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AON CMO on the communication strategies that took the business to best in sector

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Chicago Tribune

AON's business portfolio and global presence means that its CMO requires the most up-to-date communication methods. Phil Clement tells Hot Topics what that looks like.

Phil Clement is the Global Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at AON. He sat down with Hot Topics to discuss the communication channels that best serve today’s marketers.


AON is one of the world’s leading providers of risk management, insurance brokerage and human resources solutions, and we have operations in over 120 countries with around 72 000 colleagues of AON, globally. Those countries house about 500 offices, and we help our clients (B2B) using a combination of world-class products and services built around their needs, and a network of professionals that have the best knowledge of their markets and of their local areas.

On his role at AON

As well as being the Global Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, I’m also an Executive Committee member and I have to support the global firm’s blueprints for growth and development – and evolution via global marketing channels. I’m also responsible for the sales operations, PR and internal communications at AON, which, as a Fortune 250 company, i s not without its challenges!

I joined a decade ago and realized very quickly that my first task was to bring together the marketing departments and strategies that were acting distinctly within regional offices. I had to connect lots of expert staff with tighter, more focused marketing initiatives.

Back then we were the second largest company in our field. We’re now first in every sector we work in. It’s been a huge brand credibility improvement.

On consolidating marketing to put the customer first

Essentially, I consolidated marketing when I joined AON, and this really helped us all market effectively to our clients across the world; the company has made over 400 acquisitions over its lifetime, which needed aligning.

Our brand needed to be seen as a global one if we were to be taken seriously, and also client-orientated, so our risk and people solutions had the customer in mind at all times.

I also encouraged a culture of feedback from each individual client so we could learn from our relationships to shape how we work after each iteration.

On communication strategies to reach clients

Technology has helped us reach our audiences in intelligent ways, via micro-targeting or segmentation. Any information we send out has to be compelling enough that our clients or audience want to read it amongst the wealth of information they receive from other sources.

Mobile and social channels need to be timely and appropriate to compel a recipient to take a second look at what they’re being sent. These global marketing channels are the most useful at getting information direct to a customer in an easy and modern way.

The B2B market is a slightly different ballgame in comparison to B2C sectors. This is mainly due to the fact that the conversations are a lot fewer, so we aren’t forced to be in every channel all the time.

This allows us some time to think strategically about what global marketing channels we need to be in, and how we can create ideas that fit for all channels instead of using different ideas for each channel.

On technology and its role in AON’s development

Technology has been a core element in our client communication, and growth of our network. It has enhanced our clients’ experience with us and improved the customer journey which we’re always talking about. It was 11 years ago that AON changed to a more technology-orientated platform, and we’re still seeing the benefits of that change today.

It allows each region to receive any new strategy update or idea at the same time, and will implement that into the infrastructure so that the AON message remains the same wherever you are in the world. We’ve never struggled with adoption rates because every area is keen to grow rapidly after hearing about the benefits of a strategy update from the executive committee.

Our 6,000-8,000 core managers see each new strategy update as a motivational tool, and we use internal communications via email, mobile and face-to-face methods, to inform and advise on how they can maximize their relationships with each client.

On future marketing trends

In the B2B market, and in AONs case, marketers need to know their clients implicitly, know what the best forms of communication is for each client, and which technology should be used on a global level to enhance our understanding of that.

It’s that marriage between processes and technologies, that will start to become much more important. Of course, understanding content and communication channels is now vital as the global marketing channel mix has become so integral to a global growth strategy.

Technologies have made communication relatively simple – mobile messaging can be sent directly to someone which almost guarantees they will read it.

Emotional marketing in the B2B area is also something AON is looking to. Some content is best communicated with logic, but increasingly, people are responding to emotion.

That is particularly true as the increasing number of global marketing channels available diversifies what we can send, and to whom.