As former CMO of one of the biggest brands around, Jeffrey Hayzlett knows the value of clear direction and a solid business plan. Hear what this entertaining executive has to say about living in a marketer's world.
iMedia Connection: Kodak is remarkably evolving the way it markets the "Kodak Moment" to fit the digital world, thanks in part to new product lines that organically fit consumers' current needs -- i.e., technology and services for taking, manipulating, sharing, and preserving memories in photographic form. What marketing advice can you offer to help other legacy brands reinvent themselves, particularly those that might not have such a natural extension into the digital arena?
Jeffrey Hayzlett: Companies do their best when they get back to the core of who they are. The companies that lost their way and faced extinction only recovered when they woke up to the core meaning of who they are and became clear again about the value proposition they offer to their customers.
Jeffrey Hayzlett is the author of "The Mirror Test".
iMedia: The Kodak brand helped launch its evolved brand image with the extremely popular "Kodak Winds of Change" viral video. What was it about this particular piece of creative, as well as the video format, that convinced you that it was the right direction for the brand to take at that turning point for the company?
Hayzlett: That particular video was already laid out before I got there. I stepped in as it was being put together. And there were others, too, that never got out -- all of them designed to provide a guideline for the directions the company wanted to take.
But that video was a symptom, not a cause. A video will not change a mood, or provide real strategic direction. The things that will change a mood in the company are clear direction and a solid business plan. The groundwork was already there, and people were feeling better. The video was just the most entertaining part of the brand's greater change within.
iMedia: Photos and photo sharing are everywhere these days, thanks to services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. As part of a company that has a huge stake in the photography industry, what are your guidelines for protecting, distinguishing, and maintaining the Kodak brand throughout all the many places and platforms where users create and consume photographic images?
iMedia: As CMO of Kodak, you oversee much of the marketing team's strategic decisions, including staffing needs. What are some of the key traits you look for a potential candidate to demonstrate in order to join your team?
Hayzlett: Of course it all depends on the job I am trying to get done, but I generally look for diverse candidates who are adaptable, are willing to admit they don't know what they don't know, who offer different perspectives on the company's past and current problems, and who have a high degree of reliability or potential to deliver results based on those perspectives. I like winners too -- but winners to me are not those who always get it done. Someone who delivers on every promise because they went the safe route is not as appealing as someone a little more aggressive who took a few chances and was on message but and maybe missed the mark now and then. Those people are willing to go for it.
iMedia: You'll be hosting the iMedia Brand Summit in Miami, Fla. in June. What can attendees expect to hear from you?
Hayzlett: It's not so much what they will hear in presentations but from each other in conversations that build on those presentations. The biggest takeaways that [iMedia Summit] speakers and attendees always mention more than anything else come from the chances to sit down with their peers and exchange ideas and thoughts with one another about the challenges and opportunities we face.
iMedia: You also have a new book coming out very soon -- "The Mirror Test: Is Your Business Really Breathing?" What key pieces of advice that you give in the book speak directly to digital marketers?
Hayzlett: For years, people had asked me to write down some of my thoughts, but I resisted until now because now is a great time to hit the market with a message about real growth after all the cutting and eliminating and hunkering down. Digital marketers will find this message, as well as other thoughts on other marketing trends. And a series of key tried-and-true principles and ideas that use a blend of all digital media in the toolbox speaks to them in an entertaining way, coming from a guy who lives in their world.
iMedia: What do you feel is the role that a brand CMO should play in digital marketing? What tasks did you own in the past that you now feel are better left to other players on your team, or to outsourced specialists?
Hayzlett: My feeling is a CMO should cause tension to make the team better and better, and that's the role I play in any business I'm with. As I say in the book, I always hire experts to do the expert jobs as part of my team, whether it is internal or external. The time for one company or person to be all things to all people is gone. If I need a brain surgeon, I'm hiring the best brain surgeon and not the best general practitioner because I would never expect a GP to be capable of that job. I am more concerned with surrounding myself with people who know what they are doing so I can focus on what I am best at: Clearing the decks so my team can get the job done.
iMedia: Speaking of clearing the decks, you've gotten a reputation as an advocate of "ruffling feathers" and taking a "shoot-first, ask questions later" strategy in order to move a brand's image boldly forward in the digital age. As the CMO, this is obviously your call to make for Kodak; but how do you recommend that other marketers make the case for innovation and get buy-in from their own CMOs? What's the best approach? Anything they should categorically avoid doing?
Hayzlett: That may be the perception, and I cannot deny that I have given that perception to some, but it is not the deeper reality. No matter what I do, I have always made sure I am in line with the boss and my customers, both within and outside of the organization.
I may come across as a bull in a china shop, but every plan is thought through and calculated before I even open my mouth (like the carpenter says "measure twice, cut once). I may threaten to do something, but that's just me causing tension with words, not actions. I always know where the table is and where I am going and what my conditions of satisfaction are. That's what great marketers must do -- know their conditions of satisfaction for the brand and themselves, understand the value of what they are doing, and be aware of where the edge the table is so you don't fall off!
Editor's Note: This article originally ran on iMediaConnection.com on May 7, 2010, prior to Mr. Hayzlett's resignation from Kodak to focus on other projects. All responses reflect his viewpoints during his tenure with Kodak.
Jodi Harris is senior editor at iMedia Connection.
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