CACC SME Roundtable: Experts weigh in on building a brand in Australia

28 Apr 2017 12:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Canadians: want to build your brand in Australia? Data is key to building your presence, but don’t forget about authenticity and value for your customers, urged the group account director of a Sydney-based advertising agency.

Dan Clark was speaking at a seminar organised by the CACC’s SME Group and hosted by his firm, The Hallway, one of Australia’s most awarded advertising agencies.

“One of the things The Hallway emphasises is the power of data and taking data-centric approaches to help brands better understand their customers,” Clark told the 30 entrepreneurs and SME owners in attendance.

“Data can be a scary word for some people, but it can be as simple as the customer information you already have and how that info might relate to your next customer and the next. You don’t have to be a data scientist who does algorithms for fun on the weekend to understand how it works.

“Understanding your data will ultimately help to inform your creativity and in turn allow you to provide content that is more relevant to your customers,” he added. 

Clark noted Australia had more liberal data privacy laws than Canada and that it was easier for Canadian brands to move from their more regulated environment to Australia than for Australians to open conversations with Canadian customers, where customers must give explicit consent for brands to liaise with them.

Clark emphasised the need for brands to provide valuable content and to refrain from pushing out endless marketing promotions which can quickly turn off customers. He also touched on the challenges of social media, explaining how brands needed it to build conversations with their customers, but also noting they should be more considered about which channels were best for their initiatives.

Clark was joined by James Gaskell, managing director at Flight Network, and one of the agency’s clients. They discussed the branding exercise that Flight Network was currently undertaking with The Hallway as the online travel company (second biggest in Canada after Expedia) prepared to launch in Australia later this year.

Gaskell said it was important for Canadian brands to do their homework when it came to understanding the similarities and differences between Canada and Australia, to better understand the Australian market. It can even come down to small, micro-societal norms like the different ways Canadians and Australians spell words and even how they write dates, he noted.

“On the travel front, while Canadians and Australians share many characteristics, like big geographical areas to navigate, there are important differences,” said Gaskell.

“In Canada, travel is on a different scale. We have proximity to the USA so it’s a North American mentality we’re dealing with and bigger volumes. That’s not the case in Australia with a smaller population and no big neighbour nearby. With fewer holidays from work, Canadians tend to focus on the short-haul, like going to the States for a three-day weekend. Australians, with more time off and the challenges of having to go seven hours to get to an overseas destination, tend to be away for longer. “It’s a different experience that we are trying to address,” he said.

Flight Network’s point of difference from other online travel companies like Expedia and BYOjet is its mobile-first approach. Gaskell explained how Flight Network is using technology to improve the travel booking experience and how travel is moving increasingly mobile, with more customers using their smart phones to book their holidays.

“This was something Flight Network was poised to take advantage of in Australia as Australians have always been early adopters when it comes to mobile phone use,” he said.

“The Hallway had also advocated starting with mobile as it is an effective way to spend media dollars instead of using traditional TV and radio advertising for Flight Network’s launch,” added Clark.

Brad Bennett, The Hallway’s head of technology, also spoke at the seminar, discussing how brands can work with agencies for better outcomes. He also highlighted two other clients (UNSW and Google) where The Hallway had recently undertaken successful brand-building exercises that drove business results.

Clark and Gaskell promised to take part in another seminar later in 2017 to discuss the results of Flight Network’s launch into the Australian market.

The SME Group’s Co-Chair Michael Bacina, a partner with commercial law firm Piper Alderman, emceed the seminar and spoke about the CACC’s work with Australian and Canadian SMEs to date, noting upcoming roundtables and other events.

The CACC’s SME Group launched in October 2016 and has enjoyed strong growth among Australian and Canadian small-to-medium enterprises. Its regular roundtables provide valuable business learning, networking and mentorship opportunities for members.

Questions for this roundtable’s speakers? They can be reached via LinkedIn:

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