledges that the feedback can sometimes be hard to take, but reiterates that every comment helps refine the final execution.
Speaking of his plans to keep ACG relevant, engaged, and effective, Peter says that he intends to exploit the B2C marketing techniques that have worked so well for him in the past to B2B marketing programs today.
Before joining ACG he kept his marketing mind whetted on constant interaction with new technology start-ups in the U.K. It complements perfectly what he learned in the U.S. about growing fast and reacting to change quickly. This diverse range of experiences has helped him develop more formalized processes and work faster to deliver solutions.
“Together, this varied practical knowledge, and interactions with people from a spectrum of industries in some of the most progressive international markets gives me great confidence about doing the right thing at ACG,” adds Peter.
“I really enjoy working here. The fact that ACG was growing and successful – despite many underexploited opportunities that existed for them – intrigued me,” he says. “Helping address these opportunities and making ACG even more successful is what really drives me every day.”
Over the first 18 months at ACG, he has created many of the key infrastructure building blocks needed to make their marketing even more effective. Now, he is looking forward to having more fun exploiting the promotional and revenue generation opportunities this will support.
Peter relishes the unmitigated support his team and he have enjoyed from the whole organization for the strategies they have implemented. “It is very satisfying to see the team moving so quickly to achieve my target for making ACG the leader in our field.”