News that Made the Cut
I take refuge in history. It’s not so much an escape as an exploration fueled by an optimistic search for precedents, good or bad, that could shed light on current challenges, big or little. Currently engrossed in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, I’m struck by the remarkable leadership skills of Abraham Lincoln that, in the face of perhaps our country’s greatest challenge, matched the occasion. [Side note: Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips is a must read for any aspiring leader.]
Undeniably courageous on multiple fronts, Lincoln professed, “It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong.” With that perspective, we can turn our attention to the challenges of modern marketers, who in their own way must match the occasion and find the courage to help their brands cut through. Admittedly, these individuals won’t be remembered with monuments, but their insights as recorded in our podcasts together may inspire the rest of us to perform our day jobs with a bit more daring.
Scott Olrich, CMO of DocuSign — One thing right now is pushing for change in the company, even though it’s doing extremely well at the moment. I think that takes some bravery. My whole career largely deals with prepping-up a company for the next big act. I’m not a person that lives in the world today, I’m always thinking about the future. I have to know what the future is, and I would really want to move the company to be positioned well for that future. But that takes some bravery and guts to say, “We’re doing great, but we’re not positioned for the next big wave and we need to do this to do that.”
Take a Moonshot
Toni Clayton-Hine, CMO of Xerox — We really did take a moonshot to be able to make this work. I was a new CMO at Xerox. It’s a company that wants to reshape how you think about us, which means we had to take a risk. We have an incredibly supportive CEO who understood that we need to be able to tell this story about what we stand for today in a unique and compelling way. There’s a leap of faith but sometimes you have to go for it because the potential will be great.
Ignore the Naysayers
Rich Kylberg, VP of Corporate Communications, Arrow Electronics — The only thing that’s guaranteed is that you’re going to come across naysayers. There are just so many intangibles to it. It gets back to risk. You have to say, “Is this a reasonable risk?” With all that risk in mind, you know what’s worse than not succeeding? Not trying. If you don’t try, nothing will happen and as a marketer, you’ve got to make things happen. I think the bigger risk is to not do anything. That’s just a ticking time bomb for the end of any marketer’s life.
Listen to Your Inner-Renegade
Martin Häring, CMO of Finastra — You constantly have to innovate in marketing. Funnily, I would say you must always have that “little renegade” inside, otherwise you shouldn’t work in marketing. And if you don’t have that wiggle room to drive innovation, you probably should leave the company you’re working for. And when I say “innovation” that means you as a CMO should always wake up in the morning and ask yourself: Is it good enough what I’m doing today? Is it innovative enough? Is it disruptive enough? Can you drive even more change and ask your boss more for forgiveness than for approval?
Find Your Silly Unicorn
Adi Bachar-Reske, Global Head of Marketing, Provenir — Sometimes you just have to try things, test them out. For example, visuals are so important today, as you know. One we worked with was an illustration of a unicorn, and it looked kind of stupid, like a kid’s comic book. But of our multiple illustrations, the unicorn had an engagement rate that was four times higher than the others. You never know. Sometimes you put stuff out there and all of a sudden you get huge engagement and it’s kind of silly but you learn from it. So now we’re using more illustrations.
Final note: We’re constantly on the search for stories of courageous marketers and marketing, SO feel free to send us examples of what you’re seeing out there.