Joshua McNicol – Head of Marketing at Temple & Webster

Joshua McNicol is Head of Marketing at Temple & Webster, Australia’s first and leading members-only online destination for beautiful homewares, beautifully priced.

I’m incredibly interested in data-driven marketing that supports us in ensuring that beautiful creative ideas will develop into successful business campaigns as well.

Joshua has over 9 years experience in marketing and sales, with a passion for online pure-play and multi-channel retailing. Previously the Brand and Marketing Manager for Australia’s iconic fashion label Herringbone, Joshua was the first Head of Marketing employed by online startup Temple & Webster, one of Australia’s fastest growing online retailers that has recently been profiled in BRW & In the Black magazines, and was ranked in Power Retail’s Top 50 in the 2012 Australian E-Commerce Leaders Playbook. @joshmcnicol @templewebster facebook

Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

The shift to Temple & Webster to head up their marketing team and subsequent brand launch into the market in August 2012 gave me the opportunity to work in a rapidly growing business, and influence their brand and presentation to consumers.

Although moving to a relatively unknown brand in the market was personally a risk for me at the time, I took on the challenge and was excited about the opportunity to really manage the introduction of Temple & Webster into Australia. I quickly found that working with a business and team with such a positive brand ethos and culture was worth the risk!

Please explain your business model.

Temple & Webster is an interesting concept, because we work directly as a re-seller of beautiful homewares and furniture on behalf of retailers, supplier and distributors.

Although our business operates in the same way as many other businesses in retail / wholesaling; by taking a margin percentage off the top of what we sell, the benefit we’re creating for our supplier partners extends beyond that. We create demand for their brand and products with customers who are likely to continue to shop with them outside of Temple & Webster, and we encourage consumer spending and demand in a sometimes challenging retail economy.

In this train of thought, I like to see Temple & Webster as a form of Marketing Channel as well. As our daily goal in the Marketing team is to acquire as many high-value members and customers for Temple & Webster, who we can then present our daily sales events of our supplier’s beautiful homewares and furniture to, I feel that we give our business supplier partners the opportunity to promote their products to a highly engaged consumer database through targeted marketing campaigns.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months? 

I’m currently working on some major PR initiatives for Temple & Webster, including one we’ve entitled ‘Take a Seat’ which will be held in partnership with one of Australia’s most recognised charities, Legacy Australia.

Temple & Webster’s rapid growth hasn’t been a solo effort of any one person or department. We recognise that its been a collective effort of the support we’ve received not only internally, but also from our members and the public externally who have enjoyed our brand and experience and responded positively. Being able to partner with Legacy Australia for some exciting and charitable initiatives is something I’m very excited about, as it gives us an opportunity to give back.

How do you make ideas happen?

Through collaborating. The Temple & Webster team is full of amazing individuals with a variety of experience in technical, creative, media, marketing, advertising, styling and design industries, and in my experience the best ideas have come about by getting a group together and talking through all of the angles and perspectives.

Being able to back-these ideas up with data-driven analytics and marketing is where the success lies. Being a Head of Marketing in an online pure play, I’m incredibly interested in data-driven marketing that supports us in ensuring that beautiful creative ideas will develop into successful business campaigns as well.

What does your typical day look like? 

I’m sure you here it from everyone – but it truly does change every day!

As Head of Marketing I’m lucky to have touch-points with almost every area of our business, so the role and ‘day’ is quite cross-functional. I spend a large portion of my time liaising with my immediate team, but then also our Creative, Styling, Editorial and Merchandising teams to ensure that our brand messaging and voice-of-customer is present in our day-to-day operations. This is also important to me personally as I believe that collaboration gives the Marketing team the best opportunity for us to continue to develop amazing ideas and campaigns that are important and valuable across all business departments.

Personally I know that I work most effectively in quieter environments so I always try to start in the office as early as possible, and then will happily stay back in the office slightly later into the evening when the space is a bit more empty. Temple & Webster has grown so rapidly – to almost 40 staff in our Alexandria-based headquarters in less than two years – so it’s always a busy and energetic workspace.

Temple & Webster workspace
Temple & Webster workspace

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

Competitors will always try to replicate an idea, particularly in the online space where ideas are free-flowing and can happen overnight. As a result, you will continually be trying to think-ahead of the competition. What I’ve quickly learnt is to take it as a form of flattery, and see it as a motivator to keep trying to push your business and brand to be trying something that is new and exciting.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

Don’t feel like you need to be involved in everything just to make an impact. I’ve seen too many organisations spread themselves thin trying to be involved in everything that’s available to them (social media is a perfect example), and do a bad job as a result.

Rather than trying to ‘cover off all the bases’ and do everything, why not do a few that make the most sense to you and your target customer, and do them amazingly. .

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?

I’m loving what the Shoes of Prey team in Australia are doing right now. Brilliant user experience on-site, and every female I know seems to be designing their own shoes on there (even if they aren’t buying them – what a brilliant opportunity to capture data!).

What about internationally?

Red Antler is a really cool New York brand agency dealing specifically with online startups. They helped develop the initial site and user experience of one of the US’s leading members-only homewares sites, One King’s Lane, which is a site that the T&W are constantly inspired by. I’ve kept an eye on them since.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

We’re really conscious of social impact and the reach we’ve been able to capture in our 500,000 strong member database at Temple & Webster, and being aware of this means we can use this amazing reach to promote causes for positive social change. This November we’ll be working with Legacy Australia on several initiatives that will be promoted to our database to support this worthy cause.

Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity by clicking the button below. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support? (follow link for complete list)

We’re big fans of The Salvation Army.

Shout for Good Web_Button

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.

Bandt – standard for other marketers out there – a great source of daily information for anyone in media, marketing, advertising or PR.

The Inspiration Room – an archive of inspiration for the world’s best creative executions from TV, print, design and other forms of advertising. A great hub if you’re looking for ideas.

Mr Porter – my perfect example of user experience intelligence. A website that drove me to work for online & multi-channel retailers, where I was first inspired to see how the department store retailing experience could be improved online.

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.

Gizmodo Australia – @giz_au

Insights on SBS – @insightsSBS

Rebecca Law at Nourish Co – @nourishco

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

We’re always on the look out for Interns at Temple & Webster across a variety of departments – get in touch if you’re interested!

We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?

How does the value of a customer change by source (i.e. a customer sourced via Social Media vs. a customer sourced by ATL i.e. Print Advertising), across different industries?

There is always a lot of thought in-industry about which media channel produces the most valuable customers, but my experience at Temple & Webster has shown that there are so many variables, based upon which industry you’re in and who your target customer is! It would be fantastic to get an idea of some real cross-industry statistics and averages as benchmarks. This helps us as marketers give a real-dollar value to the value provided by different medias.

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

The Wine Library in Sydney’s Paddington. A really beautiful wine list that changes regularly and friendly bartenders who always know which glass to ‘prescribe’. Make sure you try the Meatballs!

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

I’d be more than happy to offer my services for a day, free of charge. Happy to come into a small business, help them with a day’s brainstorming for some creative or low-cost marketing ideas that can help them build a consumer database, get better value from their media/PR or marketing spend.

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