The Agency Interview: 31 Questions with Margaret Molloy

July 10, 2017

Siegel Gale office

Margaret Molloy is the Global CMO at Siegel+Gale, a branding consultancy where she preaches the importance of simplicity in branding. Molloy, who grew up in Ireland, went to college in Spain, and now works in New York, takes a global view of business. We asked her 31 questions. Here are her 31 answers.

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Green juice and oatmeal.

2. What’s the last great thing you binge watched and why?

I don’t watch traditional TV shows, but I am a voracious consumer of financial and business news. I never miss the Sunday lineup. Understanding the business backdrop in which our clients operate is fundamental to helping them build great brands.

3. What’s the industry buzzword that annoys you the most these days?

Digital. The term is often misused when referred to as a channel. To highlight that term in isolation is to miss the point. It’s one facet of a brand experience.

4. Why is simplicity in brand so important these days?

We live in a cluttered world. People are harried at work and bombarded with messages in their personal lives. In every industry category, there are more than enough options. And emerging brands are disrupting the norms in practically every industry, setting new standards for convenience.

Siegel+Gale’s research reveals that consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences and that they are more likely to recommend a brand because it’s simple. It has also shown that a stock portfolio of the simplest global brands outperforms the major indexes and employees at companies considered simple are more likely to be brand champions.

5. What’s the last great book you read? Why was it great?

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. For me, simplicity is an essential part of a modern marketer’s strategy, and focusing on the “essential” is critical to simplifying. This book provides a framework for how to determine what’s essential to professional success and personal happiness. Essentialism isn’t about doing less; it’s about making a bigger impact.

6. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Spain. I adore the culture and cuisine. I spent a year studying there while I was in college. It’s a special place for me.  

7. What’s the biggest change in the agency business since you started?

The speed of business. Companies today have a dual requirement for speed and creativity. However, there’s an inherent tension between the two. Project timelines have been condensed and the desire for creativity has grown.

8. How have you (and your agency) adapted?

Siegel+Gale has developed an agile work environment to help our clients navigate the need for speed and creativity. We have established a model for increased real-time collaboration across our practice areas—such as design, brand strategy and research. This streamlined approach has delivered excellent results for clients in situations like a rebrand, M&A, corporate divestitures, or the arrival of new CEO or CMO. Further, Siegel+Gale has become a poster child for agency-wide collaboration within Omnicom and with our clients’ other agency partners.

9. What’s your proudest moment in business?

For the past number of years, Siegel+Gale has had the privilege of working with CVS Health. In September 2014, they became the first national pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco products in their stores. For our team, it’s exciting working with a client that’s so purpose-driven. CVS Health is truly committed to helping people on their path to better health. And we are proud to help them on that journey.

10. In life?

Watching my two sons grow into curious young men is a source of pride, humility and learning.

11. How important do you think personalization is in the mobile age?

Done well, personalization is powerful. For example, consumers are often more transaction-orientated when using their mobile device and this requires simple, intuitive experiences. When brands get personalization right they have a higher probability of influencing immediate purchase. The risk of getting it wrong is even greater, of course.

12. What’s the most important way the rise of social media, from YouTube to Facebook to LinkedIn, has changed the way companies reach their audiences?

The main difference is the multi-directional nature of conversations. Social media has moved the conversation about a brand beyond traditional broadcast approach. I see this as a shift from storytelling to story building. Brands cannot control the narrative, but they can seed it. Social media users build on the story based on their experiences with a brand. From an internal perspective, companies need greater alignment among all employees, especially client-facing employees, to ensure a consumer’s experiences of a brand matches the brand promise.

13. Is content marketing an evolution or a revolution?

It’s absolutely an evolution. In fact, content has always been a staple in the B2B marketers’ toolkits. Consider the whitepaper or customer testimonial.  Now we are seeing B2C embrace the power of content marketing as well.

14. You grew up in Ireland, went to college in Spain, and now work in the U.S. Do you think you have a global point of view, and if so, how has it helped you?

I firmly maintain that diversity of inputs results in better decisions. On a personal level, I believe that having a global mindset makes you more observant, curious and empathetic.  Having to adapt to a foreign environment makes you challenge your own assumptions. These qualities help me appreciate client needs and serve them better.

15. How has the availability of data changed marketing (or not)?

Marketing is about driving business performance. Now we have more of a fact base than ever before at our fingertips. But data alone does not hold the answer. We have more inputs, but the goal of our job remains the same—to convert data into insight to drive business performance.

16. How do you use LinkedIn — for networking? For content marketing? Searching for talent? For sales prospecting? For staying abreast of news?

All of the above. I use LinkedIn daily, it’s my desktop homepage. I am a huge advocate of the platform. We use it at Siegel+Gale to showcase our thought leadership. Personally, I use it to keep in contact with my network and as a publishing platform for my blogs.

17. What is your top-secret superpower?

Not exactly a top-secret–I am a connector!

18. Who should play you in the movie version of your life?

Maureen O’Hara, she was a strong, feisty woman and alluring at the same time.

19. If you weren't at Siegel+Gale, what would you be doing?

An anchor on a business show—I enjoy finding the interesting story behind the people in the headlines.

20. What is your favorite cartoon character and why?

Mickey Mouse. He’s playful yet grounded, and has a sense of humor. It’s interesting how the Disney brand has evolved—it’s still as relevant to my children as it was to me.

21. What do you have an irrational hatred for?

The mindset of indifference. Mediocrity ensues if you don’t care. In our home, we have banned the term “I don’t care”. If we don’t care, we are not invested. Passion is essential.

22. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A teacher.

23. What's your most annoying habit?

I tend to interrupt people.  

24. How long would you survive a zombie apocalypse?

I’m resourceful—so I’m confident I’d last with the help of a few people I know. Do I get to bring LinkedIn?

25. You grew up on a dairy farm? What lessons did you learn from working on that farm that you still put into practice today?

From an early age, I learned the power of keeping promises, hard work, the role of community and, ultimately, the value of being a good neighbor.

26. What did you learn at Siebel Systems that you still use today?

A maniacal focus on the customer journey and the imperative to align buyers’ goals with a company’s offerings. Today, at Siegel+Gale, we convene roundtables around the world to listen to our customers' most pressing concerns and to ensure we are ready to address them with creative solutions.  

27. What’s not on your LinkedIn profile?

My #WearingIrish passion project. I champion Irish fashion and jewelry designers by wearing their creations and posting pictures on social media. The movement achieved major momentum last March with thousands of posts on social media from others who joined me.

28. What’s the best dinner you’ve had in the last week?

A family lunch to celebrate my son’s birthday.

29. What’s the best thing that’s going to happen during the rest of 2017?

I’d like to see the global conversations move from protectionism and isolation to a renewed appreciation for diversity and civility. I hope we can move beyond the division that seems to have taken stage in many parts of the world and embrace the power of diversity in business and culture.

30. What question should we have asked you?

What’s the future of branding? I predict that “simplify” will be the new “disrupt.” Savvy marketers will focus on creating simple brand experiences and ensuring the promise of simplicity filters down through all facets of the customer experience.

31. What do you enjoy most about working at Siegel+Gale?

The team. At Siegel+Gale our values are smart, smart and unstoppable. I am continuously inspired by my co-workers who bring these values to life for our clients and for each other every day. 

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