Marketing expert Mark Shepherd recently visited our Master students Marketing Strategy class taught by Prof. Kelly Kretz.
Mark Shepherd is an experienced business leader and marketing expert who provides strategic marketing solutions to generate growth and profitability. He is a board-level general manager with extensive experience in 20 countries. Mark is the owner of The Branding Authority, a company that helps businesses build better brands.
He is also a speaker on branding and marketing. Previously, he has held various senior marketing positions for Nestlé – the Worlds leading nutritional, health and wellness company: As head of marketing he developed, branded and launched the game-changing infant formula system, BabyNes, and launched it in CH, France, China and the USA. As Global Marketing Director on PowerBar he turned around the European sports nutrition business.
Prior to these headquarter based posts Mark was General Manager for the Nestlé instant beverage business in France, director of marketing in Russia, regional director of marketing in West and Central Africa, as well as time in sales and marketing roles in the UK and Switzerland.
How would you describe the state of the world today in 3 words?
Distrustful, uncertain but technologically liberating.
What is your greatest hope for the future of the world?
More trust, more tolerance and a preparedness to listen. So many people have so much to offer – the young bring ideas, creativity, enthusiasm and energy, the older generation offer leadership, sharing of experiences and much wisdom. Perceived contradictions today can become pillars in the same foundations for future success. If people listened more, they would understand more. Many of the dramatic political changes we are seeing in the world today stem from those in power not hearing what the people are saying. That doesn’t work in business, nor does it work in political democracies.
Biggest lesson you learnt in your professional life so far?
Without doubt the single biggest lesson is to understand your consumer or customer deeply. To do this one must listen, with a critical ear, to draw meaningful insights that will help your brand or business. Great brands anchor a clear positioning in the minds of consumers. They do this by understanding the consumer target and then ensuring the brand delivers on its promises.
This lesson has led me to a fundamental tenet of marketing for me: – It’s all about the brand – The position your brand occupies in the mind of the consumer is everything. Your brand values, essence and positioning are at the heart of what the marketer does. The “marketing” of your brand becomes easy once you understand your consumer and your brand territory.
What is one piece of advice you want to give to our students?
Be open, listen and engage. You don’t know everything. But be ready to take chances, calculated risks, collaborate and innovate and you CAN change the world. Be who you are and do what aligns with your values.
Ultimately be true to yourself and to your values.