December 18, 2020

Positioning for Explosive Growth: A CEO’s Guide To Enthusiastic Leadership – Part Six

Published with permission of Chief Outsiders, original post can be accessed here.

Creating Like No Other

There’s no body part more popular these days than the human eyeball. Marketers invest millions of dollars in a competition for its attention; technology companies plunk down billions in development costs to wow it with the latest devices and apps; and content creators seek to create visually appealing potions with just the right amount of sizzle to keep it pointed in their direction.

This never-ending bid for eyeball-inducing superiority has created a crowded, cacophonous landscape unlike anything we’ve ever seen. For businesses, we must find a way to elbow and muscle aside competitive interests and earn an interested gaze that could, with a little luck, lead to buying behavior.

Fortunately for us, we know how to make the eyeball dance – creativity. Unlocking the secret to creative messages that break through the clutter and reach the right eyeballs is the Holy Grail for companies today. The good news for those who have read the previous blogs is that our earlier advice was preparing us for our creative closeup: We’ve discussed ways for CEOs to take a more active role in daily operations; we’ve explored the importance of understanding both competitors and customers alike; and we know that our team is energized to produce. By now, invariably, we know what will command attention; doing it better than the others is the key to success.

"This never-ending bid for eyeball-inducing superiority has created a crowded, cacophonous landscape unlike anything we’ve ever seen."

- Sarah Polk

But there’s bumper-to-bumper traffic on the creative road along the buyer’s journey. Creativity, it turns out, is a crowded field these days: A HubSpot study found that nearly three-quarters of companies have a dedicated budget for content marketing; and a quarter of companies are increasing their investment in creative strategies as we speak.

So how do you stand out? How do you play to win at a game that virtually everyone is playing?

In my experience, now is the time to pull together what we’ve learned previously: Using analytics and insights to determine which prospects to reach, how to reach them, and how to keep them engaged once they’re interested in what you have to say. Your creative messages must:

  • Make new prospects aware of the company and its products/services
  • Convert skeptical prospects’ opinions about the company
  • Encourage product/service trials
  • Foster satisfaction that builds a loyal and lasting customer base

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about: During one of my corporate engagements, I was leading the marketing efforts for the decidedly unsexy urology division for a multi-billion-dollar medical device firm. Unsurprisingly, they were having difficulty getting people to pass by their sales booths at large international medical conferences, and traditional methods, like passing out fliers or hosting boozy cocktail hours, simply wouldn’t generate the impact.

During my research, I stumbled across a urologist who had written a parody of the song “Born Free,” with words like, “Stone free, as free as the urine flows.” I knew we had the genesis of a unique, one-of-a-kind idea.

After a bit of brainstorming, we decided on a music video that would play on the video screen loops at the conferences (along with new product images, etc.). We hired musicians that had backed Dolly Parton, engaged a very recognizable, world-famous endourologist as the star, auditioned world-class dancers in LA, and converted a classroom building at a local university into a “hospital set” on a Sunday.

In addition to screening the video throughout the conventions, we decided to make it available as a bonus feature on an educational DVD – which included serious talks about new medical techniques from key internationally acclaimed endourologists that we produced and my client’s urology product catalog. But, in order to get a copy of the DVD at the booth, physicians had to fill out a quick survey form (which gave the sales team vital information). Not only did the video strike like lighting at the conventions, but for years thereafter, customers would fondly recall the video and ask sales reps for a copy. Sales leads skyrocketed at each convention.

This type of creative marketing had all of the cornerstones I mentioned above. It was strategic in its focus, it served to educate and inform (while entertaining, of course), and it had a lasting impact on customers.

How can you get here?

Remember the keys we’ve covered previously – as a CEO, you may need to take a bit of a leap of faith; you’ll certainly need to trust key people on your management team to stretch beyond their comfort levels; and you will need to create an atmosphere where people can suggest out-of-the-box ideas without fear of repercussions. One additional thought: Broaden your horizons. Now is the time to be a sponge – to pay attention to trends, messages, and creativity outside of your market and industry, and look for ideas that you can adapt for your own product or service.

In addition to gaining a creative advantage, these keys may also unlock an environment that moves faster; is more nimble; more innovative and fun; and helps to create a culture that attracts and retains the best talent.

In our next blog, we will help you understand a best-practices approach to measuring your brand messages as part of a commitment to continuous improvement and understanding.

In case you missed the previous articles in the series: