I was invited to speak to business technologists at CeBIT – the Business Technology Conference & Exhibition in Sydney – to share my experience about delivering an authentic digital marketing experience.
The first thing I did was to strikethrough two words – digital and marketing. Now my presentation title read, “Delivering an authentic experience.’ Because that’s what it’s really about. Wherever you are online or offline and with whatever tools of engagement you use.
I took the role of Global Head of Brand Strategy and Marketing at Xero because I’ve grown more aware over my career of the strong potential for authentic brands. From the outside looking in, I thought the Xero team truly believed in what they were trying to achieve. Both for small business and the accounting industry. Now a mere four months in, I can see that the potential is alive and well at Xero, as the journey evolves for our customer and us.
So how does that translate to the way that brands deliver authentic experiences for customers and stakeholders?
Strategically: Why do you care?
At Xero, we use technology to empower small businesses and their advisors to do beautiful business. As part of that purpose, we know that small businesses employ half of the Australian workforce but still have to wait 54 days for the average invoice to be paid in this country. That’s a powerful context within which to make an impact and improve experiences..
When you truly believe in your business purpose, it becomes more than a poster on the wall: it’s your powerful weapon to decision making. Purpose impacts the causes you champion, the conversations you start; the places you show up; and, ultimately, the creative communication that really resonates.
For me, our purpose and value sets are the absolute backbone of authentic experiences. They help steady the ship when the waves rock, keep it on course when you start to drift and give you permission to set your sails to the wind to get somewhere quickly. Fast or slow, they help filter your myriad of ideas.
Let’s take a handful of Xero values as our example: human, champion and beautiful. They go into our design briefs, they make themselves felt through our taglines and in our creative. We can literally look over campaign concepts and ask: does this represent our values? Are we really sharing the message that matters most?
Operationally: Cross-functional alignment
An authentic intention is one thing, but how do you bring it to life operationally? Within our marketing department at Xero, we are lucky enough to have a diverse talented group of people with amazing expertise and talents across a broad range of skill sets.
These dependencies build a rich team; people who think differently and challenge one another about the way things get done. When everyone aligns, there is incredible potential.
In order for any collection of smart, different thinkers to work together every day, you need to empower them to be clear on goals, equip them with the right tools, ensure they are confident to take risks, look at data in real time and take action in the moment. That’s when your creativity has its moment to shine.
Experientially: Put it out there
We’re proud of a recent campaign in the Australian market, called Add a Xero, which promotes the great work of our advisor community. It’s important to our purpose because we know that small businesses on Xero are more successful with an advisor.
That’s what I said to the crowds at CeBIT today. It sounds simple but in truth, what we do takes real commitment and belief from an amazing group of people.