Former Facebook digital marketer Streisan Bevan tells Rachel Bridge at Drax why she has embarked on a plural Non-executive Director career
Digital marketing is one of those issues that every business knows they need to get to grips with - but often don’t know where to start. So it is perhaps not surprising that former Facebook digital marketer Streisan Bevan is in such demand right now.
After joining Everyman Cinemas as a Non-executive Director in January, she has now also become a Non-executive Director at Away Resorts, a holiday company which is backed by Swiss private equity firm Bregal Freshstream. She also works with private equity firm NVM as Operations Partner, advising them on relevant pre-investment deals.
Digital marketing is moving so fast marketers can struggle to understand what they need to do and how to implement it, Streisan says. Having always focused solely on digital marketing, however, she has the advantage that she is unencumbered by outdated methods.
She says: “A lot of traditional marketers are scared of this new world and fall down because they are unwilling to try new things. But having grown up in digital marketing I have a real eye for what works and what doesn’t.”
Businesses of all kinds really need to get to grips with digital marketing in order to be able to compete in today’s world, she says: “Human beings are spending more and more time online; they have their mobile attached to their hand from the minute they wake up in the morning to the minute they go to bed at night. Businesses need to think about the different touch points they can have with a customer and digital marketing is at the heart of that.”
Streisan points out that a business such as Everyman Cinemas, for example, may typically only see a customer a few times a year and so the challenge is to use digital marketing tools to stay in touch with them during the rest of the year, something which not only builds loyalty but which might also perhaps encourage them to visit more often. She says: “It is about keeping your business top of mind.”
Streisan is uniquely placed to help businesses to do this, having spent the past 20 years in digital marketing, first at search engine MSN, then at the start up Bebo.com that was acquired by AOL in 2008 before joining Facebook UK in 2009. While she was at Facebook she gained experience in both the commercial and technology sides of the business, initially advising customers such as Burberry and Net-a-Porter on how they could use digital marketing tools to get closer to their customers, and then in a product development role, working with engineers and product development teams to create new digital advertising products.
Streisan says: “I have been on both sides of the fence so not only do I understand commercial side of the business, I also understand product development, and for private equity-backed businesses that is invaluable.”
Indeed one of the motivations for going plural was the realisation that she could have an immediate positive impact on the businesses she was helping.
She says: “I came out of Facebook knowing that I had been working for a long time in one of the biggest and best companies in the world that was really paving the way when it comes to digital technology. I felt that I had an opportunity to work with lots of different companies and go in and make a difference very quickly.”
Indeed Streisan is a perfect example of why a growing number of private equity-backed businesses are choosing to appoint subject matter specialists to non-executive director roles, realising that it can be a relatively fast and inexpensive way of getting the expertise they need.
She says: “It is really nice to be able to walk into a room and have people saying, she has some really interesting ideas that we hadn’t thought about.”
As a woman, she obviously also brings with her the added advantage of increasing the diversity of a board, something which she learnt at Facebook could be really useful in helping them to understand their customers better.
She says: “At Facebook we called it cognitive diversity, which means having all types of cultures and experiences around the table that replicate those of your customers, so that you can make sure you are building products for the right people and ensuring that you are doing the right thing for them.”
Drax Contact: Sebastian Twining
Associate Director, Consumer
Tel: 020 3949 9568