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.


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.  



Posted by: Ryan Barr in: Financial Services - Media Relations -

Warren Buffett famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputa­tion and five minutes to ruin it.” Who am I to disagree with Mr. Buffett? According to the Reputation Institute, in­tangible value — including corporate rep­utation — makes up 81 percent of market value. Additionally, a one-point increase in reputation yields a 2.6 percent increase in market cap, which translates into an aver­age of $1 billion.

However, corporate and financial com­municators know that if a company is going to market now, it doesn’t have 20 years to build its reputation. With 24/7 media, glob­ally connected social networks and online marketplaces, investors, influencers, cus­tomers and employees can alter the percep­tion of a corporate brand in the blink of an eye.

As corporate reputation impacts valua­tion, communicators must close the gap between the reality of a company’s current operational status and the perceptions of key external stakeholders. And, the vast ar­ray of external influences can interfere with a company’s ability to control its narrative. Given this, it’s more important than ever for a company to use all the tools at its dis­posal. Where to begin?

It starts with storytelling. Financial and corporate communicators need to build compelling narratives rooted in data that show an obtainable goal, all to be measured by a roadmap that tracks a company’s prog­ress. For all companies, financials are the obvious, and sometimes most critical, ­gauge of success. It’s fairly straightforward: tell your stakeholders what you’re going to do: increase sales, control expenses and grow the bottom line; execute your plan; and then report back. Unfortunately, finan­cials are only one metric used to measure a company’s success and not all companies are at the same moment in their lifecycle.

A narrative must go beyond the num­bers. Stakeholders must understand the vision of the company: what are you trying to achieve beyond growth? Start-ups and early-stage companies too often default to, “We’re a disruptor in an industry that has been stagnant for too long.” Great, but what does that truly mean? Disruption has be­come a cliché. What are you really doing as a company? Solving the last mile of afford­able and efficient transportation; bringing life-saving preventative medicine to those most in need; providing connectivity and speed to rural populations? All of these are disruptive and also showcase achievable goals. Build a story that people can relate to, follow and rally behind. Now that you have your story and you know what your audience wants to hear, you need to reach them where they are. Not every stakeholder is reading the same publication, visiting the same websites or even using the same social media channels. Your audience is as unique as you are. You need to understand how they consume in­formation. Whether it’s a commentary in The Wall Street Journal or a thought lead­ership piece in The Atlantic or a listicle on BuzzFeed, make sure you’re telling a consis­tent story that is relevant to the outlet’s spe­cific audience. Ensure that you employ this approach through all your communications channels. While the appeal of a “third-par­ty” endorsement in earned media remains the holy grail for many, it’s not the only means of connecting with and influencing key audiences.


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