From Liquid Leadership, page 113, True Lies:
nontraditional approach to winning massive assignments.
BMW was handing out a $200,000 bonus to any corporate-events company that could come up with a totally outrageous event to launch a brand new type of BMW—a roadster geared toward the younger, newer, hipper car buyer. The Z-Class would look different from any Beamer ever seen—it was sleek, sexy, and shark shaped, and it would bring back the days of driving through the countryside with the top down.
The pitch was not going out to any of the traditional ad agencies, because BMW wanted out-of-the-box thinking. The firm that won the job would be given $10 million to do a nationwide event to promote the car, an event aligned with the advertising agency’s vision. This was going to be a big event over a one-year period. Since Caribiner was the number one corporate-events company in the United States, it was assumed they were a shoo-in.
Because Scott had brought in K2 to help with this brainstorming session, Doug and I had assumed we’d get at least a polite welcome; yet the moment we entered the room, we could sense the tension and hostility.
Apparently, we were seen as a threat. We learned later that Scott had been getting flak over our presence. Perhaps it for the very reason he wanted us in the first place: He just wasn’t that confident in Caribiner’s own creative team.
Scott’s intuition quickly proved justified. As the session got under way, Caribiner’s in-house creative director, whom I’ll call Paul, insisted over and over that the new roadster was being aimed at the eighteen to twenty-four-year-old market. Doug shot back, “Are you sure about that?” at which point Paul assumed an air of arrogance and assured us he knew what BMW was all about.
He began regaling the entire brainstorming session with one quote after another. In the midst of this he said something that gave us even more pause: that he was “pretty sure” that BMW’s target-audience data was sound.
Doug replied, “You’re going to risk a $10 million pitch on a hunch?”
Doug insisted that we needed up-to-date market information, and of course he was right.
By the next meeting, Paul had found out from BMW that the numbers had changed dramatically: The supposed eighteen to twenty-four market had shifted to forty-somethings who wanted to relive their glory days. Oops! Caribiner almost undershot the mark—by twenty years.
Show Up and Listen
There’s a very large lesson in the Caribiner story: Companies that continuously refuse to listen to the truth—whether from their customers or their employees—are usually the last to wake up and discover that their company is in trouble. And no wonder. In environments where honesty is crushed and people are kept in line through hierarchy, employees learn it’s better to give up than give ideas. Why be innovative in a suppressive environment, when a great idea could be viewed as insubordination?
No one sticks their neck out in such a place. By nurturing an environment for truth, on the other hand, leadership can see problems early and turn them into opportunities."
So what is your strategy for reaching your
customer in the coming year?
If you are paying attention and facing the truth, Millennials shop very differently from Baby Boomers and Generation X shops differently from Millennials. Companies like State Farm have created dual ad campaigns in order to address these differences. Some silly, some serious.
So...what are you doing to address this split in reaching a new digitally savvy customer? Time for a strategy session that creates a layered, multi-pronged approach don't ya think?
Take care my friends,...and let me know if you need my help this year.
Global Business Adviser and Consultant
on Millennials and Workforce Performance Strategies
Brad Szollose is a global business adviser on Millennials and the foremost authority on Generational Leadership Development and Workforce Engagement Strategies.
Author of the award-winning, bestseller Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, Brad is a former C-level executive of a publicly traded company that he cofounded that went from entrepreneurial start-up to IPO in three years; the first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company K2 Design, experienced 425% hyper-growth, due in part to a unique management style that won his company the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.
Known for his humorous and thought-provoking presentations, Brad’s keynotes and workshops are highly interactive, heart-warming, and filled with high-content information that challenge assumptions and help leaders and managers create a better work environment for innovation to thrive.
Today, Brad helps smart companies like Dell and MasterCard, understand just how much technology has transformed a new generation, and how that impacts corporate culture, management interaction, expectations, productivity and sales in The Information Age.
* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership
* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author
"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York
Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.