The CMO Show:
David Breust on marketing membership...

David Breust, Chartered Accountants ANZ CMO, sits down with host Mark Jones to discuss how to capture and retain members through engaging and transformative membership marketing. 

All marketers have the same job: to engage and attract customers. Membership organisations need to go further to inspire individuals to subscribe, pay and commit to long-term activities.

For Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand (CA ANZ) CMO David Breust, the customer journey starts at the very beginning of a career plan – with curious high school students. 

“Someone doesn’t wake up one day and go, ‘I want to be a Chartered Accountant,” David says. “We have to really nurture that relationship.” 

The Chartered Accountant designation is internationally recognised and sits within a highly competitive market. According to David, the key to competing is successfully identifying and prioritising the needs of members. Achieving this requires sharp skills and clever use of data.

“I think as a marketer you have to constantly reinvent yourself and adapt and understand those new and emerging technologies,” David says. 

“It’s where the idea of attribution modelling comes in, using data to understand all of those points of contact with a prospect or a student to influence their decision to ultimately become a Chartered Accountant.”

To remain relevant, David says any member body should operate with three pillars: understanding how to navigate the needs of the profession, the individual, and the public interest. 

“We exist to support the member, but equally you come back to those three pillars; we exist to support the profession and public interest,” he says. 

“Marketing is about connecting with a marketplace and the members of the marketplace. It’s about understanding who those audiences are and then building programmes that work to them.”

When differentiating the brand, David says simplifying the complexities of CA ANZ leads to the bigger picture: membership engagement. 

“First you have to build credibility and a position for marketing within an organisation as complex as ours. Then build all those really important stakeholder relationships. There’s lots of really smart people focused on delivering value, but you have to make sure you’re all on the same page,” David says. 

Tune into this episode of The CMO Show to find out how to connect and nurture relationships with your customers through transformative membership marketing. 


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The CMO Show production team

Producer – Charlotte Goodwin & Natalie Cupac

Audio Engineers – Daniel Marr & Tom Henderson

Got an idea for an upcoming episode or want to be a guest on The CMO Show? We’d love to hear from you:



Host: Mark Jones

Guest: David Breust

Mark Jones: It’s interesting, as people, we love communities. We love joining groups of all different shapes and sizes, and the business world is no different. There are membership organisations everywhere. And membership marketing and engagement is a really tricky thing, because people have feelings, they have expectations, and, also as a marketer, you’re trying to get an outcome.

Mark Jones: So what’s the key to working in membership marketing? One of the biggest things on your radar has to be member engagement. How do you listen to them? How do you incorporate what they have to say? How do you build their ideas into your program?

Mark Jones: The CMO Show is back. My name is Mark Jones. Great to be back in your eardrums. I just really enjoy this.

Mark Jones: The opportunity to get to speak to so many amazing people to get your feedback and to explore some really great ideas. And today we’re looking at membership marketing. here at Filtered Media, we do quite a bit of work in membership marketing, with all sorts of different organisations, and one of them is Chartered Accountants, Australia and New Zealand. So right out of the gate, this is actually one of our clients David Breust is the chief marketing officer.

Mark Jones: It was too good an opportunity to turn down, because we can learn a lot from professional membership organisations. And actually there’s three primary things that go on in most membership organisations.

Mark Jones: The first is education and training. And then you have advocacy, and that’s all about what the organisation can do to engage with lawmakers, with government, and that sort of whole policy, regulatory side. And then you have member engagement and that’s the heartbeat of a membership organisation obviously, right? I mean if you don’t have the members, you don’t have anything.

Mark Jones: So it’s great to have David Breust on the show, and we’re going to have a chat about all things, membership marketing, and also, transformation. How do you take an organisation that’s been, really, quite big and complex, and find ways to simplify the work that you’re doing, and to simplify the outcomes and to really bring people, your members, along for a journey?

Mark Jones: My guest today is David Breust, CMO of CA ANZ, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Mark Jones: Thanks for joining us.

David Breust: Thank you.

Mark Jones: 25 years in marketing and brand building, can you give us the career snapshot, just to kind of get to know the professional side of David Breust?

David Breust: Pretty varied actually, so a lot of time in agency worlds, so spent a fair bit of time working at Ogilvy, both in Australia and Asia Pacific, had a regional APAC role. Also did a start-up, so worked for a company called Foster Non Loftus and up there, direct operation. And way back when George Patts was setting up their first attempt at direct marketing, so agency through a few different lenses. Worked in publishing sights, so been a client as well, I worked at Fairfax in a direct marketing role and had a global role at Acer, working out at Taipei so bit of an extension of the Asia-Pacific experience but a global remit.

David Breust: So that was interesting working with Facebook and Intel and Microsoft and a lot of the global brand and media players, so that was fun. Done a few start-ups so been gainfully and sometimes ungainfully self-employed and now finally here at Chartered Accountants where there’s such a diversity of the things that fall under my remit that a lot of those experiences, whether they’re local or global, have coalesced into a broader marketing function which I really enjoy.

Mark Jones: So within all of that sea of experience that you’ve had, what’s been the career passion or interest or the thing that’s inspired you from one thing to another? Is there a consistent theme in how you’ve approached the work that you’ve done or how you’ve found opportunities?

David Breust: So I started life in the direct space to be honest, so the discipline I learned from one of the masters of Direct Marketing Australia, Ian Kennedy, so a mentor of mine, very early in my career. Lots of great respect for Ian and what he did for the industry. And so I learnt the fundamentals of direct response; how you get people to buy stuff, how you get people to respond. So I was always drawn to that cause and effect part of marketing, and then built onto that brand and digital and social. And I think as a marketer you have to constantly reinvent yourself and adapt and understand those new and emerging technologies, but all those underlying principles of how do you get people to behave and react in a certain way, were embedded in me from a very early stage of my career.

David Breust: So that was great, I quite enjoyed that and I’ve always carried that thought through a performance lens; how is this making something work? How is this making something respond? What’s that performance we’re trying to drive? How’re we getting someone to connect to what we’re doing? So, always had that in the back of my mind and grounded in that direct marketing view of the world.

Mark Jones: Yeah and I got to say, in the conversations we have on the CMO show and I think with clients, that direct marketing’s not hot like it used to be, but maybe it’s been repurposed in other ways.

David Breust: Re-badged yeah, and all those fundamentals are still there. How do you engage with an audience? How do you get them to believe in what it is you’re trying to convince them, trying to influence them on? So the disciplines around using data to inform a decision were always present in direct marketing, we’ve just gotten far sexier tools, far more interesting, far more immediate tools in which to make those decisions. So that’s great, so if you take those things, in particular the data piece and transfer it into what we do today, all of those things were present in direct marketing. We just put them into new technology, new delivery channels. So yeah, it’s interesting times and I really enjoy that side of the marketing sphere.

Mark Jones: Well just on that, I think its strikes me that direct marketing and related techniques are one step away from sales. And there’s a lot of conversations about the blurrier the lines between sales and marketing. Some deliberately, and some just accidental by virtue of technology and so forth. What do you think is going on there?

David Breust: Look there’s both sales and marketing are always in this business of influence right? And I think part of what we do at CA is I have a sales team within my marketing function and that’s because we want to build strategic partnerships with third parties. Whether they’re a Xero or someone involved in the accounting business. So ultimately you still need to get things connected to members, you still need to get things connected to an audience, whether it’s a particular supplier of Xero software services or whether it’s through what we want to get our members to take on as new business practise.

David Breust: So there’s a sales function in there, always at some point in time. So how those blend into the classic marketing function I think we’ve been able to adopt in our business. Whereas an FMCG would have a very different channel view of the world. And I saw that at Acer we were a very much a channel driven retail, box moving business. And the brand provided this halo but it had to connect very strongly with a promotional dimension to it. So it was like what’s going to be our promotion this quarter? How we going to get Intel inside to pay for half of it? How is this going to work as a get stuff moving off the shelves? So that discipline’s actually quite good to bring to a conversation with a product manager or an internal stakeholder go, it’s great we got the sexy product how we going to get it to fly off the shelf?

Mark Jones: And it’s interesting, we’re talking about marketing and sales history here but, how much of that Acer experience you described, the channel experience, driving sales directly through the marketing channels has informed modern day marketing? So I used to be a channel journalist at Australian Reseller News right, so I know all about the channel.

David Breust: All about it.

Mark Jones: And if you think about not marketing and sales people but CEOs, they have been influenced in my view by that experience of storytelling through different media and also through the point of sale marketing that is a big part of channel sales. That they’ve been really educated into, this will drive a direct result.

David Breust: Yep.

Mark Jones: And we will measure sales.

David Breust: Yep.

Mark Jones: And I wonder what impact that, as a legacy has had on how we think about marketing today because I talk about this as a model which is we used to say, 50 percent of my marketing doesn’t work, I don’t know which 50, now I think of it as both 50. The CEO wants every single aspect of your marketing to be accountable.

David Breust: Yep.

Mark Jones: So what’s your perspective on that?

David Breust: So, there’s a few ways to go into that question. One of it is, what’s the complexity of the sales? So there’s a transactional sale which is a fairly binary process; I’m going to have a price point, it’s going to be attractive, I’m going to sell a certain amount of skews in order to get to that point, and you can load the channel. And box movers have faced problems with that because if a price point isn’t matched by consumer demand and there’s no science to match that, then they’re relying on discounting and that’s a race to the bottom. And we saw that in the tablet business. Particularly in the Android category, it was a race to the bottom. Whereas, Apple were able to maintain a really high differentiation with their price point with their value proposition overall from their tablet and the ecosystem that sat within that.

David Breust: What we do with Chartered Accountants is very different. So it’s not a binary transaction. Someone doesn’t wake up one day and go, I want to be a chartered accountant. We have to really nurture that relationship and that’s where this idea of attribution modelling comes in and there’s much greater science around attribution, the use of data to understand all of those points of contact with a prospect or a student to influence their decision to ultimately become a chartered accountant. So we’re not in last-click attribution on a lot of things.

David Breust: Even in selling our education products online, we have fallen in the trap of pass of thinking, oh search is doing really well. That’s because you’re scooping up demand through search. But display has been doing a lot of stuff, social’s been doing a lot of stuff. So understanding what those attribution models look like, to get a better mix of media to understand how well those media are implying or impacting on perception of the brand. 

David Breust: So there’s quite a complex ecosystem of stuff we surround a prospective member, and then we get them into the programme and we got to support them and nurture them. So all of those things about moving boxes I think have moved away from this binary transaction to understanding there’s lots of things that influence the sale and how do I get a better visibility and understanding around what the influence are.

Mark Jones: And it’s probably worth unpacking because I think this is one of the things that I really wanted to explore with you today, was the sheer complexity of the stakeholder environment that you work in. And it might be worth, just if you like, quickly contextualising that because you are in the membership business. 

Mark Jones: But within that, you’re delivering a lot of different products and services.

David Breust: Yep.

Mark Jones: And you’re also spanning a pretty wide career path from as you mentioned from people who are, at university level and getting into the profession, and then right through the career journey, so it’s a very broad remit. Do you want to, to the best you can, summarise-

David Breust: In a hundred words or less?

Mark Jones: Right, exactly right, yeah, yeah, yeah. What does it look like from your point of view? just how complex is this membership business?

David Breust: Yeah, one word, highly complex. It’s an organisation that is truly cradle to grave, if we can use that expression. So if you’re thinking about a student who is in high school thinking about a career in finance and accounting, we touch them through careers engagement nights, through what we see on our content on the website. And our membership base is give or take, 120, 125 thousand members worldwide. Big chunk of those obviously in Australia and New Zealand. And they are across everything from; I’m a provisional member studying my CA programme, I’m first year into a career in, whether it’s an accounting firm or whether it’s in a big four, so early-stage career. I then, I’m either working at a public practise or a consulting firm, or a commerce firm, or I’m working in a not-for-profit, so there’s all that complexity of category. Mid-career, then we got all those members who are been with us for ages, and they’re fellows or they’re retired, and they want to give back to the profession.

David Breust: So we’ve got mentor exchange, we’ve got lots of networking opportunities. We have potential for those members to influence the next generation of accountants. 

David Breust: So female, much stronger cohort of members coming through. From an Asian background we’re seeing lots of international students coming in and establishing their education and their careers in Australia or taking those skills and taking them back to their home country. A very massive shift in the nature and the profile of what a CA looks like today to what a CA looked like 30, 40, 50 years ago. And so we have to  adapt to all those changes in reaching those audiences and influencing the different things that are important to those particular members.

Mark Jones: So at a strategy level, how do you simplify this? What’s the vision? Because that was way more than 100 words.

David Breust: Sorry, yes, yes. Brevity is important.

Mark Jones: No, no you’ve explained it really well. I knew we’d never get to 100. But is there an overarching strategy?

David Breust: Yeah, so if I take a step back, Chartered Accountants didn’t have a CMO before I joined, and so we had lots of business units doing stuff to members. So we’ve got to find a mechanism to bring all of that together to reduce the competition for members attention but also make sure that we’re relevant and salient to our members at any given point in time in that lifetime of their engagement with us as a professional body.

David Breust: So relevance and importance are two critical success factors that we need to align to. Understanding what’s working, what’s not working. So you’ve got to get everyone on the same page. So we’ve put in a workflow management system which means we can get visibility to all the things we do. And we do a lot of stuff; four thousand email campaigns, 11 thousand individual campaigns or tactics to a relatively small membership base. But lots of complexity in that, so there’s lots of things we want to get to our members. Lots of orchestration. Building the capability, but building planning into that. And then getting those stakeholders within the business to work with us in a collaborative way, so that we can help solve their problems, simplify their content, whatever it is that their issue is.

Mark Jones: So is the goal to personalise or to simplify? What’s the, where are you heading?

David Breust: So I think part of it is to personalise. So particularly with a member body, with and you’ve got that such diverse range of skills and requirements within your members, you have to be relevant. And so understanding how we navigate the needs of the profession, the needs of the individual, and public interest. So we have these three pillars by which we have to navigate and that influences what we stand for from a professional conduct and an advocacy point of view.

David Breust: So how do I contextualise my advocacy position to someone in public practise versus someone in commerce? So you’ve got to, I think, start to layer your communications and your marketing efforts to appeal to increasingly smaller or fragmented audiences. Now a trick to making that relevant is simplification. So how do we take really complex things like a policy submission and distil it into 100 words or less? 

David Breust: So, geo filter, stage of life filter, technical filter, then, how am I developing my career as a professional when I know the accounting profession itself is moving away from what you might call compliance work to advisory work. So the soft skills required to have a conversation like this with a client on how do I move my business from A to B? How do I build that advisory, that consultative type skills which aren’t taught when you do your traditional accounting degree? So there’s all that complexity to the audience.

Mark Jones: Yeah. It seems like the further-

David Breust: Doesn’t have the answer to your question, it just gone down the rabbit hole a bit.

Mark Jones: Well it actually almost feels like the more we scratch, the deeper and deeper we’ve got to get into this sea of complexity but, I can see two different paths here. One is your role and solving the problems of the organisation; so how are we transforming our operations and getting more sophisticated. And then there’s the other problem of your members and they need help, right? I see two competing areas of focus for you; one is our organisation needs to continue to improve, and we also need to make sure that we understand our audience, our members really well, and so how we can cater for those. So is that the simplest way of picturing the two things in play here?

David Breust: So we exist to support the member, but equally you come back to those three pillars; we exist to support the profession and public interest. But as a member body, if you’re not putting your members at the centre of what you’re trying to achieve, then you’re not going to be around for a long time right? And this is a universal challenge that all professional bodies are finding.

David Breust: I think in Australia we’ve been able to sustain growth through students because of the economic prosperity that’s occurring in this part of the world. But other parts of the world are struggling with this. So you’ve got to be future focused but appealing to this broad church which will have very different needs at different stages of their career.

David Breust: So the threat there is you become too diffuse and you spread yourself too thin as opposed to going, actually we’ve got to make sure that we’re heading in the right direction and we’re setting those support structures, those services to help our members also navigate that change. Because a lot of them are just in the day to day and they need to step back and be able to support them to move into a change in business model. 

Mark Jones: Describe your role then, because you said you’re the first person in this role-

David Breust: For CMO yeah.

Mark Jones: For CMO. And as we’ve discussed, there’s a lot of stuff going on. What do you think is the most important thing for you personally to bring to the table in all of this?

David Breust: So I think with lots of businesses of that complexity, it’s getting a clear understanding around the role that marketing can play at a strategic level. So it’s pretty clear what we can do at an executional and tactic level and we do lots of stuff. But it’s really, how does marketing help inform that transition for the organisation? So we can talk a little about transformation so transforming the marketing function to be an enabler of that change, as opposed to, hey you’re the studio or you’re the colouring-in department to do all my stuff. So it’s as much of an internal repositioning as it is then understanding what the market needs, what members need, and how does marketing best support that.

David Breust: So it’s, I always use this term that marketing is about connecting with a marketplace and the members of the marketplace. So understanding who those audiences are and then building programmes that work to them as opposed to, I got lots of stuff to get out, lets keep churning it out and churning it out because it creates competition for members attention.

David Breust: So, a few things; build credibility and position for marketing within an organisation as complex as ours. Build all those really important stakeholder relationships because there’s lots of really smart, really focused people on delivering value to members so making sure we’re all on the same trajectory with that. And then building the processes, so the role of data, technology, analytics, social, content. So before I joined, content was all over the place, so I brought in a content lead and we built a digital content team. So just doing some really simple things like that just sends the right signal to both members and the organisation that we’re putting the member at the centre and we’re trying to ensure that when we deliver something, it’s delivering value, it’s creating some meaningful impact to them. 

Mark Jones: And what do you think is the broad trend for CAs? Because obviously there is competition right, you don’t have to be a CA? You can-

David Breust: No.

Mark Jones: I don’t want to talk about the competition too much but you-

David Breust: You can be- No, you can be a CPA, you can be a ACCA, you can join the IPA, there’s a few competing professional bodies.

Mark Jones: Right. Correct. Yeah so what does that landscape look like?

David Breust: Well it’s highly competitive. So certainly between the competition with ourselves and CPA there is a healthy degree of competition but I always say, and this is a point of view shared with my peers, that the profession needs both professional bodies to be healthy because the profession needs to be healthy given all the change that we’re facing.

David Breust: So we play nicely with CPA. 

David Breust: And we do support things like 4-5-7 Visas so we have people who come to Australia to work as Accountants so we work collaboratively with them. But we do compete head-on for students. So someone coming out of their accounting degree, do you want to become a CPA? Do you want to become a CA? And that’s where there’s a battle ground that’s created either at the academic level or with employers and so we have very targeted campaigns to talk in that space. But equally we also compete on CPD, so your continuous professional development, you can get courses from us, you can get them from CPA, you can get from anywhere. So we have a healthy degree of competition that exists.

Mark Jones: So is brand differentiation the key to that? So how do we tell a story that’s making that clear? Is that a big issue?

David Breust: Well there’s, be fair to say there’s a bit of misattribution between the brands. And certainly because CPA have built and spent more on building brand recognition, they’ve had some challenges which were quite public in that space. So yes, we do find ways of making our brands distinctive and it’s not by spending lots of money in the market because I just don’t have that. So we’ve got to be much smarter with what our brand investments look like and where they go.

Mark Jones: Tell me about your member as a customer in that context. I’m fascinated by this because obviously as marketers we’ve got to get closer and closer over time. And one of the things I actually talk about publicly in keynotes as it relates to storytelling is we really need to get a grip on the emotional aspect of connecting with people through stories. So I will actually move someone to become a member to change their behaviour, to change the way they see the world through storytelling that’s highly emotive.

Mark Jones: I wonder in this context whether is it the emotion that would move people to a decision? So a campaign that might appeal to say, some sort of underlying professional driver? Or are you finding that members are actually quite rational in their decision making. 

David Breust: There’s this battle for the hearts and minds, and I think the minds part of it is well documented as they go through their accounting degree. Because they’re just learning the technical skills required to come out at the other side as an accounting professional. So absolutely the emotional aspect of that is important So our campaign to students is, what difference do you want to create in the world? So it’s very much an emotional-

Mark Jones: Right, inspirational.

David Breust: And aspirational and inspiring message to take the next generation of the accountants and go, it’s not just about the numbers in fact it’s actually about how you create difference in the world. And that resonates clearly with our current generation of, dare I say, millennials and gen Z, what are our… I can’t remember now, whatever generation we’re up to now.

Mark Jones: Whatever. People younger than us anyway.

David Breust: They have these… Yeah exactly, way younger than me.

David Breust: But they’ve got these really important drivers and making a difference in the world is one of those so we’ve tapped into that and we’ve actually want to take that as a central organising idea for the entire organisation. So we’re working through our vision, value, and purpose and we’re starting to make that land. And difference makers is at the heart of that.

David Breust: So how do I as a CMO make a difference for our members? How do I make a difference for the profession? And it’s just a way of really getting people to focus on what’s important. And it pulls at those emotional strings. Gives me ability to tell a story.

Mark Jones: I actually think we’re starting to simplify the message here.

David Breust: I think we might be, I could have started there couldn’t I?

Mark Jones: We could’ve. That’s alright. Well, maybe we’ll edit out all that other stuff. No…

David Breust: Right yeah we’ll take all that out later, do it in post.

Mark Jones: Fix it in post.

Mark Jones: Right, right. And so that was actually quite an inspiring perspective, I certainly, I think if you want to grow a membership base, you really do need to cast a vision.

David Breust: Our members are genuine agents of change and that’s not hyperbole. It’s every social club, the treasurer, soccer club, there’s the, an accountant in there. Every not for profit, our presence on boards is quite significant. So if you look at every aspect of what makes our economies work, our society work, finance and accountants are in the midst of that, they’re right in the centre of that. So we think long and hard about how do we bring that to life in an authentic way? And that’s part of our brand campaign is an element around how a chartered accountant can simplify the complexity of your business, help you grow. And it has a call to action around choosing a chartered accountant, but ultimately it’s, they can help you unlock value. They can create business, they can maintain a not for profit. So yeah there’s lots of things that our members can be very proud about and making a contribution to society is part of our charter.

Mark Jones: So yeah the opportunity is actually, as you say, around transformation and change, instead of being the chief know officer to the chief how can we do this officer?

David Breust: Right. Yeah.

Mark Jones: Because if you go, if you think about the classic corporate change or innovations programme, you would not expect to hear of it being led by someone from finance.

David Breust: Well in a number of cases it is, so if you think about the role of procurement and how procurement can influence some significant investments, say in technology. So part of the responsibility of a chartered accountant is to see beyond the numbers, to see the impact that their decisions and their influence will have within an organisation. So I can look at it from a, what, how do we help support members in building their level of influence within an organisation through thought leadership, and through professional training, and through positioning of the brand. But then we’ve got an internal job to do. How do we get everyone focused on delivering value? How do we use tools like technology, social, digital, to enable that?

David Breust: So transformation is a pretty complex beast and one that we have to I think navigate with a long game in mind. One of the great advantages of working in a professional body is you don’t have to deliver a number every quarter. Whether it’s a profit number or a performance number, we still hold ourselves accountable for spending members’ money wisely and spending it with the best outcomes in mind. But we can make investments to change the profession, to change the functional role of marketing or member experience, member services over time. And that’s particularly important in areas like technology so we built a website but once you’ve built it, that’s just the beginning. You’ve got to continue to improve it.

Mark Jones: Yes. You got to feed the beast.

David Breust: Got to feed the beast. And where some accountants would go well, that’s your investment and how you going to capitalise it, and da-da-da… it’s like, well that’s great but it’s an enabler of relationship, its enabler of value, it’s a great connection point to members. So there’s a lot of working with stakeholders to educate them on why is this important and how will it make a difference? Which is another way of, bring it all back.

Mark Jones: I really like your perspective and the way you’re thinking, just as we think about what’s next and where are you going, are there any particular trends, themes, sources of inspiration that you’re drawing on, something you want to experiment with? What’s the future hold?

David Breust: So the way I’ve structured the marketing function in Chartered Accountants is planning right through to measurement executions, so thinking about building functional capability that really is future looking. So I’ve got planning, I’ve got marketing technology, I’ve got data research insights, I’ve got strategic partnerships; corporate communications I work with a peer, but they’re effectively embedded. So corporate affairs, public affairs, content, digital content, social content, own all those digital social channels. And then I’ve got an agile marketing team so we can do business unit marketing but in a very agile way.

David Breust: So that end to end marketing function just never existed before, so it brings data and research and insights into the equation, it brings planning into the occasion, marketing technology. How do you then make that work? You’ve got to get the right people. You’ve got to support them with the right training. You’ve got to put the right processes and operations in place. So we’re building all of those things so we can operate in a much more highly efficient way.

David Breust: So I’ve reduced our headcount, the accounting side of the business loves this, so we’ve reduced our headcount by 25 percent yet we’re actually doing probably 20 percent more work. So we’ve been able to generate lots of efficiency in-

Mark Jones: And that’s not by flogging people into the night time.

David Breust: And that’s not… Well there’s a little bit of that, because some of the… No, but not by choice, it’s part of, you are a service to the business and you’ve got stakeholders that come to you and go, this is the most important thing you’ve ever heard of and it needs to be out tomorrow. So we tread carefully with managing stakeholders. But no, I don’t want to just flog people to death because you just, you create a problem.

Mark Jones: It’s not sustainable.

David Breust: You increase your capability, you get a better operational process, you understand how you can transfer content IP onto your owned media channels in a more efficient way. And you continue to iterate. So we’ve iterated the magazine. We work with our partners like yourself. We get better at streamlining our content distribution. So we’re getting better at working harder and smarter and then using data to inform what’s working, what’s not working, so we can turn things up and down. Particularly in search, particularly in social content that exists, whether we’re going to shift it on a page. So all that stuff.

Mark Jones: Yeah it sounds like a big performance management continual improvement story. So how do we just keep-

David Breust: Keep iterating. But then keep a community of highly enthusiastic, creatively driven, marketers excited? And a lot of that is being present and being, as a leader, engaged in setting the vision and being absolutely supportive and being a very strong advocate for their own professional and personal development. 

Mark Jones: Well I got to say David, I’m really inspired by the very thorough and detailed perspective you’ve got on all these different moving parts. So-

David Breust: Wasn’t too much information?

Mark Jones: No I, I think, and actually-

David Breust: T-M-I, as the kids would say?

Mark Jones: Well no, you’ve been able to shed some light on the mystery that is engaging in a highly complex stakeholder environment.

David Breust: Yes, that’s why I love it.

Mark Jones: Yeah and catering for members, so all the best.

David Breust: Thank you.

Mark Jones: Yeah.

David Breust: Thanks mate.

Mark Jones: And I hope that you get a chance to do some of the big shiny stuff as well as the small detailed things.

David Breust: There’s always hope. If nothing, we’re optimistic in marketing. No, and thank you for the opportunity and thanks for all the great work you guys do for us it’s much appreciated.

Mark Jones: It’s our pleasure.

Mark Jones: Thanks mate. 

David Breust: Thank you.

Mark Jones: So one thing I didn’t mention at the outset was, I also had the privilege of speaking at the accounting conference that CA was running in Brisbane, and Sydney, and Melbourne. And one of the themes that actually comes out of that event, and, if you like, the broader set of activities of emotional intelligence and soft skills, professional skills, management skills, and other things that are not traditionally accounting, have become really, really important.

Mark Jones: And in my view at the top of that list is storytelling, and how can you take the numbers and these insights that you’re working on, and tell a story? How can you bring that alive? There’s the old saying, the numbers tell a story. So what is that story? By the way, make it compelling and interesting. Tell a story.

Mark Jones: It’s interesting how David says, in our chat, that there’s this battle for hearts and minds, and how you’ve got to really engage in the emotional aspect of storytelling, which is something of course I’m really passionate about, but the emotional aspect of engaging with people, in meetings, and with your clients and so on. At an internal level, this is really, really important. And then obviously externally, when you’re thinking about member engagement, how can you emotionally engage with them and bring them along a journey?

Mark Jones: So if you’re in a membership organisation, by definition you are very busy, because there’s a lot of stuff going on. And my encouragement to you is find the most compelling ways to tell stories that will connect with the hearts and minds.

Mark Jones: So I hope you enjoyed this episode of The CMO Show. 

Mark Jones: Thanks for being part of this community. If you want to give us likes and love on all the social platforms, that’d be great. We’d love your feedback.

Mark Jones: As always, you can get us at, and I’ll speak to you next time.

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