Four ways CMOs can spark creativity among their teams

Posted by: jillw in: Media Relations -

The chief marketing officer has traditionally led a company’s brand-building efforts. But has the CMO’s time come to an end? In its “Predictions 2020” report, Forrester highlights the changing purpose of the CMO and how priorities must evolve to keep the role relevant. For one thing, being a storyteller isn’t enough anymore. Now, the CMO needs to be a story-maker. This shift highlights how creativity in marketing is more important than ever. Easier said than done.

I’ve come to believe that creativity is not necessarily about generating new ideas; it’s about the execution. It’s about finding new ways to apply ideas already out there.

Daily, I work with clients across the consumer, technology and financial services industries. Some of the most creative initiatives have come from observing what works in one industry and then applying it to another.

For example, in 2015, my agency had a track record of engaging bloggers to engage and educate audiences on behalf of our consumer clients. Banks hadn’t jumped on that trend yet, but when a bank client needed to educate moms about new digital payment options, we knew what to do. We introduced the bank to an influencer campaign, which was so successful that the bank continues investing in influencer programs to reach and engage customers today.

So how does a CMO – or any business leader – spark new ideas, day after day? Here are four tips to ignite inspiration.


1. Be a curious reader and follower.

Encourage teams to look beyond your industry to get inspiration from marketers, brands and stories outside their familiar world. Set an example by sharing publications and channels you might not normally come across.

Cultivate a diverse set of companies and people to follow on social media. On LinkedIn, customize your feed by following people, companies and hashtags of interest. You will discover new, relevant and inspiring content in the process. Check out the interests of your LinkedIn connections or other individuals on the platform, and add the ones that resonate directly to your profile.


2. Build diverse teams.

Diverse experiences boost performance and enhance innovation. A McKinsey report covering 366 public companies in a variety of countries and industries found that the most ethnically and gender diverse companies had better relative financial performance. Additional studies show a correlation between diversity and innovation.

Exposing yourself and your teams to different opinions, experiences and perspectives enables everyone to question their perceptions and shift their thinking. Often, such differences can spark innovative ideas to address a demanding challenge. Some organizations can help you build more diverse teams. For example, Portland Means Progress has an emerging leaders internship program geared to opportunities for underrepresented youth, while Hiring Our Heroes matches corporations with transitioning service members.



Posted by: WendyLane in: Financial Services -

ESG reports – which focus on an organization’s environmental, social and governance aspects – are becoming more prevalent. Just a few years ago, only about 1% of public companies prepared them, but that number is now roughly 25%. The reports are often considered risk management tools by boards of directors. They offer stakeholders greater insight to how investments are stewarded and what types of impacts their dollars are creating beyond just the bottom line. In the event of a market downturn and a flight to quality, ESG reports may also help differentiate and elevate a brand.

The National Association of Corporate Directors’ Northwest Chapter recently hosted an informative event in Seattle: “Managing Risk in an Environment of Evolving Shareholder Engagement.” An impressive panel of thought leaders – Randall Hopkins of NASDAQ, Weyerhaeuser Company’s senior director of investor relations Beth Baum, and HomeStreet Bank’s investor relations officer Gerhard Erdelji – offered valuable insights for companies undertaking the formidable task of creating an ESG report:

  • Establish an internal ESG committee. Have a team oversee and create the report, as its breadth and depth is typically beyond the capacity of one individual.
  • Communicate the ESG report initiative companywide. Each department should be aware of the report’s development and understand their role. Certain departments will be key resources to build the content: facilities and production for environmental, human resources for social, and investor relations for governance, for instance.
  • Establish metrics in key areas. The ESG reports are based in fact and should illustrate performance. Individuals within departments must determine how results will be measured and be dedicated to tracking and reporting them over time.
  • Keep investors in the loop. ESG roadshows, which are growing in use, inform investors about how their dollars are making an impact. Importantly, these roadshows give companies a chance to learn more about what their investors value. Additionally, more traditional investor presentations may be strengthened by including elements from an ESG report.
  • Prepare board members to carry your messages. In addressing concerns from investors, it’s valuable to prepare board members to speak to investor relations issues, leveraging documented findings in a company’s ESG report. Passive investors tend to gravitate toward governance issues, while active investors want to know more about environmental and social aspects.

As investors demand more accountability and transparency from public, and even privately held, organizations, ESG reports will likely become more common across all industries. Investing time and resources into creating an ESG report creates an opportunity to keep important stakeholders engaged.


Setting the Foundation for Your Annual Marketing Plan: It’s as easy as packing a suitcase

Posted by: WendyLane in: Digital/Social - Media Relations -

Writing an annual marketing plan can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.  It can be as easy as packing a suitcase. 

If you’re like me, you travel a lot for business. You know that every suitcase starts out empty, just as every marketing plan starts with a blank page.  

The process of filling both begins with the same question:  

Where are you going?  

You can’t start packing before you know your destination.  The more information you have, the better choices you’ll make when you fill your bag. 

So…where are you headed 

If you haven’t already, align with your executive team and get consensus on what’s important and why. What are your overall goals for the coming year? Revenue growth? Breaking into a new market? Increasing market share?  Then, what are the strengths and weakness of your company to meet those challenges?  Be sure you understand what could get in the way of achieving these goals, including current events, economic trends, competitive developments, etc. It’s important to build marketing strategies that play to your strengths as well as counter potential challenges. 

Think of it like this:  Knowing the forecast increases the likelihood that you’ll have what you need when you get to your destination.  


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