There’s nothing quite like a hot waffle sundae on a January afternoon, served piping hot and weighed down with cold whipped cream, tangy strawberries and molten fudge. Just the sort of thing that could land your butt in one of the postmodernist, stop-sign-red chairs in Brian Featherstonehaugh’s office at OgilvyOne Worldwide.
“We’re getting waffles, do you want one, sir?” escaped my lips before my brain could edit my mouth. Next thing you know, we’re chatting about guitars and harmonicas. Brian is a talented musician. He is also CEO and Chairman of OgilvyOne Worldwide and a bestselling author. To a handful of recent graduates, a one-on-one exchange over waffles with Brian was a big, big deal.
Brian is famous for his client management and his strategic business acumen, as well as graciously sharing his wisdom with up-and-coming employees. His best advice: You are your own CEO.
“You’ve all been promoted,” he would say. “Your title is now CEO.” It was his way of impressing upon us that no matter where we were in our careers, we were the strategic lead to the business that we had been intrusted with. Your job is dubbing DVDs? Great, you’re the CEO of duplication. Your job is researching the psychographics of 21-34 year olds? Good job, you’re the chief executive officer of millennial mind reading.
Following this train of thought, if your job is to guide, enable or execute a winning content strategy, congratulations...you have just been promoted to “Content CEO.”
So what is your job as Content CEO?
One of the primary functions for top-brand CEOs is to create cohesion and connection -- to share the company vision and message with employees and make certain that vision is realized throughout the larger world. To do this, he or she documents that vision in the form of a manifesto or plan. The goal is to tie decisions in all areas of the organization back to that vision and makes it simple for everyone else working there to do the same.
While oversimplified, the process looks something like this:
Step #1: Begin with a documented plan.
Step #2: Edit the plan to ensure it’s easy for others to understand and adhere to.
Step #3: Share the plan with anyone at the company who is responsible for acting on it.
Step #4: Work the plan. Be sure the decisions made throughout the year align with the original vision. Execute the ones that do.
Step #5: Reassess and revise the plan. Review the original plan on a regular basis. Monthly is good, quarterly will do. Account for new product and market developments. Amend the plan as relevant data--not whim-- warrants.
Content CEOs should be following a similar blueprint. But it’s rarely the case. Surprisingly, 70 percent of marketing teams lack any type of documented content plan.
The lack of a plan leads to a disconnect between the internal (what the company is looking to share with the world) and the external (what the world believes about the brand). According to a recent Altimeter report by Rebecca Lieb, a friend of The Narrative, this disconnect can prove to be costly. A team operating without a plan is more likely to purchase technologies and services they don’t require; when several teams are involved in content creation there is a risk of duplicating efforts. This means twice as much time (and twice as much effort and dollars) could be wasted for little to no additional return.
As we lean into 2017 and challenge ourselves to make resolutions for the upcoming year, I’d like to inspire you to rethink your own job as a newly promoted content CEO. Begin by focusing on developing a well-honed, documented strategy for your content organization. Then, work to ensure that strategy is amplified and adhered to throughout the year.
I believe Mr. Featherstonehaugh would agree. It’s been quite some time since I walked the once red-carpeted halls of Ogilvy & Mather, but the advice I received there has stuck with me. (Thankfully, any pounds gained from eating hot waffle sundaes have not.)