We’re back again with another instalment of the Executive Marketer Series.
Our series brings together some of the best minds in the Australian marketing industry to share insights and advice about all things marketing.
This week we sat down with Kristen Boschma, director of brand, communications and marketing at Open Universities Australia. She gave us insight into how marketing has changed, what to look out for in the future and how to connect with consumers through marketing.
Open Universities Australia, director of brand, communications and marketing
Some background on Kristen
Kristen Boschma is the director of brand, communications and marketing at Open Universities Australia (OUA). She has held various marketing management positions throughout her career including positions are The Age, ANZ and Telstra. She is very experienced in the social media space and this knowledge goes hand in hand with her digital marketing work today.
Highlights from the interview
Q. How important is aligning marketing strategy with sales objectives and how can businesses get buy-in from the C-suite?
A. Aligning marketing strategy with sales is up there with alignment to product, ICT and business objectives. It’s important that your marketing teams have an appreciation for what it takes to sell your product at every customer touchpoint. Similarly your sales teams should understand that just because they are consumers of media, it doesn’t make them an expert marketer. Both disciplines involve the skilful use of scarce resources – marketing’s scarce resource is money, and salespeople have limited time. C-suite executives need to know where you’re spending your time and money, and what the measureable cost versus benefit of each decision is at current levels. It’s also a good idea to give an indication of interdependencies and what would happen if we scaled up by 10, 20 and 40 per cent.
Q. How has the traditional face of marketing changed in the digital world?
A. Ultimately the basic principles are the same: understanding your customers’ needs, where they are, what mind frame they are in and making them a compelling offer or giving them a ‘gift’. Garner predicts that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO because ultimately the digital world enables us to deliver better and more personalised customer experiences using the same tried and true principles. What changes is the personalisation, speed of delivery, real-time feedback, the role of analytics and the need for relevant content along the online purchase path. Through our online learning management system, for example, we’re able to measure and predict when a student is most likely to lose focus so we can intervene and support them when they need it. The digital age gives us that data and the product and promotion actions we take from there can be really powerful.
Q. We are hearing more and more about the fragmentation of audiences across media channels. What is your advice for devising a media plan to reach a target audience today? How does this differ from the way you would have approached this back in 2003?
A. I like to divide my plan into bought, owned and earned along columns and then add traditional, digital and social layers along the rows. What you end up with a matrix with connectors. The trick is to make sure that the connections are as strong as the destination points. In other words, it’s not enough to have website, a TV commercial and a great Facebook presence – you have to make sure that they all align and that the spend is fully leveraged. In 2003, all I had to do was worry about the traditional row. Now the plan has three layers and multiple connection points.
The other thing to remember is that media may seem fragmented to us, but things may not appear that way to consumers. People don’t consciously process that they have moved from staring at a transit billboard to their mobile phones, then later to their computer screen or something printed on their coffee cup. Human brains naturally chunk similar things together in order to process the vast amount of external stimuli they encounter. With more channels and more stimuli, our challenge as marketers is to ensure that one, our brand is prominent across the major media channels that our target audience encounters in a typical day, and two, our brand experience is consistent enough for people to chunk together our marketing efforts so that we take up more mental shelf space than competitors.
Q. What are the biggest challenges facing digital marketers in the current market, and what advice can you give young marketers starting out in the digital game?
A. The great thing about young digital marketers is that they are digital natives; the bad thing about young digital marketers is that they are digital natives. Spending some time learning marketing fundamentals is a great idea. I like my OUA team to work to an 80/20 plan: spend 80 per cent of your time doing work that has a strategic, planned, measured and predicted outcome, and reserve 20 per cent of your time to work on crazy, out-of-the-box kind of ideas. It’s an old cliché, but I still maintain that marketers need a good balance of science and art to thrive in the digital age.
Q. Where do you think the future of marketing is heading, and what should marketers do to prepare for the next five years?
A. I think the way consumers receive media will take on other, more passive forms in the next five years, such as flashing text (have a look at Spritz), more prevalent frictionless sharing and a scale-up of augmented reality media. The implication for marketers is that we’ll have to think about delivering rich experiences that drive strong advocacy. If you’re old like me, the only thing you can do to prepare is to stay interested and current. It’s not enough to know about Snapchat – you have to get in there and immerse yourself on the platform that emerges, and work out if it’s a viable place to attract more consumers to your brand. The OUA marketing team are constantly sharing and enjoying new insights and platforms. We also spend a great deal of time with key partners like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn to make sure we’re across their innovations as they become available. Lastly, enjoy it. The cleverness of the human species is abundant in the digital world, and if you embrace it, you’ll spend your days being amused and in awe.
What do you think marketing will look like over the next five years?
Come back next week for another instalment of the Executive Marketer Series.
By Cameron Upshall
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