We recently welcomed back a great leader and friend to the Reboot Chronicles podcast, Scott Miller, best-selling author, fellow podcast host, leadership coach, columnist and advisor to FranklinCovey, to talk about his latest book, Marketing Mess to Brand Success.

Many challenges that companies face stem from a disconnect between sales and marketing teams. Finger pointing between the two departments, who ultimately have the same end-goal, can infect an organization. Next to reputational damage, it is a CEO’s worst nightmare.

I recently welcomed back a great leader and friend to the Reboot Chronicles podcast, Scott Miller, best-selling author, fellow podcast host, leadership coach, columnist and advisor to FranklinCovey, to talk about his latest book, Marketing Mess to Brand Success.  

Inspired to help sales and marketing teams get on the same page, Scott’s new book was pulled from his 10 years of experience as a public company CMO and various sales and leadership roles. He strongly believes that sales and marketing have to “stop the finger pointing, get on the same boat and start rowing the same direction.” Similar to the other books in his Mess series, this book outlines 30 challenges that he had in his marketing role which every marketer needs to understand and learn from his mistakes. No matter what you are doing, you will enjoy his new book.

I laughed at many of the challenges when reading the book as they were messes I’ve participated in, in my past CMO and CRO roles.

Bruise Hard and Heal Fast

While it sounds painful, to bruise hard and heal fast is valuable life advice.

Throughout all aspects of our lives, lots of people give unsolicited feedback. This is especially true for marketers, because everyone thinks they can put on their marketing cap and give you their opinion on your campaigns and branding efforts.

Scott advises to be the open-minded marketer who is open to other stakeholders’ insights. Take the feedback. Forget the bad suggestions. Implement the good. Then heal fast and pivot. Don’t go down with one campaign that you’re especially passionate about. Think longer-term about protecting the power you have over the brand.

Good advice, many of us can relate to, I definitely fell on some swords I should not have when I was a CMO of a large B2B company in my 20s and when CMO of LG Zenith.

Define Your Smallest Viable Market

At Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, I teach my students to find the biggest total addressable market (TAM), so Scott’s concept of the smallest viable market seems counterintuitive. A friend that I coauthored The Big Moo book with (sequel to Purple Cow), Seth Godin originally wrote about the idea in This is Marketing, and Seth gave Scott permission to expand on it in his books.

The idea is that no good or service is truly for everyone. As Scott said, “don’t try to boil the ocean.”

To truly hit the smallest viable market, it is critical to have a deep knowledge and confidence in your brand voice. This required a concentrated focus and discipline to focus on reaching just the first group who should be interested in your brand.

Small startups are forced to naturally have this mindset as they get their business off the ground, but many big corporations continue to struggle with it.

Give Yourself the Boot...and Reboot

Scot shared a horrifying yet accurate quote -- “You’re never in the room when your career is decided for you.”

Marketers will be most successful when they push themselves to something new before that decision is made for them. It’s important to have the confidence to disrupt yourself.

I had a hard time learning this, especially in the early days of my journey. You have to know when to leave before you’re optimized out.

We had the CEO of Logitech Bracken Darrell on the podcast and he fires himself every year and then goes through a process of re-hiring himself to keep him on the edge. While deciding your own tenure is a bit different, it is a similar style of cathartic re-booting and re-engaging.

Take the Wheel

The gig economy is booming. I coach a lot of teams and teach people how to take control of their life by building a side gig hustles while also working their day jobs.

To deal with this, Scott says that corporations “have to be as fiercely focused on re-recruiting their talent as they are recruiting talent.” Employees want to stay with companies where they feel there is meaningful work and opportunities to grow.

For individuals to take control of their life and career, Scott shares the importance of having a deliberate and long-term vision for your career. He created a timeline when he was 23 years old on the back of a TGI Fridays napkin that plotted out a 50-year career for himself. He back casted what he needed to accomplish to be a CEO -- hold a CMO or COO role, gain international experience in supply chain, etc. Scott took control of his career by checking in on that napkin timeline every 6-7 months.

I tell our students at Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management to focus on fun, money and impact. I typically share my long-term career timeline, similar to Scott’s, during the lecture on getting more purpose in your life.

Permission to Suck

Scott’s books focus on learning from messes, but as a society we could be all learning more from our mistakes.

To explain this, Scott quoted author Rachel Hollis, “People don’t fear failure. People fear having other people see them fail.”

In the past leadership was not vulnerable and did not readily admit their mistakes to give others the opportunity to learn from them. That model of not talking about and relating to failure stuck with many people.

However, I’m now seeing more leaders giving people the permission to suck. Leaders have to give employees the permission to do things that aren’t that stellar and make it safe to own mistakes.

Scott said, “I don’t talk about my messes to give me a license to boorishly or badly, or to wallow in my mess. I talk about them to teach through them so that you can walk around the pothole that I fell in.”

Building Trusting Relationships

Scott believes it’s most important for leaders to build relationships because through trusting relationships, leaders build consensus and inspire execution of their visions. He learned from Dr. Covey, founder of FranklinCovey, that you cannot be efficient with people. You can only be effective with people, so play the long game!

In 2021, many employees are still working remotely and I’ve seen some leaders fail to rise to the challenge of building relationships in this new hybrid environment. While building relationships virtually has challenges, Scott and I have never met, but we have a good relationship.

Check out our spirited conversation on the YouTube link here or anywhere that you listen to podcasts.

About the Reboot Chronicles Podcast

Hosted by Dean DeBiase. The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles.

About Dean DeBiase

Named a Growth Guru" by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here: www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean.