CMO50 2016 #2: Anna Reid

  • Name Anna Reid
  • Title Chief marketing officer
  • Company Sydney Opera House
  • Commenced role September 2014
  • Reporting Line Director, engagement and development
  • Member of the Executive Team No
  • Marketing Function 50 staff, 5 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Entertainment and tourism
  • 2015 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    With 11 years travelling the world for BP, five years at Pacific Brands and three years so far as CMO at the Sydney Opera House, Anna Reid is the first to admit she likes to make a meaningful difference to whatever brand she becomes custodian of.

    “One of the things I like focusing on is enduring legacy,” she tells CMO. “I’m not someone who moves on quickly, I like to make long and meaningful differences to the businesses I join.”

    And that’s exactly what Reid is striving for at Sydney’s iconic arts venue. Having already launched the first rebrand in more than eight years, Reid is now in the full throes of a digital transformation that is changing the way the marketing function looks, feels and operates, is shaking up the skillsets and collaboration required across the business, and is bringing a whole new level of experience to visitors that interact with the venue every day.

    The digital revolution lies at the heart of a decade-long program of reinvestment and innovation at the Opera House to secure its future for generations to come.

    “What we do on a daily basis makes a positive contribution to the community and society in terms of the magic, memories and moments we create, whether it’s tourists coming for the first time or locals coming to see a contemporary music show or classical performance,” Reid says. “I love that we are uniquely and proudly Australian. And the innovation and courage it took to build the Sydney Opera House is something we still play to as we champion our future.”

    Reid took her first marketing steps as a graduate with BP, working across the UK, US and India and for different business lines. During this time, Reid worked in BP’s profit-neutral business launching microfinance in villages and slums and helping female entrepreneurs set up new business models.

    Returning home, Reid joined Pacific Brands as group marketing manager for King Gee, sitting within a global team and gaining experience in product innovation and development. A milestone was relaunching the portfolio of products one by one, working with tradies to understand their needs and even launching new Qantas staff uniforms.

    Leading sustainable change at SOH

    As part of the Opera House’s decade of renewal, the venue is opening up to more interaction with the public with the aim of elevating experiences for visitors while also protecting and restoring the site for future generations.

    “There is a feeling across the business of being incredibly proud of what we’re doing,” Reid says. “Since joining, we have relaunched the Sydney Opera House brand, which meant going back to the DNA and fundamentals of who we are and why we exist.”

    The new logo is an example of this, and reflects the spherical solution that provided the mathematical answer to building the venue all those years ago. Reid says such a comprehensive brand renewal tested her skills as a leader and required complex stakeholder engagement, bullet proof customer research, switching to a ‘stage and gate’ project management approach, and using intuition to know when to hold firm and when to give. The brand renewal was celebrated at the 2016 Cannes Lions festival of Creativity, winning both bold and bronze design lions.

    The other big change is digital transformation, which Reid describes as a true team effort. “It stretches from how we think and do digital, to relaunching the website, upskilling the business, and is the most complex and significant project we’ve done ever in the technology space,” she explains.

    The Opera House has invested in the full Adobe Marketing Cloud stack and at time of print had rolled out Adobe Social, Campaign, Target and Analytics. Its new-look website will launch shortly on Adobe Experience Manager and Audience Manager will come online at the same time and is being rolled out in a three-phased approach from December 2016.

    Reid says having a good strategy, the right structure, tools and processes has been vital. “But most importantly, you need bright people and with that comes relationships,” she says. “Formally, we have set up steering groups, a project management function, and we’re working in a more agile way, which helps. But really, it’s about the informal side of relationships and your leadership style.

    “I’m a firm believer that you need to lead by example. I have very strong relationships with our CTO and finance team, plus other parts of the business. It’s about respecting one another, stepping into their shoes to understand their daily realities, and having a joint vision.”

    From a marketing team perspective, Reid has worked hard to cement a collaborative culture, being clear on what the venue stands for and what it doesn’t. She sees culture as intuitive and organic and says it must align with the best outcomes for the business. “If you focus on those, the conversation shifts and doesn’t become personal,” she says.

    This has been particularly handy in deciding who owns which components of the digital overhaul. Reid says she shares a common view with her CTO counterpart, which is that both must own digital. Marketing and IT are now working in partnership, with weekly sprint meetings, showcases, shared collaboration tools and two critical roles straddling both functions.

    “Our CTO makes sure we have secure platforms that are going to perform and fit in with the rest of the network and infrastructure, and that are best of breed. We then work with them to inform what are the right marketing tools to use. We’re part of the same ecosystem,” she says. “That’s enormously helpful in navigating when things go wrong, when you set the vision and in resolving challenges.”

    Campaign shift

    What Reid loves about marketing today is the ability to see in real time how campaigns perform.“There is a lot more empowerment as a marketing function,” she continues. “At the Opera House, we have significant owned channels and the ability to earn coverage as well. Our paid investment is important and still something we spend time working on, planning and optimise, but we’re more empowered. With that comes more responsibility.”

    Of course this can make things much more fragmented, and Reid stresses the need to be mindful and flexible around skillsets. “There a supply and demand challenge right now; when it comes to great technical skillsets in the digital world, there’s more demand than there is supply and you find people moving on from jobs pretty quickly,” she comments. “The true difference between a good and great marketing team is the people.”

    Over the next 12 months, Opera House staff will have access to 200 courses, some run by Adobe, some in a ‘train and train’ model, and some by third parties. Reid says it’s invested heavily into bringing capability from Adobe and its digital website partner, Razorfish, in-house in order to gain appropriate skillsets. Introducing a dedicated head of digital transformation in the past year has also been key.

    “We’re doing courses on all sorts of things, including mindfulness, communicating with impact and doing more community work, to help people deal with the busyness and clutter in day-to-day roles,” Reid says. “That’s not going away. Yes we can be more focused and prioritise, but how to survive in this world is the big focus at the moment and building up resilience.”

    Putting customer experience at the executive table

    Another position created at the director level is head of visitor experience. Sitting at the executive table, this role provides a strong voice and clear mandate to focus on customer, Reid says.

    “As a marketing team, I believe the reason we exist is to be the voice of customer, think about their needs and what is going to make the best experience for them,” she says. What has changed is that marketing teams are now working in unison, rather than being embedded in specific business units, such as food and beverage or programming.

    “Then it’s about having the right people in the right roles. For example, we recruited social media manager who is very switched on and is driven by data and insight you just can’t argue with,” Reid says. “We can experiment, then come back to the business and show... what we’ve been able to do in changing our approach to Instagram for example. Instead of posting random pieces, we curate based on what’s most interesting for our customers and the growth has been 40 per cent. So now, when we do posts for you, it’s done in a more thoughtful way and you’re going to get more engagement and more reach.”

    The data and insights team also morphed into an insights and optimisation team, and since April the Opera House has had a data scientist and Adobe specialist in-house.

    “We’ve always looked at ticketing information as a primary insight and lends into what’s going on, we’ve now added to that more market research that’s helping inform our strategy,” Reid says. “For example, we just did a piece of work on kids and family to understand why people are or aren’t coming. It’s more traditional work, but we didn’t really do that so we’ve invested more there.

    “Plus we have new tools coming online, and we’re starting the journey to using Adobe Target to test what’s happening, especially on the new website and how to optimise. This will give us the ability to get that 360-degree digital view.”

    Automated dashboards bringing in digital and ticketing data are in the final stages of testing, and Reid says reporting that used to take the marketing team two days now takes two minutes. “It’s all about automating the repetitive stuff, which frees up time for us to use the brain power of the team,” she says.

    “That [dashboard] is going to feed into the customer experience platform, providing a full 360-degree view from surveys to show reports, call centre complaints, digital and marketing insights. That’s in progress and led by the visitor experience team.”

    With 180 paid campaigns and 300 campaigns annually, marketing is further streamlining efforts with a tiering system for all campaigns to better forecast and plan, and rolled out Workfront project management tools to improve real-time collaboration.

    Not everything is different about marketing however, and Reid says the starting point remains customer insights and a clear proposition. “What’s different is picking how you’ll amplify and create so it’s engaging to the audience,” she says.

    If she had to pick a couple of key attributes CMOs need to cope with marketing’s disruption, Reid says leadership is front and centre. “That’s the ability to set vision, build a great team and make sure you are focusing on the right things,” she says.

    The second attribute is embracing and foreseeing change. “There is so much opportunity and the thought of where this is going to take us is mindblowing,” she says.

    Reid’s third must comes back to her desire to make a meaningful difference. To do that, she says CMOs can’t afford to shy away from tackling the difficult stuff.

    “Fix things properly, and try and make a positive contribution to customer experience and the business you’re part of. It’s greater than you,” she adds.

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