How this financial services marketer has found agility in a crisis

CMC Markets long-standing marketing leader share the pivoting and rethinking that has helped the online retail financial services player navigate the COVID-19 pandemic

Cat Gallagher
Cat Gallagher

There are few marketers who haven’t seen their plans derailed by COVID-19. Even for those brands that have traded successfully during this period, success has usually come as the result of being able to flex marketing programs quickly to suit changing conditions.

This has certainly been the case for the Australian operations of global online retail financial services company, CMC Markets. Now in her seventh year as head of commercial (including marketing) for Asia-Pacific and Canada, Catherine Gallagher is grateful for the early choices she made and how they have helped her and her team adapt swiftly.

“The thing that has been very impressive to me is the agility we have in our marketing team to quickly pivot during times like this, from the creative development point of view right through to speaking to new partners and negotiating new agreements,” Gallagher told CMO. “It is really testament to the high performing structure and the fluidity within the team that we can juggle projects while keeping our longer term activity well underway as well.”

Gallagher said CMC Markets has been digital-first since she took on the role, with 70 per cent of budget normally going to that channel.

“We did have some bookings in out-of-home and across print which either became unviable or were offered to us at a much lower rate, so we had the budget available to switch quite quickly into even more digital environments,” she said.

“We also use a number of agencies across the APAC market and that helps to make sure when we do need to adapt and focus on a new environment or a new event we have a broad network of partners to rely on. It means we can very quickly switch on or ramp up things and or switch strategies if we need to.”

CMC Markets has also had to show adaptability in relation to its sports sponsorship arrangements. In 2019, the company concluded a successful relationship with the NSW Waratahs Super Rugby team and signed on to support the St Kilda Football Club in the AFL. Those plans were quickly derailed however, by the onset of COVID-19.

“We’re working with them to understand what the rest of the season looks like in terms of crowd-less games and so on,” Gallagher said. “It is a three-year sponsorship for us, and we are quite confident we will be able to achieve our objectives in that timeframe.

“We are in this for the long run, so it is about looking at potential additional activation ideas for next year.”

Part of CMC Market’s pivot has been to direct more investment into content. Gallagher said the company has always had a strong focus on education, which has proven important in a business that offers investments tools that are suitable for everyone from beginners to experienced traders. That work includes education webinars, which were ramped up quickly this year.

“The education we provide to clients is almost a standalone product, where people from all levels can come in and use us as that one stop shop for getting into investing and trading and building their wealth,” Gallagher said. “We went from running two to three webinars per month to two-plus per week and we saw double the attendance at those sessions.”

Gallagher’s longer team program is built around an ongoing project focused on marketing optimisation, big data and client journey optimisation and nurturing. She said this work is proving vital to her strategy to move beyond market segmentation and into profile building.

“We have very wide range of products and offerings, so it is important for us that we match each of those to the exact target audience while we maintain the overall brand positioning in market,” Gallagher said.

Recovery thinking

Now as Australia begins to emerge from lockdown, Gallagher said she and her team are planning the company’s response.

“We’ll be returning back to some of those media environments we had booked and planned earlier in the year, but also keeping in mind that that at this stage we don’t know how quickly those environments will pick up again,” she said.

“I am confident this year and with the current team we’ve got, of that internal expertise and working with partners who can give us that outside colour and external expertise, that we are in a really good place to amplify those programs.”

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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