Slow to housebreaking and quick to bite my pant legs, after two months of frustration I declared, much to my wife’s shock, our new puppy Louie was my “worst dog ever!” Blinded by memories of his practically perfect predecessor Pinky, I simply couldn’t see the potential within our whirlwind of fur and teeth. Three months later, I’m happy to report that Louie is well on his way to becoming a world-class companion. So, you might ask what changed and why is this story relevant to marketers?
Well, first and foremost, I needed to recognize that despite the visual similarity to his predecessor, Louie is a canine of a different color and requires a customized strategic approach, one that embraces his strengths and tempers his weaknesses. And second, I needed to start to imagine the wonder he could become, opening the door to a slobbery yet enduring love fest. It is in that spirit that I offer these six strategies to succeed in 2018 and introduce you to six sages kind enough to share their wisdom on my podcast, Renegade Thinkers Unite.
1. Proffer a Profound Purpose
Four years ago, Coss Marte was in solitary confinement just hoping for a piece of paper to write down his wish list should he actually get out of prison. Today, he is the founder and CEO of ConBody, a fast-growing fitness company that’s branched out into Saks Fifth Avenue and online courses. After recognizing that his drug selling was “creating a web of destruction,” Marte has made it his purpose to help people like him get on their feet (15 out of 17 of his employees are ex-cons) and he also helps current inmates in Rikers Island get fitter as well.
2. Double Down on Design
Early in my career, a client suggested that our “brilliant” campaign was merely “polishing a turd.” At the time, it was simply accepted that marketers had to play their product cards as dealt rather than driving the creation of something more appealing. Jerome Nadel, CMO of Rambus, thinks that a hands-off approach is nonsense and deploys “design-led marketing” to make sure what goes to market is worth the energy to sell it. Nadel sums up the benefits of this approach noting, “Better products and services are easier to promote and sell.”
3. Engage via an Emotional Experience
The health care industry is not exactly famous for offering a warm and fuzzy experience. Hoping to fix this, the CMO of UCHealth, Manny Rodriguez, ended up being put in charge of customer experience as well as marketing. Explains Rodriguez, “What I quickly realized is that in order to succeed with this notion of being patient-centric, we had to sell an experience…and we needed to stop talking about ourselves and start focusing on the patient.” The result was a better experience and some of the best examples of brand storytelling I’ve seen in 2017.
4. Transcend via Total Transparency
Most CMOs would describe their challenge as tough but few compare to that of Morag Lucey’s, who became CMO of Avaya shortly before they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And rather than retreat into silent chagrin, Lucey and her team got ahead of the story, noting that the problem was debt from a leveraged buyout and not the business’ fundamentals. Making sure that all stakeholders both within and outside the company, “understand exactly what you’re going through,” notes Lucey, was absolutely crucial.
5. Create Catchy Content
Content is only king if what you create is surprising, relevant and has a strong emotional hook. A great example of this comes from the Mars brand Whiskas. Reports Rob Rakowitz, Mars’ Global Director of Media, “recognizing that people who are adopting cats or kittens weren’t equipped with all of the knowledge and insights that they should have as new pet owners, we created Kitten Kollege.” Enrollment levels in Kitten Kollege would make any marketer meow.
6. Invest in Integration
In this age of programmatic, real-time digital optimization, many marketers are tempted to push out different messages across different channels. The problem with this approach is that the big brand story gets diluted. Grant Johnson, CMO of Kofax, faced this situation when various companies were pulled together under one leadership team. Concludes Johnson, “Part of cutting through effectively is a relentless focus on delivering consistent messaging across every touch point and element of a given campaign.”