The Noetic Brand-Building Framework is your brand’s lifecycle

Recently, Noetic facilitated a brand positioning workshop with a client group of 20 leaders and “next generation” leaders. We divided the group into five tables of four to answer these key brand-building questions:

  • WHO do you serve?
  • WHAT do they want or need?
  • HOW can you – above all of your competitors – satisfy that want or need?

The result: The group had five different points of view on their brand positioning.

Most brand marketers would have been uncomfortable with that result. However, we were happy to see this in the room! The differences sparked a candid and passionate conversation about the brand and the value it creates for clients. Moreover, ideas and “a-ha” moments filled the room. In the end, the group agreed on a brand positioning that connected to its vision and mission.

The story continues

A few months later, our client rang us. The brand positioning exercise sparked deep internal conversations about their business strategy – specifically, their mission and vision. At the workshop, they were committed to their existing mission and vision statements but now wanted to revisit both.

Hearing this was music to our ears because although we all landed on a strong brand positioning, we know that a brand strategy not only connects to a business strategy but also emanates from it.

Noetic Brand Builder: Business Strategy to Brand Strategy to Brand Activation to Brand Optimization

The Noetic Brand-Building Framework

Business Strategy and Brand Strategy are stages of the Noetic Brand-Building Framework. We use the framework to help brands see where they are in their lifecycle and within their broader business context. 

Each stage of the framework has a specific purpose and a set of hard-working questions to ask about your brand. Ask the questions at any point in your brand’s lifecycle to understand where it is, where it needs to go next, and what it needs to do to get there.

1. Business Strategy

Purpose: To clarify your “north star” by asking questions like:

  • What is our vision for the company?
  • What is our mission?
  • Do we have a strong growth strategy?

2. Brand Strategy

Purpose: To identify your brand distinction, we ask questions like:

  • Who is our core target audience?
  • Who are our main competitors?
  • What is our unique offering (vs. that of our competition)?

3. Brand Activation

Purpose: To bring your brand to life internally and externally by asking questions like:

  • How do we educate, inspire and empower our internal teams to grow themselves and our business?
  • How do we prioritize messages and media spend?
  • What campaign metrics should we track?

4. Brand Optimization

Purpose: To improve your brand’s performance by asking questions like:

  • What are the right benchmarks for us to track against?
  • How will we adjust to optimize our brand?
  • How do we optimize our culture for growth?

A strong brand marketer embraces two things about the Noetic Brand-Building Framework.

  1. The Noetic Brand-Building Framework is cyclical. Your brand is a living, breathing entity that needs to be cared for continually. Last summer, I planted sunflowers in my garden. They grew over six feet tall, wilted, and went away. I decided not to plant new ones this year. To my surprise, little sprouts popped up in the soil a couple of months ago. Last year’s sunflowers dropped seeds that turned into new sunflowers this year. Similarly, a brand will root, grow, and produce the information needed to help develop or evolve into a new brand. Continually nurturing it will help it survive and, more importantly, thrive.

  2. Brand Activation and Brand Optimization are just as critical to a brand’s success as Business Strategy and Brand Strategy. We’ve seen brands come out swinging with a Business Strategy and Brand Strategy they love and wonder – a year later – why it seems no one is “living” their brand. The lack of traction is usually due to an ineffective Brand Activation or Brand Optimization, the two stages in which most brands do not spend enough time. 

When a brand does not gain the traction marketers hoped for, we will conduct a brand audit to help uncover what may have gone wrong. 

The review usually reveals one or more of the following about the brand and its efforts:

  1. A Business Strategy does not exist or has not been adequately communicated.

  2. The Brand Strategy was developed in isolation without the contribution or – more importantly, the buy-in – of key stakeholders outside of marketing. (Read more about the perils of this approach in this article adapted by Fast Company).

  3. Internal Brand Activation was limited to making a brand guide available to employees who were expected to read and execute rather than understand and embrace. Limiting internal communication negatively impacts marketers’ ability to create brand experiences externally effectively.

  4. Brand Optimization elements were not put in place to ensure continued learning, innovative thinking, and progress measurement (i.e., learning programs, KPIs, etc.).

What do you do next?

In conclusion, we hope you use the Noetic Brand-Building Framework to look at your brands – and the business strategies from which they emanated – with fresh eyes and objectivity. If you feel you would benefit from help with this, we hope you reach out to Noetic Consultants. We are committed to strengthening brands and the people who build them. Guiding your brand through the lifecycle – in whole or in part – is a big part of that. We welcome the opportunity to explore with you.

art and science

Jack and Jill: One Year Later

Today marks one year from the day my book arrived at my doorstep. I smiled broadly and did the only thing anyone would do upon receiving the book they wrote – captured the moment for social media!

art and science
Fall 2018, seeing my book for the first time

As I look back on that picture today, I remember how forced my smile felt. I sat there on the floor with those shiny new books and self-doubt descended. Rather than feeling euphoric, I felt the opposite. I wondered if anyone would find this book worthwhile. I wondered why I had not realized how uncomfortable I would feel to have it out in the world. And I wondered how I would muster the confidence to promote it.

But I forged ahead knowing that I owed it to myself, my team, and my company to try. Fortunately, I quickly learned that my anxiety was misplaced. The community of marketers who generously gave their time as interviewees assured me that there was tremendous value within these pages. Across the past year, I have spoken on Jack and Jill around the country, sharing the stories of these fantastic Jacks and Jills of marketing who are scaling the heights through art and science. Their stories – and the insights they unlocked for me in Jack and Jill – are inspiring and informative for both rising and senior leaders alike.

Art and Science in the Marketplace

It is exciting to witness how the importance of art and science in marketing – and the power being a marketing generalist – have become widely and passionately held beliefs within organizations. A recent article on Forbes.com called “Why You Can’t Choose Between Creativity and Data,” asserts that creativity and data cannot be isolated from each other. A recent report from Walker Sands found that 56 percent of marketers believe that creativity and technology will be equally vital to developing effective marketing strategies five years from now; 41 percent feel today’s strategies are already driven by an equal mixture of both. Likewise, McKinsey’s recent study with CMOs showed that the most successful amongst these leaders know how to identify and nurture talent who “balances creativity and analytics.”

When I speak on Jack and Jill, I share what I’ve uncovered on the power of learning, facing fear, and the value of being a generalist. Individuals and teams also take the Art & Science AssessmentTM, which, I have heard countless times, helps people gain a deeper understanding of their skill strengths and opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, they understand that strengthening their weaker side is within their grasp.

From East to West and Back Again

A year later, I am in quite a different place when it comes to promoting the book. Beyond grateful for the time and feedback readers have given, I am now motivated and inspired to promote this book. And what a year it has been! DC events included launching the book at Busboys & Poets with the amazing Heather Roymans, speaking to the local broadcast marketers at Tegna in Northern Virginia with Meredith Conte, and spending a morning with Jessica Wilson and her inspiring students at American University. On the west coast, I met with all of Discovery Channel’s marketers led at the time by Lara Richardson. I also spoke at Promax with AlterEgo’s Heather Roymans and Justin Kanner on the power of being a marketing generalist.

art and science
Nancie McDonnell Ruder and Alter Ego’s
Justin Kanner and Heather Roymans at the 2019 Promax

Leo Burnett in Chicago hosted a gathering of marketers to celebrate Jack and Jill where my friend and colleague Dan Baldino was MC. It thrilled me to have colleagues from my 25-year career attend this event, including Andrew Swinand, CEO of Leo Burnett (and one of my book interviewees). 

Recently in NYC, Tim Nolan, Executive Creative Director at A+E Networks, invited me to speak to his entire department. We workshopped “Balancing Art & Science” action plans for his whole team, which they will use throughout the year. Next up is an event in northern Maryland for TechFrederick, hosted by Tom Ehart and Nick Domaulokis. I will round out the year by hosting an event at my company’s headquarters with our valued partners at Accelerent.

art and science
A&E in New York City

In between these live events, I’ve done podcasts and my team has written blogs (with “vlogs” soon to follow) to spread the word about Jack and Jill. The more people I reach, the more grateful I am that those Jacks and Jills of marketing shared their stories with me. Their stories of resilience, learning without fear of failing, embracing generalization, and unlocking the power of art and science are truly inspiring. These marketers scale the heights every day. I am honored to give voice to their stories to help marketers understand that they, too, have what it takes to scale the heights. All they have to do is strive for it.

Give the Power of Art and Science

I would be delighted to bring the power of balancing art and science to you and your team. If you would like to learn more, please email hello@noeticconsultants.com. I would be happy to provide you with more details or answer your questions.

They say if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Thank you for your continued support on this exciting journey. I know we will go far together.

Nancie McDonnell Ruder

NOETIC FROM THE OUTSIDE IN: A SUMMER INTERN’S PERSPECTIVE

By Stephen Ruder

In summer 2019, I was Noetic’s very own Intern. Having no previous experience in the corporate world or as an intern, I was ignorant to the type of work and involvement I would be conducting. What I learned about Marketing, Noetic, and the people that make up Noetic’s team is something that will stay with me for years to come. It truly has been an amazing experience that has given me incredible insight to use as I plan my future career. 

At most companies the intern is the bottom rung of the ladder, and this makes sense because they have little to no experience. This often manifests itself within the company as turning interns into glorified errand runners. This is not the case at Noetic. While I did get lunch semi-frequently for the office, it was something I strongly pushed for because while I do believe that it should be an intern’s responsibility, it also gave me a chance to catch my breath out of the office. Why did I need to catch my breath? Because in my ignorance of the responsibilities I would have as an intern, I had misjudged the workload I was receiving. My initial (unfounded) assumption that my daily routine would be getting coffee and lunch for the office, quickly reconciled itself. I was given a laundry list of projects that I, the wildly inexperienced intern, was to complete by the end of the summer. Quite the wakeup call. 

Some of the projects that I was tasked with for the summer included doing an extensive competitive analysis of how Noetic matches up with other marketing consultancies, nominating individuals within Noetic as well as the whole company for various awards, helping refresh our online presence and creating this blog post :). The summer kicked off with trying to get acclimated to the work environment, a 5am wakeup call on my third day for an all day meeting, and a daunting list of projects. By the end of the first week I was rethinking the whole real world internship job that I had committed to for the whole summer. 

What followed that first week changed my mind about the trajectory of the summer. I decided that I would not be mailing it in this summer and that I would throw myself into this opportunity to make the most of it. What I realized as soon as I began working on the first task on the list, the competitive analysis, was that the entire team at Noetic was chomping at the bit to aid me. My belief that help from coworkers would present itself as an “it’s your first week I’ll offer half hearted help then leave you to your own devices” was truly incorrect. The interactions that I had were much more in resemblance of “when is your schedule open? Let’s meet for two hours instead of one so that we have time to become familiar, then I’ll help you do significant work.” 

The competitive analysis of Noetic took over a month, and since it was my project, my totally unbiased opinion is that the finished product and presentation was top-notch. This was not how I felt leading up to the completion of the project. Laura Longbardi will deny the credit but she was integral to my success here. Consistently she gave both constructive criticism and was able to point me in the direction of our end goal for the project. The last bit of the competitive analysis was to present my findings to the company with a Q&A session. 

What I realized as I looked more towards making the slide deck and gearing up to present, was the position I was actually in for this project. In essence, I was about to stand in front of the entire company of which I held the title of intern, and in detail critique everything they were doing wrong and cite what their competitors were doing right. After the 45 minutes of picking apart Noetic I would then field questions and comments from the people of whom I had just critiqued. Needless to say, I was THRILLED to give the presentation and not the LEAST bit anxious. 

The day of the presentation was a Friday and this meeting was the last bit of work I had to do for the week. Despite over a month of gathering information, compiling findings, creating numerous drafts of slide decks and rehearsing in abundance, I felt wildly unprepared. I had a quick conversation with Laura where she tried to hype me up and I realized it was too late to call in sick that day; we began the meeting. 

As soon as I got the first sentence out I realized that not only was I absolutely equipped to give this presentation, but also that I wasn’t highlighting Noetics shortcomings. The presentation was about raising awareness for areas where we could grow as a company. A question that had been bothering me for most of the project was also answered. ‘Is this work I am doing even helpful for Noetic?’ The answer was a resounding yes. Everyone was engrossed in my presentation and had thoughtful questions and commentary that left all parties with the feeling of collaboration and productivity. 

It is very easy to tear things down, whether it is individuals or businesses, being critical is not a daunting task. What is difficult is acting as a company in such a welcoming and sincere manner, that an outsider can feel at home. This is what sets Noetic apart in who they are. Noetic brought in a summer intern and the first concrete task they gave was to look as critically as possible at the company and point out its flaws. This sense of humility and pursuit of self betterment on a company wide level is scarce in the professional world, and is just one part of what makes Noetic so special and unique from any other company in the market. 

The rest of the summer has blown by with each project being more challenging and rewarding than the last.The “first week version of myself” would not believe me, but I am immensely saddened to be leaving Noetic. I wish the company as a whole, as well as each individual, nothing but the best in future endeavors. 

building great brands

A Summer for Building Great Brands

By APRIL VARA-PAGÉS

For nearly 25 years, I’ve built a multi-faceted career in marketing and communications within the non-profit, start-up and global media categories. Specializing in global brand management and operations, I was the central point of contact for more than 50+ offices worldwide, responsible for developing and maintaining consistent brand strategy, marketing creative and communications for brands like Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and ID Investigation Discovery, available to consumers in more than180 countries. I’m excited to expand my focus on how brands can more effectively deliver on their consumer needs through marketing strategy, best practices and process working with Noetic.

 

In just a couple of weeks, summer will shine upon us. My mind fills with visions of lively beaches, endless days swimming in the ocean, treasured moments with family and friends, and new dreams taking flight while sleeping in the sun. In the immortal words of Will Smith, summertime is “time to sit back and unwind.”

A Fresh start

Record scratch… but this summer, instead of building sand castles on the beach and diving headfirst into the water, I’m thrilled to be back building great brands. I am making an exciting professional plunge working for Noetic Consultants, a team I have partnered with and admired for the past several years. After spending a sizable amount of my career focusing on global media brands like Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet, I’ll get to dig into brand and marketing strategy for Fortune 500 clients, small companies and non-profits within a significant variety of verticals, brands marketers salivate over like an ice cream cone on the boardwalk. This truly is my summer daydream come true.

Noetic strengthens brands and the people who build them – everyone from NPR, Marriott and Wells Fargo to Mayo Clinic, Nike and SC Johnson. My experience working with them as a client – seeing firsthand their collaborative and positive spirit, their ability to take complex issues and simplify to core truths, and their help-first and solutions-focused mindset – was one where Noetic were the steady horizon in the choppy waters of gaining consensus on brand attributes amongst marketing strategists and creative leads from around the world. This was no easy task, but they led us to this best practice as easily as a sailboat glides across smooth waters.

a new chapter

So, while my summer won’t be a time of sitting back and unwinding, it will be equally as invigorating as a summer recharge. I am so happy to share my news – if you are a marketer working on a brand challenge, contact me… I’d love to explore how to help you solve, or as an excuse to reconnect. I can now be reached at April@NoeticConsultants.com.

And if you’re looking for that perfect poolside read this summer, I highly recommend Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science written by Nancie McDonnell Ruder. For marketing executives, it’s a validating and enlightening read, no matter your level of tenure. With its two parts conversational and relatable, and quite a few parts humor, it pairs perfectly with a chilled mojito at your side.

Taking Action On A Customer-Centric Resolution

By Marci Klugman

Marci is a consultant for Noetic, and her career spans both the agency and the client side of the marketing industry. She has worked on iconic brands for companies like Procter & Gamble, Frito-Lay and Campbell Soup Company and spent more than a decade at Discovery Channel. At Noetic, Marci works with clients across various industries on brand strategy, research initiatives and marketing training.

For most of us, January means making resolutions. A time to look back at the year before and identify those areas that we can improve upon. It brings about a renewed purpose, and vigor to try harderwhether in our personal or professional lives. As part of this fresh start, January is often the time of year when many businesses resolve to become more customer-centric organizations.

Let’s face it. It’s easy to think about being customer-centric and preach its importance to our teammates. Many of us are familiar with the 3Cs model by Japanese strategy guru Kenichi Ohmae that rightfully integrates customers as one of the three critical factors needed for success. Our founder, Nancie McDonnell Ruder, has adapted this model to guide Noetic’s philosophy. In her book Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale The Heights Through Art & ScienceNancie states that the first Noetic “c” focuses on “staying connected to the customer, or being customer-centric.”

But how can you achieve that goal? How can you stay connected to your customer so that you put them at the heart of your business decision making? Implementing a customer-centric approach within an organization is a challenge that takes discipline and focus. There is no one-stop shop answer. But there are actionable steps to help you live up to that resolution.

define who you’re talking to.

Can you accurately define your customers? Are you able to embody them when you’re making key decisions on their behalf? As mentioned in Jack and Jill, marketers “must be well steeped in your products or services; you live inside this environment on a daily basis. It is never going to be natural for you to be with your customers on a daily basis, unless you are physically with them.” Yes, it’s unrealistic to physically have your customers next to you. But it’s critical to keep a clear, tangible definition of your customer alongside youliterally. And you can get creative with how you bring that tangible representation to life. Noetic worked with a client that constructed a muse from a mannequin, and brought “him” to every meeting to be sure he was represented as decisions were made. Creating a clear, tangible representation of your customers, based on qualitative or quantitative data, ensures they always remain top of mind.

take your definition further.

Being able to describe your customer is a critical first step, but it doesn’t end there. As stated in Noetic’s book, “customer-centric marketing goes further. It’s about empathy—putting yourself in your customer’s shoes.” Uncovering customer insights is a crucial component of gaining deep customer understanding that ultimately leads to empathy. This is a muscle that needs constant flexing, and Noetic relies on a tried and true methodology to move from audience definition to insight. Once you’re able to uncover what your audience needs, you’re equipped to respond in the most relatable, effective and appropriate manner.

ACTIVATE customer insights.

If you’re working in a marketing research or strategy capacity, it’s likely that you’re responsible for generating audience insights. But, everyone within an organization needs to have a firm grasp on customer needs so that all have the ability to empathize. A great insight doesn’t do much good if it sits in a strategy deck filed away in Dropbox. Instead, share those insights across all facets of your organizationeither formally or informally. Everyone needs the ability to empathize with your customers in order to problem solve for them accordingly.

keep the dialogue GOING.

Once a rich insight is uncovered, customer engagement shouldn’t cease. On-going customer engagement enables you to remain customer-centric. This continuous dialogue can take on many formssurveys, ethnographies, or store visits. And all team members, from the most junior to the most senior, should be involved. The most customer-centric companies ensure executives have direct customer interaction, as corroborated by Suddenlink Communications CMO Jerry Dow in an interview featured in Noetic’s book: “Keeping frequent customer interaction, getting on the road with technicians, working a day in the store—not as an executive but
 as an employee—experiencing the customer and seeing the front line.” Having first-hand knowledge and understanding of your customers across all levels of your company maintain a customer-centric approach.

Becoming and staying customer-centric takes focus and determination. But, if you can tangibly represent your customers, understand their needs, and activate this critical knowledge throughout your organization, you can turn your business resolution into a reality.

A Time to Reflect: How Looking Back Helps You Move Forward

Note: This blog is the fourth in our ongoing Noetic series inspired by Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science. This month, Noetic’s guest blogger is our own Laura Longobardi who has insight to offer to help start 2019―with purpose.

The sparkle of a brand New Year. For some, it is a blinding reminder of what was not accomplished during the past 12 months. For others, it is glowing with possibilities of what lies ahead.

I admit, I’m usually one of those people who tears up on New Years’ Eve when the clock strikes midnight. It can be a stark realization of goals where I may have fallen short.

But this year I am taking a nod from Noetic’s (Nancie’s) new book and from many of our blue-chip clients who have already begun their annual due diligence and reflection process as they look to brightly take on 2019. Let’s look at how they are using the New Year as a way to reflect and reframe their strategic and marketing plans.

1. Find comfort in discomfort 

As Barri Rafferty, Partner & President, Ketchum states, “You used to have an annual plan and a quarterly; now the scrutiny is so much tighter. You have to have the ability to bounce back. To strike out and get back up to bat again.”

Like Barri, the best marketers understand the importance of reflecting on the past to enable them to bring clarity on their path forward. They embrace learnings to become smarter, more strategic, and more adaptable. They realize that in order to be successful, we need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. There’s not a person in this world that likes to fail. But there are people who see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Those learnings are the building blocks of your road ahead.

2. Use mistakes as seeds for success

inspiration, looking forward

If you look at failure differently―even call it by a different name―you’ll realize it’s a key ingredient to success. Think about a time when you lost your footing in public. What did you do? Maybe you made it look like you meant to do it, or laughed it off and kept walking quickly to escape the embarrassment.

Sara Moscowitz, Senior Vice President, Content Marketing & Merchandising at Audible states,You cannot innovate if you are afraid to take a risk. Make sure you try to think through every possible thing that could happen and plan for it, but if something does not work, learn from it – it is not a failure.”

Many of the brands we work with use the 70/20/10 methodology as a calculated way to lead with trusted bets, but also leave room for thoughtful marketing innovation.

3. Fast forward to the future

Norman de Greve, Chief Marketing Officer, CVS Health stated in Noetic’s recent book: “I believe what you do tomorrow is more important than what you did yesterday….Just go forward and do something better. No one really knows the answers, so iterate and go forward. I don’t hold onto failures at all.”

When thinking about marketing or strategic planning with our clients, we use the analogy of having one oar in where you are today, and one propelling you where you want to go tomorrow. It is OK to be (realistically) aspirational when planning and not totally subsumed with where you are at this moment. At Noetic we apply a Who/What/How framework to ensure our clients stay narrowly future focused on goals and objectives―keeping our eyes on the prize.

As you gear up for the holidays―and that final countdown of the year inches closer―I encourage you to reflect on all that has happened. Think about the good, the bad, the scary. Remind yourself of the times you lost your footing and how you’re a little more certain of the path now. Acknowledge that you will fall again, but you’ll get back up and keep on moving. You’ll always keep on moving forward―because that is how we pave our path to success.

 

thank you mentors

Ten Seconds for our Mentors

Note: This blog is the third in our ongoing series offering key insights found in Noetic Founder Nancie McDonnell Ruder’s recently published book, Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science.

It’s hard being a person.

It’s also wonderful, exhilarating, and joyful—but there’s no denying that at some points in our lives, every single one of us faces challenges, personally and professionally. We hit walls, we hit ceilings, we fall. Sometimes things are just plain hard.

As we make our way through our careers, this can be especially true. It’s hard to break into a new job, into a new role, into a new market or industry. It’s hard to get the right people on your team. It’s hard to adapt to change.

We’ve all been there. Every single one of us.

The pivotal word that gets us through these hard parts is that last word—Us. It’s the people who’ve reached out to us with wisdom, kindness, and patience—the ones who believed in us until we believed in ourselves again; those who help us pull out of hard places and rise in our careers.

Borrowing Wisdom from Our Neighbor

The recently released critically acclaimed documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” surfaced a tremendously powerful moment from Fred Rogers’ 1997 Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech where he expresses gratitude to all those who helped along the way. In a tear-jerking twist, he calls on the audience to do the same, stating:

So many people have helped me to come to this night.

Some of you are here, some are far away…

All of us have special ones who have loved us into being.

Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are—those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life.

Ten seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time.

[Ten-Second Pause]

Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.

The power of being on both the giving and receiving ends of helping, the power of us, is critical to rising up the professional ladder, in marketing and well beyond.

Help First

At Noetic, we believe this so important that one of our core values is to “Help First.” This means that we commit to doing a kindness for another just for the sake of doing it. It’s not always about a project or a way to move an initiative forward. Sometimes our clients and colleagues just need a confidential ear as they work through an issue, or a pep talk when things feel especially hard.

We believe in actively propelling and seeking out opportunities to advance the power of us, because we’ve all felt and are grateful for the impact others have had on our successes. And it’s more than just a notion of “Karma points.” There’s immeasurable value and positive energy generated through the cycle of giving and receiving. We are energized by it, and see renewed energy in others when we are able to help.

The Power of Mentors

This value proved a key theme in Nancie McDonnell Ruder’s interviews with top marketing leaders for her recently released book, Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science. “Help first” was most often mentioned in the form of mentorship.

A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.

–Oprah Winfrey

As Nancie described, “Most of my Jacks and Jills spoke reverently about their mentors’ roles in their learning. They cited former bosses who took them under their wings, marketing guardian angels who appeared at key moments in their careers, and role models who are ongoing influences.”

Throughout the interviews, it was as though several of the featured “Jacks and Jills” had their own “Mr. Rogers” ten seconds, pausing to reflect on those who helped them rise up.

My best mentors have been less about helping me understand marketing or strategy or management techniques; it has really been about emotional intelligence learning. Understanding how to deal with conflict, ambiguous situations, complex organizational structures, and sophisticated board discussions… how to present oneself. If you listen and you are reasonably talented, you are going to pick things up that are very important.

–Steven Schiffman, Chief Executive Officer, Cooper Media

When my boss got promoted, she asked me if I would throw my hat in the ring for her role, and I had not been thinking about that at all. Then she prompted me again, and I really thought about it—and I got the job. Having a boss who believes in you is really motivating, because it makes you feel like you can take some risks, sink yourself into the work and not worry about the political waters. If you are performance-oriented in the first place, this can really give you a launch pad.

–Amy Winter, Executive Vice President & General Manager, UP TV

Take Your Ten Seconds

Now pause for a moment and give yourself the same Mr. Rogers’ ten seconds to reflect on who helped you become who you are today…

  • Who comes to your mind?
  • What did they do that was so important in helping you become?
  • How has that experience fueled your success?
  • Who do you think would think of YOU in those ten seconds?

As we move towards the Thanksgiving holiday, we at Noetic want to express our deepest gratitude to all of you who’ve played such critical roles in our success. We promise to continue paying that gratitude forward by helping first and doing our absolute best to keep propelling the power of the greater “Us.”

The Fierce Four

Rising in Fall: Elevate Your Career with The Fierce Four

Note: This blog is the second in our ongoing series offering a glimpse at key insights found in Noetic Founder Nancie McDowell Ruder’s recently published book, Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science.

October. The last three months of 2018.

This final turn of the year brings a wealth of good things, like holidays, colorful leaves, candy corn. But, it may also bring a rising sense of unease, as 12 weeks doesn’t feel like near enough time to accomplish all we hope.

Thankfully, as marketers, we are uniquely armed with a keen awareness of the power three months can hold. Through our work, we know 12 weeks is the ideal amount of time to drive an effective, impactful campaign or to even begin elevating our own career paths.

Given this, NOW is in fact the right time to ask yourself, “Is my career on track to take me where I want to be by the end of this year?” If the answer is no, then perhaps it is the perfect time to build your three-month career climbing strategy.

Or in other words, it’s time to get “Fierce.”

Putting Success Into Action

Our founder, Nancie, interviewed 50+ top marketing leaders in her book, Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science. Based on these interviews she uncovered a consistent “Secret Sauce” powering the success of these leaders.

But what really struck Nancie during her interviews with these marketing “Jacks and Jills” were four specific actions they take to get and stay ahead in their careers with a tenacity best described as FIERCE. Nancie has termed these: “The Fierce Four.”

Introducing the Fierce Four

The Fierce Four

Simply put, the Fierce Four power leaders to rise to a position of professional excellence where they are considered essential and helpful to their companies, clients and teams.

The Fierce Four, highlighted through direct quotes from the book’s “Jacks and Jills,” are to:

  1. Displace fear with learning

I simply love learning, and I believe you shouldn’t worry so much about what you know and don’t know. If you get a job you could do in your sleep, it’s probably not the right job. Push your comfort level and your boundaries of experience. Force yourself into that new environment. You should never stagnate in your career, or in life, in order to grow with the world and the consumer. If you ever get to a point where you’re no longer learning, you will lose your curiosity and your motivation.

— Ken Dice, Vice President & Global General Manager, NikeiD, Nike

  1. Seek out and commit to creative avenues to learn

I always try to be as teachable and curious as possible. I tell myself, “I may not be the expert on this now, but I will be by the time this project is over.” I have yet to come up with a challenge that I have not been able to figure out, though I do have a lot of bruises and scars, so I know with this I also have to be comfortable that there will be failure. There is a saying, “If you have a knot, patience will untie it.” Meaning, if I can work on something long enough, I can figure it out. I just take it one step at a time, go get the resources I need, partner really well, garner a lot of trust, make sure everyone is in it to win it.

— Meg Goldthwaite, Chief Marketing Officer, NPR

  1. Strengthen both art and science sides of marketing

If you are more of a scientific MBA kind of marketer, you can rise up in the world of marketing to the CMO level and move outside marketing if you want. If you are more of a creative marketer, at some point you have to wrestle with the other side. As much as I pride myself on making this jump, it is hard to be as energetic about it; it requires a new context for your energy. This is the challenge in the world of marketing today: bringing together these equally powerful aspects of marketing, and doing it in a way that gets to the right people to grow the business, to get the right ROIs.

–Ken Dice, Vice President & Global General Manager, NikeiD, Nike

  1. Surround yourself with strong teams

I believe a leader cannot be successful on his or her own. You have to work together, give credit, be surrounded by great teams with different styles. I think there is a spectrum [of art and science], and a successful team is going to have this spectrum.

— Barbara Goose, SVEP & Chief Marketing Officer, John Hancock

Get Fierce!

Start by asking yourself:

  • Which, if any, of The Fierce Four am I activating in my career?
  • Which of The Fierce Four could I take action on immediately?
  • What areas of learning should I target and why?

We all have room to grow in our careers, so don’t be anything other than excited by your answers. Be invigorated to set a few goals for the rest of the year. Give yourself the gift of rounding out the year strong – getting ready for a fierce 2019!

Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: An interview with Nancie McDonnell Ruder

Nancie McDonnell Ruder, Founding Partner of Noetic Consultants, sat down with Noetic colleague Lauren Stradley for an interview about her new book, Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science. Here’s the full story:

LS: What sparked the idea for jack and jill?

NMR: I have interacted with many, many amazing senior marketers over my career, both through Noetic and in my earlier years at Leo Burnett. I’ve seen so many things that I admire. I was struck by how some people in these roles were advancing and doing impressive things, even though the business climate seems to only have become more challenging. I loved the idea of doing research to really delve into that. And it was a way to give back to a community who has given me so much.

LS: Any other reasons?

NMR: I will also say that when I was little, I would write stories, title them and bind them with Elmer’s glue. It was something I wanted to do when I grew up.

LS: What do you think the seven-year-old Nancie would think about this book?

Noetic Assessment Art iconNMR: She would be very excited to see one of her dreams come to fruition. I was into everything creative as a kid—drawing, painting, writing creative stories—so the little girl I used to be would love to know there’s a big creative element in it. What she wouldn’t know, as I do now, is that there’s also another side.

LS: What do you mean by “another side”?

Noetic Assessment Science iconNMR: The premise of Jack and Jill is that there’s a balance of art and science that one needs to achieve in marketing today. Most people feel stronger on one side or the other. I felt strong on the creativity side (or “art”) and had to work more overtly on my science side to build those skills. The important thing to know—and Jack and Jill unpacks this—is that there are things you can do to strengthen your weaker side.

LS: Do people always demonstrate an “art side” or a “science side” as children?

Noetic Assessment Leaning towards Science iconNMR: It usually has to do with where you lean early in life. Let’s say, for example, you had some aptitude in math and also had a really great math teacher. Or, your mom was an engineer and brought out your analytical side. Then, you might build those science muscles more. I would say that most people don’t know how to build up their complementary side. Successful senior marketers sense that they need to round out their skill set and work toward that. Marketing is so fluid and vast that you need both.

LS: So, is that what jack and jill is about?

NMR: Yes! Jack and Jill is for people who have an interest in marketing, whether they are already leaders in their field or aspire to be one, with formal or informal interest. It helps folks understand core components of what is needed to be successful—as I put it, “the art and science of the discipline.” We offer an assessment so readers can discern where they fall on the art/science continuum, as well as a toolkit of activities, resources and tools they can use to strengthen the side where they may be weaker.

LS: I really like the title. Tell me about Jack and Jill. Are they the ones of nursery rhyme fame?

NMR: I did a whole body of research of senior marketers to take from their vantage point how they excel, and I refer to them as “Jack” and “Jill” in the book. It does bring to mind that nursery rhyme, in which they go up the hill then disastrously fall back down. But it also turns it on its ear. In our story, when Jacks and Jills fall down—which they all inevitably do because failure is a key component of the senior marketer journey—they get back up and continue striving and climbing again. There’s also the expression Jack or Jill-of-all-trades, which most people finish with “master of none.” I see “all-tradesness” as a positive. Jacks and Jills are generalists, who are resilient and keep a learning mentality, so their business and career can keep evolving and growing.

LS: The people you interviewed – most of whom allowed you to use their names – are pretty high profile, busy people. How did you choose them?

NMR: I worried about getting people who excel the most because, naturally, they are so busy. I first went out to those I had a significant relationship with, like a client or colleague, because I knew they would take the hour to talk to me. And then to get to over 50—a good qualitative sample number—I asked everyone I interviewed whether they knew someone who fit the profile and would appreciate the process. Most did and most enjoyed the hour we spent. It seemed to be a cool thing for them to put words around something they instinctively understood about themselves.

LS: I would have liked to be a fly on the wall for some of these! Tell us a funny or illuminating anecdote from your interviews.

NMR: As far as funny…one of my first interviewees was with someone I knew well. They said, “Some of these are horrible questions.” It made me pause. I had only interviewed a couple of people at that point, so I took the criticism and honed the questions further. And, of course, it was much better after that. What I found most illuminating was the role of resilience and grit. Marketing is hard. You are going to have to lean into innovation and change. It’s not like I didn’t know these folks were resilient. But it was striking how many mentioned it as a key to their success. They connected the dots—you have to take risks, you have to be willing to fail.

LS: Can people become more resilient?

NMR: It’s not like these rock star Jacks and Jills feel super-courageous every moment of every day. It’s about choosing a mentality of leading with learning and not worrying about being correct or putting yourself on the line. It’s about trying, and if it doesn’t go well figuring out how to right the ship. If someone feels they don’t have resilience—or as much of it as they’d like—these marketers and I would say that all you need is to want to have it. Failure isn’t a word they relate to.

Nancie McDonnell Ruder AuthorLS: What did you learn about yourself and your own work through this process?

NMR: It was harder in certain ways than I thought it would be. After talking to several authors, I knew it would be challenging, but it was more challenging than I expected. Having an editor early on was a really critical factor in getting it done. I also learned my Noetic team is as passionate about Jack and Jill as I am. I see the book as a vessel/platform for my co-senior marketers.

LS: I loved that you were able to bring our work at Noetic into JACK AND JILL, how did you achieve that?

NMR: The people involved with the book are either clients, could-be clients or are like clients. It is for and by the people we serve. So, it became a place to showcase what makes them so great and unpack that for people who don’t know. I also chose to include something I call “Noetic Notes” throughout the book, because I am so proud of and grateful for our team. Through the Noetic Notes, I bring in client stories and anecdotes that showcase how we practice what we preach. I draw from work and also even from my personal life—families are organizations, after all—and these principles apply pretty globally.

LS: What was the hardest part of writing JACK AND JILL, and the easiest?

NMR: The easiest was research. I loved doing it, and it was fascinating meeting and reconnecting with people. I could have kept going forever. The hardest was finding time to focus on writing. Creativity is interesting, and we discuss the nature of it in the book and how folks can develop theirs. Sometimes it’s counterintuitive. You have to make space for the muse to visit you. Because I was balancing writing with running Noetic, one of the places I was able to be most focused was on airplanes. And I wrote nights and weekends.

LS: What did you hope to gain from writing JACK AND JILL, and do you think achieved that?

NMR: I wanted to expand my community of marketing geniuses and give back to them, as well as create thought leadership for Noetic. I have achieved that. And I’ve helped that seven-year-old girl get her book done!

LS: When is it coming out and where can we all get it?

NMR: Jack and Jill is available on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

Featured image photo credit: Coyle Studios

Pass the Secret Sauce: Winning Strategies for Senior Marketers Coming this Fall

By: Lauren Stradley

Climbing to the top of the marketing hill isn’t easy. And staying there can be even more precarious. We know, because a big part of what we do is to help clients navigate the complex, ever-changing marketing landscape.

Confronted with a dizzying array of new platforms and constant content consumption, how do we, as successful senior marketers, cut through the din?

Noetic is built upon a research-based approach that uncovers insights clients need to overcome challenges and achieve goals. It’s the heart of what we do—with every client success strengthening our heartbeat. This past year, we set out to do more.

Introducing Jack and Jill 

Noetic Book Jack and Jill

We launched an effort to augment our focus on  company, branding and marketing objectives to include guiding marketing leaders to overcome professional challenges. We applied our IDEA methodology to help senior marketers elevate their careers. That project became a book. And, we couldn’t be more excited to announce the upcoming launch of Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science, authored by our fearless leader, Nancie.

To write Jack and Jill, Nancie drew upon her own 25-year career and insights from Noetic’s work with big brands like Nike, Wells Fargo, and Discovery Channel. She reached deep into our team’s networks to get firsthand best practices and lessons, and conducted in-depth interviews with more than 50 of the world’s best marketers, learning exactly what makes them tick, what drives them, and what helps them stay relevant.

The Secret Sauce of Marketing Leaders

Nancie found many commonalities among these marketing rock stars, including an elusive “secret sauce”—the uncanny ability to combine what she calls the “art” and “science” of their discipline. Every tidbit—often straight from the marketers’ mouths—is “news you can use,” including activation-ready insights and tools, like The Fierce Four, The Noetic 3c, and The Noetic 4p. Jack and Jill also offers a toolkit, featuring a powerful assessment to determine where readers are on the marketing art/science continuum and help them ascend from there.

Coming soon!

The book is just several months from release, and we can’t wait to share it with you. In the meantime, visit our Jack and Jill page and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get inspired and start exploring the key themes and career-altering advice of Jack and Jill!