A number of years ago, I had a client (the CMO of a large software company) pay me the highest compliment I’ve ever received.
At the time, we were trying to sell an idea that featured the CEO and a chimpanzee. Now, I was pretty naive, but I wasn’t an idiot; I knew it was a risky choice. But I sincerely believed it was the right choice—and so I’d memorized a long list of reasons why.
When I was done with what must have been an excruciating bit of justification theater, the CMO said, “I totally disagree with your logic, but if you think that’s what we should do, fine. Let’s do it.”
Frankly, I was just happy to have sold an idea. It wasn’t until later that I realized something far more important had transpired. In this transaction, I hadn’t sold her anything. Instead I had (quite unwittingly) bought something. Something very valuable: her trust.
To be honest, I had no idea how I had done that. But, fortunately, a short time later I had the opportunity to double down on my naiveté and ask, “Why on earth did you approve an idea you didn’t believe in?” Her answer, in hindsight, seems rather obvious, but at the time it was a bit of a revelation.
“You had obviously done a lot of homework. You’d thought about it a lot more than I had. And it was refreshing to have someone present an idea that they were really passionate about.”()
Years later, when Novio was just taking shape, I reflected on this comment—particularly the “refreshing” part.
In our experience, CMOs,() the people who frequently bear the ultimate responsibility for articulating the brand, often do so in isolation—ironic given the large internal teams and external partners they’re often surrounded by.
The problem, of course, is that these teams and partners are hired to do specific jobs. Incredibly important jobs: create advertising, run PR campaigns, develop sales tools, put on events, and a million other time- and attention-consuming tasks.
So who’s left to focus on partnering with the CMO to define and develop a compelling brand narrative? Theoretically, it could be anybody. But in practice, it’s frequently nobody. And when it does happen, it falls to the CMO to identify that somebody.
Well, helping CMOs() do exactly that—find their own special someone, you might say—is what this little corner of the Internet is dedicated to.
Over time, this will be a list of questions to ask on your first meeting; a series of ideas to improve your chances of partnering with someone you truly love working with; and a few pieces of advice from folks who have been around the block a few times.