Success: advice from the Board - challenge everything

You don’t have to launch a disruptive brand to challenge the status quo. Applying creative thinking even to minor aspects of your marketing can shift performance. The CIM Board members for the Greater London Region offer some hard-won advice.

1. Don’t settle for safe sameness

Some descriptionIt can be very beguiling to follow the marketing norms for your industry sector. But a me-too approach is unlikely to make your organisation stand out. Dare to be bold. Think creatively to tackle common industry issues in new ways. At every level, and in every aspect of your marketing programme be prepared to identify opportunities to push the boundaries.

“It’s good to take a few risks… but when it goes wrong own up and learn from your mistakes. And my message for senior management is ‘To err is human; to forgive, divine’.”

Philip Preston
CIM Network Manager and Board Member for the Greater London Region


2. Mix up your teams

Some descriptionIf every project relies on the same faces you’ll get the same views and behaviour. Get better at bringing people in from other parts of the business – to share their perspective on the issue and to inject new energy.

“Getting a team made of different experience, departments, age, responsibility, level and even outside of the business is crucial. For example, those on the shop floor and customers can give you an insight that you may have not considered so get them involved (make sure you inform them that discussions are confidential, you don’t want you any leaks!). It also prevents ‘group think’, a process which can stop challenges, debate, discussion and ultimately a better product or service being created.”

Mock Khan
Chair of the CIM Greater London Region
Founder and board director of 5ive Management Ltd and Farenheit212

3. Dare to be contrary

Some descriptionAt marketing planning meetings, when the whole room is pointing in one direction it’s easy to be caught up in the mood and agree to suggested marketing strategies without questioning them. But playing devil’s advocate forces better decision making because it demands that you consider all the options, not just the one that’s in fashion.

Everyone appreciates the individual who is brave enough to ask:

 “What would happen if we adopted this alternative path instead, it’s likely to play out better”

“The data is pointing in a different direction to the way we are heading, how about we go with the numbers”.

“Challenging the status quo is an integral role for marketers looking to develop experiences that go beyond their customer expectations.  Being comfortable to make mistakes and try new ideas and ways of working will deliver different results.  It’s our role to be bold and provide our teams with confidence to try something new in order to enhance our teams performance.”

Rupinder Sodhi
Sales & Marketing Manager Mobil Ancillaries, Moove
Vice Chair CIM Greater London Region Board, Professional Pathway


4. Look for problems

Some descriptionShift your thinking to identify and embrace problems. Really look out for problems and issues. They enable you to point to shortcomings in the way you’re working right now and open up opportunities to differentiate your product or service, in the eyes of your customers.

“Every marketer needs to look at all their products and services to understand where the differentiators exist or how the delivery method could be simply changed to aid the customer. Sometimes they seem quite small, but they can be real differentiators and provide a real competitive advantage. For example, many products are delivered in overlarge packaging where more dedicated packaging could become a differentiator for the customer if it fitted through a standard letterbox, improve the company green credentials and save cost in the longer term. The key to differentiation is putting yourself in the customer’s position, what would you want from the service?” Once the differentiators have been identified it is imperative these are marketed to the customer, so they see extra value from your product offering over the competition.”

Neil Woodward
Partner and Business consultant WTECS
CIM Greater London Region Board Member and Small Business Ambassador


5. Don’t leave staff goodwill to chance

Some descriptionStudies across many different sectors make a positive link between internal marketing and company performance. Internal marketing enables organisations to unite around a common purpose and enhance job satisfaction for staff. Companies whose people make that extra discretionary effort, who work effectively together, who are creative at finding solutions, will have the competitive edge.

“Invest in internal marketing to ensure the organisation shares a consistent message.  By doing this you can gain a team of positive advocates to work together for a common goal.  A wonderful quote to remember:  

Alone we can do so little.  Together we can do so much’  Helen Keller.” 

Michelle Stromgren
Marketing consultant. Performance coach.
CIM Greater London Region Board Member and Professional Membership Ambassador


6. Think small

Some descriptionDon’t dismiss any aspect of your marketing programme or the customer’s experience as insignificant. Business successes have been built upon small iterative changes which lead to a significant overall improvement The British cycling team has focussed on strategy, performance and continuous improvement to transform the team’s medal-winning capability. Seeking marginal gains in everything from kit to event logistics helped to drive that overall 1% improvement in performance to secure gold.

“Go for marginal gains to drive significant improvement. I worked with an online training SME which was very much in its infancy and they had done very little digital marketing.  I worked on developing a USP and clear proposition and then gradually built awareness in the learning and development community using a campaign over a 6-month period.  What was crucial here was building relationships with key influencers and I grew followers from 19 to 86, and 20% of those were key HR influencers. As a result of more activity, the client attracted the attention of a major influencer who was to latterly work with the business on a series of high profile webinars which ultimately give the business a healthy increase in sales.”

Ann Prayle
Marketing Consultant and Trainer
CIM Greater London Region Board Member and Student Ambassador


7. Take inspiration from outside your own industry

Competing brands within a particular market place tend to move in a similar direction. But what if you took the marketing learning from a different sector and applied it to your own situation. It can enable you to leapfrog competitor’s performance and move ahead.

8. Measure the right things

Some descriptionThere’s an old business adage that “What gets measured gets done”. If you want to encourage improvements that make a difference to the brand and to the business then, first double-check that your key performance indicators give a well-rounded view of brand success and customer satisfaction. Then break down these headline measures into the factors which drive these results. By measuring the impact of improvements, you can determine their value to the business and create a climate where improvements are not just encouraged, they’re expected.

“It sounds basic but be sure you fully understand the commercials of your business and clearly articulate how what you do adds value and supports the firm’s success. I always think that the best marketers are experts in three things: one - marketing; two - their industry; and three - the benefits they deliver to their clients. With the world evolving a rapid pace, each of us must keep up with new developments across all three of these areas to ensure we avoid our firms becoming victims of ‘Marketing Myopia’.”

Anouschka Elliott
Managing Director, Global Head of Marketing & Brand at RBC Investor & Treasury Services,
Vice Chair CIM Greater London Region Board