‘Don’t be afraid to say no’
ALISTAIR MACROW Macrow is senior vice-president, chief marketing officer, at Mcdonald’s UK. He has responsibility for the brand in the UK, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and oversees the UK division’s business strategy and insight function.
Don’t get bored of things before your customers. Brands should be modern and progressive, but the speed at which they move must be determined by customers. Avoid being too distracted by the next big thing. Understand it and work out the relevance it has to your business and the people you serve. But it’s the “customer thing” that matters. Be customer-committed, not customer-obsessed. Knowing your customer inside out is no bad thing, but it is pointless if you don’t act on what you learn. What matters is facing up to customer reality, dealing with the fact that it might not be what you want and taking action based on that reality. Get to the truth. Being committed to the customer means we have to get to the truth. It’s our responsibility as leaders to have a hypothesis for every important issue in our business. Use every piece of information to test that hypothesis and be prepared to refine it and test it again. Never stop asking why. Ask it often enough and you’ll have the best plans, based on the most meaningful insight, and you’ll execute them in the most motivating way. If we stop asking why when we hear what we want, we might fool ourselves but we won’t fool our customers. Ask why before asking what.
Advertising doesn’t create brands, experiences do.
Great marketing and communications polish a brand, shine a light on all that’s good about it and have the ability to shift perceptions. But they can’t create a brand when you’re providing a service to your customers. The brand that customers remember is the one they experience when they walk into your store, meet your people and pick up your product. Listen to your first reaction. Believing in yourself is bravery, not arrogance. Listen to your first reaction. By all means analyse it and consider multiple inputs, but make sure you really consider it carefully as it is nearly always right. Don’t be afraid to say no when you know something is wrong. You’ll regret it if you let it go. Allow the people you work with to be brilliant. The greatest success comes when you allow the people you work with to be brilliant. The rule applies to your team, your agency partners and your peers. Describe the destination with clarity but provide people with a sense of direction, not turn-by-turn route guidance. Encourage them to make their own decisions but trust them when they take a different route to the one you would have chosen. Make yourself uncomfortable by stretching the amount of responsibility you give your talented people. The more opportunity you give them, the more you are likely to get back.
Make the most of what you’ve got. With all the ingredients in place, the important thing is to make what you’ve got count. It starts with the people you have around you. Concentrate on strengths and how to maximise them. It is so much more powerful releasing people to do the things they excel at than spending energy to minimise weaknesses. Make sure every pound you spend and every bit of energy you expend makes a difference by ensuring that every piece of marketing activity adds value to both the brand and the business.
Don’t leave a gap between thought, word and behaviour. Always show up as yourself. Be honest and authentic. Do what you believe is right, treat people the way they deserve to be treated, say what needs to be said, trust your instincts. It doesn’t always make me popular but it displays integrity, promotes trust and helps me sleep at night! Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being different – those differences make you who you are and might just be what set you apart.