Carley Aherns has been with Hino for five years yet her background is not automotive related.
Prior to Hino Carley worked for the Association for Data Driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) which provides marketing and advertising educational courses and events around Australia.
In addition to marketing those activities, Carley performed a rebrand of the association as well.
Her first job out of university was with the marketing arm of the Dragons NRL team where she looked after sponsors and events.
“I had little knowledge within the sporting code, as I grew up playing soccer and netball and I didn’t realise how passionate fans were about the sport and the level of contribution needed to keep the fans committed.” says Carley.
Rugby League was very male dominated back then so for a female it could have been intimidating but Carley saw it as more of a challenge. Similarly, the road transport industry was not one she had been privy to previously so when an opportunity arose at Hino in marketing she was excited about the opportunity.
As a marketer, rather than a technical person, Carley is not intimidated by the technical details involved in the actual truck product and consults extensively with the various departments of Hino.
“That allows me to market the product even better when I can sit down and work with the product team, or work with the service team and then understand more about the product and the servicing components because I can’t communicate with the customers if I don’t understand either,” she says.
Due to restrictions brought about by the COVID pandemic Carley and her team were instrumental in Hino’s recent ‘virtual launch’ for the new 300 Series which provided an opportunity to be innovative and deliver a launch plan which was premium quality and have cut through in a cluttered and highly competitive market.
“Based on the industry feedback I believe we delivered on this and the messaging in relation to the new 300 Series was clear,” she says.
The ability to launch online and incorporate both pre-recorded and guest speaker elements also provided Hino with numerous advantages. This included the ability to invite more journalists to log in including many who don’t traditionally cover the truck industry, given the car licence element of many models in the Hino 300 Series.
Hino also had the ability to work with the dealers on a different level than usual and the ‘virtual launch’ also provided the opportunity to reach more dealers in different areas.
“We would always do a static component of a launch with our dealers, but we were always restricted in numbers, so doing it this way, anyone could tune in and view the launch,” says Carley.
“When we are launching a product that represents 58 per cent of our business we want everyone to be across it.”
The audio and video aspects of the online launch were designed to have a shelf life and act as sales tools for Hino dealers who are experiencing, especially in Victoria during the Stage 4 lockdown, the challenge of negligible one-on-one interactions with customers.
Business is being conducted over the web using applications such as Zoom and the use of the video produced for the launch has already become a strong discussion point when putting together fleet tenders and also in local area retail marketing.
In 2015 Hino decided it needed to enhance the brand and implemented the involvement with the Supercars motorsport as part of the brand strategy.
Previous qualitative and quantitative research showed Hino’s prompt awareness was OK but the brand’s familiarity and unprompted awareness could be improved.
“We hadn’t been involved in a major sponsorship before at Hino Australia, says Carley. “So this was an opportunity to not only improve those brand metrics but also provide our dealers with an opportunity to enhance their relationships with their own customers.
“It has definitely provided us with results from an awareness perspective,” Carley adds. “From a customer retention and acquisition perspective it’s aided in enhancing those relationships.”
She appreciates the level of inclusion and diversity emerging in the truck industry. After five years at the company one of the key factors has been the team dynamics and supports available at Hino according to Carley.
“I’m not wanting to bring feminism into this but Hino as a brand has grown for many reasons including as a diverse workplace,” she says.
When Carley first started at Hino there were only a handful of women employed there, and now women account for between 40 to 50 per cent of the staff.
“Management has always been very supportive and in my five years here at Hino I have not felt at any stage not worthy of the position I am in,” says Carley.
“Within this organisation I am able to work with the different departments. It’s a different day each day and there’s always a challenge. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else that’s for sure.”