Why Deloitte's first APAC CMO is relying on relationships for regional success

Deloitte Australian marketing chief and now regional CMO, Matt McGrath, shares his latest priorities as well as reflects on his two years at the helm of the Australian marketing team

Matt McGrath
Matt McGrath

Relationship building and consistency are key tenets for Deloitte’s first Asia-Pacific chief marketing officer as he strives to align marketing strategy and activity across the region.

Two years into his Australian tenure, Deloitte CMO, Matt McGrath became the first Asia-Pacific CMO appointed by the consulting group in June. The remit is to help unify the countries it’s operating in across the region, including Japan, China, Taiwan, India, New Zealand and Southeast Asian countries.  

The expanded role comes less than a year after Deloitte began bringing together what had been independently operated businesses across the region.

McGrath said the initial emphasis in Asia-Pacific is very much on building a regional community that can unify to drive growth. This has first meant fostering relationships with the individual CMOs that sit across seven member firsts across the region – the first step in building trust allowing teams to work more fruitfully together.

“We now we have one centralised leadership and marketing is part of that,” he told CMO. “So we’re getting to know each other, to work together and build relationships, and then try to create some consistency and community by sharing best practice, understanding what does and doesn’t work in certain markets.”

This has meant homing in on different strengths and weaknesses of each country firm, as well as cultural nuances. For example, technology and social media platforms differ across region, meaning in some instances, specialisation is more important in one country than another.

“You have to be conscious of things like firewalls if you’re sharing content in China, for example,” McGrath continued. “There’s a lot of complexity. But it’s a good phase to be in. Building that community is where we really start to understand and work as a region.

“People will work together when they know each other. They won’t if they don’t understand or trust someone. Once you have that cohesiveness, are respectful of the different strengths and weaknesses, and have that willingness to learn, you move forward.

“There are great things happening in New Zealand, fantastic things in Japan, China is doing amazing stuff – why wouldn’t we be looking that and try to share best practice, rather than everyone investing for their own markets?”

Being a professional services firm, there’s also plenty of operational rigour, McGrath said, including processes, reporting and analysis of what’s happening in each region.

Two years in

Alongside this, McGrath retains his Australian marketing leadership role. Reflecting on his local tenure so far, he said the team was performing extremely strongly, the firm had grown significantly, and was ticking the boxes in terms of brand awareness and engagement uplifts.

“Fresh brand research in Australia demonstrates dramatic uplifts in things like innovation, digital transformation and consideration and preference,” he pointed out. “Definitely, the brand is going in the right direction here. Overall, it’s a good story around pushing into the areas of technology, innovation and digital transformation that are very important to us as a brand.”

Read more: CMO interview: How Deloitte’s marketing chief is looking to inspire inquisitive, creative thinking

Another key element of McGrath’s role in the past 18 months has been working with the global Deloitte team on brand development. This saw the company launch its first global advertising campaign last September across airports, in partnership with agency, WPP. The Australian Deloitte Digital business also created its own 30-second commercial to run globally in conjunction with the campaign.

The campaign is just been refreshed for its second year. “The research on that has been incredibly positive, and Australia is the only member firm globally that created new creative executions for it,” McGrath said.  “The feedback has been fantastic and it makes our people feel proud of the brand. Our clients are noticing it too – that’s all you can ask for.”

McGrath said this campaign provides a further foundation for working together regionally. Markets such as China, its sub-set Hong Kong and Southeast Asia all had executions running within the global campaign, and New Zealand proactively adopted parts of the campaign to run.

On the customer insights front, meanwhile, Deloitte mains a significant multi-year global project around its database and CRM programs. This is aimed at better understanding and personalising customer engagement and is being overseen by the IT function.

“We have 200 marketers in Australia, so how your relationship and pursuit programs, account management, events – all those things are leveraging the same insights and understanding an individual customer across all those touchpoints is a major challenge,” McGrath commented.  

“The critical thing is the cultural change around understanding the customer. You can put a technology platform in but if you don’t change behaviour, you’re never going to get the efficiency and effectiveness of that program.”

What helps is Deloitte’s work with external clients on digital transformation, ensuring the group is mindful of the cultural aspects of change alongside implementing new technologies, McGrath said.

In addition, McGrath noted his strategy implemented 18 months ago locally continues to strengthen, with Deloitte reporting fifth year of steady growth this year, up 13.3 per cent year-on-year and 15 year YOY over the four previous years.

The strategy sees marketing embedded across the whole firm, undertaking everything from corporate affairs to sales pursuits, account management, social media, digital and design, and notably, diversity and inclusion. For McGrath, keeping a challenger brand mentality, fostering creativity, agility and focusing on customer need are also key to marketing success.

“We know what we’re doing, we just need to focus on areas we’ve identified and keep the team aligned. There are always little pieces of innovation and incremental improvement you want to introduce, but there’s a lot of value to be had in consistency as well,” McGrath said.  

“That’s probably one of the great challenges if you do have CMOs leaving every two years on average – it takes two years to begin seeing results and build that trust. The last thing you need after two years is to throw everything up in the air and start again. You need to drive that success and continue it for another two years.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.  

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