By Paul Sparrow and Atul Minocha
If you’re a CEO who paints the world with a well-worn brush and the same old can of flat white, this blog is for you. If you’re bemoaning the headwinds created by your industry and wondering why the same-old marketing plan (or lack thereof) has you stuck on “go,” read on.
We would like to open your eyes to a way to improve your marketing effectiveness that only comes if you’re willing to try a fresh roller—and some new shades of opportunity—to color your balance sheets in hues of deep green.
It may seem contrarian, but it’s true: the expertise needed to truly transform your marketing for the realities of 2022 and beyond might actually reside outside your industry. Yes, we’re saying that you may need a “car guy” to drive results at your B2B manufacturing company. Or that a multi-unit retail CMO may in fact hold the key to evolution of thought at your regional bank.
So why should you consider an industry outsider for your business? Surprisingly, there’s great value in bringing knowledge from the outside.
Here’s an example: Let’s assume you are the CEO of a bank, steeped in tradition (so much so that you still have architecture that can be classified as Ionic or Doric). Though your industry has gone through a lot of changes in the past 300 years, it’s nothing like what’s happening now, in the era of Fintech – and you want to keep apace.
Now, because you’re steeped in tradition, you (and your other 25-years-of-experience veteran leadership team) might quickly decide that you need to assemble the troops for a brainstorming session to figure out how to compete in 2022 and beyond.
The chance that this group, with 150 total years of banking experience, will come up with some phase-shifting idea that is truly unique and different? Pretty much zero.
Imagine that you decide to ring up Atul – experienced in technology, automotive, healthcare, and a variety of future-forward industries. Though his banking industry experience may be slight, his 30 years of C-suite marketing experience—and the broad variety of it—should indicate that this is someone who could learn your business quickly and develop ways to apply lessons of past triumphs to your business.
For a business desperately in need of today’s insights—today—here are some reasons to consider a smart, experience, and insightful CMO, like those of us affiliated with a collaborative group like Chief Outsiders:
Peer Review, Peerlessly: Though we’ve made a strong case for Atul here, we realize that sometimes industry experience is a must. At that point, we can leverage another of the more than 120 other fractional Chief Outsiders who have banking creds – or, we can even convene a cross-section of our CMOs for a peer review process that offers a variety of insights and inputs.
Panacea for Poisonous Thinking: There’s nothing more toxic to growth than a heaping helping of “we’ve always done it this way.” These six words (or seven for grammar purists) are like a Bat-signal for those of us at Chief Outsiders. It’s the time for a truly clean slate – something that a wizened, well-rounded industry outsider can provide. Diversity of thought is a major steppingstone to change, and someone with, say, multi-unit retail experience weighing in on a banking conundrum can lend great credibility to the process.
Putting “We” over “I”: Though Paul and Atul, and any one of our Chief Outsider peers, can have a transformative and sweeping impact over marketing outcomes, we realize there’s no “I” in team. We often count on—no, insist upon—teaming up with your internal experts to move more purposefully toward the goal. Atul had one engagement where the CEO echoed his role quite succinctly: “I want someone who knows marketing. I have plenty of people who know consumer finance, and I need you to motivate them as a team. I’m not looking for a lone ranger, and I will make sure the team understands that’s true.”
Purpose-Driven, Purpose Minded: Though it’s not a universal truth, we do meet some very passionate CEOs who connect with the heart of their company as much as with its head. Culture—in these instances—often precedes business as the sensibilities most important to them. For purpose-driven companies, the ability to evolve—for the betterment of the whole—is A-Number-One. In these cases, the choice of an appropriate fractional CMO often comes down to chemistry: Is this the person that I trust my enterprise to, who will move us forward in a way that will resonate with our culture? A cultural connection, in these cases, is often necessary to create a smooth runway to launch new ideas – on a non-stop basis.
Though we realize that in certain industries, this approach may be too much of a mismatch (we aren’t saying you should have a Boeing 747 pilot take the helm of your Airbus A380, for example), there are times when the outside perspective absolutely makes (dollars and) sense. If Atul or Paul—or any of our colleagues here at Chief Outsiders—can deliver that type of new-school thinking to you and your company, please reach out. After all, diversity of thought is they key to innovation.