Marketers are driving our innovation ecosystem

Lee Tonitto

  • CEO, Australian Marketing Institute
Lee became the CEO of the AMI in August 2014 after holding the position of chair. She has held several senior marketing and distribution roles with Unilever, Revlon, AMP and Commonwealth Banks Count Financial, and was most recently marketing practice leader for the Internal Consulting Group. Prior to joining the executive team at AMI, she spent three years running her own consulting firm covering strategy, marketing and business advice. Lee has participated in the association for 10 years, a decade which includes a stint as NSW president and then joining the board in 2007.


The Government's newly released National Innovation and Science Agenda shows that for economic growth to continue within Australia, an 'innovation ecosystem' must be fostered, where new businesses with new ideas are encouraged to grow and flourish.

With every company wanting to increase, retain or improve their customers’ experiences, this makes marketing vital to fuelling Australia's ideas boom.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian currently has 60,000 marketers. This number is forecast to double by 2019 as marketing rapidly becomes the most in demand skillset by employers nationwide.

The Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) believes marketing skills are critical to this innovation ecosystem. Marketers empathetically understand customers and the experiences they need in order for their organisations to be successful. Today’s marketing professionals are actively collaborating across business to find solutions to resolve customer pain points and better meet their needs, developing and pooling skillsets including customer insights, data science, design thinking, lean methodologies and customer journey mapping, all predominately through the digital landscape.

In the last five years, we’ve seen brand power shift to consumers, in large part thanks to social media, and the effortless in which content and word-of-mouth can become viral – by even just one individual. Because of this and the rapid rise of technology, innovations within marketing are disrupting normal consumer experiences to further engage and encourage purchasers to hold that power.

What this also says is marketers who do not embrace lifelong professional learning by adapting to the ever changing digital revolution, will fall behind.

A reminder of the power of customer-led, digital innovation is Uber’s rise within Australia.

Ranking fourth on CNBC’s 2015 Disruptor List among other collaborative economy darlings, Airbnb and Dropbox, Uber had the power to start operating in Australia at the end of 2012. This was despite being illegal in most parts of the nation. Demand for Uber’s services capabilities grew as the car service provided a superior customer service experience to that of taxis, who were slow to embrace change and innovate their service model.

Uber’s app has changed the way people use transport in our major cities. Uber, founded by Garrett Camp, Oscar Salazar and Travis Kalanick and launched in 2010 in San Francisco, allows people to get and pay for taxi rides easily. As soon as they sign up for an Uber account, users can launch the smartphone app and instantly find vehicles and drivers available for hire. One click hails them, and the nearest driver comes and picks you up. At the end of the journey, your driver charges your account.

Uber has positioned itself for the time-sensitive rather than price-sensitive consumer. Its rates can be higher than you would find for a regular taxi, but the fast response drives value for consumers. And on the technology side of things, Uber works well.

It should be no surprise a great amount of planning goes into Uber’s customer research strategies, and sales and marketing are the company’s largest expense category, according to Forbes.

So what does this tell us? Ultimately, the winning brands will understand their customers better than everyone else, make life simpler and demonstrate the humanity, transparency and responsibility required to build brand purpose and trust.

And who better to help them than a marketer.

Tags: marketing careers

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