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Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Imogen Abandowitz

By Academy Xi

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With a background in International relations and languages, Imogen always knew she wanted to work in communications, with a people focus. Training in digital marketing has provided her with exactly that. 

Hi Imogen! Can you tell us about what you were doing before studying Digital Marketing at Xi?

Right before Xi I was working in the University space in business development. Prior to that, I studied my Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Languages in Melbourne and worked in Community Development and Partnership Engagement.

What encouraged you to study Digital Marketing?

My previous degree was very general. I knew that I wanted to work in communications and I am passionate about content creation and imagery, but I was after a substantial training experience where I could walk away with specific knowledge and skills. Something distinct. Digital Marketing felt like the perfect fit.

Why did you choose Xi for your training?

I had spoken to a number of friends and colleagues who recommended the Digital Marketing Elevate course at Xi, so that definitely helped my decision. I also liked that it was all online so it was accessible. Compared to other training options it was also well priced. During the pandemic last year I had some extra time up my sleeve, so I registered!

How has studying Digital Marketing at Xi helped your career?

Since graduating I have started working for a travel and fundraising agency, Inspired Adventures, as their Campaign Manager. We take people on incredible trekking challenges around Australia while fundraising for causes they are passionate about. We work with charities with missions in Public Health, Environment and social change.

I really love my job and do my best in the role with all the charities we work with. It’s really meaningful work for me, to contribute to the success of their campaigns and fundraising goals. 

I do a lot of work with all of the charities across the campaign lifecycle, so digital marketing is certainly a part of that. I definitely think that the digital marketing training with Xi helped me to land the job. The training has given me the ability to provide strong recommendations and help them with their campaigns and overall marketing success.

Was there a training highlight for you?

For me the biggest highlight was developing the portfolio piece. I had a freelance client at the time, so I based my portfolio piece on that project. Originally I had set out to freelance and then thought to upskill with this training. It was great to have the support of the mentor and my classmates when I was starting out.

How did you find the online learning experience?

I was blown away by how the course was put together and loved the fortnightly catch ups with my group. There were about 12 of us from all over the country, regional areas and major cities. The course structure and delivery kept us all engaged with the topics we were covering each week and a lot of the resources were very comprehensive and super helpful. I liked the mixture of mediums used for course instruction – video content, written and live tutorials – it worked well. I also really enjoyed the quizzes and having break out rooms to discuss concepts with my classmates. 

Mark Knobel was my tutor and presenter and he was very helpful in explaining key concepts and guiding the direction of the course. He really helped keep us motivated, with everyone having different commitments outside of study that was super helpful.

Any plans to study further?

I would love to do more training in content creation – blogging, podcasts and user experience design all interest me. In the digital age we are living in, no matter which industry you work in, I believe marketing and effective communication are crucial.

Would you recommend training at Xi?

Definitely. The Digital Marketing training is an affordable, accessible and practical course that guides you through developing a project to showcase in a portfolio. It has helped me build confidence in business and innovative digital skills. 

I have a lot of friends who were generalists like me that I’ve recommended this training to. Having the digital marketing training is specific, applied knowledge that I really needed. I would certainly recommend studying with Xi.

Connect with Imogen on LinkedIn

Check out the amazing work of Inspired Adventures

Academy Xi Blog

What exactly is Customer Centricity?

By Academy Xi

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Who owns Customer-Centricity (and why it’s a challenge for organisations to get right).

There are a number of debates happening inside organisations around Customer-Centricity. Read on to learn more about:

  • Is customer centricity a business strategy or a mindset? Our opinion: when it is done well, it is both.
  • Is it the exclusive domain of Human-Centered Designers? We don’t think so, although it riffs heavily off these practices.
  • Where does Customer Centricity start and marketing end? The two are drawing ever closer together.
  • Does it flourish when executive teams buy into it? Yes, but it performs best when it moves beyond being a ‘top-down’ directive and individuals can take ownership.

As a concept, customer centricity isn’t hard to get your head around. Most of us will bring to mind the idea of keeping the customer at the centre of everything. It is often discussed in the contexts of digital transformation, customer lifetime value and corporate ‘customer culture’. Bringing customer centricity to life, however, seems to be a sticking point for many businesses. 

With 70% of customers basing their purchasing decision on how they feel they are being treated by a brand (McKinsey), customer centricity is clearly important for businesses. If there is a question to ask to determine your organisation’s status quo, it is: How “close” do your employees feel to your customers? 

Business strategy or a mindset? 

When it is done well, customer centricity is both. To set an organisation up for success, customer centricity needs to be planned for, talked about and resourced. Like anything strategic, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Many would argue however that the horse (mindset) needs to come before the cart (tools and processes). A truly customer centric organisational culture is one where each person aligns themselves with providing a great customer experience. This flows from strategic goals down to the day-to-day ‘business as usual’.

Is it a design discipline?

If you talk to human-centred designers, they will gravitate toward the idea of what we call structural customer centricity. This relates to how a company’s systems and processes are designed. If they were built with the customer’s needs in mind, then that is a structural customer centricity. This is often called customer experience (CX). From a customer’s perspective, CX pervades their every interaction with that brand. Watch our webinar “Customer Experience Unpacked” to learn more.

Is it a new lens through which to view Digital Marketing?

If you speak to a marketer, however, they will likely focus on understanding their customers, gauging their lifetime value to the company, and making the buying process as frictionless as possible. Customers want to be understood as more than an email address or part of an audience segment. The ability to know where a customer is at in their journey with your brand allows you to deliver the goods: the right message at the right time in the right way. This is another example of structural customer-centricity. Check out our recent blog ‘3 practical steps for driving CX success as a Digital Marketer’.

Is it the domain of frontline staff?

To put forward another interpretation, if you are a frontline staff member who speaks to customers, you will focus on the idea of being personally customer centric. This relates to what you personally can do to put your customer’s needs first. Customer-facing teams also have an important role to play when it comes to the way information flows through a business. They hear it all first hand: what are customers thinking, which competitors are they assessing you against and what are their pain points.

Should it be an executive-led culture change?

Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to those that are not focused on the customer (Deloitte and Touche). With such potential gain to the bottom line, it’s no surprise that executive teams are leaning in to customer centricity. When redefining any element of corporate culture, it pays to ensure that the leadership is behind it and lead by example.

How We See It

When customer centricity really starts to pay dividends for a business is when it is adopted organisation-wide. Executive leadership, strategy, design, marketing, customer service and client-facing teams all combine to leave your customer with an impression of your business. Everyone owns it. Customer centricity is as much a top-down initiative as much as it is a bottom-up way of working. And unsurprisingly, things work more smoothly when they are connected by a broader mission.

As always, it comes down to people. Do your teams have the mindset, toolkit and corporate culture needed to live and breathe customer centricity? Do they carve out time to talk about what customer-centricity actually looks like to them? Do they have access to concrete tools for being customer-centric themselves? Giving your people the resources and space they need to practice will help you set a solid foundation from which it’s possible to grow a truly customer-centered business. 

Want to talk about building a more customer-centric way of working? Check out our customer centricity training options and drop us a line.

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Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Grace Mantilla

By Academy Xi

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Interior designer turned visual merchandiser Grace Mantilla is carving a new career in digital marketing. A creative at heart, she’s now helping a non-profit build their brand and online presence. 

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Read our chat with her as she shares her story and journey in the digital marketing space.

 

Tell us about you Grace, your personal and professional career? How did you start? 

My first professional dream was to become an Interior Designer which I managed to achieve when I was living in the Philippines. When I migrated to Australia in 2010, I struggled getting in the same field. To gain work experience, I decided to apply for a role in retail. I became a sales associate and found myself getting naturally appointed to become the in-store Visual Merchandiser. I was blessed with a manager who recognised my skills and urged me to follow that path. Since then, I have been doing Visual Merchandising as a full-time role, as well as contracting individual projects as a freelancer.

What made you decide on upskilling?

I have always been a learner, a consistent student, as my friends would call me. I like to learn new things and challenge myself. Every time I feel that life gets boring, I entertain myself through education. Before the pandemic hit, I was already contemplating on upskilling and hoping to carve a new career path. When the world took a stand still in 2020, I took that as an opportunity to pick a course to study and enrol. I found myself getting immersed in Digital Marketing.

Why did you choose Xi and what made you choose your course?

I was initially interested in learning UX Design. I remember going to one of Academy Xi’s info nights in Sydney to dip my toe in the water. However, I found the learning curve steep, so I decided to switch to Digital Marketing. Plus, a friend of mine suggested it too. 

There were a lot of online courses offering Digital Marketing. I attended a few free intro courses with different organisations and read reviews about several institutions before deciding. I found myself genuinely interested in learning Strategies, Content and Social Media – three areas where I would like to focus my attention. 

To be honest, I cannot even remember why I chose Academy Xi. All I know is that it felt right and somehow the institution made me feel that I belong. I love how they have built a good community of learners and mentors.

The course was very extensive, and I learned more than I expected. It was exciting!

Tell us what you enjoyed most about the whole experience

I found myself looking forward to our Monday night sessions with my classmates and mentor. It was tough to understand the theories at first, but the activities and assessments helped in applying what we have learned so far. The part I enjoyed the most was  the team projects where we worked with real-life clients. I was excited to put my learnings into action! Whilst it was nerve wracking to speak and present to a client, it was rewarding at the same time. Those mini achievements meant so much to me and our team, as well as our mentor.

Were there any personal or professional obstacles that you had to overcome to complete your studies?

I was very blessed to have supportive family, friends, and teammates. Apart from a few concepts and theories that are harder to comprehend (I’m looking at you Programmatic Advertising and Finance Calculations), I feel all went well while I studied. Our mentor was approachable and always ready to give me a hand whenever I get stuck.

Tell us more about what you’re doing at the moment. 

While working part time, I am participating in Academy Xi’s Outcomes Program and hoping to land a role in Digital Marketing. I am starting to expand my network connections on LinkedIn and connect with like-minded people (If that is you, hit connect and send me a note! Here’s my LinkedIn profile!). Oh, and I do yoga daily. It is one of my new year’s resolutions to practice every day for a whole year. Wish me luck!

Has the content you have learnt been useful in your career? Could you give an example of how/where you used the knowledge learnt?

All the content that I have learnt is useful in building my career as a Digital Marketer. It has given me confidence to carve a new path and continue my journey. To keep myself busy and to continually apply my learnings, I am helping a non-profit start-up company build their website and brand awareness online through social media. If you are curious, follow Alt Coffee Beans on Instagram and Facebook to see our progress, although it is very much in its early stages. 

What are your plans for the future?

I am focusing most of my energy on landing a role in Digital Marketing and working on the non-profit project. Whilst my priority is to land a full-time role, I am also open to internships and expanding my experience in an office environment. Continually learning, getting better and sharpening my skills.

Any advice or tips you would like to pass on to our current and future students?

If I am to give any advice for future and current students, it would be to never give up. Yes, it is a cliché, yet one that is also true. Education is an achievement that cannot be taken from you and continuously learning is a gift. Every step you take towards your goal is worth it. Believe in yourself and soon you will find that you are a better person today than you were yesterday.  As for tips? Ask. Always!

Interested in any of our Digital Marketing courses? Whether you’re looking to upskill or completely change your career, we have the right course for you. Explore our Digital Marketing courses today.

Academy Xi Blog

Why Marketing degrees are often out-dated

By Leola Small

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I’ve been in marketing for 20 years now. I started in a shop-front business which was part of a global conglomerate. A lot of our Marketing Strategy and efforts were driven from our parent company based in the USA. I recall having shared folders and waiting for them to upload promotional campaign collateral for our offices to print and place at our POS and window displays. Back then I thought it was so easy.

Four years into that role saw me become the Head of Marketing at a very young age. Looking back at the role I had, I was basically a Marketing Coordinator for Australia. I took direction from the US and formatted the collateral to fit AU standards and ensured marketing campaigns were running, the sales team had the right sales tools and was the point of contact for inbound enquiries.

You could say that I “fell into” Marketing, and although it certainly wasn’t planned, I found that I enjoyed what I was doing and that I was good at it. Having said that, Marketing is a totally different ball game to what it was then.

I ended up studying Marketing part time while working as I wanted to learn more about the fundamentals. It served me well then, and I felt I understood broader marketing as a concept for various markets and audiences.

That was 15 years ago.

If I walked into a Marketing interview now (in 2021) with the knowledge I had learned while studying in 2006 – I absolutely would not get the job. Heck, I wouldn’t hire me!

So what does that mean for traditional education and degrees? Are they still relevant? Do you need a degree to get a job in Marketing?

As a Marketing Manager, these are the 5 things I consider when hiring:

  1. Passion and Curiosity – My favourite values. Over the years I’ve come to value passion and curiosity so much more. I know I can teach someone a new skill, but I can’t teach them to be passionate about it, or instill curiosity to want to learn more. Lifelong learners are my kind of people.
  2. Relevant & Timely Study – Believe it or not, I never look at degrees or qualifications. The reason I don’t is because I know that marketing, especially Digital Marketing, is continuously evolving. The theory you learned 15 years ago (or even 5 years ago!) is either out-dated or has improved. Look at shorter industry-recognised courses which teach content that is on-trend and up to date – such as the rise of influencers, social media marketing and Google Certifications.
  3. Technology Adoption – This one is quite important when seeking new talent for your Marketing team. Tech adoption matters because it identifies your ability to learn new technologies, if you’re tech-agnostic and it can also provide a gauge as to how quickly you might grasp a new system. Martech is constantly evolving and you should be across most technology, with at least an understanding of the function they perform.
  4. Practical Experience – This is a tricky one, especially for applicants who have never worked in Marketing before. But if you can demonstrate that you’ve used marketing principles or concepts before and understand the logic behind it, then you’re one step closer. You just need to be able to nail your pitch around Marketing Strategy or a Marketing Plan – if you can demonstrate your understanding and explain it in practical terms you’re on the right track.
  5. Cultural fit – I didn’t realise how important cultural fit was until I started building larger teams. This (in my opinion) is just as important as experience. You can hire the most skilled person to do the job, but if they don’t work well with the team, it’ll fall apart.

So, do you need a traditional qualification to work in Marketing? The short answer is no, but  you do need to understand relevant and up-to-date marketing concepts, trends and technology.

Good luck!