Telstra appoints first CMO since 2016

CMO50 honouree, Jeremy Nicholas, takes up the role.

Telstra has its first chief marketing officer (CMO) since Joe Pollard, announcing CMO50 honouree Jeremy Nicholas has taken up the role.

Nicholas has been with Telstra for almost four years, most recently as chief brand officer and the consumer and small business marketing executive. 

The CMO role was removed from the executive structure in 2016. However, Telstra’s leadership team has recognised the significant role Nicholas plays in supporting its agile and non-agile structures across the business, following the launch of its T22 strategy.

More than 770,000 Telstra customers have signed up to the telco’s revamped customer loyalty program since its launch in April last year. Telstra confirmed the enrolment numbers as part of its full-year financial results for the year to 30 June 2019. The telco reported a 3.6 per cent decline in reported total income to $27.8 billion at that time, along with a 21.7 per cent drop in EBITDA to $8 billion. In addition, net profits decreased 39.6 per cent to $2.1 billion, which it put down to the rollout of the NBN.

Its T22 strategy is a transformation program aimed at simplifying products and services to customers while introducing a host of efficiency improvements, further digitisation and network innovations as well as monetisation of $2bn in assets by the end of FY20.

Nicholas told CMO the role will see him helping to build on the momentum Telstra is already achieving.

“We've got a really clear plan for T22 to keep investing in improvements to the customer experience, and to 5G, and to continue great differentiation we’ve done on network, marketing, and in home,” he told CMO.

“The rewards program will be one of those priorities as well, as it's a key part of the customer experience, recognising the tenure and also the spend our customers have with us. 

“This year will be a big one for 5G, and we’ve got more work breaking on the weekend around this. 

“We've been leading on 5G from a network performance and roll out perspective, as well as in terms of marketing. The perception of us as a 5G leader has been really key to our efforts. So as more handsets come out and as the network rolls out, we're seeing that as a huge opportunity in the market moving forward.

“We are continuing to take away the pain points for customers and obviously build on some of the things that we've been doing for T22, like no lock in contracts, and removing all the data averages, offering account management support for every small business, so continuing those sorts of things which have been really effective from a marketing point of view for us as well will be important.

“We've seen really good gains out of this, in terms of reductions of calls into the call centres, and the number of customers engaging with us on digital, and also just a really strong return on investment from our marketing."

In the new role Nicholas will continue to report to group executive of consumer and small business, Michael Ackland, but will have oversight and accountability for the entirety of Telstra’s marketing.

“For our marketing, we use a real mix of channels, and we've got great sponsorship opportunities and we will continue to use those assets. We increased digital investment which is working really well for us, so we'll continue to do that and have those mixed messages which include long term brand building around network differentiation, 5G superiority, improvements in customer experience, and also campaigns.

“All this is really borne out of the strong customer insight we have, through talking to customers directly in social channels, in store, as well as some of the more traditional market research we continue to do. But it’s also what we see behaviourally and how customers engage with those messages on our channels that informs what we do.

“We use NPS, so strategic NPS and then episode NPS, to measure success. We pay particular attention to reputation and also on brand consideration and then understanding what those drivers are, and we’re seeing increases across all those metrics, which has given us a lot of encouragement we’re certainly headed in the right direction.

“I want us to keep enjoying those improvements in brand consideration, and NPS, and then really push through and get into some real greenfield territory as well.

“We were really encouraged by the ability for us to associate 5G superiority with Telstra and also improve the understanding of 5G for people in the market. We are finding those real crunch points, when 5G really matters to people like when you really need superior speed to download or upload the content you want, is important, and it has worked really well for us.

“These things of course take time. However, there's enough devices and handsets coming to market now, and I think as the network rolls out more and more people have access to 5G either at home or on their commute or where they I work, you'll see it'll just create that petri dish or an environment where it'll take off more. We've already got 100,000 handsets sold with 5G and we'll continue to see that increase, and we will start moving up the steep curve of technology adoption.

“I’m committed to really supporting our people across the board, we're not making any changes in our structure, and we’ve got a great roster of partner agencies as well. I just want to keep that momentum going.”

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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