News Works Rookie marketer of the year: Jess Hall, Farmers

With the successful launch of Farmers Club in 2011 and the colossal amount of customer data it created, direct marketing became a more significant channel in the Farmers marketing mix. And it was at this time Jess Hall joined the team as a direct marketing assistant, her first marketing role after graduating from Canterbury University and travelling for two years. 

She is now responsible for developing fully integrated marketing campaigns covering all media, including large volume personalised direct mailings (500,000+), email, online advertising, Facebook, radio, instore POS material (posters, screens, in store radio, flyers), press and TVCs.  

The mailings for these campaigns are extremely complex. They also have multi-million dollar sales targets and marketing budgets worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Hall, 27, has proven she has the personality, organisational skills and emotional intelligence to deliver them on time and on budget. 

Photo: Paul Statham

Hall, who worked instore at the Riccarton branch of Farmers when she was younger, has quickly developed an intimate understanding of the 1.4 million-strong Farmers Club database. She also embraces the customer as the heart of every marketing communication, understands that real people live behind the data and knows how important the customer experience is for the Farmers brand, whether instore or in the inbox. 

She says she didn’t really even know what direct marketing was when she finished university, so it was a baptism of fire coming in to the direct team at Farmers. But she has learned fast and now loves having all that data at her fingertips to develop strategies for highly targeted campaigns. 

This focus on data segmentation has been very successful, she says, and Farmers has recently trialled sending out 16 versions of a new season catalogue via a personalised DM campaign to 270,000 people. And this has proven to be more efficient and engaging than the carpet bombing approach of the traditional letter box drop.

“I’m surprised how much I love it. But being able to test things like response rates is quite addictive. You get the good and the bad though, because you also get measured on the things that don’t work.” 

In her time at Farmers, she has learned how to manage big projects and multiple stakeholders, including buying teams, senior marketing personnel, an internal studio, a data and digital team, instore staff, external agencies, printers, mail houses and NZ Post. All of them must be managed and co-ordinated to successfully bring these campaigns to market. As an example, the One Day Sale for Farmers Club members was promoted via an integrated marketing campaign. Hall turned around all elements of the campaign, including a mailing to 780,000 members with over 120 different versions based on purchase history and status, within five weeks. 

Every piece of marketing material was delivered on time. And it ended up being the biggest trading day Farmers had ever had, with the mailing achieving a response rate of over 20 percent, driving over 160,000 Club members in store to shop on a single day. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, Hall was named the top student nationally in the New Zealand Marketing Association’s Certificate of Direct Marketing in 2012. She’s continuing the learning by enrolling in the Marketing Association’s digital marketing course. And while she takes her career seriously, she always tries to maintain her bright, fun and positive personality. Hall, who’s into snowboarding, surfing and boxing (for fitness, rather than bloodsport), loves the “work hard, play hard” culture of what she calls ‘The Farm’. And she’s keen to stay in the loyalty and direct segment for a while yet. But if she does decide to shift, there shouldn’t be a shortage of options. 

As Farmers’ head of marketing Dean Cook says: “In a very short period of time, Jess has demonstrated remarkable marketing and business acumen and should she continue her career with the same great enthusiasm she will become a great asset to not only Farmers but to any other business looking for great marketers of the future.” 

Award: New Works Rookie Marketer of the year
Winner: Jess Hall
Judge’s comment: “Jess exhibts a breadth of understanding of the challenges her business faces and how marketing in all its guises can be applied to benefit the business. This has been demonstrated in her ability to engage with stakeholders and identify opportunities for the future, listen, understand problems and deliver a sensible solution with longevity. She’s gone from a tacticle marketer to a strategic asset.”
Finalists: Emily Jolliffe, Farmers Trading Company; Jes Lee, Immersion Marketing; Kate van der Linden, Frucor Beverages; Martin Wong, Diocesan School for Girls; Stephanie Yost, BNZ. 

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