How TSB Bank Built a Successful Marketing Team


As we approach 2021, marketing leaders are thinking about the future of marketing in the post-coronavirus world. Although many of us have adjusted to the “new normal”, we still have lots of uncertainty about the future of remote work and marketing. This begs a few questions: What does the future of marketing operations look like? What are the long-term effects of the coronavirus? How do we build upon what we have?


We sat down with Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer, at TSB Bank to find out what it takes to have a successful marketing team in banking. In his 3+ years at TSB Bank, he has overseen everything from marketing, sales, analytics, and research – managing more than 100 people. Along with his position as CMO, he is an award-winning executive sponsor for LGBT within the business.  

Here, Pete Markey discusses the secret of being a good CMO and the future of marketing. 

What is the secret of being a good CMO?

Pete: The way I look at CMO roles, or any marketing job, is you should leave the brand in better health than when you found it. It’s your job to be the custodian or steward of that brand because ultimately, none of us work in a business forever. We’re all passing through. There’s a moment when you’ll need to pass the torch to someone else. My hope and goal with each role that I’ve done or I’m doing, is always to pass it on better than when I’ve found it and being able to give someone a platform to continue to take it forwards in the future as well.

What makes a business successful?

Pete: The first one would be the customer experience. I think my role is about making sure the customer experience is aligned to the brand purpose and aligned with what we’re doing as a brand. I look at when I started my career at British Gas: Marketing was far more about the craft of advertising and less about the customer experience. There wasn’t enough thought into it. You’d launch a big campaign and all you’d do is think, “Well, is the call center ready to answer the calls?” That would be the extent of the customer experience. Whereas I think now, as marketers, we need to spend more of our energy on not just the campaign, but actually when the customer touches and experiences the brand online, or in our case, with physical bank branches. Does the experience line up enough to the purpose that you’re trying to communicate and get across? 

The second thing is around relevance. I think every brand now has to be more relevant than ever in people’s lives. We’ve seen many brands from big retailers to other brands who struggled. I’m just thinking about Blockbuster Video or Woolworth’s and others, where these are brands that I grew up with that, aren’t around anymore because they lost their relevance. I think the idea to maintain brand and business relevance with your proposition and your target audience. Building a fast-paced environment is more important than ever.

The last one, similar to the previous, is staying on top of change and the need to keep reinventing or reinvigorating my own and my team’s skillset, especially in the ever-changing digital space. When marketers don’t keep up with the latest digital marketing trends, we find ourselves falling behind quickly. When we look at the acceleration of digital social media content, programmatic, even in the last year few years, there has been lots of change. As marketers, I think it is our duty to stay on top of that and stay ahead of that curve rather than falling behind it on behalf of our brands.

If we’re not on top of that curve, there’s no other function in the business that is going to come to you and say, “What are you doing on programmatic.” If marketing leaders are not driving that, then you’re letting that function get behind you.

Tell us how you think of marketing orchestration and how you’re thinking about that in the context at TSB?

Pete: I think the orchestration is really important because it’s ultimately how you get things done and how you remove barriers. One of the advantages I’ve got with my team is that I oversee all of TSB’s sales journeys as well. It’s helpful in terms of getting things done from a sales perspective. I own everything from driving the traffic to the website to converting the prospects that come through it and that includes cross-sell/up-sell to existing customers. This helps remove the friction.

That being said, on a number of projects over the last couple of years, we’ve trialled out agile and scrum formations to get project work done. I did the same during my time at Aviva. One of my favourite examples is when we wanted to launch the Friend-Get-Friend scheme, we put together a team from different parts of the organization to run this project.

I pulled people from marketing, digital, UX/CX, data, and creative teams. Within under six weeks, we both built, delivered and launched this project. It was one of the most successful things we did when we launched. Since then, we’ve done more of those sorts of projects, because I think the more you can get people around a common cause or challenge, this was how we launched a Friend-Get-Friend scheme in the shortest period of time possible. At Aviva, this was how we grew share of the market for our car insurance product. You galvanize around a challenge or a problem, then organize a resource specifically geared towards that.

A lot of this is about taking the walls down between the marketing team and the rest of the business. People don’t need to report to someone to get things done. As long as you’ve got a team that has a common set of goals, you can get a lot of stuff done.

What are your top priorities going into 2021?

Pete: I am focussing on marketing effectiveness and efficiency. We’ve just announced last week, we’re working with Adobe to implement the Adobe Experience Platform. The platform allows us to have real-time customer data flowing through all of the customer touchpoints that will allow us to better connect with our customers and various audiences. This will also change how we buy against first-party audiences when we’re looking to buy media. Data and speed of using real-time data are going to become increasingly important. I think it’s important today and will be even more so as we roll out the Adobe Experience Platform.

We are also now working with Infosum with our media agency the7stars where we will basically be able to upload first-party data into a secure data bunker, without them disclosing or sharing any data between media organizations. We will have capabilities to match records and buy against audiences with media owners like Global,  buying against our own audience or lookalike audiences in a more effective way.

As we look to use real-time data, marketing will become more and more effective and efficient helping to sharpen our marketing output and what we’re doing.

With real-time data, TSB will be able to deliver creative content faster using the internal studio that we have developed with Oliver, our agency partner. This will enable us to reach specific customers with the right products at the right time. This is every marketer’s dream, but I think we’re reaching a point where that is becoming more and more possible as we go through the next 12 months and beyond.

What is going to be the long-term impacts of the pandemic on marketing?

Pete: I think everyone’s had both similar experiences and different experiences. For me, the longer-term impacts will be a different way of working that will be a combination of meeting for specific meetings or events and working remotely at home. I think if you’re having a team strategy session, I do think it helps when you’ve got people together to see things on the wall or share ideas. The same with creative review meetings. Meetings and times together will be more purposeful and more thoughtful than they were before.

Actually, we’ve learned so well as a business that we can make stuff happen remotely and using tools like Microsoft Teams and so on.

Overall, we’ve seen a lot more humanity behind people in their lives and leadership as we’ve worked more from home. I’ve enjoyed it when people’s kids wander in the middle of our meeting. It’s fine. It’s life. Life and work have collided and that’s okay. I think actually it has been important to understand that life has to keep going and it matters.

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