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Coffee Break with Phillip Notley


As Head of Marketing and Communications, Phillip Notley has led our Marketing department for over six years. Phillip’s natural curiosity and big-picture outlook help him discover new ways for FCT to connect with customers and drive value for the organization. Today, he sits down with us to discuss his journey, as well as the art—and science—of marketing.

What is the best part of your job?

I know it sounds cliché, but I would say it’s the people that I work with every day. We’re constantly learning from each other and challenging each other to be better. It’s a very collaborative and creative environment.

I also love that no two days are the same. I get to be part of so many exciting initiatives, and I find the constant challenge very rewarding.

How did you get on this career path?

There are people in this world who decide to go into marketing, and there are people who fall into marketing. I was one of the latter. When I was much younger, I was intrigued by aspects of marketing, without understanding exactly what it was. The power of subliminal persuasion, engaging with customers, creating memorable experiences…things like that.

I got my first job at 13, as a pot washer for The Pickle Barrel—I lasted about three days. I quickly realized that I wasn’t cut out for physical work. My first real job, where I got to wear a suit and tie, was at McGregor Hosiery. I sold Dockers wallets and belts to major retailers throughout Canada.

Then, I landed at a commercial real estate company where I was hired to cover a maternity leave as a marketing coordinator.  It just set me off in a new direction, and introduced me formally to two of the things I love: marketing and real estate. That was 23 years ago.

What accomplishment at FCT are you most proud of?

If I had to pick just one thing—it’s that the value of marketing at FCT has grown significantly over the last six years. I think that’s part of what my vision was, but it’s also the talented people who have been part of the team over this time.

Marketing now helps drive market share, revenue growth, brand perception, product development and customer feedback—areas where we didn’t play a role before. I’m very proud of how the value we provide to the organization has grown.

Do you consider marketing more of an art or science?

It’s becoming much more of a science now, and I think that’s a good thing. The science comes into play in overall strategy and planning marketing campaigns. You can’t execute those plans without a strong artistic foundation, but without data to answer the “why”, you’re left hoping for the best when you plan a campaign.

At FCT, the decisions we make are data-driven. In our marketing group, we have four people who help us interpret data. Every campaign and piece of content is an opportunity for us to learn. How is our audience engaging with what we produce? What are they responding to and what are they ignoring? When we know more about our customers, we can create a better experience for them.

What will marketing look like in the next five years?

Nobody volunteered for this social experiment that we’ve been going through for the last two years. It has changed our mindset and our expectations as a population, I think permanently.

For one thing, people’s personal and professional lives aren’t always separate anymore, with so many folks working from home. The B2B experience needs to feel as smooth as any personal online shopping interaction. Customers are no longer willing to make excuses for cumbersome B2B experiences.

Customers are also going to start judging companies on who they are and how they act. Because of that, marketing will have a much tighter connection with ESG and the culture of organizations. Companies will have to be authentic and sincere with their customers to succeed.

I think marketing has to be the advocate for change within an organization. It’s about staying relevant, but more than that, it’s about constantly challenging yourself to learn more and be better. At FCT, we’re always looking ahead to imagine what new things we could be doing. Not just to drive revenue and market share growth, but drive the conversation in our industry. That’s the value we provide as marketers.


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