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MIT Sloan Management Review: Could you describe your role as digital strategy lead at John Hancock?
Lindsay Sutton: Digital strategy crosses many organizations, and here, it means a lot of different things. In this particular team, it refers to any of our brand marketing. We work closely with an internal creative team, my team of strategists, as well as some John Hancock brand experts. Together, we’re building out campaigns or activations for the brand or for business units.
That could be anything that spans traditional advertising — offline and online — to things rooted in the social media channel and the relevant content that supports that, to thinking through how we interface with customers or potential customers and how to resonate in someone’s life with digital at the core of that. Anything that comes from that digital journey sits with me and my team.
You’re injecting digital into a brand that has not been particularly digital in the past. What are some of the challenges you’re facing trying to bring a more legacy organization into the digital age?
At John Hancock, as in any organization, there are pockets that have been doing that. Our team would never claim that we are the first to do it, but we do face a couple of challenges. Much of our business comes from intermediaries, advisers, or plan sponsors, so we haven’t necessarily had to talk to an end consumer directly. That’s shifting in today’s world with the new ways that people access information. While we still may not sell to end users, having our name and our brand and what we stand for be something that resonates, or pulls some sort of cord in their mind and in their heart, is very important. That’s a public-facing shift we are taking.
Inwardly, we need to bring senior leaders along if they aren’t already engaged. We’re fortunate to be in an organization where a lot of our senior leaders already think and feel this way. They know that it’s almost silly to call it “digital marketing” because marketing today is digital.
Typically, where roadblocks may have come from, whether from legal or compliance, providing real-world examples and letting those people have access to other brands or businesses that are doing this has helped us.