Kiwibank’s Nicky Ashton on modern marketing, how marketers can get to the top table and where she’s hiding Raymond

Kiwibank’s general manager of brand and communications Nicky Ashton is one of the many big brains speaking at the NZ Marketing Summit on Thursday September 17 at Skycity. Ahead of the event, which is split into four streams—brand, digital, data and live—we asked her a few questions. 

In what ways have Kiwibank’s marketing strategies changed since you started? And how has the uptake of digital channels impacted on how you gain and retain customers?

Today we understand ever more about our customer groups and the creation of content. For example, we understand millennials’ attitudes to brands, and what they expect in return for their attention, which is their most precious resource as hyper-connected consumers. Quite simply, our marketing channel mix has changed and we are far more focused on data and experience to gain and retain customers. Our Home Hunter product is a good example of this.

In a world where information is freely available online, is brand losing some of its lustre? Or is it still crucial in a sector where many of the products are similar?

In a world where everyone is connected 24/7, it’s important that brands are authentic and deliver consistent experiences based on their brand promise. Brands that don’t will not thrive long term.

How important is it to get staff behind your marketing efforts?

Extremely important. We continue to build our brand from the inside out and galvanise our people to deliver on our purpose of ‘Kiwis making Kiwis better off’. 

It’s uncommon for marketers to make it to the top table due to a perceived lack of commercial nous. But they are extremely customer-centric. And bringing the voice of the customer into the business is becoming increasingly important. So do you think that bodes well for those in the marketing industry?  

Yes, I think it does bode well for marketers, as long as we are prepared to embrace data and digital to better understand our customers, identify their life stage and tailor our content and products. Marketers will increase their voice at the top table when they start talking the language of the business, not marketing, to gain more respect. Marketers often have the best external view in an organisation and can help it remain relevant in an ever evolving digital world.

Kiwibank is leading the charge when it comes to content marketing in the financial sector, with a recent partnership with Jamie Curry standing out. What’s your strategy on that front? And has it been successful?

In all of our marketing, we come back to the feeling of independence that a bank can give its customers, if only it looks beyond the numbers and helps them take some real steps towards financial independence. We met Jamie at a time when she was about to leave her parents’ home in the Hawke’s Bay, and move to Auckland to further her career. This is independence in action, so we collaborated to tell her story.

Given Jamie’s appeal to the hard to reach millennial demographic, we timed The KB Series to coincide with our mid year tertiary campaign. They weren’t linked explicitly but ran simultaneously, using targeting smarts available to any brand that leverages the power of modern marketing channels. The response to and engagement with the series has been phenomenal, and it was our most successful mid year tertiary campaign to date.

And finally, where are you hiding Raymond? 

Raymond has been parked in the garage for over three years although he still gets asked to make appearances at school galas and community events. He’s also our moneybox and features in some of our latest store designs in the children’s play area.

  • To hear more from Ashton and the other speakers, register for tickets to the NZ Marketing Summit—and to the workshops the following day—here.

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