13 years ago, I was living in the suburbs of Washington, DC. I was home on paternity leave marveling at my newborn daughter and what it felt like to be a father for the first time. I got up a little later than usual, feeling tired and groggy as new parents so often are. I turned on the radio and started the shower . . . and then I heard the news. I along with everyone else I know, spent the day watching some of the most heartbreaking images I have ever witnessed.
One member of the sales team I managed was giving a tour for an executive who was considering expanding from the UK into the region. The tour happened to be in Northern Virginia near the Pentagon when the plane hit. The client watched the attack occur and left in his car to parts still unknown to me.
My job at the time was to market the Washington DC region and manage the region’s brand image. Not a great day to be a brand manager. Shortly after the attacks, an emergency board meeting of Washington area CEO’s was convened to discuss how best to help the region recover economically. In addition to the tragic loss of life, we were very concerned about the economic impact of the attacks on the Washington, DC region and the nation.. After all, who would want to live and work in a place where terrorists want to fly airplanes into the buildings? How many jobs would be lost? There was so much fear, along with military Humvees with anti-aircraft missiles parked on many downtown Washington, DC corners.
National Airport was closed. The plane that hit the Pentagon had taken off from Reagan National. Any planes taking off or landing at National had to fly down the Potomac River passing near the White House. There was talk of keeping the airport closed permanently. This would have had a huge economic impact. Most regions rise and fall based on the strength of their air service. Losing a major airport would cause most regions to suffer a major economic setback and Reagan National was/is central to quality air service in the region.
Over the coming months we had many hard decisions to make as we helped the region rebuild the economy and rebuild its reputation. We ran ads politicizing the airport closure and reframing it as a loss of freedom for the region’s residents. Once the issue was moved from the Secret Service decision makers, who would have liked to close all of Downtown, to a political desk in the White House, we were able to get the airport re-opened - over two months after the attack.
Part of my job was to recruit companies to expand and relocate to the Washington DC region. After 9/11, thousands of companies had lost office space in New York. I had to decide how best to reach out to them and offer help finding office space in the region, without seeming to profit from the dark misfortune of others. In many cases the executives I had listed in my database had died in the attack and no new address information existed for many of the companies. I was in the twin towers for business meetings weeks before attacks and had to come to grips with my own fear and survivor guilt.
Prior to 9/11 the regional marketing strategy had been to focus on the growth of the telecom sector, internet providers like AOL and other dot.com companies, as the technology sector in Washington DC became the largest in the United States. Post 9/11 we flipped our marketing strategy to refocus on the Federal government as a consumer of technology goods and services. The U.S. Government is the largest consumer of technology worldwide and each cabinet agency is the equivalent of a Fortune 500 company. We organized “How to do business with the US Government” conferences across the U.S. and in Europe to refocus peoples perceptions of the government from that of a regulator to a potential consumer of goods and services.
This switch was highly successful. The brand of the Washington DC region evolved and the region grew significantly over the next five years, attracting headquarters and companies looking to sell to this important customer. Throughout this five-year period we conducted polls and focus groups of executives outside of the region to understand their fears about a Washington office location and developed marketing and advertising to address what we learned. This was my training in crisis communication. I also learned important lessons about long-term brand management. I learned how to pivot a marketing strategy and how to turn a perceived weakness into a strength. I learned how to keep moving during a crisis and how to keep living when so many didn’t have the chance. I still remember.
CMO Strategy Group is best thought of as your architect and general contractor for marketing, rolled into one package. When remodeling your home, kitchen or bathroom, it is best practice to hire an architect to develop the overarching plan and a general contractor who manages the process start to finish. In a remodel the architect and contractor are siloed. The arcitect develops the plans (in partnership with you) while the contractor is responsible for the implementation of the plan, budgeting and managing the multiple subcontractors needed to complete a complex job. General contractors will manage permitting, demolition, subcontracting plumbing, electricians, carpenters, cabinet installation, tile installation, countertop installation, etc., all the way to the end of the project.
A marketing project should be approached the same way- except the architect and the general contractor should be rolled into one. First you need to identify the objective – grow revenue, target a new segment, launch a new product or service, expand geographic reach, develop new channels and partnerships to drive sales, etc. CMO Strategy Group can work with you to quickly define the objective and architect the plan. The next step is a rapid audit marketing assets. That includes reviewing your current tactics, assessing your teams strengths and weaknesses and determining what tactics are going well, what can be improved and what is being missed altogether.
The next step is to put together a plan and budget to achieve your goals. The CMO team can help you quickly determine what combination of strategy make the most sense given your goals, budget, timeline, assets and liabilities. There are an infinite number of possible things that can be done. The challenge for most executives is prioritizing these tactics. Most people/employees will gravitate toward things they like to do or know well. Employees tend to put a low priority on things they aren’t experienced with. While this is a natural reaction, we are all resistant to new things, it can cause your company to miss out on engaging customers and growing business. Marketing is constantly changing. What work yesterday may not work tomorrow.
Once the goals, tactics and budget are established CMO will work with your team as well as our design, development and content creation team to implement the strategy. Many companies retain a design firm without going through the steps above. This does not set your design firm up for success. They are going to give you what you asked for . . . but are you asking for the right things? In most cases, the answer is no.
Your internal marketing team is buried putting out fires and driving what has always been done or what has worked up until now. Internal teams do not typically have time to attend conferences and read up on industry trends. You wouldn’t be where you are without them, but you are going to need a new perspective to get to the next level.
CMO has a team of creative minds, which we bring to bear on your project. This includes strategy, design, web, mobile, print, photography, videography, content creation, media relations and more. We tell stories for and about your brand in partnership with you to achieve the goals you have set. We are experienced people and project managers and can help bring out the best in your team and ours.
Good marketing requires a mosaic of tactics to reach and engage your customers. CMO Strategy group will help you establish the foundation for marketing success and then guide your marketing campaign to customer contact and success.
CMO can also plan and manage your media buy if that is part of your strategy. However, CMO Strategy Group is not an advertising agency. We do recommend Pay-Per-Click Adword campaigns, and in rare cases even recommend traditional advertising. We often help our clients implement campaigns alongside their internal teams, serving as project managers, culture change managers, and technology solutions providers when needed. We charge a project fee or hourly rate to provide these services. This makes us marketing tactic agnostic.
How much will a campaign or product launch plan cost? We have created product launch and campaign plans from $2,000 for a small company to $50,0000 for a large-scale global product launch. It depends on the market research and level of detail required, number of variables, size of the internal team and the hours needed to plan and implement a launch. Let’s discuss how to remodel your marketing strategy.
I recently submitted my resume as part of a bid for a project. I am struck by how disconnected and dissonant the resume writing experience is compared to my professional life and combined experiences. Resume’s are about listing all the things we did right – leading to all the amazing accomplishments of our careers. I am in my early 40’s and have much of which to be proud. Having worked my way up form entry level college graduate to President and CEO, serving as a chief marketing officer, vice-president of business development and marketing strategy consultant along the way. I would even go so far as to say that what I learned from these experiences brings me to the pinnacle of my career. I add more value more quickly to any organization than ever before. My many great experiences provide a base of knowledge that serves as the foundation to each new project I approach. My reflection on these experiences and knowledge has even yielded wisdom, which I hope will continue to grow for years to come. But this knowledge and wisdom is not born from all the things I did right. It comes from all the mistakes.
The past failures, the overreaches, the boggled communication, the missed opportunities, these are the things from which I learned the most. My knowledge and wisdom flows – not from those items bulleted on the resume – but from all the things not listed. My greatest value isn’t on the page. The most valuable thing about me is what I have learned from my many mistakes throughout my career.
I am not sure I could land a job with the list of what I did wrong and what I learned from each wrong throughout my career. But I should. Personally, I only hire people who are willing to be self-reflective – because I know that is where knowledge and wisdom are born. I have no use for the job candidate who did everything right in the past. I want to hire the applicant who took risks, failed, picked herself up and tried again, and again until . . . until this very moment. I want to hire the candidate who reflected on each mistake, learned what could be learned and kept trying. That is me. I would hire me in a second.