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Featuring Albertsons Companies Marketing Leader, Francisco Bram

Data is everywhere and it’s never-ending, but how can marketing, data analytics, and business development work together for maximum business growth, especially as the marketing industry is evolving?

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Francisco T. Bram, VP of Marketing & Business Development at Albertsons Companies on a ‘Marketer 411’ virtual conversation. This series provides an inside look at how expert marketers are addressing current industry challenges—for this conversation, we dove into the future of marketing and data analytics.

Our discussion with Francisco centered around the integration of Marketing and Business Development, the evolution of marketing practices, the use of data analytics, and valuable career advice for aspiring marketing leaders. Keep reading to get his perspectives on marketing and data analytics.

The Intersection of Marketing and Business Development

Q: You are responsible for both Marketing & Business Development.  How do these complement one other?

When I initially joined Albertsons, I didn’t anticipate being involved in business development. However, I now believe that business development and marketing are great complements when it comes to company growth. There are three primary ways to grow a business: traditional marketing, partnerships, and business-to-business (B2B) collaborations.

Business development is crucial in identifying opportunities to improve loyalty programs and establish partnerships with other companies. The presence of both marketing and business development is beneficial in creating a comprehensive growth strategy to reach our business objectives.

Q: Do any conflicts arise when working with Business Development and Marketing?

The question of whether to attribute the success to the business development team or to the marketing programs can spark invigorating discussions. It is imperative that we have the right infrastructure in place for multi-touch and last-touch attribution. Nevertheless, it is crucial to ensure that every individual receives the recognition they rightfully deserve, especially for significant opportunities.

How The Marketing Industry Has Changed

Q: Can you describe the evolution of Marketing?

Reflecting on the origins of marketing, we can trace back to 1845 with Tiffany’s Blue Book, a pioneering product catalog that showcased product images, prices, descriptions, and a call to action—laying the foundation for product marketing. This initial step was followed by a slow yet steady evolution: print ads emerged in 1911, radio ads in the 1920s, TV ads in the 1940s, and telephone marketing in the 1970s.

The 1990s heralded the digital age, when SMS text messaging marketing began to gain traction, soon followed by the explosive growth of the Internet. The .com era revolutionized marketing, introducing a multitude of new channels, including SEO, SEM, pay-per-click advertising, mobile marketing, social media, smart TVs, and wearable technology.

Each new channel demanded innovative strategies, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace change.

Today’s marketing landscape is a testament to the relentless advancement of technology and the creativity of marketers. As we continue to navigate this field, we must remain agile, continuously learning and adapting to leverage new opportunities.

Q: How have these changes impacted Marketing today?

Twenty-five years ago, if I had told someone, “I’m a marketing manager,” it would have been widely understood that my role involved bringing a product to market and building a brand reputation.

However, the landscape of marketing roles today is much more specialized. We now have social media marketers, product marketers, brand marketers, creative teams, and content marketers.

Organizations have had to adapt by creating these specialized teams, which brings its own set of challenges. One major challenge is justifying the investment in marketing and transitioning from a focus on brand-building to becoming a key driver of profit and revenue.

In just the last five years, the expectations for marketing have skyrocketed. We are now expected to deliver more measurable results and demonstrate a clear return on investment.

Q: How have you seen these changes impact your work at Albertsons?

When I first joined Albertsons, we faced a significant challenge: we lacked a clear way to attribute our marketing efforts to the success of our health and pharmacy initiatives.

To tackle this, we built marketing mix models and partnered with Ipsos, enabling us to confidently link every tactic and asset to revenue and profit. Accountability became paramount, leading us to establish monthly marketing review sessions with the executive team and partners to discuss metrics comprehensively.

We categorized these metrics into three fundamental buckets: marketing engagement, marketing performance, and business performance:

Marketing Engagement: We analyze how our marketing efforts perform and drive engagement metrics across various channels, such as clicks, views or impressions, site visits, etc. This includes substantial experimentation to refine our strategies continuously.

Marketing Performance: We analyze critical metrics such as return on ad spend, cost per click, cost per thousand impressions, and customer acquisition cost. These metrics provide insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of our campaigns.

Business Performance: We confidently attribute sales and assess their impact on EBITDA. By focusing on customer lifetime value and marketing ROI, we evaluate our success not just as a percentage of sales but as a percentage of profit.

Today, marketing at Albertsons has evolved into a data-driven discipline. We can justify our investments more effectively, moving beyond reliance on customer surveys or brand awareness metrics.

Q: How are you using AI personally and professionally?

Personal Uses of AI

Enhancing Writing and Communication: Tools like Grammarly help refine our writing, ensuring clear and effective communication.

Expanding Knowledge and Curiosity: Every week, I make the point to learn something that blows my mind. So instead of browsing the web for this information, I ask ChatGPT. It offers me mind-blowing facts and insights, keeping my mind sharp, fostering curiosity, and promoting continuous learning.

Bridging Language Barriers: JGPT facilitates seamless communication between my Portuguese-speaking mom and my English-speaking wife, bringing our family closer together.

Professional Use of AI

Transforming Customer Experiences: Through our AI tool, users can simply take a picture of a recipe, and the technology recognizes it, creating a complete online recipe with shoppable ingredients. This innovation streamlines the cooking and shopping experience, enhancing convenience and satisfaction.

Bringing Marketing and Data Analytics Together

Q: How do you use data, and what key metrics do you pay attention to in justifying funding and support?

Understanding your customer base is the cornerstone of effective marketing. It’s essential to be genuinely customer-obsessed, going beyond just creating personas to building comprehensive journey maps. This was a primary focus when I first joined Albertsons.

When I was hired to build my marketing team, I recognized the critical need to hire someone to lead customer research and insights. Without a deep understanding of our customers, no amount of creative brilliance or tactical execution can compensate for this fundamental gap.

A strong foundation in customer insights empowers us to craft strategies that resonate deeply, ensuring that our marketing efforts are both impactful and meaningful. This customer-centric approach not only drives success but also fosters lasting connections with our audience.

Q: What interesting customer insight have you discovered at Albertsons?

In our first year, we dedicated ourselves to engaging with over 10,000 customers, using their insights to build new and meaningful experiences.

One crucial insight we discovered was that many of our customers juggle multiple jobs and caregiving responsibilities. They care for their parents and often have older or sick family members at home. These customers seek a grocery store they can trust—one that genuinely has their best interests at heart.

We recognized a significant gap in the trust between customers and grocery stores, often stemming from the transactional nature of their relationships. It’s not just about offering a $2 discount on avocados; it’s about educating customers on why avocados are beneficial for their health and providing incentives to encourage healthier choices over less nutritious options like chips.

By understanding and addressing these deeper needs, we aim to build a relationship based on trust and support, ensuring that our customers feel valued and understood. This approach transforms the shopping experience from a mere transaction to a partnership focused on well-being and healthier living.

Q: How are you using these insights to create innovative solutions at Albertsons?

By analyzing the data, we identified that our customers needed support in making informed decisions without investing too much time and effort. With these insights, we created a platform called Sincerely Health. Instead of traditional advertising, we directed our resources toward providing meaningful incentives for our customers.

Here’s how Sincerely Health works: you create an account and answer a few questions, and we automatically generate a personalized health score ranging from zero to a thousand.

This score encompasses seven dimensions of well-being, including mental health, sleep, activity, and nutrition. You can set goals to improve your health score, such as walking 10,000 steps, and earn grocery discounts as you progress.

Q: How do you prioritize what’s important to marketing without getting distracted from all the demands from your internal stakeholders as well?

At the beginning of each year, we define our priorities and commit to them. However, given the dynamic nature of life, marketing, and business, it’s crucial to maintain flexibility.

We create comprehensive annual operating documents, viewing marketing as a service function with two key stakeholders: our clients and our customers.

Our process begins by consulting our teams for their annual operating goals, which are typically documented or available on a Power BI dashboard. We then develop a document that supports these goals, prioritizing the most impactful ones.

Our annual operating plan is a strategic blueprint that incorporates learnings from the previous year, highlighting what worked well and what didn’t, our spending across various channels, and our marketing engagement metrics. We align this plan with the overall business goals.

This strategy allows us to navigate the complexities of marketing with clarity and purpose, ensuring that our efforts are impactful and aligned with our organization’s broader mission.

Q: How do you define and develop revenue attribution versus revenue influence, especially from a B2B perspective?

Having the right tech stack is essential to accurately define and develop revenue attribution versus revenue influence in a B2B context. When I first joined, we lacked this capability, so we onboarded HubSpot, which is better suited for small B2B teams than our previous CRM, Microsoft Dynamics.

We also partnered with analytics to create a comprehensive dashboard using Power BI. This dashboard enables us to attribute revenue, sales, and leads from the top of the funnel to the lower funnel. Initially, we relied on cumbersome and often incomplete spreadsheets.

Now, tools like ZoomInfo integrate seamlessly with HubSpot, tracking contacts from the first email to conversion and providing visibility into the entire lead journey.

It’s important to understand that while the sales team closes deals, marketing’s influence is pervasive throughout the process.

Although the process is never perfect, we attribute revenue to marketing whenever it engages with a lead during its journey. Even when the sales team utilizes marketing-created assets or talk tracks, marketing deserves recognition for its influence. If marketing has touched the lead at any point in its journey, it is credited with contributing to the revenue.

This approach underscores the critical role of marketing in driving business success and ensures that marketing efforts are recognized for their significant impact on revenue generation.

Career Advice for Marketing Leaders

Q: What advice would you give to an early or mid-career person you might be mentoring?

  • Apply the extra degree of effort. Water at 211 degrees is hot, but at 212 degrees, it boils and creates steam that can power a locomotive. Always consider what extra effort you can add to turn a simple request into something extraordinary.
  • Don’t take everything personally. Remember, not everyone thinks about you as much as you do. Don’t dwell on what others say; instead, focus on your own growth and improvement.
  • Struggles make you stronger: No matter how difficult things seem now, your struggles will forge a stronger, better person. In hindsight, you’ll recognize how these challenges have fortified you.
  • Get outside your comfort zone. True growth happens outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to start something new; staying within your comfort zone makes life pass by quickly.
  • Be present. You never truly understand the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. Live in the present, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
  • Embrace failure. Failure is an essential part of success and growth. We learn the most from our failures, just as we did when learning to walk or talk.
  • Be grateful. When you focus on what you’re grateful for, you begin to lose sight of what you lack. Cultivating gratitude helps maintain a positive outlook.
  • Adjust to change. You can’t control the wind but can adjust your sails. It’s not about what happens to you but how you react and adapt to change.

During his Marketer 411 call, Francisco emphasizes the importance of the synergy between marketing and business development in driving growth. With the rapid evolution of marketing, it’s essential to master new digital platforms and cultivate specialized roles within your team. Implementing data-driven approaches for accurate revenue attribution and prioritizing customer research are key to effective marketing strategies that truly impress and delight customers while also meeting their needs. Consider these insights to develop a comprehensive growth strategy, enhance customer engagement, and achieve your business goals.

Meet the Expert

Francisco Bram – Marketing and Business Development at Albertsons Companies 

Francisco Bram is a highly accomplished marketing professional, currently serving as the VP of Marketing and Business Development for Albertsons Companies. In this role, he is responsible for leading customer insights, digital product marketing, brand, growth marketing and business development for Albertsons Companies family of brands. Francisco has devoted his career to helping organizations find customer insights, identify new opportunities, and launch product innovations. He is widely recognized for his contributions to Uber and Siemens, having helped Uber enter new verticals such as B2B, Healthcare, Prescription and Grocery delivery and assisted Siemens in increasing patient access to care through the launch of innovative medical devices and AI technology. Francisco has launched over 20 products globally and is known for his enthusiasm, energy and passion when connecting with industry peers and sharing his experiences. 

The Marketer 411 virtual events are hosted by Jennie Stark, the VP of the MTM Program at 24 Seven. These events are designed for Marketing Managers to bring value, direction, and inspiration to their teams from insightful conversations with top marketing leaders. Each 411 contains insights on different disciplines, such as what brands are focused on, leading teams, measuring success, and more. 

Marketers That Matter® is a community of top marketing executives coming together to pioneer the future of marketing, sharing real-time experiences, and solving current challenges. 

Our parent company, 24 Seven, specializes in helping you find exceptional marketing and creative talent for your teams.