Vision is the place you start. It’s where your story is created. It’s a beautiful place where dreams are born and come true. In fact, they’re born true. It’s magnificent there. It’s a marvelous place to visit and it is vital to ensure that your team and your customers have seen, felt and experienced it along with you.
But, you can’t live there all the time. The air is a little too thin and if you stay there too long, you get lightheaded and weak. No, Vision is a land to visit. One in which you bring a sense of it back with you when you return to the “real world.” The real world is full of tactics and measurements and ROI, with the constant and ever-present goal of the Vision pulling you forward. You need both.
This week, I’m thrilled to welcome Moira Vetter, CEO of Modo Modo Agency, and Jennifer Close, Director of Account Service. Modo Modo is an INC 5000 awardee and they are masters in staying true to brand story while also remembering that the Creative must drive real world business objectives.
Marketing is not for Marketing’s Sake
“We understand that the world of marketing is drawing on a bigger idea. It doesn’t start with, and end with, marketing; it starts and ends with what the business needs to do.” – Moira Vetter
We’re creative people. If we hadn’t invested in a vision of our company’s future, we wouldn’t be leading the company. And we’re business people. We know what we need to sell and profit to move the business the next step forward. Any marketing needs to be focused on the outcomes you want for your business. Modo Modo’s Amanda Kreger writes, “Business value doesn’t rest within so-called ‘vanity’ metrics or soft marketing KPIs. Marketing leaders must be proficient in translating campaign or performance outcomes into the language of business – revenue, profit margins, lifetime customer value, retention rates/cost, etc.”
Creative is an important part of marketing and so is being intimate with effective business practices. Find the balance. Know what your competitors are doing. Know what is effective for them. By all means, copy where you can. Do what is proven to work. And do it from within your own story. The story weaves through everything.
Your Story is Still Your Story
“One of the things that we’re seeing currently is a return to brand story,” says Moira. “So there’s a lot of that. All CEOs are trying to align their organization, they’re trying to get better performance. Everybody is crazy about all the data that they have, but there are a lot of fundamental, underlying things that still need to be fixed around what is truly special about what they do, and how they communicate that.”
As CEOs we can easily be pulled in multiple directions. We can be squirrel chasers if we’re not careful. Marketing is no different. You can get caught up in the next shiny new thing, ready to reinvent your entire message based on the latest trend. And there is a time and a place for new tactics – but the story, the core of your message, stays the same.
Frame your Focus
If you follow the work of a fiction writer over the years, often you see that as they develop their craft, they learn to rein in the details a bit. Choosing enough to create the world of the story, but not so many that the reader loses interest in the through-line of the plot.
A great marketing team can help you pinpoint your focus. You might come in with a focus on digital, but a great marketing team won’t run off willy nilly without taking time to connect to your story and to your place in the market.
Explains Jennifer, “It’s not just taking things for face value, when they come into the agency. It’s really digging in and understanding what it is that our client is trying to achieve, and then serving them in that manner. Which means that oftentimes, we are advocates and we are challengers at the same time for our clients.”
Keep all your P’s
Product. Pricing. Placement. Promotion. That’s the big picture of marketing – but in today’s fast paced world it’s easy to jump right to promotion. We want to see our marketing dollars at work out there, right now, without delay. Immediately.
But all the P’s need to be in the picture. “It became all about, where am I talking to you? Am I doing social, am I doing emails, am I doing landing pages. It just became very tactical,” says Jennifer. In your commitment to see your marking dollars work, be sure not to lose site of the big picture.
Know Yourself, and Build Your Team
Team is one of my favorite topics. The reality of creating balance on your team has to do with a great deal of personal honesty on your leadership style. Are you the kind of CEO who loves to dance in the Vision? Or do you love to dive headfirst into the nitty gritty and wrestle with the intricate tactics of the everyday? Either is fine. Just know who you are and balance your team with people who can pull you back out of the mud, or down from the clouds.
Marketing is a key way to drive your message forward. It is a way to communicate what makes you unique. Just make sure it is taking you in the direction you want to go – and keeping your story straight is the way to make that happen.