EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall on why marketers need allies across the business

Developing strong relationships with the finance or HR department is a smart idea for marketers who want to ensure their impact is felt across the organisation.

Carolyn McCall

It is critical for marketers to develop strong relationships with colleagues across the business, especially the finance department, according to EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall.

Speaking at Mumsnet’s annual conference Mumstock today (26 April), McCall argued that it is incumbent on marketers to find allies across the company, from finance to HR, to ensure their colleagues fully appreciate their impact on the business.

“No matter how fantastic the ad is we expect a return on that ad and there will always a price point. And now it’s easier than ever to measure the value of your communications, even to the last penny,” McCall explained.

“So marketers have to be very clear about how they are spending and include the finance department in understanding why this is so important, as well as explaining some of the intangible benefits you are getting from different campaigns, alongside the ROI.”

McCall argued that marketers should want their CFO to say ‘I love having conversations with you’ or for the HR director to congratulate them on how a campaign has energised the whole team.

Reflecting on being the CEO of a consumer-facing business, McCall stressed how important it is to really like and understand your consumers, which is the reason she spends 20-30% of her time meeting customers and EasyJet employees.

There will always be people who will just book for price, but our whole aim is to make sure we’re a preferred brand.

Carolyn McCall, EasyJet

“When I’m with them I try really hard to listen and not just to tell them what’s going on, to actually hear what they say. They will always tell you what’s not working, then you pick it up, take it back and do something about it,” McCall advised.

“I do a stand up for the team every week and each Friday I record a podcast which is my view of the week, no matter where I am in the world. What they like about that is that they can see that I’m a normal human being who’s accessible to them and it helps pull you in as one team striving for the same thing.”

Swapping commodity for affinity

By positioning itself as an accessible, warm, vibrant brand EasyJet has dramatically changed the way it presents itself to customers over the past couple of years, said McCall.

She believes this approach has resonated with consumers to the extent that 75% of passengers flying with the airline in 2016 have rebooked for 2017, a statistic McCall described as “formidable”. The number of families booking with EasyJet has risen 23% in 2017 compared to last year.

“There will always be people who will just book for price, but our whole aim is to make sure we’re a preferred brand and that people feel something about us,” explained McCall.

“There will always be people who look for something more and as long as there’s not a big gap on price they will prefer you because of the care and experience they get. By putting the customer at the front of what we do, when we do make mistakes we always apologise and never try to obfuscate what we’re doing. Transparency and honesty is very important.”

McCall argued that there is a huge difference between her airline and low cost rival Ryanair in terms of the service proposition and customer experience, which elevates EasyJet above the level of pure commodity through its desire to build an affinity with customers.

“I think we are five years ahead [of Ryanair]. We have changed the way they behave with customers and people at EasyJet are really proud about that. But we don’t want people to think that because we’re a low cost airline we’re all the same,” McCall stated.

“There are benefits to them emulating what we’ve done for customers. However, we will always want that clear blue water between us [and Ryanair].”

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