Vision, Values, Velocity: Former Babbel, Shiseido CMO Katherine Ray on CMO Success in 2021

Vision, Values, Velocity: Former Babbel, Shiseido CMO Katherine Ray on CMO Success in 2021
Posted on June 30, 2021

Growth is change. 

So, growth marketers should welcome times of upheaval… especially if they are not the most successful brand in their niche. And that means chief marketing officers who are looking to disrupt markets in favor of their solution should sense opportunity knocking right now, at this very point in history, says former Babbel, Shiseido, and Hyatt CMO Katherin Melchior Ray. 

Why? Because you should never waste a crisis.

“Everyone gets afraid in crisis times and yet, on the other hand, we always say that as marketers, we need to disrupt the market,” Ray says in the latest episode of CleverTap Engage, our CMO podcast on generating meaningful and memorable customer engagement. “Disruption… creates changes, and unknowns, and energy. And so, on the one side, there’s fear and possible loss, and everyone’s afraid of that all the time, but on the other side, there are openings, and that’s where the opportunity lies.”

It may not be 2020 anymore, but the world is still very much in crisis mode. Some countries are reopening thanks to high rates of vaccination. Other countries are still in the grips of the battle with COVID-19. Put it all together, and we see a fairly chaotic world in constant change. That’s hard — and the impacts of COVID are horrific — but it’s also a time when consumers are changing habits, switching loyalties, and swapping brands. The result is an opportunity for change in spite of the difficult circumstances.

“How can you quickly identify those opportunities and then leverage that energy that will exist one way or another to motivate your teams with that energy and transform it into opportunity?” Ray asks.

Her answer, based on leading marketing teams for top brands like Babbel, Shiseido, Hyatt, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Nike is vision, values, and velocity

Vision, Values, Velocity

Vision isn’t just seeing an opportunity. It’s understanding your customers deeply: what they do, what they need, and what they care about. And, importantly, what they spend their time and money on. 

Values is acting consistently with what you believe and the values you want your brand to be known for… even in crisis. 

And velocity is being able to innovate at speed.

“Your values need to stay firm,” Ray says. “They give you that strength of conviction… one of the biggest opportunities in a crisis is stabilizing and redirecting your employees… by restating your values. It’s a source of strength.”

But velocity is important as well. Executing quickly generates momentum. Out of momentum comes growth. And that growth can build excitement in the market and, more importantly, excitement in the marketing team.

Sometimes fast growth means breaking a few eggs to make an omelette.

“All of [our] entrepreneurial juices started to flow, and we green-lighted things very, very quickly,” says Ray, talking about executing during the height of the COVID crisis. “So all of the teams felt liberated by this lack of traditional process that we intentionally blew up.”

Key Excerpts from this Episode of CleverTap Engage

Change and opportunity are two sides of the same coin

“How can you quickly identify those opportunities and then leverage that energy that will exist one way or another to motivate your teams with that energy and transform it into opportunity?”

Crisis generates energy

“The third part is this notion of velocity. Energy comes out of that and momentum comes out of that.”

Speed is a competitive weapon

“How can we do this overnight? Literally… it was an impossible goal. And so we didn’t quite get it done overnight, but it made us break all the rules about how we traditionally go through things and get approval and all of that. Our CEO green-lighted it within 24 hours. And then I think within about 48 hours we had it launched.”

Appealing to both new and old customers is a skill

“It is a skill to know how to maintain a certain kind of existing customer and appeal to a new customer at the same time. Because ultimately, as we know, you want more customers and you want more of a share of a wallet of all of them.”

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