The power in retail commerce has shifted from corporations to consumers: Robert Pavlik
Marketing Director, Keybank

GrowthFit - Episode 15

The power in retail commerce has shifted from corporations to consumers: Robert Pavlik


Robert’s Pavlik has been in the marketing industry for over 20 years and has a diverse range of experience in both B2B and B2C sectors including banking and finance.

A major part of his work has been in delivering sales, marketing, branding and innovation KPI's for consumer, non-profit and financial service organizations. He is a decisive and collaborative leader who generates revenue and growth through team building, strategic alliances, channel growth, new product development, and operational efficiency. He is predisposed to action, a teacher, mentor, volunteer, and coach.

Highlights of the talk:

  • Why is profiling customers according to RFM important
  • Breaking barriers in marketing by understanding new patterns in purchasing
  • Advice to budding marketers- know the job well before you embark on a career in any stream, ATS is crucial in recruitment and learn to deal with rejections.

Tell us about your journey

Robert: I have a diverse background and have been very fortunate to work with great people at excellent organizations. At one major non-profit we raised the paid member retention rate from 62% to 89% in just 4 years. At another Fortune 500 bank, I was able to help increase new client acquisition by more than 50% in less than 18 months. Acting as a growth engine, innovator and brand enhancer briefly summarizes my 20+ year career."

Result oriented approach is important

What do you enjoy more- B2B or B2C?

I have worked in a blend of both as well as in the B2B2C model. For B2B, you are selling to the executives. It’s a very different work. The decision making process is complex and long. However, B2C is much more fun. For example, there’s Budweiser beer that comes up with funny ads frequently to catch people’s attention, however, there is no way to measure the results i.e. the sales from those ads. I wouldn’t like to do anything of that sort because I can’t measure the results accurately. My work has mostly been result oriented. There are advantages and disadvantages in both these aspects of marketing.

Why RFM matters

What techniques do you apply to understand your customers?

We are familiar with the term- CRM. There’s another term RFM analysis that I give utmost attention to. RFM is -

  • Recency: When did they buy from you, was it in the recent past?
  • Frequency: How often do they buy from you?
  • Monetary value: How much money are they spending on your products?

With this you know who your best customers are. You can build personas on the basis of this information and plan your campaigns accordingly. You can match these profiles with the data base from external sources and acquire data to market your products. Research and understand these customers and target them.

Personalize and track the results

What is your take on personalizing for website visitors?

My focus has been more on sales. Being director of sales, I have paid less attention to websites. However, I know that website designers understand the customer persona, they follow customer journeys, and there are systems that can track the performances of various parts. The areas where they bounce off the page, that’s where you lose business. There are applications that you use to track the user journey that can be very useful. You can chronicle the user journey. In social media, you can adjust your ads, you can test different personas for different products- some are homemakers, some environmentalists, you can shift your marketing dollars to those audience segments.

You will not know which audience segment you need to invest in unless you test the results of your personalization experiments.


        “The areas where your audience drops off the website is where you lose business. You need to identify these areas and fix them.”

What are your ways to conduct audience research?

I prefer email surveys that are easy to use and effective. You have to keep things short. You could do a text survey, you get answers, there are paid searches and polls. Focusing on groups gathering opinions, these are traditional ways but really effective.

What is your favorite marketing metric?

For me it’s Return on Investment, called ROI. Meaning, how much revenue did you generate for each Rupee spent. Obviously, you must generate more than 1 rupee return for each rupee spent if you hope to remain in business. Drilling down further, your marketing budget needs to test and learn which marketing channels provide the greatest return and then shift your organization's marketing rupees into those more productive channels. It sounds simple, but it takes time, effort, and discipline to perfect the optimal channel mix and one must always be flexible to pivot to new ways of thinking as marketing channels (like the Internet) evolve.

Do this before planning your career

You shared a post regarding the world's broken workplaces. What are your suggestions for entry-level marketers?

Work is an important aspect of our life because we spend more time at work than anything else. If you are a student, you can find a professional working as let’s say an SEO expert and spend a few days observing or shadowing them about what he does and what all his job consists of. This will give you an idea of whether you want to take up that kind of job profile.

Whatever industry you want to get into, talk to people already working in it, sit with them, and understand what a day in their life looks like. This will give you clarity of whether you want to live a life like that. Internships can also be a good opportunity to explore your interests.

Why ATS compliance in a job application is crucial

What marketing or interpersonal skills do you take into account for a candidate while hiring?

One of the easiest things one can do these days is to extract the keywords from job descriptions and write your resume using those keywords. 75% of resumes are never read. Unfortunately, the job of human resources is to screen out most of the candidates so that they can find the right one. Make sure that the top 3rd of your resume contains the keywords. That’s how the Application Tracking System (ATS) works.

Another thing is the hiring managers want to check whether you fit in the culture that is the candidate’s relatability. One also needs to understand that rejection is also a part of the process and you will have to deal with it.

Innovation is important to deal with challenges

What is your advice for the challenges that the pandemic has brought?

I believe that tough times don't last, tough people do. The economic crisis is also quite disheartening and I am confident that we will overcome this. If you notice the biggest change in our times has been that the power has shifted from retail commerce has shifted from corporations to consumers.

Television is no longer the most influential channel. It’s the digital media that works. Now it’s all about knowing who your customers are and finding the best channels. Customers can complain about the product on social media. You can find out how much the dealer paid for the product like a car. Digital marketing is twice the revenue of television. We shifted our advertisement from TV to digital media.

For example, at KeyBank, we shifted our offers and found new ways to sign up. We found a way to overcome the barriers. We cannot deal with the world the way we want to, we have to deal with it the way it is. The market will adjust the strategy and program to survive. You need to change your channels and find new ways. It’s all about knowing your customers and what they are looking for in this particular situation.

Who is your mentor in the marketing world?

That’s a tough question. I would like to mention the book “Talking to Strangers” by Malcom Gladwell. I suggest this book for everyone. There’s some psychology with respect to human interaction and purchasing which I found interesting.


            “Tough times won’t last forever. Find new ways to break through the barriers, the market is sure to adjust itself.”

Contact Robert Pavlik

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertpavlik7/
Twitter: @robertpavlik

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