In light of the global pandemic and renewed calls for social justice of 2020, marketers continue to strongly pivot their focus to brand purpose. Whether it be taking action against new restrictive voting laws or committing to COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, today’s consumers, especially the younger cohorts advertisers are so intent to reach, expect brands to have a defined voice and value.
But for home service marketplace Angi’s (formerly Angie’s List) new CMO Dhanusha Sivajee, brand purpose is something marketers should have cared about a long time ago and if marketers want to keep people interested in their products they need to be radically authentic. “I always say to my team and I try to stand by this, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything,” Sivajee said.
As a career marketer, Sivajee has served as CMO for companies such as media company The Knot Worldwide (previously XO Group), AOL Brand Group, as well as having held senior-level marketing positions at Bloomberg and HBO. Digiday caught up with Angi’s new CMO ahead of stepping into the role to talk about being a purpose-driven marketer, balancing that brand vision and culture with profit and diversity in advertising.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Why do you think brand purpose is important and how does it go beyond marketing?
It’s important to know what your brand stands for, what’s its purpose, what’s its value. Something that has become really important during these times is to make sure that brand purpose and those values come through at every single customer touch point — not just through the marketing and advertising work that we do. Of course the TV commercial is great, but make sure the consumer experience is spot on, lives up to the brand values and is aligned with the brand values. I’ve spent the last couple of years being joined at the hip with product and technology teams. It’s not two separate teams. It’s one team working on different points to really make sure that whenever our technology is creating a consumer experience that really delivers on the value. That’s something I know Angi’s is committed to.
All brands at this point in time should stand for something bigger and be able to use their platform for a greater good. It’s something I was very passionate about at The Knot, in terms of making sure we were serving all different types of couples and that there was no discrimination on our platforms and our marketplace.
How do you balance profit with brand purpose?
As a CMO, my job is to make sure that we really deliver on the brand mission for both sides of the market — for home owners and the home service pros. To me, the company’s focus has been there and I want to build on it. It is really to make sure that we take care of our pros at this time, whether it’s through education on how they can manage people and legal matters during this crazy pandemic time to building and serving as a central community platform for them to connect and share their stories. [The professionals] are a really hard working group of people that want to do their best for homeowners. So it’s up to us to provide and bring our resources to bare with Angi to really help them. That comes in the form of education, thought leadership, bringing community and of course products and services that help them grow their businesses. They obviously want to connect with homeowners that are a good fit for them. The company has been really focused on building out features and functionalities and tools that really help our pros connect and market to homeowners out there. That’s the role that we can play to help them grow their businesses.
DE&I also got a second look thanks to 2020. What does it mean to be a woman of color coming into this position?
My parents were immigrants to England from Sri Lanka and they didn’t have a formal education to speak of, and so they really had to hit the ground running, launching and running a lot of small businesses, whether it was laundromats, gas stations, bingo halls. You name it, we’ve done it as a family. I just have a real purpose and passion in helping small businesses owners achieve their dreams. Angi, from day one, that has been a purpose and mission of the company to really help small businesses and home service pros grow their businesses so they can have a legacy as well.
I’m coming from [The Knot Worldwide] that was 60% women — a lot of females in strong leadership positions. That’s also the same with Angi. I really looked for companies that focused on female and other DE&I efforts. What I love about this brand is that we’re here to serve all homeowners from every walk of life, no matter their color, religion, background or what neighborhood they’re from. Same with the service pros. They come from every walk of life as well. That was really important to me in this role. Angi is committed to DE&I on both sides of the marketplace.
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