At wireless speaker company Sonos, three people share what has traditionally been the role of a single marketing director. There is a vice president of brand, a vice president of product marketing and a vice president of marketing.
I recently asked Sonos VP of Marketing Pete Pedersen to shed some light on the structure and what’s going on with Sonos’ marketing strategy.
Paul Talbot: What works wonderfully and what could work better with your marketing leadership structure?
Pete Pedersen: Our marketing management team operates without ego or pretension. Each team member is an expert in their particular field, but there is a high degree of humility, openness to new ideas and mutual respect. As a team, we operate as stewards of the brand, serving each other. It’s an incredible group of leaders.
As Sonos evolves, we’ll need to figure out how to support new lines of business and new categories. Will our current structure be appropriate or will we need to evolve? I’m probably not the only marketer on the planet who is obsessed with this issue on a daily basis.
Talbot: How do you guide the process of making the necessary adjustments to your marketing strategy?
Pedersen: At a high level, we spend a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what all the entries mean. No source gives us a complete picture of what’s going on in the market, so we’re constantly synthesizing first and third party data, consumer research, NPS (Net Promoter Score), sales trends, retail trends, our product roadmap and of course. the competitive landscape.
More tactically, Sonos is a big ‘test and learn’ culture, so we frequently experiment with new approaches. In many ways, success and failure are equally valuable outcomes.
Talbot: The sound is subjective. Unless we go the brick and mortar route, we can’t hear the speaker until we buy it. How can marketing best solve this problem?
Pedersen: Sound is obviously very important to Sonos and we go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the sound experience is world class. But we also win on ease of use, premium design, our open approach to music services and most importantly the fact that Sonos is a system where everything works seamlessly.
As marketers, our job is to bring the entire value proposition to life in a compelling way and, most importantly, to convey the emotional benefits as well as the rational benefits.
Talbot: What have you discovered from your partnership with Ikea, with the IKEA Symfonisk table lamp and shelf Wi-Fi speakers?
Pedersen: The best partnerships are always those rooted in respect, admiration and complementary skills. IKEA has been a great partner and we couldn’t be happier with this collaboration. Together, we have pushed the boundaries of form factors, materials, packaging and market strategies. IKEA’s massive global presence has also helped bring Sonos into many new territories where we might not have been otherwise.
Talbot: As the wireless speaker category evolves, what does your research say about consumer wants and needs?
Pedersen: I think we are far from the maturity of the category! There’s a ton of innovation going on at Sonos and other companies, and I think this category will be quite different in 5 years.
That said, one of the big trends we’re paying attention to is the explosion of high-quality streaming content: music, movies, podcasts, TV shows, audiobooks and more. Consumers want this content to be easily accessible anywhere without compromising sound quality.
Talbot: How important is the progressive market segment and how does your marketing content engage this target?
Pedersen: Customers can start with just one speaker and have a great experience. And when they’re ready, they can easily add more speakers to their Sonos systems over time.
We recently launched Sonos Roam, an ultra-portable speaker with a very affordable price. We anticipate that Roam will be the first Sonos speaker that many customers own. If the historical trends show up, these new customers will end up buying more Sonos in the months and years to come as the experience keeps getting better.
In FY20, buybacks represented 41% of our registrations, clear proof that Sonos has become an indispensable part of our customers’ lives.
Talbot: Do you have any other ideas on Sonos’ marketing strategy that you would like to share?
Pedersen: Authenticity has always been at the heart of our culture. Sonos exists because a few hardcore music fans wanted a better way to listen. We’ve grown a lot since those early days, but the passion we share with our customers for music, movies and other forms of content hasn’t changed at all. When we’re at our best as a Sonos marketing team, we strive to reflect this shared passion in deeply authentic ways.