Chat bots and super

012JR30Oct18 copy.jpg

Presenter, Natalie Khoo (right) chats with fellow marketers

Everyone who attended the dm Forum on 30 October was treated to two show-stopper presentations.

Alana Burnside from Industry Super Australia kicked off the 64th dm Forum with an entertaining and informative reflection on how superannuation was revolutionised in Australia.

Many in the audience were still at school when the collective marketing campaign for Industry Super first took to the airwaves.

One of the biggest challenges in 1995 was to tackle the inertia and ‘don’t care’ attitude of people at the beginning of their super journey. The campaign’s clear sense of purpose was to educate the public on the impact fees and commissions would have on their super balance at the end of their journey.

While competitors tried to taint the collective as “cheap union funds,” the (distinctive) face of the campaign, Bernie Fraser, responded with “it’s the super of the future.”

Industry super was off and running. “Compare the pair” and “run only to profit members” were the catch-cries. The ads didn’t use supermodels, just normal, non-sparkly, relatable people.

By 2009, projected growth in super earnings – due to the member focus – spawned the “from little things, big things grow” addition to the marketing. And by 2013, retrospective earnings data hammered home the “compare the pair” difference and motivated many more people to shift their super to an industry fund.

The campaign took on other iterations to head off the banks in 2017 and importantly, industry super funds have come through the Royal Commission with a clean bill of health.

It was a fabulous presentation that reminded us how far we’ve come. The choice we have about where to place our super is something we now take for granted.

Natalie Khoo was the second presenter with an insightful chat about what marketers need to know about voice and chat bot technology. Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri – already they have a big place in our world. And their importance is only going to increase.

Natalie says that 45% of tasks will be doable by artificial intelligence in the next 50 years. But there is an important role for marketers to ensure the customer experience doesn’t fall by the way-side.

We’re all familiar with the IVR system bots that ask us to “press 1 for sales” – and Nat showed us a video of the transactional bots (such as Google Assistant) that are capable of making appointments for us. She says that increasingly, we’ll be seeing advisory service bots that can give advice and make suggestions.

Thankfully, Nat kept the technology pretty basic for us (me!) in explaining the “decision tree structure to design,” or the more data-intensive machine learning involved in the “natural language processing.”

Natalie summed up with her top five points for working with voice and chat bot technology.

  1. Respect your data and what it’s telling you about your customers.

  2. Bring your brand to life with persona development (form, gender, character, tone of voice and values).

  3. Understand the context:
    * is your customer on a tram or at work?
    * how long will the transaction take? 
    * where is the customer in the journey?

  4. Recognise intent and the constraints of natural language processing – “do you have the time?” (the time for what?) versus “can you tell me the time?” (yes, the time is 7:40pm).

  5. Ethics – data privacy and manners matter. Introduce your bot, don’t patronise and consider getting a chief ethicist on board with your project.

 Thank you to our generous presenters for their time and entertaining anecdotes at the October 2018 dm Forum. The next event will be in February 2019.

The wrap from the May dm Forum

DM Forum May 2018 - Kylie Iva Photography-86.jpg

Digital agency and social media presentations at the May dm Forum

Marketing agency life is more than lying around in beanbags and playing table tennis. But as Helen and Steve from Dando explained at the dm Forum this week, with the high pace in a digital agency, the creatives do need their time to chill out. 

“It’s about finding the balance with a culture that fuels innovative solutions and return on investment for clients," says Helen. 

And to keep their fingers on the ROI pulse, the agency closely monitors its clients’ performance metrics through a range of customised dashboards.

Steve says, “the data doesn’t lie,” and the visual elements of the dashboards help the team “pinpoint trends and mitigate any problems.”

Steve also advises “a cloud based platform is the only way to go.

“Keep it simple, drill into the metrics that are important for each individual business and automate the reporting.” 

Kae Hum from LinkedIn then returned to the dm Forum podium to explain how the app’s tailored newsfeed can help you build trust and demonstrate thought leadership through content. 

He says LinkedIn focuses on quality over quantity of reach. “Rather than going for a mass reach (through Facebook), brand safety is a focus.”

Here are Kae’s tips for building trust through your own content marketing.

1.    Don’t be afraid – you’re an expert!

·       take the first step
·       own a topic where you are an authority
·       take a position
·       involve the audience

2.    Make it personal

·       LinkedIn doesn't = boring
·       draw from your personal experience
·       leverage your employees and humanise your brand

3.    Event coverage

·       leverage your presentations
·       drive attendees to events
·       utilise selfie time 

4.    Make it snackable

·       we have a short attention span
·       use video (15 seconds – 1:30)
·       think mobile first
·       speak in headlines

5.    Timeliness

·       react to trends
·       plan ahead for events and seasonality
·       respond to social comments.

To sum up, Kae says thought leaders should own their creative content and share it across all channels. 

Thank you Helen, Steve and Kae for your thought-provoking presentations – only at the dm Forum and only in Melbourne!

Building trust online

DM Forum May 2018 - Kylie Iva Photography-74.jpg

Kae Hum from LinkedIn talks about building trust online

Kae Hum from LinkedIn presented to the dm Forum on 1 May. It was his second appearance at the quarterly marketing forum and he didn’t fail to stimulate the audience once again. 

Something he said has stuck with me – the importance of “building trust and demonstrating thought leadership online.” Increasingly, this is not just to protect our brands, but also professional reputations.

As marketers in this digital age, everything we write is scrutinised and spread across multiple channels. So it’s vital that our messages are consistent and on-point. It’s not just what we say, it’s how we say it. 

That’s why business writing skills remain so important. You want your message to cut through the clutter. And you want to sound professional and an authority that can be trusted. 

That can be tough for some people. They freeze when it comes to writing. Or alternatively, they feel compelled to waffle or use language that muddles the message. 

With the quantity of content required growing, it’s no wonder that more people are coming to professional copywriters for support. Whether writing opinion pieces from scratch, or just providing editorial oversight, a copywriter can deliver the finesse your content needs.

Whether it’s for brand safety or career development, a professional writer will deliver the advantage. Or if engaging a writer is not for you, maybe a day of writing training will polish up the writing skills in your workplace. 

As Kae encouraged everyone at the dm Forum, “don’t be afraid to own your topic – because you’re an expert.” I agree with him. But there’s also nothing wrong with asking for a helping hand.

Thinking fast and slow is good for business

DM Forum Feb 2018 - Kylie Iva Photography-36.jpg

Trudi Sampola from talks about the power of reflection in marketing

The dm Forum is now in its 17th year. Its success is testament to the simplicity of the format and the value of the contributions from those who present their marketing stories.

The February event was no exception. There were the regulars who’ve been coming for years, as well as some new faces. And of course, two interesting presenters.

Trudi Sampola, Marketing Transformation Director at was first up. The accomplished brand and communications strategist told the audience about her new-found appreciation for balancing “fast and agile” with “slow and considered”.

Trudi says the two speeds are complementary and that it is possible to embrace both. But it takes the right type of organisational culture where there is a preparedness to invest in “reflection and making time to celebrate the small wins”.

“The agility of my workplace is driven by our passion for customer satisfaction, face-to-face conversations, and everyone – including the Exec team – being ‘on the tools’ and working as a team,” she said.

“But we also take the time to slow down and reflect. Our internal ‘hackathons’ bring everyone together for three days to stimulate our creativity. It’s a big commitment from the business, but up to 50% of the ideas generated go into production,” she said.

The ‘Cyclops’ image recognition tool was a prototype idea that came out of a hackathon. Twenty thousand images are uploaded to every day. The Cyclops invention saves the organisation 55 hours of handling time in that process. It has also won ‘IT project of the year’ in the iTnews Benchmark Awards.

Not a bad outcome from a few days tinkering out of the office!

Following Trudi’s thoughtful presentation, we heard from Grant Arnott, founder of Click Frenzy. Grant talked about the build-up to the 2012 launch of the first ever 24-hour online shopping event in Australia.

Grant successfully tapped into the psyche of his FOMO target audience. The online clock was counting down and launch time was set for 7pm to capture the maximum volume of couch commerce.

Grant thought the first Click Frenzy might attract around 250k visitors. If things went really well, maybe 500k? Not for a second did he expect the traffic that wiped out the site shortly after launch.

Tragic at the time, he’s able to laugh about it now. And while he may have been knocked down, he got up again to build a bigger, better and more robust Click Frenzy that now serves 2 million happy shoppers.

They were two very different presentations, but both fascinating for their insights.

Thank you Trudi and Grant. You were the 95th and 96th speakers who’ve shared a marketing tale at the dm Forum. We're grateful to all our speakers who have generously given their time over the years. Thank you all. And if you have a marketing adventure to share, please contact Frank Chamberlin.

Marketing an AFL club


The marketing manager of Richmond Football Club presents to the dm Forum

Ben Jenkins is the marketing manager at Richmond Football Club. He came along to the dm Forum on 21 February 2017 to talk about the highs and lows of marketing an AFL club.

He said that while it might be a long time between premierships, Richmond Football Club (the brand) has a lot going for it.

“Richmond’s brand icons have been steadfast since 1885: the jumper has always been yellow and black with the ‘tiger’ part of the club logo; the home ground has always been at Punt Road; the song hasn’t changed; and the fans have always been passionate,” said Ben.

But even Ben admits 2016 was extremely disappointing for the Tigers.

“While the football department might take it ‘one week at a time,’ the marketing department does anything but,” he said.

“Like most clubs, we have passionate and loyal fans. But they demand success. When we can’t deliver that success on the field, we need to enrich and improve their lives in other ways.”

Ben’s strategy is to understand members through “fandom segmentation: the passive fan, the casual attendee and the one-eyed fanatic, for example”.

“We target our communications and use the quality content we have at our disposal. We also capitalise on our great partnerships and relationships for the benefit of members.”

Membership numbers can bear the brunt of a shocker season. “When things are bad, it feels like nothing can appease the fans. But through our communications we must constantly create passion and hope,” he said.

Ben says that while he has to “protect and foster the brand,” the Club has the challenge of “trying to get the product to live up to the marketing promise.”

“We have no control over the team performance or the opposition. We can’t determine the fixture, the weather, transport to and from the game, or player behaviour off the field,” he said.

“Players are one of our most important promotional tools – but many of them are just kids. No matter what the plan, we have to be reactive,” he said.

Right now during the off-season, the Club is trying to reflect the change that’s occurring since season 2016.

They’re holding fire on their membership acquisition campaign. But when it launches Ben says it will create “energy and excitement and reinvigorate members for season 2017.”

“We’ve got some big names coming to Richmond and we want to be strong and bold for the fans,” he said.

Will 2017 be the year the Tigers “eat ‘em alive”?

Village Cinemas gets smart about loyalty

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 5.05.54 PM.png

Customer experience is the new currency

Who goes to the cinema these days? The answer: plenty of people.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground might have three million people go through the turnstiles each year. But Village Cinemas gets 12 million bums on seats a year.

Presenting to the dm Forum, Mohit Bhargava (head of sales and marketing at Village) explained that last year Australian cinemas sold 84 million movie tickets!

“Going to the cinema is the highest form of paid participation entertainment in the country,” said Mo.

With so many customers and so many cinemas, how do you keep a customer loyal to your franchise?

Mohit painted the picture of how poorly Village Cinemas was managing its loyalty program. He used one particularly rusted-on customer, let’s call him Bob, to demonstrate how bad things were.

Bob and his 8-year-old son attended their local Village cinema for the screening of Captain America. As usual, both of them were in full costume. With much anticipation and preparation for their night at the movies, Bob’s reward ticket was rejected because it had expired.


Can you imagine how that made Bob feel? He called the contact centre. He tried to get his problem resolved through Facebook. To no avail – he had to buy a ticket.

“This guy had been in our program for 15 years,” said Mo. “He was worth $428 per annum and we didn’t help him. He was the movie star of our business, but he certainly wasn’t treated like one.”

With poor loyalty experiences like Bob’s, drastic action was required. “We realised we needed to widen the scope of loyalty,” said Mo. “Customer loyalty was siloed and didn’t consider the customer experience.”

Realising the damage being done, Village has established a “single customer view now, regardless of where Bob is interacting with us.”

“We’ve stopped obsessing about ‘bringing Bob back one more time’ and started focusing on his loyalty, his rewards and his in-cinema experience. Because the customer experience is now the currency.”

The good news is Bob did come back. He remains loyal to Village Cinemas and importantly, remains passionate about dressing up for a blockbuster.

Customer loyalty…it doesn’t stop at rewards.

Thanks to Mohit Bhargava from Village Cinemas for presenting to the dm Forum in Melbourne.