How Airtasker's new CMO plans to make the brand a household name

Newly appointed chief marketing officer, Noelle Kim, shares her learnings from her tenure with Google and Facebook and what it's going to take to build the Aussie marketplace brand

Noelle Kim
Noelle Kim

Building the ‘why’ and personality behind Airtasker’s brand proposition is a key priority for the Australian company’s new chief marketing officer, Noelle Kim.

Kim joined the marketplace for everyday tasks in July and is overseeing a rapid ramp-up in global marketing investment and expansion not only in Australia, but into the UK and US. The scale-up follows the successful debut of Airtasker on the Australian Stock Exchange in March.

Kim is a seasoned veteran of startups and digital disruptors. Her resume includes working in Silicon Valley for five years at both Google and Facebook, where she held marketing-oriented roles across brands such as Google Glass and Instagram. Prior to joining Airtasker, she was head of marketing APAC for Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

“I have always worked in entrepreneurial environments in previous roles – my parents owned several SMBs so that messiness and owning that whole program of work is part of my DNA,” Kim told CMO.  

“It was when I returned to Australia and was at Facebook that I learnt about Airtasker, an incredible consumer brand and a beautiful Australian success story with a model that hadn’t previously worked overseas.”  

Kim was excited about Airtasker’s current position in market and its growth ambitions. She reports directly to co-founder and CEO, Tim Fung.

“I can bring to the business what it needs to continue to scale up and to be a success from Australia out to the markets I have been previously working in,” she said. “Airtasker is at a formidable place in the Australian market. From a consumer-based standpoint, the brand is really strong. But we haven’t doubled down overseas, so building the business in the UK and US is the next real opportunity for us.”

The team Kim inherits is what she described as “a lean team moving at the speed of light”. The marketing approach to date has largely centred around growth marketing, with strong SEO and performance marketing skills internally. The next big opportunity she sees is in brand investment.

“Airtasker is a product people love, but in terms of the brand itself, there isn’t a lot of brand association with consumers,” Kim commented. “We need to start to build the personality of the brand more and solidify why people love Airtasker beyond the product itself.

“We are not in a bad place – even with well-known brands like Instagram, people loved the product first without understanding why they loved the brand. While I was there, we invested heavily in shaping that perception. That was with a lot more scale than Airtasker.”  

In terms of how she plans to go about it, Kim’s first step is an audit of how Airtasker shows up to people and its current voice in market. Airtasker is a two-sided marketplace, so customers represent both taskers providing services as well as the users purchasing them.

“Even internally, it’s about getting a common understanding of what our brand stands for,” Kim said. “Beyond that, it’s looking at our competitive set, understanding what our role is versus those of competitors, and whether it’s direct or indirect. Because one of our competitors is asking your friends for help.

“Then it’s about where we feel we can develop and what can we credibly own, and where we continue to invest in. We can shape the strategy from there.”

With a focus on helping people realise the full potential of their skills, Kim said the Covid-19 global pandemic has presented Airtasker with an environment where people are revaluating their lives and professional and personal choices.

“Many people have quit their jobs and started new ones as its [this climate] made them reassess what’s important. A platform like ours is well positioned to take advantage of where we are at,” she said. “People are thinking about how to create economic value from the skills they have.”  

One of Airtasker’s differentiation points is the ‘open form’ structure, allowing taskers and users to both post any tasks they wish to fulfill or have fulfilled. It’s an approach that hasn’t been successful in the US before, Kim said.

“This is what makes Airtasker unique. We’ll take that product to the US, and although it isn’t necessarily new, we are the only platform that has succeeded with that,” she said. “Taking that city by city to the US will be interesting.”  

Helping inform the offering and feature development is a regular cadence of community roundtables with taskers. In addition, Airtasker employees get $1000 credit to use in the marketplace directly.

“When I was going through the interview process, I hired an Airtasker and asked a bunch of questions on why they’re choosing us over other platforms and what they would change. Those observations across audience is something that’s embedded in the culture of this organisation,” Kim said.  

While it’s early days, Kim was clear of the need to recruit more taskers on the platform. From a user perspective, the goal is better articulating jobs that can be achieved using the platform.

“As an open platform you’re able to get any job you want. But there are probably a core set of jobs people are doing on the platform. So it’s the storytelling around the breadth of things you can get done we need to focus on,” she said.

“We have also been leaning into Tasker listings, which instead of the open form, allow you to see the list of jobs that are possible for you to achieve. So we will offer both models to market.”   

Kim admitted the biggest challenge is going to be balancing short and long-term priorities.

“When you’re lean, you’re focused on opportunistic things that are short term rather than carving out the time to focus on things that feed into that long-term strategy,” she said. “Making sure you prioritise and carve out time for that is key – otherwise you end up doing the short-term things and not getting closer to your long-term goal.

“Right now, for example, a big question for us is: What do we buy versus build? We’re starting to talk to agencies to see what we can leverage outside the company itself.”  

What Kim said she appreciated most about Airtasker is its Australian roots and international ambitions.

“We have this humbleness and a scrappiness that only Australians have. We are now looking to scale in huge markets, which have very different approaches. Taking that scrappiness, which has helped us succeed so far, and take it outside of Australia is exciting,” Kim added.  

“In 3-5 years, regardless of what country you’re in, I want Airtasker to be a global household name and to be top of mind when you think of local services or need a problem solved.”  

In its most recent financials, Airtasker reported FY21 gross marketplace volume of $153.1 million, exceeding its forecasts by nearly $10m. It also cited a 39.1 per cent lift in Q4 performance year-on-year.

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