How Paper Company Rebrand Cuts Through the Noise
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Simon Schaffer-Goldman of Case Paper is really just your run-of-the-mill CMO. Well, except maybe for starting out as a shepherd in New Zealand. Also, maybe his portfolio of stunning photography and his penchant for comedy writing are somewhat uncommon. Oh, and the willingness to lead a bold rebrand with a new approach that strays pretty far from the typical tone of B2B paper companies. Hm. Okay, maybe Simon isn’t so run-of-the-mill after all. Though, run-of-the-mill could make for some pretty decent paper industry puns… We’ll file that one away for now.
On this week’s RTU, Simon and Drew discuss Case Paper’s recent update to their branding and marketing, including their new commitment to being “On the Case,” how introducing a purpose-driven branding campaign can improve the company culture and operations, agency partnerships (including with yours truly!), and Case’s history—and future—with absurdity, humor, and, generally, having a good time cutting through. Listen in for more!
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Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Simon Schaffer-Goldman
Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Thinkers. My guest today is Simon Schaffer-Goldman, CMO of Case Paper, a family-owned paper merchant that celebrated its 75th birthday. I’ve had the chance to get to know Simon over the last few years, first as a member of The CMO Club—hey, Pete—and more recently as a client of Renegade’s. In either context, Simon is a rock star, and I know you’re going to enjoy listening to this show as much as I am going to have making this show with Simon. So, Simon, welcome to the show!
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Thank you, Drew, thank you for those very kind words. I appreciate it. I hope some of them are true.
Drew Neisser: Well, we’ll find out, I guess.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Yes, we will.
Drew Neisser: I also want to point out that this is the time for Jessica, who’s in our audience, to give us big applause and say “woohoo!” All right, so we’ve got the live audience to prove that we are actually doing this show. So first up—I’m well familiar with the fact that your grandfather, Irving Schafer, founded Case Paper 75 years ago, and then he turned it over to your dad and uncle. Did you imagine in your 20s that you would end up in the family business?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Not at all.
Drew Neisser: Really?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Oh, no. Especially when I was sheep farming in New Zealand. I was not thinking about the paper business back then.
Drew Neisser: Hmm, so what were you thinking about?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Well, I think when we’re all in our 20s, I think we’re thinking about how we can change the world, right? How can we conquer the world? What can we do with our lives? Exploring.
Drew Neisser: When you were in New Zealand…at one point there were 70 million sheep in New Zealand, and they blew a hole through the ozone layer with all the methane. I understand they’ve got that cropped down to 15 or 20 million.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Yes, there were much fewer sheep there, but I got very familiar with them. One named Barney by the way.
Drew Neisser: I don’t want to be sheepish about this conversation, but I suspect we should move on to move out of that. Ultimately, was it your dad that said, “Hey, Simon, why don’t you come join the company?”
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Actually, my dad never said anything to me. There were other people at Case Paper who asked his permission to come talk to me and recruit me into the company.
Drew Neisser: Very cool. They want you in—where do you start?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: The ground floor, I guess, as ground as you can get in our organization. I started really in the sales department as a grunt doing a lot of legwork, developing leads for the salespeople, working on leads, really just fundamental stuff in sales, and learning our sales process from the ground up.
Drew Neisser: Which, for your organization, that’s a critical role. I mean, paper doesn’t sell itself.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Absolutely. Yes. As much as people might think it’s that easy to sell paper, there are some nuances to it.
Drew Neisser: Before we go on to how you got into marketing, give us a sense of the scale of Case Paper. What do you guys do? You don’t actually make paper. What do you guys do and how big are you?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: We actually don’t make paper. You’re absolutely correct. We do convert paper, and I’ll explain a little bit of what that means. We buy paper from all around the world. We buy paper anywhere from Finland to Germany to Chile and a lot of mills in North America. We bring it into our facilities where we house large inventories and we have the machinery to custom-convert custom sizes for both unique applications that we don’t think about in our daily lives. But actually, the manufacturing of them does require paper to be shipped in unique sizes and the large inventory to respond quickly to our customers. That really gives us how we carved out a niche in that marketplace for ourselves.
Drew Neisser: How many offices and employees do you have?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: At Case Paper we have seven locations, five of which are manufacturing, around the country, and we have 340 employees.
Drew Neisser: That’s a lot of employees. How many years have you been in the marketing role?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: I’ve been in the marketing role for a little over three years now, and I’ve been at Case Paper for nine years.
Drew Neisser: That’s about probably when we met, because you joined The CMO Club when you became CMO. I wanted to talk about that for a second. You were also in Vistage already. What was the reason that you joined The Club and what did that bring to round out your expertise?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Five years ago, when I joined Vistage, it was really to get out of my industry bubble. I think we all kind of get sucked into our industries or what we do on a day-to-day, and what Vistage allowed me to do is get with other key executives—COOs, CFOs—and really work together, help each other out, solve problems, and learn from each other. I think that’s a very valuable experience from learning from other people, especially when it’s outside your bubble. What The CMO Club allowed me to do was also to do the same thing, but now focused just on marketing, not just about leadership and management skills.
Drew Neisser: What I really admired about you from the very first time we met is that you asked really good questions, you were extremely curious, and I feel like, in the last three years, you’ve picked up a lot. You are obviously a fast learner.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: I try to be. I think some people might be able to relate to this—I did have trouble in school. I did have learning disabilities. Ironically, I was actually not a fast learner growing up, or at least that’s how I was labeled and I’m in a position now, and I’m so hungry for information and knowledge and to learn from people. That natural curiosity has always been there, but I’ve really been able to put it to good use during the last few years.
Drew Neisser: I think that’s a key thing. You’re curious, and I think that in a field like marketing, you have to be. If you stop asking questions and reaching out to other folks and asking what their challenges are and how they’re solving them, you’re wasting an opportunity, for one. Two, you’re probably going to stagnate.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Absolutely. I mean, the biggest BS in the world is people saying, “Well, I know it already,” or “I know it all.” Even people that claim to be experts. I mean, even the experts are constantly learning in their field to be experts. They’re not experts and then stop learning—you’re only an expert because you’re constantly learning in your field of expertise. And so, for me, I’ll never know it all. I doubt anybody will ever know at all, so what are we learning and how are we learning? Finding ourselves in positions to learn—that’s what The CMO Club did for me and that’s what some other professional organizations have done for me.
Drew Neisser: All right. Well, Pete Krainik, who’s probably listening, is going to be very happy to have heard that.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: He’s actually here and passed me a $100 bill.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, exactly. Well, actually, we’re gonna go see him later, so we’ll get him to pay up. Another thing that I wanted to observe that I thought was interesting was that you and I bonded over EOS. Now, Renegade is a small company. EOS, by the way, is Entrepreneurs Operating System, based on the book Traction. But it’s the Entrepreneurs Operating System—and I think you mentioned that Case has 340 employees—that would qualify you, at 75 years, as not an entrepreneurial organization. Was part of your thinking of using this system because you wanted to be more entrepreneurial?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: I think that there was always an entrepreneurial spirit within Case Paper, so, yes, for me personally. But also, we’re a paper company. I’m very cognizant of the fact that, if you’re listening to this, when Drew introduced me and it’s a paper company, you probably thought of Dunder Mifflin. I think we can all accept that, and I certainly have accepted that. I’ve embraced that, as you will see with some of the marketing that we’re doing today. But there is definitely… I forgot the question, I’m sorry.
Drew Neisser: No, it’s okay. It doesn’t matter. It’s about being entrepreneurs.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: The EOS process really allowed us to build a structure within our organization that was lacking in terms of building some routines, building an architecture that we could build around moving into the future. Even though we’re a 75-year-old company, I would joke to people that we were actually a 75-year-old startup. There were functions and departments where people were wearing multiple hats 75 years later! I was like, “Wow, this is like a startup.” You’re wearing multiple hats. Everybody’s running around. At some point, you need to take a step back and say, “We need to build out certain aspects of our business.” There was definitely a lot, including marketing as an example, where there just wasn’t a foundation built that was carried through over the years.
Drew Neisser: All of that was great, but let’s get back to Dunder Mifflin. You must have a story related to The Office. First of all, which role are you in the show?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: That’s highly debated at Case Paper. My wife doesn’t like to call me Jim because then that’s assuming there’s a Pam at work, and that’s wildly uncomfortable. I don’t think I’m gruff enough to be Stanley, I don’t know if I’m eccentric enough to be Dwight. I’m not really sure who I am in that office. Maybe I’m that kind of new character that showed up at the end that everybody kind of understood. The new Dwight.
Drew Neisser: That’s funny, did you meet Dwight when he came to the CMO event?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Yes, I met Rainn Wilson. And funny enough, we’re at a CMO Club event, and Rainn Wilson, who’s doing amazing charity work—I think it’s important to recognize that, besides his role in The Office, he’s doing some really amazing things outside of it. I was lucky enough to meet him out by the water over a beer, and the first thing out of my mouth—I showed him my nametag and my company, and I said, “I’d just like you to know that I love you and I hate you.” It certainly made my life more interesting when I started at Case Paper, but it actually was a great TV show. I mean, we can all agree. It’s a classic and it will always be a classic. I can’t fault that there.
Drew Neisser: All right. Perfect. We’re gonna take a quick break. And when we come back, we’re going to dive into your marketing.
Drew Neisser: We’re back, and my guest is Simon Schaffer-Goldman.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Sounds like a law firm.
Drew Neisser: I know! We’re not talking about law. We’re talking about marketing. A couple of years ago, you decided that you needed some outside help. What was the impetus to look for a partner to get your marketing going? What inspired you to do that?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Well, looking around, as I stated earlier, we just didn’t have a foundation built. I think that there are two aspects to it. One is that building an architecture around marketing in the department and what we saw that to be moving into the future, and then trying to cherry-pick the key components that were going to be the foundation that we were going to lay everything else on. In the very beginning, we knew we had a voice, we’d been around 75 years. What do we do with all of these great stories and the employee engagement that we have? How do we corral all of that and harness that to be able to build off of it?
Drew Neisser: Right. So, enter Renegade! You said, “Hey, Drew, help us to define this thing,” and we went through a discovery process together. There were a couple of things that really struck us as we were doing our discovery. One is the service mentality of the organization, and we’ll talk about that. But the other thing was this funny bone that was deep in the company, and one of the things that we discovered—it was one of those wonderful moments that you hope happens when you’re doing discovery—the Printer’s Home Companion. Talk about that a little bit because this is just this outrageous thing done in the 60s.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: 50s and 60s. For about 12 years! For those of you that don’t know and aren’t going to be on our website looking at our company history—when we started, we were actually just based in Manhattan in a small converted horse stable in Greenwich Village. One of the things that we did back then was great branding and great marketing, and we did something called the Printer’s Home Companion. For those of you that like The Onion or some of these more comical news organizations or content that comes out, that’s what it was. It took stock images—these are all black and white back then—and we did these newsletters that were all ridiculous. They were just really absurd humor.
Drew Neisser: It really was. It was sort of fractured fairy tales in there and what it showed to us is that there was a deep-rooted sense of humor of not taking yourself too seriously. It was also a wonderful example of content marketing, where there was nothing about printing or paper or what you guys did, but I guarantee that everybody who opened it would laugh and it made your brand likable, which is so interesting. Then we get back to the sales thing—think about the Aflac duck for a moment. Ridiculous. You really knew nothing about what Aflac did, but what did the duck do? Sense of humor, made you likable, so when that salesman knocked on the door, there was some air cover that said, “Oh, you’re from Aflac, where’s your rubber duck?” “Oh, here’s one.” “Okay, let’s have a conversation.” In some ways, that’s what the Printer Home Companion did for your company 30-40 years ago.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: It absolutely did, and the stories that I hear—is HR in here?—all the time from the old-timers at our company is that it got so popular that, in New York City at that time, printers weren’t the only people subscribing to it or asking for it. We were sending it to agencies, ad agencies. I mean, this was really blanketing it because it was so different from the marketing that they were used to doing back then. It really set us apart and it helped us build our brands, private label brands that really set us apart and drove a lot of both revenue growth and profitability for the organization in those early years.
Drew Neisser: Seeing that and saying, “Okay, there is a lot of history of humor.” And then in the discovery process, we went, “Oh, my gosh, they’re kind of into humor, too. And oh my god, you have a brother who’s a comedian.” It was in the DNA of the company, so it gave you permission to be different. That was one big pillar of the brand. The other big pillar of the brand was this extraordinary sense of commitment to your customers. That came out through a lot of stories that we heard, whether it was 75 years ago, 50 years ago, 25 or five minutes ago. Those stories seemed to be coming through a lot. Talk a little bit about the culture of the company and the service orientation of the company.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Our customers have always been front and center for us to the point where we would go to extraordinary lengths to support our customers. Back when we were just in New York City, we had slogans—”We never keep a press waiting.” We had things that were really centered around that. We were here for you when you need us, and a lot of times, it was when you need us quickly. Back then, there was no Internet, there was no social media, so the printed word—print in general—that was it. There was so much activity going on that to be able to respond quickly and to connect with your customers became such a critical point because back then, there might be 50 competitors in New York City. Today there’s like, five.
Drew Neisser: Not so many. That’s good. But you still have a competitive marketplace. You also have a lot of outside forces, like people are stopping sending mailers and a lot of other things that are making the market competitive. I’ve talked about this on the show a lot with various folks—the purpose-driven story statement and the power of one. What was interesting as we were looking at your brand was that you have the luxury of Case Paper. “Paper” says, “Oh, it grounds you in a category.” From a purpose point of view, you didn’t need to ground you in the category. What we needed to do was to set an expectation. Also, for those folks that don’t know you, to set an expectation that was memorable. So, we worked with you to come up with your purpose-driven story statement. Why don’t you share it?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: It’s simple: We’re “On the Case.”
Drew Neisser: Interesting, “On the Case.” That’s kind of cool. Case Paper, On the Case. What did that mean to you, initially, when you thought about that idea?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: It really summed everything up, in three simple words. For those of you who don’t know about writing stories and marketing stories or anything in Six-Word stories. It is an exercise that I learned last year through the Stanford Business School program that I did—how to write Six-Word stories. The fact that we did it in three, I mean, we’re were just phenomenal in that case.
“On the Case” fundamentally got to the heart of what we like to do. It wasn’t even just for our customers or for each other, it was how do we step up and not just do something day to day and plod along, but take delight in doing something more for our customers? Going that extra mile for them, making that extra phone call, sending that extra email, following up on something that, you know what, I just want to double-check to make sure that’s right? Those little things build up very, very big relationships with customers that go far beyond the big gestures that you can do. It’s those small things, and “On the Case” really encompasses not only the big things we do for customers, but really encompasses all the little things that it means to be on the case.
Drew Neisser: One of the things that I remember, in that process, is that within “On the Case,” we weren’t just saying, “Hey, if someone calls you, call them right back.” It was responsible, resourceful, and then there was reliable, I think that was the third. Those three things really provided meat to the thing. It’s one thing to just respond quickly. It’s another thing to be resourceful and say, “Oh, you asked for this type of paper. You know what? If you’ve got this kind of paper, you might be able to save some money.” And reliable, of course, means that you are responsive and resourceful, and so forth. So, there were these dimensions, and again, these were already part of your DNA, so it wasn’t like we were creating something new but it was the beginning of a story.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Exactly, and it really took all of the examples that you used, and really funnel them together into something that everybody could get behind. It didn’t have anything specific behind it because it didn’t need to be specific, because everybody knew what it meant.
Drew Neisser: Right, I love it. I love the statement. It makes me very happy because it’s been a year plus now since you rolled it out to your employees. As we wrap up this segment, talk a little bit about how you brought this program to life with your employees.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: One of the things that I was very adamant about was slow and steady and focusing on employees first—realizing that anything that we do, the employees have to buy into, and that it was more than just a marketing scheme that we were doing. It wasn’t a scheme. This was something that was built into the fabric of who we were and if we’re going to bring this to our customers, they really need to believe in it. We spent an awful lot of time thinking through how we were going to launch this internally. What does it mean internally and how do we make that real? One of the first things that we did was we activated the first-ever employee recognition program at Case Paper and it was aptly named “On the Case.”
Drew Neisser: Oh, my gosh. Wow.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: The OTC awards, as we shortened it up. One of the things that I’ve learned over time is to take the back seat a little bit. I want to build an environment where other people can grow and other people can bring their ideas to the table, so actually, the employees—15 employees across all divisions, from plain employees to CSR salespeople—15 people came together and built this program. Employees built it. It was built for them, by them. That was a big part of “On the Case” and they really had an opportunity to shape it of what is this going to look like, and how’s it going to operate?
We just launched that and the way we went about doing this was—anybody can nominate anybody for going above and beyond for a customer or a fellow employee and the nomination process is super simple. It’s your name, their name, the division that they work at, the basics. But then, what’s their story? What’s their “On the Case” story? What we’re finding already is that we’re getting this pouring in of these amazing stories that I couldn’t—I’m the CMO and I’m going to admit on this podcast—I couldn’t tell these stories better than they could. They own it.
Now, they own “On the Case” and now they’re morphing it, and they’re changing it, and they’re adding to it. There’s so much color and dimension that’s being built to it, because it’s not just something that I’m writing and giving out, and they’re reciting and memorizing. Each one of them are personally connected to “On the Case” because they have their own story about it. And that’s what makes it powerful. That’s what makes it real. And that’s how you get buy-in. It’s not just some BS. No, it’s real and they built it. All I had to do was build a mechanism to make it happen.
Drew Neisser: Love it. Love it, love it, love it. We’re going to take a quick break and we come back we’ll talk about some of the other things that you’ve done to be on the case with “On the Case.” Oh, that’s meta.
Drew Neisser: All right, we’re back. And my guest remains Simon from a Case Paper. We were talking about bringing “On the Case” to life. You’ve done it with employees with the “On the Case awards.” Let’s talk about some of the other things. I mean, I know—because we did a lot of the work—there was some rebranding that you did and you broke a rule, which is you never mess with your logo. You do some cool things. Let’s talk about how you also wanted to send some signals to employees with branding.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: It could be taboo to say this on a podcast to other CMOs, but I would venture to guess that we’ve all made mistakes in the past. I think that when it came to rebranding—we went through this process about six or seven years ago. Before I joined CMO Club and other organizations and really learned, I didn’t quite put a lot of the pieces together. It’s not just a logo, it’s not just a new ad, it’s not just a new, fresh look. There needs to be a lot of substance behind it. Now that we built a really good foundation of substance, then it was to bring it to life with things that were more visible, getting into both customers and of course, with the employees as well.
You mentioned humor. We had a lot of fun coming up with slogans. Just like the employee recognition program, once we set forth where we were headed, it was amazing how many employees would then call me or email or even text me being like, “I have a new idea. How about this line? How about that line?” And so we got things like, “We give a sheet.” “Sheet happens here.” We sell sheets of paper for those of you that don’t know, of course.
We had a lot of fun with it and then we started bringing it to life with truck wraps. In the markets that we’re in—so, if you are in Miami, Philadelphia, Highpoint, North Carolina, LA, Chicago, or drive on the turnpike frequently in New Jersey—you will start seeing these trucks. One thing you’ll notice is they are absurd and not like any truck you’ll see on the road. Part of it was really owning it—we are a paper company, let’s have some fun with ourselves here. We aren’t saving lives. There are doctors that save lives, we appreciate those doctors, we’re a paper company.
I do find that paper and the things that we do is important, and our customers are actually really great and very important, but we’re also a paper company. We had truck wraps, we had new slogans, we started doing new premiums. We started printing on our own paper but having a lot more fun with what we were doing with it. It wasn’t just a product specification sheet, now it was something more and taking delight in the fact that, in our space, everybody is doing the same thing, so where are the areas where you could have fun and do something different?
We really started saying, “Well, what does “On the Case” mean to us in our department?” What “On the Case” means is, here’s what doing the basics would be, this is just doing the work, and here’s how we would go above and beyond in the marketing space. We do take a lot of opportunity to add to delight, whether it’s footers in emails, whether it’s locations. It’s really about finding places where we can add some absurd humor or something that’s a little irreverent to lighten up and delight our employees and our customers.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, I seem to recall that there are elephants in your signature. What’s up with that?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Yes, we have elephants, and dogs.
Drew Neisser: Everybody loves dogs.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: That is universal.
Drew Neisser: It’s true. But I don’t know about elephants. Everybody loves elephants?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: They will now. Surprisingly, yes. People have been very excited about the elephants and employees get to choose some of the characters they can have in their e-mail signature, so there’s some choice here, and a lot of people chose the elephant.
Drew Neisser: Interesting. I think that’s kind of cool that you let…you know, “On the Case” is an idea, it’s not one image. It’s not one thing. If you were imagining an email signature, and I’ll link to it, I think, in the show notes, but imagine an email signature where you see the name, but there’s actually like an elephant holding the “On the” above the “Case” in the Case Paper logo. You actually see this integrated artwork. All of a sudden, there’s a certain whimsy to your brand that you’ve embraced, and your employees have fully embraced it.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Absolutely. They’ve embraced it. I think for some people, when it comes to humor, you can’t make everybody happy, but I think we do a pretty good job at toeing the line between going too far or in some cases maybe not far enough. We’ll see where this goes.
Drew Neisser: You have been working on—and I assume it’s okay that we talk about it—this amazing 75th-anniversary album, which is just coming off the press. It’s a stunning piece of work. One of the things that I like so much about that kind of thing is that the medium is the message.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Absolutely.
Drew Neisser: Talk a little bit about that piece and why you did it and the celebration of being 75 and how to walk the fine line between you’re 75-years-old and you’re the new company that can help them with their current needs.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: There’s a lot of humor in this album, of course, that shouldn’t be shocking to the listeners after this long. But we definitely added a lot of elements where we were putting different papers in there, and we were doing a lot of things structurally that are pretty unique. But the whole concept of the album was telling a story of 75 years through the lens of what we’ve done to surprise and delight our customers for those 75 years. How have we come through for them over those years?
Some of you who might be listening might have been around when the Beatles landed in New York City. We did a tremendous amount of work for our customers that we were printing on demand for that big event and the amount of printing that kept going because of it. There are stories that live on at Case Paper about these almost historical cultural events and how we were there for it and we were there to help make it happen, like a program at the old Shea Stadium, and stories like that where we could really connect our customers to both history and stories that relate to—this is not something we just started in the last year, “On the Case.”
We’ve been on the case for 75 years and really telling those stories throughout this album, telling about who we are, as well as showing different papers and structurally showing some interesting printing methods. I was lucky enough, and Jessica who’s here with me on her first-ever press check, and I do recommend to marketers that if you are involved in your print spend at all, get out of your office, get off your butt, and go to a press check. It is a lot of fun. It will open your eyes to that world, and you should at least experience that once in your life. It is really a truly amazing experience. Talk to your print partners and get in there. It’s really fun.
Drew Neisser: So, you have this plan, you have that “On the Case” as an idea, a purpose-driven story statement. And then we did the plan on a page, you know, six things you could execute against employees, six things for customers and six things for prospects. This is very much a work in progress, but still, you’ve done enough now to know—what do you think are the biggest lessons for you so far? You’ve rebranded the organization. You’ve given them a North Star. You’ve given them language to describe the North Star. What are some of the lessons that other CMOs might be able to glean from this?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Well, how do I say this without sounding like I’m really, really lazy? Empower your people and your employees to carry that message. There’s something to be said about building an infrastructure that’s sustainable, that’s something that your employees can grab hold of and run with. Now all of a sudden, instead of me doing all the work, they’re naturally doing the work. They’re carrying that message, they’re developing their stories, they’re telling the story, and they’re telling it in a way that’s consistent with our brand because we spent the time upfront getting their buy-in by making them a part of the process.
That, probably more than anything, is something that I’ve learned through this process, and I’m trying to bring to other aspects, both in marketing and other aspects of the business—empower your employees to be a part of the decision making. At some point, we all have to make decisions. But things like this, their ideas and their buy-in, their support, you don’t have to take every one of their ideas, but you want to encourage them to be a part of it because your best ideas aren’t going to come from you. Your best ideas are going to come from other people. Your job is to help make those ideas real, and that’s a really exciting part of this.
Drew Neisser: It’s interesting as I’m hearing you talk because one of the things that we did is this B2B CMO survey, 110 respondents. When I asked them, or we asked them—they all believe that employee activation before a launch of a new campaign are important—but when I asked them how long they gave it, 60% gave less than a month. Part of it is that there’s this, “Hey, we’ve got this new campaign and we got to get it to market because that’s the deadline.” You’ve taken a fair amount of time to do that, and I really think it’s meaningful.
This is the difference between what I call coat of paint marketing, where you rebrand but all that you’re doing is that you’re saying, “Hey, we’re purple now,” and you put paint on the outside. When something is real, like a commitment to extreme customer satisfaction and customer delight, for that to be real, it takes a lot of time. Even though its part of the organization, there were things that you needed to do and get people involved in before you could go to the marketplace and say, “Hey, we’re ‘On the Case!'” I think that’s a big lesson there.
It’s so important—take the time to get your brand right. You’ve done an employee survey. You’ve made them feel involved. As the pieces of the brand got rolled out, you gave them options to choose from. And now they get to participate in the idea after the fact. I think there’s a big difference between—there are some folks who will insource their tagline. I think that’s problematic, personally. I don’t think you’re going to get to “On the Case” by doing a “Hey, what do you think we should be?” because it takes so long to rationalize something like that and build a full structure out.
This is what we do for a living so I’m going to rationalize it, but I think that the role of employees in this process is important, so one of the things that we did definitely in our process with Simon, we didn’t do the employee survey until a little bit later than we should have. But now we do it standard right upfront because we want them to know that they’re part of the process. Just by asking, it’s amazing what happens. And you had good feedback on your employee survey.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: We had phenomenal feedback. I think we were all actually pretty shocked. We knew we had passionate employees and people who cared but I think what it showed us at least was that there’s a lot of support. Incidentally, part of our plan—and this is a little bit harder to do with every company—we had to align incentives with what we were trying to build. I am a very, very big proponent of core values and culture of an organization. You can imagine, as a 75-year-old company—when you’re a startup, you start with a nucleus of four employees and you build outward. The way I describe Case Paper is that we needed some shaping, we needed some forming.
We had a strong nucleus, but we really had to shape it because for 75 years it went astray a little bit and core values were not front and center. What “On the Case” really brought was an opportunity to bring core values in because being on the case is very much tied to who we are and the culture that we want to build. We needed to make sure that our incentives structure was aligned with it. Working with the CEO, the CFO, and some other key members of the executive team was also refiguring a structure that hadn’t really changed much in 30 years.
If you think about it, that’s not as popular as doing big funny humor marketing, but even through that process of engaging the employees and getting their feedback—the firm we used to work on that, their comment to me was: “It’s refreshing. I haven’t been in a scenario where we found that all the employees, before they said anything to us and made any critiques about anything, was how loyal they were about the company and how much they are passionate about the company.” Then they laid into us. But you know what? If you start from a foundation of caring and trying to do the right thing, most of those other things take care of themselves. There’s definitely that, to make this real, it’s not just one thing you do, it’s doing all of these things somewhat at the same time, some things in sequence. There are definitely some behind the scenes things that I would say that we’re also working on to make this even more impactful.
Drew Neisser: Find your purpose, involve employees heavily, recognize that once you find your purpose you have to make it real, and you have to do a lot to make it real. Again, this takes time. As I was thinking and hearing you talk—why isn’t this a conversation that I have more often on this show? I think part of the reason is that you’re a private company and so you will take the time to do it right. You don’t have the pressure of quarterly earnings.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Absolutely. If you think about it, and I empathize with people that are in that scenario because there is a different mentality there, but I think that if you take the time to build an infrastructure, then when you do have something new, you can deploy it because you’ve already built the buy-in and you can deploy people to take that on. That’s really what I went back to the drawing board with. To make this real, if I’m driving this all the time with 340 employees, I can’t do that by myself.
Drew Neisser: We’re wrapping this up for our CMOs—I’m so grateful that they’ve spent the time with us today. I think I’ve already summarized a lot. I like to ask two dos and a don’t for your fellow CMOs. One do is, obviously, get employees involved. Do you have another do?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Think about the process of how you get things done and try to filter that through so that when you do have new campaigns, you have a process that you can rely on to get that quick buy-in and the employees around it very quickly if you don’t have the time to do a lot of engagement around a new campaign. The work you do upfront will pay off dividends in the future. I have a couple of examples.
Drew Neisser: Why not? Go for it. Give me an example.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: When we started doing our “On the Case” and we talked about doing posters to promote the program, we had plant employees, hourly workers, some even in unions, stepping up saying “I have an idea for the poster” unsolicited. Their ideas were actually really funny, so we ran with them. There is an example of, well, we can sit here and try to do all this creative work, but at the end of the day, this was internal. It didn’t need all that fanciness to it. And in fact, the fact that it came from employees, only deeper-rooted what we were trying to accomplish within the organization, getting their feedback on even things like that with a design idea. We even have some people that are designers that have already, on their own, just say, “Hey, what do you think of this? I did this in my spare time.”
Drew Neisser: It’s cool. They’re “On the Case”
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: They’re on the case on doing “On the Case.”
Drew Neisser: Any don’ts? One don’t for your fellow CMOs.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: One don’t.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, we got two dos. We really had more than that, but….
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Stop using the term “millennial.”
Drew Neisser: Oh hahaha. That’s a fresh one. Why?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: The term “millennial” comes with so much baggage.
Drew Neisser: It does, doesn’t it?
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: And it’s such a loaded term. I see Jessica, who’s probably on the younger end of the millennial generation, nodding her head over there. I think we’re all sick of it and I think that there’s a difference between millennials, different age groups. But I think, more importantly, is that everybody wants to feel valued. Everybody wants to feel empowered. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a 78-year-old or if you’re a 22-year-old starting out your career.
Everybody wants to feel appreciated and everybody wants to feel valued and everybody wants to have an opportunity to grow and take ownership of something. It’s not just millennials that want that, so stop using the word millennial and focus more on your people and focus more on the marketing that you’re doing and how that can empower them to take it on and become advocates for you. It’s a lot better when you have a small marketing department, or even if you have a large marketing department, when I have 340 employees that I consider as part of my marketing department. Think about that for a second.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s that really is. It’s true. There’s one last thing I was just thinking about “On the Case” that I wanted folks to understand. The interesting thing about this idea—and it reminds me a little bit of one of our clients, Utak in Control Freaks. Actually, the CMO of that company was on the show and one of the things we talked about Control Freaks was that it wasn’t just that employees were control freaks that, in your case were “On the Case,” it is that you are enabling your customers to be on the case. Because your customers actually are printing stuff for other customers. Sometimes, when you get into the storytelling world, there is a tendency to say, “Oh, we’re the star of the show. It’s our brand and we’re excited.” There was room in this idea for you to pass it and share it.
Simon Schaffer-Goldman: Absolutely. First, we’re starting internally to build that foundation but the next step is to bring it to our customers. Most of the time, us being on the case is because they have short deadlines. They don’t have two weeks to do a job anymore. When something happens in the marketplace—and some of you are listening might even be the ones that are pushing the buttons here—they make a decision and by the time it filters down to the print service provider that you’re using, they don’t have time.
They need a reliable partner who’s going to have product on the floor, can deliver things quickly, and also present new, different papers and even opportunities to add to the marketing budget by doing custom sizes. All of that brings value to them, but ultimately they are doing that all for their customers and all we’re doing is making that process easier, quicker, more seamless, and along the way making them both financially stronger, but also making their platform and their service to their customers stronger.
Drew Neisser: There you go. What a perfect place to wrap up the show. Simon, first of all, thank you so much for coming into the studio for those folks watching it on video. To Jessica in our audience, a big round of applause for you. Thank you, again. Really a pleasure talking with you. Been really fun working with you.
And to the listeners. I’m looking at the camera right now but most of you are on audio. First, if you enjoyed the show, be on the case and share it with your friends or be on the case by writing a review. That would be awesome. We welcome those and always welcome senior marketers into our audience. Until next week, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.