C-suite perspectives: How Ray White's executive perceive marketing's role today

Off the back of the brand's first brand campaign in 116 years, we catch up with its director to understand the broader marketing, digital and data mechanisms being used to orchestrate customer engagement

Dan White
Dan White

In September, Ray White launched the first brand campaign in its 116-year history. According to its head of marketing, Lisa Pennell, the initiative was a big step towards realising the power of marketing to drive business growth.

Historically, Ray White has focused primarily on property marketing, internal and broker campaigning, she told CMO. The latest campaign is also about breaking out of category and showing how the organisation can help consumers realise their property ambitions.

Following up from the news, and in the style of CMO’s ongoing c-suite perspective series, we caught up with Ray White director, Dan White, to understand how the broader executive team perceives the role of marketing and the CMO today, and the wider steps the real estate giant is taking via digital, data and marketing mechanisms in order to maximise modern customer opportunities.

How are digitally-driven marketing and connected customers changing the way your organisation communicates and positions its offering?

In recent years, we’ve needed to shift some focus to the ‘digital interview’. We’ve had to become more proactive in providing information on our members and their services through digital channels, as well as ensuring immediate automated responses to initial enquiries.

As a CEO, has your perception of marketing’s role changed compared with a few years ago?

New mediums of marketing requires a broader skill set, but that isn't a new thing. Probably the biggest change is in understanding how our customers are finding new ways to determine who to trust, and not simply relying on a brand.  

What skills and attributes do you expect your chief marketing officer to have today?

Today’s CMO needs to be so much more than just a marketing specialist, there are new hard skills required, including an understanding of data science and the digital space. But the soft skills, in particular strategy, leadership, and the ability to bring the relevant specialists together, are just as or even more important than the hard skills.  

Where are you allocating your marketing/digital dollars in the next 12 months?

We’re a curious organisation and are trialling many new data-driven initiatives and partnerships, as well as a mix of digital and traditional mediums including TV, theatre, radio, print and outdoor.  

What sorts of technology investments are you making to support your quest to be more customer-led?

It all comes back using information and data to personalise our offer to every customer and making it unique to them. We’re building a data warehouse, which will give us a deeper insight into our customer preferences and behaviour, as well as investing in marketing platforms to ensure greater brand consistency in all soft and hard collateral production. Business systems and finance/accounting integration remain a significant focus also to support our franchisees.

What recent steps have you taken to better develop a business culture focused on customer experience and centricity?

Getting the best outcomes for our customers has been the basis of everything we do, since the business was first started by my great grandfather Ray in 1902. Of course, technology has brought about better ways to measure and manage customer experience (CX) - we were early adopters of Net Promoter Score (NPS) - but we have always aimed to be proud of every transaction.  

Data has been positioned as a key to competitive advantage. Can you share with us key ways your organisation is using data analytics and big data insights today to improve customer experience/engagement/product development/innovation?

One of our most effective uses of data today is in benchmark analytics. Our franchisee customers, being business owners themselves, are personally invested in the efficiencies and metrics of their agencies. Our ‘Insight’ platform uses the scale and diversity of our franchise to help the business owners put their metrics into context, by benchmarking performance across the group and between comparable agencies. It’s a simple thing, but that context is often the missing piece that helps a business owner focus on the specific changes that make a difference.

If you could only hire one new employee tomorrow, which area and skillset would you focus on?

I’d look for a data scientist, as they are currently hard to find.

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