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June 6, 2022

Matt Fantazier of Johnson & Johnson: How Servant Leadership Powers Modern Ecommerce Marketing and Better Performance at J&J

Written by: Satta Sarmah Hightower
"It's this understanding of business objectives and starting from a shared perspective of 'I'm not going to come in here and tell you what to do. Tell me what's important to you,' and really start[ing] from that servant leadership mindset." — Matt Fantazier, Director of Digital Experience at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health

Driving digital innovation, especially at a big consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand, requires a diverse mix of skills, experience, and mindset.

Matt Fantazier — who’s spent 15 years at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in roles that span finance, strategy, and marketing — has all three. Fantazier brings them all to his work as J&J’s director of digital experience. His team collaborates with brand teams inside the company to help them execute their ecommerce strategy, essentially serving as a hub for innovation inside J&J.

Fantazier joined a recent episode of the "Unpacking the Digital Shelf" podcast, "Servant Leadership Powers Digital Evolution and Performance at J&J," to share how his team effectively collaborates across J&J’s business to improve ecommerce marketing — and why having a servant leadership mindset is so critical to his team’s work.

Building a Diverse Career

Fantazier started his tenure with J&J in finance. In 15 years, he’s held 10 different jobs inside the company but has spent the last nine years in marketing.

"I think the moral of the story is I haven't had to leave to grow. That's what's really been exciting for me is I've been able to do different things to grow, to try new functions, new parts of marketing, all under the same company," Fantazier says.

This diverse experience has been integral in Fantazier’s new role as J&J’s director of digital experience, which he began a year ago. In less than a year, he’s also built his team. Fantazier says he focused on filling his team with people who have a range of different, but complementary skills, including those with search and creative expertise.

"You could study digital marketing all day and you'd never learn it — because one, it changes too fast — but that's part of why the team I've built has ultra-diverse skills," Fantazier says.

Creating an Embedded Digital Team

While J&J employs a center of excellence model, the work Fantazier’s team does is a bit different. His team is embedded within J&J’s local teams. They work with each brand team to understand their key pain points and execute digital strategies to address them.

The ecommerce landscape and ecommerce marketing tactics are constantly changing, so it’s also important for both digital and brand teams to have a very clear understanding of their full ecommerce profit and loss (P&L), focus on profitability, understand customer acquisition costs, and assess customer lifetime value. Data and metrics are integral to this effort, as Fantazier says his team also adopts the key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals of the brand team with which it collaborates.

"[Being new,] it was extra important for us to spend that upfront time and ground on the strategies. We didn't do anything until we were clear on what are the brand strategies, what are the challenges, and [understood] the competitive set in the marketplace so that we weren't just chasing shiny objects or creating solutions looking for a problem, essentially. So first step, align on the strategies, but then also align on the priorities." — Matt Fantazier, Director of Digital Experience at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health

Embracing Servant Leadership

J&J’s digital team has been able to effectively collaborate with brand teams because they embrace a servant leadership mindset, Fantazier says.

"It's this understanding of business objectives and starting from a shared perspective of 'I'm not going to come in here and tell you what to do. Tell me what's important to you,' and really start[ing] from that servant leadership mindset and really mak[ing] sure the team has that posture, as well, of we're all one team here. We're going to help you achieve the things you think are really, really important," he says.

Fantazier says his team’s work is ultimately focused on taking the things a brand team already does well and giving them the resources and tools to expand on them.

For example, if a brand team has a theory about a certain audience segment it wants to reach, Fantazier’s team may suggest a go-forward plan that involves working with J&J’s media agency and insights team to “develop learning plans and actually iterate on creative or different media executions to understand what's working and what's not working.”

This gives the brand team more creative and resource bandwidth to test and learn, which could improve their marketing efficiency and potentially lead to more growth opportunities.

Fantazier says that the idea of servant leadership isn’t just integrated into his team’s work — it’s become a core principle for how teams work together within J&J.

"I can tell you that 90% of what I'm doing in the last year has nothing to do with my technical skills. It is all understanding different stakeholders. What are the barriers? Helping to bring in the right people to solve a problem or to clear an impediment from the path," he says. "To be successful [at digital transformation], you have to over-index on the 'how' side of things and really make sure that people understand the strategies, that you understand them, and [that you can] navigate all those difficult conversations and situations that can arise just naturally. That's been the majority of my job, to be honest."

Driving Modern Ecommerce Marketing and Measurable Results at J&J

The close collaboration between J&J’s digital and brand teams has driven tangible benefits and results for the company.

Focusing on profitability and understanding conversion costs has led to a huge improvement in sales and profitability, Fantazier says.

"All of them are going in the right direction because we're promoting the right things, the right way, with the right activation strategies — all geared toward performance with a team that can actually monitor and optimize as we get feedback from the marketplace," he says.

Effective prioritization has been another byproduct of the synergy between J&J’s digital and brand teams. Fantazier says his digital team’s specific charge to drive prioritization has led to J&J’s media agencies, brand teams, and other external partners having the same focus and mission — whether it’s driving ecommerce conversions or getting a new product to market as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

"The work that's getting done, I'm highly confident is the most impactful work that we should be spending our time on," Fantazier says.

While Fantazier’s team is relatively new, it’s already having a major impact within J&J. As far as what success looks like, Fantazier has a larger, overarching goal for his team that aligns with what he hopes will be the future for all marketing organizations.

"It's continuing to integrate marketing and digital marketing to just be marketing. Digital marketing is an archaic term," he says. "I hope it's out of our vernacular sooner rather than later, because the reality is that it's just marketing today."

For more details on how effective collaboration between digital and brand teams can improve ecommerce marketing, check out the rest of this episode of "Unpacking the Digital Shelf."