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Academy Xi Webinars

Product Management is Growing. Fast.

By Academy Xi

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The average salary of a Product Manager is $117,849 – one of the highest paid tech roles in Australia (Source: Indeed, 2021)

As companies need to reinvent themselves digitally, Product Management continues to move towards the centre of business strategy. Join our panel of leading product managers where we will discuss why Product Management is having a moment right now and what lies ahead.

Join our speakers: 

  • La’i Dowsett – Senior Consultant – Product Development (previously Tesla & Apple)
  • Jo Pforr – Product Lead, Sustainable Innovation, PwC
  • Luke Hymers – Chief of Staff to CEO, Baraja

In this video, you’ll learn:

  • Tips for leading digital product and strategy.
  • Why product has become ‘business critical’ for many organisations.
  • What the common pathways are to working in product.
Interested? Register your interest for our Product Management webinar here.
 
Want to keep up to date with the latest webinars from Academy Xi? Follow us here on LinkedIn.

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Brad Cluff

By Academy Xi

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Brad chats to us about the move back to his hometown and how studying Digital Marketing transformed the bottom line of his family’s hospitality business – with numbers up by 70%.

In 1995, Brad’s parents purchased an old school house at the foot of the Blue Mountains in Wallerawang NSW and transformed it into a now thriving hospitality business, Black Gold Motel. Over the years the venture has grown considerably to include a restaurant and conference centre and in 2020, Brad and his partner decided to make the move with their young children from their home in Sydney to help support the family enterprise.

Can you tell us a bit about the family business?

It was originally the Old Wallerawang school, built back in 1881, it has been here forever. My dad and grandfather and I were all students here over the years and I was school captain in year 6, but by then the school had moved into a new building. 

Dad is building 30 more units at the moment for the motel. I now work in a room which was my kindergarten classroom back in the day, which is weird but great.

What was happening in your life before studying at Xi?

I had finished my previous career in I.T in January 2020 and joined hospitality at an interesting time for the whole world – just as we had made the move to Lithgow, COVID hit.

In addition to the hotel, we have a restaurant with five chefs and nine apprentices, a busy little restaurant, so we went from bustling to shut down within three weeks of having moved up here.

I had been studying social media through a few influencers and I had a couple of my own businesses on the side but it wasn’t until I helped out a mate’s charity called ‘Walk ‘n Talk for Life’ with an event that I realised the power of digital marketing. There are issues with suicide in Lithgow and this charity does a lot to support people – I put together an event for them using social media. I created it out of nothing and 650 people showed up, in the snow. I wasn’t a marketer and this was possible. It blew my mind.

When I moved up here I was feeling that digital marketing was what I needed to do for the family business. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but decided to start building it up. 

With COVID we needed to keep people employed. To give them a purpose. We did food deliveries and I had to work out how to market that. We had a monopoly in the area and started from there – just organic, nothing paid and I started learning how to word things, focusing on supporting local and buying local, took lots of photos of our staff and told a story with that. 

How did you come to study Digital Marketing at Xi?

I felt like I was getting a grasp on social media and digital marketing on my own, but I was also very aware that I was making it up as I went along. I felt some actual training was the right way to go, to get some solid structure and direction.

I started looking into training options and knew that I really needed flexibility as I’ve got two young kids and I work 80 hours a week. There were a few options I was considering for training, but they didn’t seem to feel right and fit my learning style. 

I got chatting with the course advisors at Academy Xi, spoke with Olivia, she was great and talked me through it – she’d just completed the training herself, so that was a huge help to be able to discuss the course with someone who had experienced it first hand.

Have there been any training highlights for you so far?

A highlight was definitely my mentor, Jillian. I’ve done a lot of different training and knowing this was for my family business I was really engaged. Jillian was great to take specific business challenges too, not just discussing course content. I could contact her directly to bounce ideas off in the digital marketing space – she was very helpful. 

The content has been great too. It has been challenging, but totally worth it. Because of my search engine optimisation (SEO) awareness that I gained through the course I’m also able to talk to SEO specialists and I know if they’re doing their job properly and who to hire. Gillian helped advise on this too. It has empowered me with an understanding that I didn’t have before. 

“I chose to study Digital Marketing with Academy Xi to help my family business to thrive. The training has paid for itself already.”

Are you implementing your learning for your business marketing as you study?

I have used our business as my case study within the training, so I could implement it all as I have been learning, which is great. The training has been super practical, just what I needed.

Having a strategy has been the biggest thing. I didn’t have one before. We’ve got a conference and training set up here with a range of rooms we can use. I’m trying to build up a strategy around that so we can get a return on investment quickly. 

Before the course I wouldn’t have known how to set up a strategy. To know who to target, how and why, the buyer persona and how to write for that audience. Previously I was kind of doing it all intuitively, but didn’t have the bigger picture and framework to guide me.

“While doing the course, I’ve been implementing website changes and putting my digital marketing strategy into action. Our motel is up on average 70% growth in only one year. The restaurant revenue has also increased by 70%. 

Weekend motel bookings are up by at least 50% compared to the previous year. We are getting 60-70% occupancy on the weekends now, whereas before we were getting around 10%. The impacts from the digital marketing changes on the bottom line of the business have been huge.”

We haven’t heard the phone ring since we made the changes to the website because it has taken the pressure off the front reception desk, it’s all automated now. We have a restaurant booking system set up too, so bookings just turn up, they flow through to our point of sale system. 

Being able to measure that, it’s awesome. My parents didn’t have much faith in the tech side of things before, but now that they’ve seen the huge impact this has all had on the bottom line of the business, they’re happy for me to go ahead and do it – they can see the amazing outcomes it is continuing to make. We can see it’s working.

Would you recommend others who run their own businesses to do this course with Academy Xi?

Absolutely – I’ve already sent three business owners I know to check out Digital Marketing training at Academy Xi and I recommend it to anyone who needs digital marketing in their business, which let’s face it, is nearly every business. 

For small business owners to get their head into it and to understand digital marketing, whether they want to actually do it themselves or not, I totally recommend this training. It has been so helpful.

Planning a visit to Wallerawang? 

Want to ramp up your digital marketing efforts quickly, like Brad did? Check out Academy Xi’s Digital Marketing: Elevate and Digital Marketing: Transform courses.

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.