Every month we grab our backstage pass to our Rockstar CMO’s, hang out in the Green Room and over a glass of whatever we can find in the mini bar, pick a topic and chat. This month Ian Truscott asks how we address a diverse audience, diversify our teams and keep our ideas fresh.
Welcome to the Green Room – this month we are asking:
How do you bring diversity to your marketing?
How do we build diverse teams, encourage a diversity of ideas and address an increasingly diverse audience?
I think it’s potentially easier to have a diverse marketing output in a company that markets globally with a global footprint than it is for one that markets globally but has a local (based out of one country) footprint. If I use my own company as an example, about 2 years ago we started a global program that brought together digital talent from our offices around the globe to respond to global briefs. This was so successful we have expanded it to include creative ideation to. What does this mean? It means our creative work has a greater potential to be relevant in many more countries and across many more cultures. Supporting this, we established a program (called SparkBnB) that allowed top talent from the various offices around the globe to trade roles with colleagues in other offices, whereby they would actually spend a 3-month secondment in that office.
All of this, requires an understanding from your leadership team of the value of diversity, both in thinking and organizational composition. It also requires a commitment to both fund and supports such programs even though it can be very difficult to quantify the value. We are lucky though, to have over 19 offices around the globe and 1000 employees make implementing such programs possible. It doesn’t cost the earth and the positive impact on the quality of output, the volume of ideas and overall culture is too great to ignore.
Ahmed Hasan is Global Head of Customer Engagement Marketing at Spark44 (an agency dedicated to the global marketing of Jaguar Land Rover brands) Ahmed Hasan has spent his career carving out success in unorthodox ways. Ahmed was formerly Chief Digital Officer at GE Healthcare.
Learn more about Ahmed in our backstage interview.
Here’s how I always think of diversity and inclusion: diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion is being asked to plan the party.
Wendy Bryant-Beswick is an award-winning marketer with 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry. She is currently VP of Marketing at Service Credit Union.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
Many organizations fall victim to groupthink due to a lack of diverse thought. This crimps innovation, employee engagement and ultimately competitive ability. Conventionally we think of diverse organizations as those with a variety of different people. Loads of studies and reports focus on the benefits of diverse organizations. What often gets missed is that even if we do a good job blending different kinds of people, we often still limit the diversity of perspective and experience by only focusing on people from our industry or functional area. Bankers tend to hire other bankers, retailers hire people from retail and marketers to want other marketing types.
Industry diversity is rarely questioned, intuitively it makes sense, however, I would suggest that it can be very limiting in terms of broad thinking and innovation. Bringing in some outside industry perspective could help see business challenges from a different point of view, especially if these views are specifically requested and valued by the organization. At Collective Bias, we borrowed a saying for new employees, “tell us what you see here before you become part of the problem.” It was helpful and part of our process to get a ‘fresh eyes’ look at our business and seek to bring that into our business. People diversity is a must, diversity of industry experience is a competitive step beyond.
Our resident Rockstar CMO tells it straight to marketing leaders, in order to capture diverse ideas, get your brainstorming act together. Avoid the groupthink, include the right people and listen…
We all know that diversity is good for business, but it comes in so many forms that few people have the luxury of having room for all of them within one marketing team. The best teams are made up of individuals who bring a unique perspective to the team while sharing a common passion. Too much commonality isn’t good because it promotes “group-think”. I vividly remember a marketing team meeting at Cisco where we were presented with two versions of a marketing campaign – one in red and one in purple. We were asked to vote for our favorite campaign. The 15 women in the room at the time voted for purple, the 5 men for red. The target audience for this campaign? Mostly male.
Whilst I always try to hire the “right person for the job”, I’m very aware that “the right person for the job” is subject to unconscious bias. Kristen Pressner did a brilliant TEDx Talk on this topic – are you biased? I am – well worth investing 9 mins to watch this. I discovered it when I was writing my own blog on unconscious bias.
With this in mind, and after making sure that people have the right skills and cultural fit for the team, I try to ensure diversity of age, gender, nationality, experience and the role they naturally play in a team e.g. dreamer or completer/finisher. Then I try and ensure that we constantly feed our brains, ask lots of questions, seek out insights to inform everything we do, break free of our comfort zones, experiment, be prepared to get it wrong. I’ve been a very active proponent and supporter of gender diversity for many years now. Still one of my favorite blogs is “Why can’t a woman be more like a man? Vive la difference!”
Dr. Christine Bailey is CMO of Valitor, an international payment solutions company headquartered in Iceland. Forging a career in the tech sector, she’s led European marketing functions for Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems and was recently voted #1 woman in tech by B2B Marketing.
Learn more about Christine in backstage Q&A here.
We leave the last word to Robert Rose, who, in our conversation referred to this article about diverse ideas in content marketing:
Great storytelling happens when you artfully use your distinctive voices to create multiple facets to a character’s unique personality. Not celebrating the differences in our voices is one of the biggest mistakes we can make.