Key Takeaways: Atlanta CMO Innovation Breakfast

We just hosted the Atlanta CMO Innovation Breakfast.

The purpose of the interactive session was threefold: to outline the fundamentals of marketing innovation, assess the participants’ readiness to foster an innovative culture, and deliver fresh insights to kick-start innovation in their organizations. For four consecutive years, our CMO community has asked “How will we make the shift from order taker to innovator?” We helped participants take away specific action steps to address this persistent issue.

We were also excited to announce the launch of Marketing Leaders of Atlanta™.

Mark Snyder, CMO and EVP of Church’s Chicken, shared some confidential insights and results inhis team’s integrated marketing program. CMOs from the technology, professional services, software, real estate, and beverage industries also participated.

Key Takeaways and Insights

How we define marketing innovation: applying creativity to deliver a new and improved state for your customers and stakeholders.

The five rules of marketing innovation

  1. Applied creativity is key—innovators test, learn and test again. Ideation is not in itself innovation.
  2. Innovation occurs when you help others reach a new, desirable, and improved state. If your program helps you keep pace with a competitor, or solve a persistent issue with a pre-existing approach or model, then you are returning to what I coined “a previous state of average.”
  3. Innovation requires level 3 critical thinking. We discussed the 3 levels of thinking as outlined in John Chaffee’s seminal book, The Thinker’s Way. If your marketing team is unable to autonomously aggregate ideas or concepts, live in a constant state of wonder and curiosity, fail fast, and make decisions based on their core beliefs (versus the way the wind is blowing or the way an authority figure tells them to act), they may not be equipped to innovate.
  4. Direct supervisors set the tone—marketing innovation flourishes a marketer’s boss fosters a culture of innovation. They encourage experimentation, “off the grid” work settings, and thoughtful yet rapid decision-making. They also allocate resources for innovation to occur. Failure is permitted, if not encouraged.
  5. Bureaucracy is your number one enemy—since we launched our Innovation studies and have been advising CMOs on creating innovative cultures, this obstacle remains palpable. Decision by committee and consensus, coupled with command and control cultures, stymie innovation.

The nine marketing innovation gateways

9 Marketing Innovation Gateways

9 Marketing Innovation Gateways-Atlanta CMO Innovation Breakfast

Successful marketing innovations

Amazon Dash: Jeff Perkins of QASymphony considers this button one of his favorite recent innovations. While the button itself is a product innovation, the marketing innovation behind it is about streamlining the customer buying process (see graphic). Amazon now boasts over 100 Dash brands. Learn more here.

Church’s Chicken: During the Atlanta CMO Innovation Breakfast, Mark Snyder, EVP and CMO, provided a detailed overview of their integrated marketing campaign around the World’s Fastest Drummer competition. Church’s wanted to reach a new audience: young men ages 18 to 34. They discovered this demographic gravitated toward achievement-based content that helps “individuals push themselves to reach their full potential.” That’s when they decided to sponsor the “World’s Fastest Drummer docu-series on YouTube.

With modest seed money, Snyder and his team activated the project. He didn’t wait for Board approval or a consensus.

The docu-series paid off. It generated 5 million views and 18 million impressions, a 12% sales increase in a single weekend in Atlanta during the regional competition and an 18% sales lift in Nashville during the finals. “This initiative showed how much we appreciate the communities we serve—which several of our competitors (like McDonald’s) have somewhat ignored or abandoned.”

Coca-Cola Spain: In 2013, the company witnessed the mushrooming unemployment rate (which hovered 40%), and the negative impact on the robust bar culture. They launched an innovative promotion strategy labeled “Blessed Bars” (aka “Benditos Bares”). This 1-minute video provides a lens into their message. Here are the results they achieved.

Customer relationship innovations: It’s difficult to cite just one. Here is a direct to customer and B2B example:

  • P&G – Braun and Oral B branded communities reduced customer service costs by 67% and grew customer satisfaction and loyalty by 10%. This is a process AND a relationship related marketing innovation.
  • Autodesk—after their 2011 customer community launch, they witnessed a 10% growth in NPS and a $6.8M savings—all within the first 6 months. Click here to learn more.

Additional resources you will also enjoy

Marketing Innovation Quotient (MIQ): a free, 3-minute assessment to identify your marketing organization’s readiness to innovate—and what’s blocking you.

Annual CMO Innovation Trends Study summary. Download the PDF and bonuses –

 The Mindful Marketer: How to Stay Present and Profitable in a Data-Driven World. You’ll find several exercises and communications strategies to strengthen your innovation muscles. Order here.

The Thinker’s Way: 8 Steps to A Richer Life – John Chaffee. Here is an Amazon summary: “We can learn to focus in a confusing world of information overload…Thinking critically (using Level 3 thinking) involves reflecting on the thinking process itself…As our thinking becomes clearer, our actions will become increasingly thoughtful, creative, and effective.”

What marketing innovation gateways are you (or your competitors) ignoring? Share more in the Comments section. We will be happy to invite you to our next CMO Breakfast. 

copyright 2016, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.

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