NEWS12 March 2024

‘It’s fine to have a transactional relationship,’ says ITV’s chief marketer

Annual Conference 2024 Leisure & Arts Media News UK

UK – Sometimes there’s no need for a CMO to have anything beyond a purely transactional relationship with their insight partner, according to Jane Stiller, chief marketing officer at ITV.

Jane Stiller (left), CMO of ITV, and Katie McQuater, editor of Research Live and Impact Magazine

Stiller was speaking at the Market Research Society’s annual conference 2024, interviewed on stage by Katie McQuater, editor of Research Live and Impact magazine.

Explaining what the insight needs were for a marketer at ITV, Stiller said they were pretty much aligned with broader business needs. “Most businesses are trying to drive growth and therefore trying to understand what the insights are that help you make better decisions, that help you drive growth,” she said.

Asked what qualities she sought in an insight partner, Stiller said that communication was really important, and while quality of the work was key, there were more nuanced factors at play.

"I think a lot of it is not only in doing good work but in the delivery of the work," she said, adding that solid work should be a "given", "a hygiene factor".

"So in that sense, number one: looking for a team and partners that can partner a business really effectively, that can understand their needs; number two: understand who is the decision maker and how they are going to make a decision; and number three, be able to package the work."

And how should an agency attempt to deepen its relationship with a client?

"This going to be a controversial opinion," Stiller warned. "But it’s annoying, isn’t it, when you’re being pestered by people. Number one, just don’t pester people. Be helpful... and I think that comes down to understanding the business’s needs.

"We had our results last week and if you read them carefully, there’s so much information in there. If you’re a partner working with ITV, take the time, care enough to read the results, understand the context of the market we’re sitting in, understand the pressures we’re undoubtedly under and then make your offering tailored and relevant to us."

Stiller clearly also had no time for those who might seek to ingratiate themselves with a client, saying that "sometimes it’s fine to have a transactional relationship".

"It doesn’t need to be any more than that. I really hate people saying, ‘I want to deepen the relationship’. I really don’t need you more than this, I just need you to do this one thing really well. And you know what, I’ll pay you even more to do that one thing really well.

"If it’s one small slice of the job, you’ve got a supplier and they do it really well and don’t bother you and just deliver, that’s a dream. Then if you’ve got a supplier that does that and then really understands the context of your business and can demonstrate that they’ve got this other thing that’s super valuable to meet this need that they know you have, and they deliver it in a collaborative and useful way… brilliant."