Curiosity may have killed the cat, but in truth, nary a marketer — let alone one of the renegade variety — succeeded without a deeply inquisitive nature. It’s not enough for us to know that something worked; we must know why, when, where and how. But even we inquisitors can suffer from confirmation bias, seeking answers to prove our hypotheses and thus avoiding genuine insights. To fix this, we need start anew, challenging both our assumptions and our lines of inquiry.
To help you along this journey, we’ve been interviewing “renegade thinkers” from a broad range of categories. You’ll meet five of these individuals below, each of whom suggests a new question for you to add to your list — and one or more of them could be the difference between success and failure in the years to come.
Would your employees stay with the company even if they received a more lucrative offer elsewhere?
When you ask senior marketers about their proudest accomplishments, most will start with “building a great team,” knowing full well that they can do very little on their own. But Patti Newcomer-Simmons, VP of Marketing at Intuit, took this one step further, noting that once the right players were in place, she needed to keep them from defecting to competing software companies. And to do that, the secret was “employee engagement,” an approach that resulted in a 30-point increase in job satisfaction, as measured by the question above. (To listen to the whole episode now, click here.)
What if you turned all your employees into the research department?
If necessity is indeed the mother of invention, then Dara Royer, CMO of Mercy Corps, should be in the inventors’ hall of fame for rebranding a global organization on a $50,000 budget. To do this, Royer enlisted the help of Mercy Corps field agents and trained them as market researchers, which served the dual purpose of involving them in the process and obtaining critical insights that provided the foundation for a highly successful rebranding. Mercy Corps was recently recognized as the 2017 EquiTrend “Brand of the Year.” (To hear more of this remarkable story, click here.)
How do I know what I know?
Hopefully this isn’t breaking news for you, but it turns out that the left-brain versus right-brain theory of innate creativity is just a myth. We all have the capacity to be creative, but most of us just forget how. Larry Robertson, author of “The Language of Man: Learning to Speak Creativity,” interviewed more than 40 MacArthur grant winners (AKA “geniuses”) and found that creativity was rooted in the ability to ask the right questions, starting first with the willingness to question all of your assumptions, no matter how hard-earned! (For a fascinating and instructive take on creativity, click here.)
Are you trying to sell a candle when you should be selling light?
Have you lost sight of the “end-end benefit” of the product you’re marketing? Reclaiming that vision will undoubtedly help you find a more meaningful way of sharing your brand story. Chandar Pattabhiram, CMO of Marketo, explains that to get there, you need to start by being “outcome-driven rather product-driven.” He adds, “Many times I remind my own teams that customers don’t care about products, they care about value and ultimately what a product offers them.” (To hear more about this approach, click here.)
Am I still drawing a distinction between offline and online marketing?
Since very few senior marketers were born as “digital natives,” there is lingering tendency to align departments and strategies against perceived digital and non-digital universes. This must stop! “Those two worlds are intertwined and inseparable now especially from a consumer’s standpoint,” explains Mayur Gupta, Global Vice President for Growth & Marketing at Spotify. Gupta suggests that brands need to find a story that resonates regardless of channel. (To learn about the trifecta of data, tech and storytelling, click here.)