Tapping into social experience: Tourism Australia

In our new interview series with CMOs of destination brands, Tourism Australia's executive general manager of marketing, Nick Baker, talks to CMO about why social engagement is crucial in being a better storyteller

Being the storyteller

Despite the pressures of today’s two-way brand engagement culture, Baker is optimistic about the opportunities presented to marketers today. Big data and using internal and external information sources to better understand consumers is one area he is particularly excited about, and Tourism Australia has already initiated several projects using big data for domestic marketing.

“People don’t just make a decision on holiday based on whether they go to Canada or Australia, it’s on whether they should get the bathroom redone, or a new car,” Baker pointed out. “There are a lot more places to collect data from that have relevance to the purchase cycle. It’s not a linear process.”

Mobile is another emerging area of focus and while the group has launched mobile versions of its website portal and run specific activities in highly mobile territories such as South Korea and Japan, it is still in the experimental stage. Given the visual nature of marketing a brand like Australia, tablets arguably present the best opportunity, Baker said.

“There are so many opportunities and channels out there, it’s one of the most exciting times to be a marketer,” he added. “It’s also one of the easiest times to get led down rabbit holes by people’s desires. The old adage that no one ever got hired for making a television commercial is gone. It’s about what you develop from here.”

Whatever the channel, Tourism Australia’s focus remains on allowing consumers to share their experiences about what makes Australia great. “Technology is going to change, but the need to tell a story will never change and the need for content will always be there,” Baker said. “It’s our job as marketers to find the right platforms to tell these stories.”

How do be a great CMO: Baker’s key tips

Like most of his CMO peers, Baker believes balance is vital in his job as a modern marketer, along with strong prioritisation skills. “Throw fewer pebbles and create bigger waves,” he recommended.

“You need to do fewer things well and bigger, and make sure they’re integrated.”

Another must for CMOs is an ability to deal with the complexity of the market place, a task which requires rigorous attention to the consumer’s path to purchase. Baker also stressed the CMO’s role in inspiring organisations around ideas. “You are at the forefront of idea generation and innovation and how you inspire organisations and lead your team through that is a critical ability to be able to succeed or not,” he claimed. “Too many good ideas don’t get the right backing and being able to champion those and push them through is very important.

“Again, it’s about understanding and learning. For modern CMOs, learning is a vital part of what they have to continue to do.”

Getting the right backing from the executive team and CEO has made it much easier for Baker at Tourism Australia and he emphasised marketing’s role in connecting customers. “Marketing needs to be embedded, whether it be operations, innovation or any development cycles of products,” he said.

“Without that, and a board and executive team that understands the importance of the marketing, it’s a very difficult and lonely job.

“And ultimately, the most important thing as a CMO is keeping your eye on conversion. As you can imagine, quite a lot of people in Australia have quite a lot of views, so you’ve got to keep a strong focus.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia or take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia.

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