I rarely give advice, because I am not in a position to do so. What I am in a position to do is to keep things simple.
I sit on the easyJet board and it is my job to make sure that my colleagues buy in to the strategy we have put together, that they buy in to the vision we have crafted and that they understand why it is a necessary move.
I try always to talk in straightforward, commercial terms, explaining the commercial difference a new marketing strategy is going to deliver, while making sure the plan is clear. We have an open debating style at the company, and it is vital that people understand a new proposal so that they can properly challenge anything they disagree with, before we can collectively agree to it.
Everyone at easyJet understands the need for brand and marketing. It’s not enough just to talk about being customer-driven; you need to look at the extension of your IT function or HR policies, and how these all come back to the customer. And it’s only when you have marketing on the management board that you can begin to properly factor these elements in.
Our proposition has always been to make travel easy and affordable, and the way we deliver that is constantly being worked on. Back in 2011 we didn’t have a CRM approach, and it was my job to create one, hire the right staff and make sure the team had all the support and coaching it needed to develop a strategy that would transform the way we communicate with customers at different points in the journey.
That move required a database build; it required email capability that didn’t exist previously; and it required the creation of a variant of the brand’s tone of voice for new messaging and new platforms of communication, which all had to be in agreement with our ancillary partners. But the result is that the strategy we built led to the revival of easyJet.com and the overhaul of our mobile proposition; and to us receiving the Customer Relationship award at this year’s Marketing Society Awards, for our CRM programme.
It would be naïve to claim that the marketing department is more or less responsible for the company’s 51% reported full-year profit performance against the HR or the IT team; it is absolutely a company achievement. But in the world of quarterly reporting, there are always challenges. We need to make sure we continue to be differentiated and to allow the customer to be able to travel easily, and at an affordable price.
In my experience, it’s the small things that, in reality, count as big things. When I came to the company in 2011, I received very mixed commentary from people as to their perception of the brand. But as time has gone on, I have heard several individual stories that, when added up, describe the transformation that has happened under our chief executive, Carolyn McCall. At times, the dramatic change we have created has felt unreal, and our customers have definitely seen the difference.
Which, incidentally, all comes out in everyday stories from travellers – and that is what I am most proud of.