Gunjan Allen: Focused and Tenacious Marketing Evangelist

Gunjan Allen

Organizations and business leaders constantly strive for improvement to connect human connection with commercial results from traditional marketing methods through digital marketing applications. This interest in people helps businesses with the most significant value understand the marketing models with creative thinking. Talking about the bigger picture, making appropriate connections, and bringing the right people together, a marketing leader makes things happen and delivers outcomes for your company.

Filling this role is Gunjan Allen, a skilled marketer delivering real business outcomes at Ballistic Beer Co. She is an empowering and strategic marketing leader who brings the best results for the company with her digital marketing efforts. She has the essence of identifying opportunities and always strives to do what’s best for the organization. She is the Head of Marketing and Experience, leading the organization to create brand awareness with her sophisticated marketing plans.

Commercial Savvy Career

Born in India, Gunjan studied Masters in Marketing Communication in London, then in 2005, moved to Sydney as NSW Marketing Executive for Drake International. She organized industry networking events to boost referrals. She moved to Horticulture Australia as their Export Marketing Manager. She was promoted to Marketing Manager – working with multi-million-dollar budgets and large grower groups targeting domestic and export markets. Later she moved to Brisbane and consulted with franchise group Mr. Rental, improving their Local Marketing, PR, and Digital Marketing.

In August 2014, Gunjan joined Airtrain CitiLink as Marketing and Partnerships Manager, initiating ground-breaking customer research. She developed strategic partnerships with organizations, cultivating the visitor economy, and won ‘Marketing Campaign of the Year’ at the 2016 Global AirRail awards for Airtrain’s “No Worries” campaign, which embedded the brand transformation and drove awareness of a redesigned responsive website with Australia’s first AirRail e-ticketing system.

Gunjan’s career then diverged to specialize in Customer Experience and joined Queensland Government’s TMR Translink Division to lead the Customer Experience Journey Mapping Project, which impacted wayfinding signage and the Next Gen Ticketing System. At eHQ, she jointly led the Customer Experience Transformation Process to develop and deliver improved services and support to embed Customer Centricity into service design and delivery and was sought after by other departments to help with this process.

Gunjan has been fortunate to work across diverse industries, in both public and private companies, and to be a co-owner of her family company, The Avolution. The Avolution started off in a home office like any start-up, and technology has played a huge role in always staying one step ahead of competitors as has having a finger on the pulse on customer needs – both B2B and B2C. The Avolution has an annual T/O of $75M and markets 2.8M trays of avocadoes/year making it the largest Australian avocado exporter and one of the four largest domestic suppliers.

She wanted to return to B2C marketing and looked for a role in FMCG where she would be ultimately responsible for the brand, the customer experience, and full marketing and digital implementation. She found that as Ballistic Beer Company’s Head of Marketing. She actively sought out opportunities for personal development and was selected for QLD Govt Next Gen Leadership Program, completed the Women in Technology (WiT) Board Readiness Program, and then joined the WiT Board as Secretary for two years. She is also proud to have been named in the “Top 30 women to follow in CX” and the ‘Top influencers to follow in 2022’ by Engati.

Cut Through the Challenges

Gunjan has had challenges along the way. She has worked in predominantly male-dominated industries where women weren’t seen at leadership levels. Even though she was educated at the best schools in India and did her Masters in London, getting the first break was difficult for her. She had to overcome workplace bullying, which seriously eroded her self-confidence. Fortunately, she has strong personal values and a strong belief in herself. She developed resilience to reach out to coaches and mentors for help and has a tremendously supportive partner.

Customer-centric Leader

Marketing is quite a technical field and moving to specializations – SEO, SEM, PPC. Gunjan feels fortunate to have had diversity in her roles. Since Airtrain, she has advocated for Marketing to be seen as an all-encompassing function. She tries to influence a culture that automatically generates the customer experience, which is pivotal for a great marketing experience that brands can deliver back to customers. She has a bird’s-eye-view understanding of how marketing impacts every aspect of the organization including culture and the role of marketing and culture in employee experience. The brand is not just the product – it’s all-encompassing – right to the people who work for the company: to attract the right talent, you have to market your brand to make it desirable.

Driving Positive Culture Change

Ballistic’s work culture is casual, authentic and inclusive – all its venues are inclusive, which came out strongly in its customer research. Its customers don’t feel they need to be someone else – they’re accepted for who they are. This is true also for the staff. Diversity is essential, and the company is not a clichéd beer brand – with a surfie, beachy culture, which is very common. It’s a very family-oriented business with a family culture. It’s very ‘real and natural,’ which you can see in the tone of voice and imagery, and the community is key.

She believes in the best person for the job and changing the culture of ‘the table’ in favor of diversity across multiple factors, not just token efforts or meeting quotas. She feels proud to work for Ballistic, where the company is genuinely inclusive and diverse, giving an opportunity to the people with the right skills and abilities, including in the Senior Leadership Team.

Open to Ideas and Recommendations

Gunjan would love to see companies consolidate their customer experience and marketing divisions into one, rather than having separate and segregated structures – e.g., a Head of Digital, a Head of Marketing – etc. Your strategy – the person who heads it, needs to be across all areas of marketing so that every element hangs together, leverages where possible, and makes sense across all channels. Then you have specialists in the team who might delve deeper. Your department should be able to own the strategy right across all channels.

She wants to help companies see and value the outcome that marketing helps produce. Companies set up marketing roles but then expect the marketing team to justify their existence because marketing is seen as a cost instead of an investment.

Future of Marketing

Growth in digital is here to stay – we’ve seen only the tip of the iceberg with Web 3.0 and the Metaverse coming. There’s so much access to data now, which we didn’t have before – that change is continuing to deliver ’real-time data’ about your customers. The issue is understanding what data you should be mining and how best to respond to that data in real-time. The other change, which is already here, is an omnichannel experience – people do not just interact with one touchpoint; they interact with multiple touchpoints. For the next generation, our next customers, everything is instant gratification – how will marketing keep up with this?

Ballistic is preparing for this change by keeping its finger on the pulse of its customers, understanding their needs and desires, and investing in research. The organization will keep learning and responding. It will also ensure that the processes are agile so that they can pivot quickly, and that’s all about being digital and using integrated systems.

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