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Axa marketing chief encourages brands to have 'more conviction' in their marketing and resist temptation to change direction too quickly

“Social media has made it too tempting for marketers to change direction as soon as something doesn’t work, what’s harder is having the conviction to stay en route,” revealed Cheryl Toner, group marketing and communications director at AXA UK and judge at this year’s The Drum Marketing Awards.

Disagreeing with the common perception that too many brands are “playing it safe” when it comes to marketing, Toner argued that there are “a number of brands working really hard to ensure their positioning is clear” particularly in the financial world.

“In the financial services market there are lots of brands pushing beyond what you would expect them to be,” Toner explained.

Axa launched 'Little things mean a lot' in 2013

“There’s a regulatory side to financial services which means we have rules we have to follow but it’s a world that affects people’s lives and wellbeing so you have to accept it’s a serious subject.

“You can’t be frivolous with the little decisions customers are making because they’re incredibly important...we have to accept there’s a line we cannot cross in a way an FMCG brand probably could.”

With financial brands including Barclays, HSBC and First Direct actively pursuing marketing success through social and Nationwide Building Society manning its Twitter account 24/7, Toner believes despite the “perception that it is more limited” financial services marketing is still about “understanding what customers want and how your brand attributes can bring that to life”.

“For all marketers social media is incredibly important and I’m interested in how it changes the service model particularly for financial services and I believe we’re just at the start of our development,” she added.

“There’s more space than ever before to be disruptive and social media is just a part of it. There are so many channels opening up to marketers and media partners are now more willing than ever to work with brands in new and different ways. It’s very exciting.”

Of her role as a judge at this year’s The Drum Marketing Awards Toner is most looking forward to seeing is “small budgets used credibly”.

“It’s always exciting to see a marketing team that hasn’t had the luxury of a huge budget use what they have effectively to push their ideas,” she commented, adding that the biggest mistake she’ll be keeping an eye out for is the “strong points of a submission not being clear enough”.

“Don’t make the judges work too hard,” she laughed.

The deadline for entries to The Drum Marketing awards is Friday 30 January 30 at 5pm, with an awards ceremony set for 7 May in central London. Get your entries in here.

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