CMO interview: Building the Australian brand story

Tourism Australia's marketing leader reveals her new content and data reality

Lisa Ronson
Lisa Ronson

Tourism Australia’s chief marketer, Lisa Ronson, believes CMOs require three key attributes: Customer centricity, commercial acumen, and great leadership.

“We only do extraordinary things when we have extraordinary people around us,” she tells CMO. “It’s the place where it starts and ends with me – surround yourself with really talented people. And it’s working cross-functionally that will ultimately deliver on that; no team can do it on their own.”

Ronson arguably has one of the best marketing jobs in the business. She has spent the last 12 months at the helm of marketing for Tourism Australia (TA), a promotional body focused on showcasing Australian experiences to visitors from all over the globe.

Having taken over from another iconic CMO, Nick Baker, after his seven-year run, Ronson says her first priority was winning over the team. “From there, I thought through what the challenges are for the business, what’s the campaign construct and the priorities for the year ahead, then how do I resource the team and skill up to make sure we can deliver on those for the next year to three years,” she says.

In July, Ronson redivided her team into three units: Global consumer marketing, global media and PR, and digital transformation. As part of the switch, TA’s chief financial officer, John Mackenney, became the organisation’s first GM of digital transformation.

“Digital transformation and user experience has been an absolute focus of mine,” Ronson comments. “You can always be better, looking at what the customer is doing and what they need. We have so much analytics now to determine that, so it’s how do we use those insights to improve the customer experience out of sight and continue to surprise and delight.

“The other piece was looking at the consumer. They’re changing so much on a day-to-day basis in terms of how they consume media. We’re constantly evolving on mobile and tablets, so I wanted to look at the media landscape and how we as a global organisation could leverage deeper, fewer partnerships.”

At time of press, TA was in the final stages of a media tender, and Ronson says it’s looking at how media spend can be better targeted through data and technology.

Alongside the restructure, Tourism Australia’s marketing teams are exploring more agile ways of working. It’s a cultural shift led by CIO, David Rumsey, and comes off the back of a large transformational program which has seen TA roll out Adobe’s Marketing Cloud stack, firstly to its Restaurant Australia Web portal 12 months ago, then to its core Australia.com website, as well as add new campaign functionality and analytics. Most recently, Agile principles came into play on a project around TA’s Aussie specialists training program.

“What was absolutely integral to that was the team – marketing working with IT, and the whole organisation around Agile, standup meetings and closer communication,” Ronson says. “We’re looking at taking learnings from that project and applying them in other parts of our business.”

Ronson works closely with Rumsey on a day-to-day basis, something she admits hasn’t always been the case for marketers. “That’s very healthy and it’s very transparent, as you’re getting the information and analytics to optimise and continue to improve the customer experience,” she says. “This is particularly the case in our category, where people are hungry for information and word of mouth and want those recommendations.”

Brand simplification

Ronson’s other priority has been to simplify TA’s brand architecture and make it more customer oriented. “What I found was the team couldn’t tell me what our vision and purpose was – not because they didn’t know it, it said what we did, but it wasn’t simple enough or in the language of the customer,” she says.

TA’s vision is to make Australia the most desirable and memorable destination on earth, Ronson says. “Desirable, meaning they want to come here and enjoy a great exploration of our experiences, and memorable, in that they’ve been and are advocates telling their friends about it,” she says. “Our purpose is to invite people to experience the Australian way of life.”

Ronson worked closely with human resources on TA’s values and how these fit with its brand architecture so there’s a consistent thread through the business.

“People need to understand, live and breathe the brand,” she says. “If staff know the vision, and if what they do is contributing to that vision, it gives them greater confidence in decision making and just as importantly, what to do as what not to do. We need to do fewer, bigger initiatives so they really have an impact on attitudes and behaviour of the customer ultimately.”

Up next: How diversity of experience plays into the hands of marketing leaders

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: The Star's George Hughes

It's been an incredibly tough three months for the Star as it shut its doors and stood down staff in response to the COVID-19 lockdown. Yet innovation has shone through, and if the CMO, George Hughes, has anything to say about it, such lateral thinking will continue as we start to recover from the crisis.

More Videos

I am 56 years old and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after four years of decreasing mobility to the point of having family dress ...

Nancy Tunick

The personal digital approach that's helping Vision RT ride out the crisis

Read more

I am 57 and diagnosed in June 2009. I had a very long list of symptoms, some of which were. Keeping right arm close to my side while walk...

Nancy Tunick

Gartner survey: CMO spending hit by COVID-19

Read more

Audible did such a great job on their marketing and at the same time, there are no false promises. The support, quality, variety all good...

Vitaliy Lano

Audible's brand plan to build the value of audiobooks

Read more

I am 56 years old and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after four years of decreasing mobility to the point of having family dress ...

Nancy Tunick

Parkinson's NSW creates a lorem ipsum generator and goes digital to mark Parkinson's Awareness month

Read more

We would like to invite you to the Virtual Exhibition about IoT Trends in 2020, 7 - 9 July, organised by Must.We developed a new B2B matc...

hayfa

Want to master digital transformation? Stop thinking about your own problems

Read more

Blog Posts

Business quiet? Now is the time to review your owned assets

For businesses and advertiser categories currently experiencing a slowdown in consumer activity, now is the optimal time to get started on projects that have been of high importance, but low urgency.

Olia Krivtchoun

CX discipline leader, Spark Foundry

Bottoms up: Lockdown lessons for an inverted marketing world

The effects of the coronavirus slammed the brakes on retail sales in pubs, clubs and restaurants. Fever-Tree’s Australia GM Andy Gaunt explains what they have learnt from some tricky months of trading

Andy Gaunt

General manager, Fever-Tree Australia and New Zealand

Younger demos thought lost are now found: But what about the missing money?

There is much talk about what VOZ will bring to the media industry. New ways to slice and dice audiences and segments. A clearer understanding of screen consumption. Even new ways to plan and buy. The most interesting result could be finding something many thought we lost - younger viewers, specifically the valuable 18-39s.

Michael Stanford

Head of 10 Imagine and national creative director, Network 10

Sign in