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How to View Branding as a Science with Martin Lindstrom

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Welcome to another exciting episode of Scratch, where we had  the pleasure of hosting the brilliant Martin Lindstrom, a Marketing Expert and Author hailing from Lindstrom Company. Martin's reputation precedes him, known for his influential works including "Buyology," "Small Data," and "The Ministry of Common Sense."

But that's not all; Martin's influence extends far beyond the pages of his books. As the founder and chairman of Lindstrom Company, he leads a pioneering branding and culture transformation firm that operates across five continents and in over 30 countries. Over the years, he has been the go-to consultant for the crème de la crème of Fortune 100 companies, helping them navigate the ever-evolving landscape of branding and culture.

Together, Eric and Martin dive into the world of marketing, exploring the delicate balance between creativity and data-driven science. Martin underlines the crucial role of putting consumers at the heart of your strategy to build a powerful brand. He also highlights the hurdles that creativity encounters in today's ever-evolving marketing landscape.

Additionally, Martin shares valuable insights into the role of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in the intricate web of today's business world. Throughout the episode, there's a strong emphasis on the profound impact you can make in the world by aligning your work with a greater purpose. We really enjoyed recording this one, and are sure that you'll find Martin's insights and perspectives truly enlightening.

Mentioned in the show:

Chapters:

(6:10) What do you think of an incumbent becoming a challenger?

(17:32) Customer-focused examples

(20:32) Everyone talks about being customer-centric, How do you get there?

(25:32) How do you define marketing?

(34:32) What do you think of creativity in marketing?

(38:27) What should people do to be more respected to be a CMO?

(46:00) Rapid Fire

"Scratch" is a production of Rival, a marketing consultancy and technology company that builds challenger brands, strategies, and capabilities to change categories. In every episode Eric interviews the CMO of some of the world's biggest or fastest-growing brands, exploring their innovative marketing strategies that challenge established incumbents. Immerse yourself in the world of challenger brands and learn valuable marketing lessons from industry experts, as you discover their secrets to success.

Find Rival online at www.wearerival.com, LinkedIn, Twitter.

Watch the video version of this Podcast on YouTube.

Find Eric on LinkedIn and tweet him @efulwiler.

Find Martin on LinkedIn.

Say hi at media@wearerival.com, we’d love to hear from you.

Transcript

Eric: Hey everyone. Before we get to today's episode, I wanted to share what I think is a pretty exciting announcement, we are opening up our rival amp community. So some of you listening have been part of AMP. From the beginning of the company. It has been our small, very small friends and family community around rival where we post updates, ask for feedback, kind of share what's going on in the business. But actually, we think there's a lot more potential as we've grown as our community has grown, as we've met more of you to actually build and scale a proper community within rival amps. So what rival amp is going to be is it's going to be a community for challenger marketers on WhatsApp, we're going to share ideas and observations from the Challenger marketing world that we see and ask everyone to contribute to that share about challenger brands, marketing, news, industry events, job opportunities, ask for feedback, and input use each other as a sounding board, we think it's going to be really great. So if you are interested in joining and are not already a member, please either reach out to me, if you know me, or go on over to our website, wearerival.com And you can apply from there, this is free. But we do want to make sure that we're adding people that are really interested and can really add value. That's it onto the episode.

Martin: I'm a huge fan of creativity. And I've always believed in creativity. But let's just be frank, creativity is dead. And advertising agencies selling creativity is dead. And there's very few of them left. Because they become prostitutes, they have sold out through data would quite often were blurry data for the sake of pleasing a client so they could wash their hands internally and justify direction without being fired. That's quite often what happened is, frankly speaking, because it came pains are not working better than they did back then. In fact, they're working worse. Maybe we have a lot of data showing their work better. But I haven't seen any mind blowing campaign.

Eric: I'm Eric Fulwiler. And this is scratch, bringing you marketing lessons from leading brands and brands. Rewriting the rulebook from scratch for the world as today. Is a very special episode. If you're listening to this, you're in marketing. And if you're in marketing, you know and probably clicked on this because you know the name Martin Lindstrom, Martin if you haven't, or if you need a refresher, he's a Danish author, branding expert and speaker. He's the founder and chairman of the Lindstrom group. Most of you probably know him for the books that he's written, many of them have become New York Times bestsellers. And actually, he was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. So I feel very lucky to have had the chance to talk to him and have him on Scratch. I mean, honestly, the whole episode is a highlight. You know, this is a guy that is very much, the godfather of a lot of modern marketing. And he talks a lot about how he and of course, others have helped to bring science into the world of marketing. He coined the term neuro marketing, small data clicks and mortar. There's so much in his experience to use from what I particularly like about it is not just what he talks about, which of course, you can get the principles and the philosophies, through his books and some of the stuff that he's published. But he talks about real world examples of clients that he's working with now, or who has he has worked with recently, and how he's actually implementing these principles. So I think there's a tonne to learn from in here about cultural transformation and change within organisations about the balance of art and science within marketing and about why the role of the CMO isn't respected in organisations and how to change that if you are a marketer. So I'm gonna leave it there. I know you're gonna love this episode. Martin Lindstrom, everybody.

Martin, thank you so much for making the time to join me today. How are you doing?

Martin: I'm excellent. And you, Eric?

Eric: Love it. Love the enthusiasm. I'm doing well, it's, it's kind of getting hot here in London, which I never like, but broadly speaking, can't complain. And I am really looking forward to this conversation. You know, we had our prep call, and there's so much that I want to talk about I feel like I do a six hour podcast with you if I could, I'm sure most people in the world of marketing would be

Martin: You are super kind kind of making me blush already one minute into the conversation. So we just stop here. I suppose it's easier.

Eric: With the quality of your camera people can actually see you blush. I like it. You got the full studio setup. Clearly a pro. But listen, Martin, before we get into the questions, I want to start with a story. So as 2010 I had just gotten into the world of marketing, I had had a job for about a year at forbes.com and they literally dropped me and brought me in to figure out this social media thing in 2009 Literally what the conversation was. Didn't like the corporate world. And so I left and I went to work for Gary Vaynerchuk and what became VaynerMedia a couple years in this is now 2000 and 10 I took my first vacation, and my first two week vacation, which as an American, and at that time, somebody working at Vayner was a very, very big deal. I went to visit my sister, who at the time you lived in Yangon, Myanmar, she was working for a microfinance nonprofit. And so I visited her for two weeks and the office where she worked, had a stack of business books. And I took them all with me to the beach where we went for a week and a half, and I read them and one of the books was biology. And that is where I first came across you sitting on a beach in Myanmar. And then of course, that led me down a rabbit hole, not just of everything that you've written, but also just the entire world of marketing science, as I call it, in which of course, you are a pioneer. So I just wanted to put that out there because I thought it was, I thought was a funny story now having you on the podcast 13 years later,

Martin: Absolutely. Well, I'm very honoured by sitting on a bookshelf somewhere in Myanmar, except the fact that you take the book away now. So now I'm not represented in my mind why I brought it back,

Eric: I brought it back, I took it from the office to the beach, and then I put it back in the office before I left. So, Martin, I've got a bunch of questions to go through a bunch of topics that I'm really excited to get your perspective on. The question that we ask every guest when we start is to name a challenger brand that they are passionate about, but actually for you, and given who you are and what you do, I want to start with a different question, which is, how would you define the term challenger brand will challenge a brand

Martin: For me is a brand would see is typically breaking everything around it, it's breaking the audience is breaking the category is breaking the conventional way of getting to the market. And perhaps even breaking the way the product or service works to really is not going that conventional way.

And there's very few of them up there, I have to say, because most companies and most people running the companies are petrified of going the opposite way because they're afraid of losing what they already have very few challenging brands or challenger brands was appearing, I think from the big corporations to believers from the startups was have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Eric: And how do you feel about the incumbent launching a challenger. So the model of innovation groups within large organisations  

Martin: In theory, it works well. And in reality, it's very rarely the way to go forward. I mean, a good example is is Walmart, Walmart started their.com initiative internally failed. The second thing that started out was something on the X, which were kind of a spin off kind of not didn't work, was first a third time they succeeded when they acquired a business and did not integrate it. But as it kept its empowered with the existing core business. And here's the issue, a lot of people in theory would like to change the the bigger corporate setup, what I call the immune system. But the immune system is quite often so strong, because that brand or that company, had been in existence for many years. And given that the fine tune what they're doing to an extraordinary degree on credit, a lot of protection around it. So it's not being jeopardised with. And suddenly, you had this new disrupter coming into the game, and challenging the core. And in not even in 9 out of 10, but in 99, out of 100, I would claim that fail. So the best way of getting around that is actually to make it succeed in parallel. And then perhaps later on, make the big company be swallowed up by the new startup. But you can't do the opposite way, at least not to my knowledge.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, that's one of the things that we see, because we do a lot of work with, you know, challengers to help them scale, but also incumbents that are trying to innovate. And sometimes that is taking a different approach to the core business or the master brand, or a brand within the business. But oftentimes it is particularly in the world of financial services, launching something new as a separate thing. And it really only works I know, we're going to talk a lot about culture, which is a big thing for you, and I think drives everything. But it only works because you do it independently and you let it operate on its own. And yet the very reason that you start it, which is to help at scale, typically, if it is successful, in those rare cases, then it gets brought back into the big organisation and gets layered down and waited down on us wandering up the big organisation

Martin: I mean, that case scenario also exist and quite often that is the right one because then you have made a dramatic transformation of the existence of existing business. I mean, here's the issue. I'll give you an example. So two young kids are sitting in a dorm room smoking weeds and they're off their heads. And they say to each other, I wish we could retract this photo. And that became the start of Snapchat, today's $50 billion company. What happened was that they felt what the consumer were feeling because they were the consumer. They had empathy, the ability to put yourself in the shoes of another person, and feel what that person is feeling. Same with Travis from Uber, he couldn't get a taxi in Paris freaked out. And that was really the creation of Uber. What happens over time, though, is that as a company grows older, the immune system is starting to take over our immune system is a defence mechanism for teens, it is a way to protect what you already had. That's where legal is brought in compliance is brought in rules and regulations introduced salsa were the founders to be the leading. So that sense of empathy was originally was founding the company is slowly disappearing, it's almost like you put a freeze button on all everything. And they're not obtaining any emotions anymore. They're just kind of assuming the consumers in the status quo is acting the same way as they did originally when they founded that company. And that's where you have the problem. So you could see, and this is what's so interesting. There's a direct correlation between common sense and empathy, common sense to see things from a common man's point of view. So the more you have empathy and organisation, the more common sense you have, the more logic you have. That's where a lot of things are challenging the standard the norm, because the business doesn't make sense. The bigger you grow, the less empathy, the less common sense, what's his now translated into nonsense instead. And that's the reason why large organisations are struggling, because nonsense now is running the show with no empathy, and they see the world from inside out, rather than outside in. And that's really the conflict you have between challenger brands and commercial brands dead. And that to that two different points of view, in the in the end of the day, like,

Eric: is it overly simplistic to say that one is more customer centric? And one is not or one is more product? Or business centric? Because one of the things that

Martin: I think so

Eric: yeah

Martin: I think, you know, I don't think it's simplistic, I think is probably true, of course, it's always

Eric: Right.

Martin No adjustments to that black and white picture you're painting there. But you know, I work with the majority of different categories around the world. And increasingly, I'll give you an example from a very large supermarket chain. Which when we started to do consumer insights with we spoke to all the store managers across a region. And one day one of the store managers we interviewed said to me, while I'm representing what's called a visitor store, so what is it visit Sisto? Visit the store is a store was approved by senior management in headquarter that one from headquarter can visit that store. I said, So what happens if you're visiting other stores? You can't? They said, well, so how is the situation in that visitors all say, but we toppled staff, we keep it extra clean. We running the latest and greatest concept, who said, What about those stores where you had the real amount of staff, and where it's just reflected in the weeds cleaned and everything, but they never said. So the immune system is so strong, that they actually trade almost like a narrative around themselves, to reinforce that what they're doing is right, that's where you losing the sight of the customer.

Eric: So I want to take a step back for a second. And I think a lot of people will probably everybody listening knows the name probably has read some of your books has come across whether they know it or not an impact that you have had on their world as a marketer. But how would you actually describe what you do right now?

Martin: Well, I began my life, looking into branding when I was the age of 12. And that was when I started to work with Lego. It's a long story. But in the end of the day, I, I got a job inside Lego and I started to see the world from a customer point of view, because I was the customer. And that was one of the reasons why Lego I guess, back then employed me. And I always wanted to be a sort of a primary branding expert in the world, but you can't be a primary presenting expert on that credibility. And I didn't have that. And I didn't have any experience as well. So realise this a little bit like it didn't diagram you could put branding in the middle. And you put sort of circles around the edge of that circle and middle and then you build up kind of a flower, so to speak. And each of those areas is what I focused on. I focused first On saying, Well, what is the future of branding going to look like? That was in 1994. And not sure of you around then. But if you were, you will know that the year the World Wide Web was invented. So I wrote the first book in the world about how to build brands online. Then we developed a term called bricks and mortar. So I took the orphan and online and merged it together. And then I started to say, well, that's going to impact the whole generation. So I wrote a book called brainchild, was all about how to see this from a kid's point of view, one of the things we discovered there was that 56% of all new cap purchases are decided by kids at home, kids at the age of 15 years of age, this is pretty crazy. In that book also invented a couple of terms, one of them were texting. And we also predicted the idea of a Facebook arriving, which happened two years later, when I lost another book called Branson set where I said, What brains can't be two dimensionally meaning sight and sound, it has to be smell, and touch and taste. This was all five senses. And the more we record and five tracks, the more you remember. So we did you study with Millward, Brown. And that really proved the point. And as days I realised, Tina's, it's difficult to say, what is your emotions, when you smell a smell to you become more loyal to Coca Cola. So that's why I introduced another term called neuro marketing. That's what you met in 2010. And that was really the whole idea. But that 85% of what we do every day is subconscious, then it led to ethics, then it led to corporate politics, because I realised when you wanted to do is use concepts, great ideas, powerful brands, the marketing department doesn't have a lot of power. So you need to understand the immune system in the organisation, the culture, and get the culture with you to build a powerful brand. So in the end of the day, what I'm doing is to build brands through culture transformation, where I would say most people probably focus on the branding and communication side, I try to look at it from a holistic point of view, because it takes two to tango. And branding is only one of the two dances. So how do you overcome because we talk and think a lot about culture and what we do, you know, we build some tech, but really what we're focused on is delivering strategy.

Eric: But at the end of the day, the only strategy that matters is the one that gets executed that the customer sees. And the translation of strategy to execution is through culture, it has to be it's the people that do it. So when you talk about this idea of the immune system within the organisation that's adverse to change changing culture, cultural transformation, I think, you know, obviously, there's a lot of really smart people that have contributed to the thinking around it, and it gets talked about a lot. But still, especially with big old organisations, you come across a lot that have not made much progress on it, and are really stuck by it. So very tactically, for people who agree with you, at this level, at the high level of Yes, culture is a priority. We need to fight the immune system within the organisation. What can they actually do to change things particularly, and I know we're going to talk about this, the role of marketing within the organisation not having as much power, what can a marketer do to fight that and actually drive cultural transformation on a day to day basis,

Martin: I think the most important thing, you have to realise that if you stay within your marketing department, you never go into Wall marketing and powerful branding is all about every touchpoint as a teacher say, branding is every touchpoint your customer come in contact with, oh, the entire span of your company's existence. And that means that you need to engage other people in the organisation, you need to talk to people in the call centre, you need to talk to people in legal compliance, operations, HR. And what I should really tend to do is to say let's invite them on board into sessions where we do cross functional activities and what we sold one small issue within the space they can handle where they have a mandate. You do that by changing the perspective. So let me give you an example. A couple of years ago, one of the largest respiratory disease company in the world reached out to us. And you know, that's the inhalers when you have asthma. And they said, Listen, we want to be customer focused, and I say, fantastic. When did you last visit your patients? And the answer was never now this company has been around for nearly 100 years and never spoken to the patient. So that's kind of disturbing. Compliance was the excuse which were not true. So we started to visit patients across the world and I ended up in a home of a 28 year old lady, and she had asthma her entire life and asked her how did you feel lighter asthma as a child, and she starts to cry As he tells me this touching story about how she was bullied in school, she was told she was a disgrace for human mankind. That's her words, not mine. She was stitched from parties. And I said to her, listen that it feels like you've just gained a lot of confidence since what happened as he pulls out a straw from a handbag literally, and see says this is my magic straw. Whenever I meet new people, new colleagues and new friends, I acquaintance, I always ask them to take the straw in their mouth, hold themselves to the nose, and breathe through the straw for one minute. When you do that, you can, you can feel how these two have asthma, that I took that idea and associate it with the board. And I had everyone at the board live and breathe through the straw. And I'll never forget it because one guy spit up the straw after half a minute and said, This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever tried in my life, who can possibly live like this. And I said to him, this is how you customer live every minute of the entire life. This is how they feel. And they're paying you salary. And if you got here, penny dropped on the floor, you certainly would have heard it. Now that in return meant that when we are now employing new people in this company, they receive a straw in the mail, to breathe through the store to feel what other employees are feeling. They do r&d around it to feel the perspective of a customer. And yes, marketing is also changing their perspective. But it started became a company wide initiative, very simple, simple to implement, simple to understand, using the power of empathy. And that's really the key coming back to Snapchat. If you are able to through marketing to infuse a sense of empathy through the organisation, people mostly will start to instal common sense, because suddenly we have one thing in common, that's the customer is not some bureaucracy inside those walls, which are occupying perhaps 65 or 75% of our time. So what is it that leads on to you know, this idea of the immune system, I get it. And I think it's a really interesting metaphor. But these people running these big organisations like they're not dumb, they're probably some of the smartest business minds out there. And everybody talks about being more customer centric, even having empathy for the customer, although I think that's a that's a newer thing. But how do they get there? And I guess, you know, one of the things I'll throw out to you isAnd if you got here, penny dropped on the floor, you certainly would have heard it. Now that in return meant that when we are now employing new people in this company, they receive a straw in the mail, to breathe through the store to feel what other employees are feeling. They do r&d around it to feel the perspective of a customer. And yes, marketing is also changing their perspective. But it started became a company wide initiative, very simple, simple to implement, simple to understand, using the power of empathy. And that's really the key coming back to Snapchat. If you are able to through marketing to infuse a sense of empathy through the organisation, people mostly will start to instal common sense, because suddenly we have one thing in common, that's the customer is not some bureaucracy inside those walls, which are occupying perhaps 65 or 75% of our time. So what is it that leads on to you know, this idea of the immune system, I get it. And I think it's a really interesting metaphor. But these people running these big organisations like they're not dumb, they're probably some of the smartest business minds out there. And everybody talks about being more customer centric, even having empathy for the customer, although I think that's a that's a newer thing. But how do they get there? And I guess, you know, one of the things I'll throw out to you isAnd if you got here, penny dropped on the floor, you certainly would have heard it. Now that in return meant that when we are now employing new people in this company, they receive a straw in the mail, to breathe through the store to feel what other employees are feeling. They do r&d around it to feel the perspective of a customer. And yes, marketing is also changing their perspective. But it started became a company wide initiative, very simple, simple to implement, simple to understand, using the power of empathy. And that's really the key coming back to Snapchat. If you are able to through marketing to infuse a sense of empathy through the organisation, people mostly will start to instal common sense, because suddenly we have one thing in common, that's the customer is not some bureaucracy inside those walls, which are occupying perhaps 65 or 75% of our time.

Eric: So what is it that leads on to you know, this idea of the immune system, I get it. And I think it's a really interesting metaphor. But these people running these big organisations like they're not dumb, they're probably some of the smartest business minds out there. And everybody talks about being more customer centric, even having empathy for the customer, although I think that's a that's a newer thing. But how do they get there? And I guess, you know, one of the things I'll throw out to you is the term technical debt, I think the same concept applies in every area. So we talk about marketing debt for big organisations, and I think cultural debt, maybe that's part of it as well. It's not that from one day to the other, they had empathy for the customer. Because at the beginning, every company is a startup, every company is customer centric. In order to disrupt the category to build a business, you have to be focused on solving a customer need in a differentiated way. But is it just that over time, layers and layers, weeks and weeks of nudges in the other direction, have more more to protect more being more risk averse, being more focused on short term returns? Like is that how these companies get there and they just need someone to come in and shake them out of it and shift their perspective?

Martin: Partly, I think there's multiple factors building on what you said one factor for sure is the short term focus. I'll give you an example. And a client of ours Mercy was his largest shipping company in the world to sit around and around 25% of all shipping in the world, reached out to us and asked us to make the organisation more culture focused and empower the brand. We went to China are sitting in a call centre with 3000 Call Centre staff and this call centre was allocated to handling customer complaints. So as I was listening in using interpretation, I realised that whenever people called the call centre they were attacking a ticking a box and categorising it as force Misha, now you and I know force majeure is COVID-19, or an earthquake, every single one of those 1000s of complaints every day.

So I went back to the nursery to Hong Kong. And it told me that if you tick that box, you're gonna have to fill out one form, but if you don't tick it, you have to fill out four forms. And this call centre was measured. That KPI was on time, not on customer satisfaction. Which is kind of ironic because if you categorise things as far as mushir, you won't be covered by the insurance. So you actually have directly unhappy customers in the end of the day. What I realised was that through history, Wall Street ever had a profound impact on removing companies from from reality. Meaning that in the old days you will go from destination A to B, you have two KPIs, adding money and happy customers, and then you will break down those small that arrow was so long arrow to smaller arrows. And each of these arrows would be sub KPIs that would be a division, whatever, because the street wanted to have the quarterly announcement earnings off that wanted to have some announcements. So we could only do that by talking to there is division heads and had them share what they thought the revenue would be why. And suddenly, these KPIs would be individual, but the arrows would be pointing in the same direction. Over time, as time went by, and more water is passing on the bridge, these more arrows would go in each of the different directions would be like their little ecosystem, which will take control because they had their own agenda, that different KPIs, certainly different areas of interest, and that silver lining, or recently, kind of defining the position of that arrow will disappear to all sorts of different errors. And this is probably the essence of it. That is that it becomes a self serving agenda, which is put into progress in the organisation, when everyone has different KPIs, or too many KPIs. And so those personal agendas is what is disturbing, the bigger good the overall purpose of the organisation. And that's a reason why, when organisations are losing their purpose, and like Kraft, Heinz white, as an example, an organisation was clearly is losing the purpose right now and is struggling a great deal all sorts of different ways, because it's ran by partly a private equity cable company. And then what happens is that people are more running around in cost cutting or saving their own job waste, if you have an organisation like Patagonia where the purpose is extraordinary clear, then, while it's very clear, everyone is working the same direction, even the owner is not taking money out, well, then I know when I'm joining that company, I'm here for the greater good. And, and that is the reason why it's so important to weave purpose into organisations today and not just put it on the wall as a plot, but actually, to make people live it and believe in it, and make people thrive on it. And if you don't have that, that silver lining will collapse. The KB a DA KPIs will be all over the place. And the immune system will take control. How do you define marketing, while at the end of the day marketing is to to ensure that you persuade someone around you to do something which is in your own interest. That's what it is. But yeah, I think marketing has many multiple dimensions right now. And also to think there's so many KPIs attached to that term through different channels, that we kind of sometimes lose focus on what marketing is and how to measure it.

Eric: I asked because, you know, smiling as you were telling that story, because it's just really cool. Like, it's cool, those types of challenges that you're solving, because I was thinking back and I knew I told the story at the beginning of kind of the early stages of my career and coming across your book. But I didn't study marketing in school, I had no ambition of becoming a marketer. And to be honest, spending 10 years in advertising agencies, I felt a little bit out of place, because I don't really love advertising. But I love marketing. And I define it very similar to how you do telling a story to change perception and behaviour to drive business results. And that idea of whether it's external, or I get really excited about internal because, like I said before, we do a lot of work with challengers. And we do a lot of work with incumbents. And if you take the expression of growth within a category as a race between challengers getting scale and incumbents getting innovation, the idea of how to deliver broadly, innovation or transformation at scale, is so fascinating to me. And the people level of that, which is really where it all needs to start and end is the hardest and the most important challenge. And that's I know you describe what you do, but just hearing these examples and the stories, it's, it's cool that you get to do that every day.

Martin: Well, I'm blessed and do not want. And I bumped into a client of ours, which is Lowe's in the United States. And that company was close to bankruptcy when we started to work with him some 11/12 years ago. And this, this guy comes up to me as I'm visiting one of the stores and he Hawks. Me and I never met the guy before I know it, what's going on. And he tells me that he had three generations of families family working in that store, and they were now in a job and I saved their lives.

When you experience those stories, as you say yourself is not advertising. It's not even marketing. It's a purpose we are infusing into organisations to make a change, I mean, back to Mercer as an example. And one of the thoughts we toyed around with was to clean the sea. So to have these big ships, the largest in the world will convert it into wrong bad type of devices running around the world.

Hold on the sea, and basically clean the sea like a rumba. And until it says you would do on the floor, your student water and state and they suddenly became the largest vacuum cleaner of crap in the sea

suddenly is not selling stuff, it's doing something for the greater good. And yes, Merce share price went up 300% As a consequence of of the work, but it was not that was made me proud. What made me proud was, we could align, and know in this case, 8000 staff to do something for the greater good and actually be proud of what they're doing every day. And I think that's what we have to put into a craziness we do our work. It can't just be to sell more shampoo. I mean, I've sold my fair share of samples. But I haven't changed organisations and lives enough for me to say I'm done deal.

Eric: Do you do any work in? Or have you ever thought about personally getting into politics? Because I think there's so many similarities, it's just the objective is slightly different. So I'm curious, like how you separate those buckets in your world? Yeah, so we've been approached by a tonne of presidents and prime ministers around the world to work for them. And we generally said said, No. We also work a lot with country branding. So developing larger countries and adjusting their brand.

But politics is is difficult because politics is swaying as the wind is blowing. And unless that person you're dealing with really have a high degree of ethics, quite often, you'll be caught by in a dilemma where you suddenly are selling sugar for the sake of selling sugar rather than actually solving a purpose when you're halfway down the track and just about to win. And I have to say that the more I'm following that space is very clear that you today, hardly, I think, can survive and win a political game without being nasty and negative, and abusing people around you. Because that is how the algorithms online that designed us, even though a lot of people may have good intentions that quite often when they go into the other into that machine ended up being pretty nasty in the end of the day. So I sort of stayed away from that space, I have to say. But politics is is difficult because politics is swaying as the wind is blowing. And unless that person you're dealing with really have a high degree of ethics, quite often, you'll be caught by in a dilemma where you suddenly are selling sugar for the sake of selling sugar rather than actually solving a purpose when you're halfway down the track and just about to win. And I have to say that the more I'm following that space is very clear that you today, hardly, I think, can survive and win a political game without being nasty and negative, and abusing people around you. Because that is how the algorithms online that designed us, even though a lot of people may have good intentions that quite often when they go into the other into that machine ended up being pretty nasty in the end of the day. So I sort of stayed away from that space, I have to say.

Eric: So there's two of the topics that I want to get your thoughts on, hopefully, we have time to get there. The first is, you're obviously very well known for bringing science into marketing you term. You coined a bunch of the terms neuro marketing, small data, etc. One of the things that I believe and say is I think good marketing is a balance between art and science. So I just be curious, as I understand it, but correct me if I'm wrong, you're a little bit more focused on bringing the science into the world of marketing. Do you think that it is both? And how do you distinguish between the two?

Martin: I actually believe it's both. I mean, the way you could create a differentiation between those two dimensions is to use small data versus big data. So big data, really, in the end of the day would be kind of science, a format form of it, you could say, a small data will be what are called correlations or causations. The reason why. So you need to start with a conversation first, the small data, the deeper insight, the hypotheses, and then you can verify it through correlations. Sadly, a lot of market tears, and people in general are starting with the big data first. And then they're drawing some unusual conclusions out of that, not knowing that that's data is highly screwed. I mean, a good example was many, many years ago, when, what goGreen were the first to be able to predict the flu outbreak, two or four days before it would happen. And everyone loved it. Except that two years later, the Centre for Disease Control concluded that Google were completely wrong. In fact, the numbers were twice of what they should have been.

What Google did they care about the correlation rather than causation? But you have to start talking about the causation first, and then follow that by the correlation. You could say in many ways, what Google did was to claim that the more umbrellas you sell, the more rains. And I think a lot of Marty's are doing that, particularly the numbers we are obtaining today that we are we have a tendency to believe these numbers because it's so big. And so you just can't, you can't navigate it because it's just overwhelming for us. But think about it. Every single election I know of in United States will off

at least the predictions have it coming. No one predicted that Trump will win white. And I think I think what's interesting is we still lean up against correlation and big data. So I fundamentally believe that it starts with the art first was this Small data, then you can use science whether science is big data, mining of data, artificial intelligence, or if it is, neuroscience and, and stuff in the science world.

Eric: And what do you think obviously, there's a big part of the industry, especially in the advertising world that is driven by and really worships creativity, coming up with something that they would probably argue that data doesn't tell you. Maybe it gives you the insight and the direction, but it doesn't give you the idea. And then of course, you can weave into here the whole conversation about AI and how it's never going to replace creative directors and all that stuff. But you know, the other thing, of course, well known quote, of if I ask people what I wanted the Henry Ford thing, it would have been a faster horse, not a car. Well, how do you think about the space for and the need for creativity? And I'd say intuition. And just the other thing, I'd say on that, and you're obviously much more educated on this than I, but I feel like that's still data. We just don't understand how it works yet.

Martin: But how do you think about the role of creativity within the science led marketing world that you kind of see and push? Well, you said it yourself, intuition. Intuition are defined as an accumulation of experiences throughout your entire life, you can call that knowledge. You can connect the dots, you don't know how you're doing it, but you know what the outcome is. So that may be art. In the end of the day. I'm a huge fan of creativity and always believed in creativity. But let's just be frank, Eric creativity is dead. And advertising agency selling creativity is dead, there's very few of them left. Because they become prostitutes, they have sold out through data would quite often do a blurry data, for the sake of pleasing a client so they could wash their hands internally and justify direction without being fired. It's quite often what happens, frankly speaking, because it campaigns are not working better than they did back then. In fact, they're working worse. Maybe we have a lot of data showing their work better. But I haven't seen any mind blowing campaign. In fact, I've seen a lot of campaigns I never heard about before. So I think in the end of the day, creativity is incredibly important. But he's struggling in our world and is struggling our world for three reasons. The first reason is that the creative people developing creativity are not creative anymore. And that requires currents. That means it may be slightly politically incorrect. Maybe it offends someone was always been saying in communication that if you didn't manage to offend anyone and never works, or we don't dare to offend anyone. So that's number two, was his, I think problematic. And the third thing, I think, is that we've ended up in a world where people are using channels, which are not lending itself to communicate creative ideas, because the framework has been so screeched that you literally don't have the right quality of eyeballs in using the right media. I mean, very few people are still going to the cinema.

And but you are seeing stupid banners, so click ads, or AdWords or god knows what you seeing a tick tock is very, very difficult to be created through these channels. With increasing restrictions, you have all sorts of different ways. So the media formats are restricting you more and more. And you can't break the frame by using billboards or using a full page or using a 62nd TV commercial. Now it's watered down. That does not mean you can't be creative, but you probably can't be extraordinarily creative. And when you take these three factors, no output, no cars to buy it and no chance to communicate it with. That's what creativity is, is having a crisis.

Eric: So Martin, the last thing I want to get your thoughts on, you said in our prep call, that marketing is not respected within organisations. So I'd love for you to expand on that and talk about the role of the CMO now and I think for people listening, people in marketing, and they could probably relate to that comments. But people thinking about building their careers towards the CMO, what should they be focused on to be more respected in where you think the future, the CMO role should go?

Martin: You need to be able to talk to languages, not one. And you can talk marketing, speak advertising, speak, communications, speak, branding, speak, that's fine. That's one language.

But you also need to be able to talk business speak. And those two walls should not blur together. And business speak means that you can talk to the CEO in a sensible way. Or you can talk to the head of r&d in a sensible way, or the head of HR in a sensible way, or the head of legal or compliance in a sensible way. And get them with you, using their lingo, their language, so they feel comfortable about you knocking on their door. And then you should be able to talk the language of creatives,

which is a completely different language. And if you mix those two languages, either the two audiences will roll their eyes and leave the room. So this is a very, very difficult thing. And that means that you need to have a creative flair and protect what your fundamental views on that. But you also really need to be a very savvy businessman. Remember all the big founders of amazing companies and brands we know today, were creative. And they managed to balance creativity with science or big data with small data. Take one mark. I mean, Walmart installed a, the founder installed a phone, a red phone in all his stores. So whenever customers had a question, they could pick up this red phone. And the staff of course, hated it. But the phone was calling his office, and he would pick up the phone. It was an incredible creative way of reconnecting the organisation with what matters to customers. And IKEA is no difference. He reinvented the way we're looking at furniture still today, 50 years later. And so they were created, but they managed to put a business fillet on it and stay in focus. So the CMOS role is to talk to languages, not one, the CEOs role is a CMOS role is to ensure that you create a movement internally, you inspire people, because you don't have any power. As a CMO, you really don't have any power unless you have a special dedicated budget. But very few CMOS have that typically you have a portfolio of brand managers, which you're managing with sitting on the budget. And if you take their power away, well, then they don't have a job. So your role is to inspire them to take them in the right direction and to create synergies across the portfolio and ensure that this is not just a marketing play, but it's integrated with other divisions and functions, and is weaved into the culture in the organisation. Very few CMOS really get it and are really good at it, I have to say I met some, but a lot of people really struggling with it, I had to say. And I think the third important thing for a CMO is to understand that you are the representative of the consumer, or the customer, of the passenger, of the hotel guests, whatever business you operating in. And once you are too good to represent there was meaning once you too good to visit their homes, or visit a store or visit a plant or whatever, or wherever it's going on that stuff, then you are have a job in my mind, you have to be the one constantly reconnecting theory with reality and representing that voice in those meetings internally. And if you do that, then the organisation will stay in tune, because then you can talk the business language and make sure we align the organisation that's really the end of the day, the ultimate role you have that everyone everything else is really the responsibility of other people which activity reporting to you all people on the same line.

Eric: One of the things I think about is that good marketing and good marketers should make the companies they work for more customer centric. So I think weaving together a lot of what we've talked about and just building a little bit on how you know your advice for marketers out there building their careers. I think that's a great place to sum it up so quickly. Before we get to the lightning round. I realise I've never actually asked you for a challenger brand. So is there one that you're particularly passionate about right now that you'd like to share?

Martin: Well, listen, here's the problem when I'm mentioning brands for you, they are completely unknown for you and they're from some obscure country somewhere in the world where you will have no idea about it but I'll tell you tell you about a category of brands which I my a lot coming out of India, which is brands managed and owned by the population and where the population literally is buying a stake in that brand or producing it. That whole tradition started with in the breakfast is where you would have 1000s and 1000s of household

I was baking bread under a brand name, put them in a plastic bag, and there'll be trucks picking them up every morning, and there'll be sold in the supermarket. I love that. And those challenges brands, because a lot of them coming out of India now, which is both difficult to pronounce and difficult to understand. But those brands are challenging conventional players in the industry, because they're going from outside in, because they're going from bottom up. And because they are representing a tribe or movement, just like Gandhi did back in the days. Those are true challenger brands, because the big brands are striking a great deal getting a grip around him, because these more brands have that passion in the hot button. And you can discuss quite often if the big brands have.

Eric: So it's funny you say that because we actually had an editorial meeting this week. And one of the things we talked about was trying to find some challenger brands in India and maybe doing a show where we get a couple of them just because I think a lot of people in this part of the world don't understand what's happening in that market. And there are a lot of great examples. So great answer, and we might be hitting you up for some recommendations. So Martin, before I let you go, quick, rapid fire round. Got a couple questions here for you. Can you tell us briefly about the biggest win that you've had recently, professionally?

Martin: I think the biggest win I had professionally was probably when Lego went from bankruptcy to become not just the largest toy company in the world, but one of the top most valuable brands in the world. Not to say that I was the key reason why because I wasn't. But probably I had a little bit of a role in that. And that happened through reconnecting the organisation with a customer.

Eric: What about the biggest struggle that you're dealing with?

Martin: The biggest struggle I have is whenever I work in any industry, which have been around typically for 100 years, typically is unlisted company. Typically they're working in a very heavy compliance driven industry activity, people, on average, have been working the organisation for 25 years. And then I'm asked to make the customer focused. That's where I'll find the biggest struggle. So I would say

Eric: What about the best or some of the best marketing resources you found recently?

Martin: Oh, it's very simple consumers. I mean, as late as yesterday, I was in Denmark, doing ethnographic interviews with consumers across the countryside of Denmark. Last week, I was across four states in the United States moving in with consumers there. And that week prior to that I was in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrim to understand how certain religions are migrating across the world. So that's where that's my only hero. That is ordinary people, people like me would have a heart and a soul and just want to make the world better.

Eric: What's the biggest lesson you've learned in your career?

Martin: Well, I think the biggest is destiny. And I continue, continue learning. I think the biggest lesson I've learned is that you have to always asked yourself, is what you're doing making a difference? Are you just doing it for making money? Making money's fine for a while, but it makes you awfully empty. But if you can create something which makes a true difference in everyone else's lives, is much more valuable. It's something you tell your grandchildren, it's something which you're proud of that is your legacy. No one I talked, I talked to Tom Peters about this and he said, No one dies and on the thumb stone, he said you earn $29.2 million. But I'm pretty sure we know you and I know what it says on candies on Mother Teresa's thumb stone if they're buried that way, and I think that's that's what I've learned. So don't lose sight of that fluffy currency which we also seduced to, to get more of.

Eric: The last and most important question, what is one thing people should do differently after listening to this episode?

Martin: Oh, definitely it is for you to ask yourself, when did you last time talk to a random customer of yours post you never spoken to before in their home or at their workplace for two hours just to understand their lives with no purpose of selling just with the purpose of listening. If you aren't says a can't remember is you better get your your bought out of our into reality.

Eric: Having that that's a perfect way to wrap it up. Martin, thank you so much for your time and this conversation. really invaluable for me and I'm sure our audience really appreciate it.

Martin: You're welcome Eric

Eric: Scratch is a production of Rival. We are a marketing innovation consultancy that helps businesses develop strategies and capabilities to grow faster. If you want to learn more about us check out wearerival.com. If you want to connect with me, email me at eric@wearerival.com or find me on LinkedIn. If you enjoyed today's show, please subscribe, share with anyone you think might enjoy it. And please do leave us a review. Thanks for listening and see you next week.

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