CMO Profile: Crafting a B2C retail success through consumer insight

Splosh new CMO, Sally Boyes, talks about building a retail gift and homewares business from solid B2B foundations

What started as a potentially career-ending sea change for Splosh CMO, Sally Boyes, has ended up being the best and most unique opportunity of her profession to date.

The former national marketing manager of Bras n Things and marketing director of The Iconic, Boyes moved to Brisbane last year for a sea change during maternity leave. Worried she was potentially committing career suicide, Boyes never imagined her change of scene would end up providing her with the career opportunity of a lifetime.

Splosh, while an established wholesaler of gifts and homewares in the B2B space, is essentially a startup when it comes to B2C and retailing, providing Boyes with an opportunity to grow one side of the business on the solid foundation of the other.

“From a wholesale perspective, we have strong brand awareness; we’ve been around for 20 years and have a loyal customer base with over 2600 stockists in Australia and New Zealand. But from a retail and a B2C perspective, we’re essentially a startup,” Boyes told CMO.

“So managing those two things at once - servicing our wholesale stockists and giving them an amazing experience, whilst also building the brand awareness in the retail market, has been such a unique opportunity."

Boyes has set herself the goal of making the Splosh brand a household name and cementing it as a key player within the homewares and gifting sector – no easy task in such a competitive sector.

“How often does a marketer really get that opportunity to be able to build on the solid foundation of a really loyal customer base, but also do the amazing brand building and word-of-mouth and building a strong customer base in the retail market?” she explained.

With this in mind, she is focusing on understanding what created that solid branding in the wholesaling sector, what Splosh is passionate about and what it wants to be known for and stand for, and what cultural ideas, brand and products it want to continue to offer, while tapping into a whole new opportunity and customer base.

“This creates a B2C e-commerce opportunity, where we can reach a younger audience and totally new customer segments, and we can decide what kind of products we want to create to service them. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on everything we do, to trial new products, new segments and new customers,” Boyes said.

Organisational effort

In her remit as CMO at Splosh, Boyes oversee product marketing and e-commerce. However, this includes working on special projects, including as the current lead in HR. This project is vital, she said, because marketing must now come from the organisation as a whole.

“Marketing all stems from asking, who are we? What is our brand conviction? What value do we want to create in our customers’ lives? That is where marketing is moving to and how it’s progressed from 15 years ago as a one-dimension function, to now being such a broad remit that really encapsulates the organisation as a whole," she commented. 

“Now, we must have that focus on brand and building an emotional connection with our customers and adding value, and this must permeate across the whole organisation. We are not just focusing on the buyer, but instead asking who is our customer, how do they want to be spoken to, how do we create a long-term relationship with them, and not just a one-dimensional relationship."

People are the greatest asset in all this for Boyes. "If we can’t get our team excited and engaged and committed to our brand experience, how can we get customers to buy into that? People are so much savvier now, they know whether something is authentic, and they want to believe in your brand, they don’t just want to buy something.

“That’s what’s incredible about marketing now, it’s ultimately just psychology and what motivates people."

With so much data out there now, intent-based marketing and engaging based on why people do things has become a reality, Boyes said. "It means you can create those customer relationships on a much deeper level.”

Prior to Splosh, Boyes was at Bras n Things before for two-and-a-half years. She described it as a time she worked with inspiring people to revitalise a brand.

“It was such an established brand that it was coasting along, and then with a lot of international players entering the market, and consumers having so much more choice, it meant we had to lift our game. I enjoyed helping to empower women to be the best version of themselves,” she said. 

Before this, Boyes had a baptism by fire at The Iconic after working as a marketer in various shopping centres for a decade.

“Bricks-and-mortar was a great grounding because you got to observe consumer behaviour every day, also work across so many different types of businesses,” she explained. “The Iconic was a baptism of fire, as it was all online. It was a real sink or swim moment for me as I was outside my comfort zone. But I’m was so glad I did it as the company has some of the most incredible digital marketers there, who are at the forefront of innovation and from a marketing and digital perspective."

It was this experience that enabled Boyes' understanding of how much more data is available now.

Team dynamics

One of the most important learnings Boyes has had in her time with Splosh to date, meanwhile, is how subject matter experts are key to the marketing function. Since joining Splosh, she's built up the marketing team from nothing to six people.

“We identified subject matter experts are the key to making marketing function work to its best capacity. We now have an e-commerce manager and a Web coordinator who focus on the analytics and the data, and understanding the path to purchase and optimising our site to provide the best user experience," she said. 

“When I started out in marketing you knew a little bit about a lot of things. Now, there’s great value in identifying that you need a subject matter expert in your team, and building a team you are learning from and sharing insights with. Now, a data analyst is a necessity, an e-commerce person is a necessity, these are not a luxury any more if you want to succeed.

“Of course, there are complexities around managing the marketing function now, because you must have experts, it can become quite siloed. But if you are really unified by your vision, and have a solid foundation of who you are, this creates unity within the team.”

The number of touchpoints buyers go through before purchase, and the completely different behaviours between wholesale and retail clients, has been another fascinating discovery. Boyes said buyers across its B2C and B2B websites exhibit a significantly different purchasing lifecycle. 

“This has been interesting for us, and we have to stay on top of the data and the way they use the website," she said. “Also, the number of touchpoints customers go through to that final purchase was interesting. If it’s a gift for someone else, our customers might go through two touchpoints prior to purchase. But if they are buying for themselves, they might go through 5-6 touchpoints before purchase.

“So it’s a never-ending work in progress. We are always testing something: Short versus long content in our EDMs, send times, subject headings, click through rates, changing colours, different call to actions, it’s always about understanding that you’ve never quite cracked it." 

In fact, Boyes said data is the biggest change she's had to crack over her career to date.

"When I started marketing, it was about making assumptions, and thinking what your customer might be thinking, doing that and then taking key learnings away depending on how it went," she said. “Now, it is very much more considered. It’s all data-driven decision making, and ultimately it’s very much more segmented, we use very specific types of activities or channels to resonate with a particular customer segment.

"But it’s also more complex because there so many types of campaigns and channels and customers at one time to achieve that one outcome."

The great thing it, marketing is now being seen as credible, thanks to all the metrics around it, Boyes said.

"Marketers have become decision makers because of this, and are driving change within organisations. Not many careers would have changed as much in such a short amount of time," she concluded. "It changes so fast, it’s a whole different career than when I started, and I love it.”

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