No Longer Crossing My Fingers and Hoping
Being told that your perceptions of your business differ from reality can be confronting for any CEO. Imagine how it felt for Mark Pope, CEO of Chase Performance, to find out that his team did not share his clear idea of where the company sat in the market.
It was a particularly disconcerting moment given Chase Performance is in business to help other businesses build value through the application of lean culture and tools. Vital to this is consistent communication down through the organisation, which Mark appreciates is as important for Chase Performance as for its clients.
Chase Performance has retained 9 Strategic to build a strategic marketing capability, which aligns marketing performance with business strategy against agreed milestones. The appointment follows a diagnostic work session during which Mark and his senior leadership team identified that there were significant gaps around a number of the 9 Boxes, including position, channels-to-market, marketing capability and communication.
A critical part of this was understanding the role of marketing within the sales environment, and 9 Strategic has been working with Chase Performance to review its sales process.
“As a mid-sized business, there is ongoing tension between being small and agile, and achieving economies of scale as we grow,” Mark said.
“CEOs typically work too much in the business to make the business grow. To sustain growth, you need to be less transactional and more strategic.
“I am learning that marketing is a specialist function, like HR, and we don’t need a full-time resource. We get immense value from the high level expertise of the 9 Strategic team, without the overhead.”
Prior to engaging 9 Strategic, Chase Performance’s marketing had been ad hoc and unplanned. Mark admits his perception of marketing was that it was about advertising and little else.
“I think, having had a sales focus in the business for so long, you talk about sales and marketing in one breath.
“By engaging with someone who really knows about marketing, you start to understand the gaps and appreciate that marketing is not a subset of sales.”
Chase Performance was prompted to rethink its approach in the face of growing pains the company was experiencing due to a combination of geographic growth, increased staff numbers and development of new service deliverables for clients.
Whilst many lean consulting organisations are experiencing neutral to negative growth, Chase Performance is in a strong competitive position due to its holistic approach to driving value by working across the business with a focus on systems, accountability, culture and teamwork. In a cost-cutting climate, Mark commented that clients need to see demonstrable long term impacts and sustainability in their operations as a result of engaging with lean consultants.
In much the same vein, 9 Strategic is adopting a holistic approach to Chase Performance’s business in terms of understanding the company’s drivers, and the key drivers for people inside the business.
Passion and authenticity have emerged as two important values for the Chase Performance team, neither of which have ever been addressed before. As Mark says, “this is a great message for us to share with our marketplace.”
Engagement with the Chase Performance team has generated productive conversations around where the gaps in the business were, and how the business could operationally be better aligned.
It emerged that Chase Performance lacked clarity around its position and competitive differentiation, an insight that Mark admits he found “frustrating because I felt we were so clear on both these areas.”
What Mark acknowledges is that, “you don’t know what you don’t know, and as our business becomes more consciously competent in our marketing, we can better appreciate the value of the work we are doing with 9 Strategic.”
This understanding has spread to Mark’s incumbent design agency, which is now operating under the direction of 9 Strategic to maximise the quality of output and optimise the value coming out of the budget.
Mark is very clear as to where he sees strategic marketing sitting in his business in 12 months: “Currently we do not generate any of our new business from marketing. It all comes from sales.
“In the next year I expect that to change. We will have a stronger profile in the market, we will have an organised and measurable approach, and we will know what’s working and what’s creating value.
“We will be in a position to intelligently change things from time to time, because we know what’s driving results, rather than crossing our fingers and hoping something works.”