Thriving in the Digital Age: Mastering Transformation
Smarter GTM 01.06.2024

Thriving in the Digital Age: Mastering Transformation

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In this episode of Sunny Side Up, Alex Pavia interviews Ellina Shinnick to discuss key strategies to navigate the challenges of modern marketing and leadership. Ellina shares her extensive experience in managing complex roles, emphasising the need for focus, curiosity, and discipline in today’s marketing environment. She delves into her approach to omnichannel strategies, team building, customer understanding, and leveraging generative AI while maintaining a crucial human touch in content development. Ellina’s insights extend across various aspects of marketing, from digital transformation in traditional industries to the nuances of content creation in complex sales environments. Her perspective offers invaluable advice for both seasoned and emerging marketers in the SaaS and B2C sectors.

About the Guest

Ellina Shinnick is the Chief Marketing Officer for HUB International. She is based in Chicago and oversees a global marketing organisation. Ellina leads the strategy for both the HUB and VIU by HUB brands that span B2C and B2B customer segments. During her tenure with HUB, Ellina built the Marketing Center of Excellence, growing the organisation from 12 employees to more than 100 contributors. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ellina led the charge to position HUB as a partner for its clients and prospects, developing a marketing strategy that provided pertinent content and virtual events to help them navigate the pandemic. She has also been instrumental in helping to advance HUB along its digital journey, investing in the latest marketing technology and skillsets that enable HUB to connect with and serve its ever-changing client base. Additionally, Ellina oversaw the design and launch of multiple HUB brand refreshes and the launch of HUB’s newest brand – VIU by HUB.

Connect with Ellina Shinnick

Key Takeaways

  • Success in higher roles often hinges on the ability to strategise effectively and build strong, capable teams.
  • Understand and implement an omnichannel approach to meet evolving customer expectations in a digital world.
  • Develop tactics to engage new and existing customers through digital and hybrid channels.
  • Embrace an omni-channel approach to meet customer expectations for seamless interactions across different platforms.
  • Go beyond the surface to fully understand the customer’s business and the macro dynamics impacting them.
  • Focus on storytelling that is driven by performance metrics and market insights.
  • Blend creativity with a solid understanding of business metrics and KPIs.
  • Approach marketing strategies with empathy and curiosity about the customer as an individual.
  • Utilise generative AI for content creation, but always keep human expertise in the loop, especially in regulated industries.
  • Identify areas where AI can be appropriately used without compromising the depth of advice and industry-specific requirements.
  • Focus equally on understanding both end consumers and internal stakeholders.
  • Actively work on building culture and high performance, especially in remote settings.
  • Apply the same discipline, focus, and strategic thinking to all aspects of your role, from talent strategy to technology implementation.


“Pause, listen, and be curious about your buyer as a whole individual.” – Ellina Shinnick

Highlights from the Episode

You have a solid background in Marketing. Can you share your career journey over the years?

Starting in a local advertising role, Ellina demonstrated the importance of embracing challenges, like cold calling, to build resilience. Her shift to digital marketing and campaign management highlights the significance of adapting to emerging trends. Ellina’s experience in people management, further education, and diverse roles at companies like LexisNexis and Accenture emphasise continuous learning, flexibility, and the willingness to take calculated risks. She shows the impact of strategic thinking and team development in her current role. 

Tell us about your digital transformation initiatives and how you’ve incorporated digital content to enhance your sales strategy, especially in an industry known for its traditional, relationship-driven approach.

Understanding customer expectations for an omni-channel experience is crucial. Businesses must ensure their brand appears in potential customers’ consideration sets by utilising various forms of digital content. This includes leveraging different content types like videos, webinars, and social media to cater to varying customer journey stages. Additionally, it’s essential to empower individual team members to build their brands alongside the company brand, enhancing customer trust and engagement. Ellina’s strategy underlines the importance of aligning digital content with the customer’s decision-making process, from initial discovery to post-purchase engagement, demonstrating the power of a well-rounded digital strategy in customer acquisition and retention.

Could you share insights into the launch of VIU by Hub, your B2B2C brand in the digital brokerage space, and how it fits into your broader strategy of evolving into an omnichannel environment within the brokerage world?

Ellina’s strategy in launching VIU by Hub revolves around understanding customer expectations for a seamless omni-channel experience, which is crucial in today’s market. Ellina’s approach with VIU by Hub, creating a personalised digital brokerage that simplifies the insurance process from start to finish, highlights the importance of customer-centric product design. Integrating choice and expert advice into the platform addresses the gap in the market for informed and user-friendly insurance services. Moreover, the distinct branding and style of VIU by Hub underlines the significance of evolving a brand’s identity to appeal to different market segments.

Can you share some strategies you employ to create informative and differentiated content, especially for complex sales, and explain how these insights might be valuable for younger marketers more focused on pipeline coverage and customer acquisition costs in the SaaS and B2C sectors?

Understanding the customer’s business and the larger market context is critical. This depth of knowledge allows for creating compelling content that addresses specific customer needs. Ellina stresses the importance of asking “why” when developing marketing campaigns, ensuring that the message is not just different but more engaging than competitors’. She highlights the necessity of balancing creativity with business acumen, understanding key performance indicators (KPIs), and optimising them while focusing on the customer’s perspective. Combining empathy, curiosity, and business expertise in marketing strategies is essential for differentiation and effective engagement in a competitive marketplace.

How are you leveraging Gen AI for content development in the future?

In industries requiring deep, regulated advice, AI can enhance efficiency in content creation, but it’s crucial to maintain human oversight. This approach ensures the content remains relevant, accurate, and tailored to specific needs. Companies should consider how AI can assist in scaling content across different platforms, transforming written material into diverse formats like video or short-form content for broader reach. However, the key takeaway is the irreplaceable value of human judgment and expertise in overseeing AI-generated content, particularly in complex and regulated fields.

How do you navigate the complex landscape of organisational structure, talent engagement, and technology adoption, particularly in a distributed workforce, while ensuring high-quality content and efficient resource allocation, all within the constraints of budget and company growth?

Balancing the understanding of both the end consumer and internal stakeholders is crucial. Building and maintaining relationships based on deep interest in their business goals is essential. In a distributed work environment, actively working on team culture and performance is key. Staying abreast of technological advancements and trends, such as gen AI, and effectively integrating them into business strategies is necessary. Ellina’s approach underscores the importance of continuous learning, adaptability, and strategic thinking in leadership.

Good reads: Is there a book, blog, newsletter, website, or video that you would recommend to our listeners?


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