Marketing boss Natalie Feehan on how the financial software company has remade itself, and what it must do next.
Natalie Feehan’s brief when she started as Executive General Manager, Group Marketing, at business management software MYOB was nothing less than a total brand transformation. Having spent much of her career working in the real-estate industry, Feehan was brought in to oversee a major renovation.
Launched in 1991, MYOB made its name providing desktop-based accounting tools for small business owners, but the growth of similar businesses using SaaS (software as a service) cloud-based subscription models meant it was time to get active.
[caption id="attachment_917" align="alignleft" width="325"] MYOB's Natalie Feehan[/caption]
“One of the challenges for us was getting existing clients to move to the cloud,” Feehan says. “Also, getting people to utilise a lot of the tools that were available to them through our cloud-based technology.”
Melbourne-based Feehan says planning for the transformation began when she started two years ago. She saw three major targets: MYOB’s customers (current and future), its partners and, importantly for her, its staff.
“What has been phenomenal is the internal engagement,” Feehan says. “We needed the internal engagement before we went live with anything externally, to actually start creating change in the customer-acquired experiences that we create.
“We've seen some really good results in terms of the employee engagement as it relates to brand and understanding the role that everybody plays internally in creating branded experiences.”
Feehan says external results have been “fantastic”, too. “Whether it's been from feedback from our partners – accountants are a very important sales channel for us – or results we've seen in market. Social media engagement has increased about 285 per cent year-on-year and we've seen an increased NPS [net promoter score]. All of the metrics where you look at the brand funnel, through awareness and consideration through that social engagement, right through to the number of people who are visiting our website or trialling our products, have shown positive results.”
To try to shift brand perceptions, MYOB has used a number of traditional and non-traditional channels – TV and outdoor, event sponsorships, as well as video and social media. “They have all played a role,” she says. “Now we’re focusing on acquisition and sales, we see our social and digital channels playing a huge role in actually driving people through the funnel.”
Feehan says MYOB’s unique selling point has always been that its products cater for businesses of all types and sizes. “What is changing is the way that people are using our products,” she says. “As people understand MYOB more broadly as a digital and technology leading business, they are finding additional digital products and services.
“Our company purpose is really about helping businesses succeed. We’re using our experience, our employees – through mentorship and sponsorship – to get really get behind a lot of the startup and education ecosystems as partners with events and accelerated programs.”
“The risk you run is that you integrate technology and then only use 10 per cent of its capability.”
Feehan sites MYOB’s sponsorship of SheStarts, a program aiming at lifting female representation in startups, and its involvement in tech battlefield events and Melbourne’s Wade Institute. “Whilst [these activities] don't necessarily directly change our clientele, they really cement our role in helping shape future business owners.”
She says it can be difficult to measure the success of each of these marketing activities, but tracking performance is still very important. “With anything that we invest in, we need to be really clear about the objectives and how we're going to measure and track that success,” she says. “I think that there's always a way to measure; it's just making sure that up front you've really defined what you're trying to achieve.”
Feehan says marketing’s biggest challenge right now is dealing with the number and complexity of digital and technology platforms, and integrating them with existing systems. “The complexity comes in deciding what to integrate and when to integrate it, and then making sure that your people are actually equipped to utilise those programs to their full advantage, before they're moving on and are interested in the next thing,” she says.
“It's one thing to bring the technology in – it's another to successfully implement it across the business. The risk you run is that you integrate technology and then only use 10 per cent of its capability.”
As for MYOB, Feehan says the brand transformation still has some way to run. “I think it's safe to say it will probably never be complete,” she says. “Especially in today's market. Brands need to continuously evolve and transform themselves.”