Executive Marketer Series: Derek Murphy

June 5, 2014Uncategorized

Executive Marketer Series


We’re back with another instalment of the Executive Marketer Series.


We want to bring you insights and advice from a wide range of industries by asking executive marketers about their pain points and experiences.

This week we spoke with Derek Murphy, head of marketing at Ego Pharmaceuticals, about globalising marketing, creating a cohesive brand story and getting your team on the same page.



Derek Murphy

Ego Pharmaceuticals, head of marketing

Some background on Derek

Derek Murphy is the head of marketing at Ego Pharmaceuticals and has spent 20 years working in the dairy and pharmaceuticals industries. Having worked across APAC, Derek understands global marketing strategies as well as locally-focused campaigns. He is a strong advocate for brand marketing and knows the importance of word of mouth for marketing efforts.

Highlights from the interview

Q. How important is aligning marketing strategy with sales objectives, and how can businesses get buy-in from the C-suite?

A. To me they’re one and the same. Ultimately, marketing exists to deliver sustainable sales growth, so each strategy should have a quantifiable sales objective to it. David Ogilvy once said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” This is a philosophy I follow. If we get improved brand metrics but sales stay flat in the long term, what’s the point?

Marketing is fundamentally simple. There are only three ways you can grow a business. You can bring people into the products who have never tried it, you can take sales from another brand or you can get people who already buy your product to buy more. If you can break your strategy down to those fundamentals, it’s very clear what you’re trying to achieve and what it will deliver.

Q. How has the traditional face of marketing changed in the digital world?

A. It’s made it both easier and harder. Media fragmentation is way beyond exponential growth now, so it’s much more difficult to reach the masses with your ideas. From a mass marketing point of view, the job is very difficult nowadays.

However, in some ways the task is made a little easier. If you’re focused on who you want to speak to and what behaviour you’re trying to change, there are now means of finding them and talking to them directly, plus you have the data to discover more opportunities. Remember that digital is only a tool to facilitate engagement. Face-to-face, real-world conversations are still the most important.

Derek Murphy Executive Marketer Series

Q. What are your tips for regionalising global marketing strategies?

A. Having worked in both global and local roles in the past, I think the key is to first focus on the similarities rather than the differences, and make sure the fundamental consumer task is the same one. Generally speaking, if you’re looking at the same target audience then the base insights are most likely to be the same. The differences will be in execution. The key then is to align the global and regional at an audience and insights level. If they are aligned then the global strategy is likely to work well. You only need to ensure that the tone and context fit the local market, and work with global to adapt those if need be.

Q. What tips do you have for creating a cohesive brand story?

A. This comes back to getting those fundamentals right. If you’re very focused on who you want to talk to and what you want them to do, it becomes much easier to create a story that’s relevant for them. I think the other trick is let the creative agencies get on with it, ensure you’re surrounded by good people at the agency, have fun with them and give them plenty of licence.  They are the best storytellers, after all. I’ve always found being a little bold and putting faith in your agencies is well rewarded.

The acid test for me is to ask yourself, “Is this story remarkable?” That is, will they remark on it? People are exposed to so much advertising nowadays that they tend to ignore it except when they’re in the market for change or are highly interested in the category. Your product and your communications need to stand out and be talked about.

Q. As head of the Ego Pharmaceuticals marketing department, how do you ensure your team is aligned to your marketing strategy?

A. When I first joined Ego Pharmaceuticals, I took the marketing team through the challenges in modern marketing as I see them, as well as Seth Godin’s “purple cow” philosophy and my take on it. On the way to lunch in that session, I secretly asked half the room to count how many advertising messages they could find on the walk from the meeting room to the restaurant a few blocks down the road. Then after lunch I asked those who hadn’t been given the task how many ads they remembered seeing on the walk. Not one ad was remembered. I then asked the half who were told to count and got between 70-120 ads! This exercise always hits home that it’s better to be focused and heard by a few than to have the potential to appeal to many but never be heard.

Q. You want to position your brand as a trusted advisor. How important is maintaining a brand image through marketing efforts?

A. I think it’s more critical than ever, but not through marketing efforts alone. The whole company needs to behave that way. There’s a lot of cynicism around marketing, especially in the beauty area. I think nowadays people have gotten tired of that and are looking for more authenticity in both the products and the marketing.

Ego Pharmaceuticals is well placed to provide this authenticity and has been doing so now for over 60 years. We are a family-owned local business that does nothing but skincare-related products. We need to make sure that the people who use our products know where they came from and that we are able to provide for them impartial advice on how to get the best out of their skincare products.


What are your tips for getting your team aligned and creating a cohesive brand story? Let us know in the comments section below.

Come back next week for another instalment of the Executive Marketer Series.

Cameron Upshall – Director

Cameron Upshall

King Content Executive Marketer Series