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Interview with Ann-Marie Smee, CEO at Benamic

Ann-Marie Smee, CEO at Benamic

Benamic, founded in 2009 and based Ireland, are global leaders in promotion strategy, implementation, and management. They essentially simplify global business for multinational companies. With over 10 years’ experience, they manage and execute a variety of campaigns globally, incorporating multiple languages, currencies and regulations and have partnered with iconic brands such as MSI, Dyson, Samsung, Cisco, and Canon.

Celebrating their success this year and having participated in the 9th edition of Global Brands Magazine Awards, they have won the international award for “Excellence in Promotion Management – Global, 2021”.

Global Brands Magazine was pleased to have the opportunity to interview Ann-Marie Smee, the CEO at Benamic, to find out more!

1. Tell us about your background and the events in your career that led you to become the CEO of Benamic.

I started my career with Benamic nearly 13 years ago as a Global Business Development Manager. My focus was client acquisition – clients such as Microsoft, Panasonic, Canon, Glanbia, Samsung, BSH, Mercury Marine, etc. I was promoted to CEO just under four years ago, and it was an opportunity at which I jumped. I had fantastic experience ‘at the coalface’, which gave me a clear insight into what our client base wanted both now, and into the future. It enabled me to identify and initiate plans to enhance our service portfolio and work to future-proof the company by adding cutting-edge tech tools that add a lot of value to our clients.

2. What distinguishes Benamic from other big brand marketing agencies?

Benamic is a world leader in promotional fulfillment. We operate in over 100 countries and are the only provider to enable big brands to run either B2B and B2C promotions in any region. We have a very robust campaign engine that can cater to flexible promotions that yield a high ROI. Many brands work with us as we can launch any promotion, in any country, at any time and have the confidence that we have all the back-end support systems in place to execute any requirement. Offering such a comprehensive service means that we can promote brand cohesion across multiple markets, drive efficiencies via economies of scale, streamline end-user and trade comms, and use multi-market metrics captured via promotional initiatives to hone our clients’ marketing strategies.

3. How does Benamic acquire most of its clients? Is it mainly via referrals, or is it another method?

Benamic attracts clients via a multi-channel approach. Traditional sales methods are less effective, so we employ other tools such as paid search, display marketing campaigns, and remarketing campaigns. We also get a lot of referrals from existing clients where they introduce other regions/divisions and from people we have worked with but have moved onto another role within another brand. More recently, we are positioning Benamic as a ‘thought leader’ and are doing so via our newly launched Podcast, called ‘The Science of Hello’. The series is a conversation around buyer habits, creative trends, new expansions in technology, digital marketing tactics, topical news stories, and everything in between.

4. Understandably your approach to marketing strategies is bespoke, varying from client to client, but do you have one single go-to method that works as a starting point for every client? If so, please describe it.

Our services cater to the specific needs of our clients where we listen to their business goals and objectives and tailor a solution to suit. In some cases, however, there may be an obvious first choice – particularly if the brand is engaging in promotional campaigns for the first time. For example, if a consumer electronic manufacturer engages with us, a suitable promotion would be a cashback program. This type of promotion is well understood across most markets, is legally viable, and is simple to execute. It is also one of the best promotions to drive sales and to gain market share as it has end-user mass appeal. It also protects the brand’s margin on approximately 70% of their products, compared to in-store discounts where 100% of units sold will have the discount applied. Naturally, there are other benefits to running a cashback, such as end-user data capture, where you can make your budget work harder by re-engaging with these opted-in users at a later stage. This is a win-win for both the brand and end-user.

5. What % of your promotional strategies involve digital versus real-world marketing?

100% of our promotional campaigns would involve digital, and of those, approximately 70% would also be offline. Covid has accelerated the push for brands to evolve and to drive their online strategies. Luckily for Benamic, we have always offered our clients a complete digital service where we can support their digital efforts with SEO, display adverts, Google Ads, remarketing campaigns and all digital assets required for their promotions along with voice-activated forms, AI-enabled Chatbots and smart messaging.

6. What challenges do you face when handling consumer data in promotional campaigns? Is legal red tape like GDPR a difficult obstacle to navigate?

Data security is paramount, along with the reassurances you need to give the clients and their end-users in terms of how their data will be used. Benamic is ISO27001 certified, which means we offer the highest data security standard available. We are also GDPR compliant and can actively demonstrate our effectiveness in this area, coupled with comprehensive risk and compliance measures. Generally, for promotional campaigns and other initiatives we manage, GDPR has resulted in some changes in processes but not in the overall effectiveness or set up of campaigns.

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