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Interview: Getting Your Business Ready for the Next Disruption with Minter Dial Interview
We’re no longer on the verge of massive change; we’re right in the middle of it.
The leaders of new marketing organizations have increasingly started to shift their attention towards consumer behaviors, becoming masters of aligning strategy around customer experience, orchestrating resources, and driving the enterprise forward.
To find out more about emerging technologies, disruption, and what’s next in marketing, we’ve spoken to Minter Dial, professional speaker & consultant specialized in brand strategy and digital sales & marketing.
Earlier this year, he co-authored with Caleb Storkey, Futureproof: How to get your business ready for the next disruption. The book explores the three core mindsets and twelve disruptive technologies that you must have in today’s age to help you grow your business, see success and get ready for the next disruption.
Let’s find out what he shared with us.
Hi Minter – Do you have any favorite Twitter account and marketing blog?
I have two blogs that I particularly like. Mark Schaefer regularly provides interesting insights on Businesses Grow. Secondly, I am a big fan of Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation (including his podcast).
Both of them have a thought-provoking, personal style. Sometimes, they write longer form articles, too. In the long-form category, though, no one beats Avinash Kaushik (Occam’s Razor), the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, and I think by having longer form you probably get more into the weeds, get more concrete results.
On Twitter, I think the key is to create lists of people in relevant categories for yourself. At present, I follow around 700 accounts and will separate them according to my key interests.
If I were to highlight a few of my favorites, one is Kim Garst, great speaker and media influencer; I very much like Vala Afshar too, for his combination of inspiring and content-laden tweets; as well as Ronan Dunne, who is exemplary in being a top executive in a large organization and having a vibrant Twitter feed – he is the Group President of Verizon Wireless. Ronan’s feed is extremely interesting, and he does a great job at tweeting about both his personal and professional life; and he uses Twitter not just as a vehicle to communicate out, but very much to listen.
I’d love to hear a bit about your background and your marketing journey so far.
So I am a 53-year-old, married with two kids and have had what you would have to consider a non-linear career. I started off, with a Tri-Lingual Literature degree from Yale, working at an investment bank in NYC.
I’d done two start-ups before the current Myndset. One was a travel agency for musicians, about which I knew nothing except that I love to travel and am a died-in-the-wool meloman. And there I was applying my newly minted marketing skills, but after two years we failed, which is probably the world’s best business school.
Then, after writing a novel and working at a zoo and aquarium, I went to INSEAD to study marketing. I focused a lot on marketing: operational marketing, branding, advertising, and so on.
After that, I spent sixteen years, nine assignments with five country moves, at L’Oréal. Among the more important lessons learned at L’Oreal, I determined that marketing isn’t some sort of ivory tower activity where you sit in your office concocting intelligent plans.
You need to be out on the road, accompanying salespeople, meeting customers. You need to get into your customer’s shoes, mind and heart… and you need to understand why and how your products and services are being bought and sold.
In 2000, I became head of the Redken brand worldwide and ran it for three and a half years. Redken at the time was about a $350 million business.
It was a most defining post as I really came to understand what a powerful brand is, as opposed to just a great set of products. After being on the worldwide Executive Committee of the Professional Division, I left L’Oréal in 2009 and started my own company.
Since then, I’ve been spending time helping companies focus on branding and integrating new technologies into their business.
What does it mean for businesses in 2018 to be futureproof?
Being futureproof is, more than anything, about having the right culture and mindset. If you’re with a company that feels protected from disruption or sits on its laurels for having been successful for the last few decades, then you are at deep risk of being disrupted.
To be futureproof is, in part, having an entrepreneurial attitude, an ability to create and review quickly new ideas, and not being afraid to experiment. The key is to have a strategic compass that helps to navigate between the plethoric choices.
It’s also important to review your network and make sure you are in touch with the right people. In other words, stop reading just your traditional sources that you’ve always been reading, and consider getting a subscription to Wired, for instance, and reading well-curated blogs.
What do you see as the next big disruption in the world of marketing and communication?
In the marketing and communications world, the biggest disruption is the customer.
There are technologies out there on the cusp of becoming hugely important and changing the way marketing works. However, the key point is staying focused on how your customers are evolving and what their needs and wants are.
Automation is a necessary evil for the big companies, even though it might lead to decreased engagement and trust. The challenge is relying on technology to make life easier, without hurting the long-term relationship with your customers.
There is an unprecedented volume of data that helps you understand where your customer is, what she/he is doing and thinking, what devices she’s using and even how she feels. To use the data and automation appropriately, marketing executives will need to seriously up their empathy.
One of the key challenges, if not the killer detail, is getting the most amount of data possible and collating it into a sensible, understandable database.
Then it’s about asking the right questions of the data. This obviously entails having an analytical mind, but I believe having a multidisciplinary approach is optimal.
Why not combine a very good data scientist with a sociologist or journalist to mine the data and come up with extraordinary insights to help develop more intelligent marketing strategies?
If you’re counting on big data, meanwhile, there is no doubt that you will need to have artificial intelligence tools. In the world of marketing and communications, though, the focus should be on developing empathic rather than merely artificial intelligence.
This means an ability to listen better, coming up with new ways of engaging the customer, bringing them into the conversation, and then adjusting the way you operate thanks to the input they give you.
In your book, you explain that in order to be fully ready for disruption, you need to understand the mindsets. Would you mind sharing a bit more about the three mindsets?
The first major step in a digital transformation process should involve being focused on the customer. The second step is understanding that in order to have an engaged customer, you need to have an engaged workforce, and to make them your number one fans. They are, after all, the ones representing your brand on the front line and making it come alive.
Once you zero in on your employees, you need to define and bring to life the purpose of the organization, which cannot be that we’re here to make more money and satisfy our shareholders. Nor is it focusing on being the single most customer centric organization in the world; this isn’t a purpose. This may, however, be a conduit to purpose.
The purpose of your organization should be to answer this question, ‘How will the world be a worse off place without us?’.
Once you have a higher purpose like this, which goes beyond making products and services that are satisfying a customer need, you’re going to attract higher quality talent, you’ll execute a higher customer centricity focus, and ultimately make more money for your shareholders.
There are three mindsets that are really important and we put them in the first three chapters of the book: Meaningfulness, Responsibility and Collaboration.
Meaningfulness is very much about having a purpose within your organization. How can stakeholders, employees and customers experience fulfilment by interacting, working and/or buying your goods and services?
There are many ways to heighten meaningfulness; it’s not about necessarily trying to solve all the world’s ills. It is about increasing meaningfulness. This can range from getting prizes, allowing for playtime, or being part of a committed team of people who have the same engagement and the same set of values.
Ultimately, the strongest sense of meaningfulness, though, is when a company has a purpose and a mission — that are truly expressed and lived by the stakeholders — and that rises beyond just making money.
The second mindset is about Responsibility. The dire call to action is that all individuals in an organization, no matter the level, need to develop a sense of self-responsibility, specifically on four areas: personal branding, continuous learning, cyber security, and ethics.
The most delicate and important will be around personal ethics, faced with so many new unchartered technologies where the lawmakers will be struggling to keep up.
The final mindset is Collaboration and in this regard, it’s not just about breaking down silos and working with other friends and colleagues in your organization. It is about working with the best network of people outside your company, including the stakeholders and sometimes even the competition, and learning how to collaborate with them.
How do you get your business ready for the next disruption?
The first step is understanding what business you’re really in, and secondly, crafting a strategic imperative that is clear, well-defined and entirely shared. It sounds obvious, but so many companies overlook this.
The most important part of this is to have the strategy well enunciated, and then be the lead in order to understand which are the technologies you need to be on-boarding to help your company grow.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in over 20 years of experience in the digital space?
I’ve learned it’s extremely important to have humility and a desire to be constantly learning about what’s going on in tech and in the digital space.
Secondly, understand who you are and focus on the things that give you energy back. It can be tiring to be in continuous learning mode.
The more you do that and the more learning you undertake, the more you’ll feel energized and that you’re having fun; then the better the chances that you’ll jump out of bed every morning with that extra zip to confront all the changes that are out there.
Which are the most important technologies coming along over the next decade?
Firstly, a lot of the most exciting technologies have now been around for quite a long time; and yet they will be even more disruptive in the future.
The web, smartphone and the cloud, these are technologies that we’ve been talking about for a while, and yet there are opportunities to revolutionize the way these are being used, specifically in combination with some of the other new technologies.
The second class of technologies to look at are the ones that are about to break out, such as the big data analytics, blockchain and Internet of Things. Artificial intelligence also belongs to this category as, though it’s been around for a long time in theory, it’s finally on the cusp of truly breaking out.
Big data analytics, where we have been spawning vast reams of data and because storage costs have sunk dramatically, will become a major game-changer. When you add to this the improved capabilities of artificial intelligence, companies that know how to collect and parse data effectively will gain a major competitive advantage.
However, if you don’t have an obsessive focus on your customer, then you’re going to have a struggle to use this data successfully.
The third class are the emerging technologies, that have yet to be democratized. These include genomics, as well as the autonomous car, and energy storage.
3D printing is also an evolving technology which is going to be able to disrupt a lot of different businesses, especially if you’re in the mode of creating products.
For all these new technologies, there are some very important ethical questions which need to be asked sooner than later about security, privacy, and social and economic issues, not to forget our fundamental status and role as human beings.
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