CMO interview: Placing a bet on marketing's customer-led future at Tabcorp

Chief marketing officer of Tabcorp, Claire Murphy, talks about the group's new centralised and strategic marketing function, the shift to customer centricity and her brand strategy

Claire Murphy, CMO, Tabcorp
Claire Murphy, CMO, Tabcorp

Most Australian organisations are on a quest to become customer led, and Tabcorp is no different. Facing with digital disruption, and an increasingly cluttered gaming and wagering market thanks to the arrival of global competitors on Australian shores, the business is making a number of step changes in order to better resonate with modern-day punters.

Recently appointed CMO, Claire Murphy, says the implications for marketing are no less dramatic. Since March, she has been overseeing a restructure of the marketing function from decentralised silos supported by a customer, data and analytics team, to a centralised and strategic function with a seat at the executive table and a vision to deliver value.

“Marketing had a very operational focus, and while it served its purpose, there was recognition that in order for marketing to have a seat at the leadership table, take up a thought leadership role and advocate for customers, and have an umbrella view of strategy, data and analytics and share best practices, then we had to shift,” Murphy tells CMO.

“As an organisation, this business has been very astute to recognise that the winner will be the organisation that focuses on customer. In order to do that, we need to place the customer at the leadership table, advocate for customer and create marketing strategies with a base in customer insight. This is a business in transformation.”

Building customer centricity

So what does being customer led actually mean for Tabcorp? The first key ingredient is that brand and marketing strategy takes its inspiration and fertilisation from customer insights, Murphy says.

“We base it in what the customer wants, needs, thinks and feels. That’s an important strategic shift,” she says. “It sounds obvious, but it’s from strategy down that we make this transformation.”

The second element is creating a cultural shift to bring the customer to every meeting and decision across the business. To do that, Murphy says it’s vital to create a line of sight to the customer for every staff member, whether they’re in frontline services or accounts payable.

“This is so they understand their role in creating compelling customer experience,” she says. “Finally, it’s about delivering value to customer experience – looking at customer journeys, where the painpoints are, then looking at how we demonstrate the value of removing those to the business and putting a mirror up to the journey to show the outcomes we deliver.”

Claire Murphy
Claire Murphy

To help, Tabcorp has made a major investment into CRM, deploying Salesforce firstly across its sales teams 12 months ago, then across marketing last October.

“For an online capability, that’s a great communications tool, but we have a retail business as well, and as predominantly a cash-based transactions business, it makes it harder to use CRM to influence outcomes,” she says. “We’re using different tools and looking at a voice of customer platform, which will help us better understand those journeys and improve them.

“The other thing is how to invest in marketing technology to improve marketing process. If we can improve process in a matrix organisation, where process can sometimes be an inhibitor, then we can improve effectiveness and focus on the cool stuff.”

While there is an appetite for change, it doesn’t make it smooth sailing because it is a big cultural shift to put customer at the very heart, Murphy admits. One thing that’s helping is the creation of a single customer insights function.

“That way we can draw insights to allow us to have one view of the customer, and create shared insights, rather than a fragmented view sitting in different parts of the business,” she says.

Tabcorp is also implementing the Net Promoter Score company-wide. “It’s a tangible way for a business that loves numbers to visualise and epitomise where we sit with the customer,” Murphy says.

Marketing’s relationship with customer service has changed too. Tabcorp maintains three arms of customer-facing roles: Its call centre, on-course environment, and retail network.

“The way the customer experience team is interacting with the distribution team has changed significantly,” she says. “It’s about adding value and removing roadblocks to deliver better performance for the customer in those areas.”

Background check

Murphy started her career in customer service work with Beaurepaires as national customer service manager. The business identified her as having strong potential for marketing, and she quickly moved into a junior brand manager role on tyres, staying with the group for five years and moving up to marketing manager.

“What was good about it was that you learn to sell something people don’t necessarily want to buy, and you have to get the fundamentals right,” she recalls. “The second thing is it’s a retail business, so it’s performance led.”

Murphy’s next step was to relocate to London, where she took up a communications role promoting the city as a destination to emerging markets such as Russia, Brazil, India and China. It was then Murphy was offered a job with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), an interesting challenge given both the masculine nature of the industry as well as the brand itself. Promoting the property to all markets outside the US and Canada, the role ranged from PR stunts to talent visits, public affairs strategy, and required commercial focus.

After three years, Murphy moved back to Melbourne and became chief commercial officer of Melbourne Storm at a turbulent time for the rugby league team following controversy around player salary caps.

“The club had lost a lot of sponsors, fans were disenfranchised, and we needed to rebuild people’s faith and generate local pride, then translate that into B2B outcomes,” Murphy says. “A lot of that was bringing the story of the club to life and rallying Melbourne behind the club and the culture it had created.

“I spent two years in the role, and it was the toughest job I have ever done, both in terms of the massive weight of responsibility for the club’s future, plus the fact that there’s nothing more 24/7 than sport during the season.”

A brief stint at Crown, followed by a marketing director’s post at Sportingbet (now William Hill), led Murphy to be appointed GM of marketing for Keno and gaming role at Tabcorp. She was promoted to CMO in March after acting in the role for a few months following the departure of Mike Smith.

Today, Murphy is overseeing a strategic marketing function, with brand and strategy, CRM, customer, data and analytics; then operational business unit marketing teams, to lead the performance side and execute activity. To date, her priority has been to bed down Tabcorp’s new marketing and insights structure as well as processes.

“What I’m now seeing is a very collaborative way of working, and a modern approach where are going to have cross-functional teams working together to deliver strategic outcomes, rather than a siloed approach to marketing,” she says.

The focus now is how to develop a best-in-class function, be strategically led, advocate for the customer and help Tabcorp become a customer-led organisation, Murphy says.

“The question is how we make sure marketing drives the performance of the business through that strategic lens, and our work is of a consistent standard, and how do we build great talent and capability,” she says.

Brand building

At the same time, rejuvenating Tabcorp’s core brands has been and will continue to be a focus.

One of Murphy’s major achievements to date has been repositioning Keno through a new brand campaign platform that emphasises the game’s link to having a good time. In its latest financial report, Tabcorp noted the Keno business has since returned to growth, with revenues up 4.8 per cent in the year in the most recent financial year.

“Keno was a brand that was untouched for some time, and research revealed we had a wide demographics playing, but the perception was it was for old people,” Murphy comments. “We started with a core insight: It’s a game people play to make the night better, or the ‘cherry on top’ entertainment. So we started with brand promise of Keno making good times great , then started with a campaign platform called ‘let’s play’.

“We wanted to interrupt the perceptions of Keno and ask people to have a second look at it.”

Murphy’s second sizeable brand campaign launched in August and is aimed at elevating the group’s core TAB proposition by accentuating the key brand pillars customers value most. The ‘We love a bet’ campaign platform kicked off with two executions across TV, digital and out-of-home and are designed to remind customers of the brand’s longevity while bringing to life the social moments people share when they make a winning bet.

The first creative, featuring sporting legend, Mark Geyer, includes a 1990s flashback, while the AFL-based creative looks back to 2013. Present day executions will come out shortly.

Murphy says her and the recently promoted deputy COO of wagering worked together on a full competitive review of the wagering market and found the market was both cluttered, as well as homogenous in terms of voice.

“There was an opportunity for TAB to lift out of the clutter and take a strong leadership position in the market,” she explains. “Internally, we also did an honest audit of what we had communicated in the past and realised we hadn’t been celebrating the things making TAB unique and special. For example, having an omni-channel presence, Australian heritage, and we create social currency – we can move beyond pushing a button on an iPhone to something you can share with friends.”

Again, Murphy says it’s about approaching marketing from the customer’s point of view. “They wanted to love TAB again, and were looking for a brand to act as a lighthouse,” she says. “TAB has been around a long time and facilitated special moments in people’s lives. But we’re also innovative and about future focus and tomorrow as well.”

The next step will be launching a new Tabcorp brand, which Murphy says is designed to move the parent company to a more purpose-led approach.

Through all of this, Murphy is looking make use of a range of channels and highlights the Sky broadcast network as a key area for further opportunity to better leverage content.

“We’re also looking at the role of screen versus second screen, and social in our content play,” she says. “The good thing about our category is it’s rich in terms of content. We want to engage and still be on brand, and create that important dialogue with customers and the community that’s critical.”

Role of the CMO

When it comes to the attributes CMOs need to take up such a customer-led position, Murphy says it’s vital to move the discussion beyond marketing and comms to conversations where marketing as function contributes to the strategy of the business.

“That’s about how to shift conversations to customer metrics, beyond just standard business metrics, and how we own them as a marketing team, then how we jointly own as a business,” she says.

Murphy also stresses the importance of a strong collaboration with IT, particularly given the importance of digital as a customer-facing channel, and says her relationship with her CIO, Kim Wenn, is “fantastic”.

“We have to be super collaborative in our approach between our teams,” Murphy adds. “If we take one message from the way we work as a business, it’s with the spirit of collaboration to get the best possible outcomes for customers and the business.”

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