Lisa Nirell & Jamie Gorski – ADWKDC 2014

I just returned from ADWKDC, a conference collective of top marketers, agencies, and CMOs from the DC metropolitan region. With help from my good friend and client, Jamie Gorski, I outlined strategies for “Leading the Mindful Marketing Revolution.”  She is the Chief Marketing Officer for The Bozzuto Group, a diversified real estate company headquartered in DC.

Below you will find some key takeaways to help you refine your 2015 marketing plan, and shift your approach from tactical order taker to innovative market maker:

Leading the Mindful Marketing Revolution--Photos courtesy of Tim Lundin |

Leading the Mindful Marketing Revolution–Photos courtesy of Tim Lundin |

Lisa & Jamie share insights with the AdClub community, Photo by Tim Lundin | Freelance | -

Lisa & Jamie share insights with the AdClub community, Photo by Tim Lundin |

L to R: Andy Rudin, Tim Hill, Lauren Howell, and Jen Kern

L to R: Andy Rudin, Tim Hill, Lisa, Lauren Howell, and Jen Kern.
Photo by Tim Lundin |

1. Mindfulness is a concept whose time has come. I define it as “living in the present moment to handle the task in front of me.” Unfortunately, the rapid shift in customer buying behavior, accelerated demands from the C-suite to deliver marketing value, and incessant online information flow can have the opposite effect on today’s marketing leader.

2. Jamie and I enjoyed sharing our own examples of the most common mindless marketing habits in today’s marketing organizations:

  • Multi-tasking commands the top of the list. This appears in the form of excessive texting while eating, driving, talking on the phone, and socializing. In fact, some advertisers encourage multi-tasking, as we see in this Olay ad. Look closely at the text below the headline:
Olay's idea of a successful actress: a highly effective multi-tasker.

Olay’s idea of a successful actress: 24 x 7 multi-tasking

  • Lack of understanding of the changing (and expanding) role of your CFO. In today’s mid-market companies, CFOs often claim much broader responsibilities; many are COOs in disguise. They often own responsibility for guiding the company strategy. The IFRS is also launching new financial reporting standards in 2015, placing additional pressures on public company CFOs. If you are unaware of these subtle yet important shifts in their roles, then your marketing role will remain squarely in the tactical order taker.
  • A singular focus on top of the funnel demand limits marketing’s overall contribution. Today’s funnel concept ignores the importance of building lifetime customer relationships. Marketers can contribute immensely to what happens after the sale, and how many customers actually become referral sources for new business. Why focus exclusively on new accounts and brand awareness? Jamie stressed that “We want our multifamily residents to grow with us, and become homeowners in our other developments.” It’s no accident that Bozzuto is experiencing 25% year over year growth.

2. Big data driven marketing comes with some big disappointments.  While one Harvard article posits that data-driven co’s are 6% more profitable than their competitors, and big data can help with some essential marketing programs such as resource planning, customer modeling, lead scoring, custom content creation, and personalizing customer interactions, analysts cannot agree on its ability to deliver on promises. In fact, Gartner Group places big data squarely in the Peak of Inflated Expectations. They predict that it will take another 5-10 years until big data reaches plateau of productivity.

Jamie attended SXSW 2014, and met a key executive from McDonald’s who admitted that “big data tells us how many french fries we serve every day. It tells us how long it takes someone to make it through the drive through window. But I still don’t know who my customer is.”

3. Advertising agencies are lamenting the rapid decline in the “agency of record” billing model. This forces agencies to revert to tactical order taker role (hourly billing or a project fee), an unfavorable long-term position. The AOR retainer model is less common today as we witness companies moving their agencies to bid on specific projects. In the long term, this erodes at the trusted advisor role that agencies can play as brand ambassadors, digital strategists, and innovation partners.

I offered a few points for agencies to convince clients that a value-based retainer fee is always in their best interest. (inspired by my mentor, Alan Weiss):

  • Remind the client that you are putting a cap on their investment. They will know exactly what they are spending, and there are no surprises.
  • There is never a “meter running.” Clients never have to worry about calling any time of day or evening.
  • Clients never want to delay the flow of critical information and news. The marketing team should feel confident that they can reach out to the agency any time without feeling they need to go to someone for budgetary approval.
  • If the agency determines that additional resources are necessary, there is no cost to the client; agency can employ additional help as required.

4. Being a mindful marketer starts by making some small changes in our behavior and routines.

  • Practice “intentional language.” Treat every word as if it is a single prayer bead, and is worthy of careful selection. Your language can be mindful or mindless. The most mindless language is centered on military and male sports metaphors. My book contains an entire checklist of “low energy” language and “high energy” language to consider using. Consider replacing “consumer” with “customer;” ‘target” with “serve;” and “capture” with “engage.” Those are the words that mindful marketers use.
  • Treat your contemporaries as peers. When a top performing department leader or C-suite executive demands a new marketing campaign or landing page, step back and ask “why?” Avoid thanking them for their time–their schedule is not more important than yours. Those small adjustments put you both in the role of collaborators, and help you escape the dreaded “order taker” role.
  • Re-evaluate and design your peer communities. Jamie described the immense value she receives from her Multifamily Brainstorming “group of 11.” They have met to discuss industry trends and challenges for nearly 20 years. She also said “I could not imagine a career without my colleagues in the Marketing Leaders of DC group.”
  • Stay future focused. Start tracking how much time you spend each day fixing yesterday’s chronic issues and today’s inbox requests. Is it more than 80%? Chances are you are stuck in order taker mode. Google leaders launched the “search inside yourself” mindfulness education 3 years ago, and encourage team members to dedicate 20% of their week to innovative creative endeavors.

Want to join our Mindful Marketer Revolution? Share your thoughts below.

copyright 2014, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.
Lisa Nirell and Jamie Gorski discuss strategies for “Leading the Mindful Marketer Revolution” at Ad Week DC, Sept 10 2014

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