Insider knowledge from a marketing exec
Looking for a career where you can apply your liberal arts learning and never get bored? According to Kelly Sumption, Vice President of Client Marketing for Synchrony Financial, “Marketing is different every single day: You’re reacting to what’s happening in the market, you’re reacting to what’s happening with your competitors, and you’re reacting to how consumers are shopping.”
Sumption led our Sept. 28th virtual B-Ready Workshop: Marketing 101, where she talked with GC majors about her own experiences in the marketing world and provided insight into the particular case of the retail big-ticket furniture industry. In her current VPP role, she works with a lot of Synchrony’s larger retail home brand clients and has led a variety of marketing campaigns focused on “driving acquisition and loyalty growth” for Synchrony’s clients.
To get the workshop started, Sumption presented case examples from her professional life to introduce students to the 4Ps (product, price, placement, promotion) of marketing as well as what has largely replaced these principles: the 4Cs or 4As (customer, cost, communication & convenience OR acumen, agility, alignment, and accountability).
A key goal in marketing, Sumption says, is taking “something that consumers want” and making it “something that they need.” Doing this well requires understanding the data—or being a “consumer insight research nerd,” as she puts it. Not only this, but success in marketing also requires being willing to think creatively and take some risks: “You have to be willing to fail as a marketer” in the interest of succeeding in the end.
When students asked how her marketing campaigns/strategies have changed since COVID, Sumption reflected: “At first across industries, everyone really just stopped marketing. There were things that were out there that you pulled back and campaigns that you realized could be insensitive or didn’t make sense. We were looking at our images and asking, did this make sense in a socially distanced world?” As it has turned out, having so many people working from home has been “good” for her industry as people have been purchasing new furniture to create home offices and home entertainment spaces.
Students also asked, “In terms of expanding upon sales, when is it appropriate to have a sale…and is that something that you alone as a marketer decided or is it a team decision?” Sumption said that this is definitely a team decision, but over time, everyone in marketing becomes aware of trends.
When asked, “What are some of the ways you would find yourself marketing in the furniture industry next year in 2021 when it’s one year out from when people actually purchased a lot of big-ticket furniture?” Sumption responded: ”You totally know my dilemma!”
And finally, a student asked the question on everyone’s mind: “How optimistic are you about the availability of entry-level job positions for recent and upcoming graduates in the field of marketing?” Sumption responded with encouragement and an example from her own experience: ”Don’t feel discouraged. I think that things will open up—look for companies who are willing to invest in the future” such as Synchrony’s “Business Leadership Program.” She gave the example of her own experience with the Macy’s Leadership Development Program: “I had an amazing experience in a leadership development program and I wouldn’t trade it for the world—it taught me so much about business and myself. Look for those programs! And also: pay attention to the businesses that are growing and investing in innovation and growth.”
After the workshop, the students who attended reflected on what they took away. In addition to learning concrete marketing concepts, such as the importance of the four A’s, participants especially appreciated Sumption’s more general observations and advice, such as how expansive the marketing sector is and how much you can do with it, as well as how to turn a ‘no’ into an opportunity when job searching.
Thank you to Kelly Sumption for sharing her time, knowledge and experience with our Global Commerce students!