Innovation is a consistent marketing challenge, for reasons including lack of budget, multiple touch points, and scarcity of talent, according to the recently released “CMO Innovation Trends” survey.
It was also the topic of the related “CMOs Leading Innovation Conference,” a.k.a. CLIC 2015, held late last month in Tysons, Va. Hosted by Lisa Nirell, founder and chief energy officer of marketing consultancy EnergizeGrowth, CLIC 2015 immersed the 30-plus CMOs and CEOs in attendance in topics to help them instill an innovative marketing culture, spend more time innovating and less time firefighting, and exploit new technologies to spark growth.
During opening remarks at the event, Nirell emphasized her five rules of marketing innovation:
1. Marketing innovation requires the application of creativity to improve your customers’ or stakeholders’ condition. It is not creativity for the sake of creativity.
2. Innovation should take the beneficiary to a new desired state, not maintain a previous or current state.
3. It’s essential to practice discernment and “high noticing” to find patterns. (Nirell cited the “level three critical thinking” concept from John Chaffee, author of “The Thinkers Way.”)
4. Innovation is dependent on the behaviors of a marketer’s immediate boss, not the quality of the annual off-site meeting or someone’s pedigree.
5. Marketing innovation’s biggest saboteur is usually bureaucracy—the inability to perpetually foster a “test and learn” environment.
Nirell also suggested many categories—some unexpected—where CMOs can innovate. They included relationships, packaging, pricing, processes, employees, sales, investors, promotions, brands, touch points, community, and products.
CMO.com had the opportunity to talk with Nirell and several keynoters to share their wisdom with CMO.com readers. Among Nirell’s biggest takeaways:
1. Making small tweaks to a broken program, Web site, or platform is not innovating. Many of us confuse problem solving with creating the future. They’re different. And that’s not what CMOs are paid to spend their time doing in the long term.
2. The state of being a marketing innovator gets little attention. Most CMOs want to jump to the step of selecting a marketing innovation to test. This increases the chances of failure.
3. Innovation emanates from the heart. The days of using military and male sports metaphors to guide your marketing innovations are numbered. The days of “killing the competition,” “targeting your customer,” and “total world domination” are over. Twitter’s Daina Middleton has completed some seminal work on the benefit of creating “nurturist” organizations. This concept, from her book “Marketing In The Participation Age,” resonated with our community. Consider your customer-related innovations like a garden, not a battlefield.
For more details on how to become an innovative CMO, view our video interview with Nirell from the CLIC event:
Speaking of Middleton, Twitter’s head of global business marketing was one of the most compelling presenters at CLIC. During her presentation (PDF), she outlined a new model for marketing in the world of participation, instead of the old world of persuasion, and why this new approach matters for brands, companies, and cultures of all types.
Hear more about Middleton’s perspective in the following video interview:
Another thought-provoking speaker was Stuart Foster, vice president of global marketing, luxury and lifestyle brands, at Hilton Worldwide. Foster has had a long marketing career in the luxury-goods categories, starting with L'Oreal, then Moet & Chandon, and now hospitality, so he more than understands what consumers are willing to pay a premium for.
Foster’s session, “Demographics Are Dead. How to Tap into Consumer Mindsets,” challenged CMOs to move beyond demographic marketing to mindset marketing. His presentation went beyond theory to show us the disciplined, behind-the-scenes “art and science” process he and his Hilton and agency teams used to develop Canopy by Hilton, a new luxury hotel concept developed using mindset marketing.
Learn more about Foster’s mindset marketing approach in the following video interview:
For an additional perspective from the conference, read this LinkedIn post by SageWater CMO Eric Lecky, who participated in a panel at CLIC 2015.
Also of note, if you’d like to see how you and your organization stack up on innovation, take Nirell’s “What is your MIQ (Marketing Innovation Quotient)?” questionnaire. (Registration required.)