Q&A with Nick Baker, Managing Director at Bakehouse Communications

Media 7 | February 11, 2021

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Nick Baker, Managing Director at Bakehouse Communications, is a brand and customer experience specialist with over 30 years in the client and agency financial services environment. He has held senior marketing roles for life, pensions, and investment companies. He was the Marketing Director at Irish Life UK, and Head of Communications for Barclays Investments before owning a successful marketing agency. He has been responsible for bringing countless innovative products and over 14 brand new financial services businesses to market, including operating recently as a NED for a retail property investment fund manager. He is the founder and director of an online simplified protection business, called simple and open. Putting the customer at the heart of clients’ businesses has been his career–long passion.

Stay fresh, experiment constantly, measure everything, and don’t forget to talk to the customer.



MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into marketing? Please take us through your journey.
NICK BAKER:
I started in the Financial Services Industry in a technical underwriting role, which fortunately exposed me to the distribution and marketing teams. I enjoyed the sales environment more than underwriting, but not wanting to go into a pure sales role, I moved into my first start-up of many, early in my career. The entrepreneurial start-up environment gave me the opportunity to help design and communicate new products and services, so my marketing career was born. I then moved into managing the whole marketing discipline end to end with various types of financial services businesses and helped launch a few new companies along the way.

Finding my creative and innovation side was needing to be more satisfied, I left the corporate world to help run a marketing agency and set up their digital business in the early days of online, before setting up my own agency. Over the years I’ve worked with around 100 different businesses, helped launch more new start-ups, and have come full circle helping a new brand called free2, as one of the founder team.

M7: What marketing channels do you use and which ones do you see as the most promising given your target customers?
NB:
I use all available channels and am constantly blending the mix to drive the right commercial outcomes. I start with customer insight to define key channels, but then employ a very dynamic test and learn the process to optimize strategies. The new start-up brand free2 aims to bust the preconceived ideas of the older demographic, and this extends to the media and delivery tactics we employ.


Staying relevant is a big challenge as consumers’ mindsets, attitudes and behaviors have shifted significantly. Not every marketing message used pre-covid will continue to resonate in people’s hearts and minds.



M7: What is your approach to market research, both customer and competitor focused?
NB:
Market research to gain valuable customer and competitor insight is essential in everything we do. I like to look for innovative ways of gaining insight to keep the knowledge fresh, secure, and deliver an edge. One of the best experiences I remember was spending 3 days living in a hotel with a group of consumers. That was certainly a deep dive into how they were thinking. 

M7: How do you ensure that your sales team understands and presents the products in an engaging manner?
NB:
I create a communications strategy that connects the brand to the product and service proof points, and which is then underpinned by a set of agreed and consistent messages. I look for ways of presenting the messaging through innovative formats and channels, digital and non-digital.  For example, in this ‘zoom world,’ I have introduced interactive brochures that are far more engaging than traditional linear ones.


In financial services where the human touch is vital in many areas, delivery using remote digital channels will need to factor in consumers’ need for humanization.



M7: What do you believe are the top three product marketing challenges in the post COVID-19 era?
NB:
In financial services, where the human touch is vital in many areas, delivery using remote digital channels will need to factor in consumers’ need for humanization.

Staying relevant is a big challenge as consumers’ mindsets, attitudes and behaviors have shifted significantly. Not every marketing message used pre-covid will continue to resonate in people’s hearts and minds. For example, propositions around planning for the long term may seem off-target, when people are more focused on the present. Keeping a finger on the pulse of peoples’ thinking is even more important than ever.

Understanding that post COVID-19 life will be more fluid for many consumers, so products and services may have to adapt to new patterns of income and expenditure, working and non-working. This will create additional commercial pressures in product and service design and delivery, to accommodate these new patterns of living and working.

M7: How are promotional tactics changing for products and services launching during these periods?
NB:
Online has been the massive beneficiary of recent times accelerated by COVID-19, whilst retail has taken a battering. TV has played a very important part in targeting certain segments during the lockdown and will continue going forward. Social media continues to grow with the introduction of new platforms. Video is a must-do promotional tactic whether a pure campaign play or as part of a deeper content marketing strategy. Overall, understanding the performance metrics across a multi-channel strategy is key to delivering on the commercial goals of any business.

M7: Words of wisdom for marketing professionals?
NB:
Stay fresh, experiment constantly, measure everything, and don’t forget to talk to the customer.

ABOUT BAKEHOUSE COMMUNICATIONS

Bakehouse Communications helps clients meet today’s marketing needs as well as tomorrow’s strategic challenges, by building and delivering on brand purpose. They do this across all channels for B2B and B2C clients, and set themselves the goal of bringing fresh, challenging and innovative thinking to everything they do.