Be “extra” and have fun

Crystal Eisinger, Strategy and Operations Lead at Google, reflects on doing a Dog ‘n’ Bone podcast with Keith Weed

A few weeks ago myself and Hannah Pain of McDonalds had the immense privilege of joining Keith Weed and Robin Wight, two marketing legends on Propeller’s Dog ‘n’ Bone podcast. The most striking part of the podcast experience was Robin Wight’s three-piece suit that changed colour upon exposure to a camera flash but I don’t suppose that’s what you’re here to read about.

Here are the four things that have stuck with me most since the conversation:

1) Marketers as champions of the customer and sorcerers of growth

In our turbulent and uncertain trading environment, many businesses are struggling to find growth. This is where the marketer’s superpower of what Weed describes “bringing the future forward and the outside in” is at its most needed and most powerful. He suggests that to do this marketers must “go out and find out what your customers, consumers and users want, really understand current trends”.

A crucial part of the CMO role, especially within the current economic climate is to understand big trends driving change in consumer behaviour and to “speak the language of the business”. Instead marketers must understand the whole P&L and their role as part of the team to deliver a growing and vibrant business. Complaints around cuts to marketing budgets won’t cut through in this environment, understanding the consumer is the most important thing you can do which is why Weed attends the Consumer Electronics Show every year despite coming from a “soap and soup company”.

2) Winning requires both magic and logic

According to Weed, “the industry has been on a journey from logic to magic, magic to logic and has now accepted the necessity of both magic and logic, art and science, creativity and effectiveness” making it “the most exciting time to be a marketer ever”. Tools and feedback loops mean that marketers can understand better where their customers are and where they’re going. But, beware he says, “you can only spend your minute once”. An over reliance on logic and data can come at the expense of the craft of the product. Magic enables creating great ads that engage people, that emotionally touch people. The logic he says, “should not only enable better targeting but should also fuel the next leap in creativity through the power of data in understanding people better and creating more personalised messages.”

3) Be More Pirate:

As he approaches the end of his time at Unilever, Weed echoes the sentiment in Sam Conniff’s recent book Be More Pirate, “‘if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough”. “Companies can’t afford to be safe anymore. In a busy, cluttered world the only way to get noticed is taking risks” which Weed reflects has worked out well for him during his tenure as Chief Marketing and Communications Officer.

4) Be “extra” and have fun

“80% of success is showing up in a world where there are too many observers and not enough players” says Weed. Show up – take part. Here Weed cited British Adventurist Bear Grylls’ words that “the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is one little word, extra, doing a little bit extra than what most people do it’s amazing how quickly you stand out.” Most people are ordinary he says, so just push yourself to do that little bit extra and you’ll stand out. You don’t have to do a lot more but doing that little bit extra separates you from the rest quite quickly.

What has perhaps stuck with me most from the conversation is that’s Weed’s top piece of advice is to “have fun”. Initially I wondered if this was a slightly glib response, until he continued that “miserable people deliver miserable results” which made me reflect on the profundity behind those words. In this time of doom and gloom all around us, what we can control is how we show up, how we contribute to a work environment that recognises that everybody is doing their best and remember to have fun.

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