Fireside Chat With Bec Goulter From the National Retail Association

Monsido’s Fireside Chat Series Asia-Pacific 2021 is a space where marketing and digital leaders can grow and learn from each other.

Chat One on Wednesday, October 27th featured Bec Goulter (she/her), Director of Marketing & Events at the National Retail Association, one of the biggest advocates for retailers in Australia. She brought energy and authenticity to the chat and shared some inspiring ideas.

In this chat, we covered:
  • Bec’s career journey
  • What Marketing best practices she uses
  • How she navigated the National Retail Associations’s marketing through COVID-19
  • How she balances ad hoc with innovative and strategic thinking
  • What successful marketing campaigns she has seen her members use
  • And more

Watch or listen to the video podcast recording or read the transcript to get Bec’s inspiring insights.

Fireside Chat One Highlights [Transcripts]

Naomi Kroll: Today, for Chat One, we have the wonderful Bec Goulter here.

She's the Director of Marketing and Events from the National Retail Association. Bec oversees the strategising and rollout of the many events organised by the National Retail Association. She is responsible for developing and delivering the strategic marketing plan. She really values openness and honesty in all of her business dealings, and she's a really creative person, as I've seen so far talking with her.

Could you tell us about your career journey so far?

Bec Goulter: Well, I always like to tell everyone that I accidentally fell into marketing. I'm originally from Townsville in North Queensland, and I moved to Brisbane because I wanted to study forensic science because I thought it would be exactly like CSI. And I quickly found out that was not the case. It was a lot of mixing chemicals and titration.

So I did a lot of barista work and floated around in retail, and then I took a maternity leave cover job at Rocklea markets, which is one of the biggest markets in Brisbane on the weekends. So I was supervising that one.

It ended up becoming a permanent position and one day, the manager was like,
“Hey, you're young. You know how to use Facebook, right? You can take over our marketing”.

So I was like, yeah, Ok, I'll do that.

And as time went by, I realised I was actually quite good at it. I was getting really good responses, invested some time into doing some courses and learning how to do marketing. And, you know, after a few years, I thought, I've really grown here. Let's try out something new. And that is how I came to be at the National Retail Association.

How did you navigate the National Retail Association and your marketing through COVID-19?

Bec: With gritted teeth. It's been a roller coaster over the past two years.

A lot of the strategic planning that we had last year in particular, went out the window. All of the events, you know, we'd planned a lot of face to face events and that never ended up happening.

What the real focus became and continues to be is providing communication to our members that really cuts through all of the confusion. Because there is a lot. I've become a professional at trawling through government websites, trying to get the information. It's just been trying to get the best possible outcomes for our members and to give them a little bit of security and clarity in a time where there hasn't been much at all.

What marketing strategies and activities do you use and how do you make them successful?

Bec: As a not-for-profit association, we have to do quite a lot with a little. We utilise content marketing, so we are constantly looking at what we're doing and producing content with the goal to help our members do business better and get selling.

We do so many things in-house. We really have to be the jack of all trades. Myself and my marketing coordinator, Ruby, we're the ones who are doing the video production and the graphic design and the photography. It's great to be so creative, but we rely on a lot of strategic partnerships as well.

Word of mouth is important.

Retailers are a really tight community. And if they'd like something or if they have feedback on something, it gets through that community. And we all know word of mouth marketing is really effective at building trust in a brand.

What campaign was your favourite throughout 2020 and the start of this year?

Bec: The National Retail Awards that we did last year. We were going to have a physical event on the Gold Coast. We were so looking forward to it. It was supposed to be on the 27th of August.

Then Sydney went into lockdown shortly, followed by Victoria. So we ended up having to transition everything online really quickly and having to spread the word about that and encourage people to attend.

We actually partnered with Nando's and we spread the word that if you register for these, you will get a free Nando's lunch delivered to you, which was really effective. We ended up getting triple the amount of people attending the awards that actually would have come to the physical event. So it was an amazing success.

How do you balance ad hoc with strategic thinking and innovation?

Bec: Not to keep banging the same drum, but over the past eight months, it was difficult. Essentially, as the pandemic progressed, my role was almost a 24-7 job of watching the press conferences or someone's Twitter account, you know who is announcing a lockdown via their Twitter account?

Looking at you, New South Wales. And so it really just became almost daily putting these communications out to our members and on our social media pages. And it was almost like we were a news site ourselves.

We're at that point now where things are reopening and we're beginning to think longer term. This is where with strategic thinking, you've got to block out those time periods where you can just sit down and plan things.

I use a 4 bucket approach in all of my tasks. I love to write down my to-do lists.

And so I've got: urgent and important; non-urgent and important; urgent and not important; and non-urgent and important. And everything goes in one of those buckets and it all goes by priority. And that just gives me the freedom to sort of plan things out and be more strategic, particularly when it comes to events and how we're going to market those events for the maximum attendance.

Naomi: Gosh, it's a balance, isn't it? You're putting out fires, you have requests coming in, you have all the ad hoc tasks coming up. Then, how are we going to get innovative? It's a constant balance, isn't it.

Bec: Absolutely. It's finding the content as well that's going to add value after COVID. We've built up such great momentum and have become really trusted in terms of the information that we deliver. Once the COVID updates are gone, there's got to be something that gives value to our members.

And on the events front, I mean, I think we actually did more virtual events than we would have done physical last year. I think we ended up doing over 60 virtual events, which was, you know, wild. We were doing weekly webinars at one point for health checks, for the leasing. And then just a whole bunch more. So it was, really, really busy.

What successful marketing activities have you seen your retail members use?

Bec: We have so many amazing members. One that I'm particularly proud of is Julie Mathers from Flora and Fauna. So Julie is now on our board, so I have a really big soft spot for that brand. And they're moving into doing ads on television and YouTube. It's such a major step and it's so amazing because, you know, these sustainable and vegan products used to be so niche, and now they're in the mainstream enough that you can actually run these ads and get a really good return on investment for them.

I watch a lot of YouTube as well. One of our members ads that I both love and hate is KFC. I feel like when I get KFC, I'm conditioned for whenever it goes 'Did someone say KFC?'. I almost start singing the song that comes right after it. It is literally everywhere. You can't escape it, but it's such an earworm. I think it's a really good example of marketing that just sticks in your brain.

How did your members respond at the start of COVID with all the restrictions coming in and what did you hear from them?

Bec: A lot of the concerns was about doing business as safely as possible in the early stages. You know, retail wasn't as heavily restricted, you could still be open. You needed to ensure social distancing, you needed to make sure that you were clearly communicating to your customers what was going on.

We put a lot of resources together for our members, including signage that would help them communicate how many customers can be in the store or if they're trading hours were different or if they're just moving into click and collect. Our members had to consider ventilation. They have to consider the safety of their staff, deep cleaning, sanitising, and are their displays COVID friendly?

It almost feels like during last year, it felt a little bit calmer because there was jobkeeper and there was a bit more support. This year, it's certainly seemed to be a lot more dire for our members, and particularly when in some of the states, retail was closed down, which hadn't previously been closed. So it's been a really tough year for our members.

Naomi: Gosh, yes. I'm assuming that your members love to be able to have you and have a group that they can connect with, they're all going through a similar thing. That would have meant a lot, I'm sure.

Bec: Yeah. I mean, when you get feedback from some major brands saying it's not news unless we get the National Retail Association newsletter, you know that that does make you feel a bit warm and fuzzy.

Let us know a little bit more about your LinkedIn strategies for not just personal branding, but also with the National Retail Association's marketing and networking in general.

Bec: It's funny because I always say that I'm a marketer who hates social media. I think LinkedIn is the only social media that I choose to use. And I think what it just all boils down to in the end is authenticity.

I tend to like things that I actually like. I comment on things around people who are doing good things. If there's anything I'm interested in, I share it. You know, sure there might be trying to distribute the National Retail Association marketing through my page as well. But ultimately, social media or social, it's about connections.

If you deal with everyone you speak with on social media in an authentic and open and honest way that will shine through and get results. The same goes with the National Retail Association page. Our marketing is driven by content. It's driven by getting that good, valuable information out there. And we're going through a bit of a shift at the moment that I'm really proud in terms of how we're delivering information and what we're utilising. So it's really exciting times for us.

I don't intentionally put time aside each day, but somehow I end up doing LinkedIn anyway. You know, you just go out there to check your notifications and then you just end up spending half an hour scrolling through it, engaging with people.

Who is your favorite marketer and why and what was one campaign of theirs that you've really admired?

Bec: The Top 50 Chief Marketing Officers in 2021 just dropped yesterday and number 10 on that list, I'm actually a massive fan of, is Dan Ferguson from Adore Beauty. I adore the brand. So they produce a staggering amount of content. They've got a podcast where they have like a beauty expert and non-beauty expert, just talk about things and make using the products, so accessible for everyone.

Their content marketing that they do is just absolutely terrific. And I'm a massive fan of it, and it's also authentic as well. That's what I was talking about before, that people like brands who are authentic and accessible and really make you relate to them. I think they're just like the gold standard.

What do you do for digital marketing and what has worked best for you?

Bec: As I said before, we are not for profit, so we don't have a lot of budget. So a lot of what we do is for organic social media content. And when we do have specific events, then we do digital marketing and it really depends on what audience we're trying to reach.

We have a lot of success on LinkedIn marketing for specific events. The thing with LinkedIn is that it's more expensive than the other avenues. You know, we're talking Facebook or Google. That being said, you know, we also rely on our partnerships and we get everyone to try and spread the word as much as they can. Google Ads are also really good for specific activations, so LinkedIn and Google's probably my top two.

As a marketing leader, what do you do to grow?

Bec: That is a great question. I think I'm just always downloading papers and trying to get new insights, and it's also in the connections that I'm making. I'm trying to speak to people who are like minded, who have different insights to me, and I also need to make sure that I stay on top of it because with the National Retail Association, we're providing insights for our members. We're trying to guide them in directions. We're trying to get small businesses online during COVID and those sorts of things. So it's really important for us to be across it as well.

I just really just troll through all of these different marketing sites. So we'll look up some videos and just really see if there's anything that sticks or any new insights that I just think, oh, I'll try that.

Naomi: I love that. There's a wealth of information out there, it's just putting the time aside to keep an eye on it, right?

I'm curious about this conference that you're running next year. What's involved with the marketing and the setup for that?

Bec: So we are having such a great time planning the National Retail Expo. It's going to be our first major physical event since 2019. We are producing a lot of content to get people excited. We are getting some amazing speakers together who have a raft of knowledge across all of these different areas of retail, whether it's sustainability or marketing or anything to do with retail and leveraging our connections as well.

We have partnered with this amazing company of retail global who do terrific events. They've got an event on the Gold Coast in April, which is just, you know, the retail event, the Festival of the year. We will be communicating directly to our members. We'll be doing some social media marketing. It's going to be absolutely huge.

Naomi: I’m really excited for you. Thank you for jumping on today Bec. I love your energy and authenticity. Thank you everyone for joining us.
Keep up with Bec on LinkedIn, and learn more about the National Retail Association and their work representing the interests of retailers across Australia on their website.

Follow Naomi on LinkedIn and stay tuned for more Fireside Chats!