A Day in the Life of... Christoph Lindlein, Marketing Manager, IIC-INTERSPORT
Outline IIC-INTERSPORT as an organisation and the area of the company you work in?
Officially IIC-INTERSPORT International Corporation is the brand management and purchasing company of the INTERSPORT Group, and INTERSPORT has the worldwide leading position in the sporting goods retail market. In my eyes IIC is much more than this. IIC is somehow the melting pot of the INTERSPORT Group and a service provider to all our national organizations around the world. We ever strive to serve our national organizations in the best possible way and work for the collective of the group. The variety of INTERSPORT in the different countries, and the individual national needs certainly entail some challenges in our daily work – however this makes IIC such an interesting and diversified company to work for.
The Marketing Division at IIC communicates our expertise in strategic and operational marketing topics to all levels of the INTERSPORT Group. In the same manner as all the other divisions we strive to serve our national organizations by increasing INTERSPORT’s brand awareness and credibility and developing marketing excellence and leadership.
What does a Marketing Manager actually do?
To put it in a nutshell, we mainly collaborate with our strategic focus brand partners (e.g. adidas, Nike, Reebok, Asics, Puma, Salomon, etc.) to create effective trade marketing strategies, and ensure a proper development, implementation and evaluation of international marketing campaigns.
First and foremost we are representing the marketing interests of the entire INTERSPORT Group towards the sporting goods industry. We are experts in understanding the different needs and requirements of our national INTERSPORT organizations and what marketing activations drive more consumers in their stores and increase sales.
We help our strategic brand partners to identify marketing opportunities, evaluate potential marketing activations for them and ultimately make recommendations on marketing investments. For our national organizations we work as a marketing support and service provider. Our main target is to compile exclusive product and marketing stories for INTERSPORT and provide our national organizations with unique selling propositions and competitive advantages towards their national competitors. Altogether we are specialists in valuing marketing opportunities for the INTERSPORT Group and supporting our national organizations to receive the best marketing assets based on their objectives.
We also strive for marketing competence and excellence by providing our national organizations with new marketing ideas, tools, sharing group and industry benchmarks, as well as by improving the group’s internal communication processes.
Can you lead us through a timeline of a typical day in the office?
Due to the great variety of marketing campaigns and projects we are working on, almost every day is like no other. Depending on the campaign phase we are currently in, some days will be rather research, analysis and report writing focussed, and others will be more focussed around meeting with our strategic brand partners and agencies to discuss ongoing work or present final project deliverables. The closer we get to the implementation phase of a campaign the more I enjoy my daily work. Finalizing international marketing campaign concepts and presenting these to all national organization during our biannual Go-To-Market-Meeting encourages me and makes me proud. Finally seeing our international campaigns being rolled out and alive in the different markets is definitely one of the key highlights in our job. All in all the great variety in our job can be seen in the diverse and exciting daily work.
How do you become a Marketing Manager at IIC?
As in every industry the most important thing is to get a foot in the door and learn as much about how the sporting goods industry operates as possible. I studied Sport Science with a major in Sport Management and always wanted to start my career in the sporting goods industry. Through my 12-months internship in the global wholesale business development department of one of the world’s leading sportswear companies I came in touch with INTERSPORT for the first time. And from the very beginning I was fascinated about the INTERSPORT philosophy. The idea to provide professional advice and guidance and offer our customers the best value and competence with all our services and products – in a brand independent and neutral manner – perfectly matches with my personal interests and values.
After working a bit of time in the sporting goods industry you will have a good understanding of where you want to specialize and focus on. Starting your career in marketing does not necessarily mean that you will be branded as a marketer for the rest of your working life. For me it is important to take the initiative as much as possible to accelerate your learning and mark yourself out within your organisation as a specialist. However, be always open to new challenges and new fields of work. This provides you with a wide knowledge and a broad horizon.
What are the qualities needed to be a Marketing Manager and what have you learned since being in the role (challenges/opportunities)?
Project management skills, trade marketing knowledge and a service- and customer oriented mindset as well as being able to articulate and present your projects with clarity to many different clients are all very important.
You need to be an expert in the field, so making sure you perfectly understand the needs of all your national organizations and value the strengths and weaknesses of the different marketing strategies of the strategic brand partners is crucial.
I made the experience that a wide network in the sporting goods industry as well as being well connected within the INTERSPORT Group is the key to success and helps you to better judge new trends and understand development within the industry ahead of the curve.
Can you tell us about a project/task within your career that you have particularly enjoyed?
Certainly one of the highlights in my career was the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil – both from a professional and personal perspective. INTERSPORT was the Official Event Shop of the FIFA World Cup, and with an international marketing campaign around Lionel Messi INTERSPORT was the only retailer in the world selling the exclusive Messi World Cup Edition football boot. I was responsible for the development and a successful roll-out of both campaigns which allowed me to get even more business insights into the fascinating world of football. And with Germany winning the World Cup trophy it was undoubtedly a personal sport highlight too.
What are typical characteristics of IIC as a company that distinguish IIC /makes IIC unique from/compared to other companies in the industry?
Domiciled in the beautiful capital of Switzerland Berne, IIC impresses with its local charm and international flair. With about 120 employees of almost 20 different nationalities IIC is a very familial and multinational company. The INTERSPORT’s brand message “Sport to the People” does not only expresses simply and emotionally the essence of INTERSPORT – it is also breathed and lived among the IIC employees. Flat hierarchies, companionable and sportsmanship teams and a friendly atmosphere complete IIC as a unique company in the industry.