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Paul Winslow

Paul Winslow
CMO at Aspire42 on the Startup's First Year and the Importance of Prioritising Strategy.

At Marketing Trends we are discovering what drives Australia’s top marketers. In this episode, we had a chat with Paul Winslow about creating Aspire42 during Melbourne's lockdown, what it means to be CMO at a startup and why marketing should not entirely rely on technology. Read his full story and his marketing trends predictions here!

Career & professional background

Paul, how did your career in marketing start?

My career in marketing wasn’t exactly planned. I was originally a journalist, having studied journalism at university and worked on news-stand magazines back in the UK. I then went into customer publishing, mostly for magazines and websites for brands like Toyota, Lexus, some banks and sporting organisations.

Although I was still working in the publishing industry, more and more I found myself working with marketing agencies or marketing departments on branding and communication strategy.

Next thing I knew, I was a marketer, then suddenly a Head of Marketing… So I’m not quite sure how that happened! My career certainly had a natural evolution and it was a very happy accident.

If you hadn’t pursued a career in marketing, in which other industry do you think you might be?

That’s a good question. Well, I can't sing, so I'm not allowed to be a rock star… Not very good at football either, although I'd love to be a football player.

I think continuing with journalism would have been difficult, considering how the advertising revenues have decreased. The magazine industry, which is my real passion, got hit particularly hard.

So, again, it was definitely a happy accident that I picked up different skills that I could translate to another industry. I still love writing as a pure skill. I might even go back to writing when I retire. But I like the diversification that you get from a role where you're responsible for different streams. So, Marketing is a career I get a lot of enjoyment out of.

Could you tell us about your role as CMO at Aspire42?

My role at Aspire42 is pretty broad. The company isn't even a year old yet, and we took over a group of companies which had a lot of projects going on. We had to fine tune those projects to find the ones to focus on,  and that was a big part of my role at the beginning.

We specialise in consumer leasing companies to rent out products such as phones, computers and TVs.

When COVID hit, and we went into lockdown here in Melbourne, it made it much more difficult for us to operate. And to make it more complicated, we decided to acquire another consumer leasing business, in a different state that we weren't allowed to visit. And then we decided to launch a new brand based on bringing all three of our existing brands into one new one.

This part of the process was done during lockdown which, on the bright side, gave us a lot of time to dedicate ourselves to the project and put the foundations in place.

What is the most exciting trend or innovation happening in your field in terms of growth?

I think an interesting trend is actually going to be a reversion back to a pure kind of marketing.

With the explosion of Digital Marketing, the great amount of different channels and practices like tracking people’s journeys on websites, I think Marketing has become too reliant on these technologies. Truth is that some technologies nowadays are amazing! They are a bit Big Brother, but they are brilliant.

Yet, in this process, we probably lost sight of the ethos, which is getting the brand and strategy right, and then identifying your channels.

With this in mind, Apple’s iOS Facebook policy and the entire Cookies issue are obviously going to present many challenges in the industry.

But these new challenges are actually an opportunity for marketers to go back to good practice rather than just relying on this ability to kind of track people everywhere and serve them ads accordingly. It's great, but it hasn't detracted from what's really important in marketing, which is the actual strategy that drives all the activity in the first place.

As a Marketer, what does a typical day look like for you?

Well, it is the biggest cliché in the world, but there’s no such thing as an average week for me. It starts off with a weekly sales catch up and then can go any way after that. Although our core business is established, we are constantly looking to innovate and acquire new entities, so that gives us a bit of a startup mentality.

My previous role was also as CMO at a startup, and I've noticed there’s so much to do when compared to being Head of Marketing at an established company. This is still very intense but in an established business, your road is set; unless of course you decide to do something dramatically different.

As a startup, the challenging part is not having a data legacy to help formulate a strategy. Yet at the same time, this enables you to be very flexible and try new things quite quickly.

Tools, recommendations & sources of inspiration

What brands do you take inspiration from?

This first brand that comes to mind for me is Guinness. Probably on the back of Guinness's latest campaign “Welcome Back”, as people were coming out of COVID lockdowns, especially in the UK and Ireland. The campaign barely has any drinks on it, but it’s formulated using the brand colour code: black with a white top.

They’ve always been consistent and managed to become a universally recognised brand.

There are obviously many brands that I love, for example Apple, which I’ve been a big fan of for a long time, that have done amazing things. Yet, the reason I keep going back to Guinness is that they always refer to the same brand code, and they effectively have only one product.

They're not Apple, who went from computers to iPods, to iPhones, to iPads. They're not Coca-Cola, which has like a million different fizzy drinks… They have one product! Yet they still manage to consistently maintain something that is both magical and recognisable.

Software and tools recommendations: what is the one software you can’t work without and why?

The day I downloaded Google Analytics on my phone was probably a bad day in my life, it's just addictive! So I try to stay out of Google Analytics because I get sucked in very easily.

When it comes down to digital tools, SEMrush is one that obviously is very powerful as well. But again, I think that relying too much on the software and not too much on the actual brain can be a bit dangerous.

What resources would you recommend for anyone working in your field?

There are so many clever and good people to find on the internet and having access to these great minds is like having free education. Some that come to mind are:

  • Mark Ritson. I was lucky enough last year to do his mini MBA in Marketing. As I mentioned, I didn’t do a marketing degree, and I needed to put some structure and theory behind my work and this mini MBA was the best thing I've done!
  • Rory Sutherland. His videos and his content about consumer behaviour and trends are exceptional