Carla Johnson - Business of Marketing Podcast

Bringing Innovative Change within Your Company – featuring guest Carla Johnson

In Podcast by A. Lee Judge

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World-renowned author, storyteller, and entertaining speaker, Carla Johnson joins the podcast this episode.

She is someone who has partnered with top brands and conferences to train thousands of people how to rethink the work that they do and the impact they can have. Her visionary expertise has inspired and equipped leaders at all levels to embrace change, welcome new ideas, and transform their businesses.

Her work with Fortune 500 brands served as the foundation for many of her books, including her tenth, called RE:Think Innovation which you will also learn about here today.

Consistently named one of the top influencers in her field, I’m honored to welcome to the podcast, Carla Johnson.

Conversation points:
  • Can you share your experience on the formula that some of the best thinkers have used to come up with game-changing ideas?
  • A topic that you cover in your Innovation talks is how “everyday inspiration leads to measurable outcomes that don’t take years (or even months) to realize – Can you tell us more about using everyday inspiration?
  • What about group-think? If we are in the conference room and are tasked with coming up with innovative ideas, what can an organization do to bring out the best ideas in the room?
Recently I had a conversation with a common friend of ours, Andrew Davis, who is also very in-tune to Customer Experiences. He has an interesting view of the intersection between Customer Experience and Marketing.
 
You have spoken about how companies are pivoting from product-centric approaches to customer-centric.
 
  • How do you think pivoting to a customer-centric approach benefits an organization’s marketing efforts?
  • Do you think that organizations even understand the customers’ expectations of the organization?
Let’s talk a bit about organizational change.
I’m sure my audience often hears about storytelling, but from a Marketing perspective.
 
I want to learn about your experience in using storytelling internally to incite change, so…
  • How can we use storytelling internally, within our companies to get beyond “how we’ve always done it” and get to true organizational change?

Back to Innovation. I want to hear about this book that I’m about to read.

Your book is called RE: Think Innovation and it promises to show “how to create a unified, idea-driven employee base that delivers more ideas in a shorter amount of time.”

Please tell us about the book and what we can expect to learn.
  • In the book you have a term, (correct me if I’m wrong) which is “Perpetual Innovator” – Carla, How can I become a Perpetual Innovator?

Thanks for listening to The Business of Marketing podcast.

Feel free to contact the hosts and ask additional questions, we would love to answer them on the show.

Podcast Transcript

This is an automated transcript, therefore please expect and forgive errors in transcription by the robot that transcribed this text. For this reason, please do not quote any text from this transcript.

Intro: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the business of marketing podcast, where we have conversations with some of the most influential and thought-provoking minds in marketing sales, and business. And here’s your host. A. Lee judge. 

A. Lee Judge: Welcome again to the business of marketing I’m A. Lee Judge. Healthy organizations must have a built-in plan for innovation.

And in order to truly innovate, change must be a part of the roadmap. But change can be difficult, especially for organizations who have comfortably done things a certain way for a long time. Today, we’re going to talk about nurturing ideas, innovation, and change within your business organization. Joining me on the podcast today, as someone who has partnered with top brands and conferences to train thousands of people, how to rethink the work that they do and the impact they can have.

Her visionary expertise has inspired and equip leaders at all levels to embrace, change, welcome new ideas and transform their businesses. I work with fortune 500 brands served as the foundation for many of her books, including the 10th called rethink innovation, which we’re going to talk about today consistently named as one of the top influences in her field.

I’m honored to welcome to the podcast. Carla Johnson. Hi, Carla. 

Carla Johnson: [00:01:22] Hi. Thanks Lee. It’s so nice to be here with you. So 

A. Lee Judge: [00:01:25] happy to have you here as well. I’m sure there’s more to your bio that you want to tell us about. So tell us a bit about yourself beyond what I just mentioned.

Carla Johnson: [00:01:32] You know, and, and I think that line in there, like there is a line of truth in all that you just read.

And that’s when, when I went back and I looked at all that I had done throughout my career and really what made me happiest and brought me back. It’s that line about teaching people, how to rethink the work that they do and the impact that they can have. And I think sometimes as marketers, we forget that we can have a big impact because we have our noses down in a lot of the day-to-day work and deadlines and things that has to be.

A. Lee Judge: [00:02:01] Hmm. Definitely. Definitely. You know, it’s talking to me, we joked earlier, before we began recording about, about introductions and marketing bio’s and yeah, it’s hard for us to, you know, change hats sometimes between talking about the wonderful things we’ve done, but then also making it conversational.

Just say who we are. Yeah, 

Carla Johnson: [00:02:17] exactly. I was impressed. A friend of mine worked for, Molson Coors here in Denver, the, the beautiful, great state of Colorado, and one of the things that they put together that she helped put together as a corporate communicator was something. called the pub talk manual. And I know this is easier when you work for a beer company, but it was a, it was a great idea from their CEO who said, I don’t want to sound like a corporate company.

I want to sound like somebody that you would really sit down and have a beer with in a pub. And so his, his directive to everybody, whether it was internal communications among departments or executives to employees or whatever it was and indefinitely. From the company to outside audiences is that whatever communication they put together had to pass the pub talk test.

Meaning, is this how you would sound? If you’re sitting down in a pub, just actually talking to people. And I think that art of actually sounding like a real human beam is one that’s lost on us a lot as marketers. It’s one thing we need to rethink is how do we really bring out the personality and the humor?

In the work that we do. And I think B2B companies tend to have a harder time with it, just because, you know, somehow when you’re talking to another company versus a consumer, it feels like you need to be more formal or more serious or more, you know, something fill in that blank. But I think it really is that big missed opportunity for a lot of, for a lot of money.

A. Lee Judge: [00:03:49] Does that, you know, you mentioned B2B, does that come from the idea that their persona is harder to, to visualize like B to C it’s very clear often it should be who your customer is, but with a B2B, we know we’re selling to possibly a team of people. Is that possibly part of why we tend to talk to, to, a logo instead of to actual.

I 

Carla Johnson: [00:04:12] think, I think it can be part of it. And I know, I saw some research yesterday that said even the number of people involved in a buying decision in the last year in B2B has gone up. I think it’s up to 12 or 15 or something, something like that now. And that the number of touch points has gone from 17 to 27.

And so when you don’t have a specific person that you’re talking to, to your point. I think you can tend to write as a group thinker thinking, how do I talk to everybody all at Ella at once? And unless you have that one person in mind, It can be hard to bring out that, that humanist in that personality.

And I think some of it is the nature of what B2B companies sell, you know, when you’re selling toothpaste and burritos and cars and things like that, it’s really a lot more about a lifestyle, but I don’t know that any B2B marketers think of themselves as lifestyle marketers. And so I think that’s a different dynamic.

A. Lee Judge: [00:05:13] Yeah, it’s interesting. and I was going to mention later on about, you know, common friend of ours, Andrew Davis was talking about, he gave an example of if you’re a customer, even if your customer sells industrial equipment, they do have a lifestyle, their own personal lifestyle. So if you think about that lifestyle, then create content, speak to them.

And on that level, you might actually give a greater inroads and you were talking to a faceless brand. 

Carla Johnson: [00:05:37] Yeah, absolutely. And I think Andrew Davis is probably the, the genius mind behind a lot of this content that really stands out because he does understand how to personalize it. And once you get to know a person, and even if you’re talking to a buying committee, there’s going to be those overlap.

Of things that they all have in common. And if you’re thinking about marketing and the stories that you tell and the ideas that you come up with to really help that buying committee come together and make decisions in unison, you really need to look at that overlap area. And what is it that you can talk to them as a.

That they all have in common as people. And I think that’s, that’s something that marketers is as we look at, how do we create content for personas? We think about making it so specialized to each persona, but we don’t think about how important it is to give content that overlaps everybody on that buying, you know, on that buying committee, because ultimately that’s what you want people to do is have an overlapping understanding and an agreement in what you’re wanting to do and accomplish.

And ultimately that doesn’t. 

A. Lee Judge: [00:06:45] There’s a few things I want to unpack there. We talked about group. Think we talked about, you know, ideas and changing within organizations. So, I know that you speak, do a lot of consultation with some of the world’s biggest brands and in your book that we’ll definitely want to talk about, talks about this.

can you share your experience on the formula that some of the best thinkers have used to come up with those game-changing ideas? 

Carla Johnson: [00:07:07] Absolutely. And I’ll give you a little bit of backstory about how I started down this path and to dig into this process is that I’m in the gosh, 2015. I think it was Robert Rosen.

I co-wrote a book called experiences, the seventh era of marketing to, to teach marketers how to come up with story-driven. And, Robert put together an incredible process called the content creation management process, and it showed people how to consistently deliver these story-driven experiences.

But one of the things that I consistently heard people say is that I love the process. I understand how to do it. But one of the things that I still struggle with is either how to come up with those great, unique and different ideas. Or how do I get my boss to say yes to them? You know, boss or client, whoever, whoever that yes.

Person is. And so like for me, that’s never anything I really had to struggle with. And it was interesting, our mutual friend, Andrew Davis, I was talking to him one day and I said, this is so simple. I don’t see why people struggle with it. All you have to do is bam, bam, bam. And I went through the process and he said like, that’s, that’s it now what you need to do because not everybody thinks that.

Is to research, like how do these world renowned or, you know, perpetual innovators, what’s the process they use and is it the same as yours? So that’s what sent me down a trail for a couple of years is to really dig in and research and interview. And talk to these great innovators, you know, the, the people who consistently, and I think that’s a big part of it is their ability to consistently deliver these great ideas, not just, you know, I had a great campaign.

I had a great, you know, one thing, but that they really are reliable producers of these great ideas that haven’t worked. And when I would ask them about know project they worked on or a campaign or something like that, I would say, where did the inspiration for that idea come from? And they’d say, you know, like all of us, when we have these great ideas, you know, I don’t know, it just came to me.

And so what I did then is to start to reverse engineer their thinking and take them back down memory lane and say, well, what were you doing right before the idea came to you? And then what were you doing before that? And what were you doing before that? And what I saw is everybody did follow the exact same process.

Many times they just didn’t realize it because they are these perpetual innovators. And they had naturally gone through this process probably since they were little kids. And it’s just how they think it’s just how they come up with ideas. And so that’s, that’s the backstory about how I got to what I call the perpetual innovation process that they all follow.

And it’s really very simple. And I think a little bit of the, of what fools people about it is the simplicity of it. But it’s these five steps that consistently deliver these great ideas in the first one is really just becoming more observant of the world around you. And I know if, if you’re like me lately, I’m on my phone a lot.

And I know, you know, as I go from place to place, not when I’m driving, ideally, but walking down the street or, you know, in an airport or, you know, even in the grocery store, I’m on my phone when I don’t have something that I have to actively pay attention to. But when we do that, it starts to put blinders on us about what’s going on in the world, around us and watching what captures people’s attention, paying attention to what’s new to us.

And yeah. Tea reteaching our mind actually to really notice all the little details in what’s going around, going on around us, in the world. And then from there, the next step is to distill all of these different things that we’ve seen into patterns. In interestingly, as I dug into this, this is something that very naturally happens to all of us as, as humans, the neuroscience part of how our brain works, part of it coming from, from evolution.

And looking for, what is it that we’ve noticed observed? What are the patterns that we start to see? So even think of, you know, early man or woman out on the Savannah and they have to notice all of these different things, you know, is, is the wind blowing in the grass or the birds calm and relaxed, you know, what are the antelope doing?

And all of a sudden, you start to notice that. Flocks of birds are leaving. The antelope are starting to run, you know, different kinds of things start to pop up and it’s these patterns about, is it safe? Is it dangerous? What do I need to pay attention to that our brain is just naturally wired to do. But what happens is that we get so caught up in things like our cell phones, that we don’t notice, the little things that are going on around us.

And so we don’t notice these patterns. Now this, the third step is to start to relate these patterns into the work that we’re doing. So if we think about, you know, the idea of, of, you know, what do I do everyday? What’s something that happens in a coffee shop that I observed that I can start to distill into patterns.

And maybe it’s a pattern of, you know, this is a great point. Of community, whether you are a part of a community or not, you know, it’s, it’s welcoming, it’s a place that people feel comfortable. So how can you start to relate those ideas into the work that you’re doing? And then you begin to use those as inspiration for the fourth step, which is the ideas that you do.

And most people when they need, need a new idea or a group of people, they say, okay, let’s get together. Let’s get on zoom. Let’s get in a conference room and let’s start brainstorming ideas. So they don’t even start the process until what’s actually the fourth step of what the most perpetual innovators do.

You know? So they forgotten they don’t, or they don’t even know this whole front end section. That perpetual innovators use. So by the time they get to needing to generate ideas, they already have so much inspiration and they’ve been able to connect the dots so much. From the world around them, into the work that they do.

And so the ideas that they generate are more original, they have more ideas to choose from. They’re better ideas. And so if we compare that to a traditional brainstorm type of exercise, I mean, I know you Lee have seen the same thing that I have. You get into a group of, you know, a group into the, you know, Conference room or zoom call.

And one of the first things people say is everybody. We want you to share all of your ideas because there’s no such thing as a bad idea. And in truth, there’s a lot of really awful ideas that come out of it. Or you have those, you know, it’s the person with the highest title in the room, you know, like their ideas just become the default ideas because everybody’s afraid.

You know, to say, you know, I don’t think that’s a great idea or you get 

A. Lee Judge: [00:13:47] that nice right there. I want to ask it, you know, at that point, when you’re in that conference room, there are people sitting there with those innovative ideas they want to speak up. But oftentimes within that organization, the environment isn’t set to make them feel comfortable to bring out those ideas.

So as an organization, what can you do to make that room feel open to those new, new, and innovative ideas? You 

Carla Johnson: [00:14:11] know, one of the things that’s really important to start out with is to level set expectations and that, that starts to develop trust along with everybody. And I think in many companies, it’s just the simple expectations.

How do I talk to people? You know, if you have an executive in a room with people who aren’t used to having that face to face time with executives. I mean, I remember when I was young and in my career, there was no way I was going to open up my mouth and say something that might make me look like a fool.

So a simple thing just as making sure everybody’s comfortable talking to each other and referring to them by the first name. It’s so interesting. How. Level sets everybody, you know, everybody sits at the same tables. It’s not an executive table. It’s not a everybody else table. Everybody eats together. So it’s that clear understanding that everybody is equal.

The second thing that I always love to do to take away some of that fear is when you get to this generation, Is that you start to celebrate the ridiculous ideas. And I have an exercise that I show people how to do in my book called the worst idea first. And it makes it a competition and, you know, truly like what is the absolute worst idea you can share?

And I think anybody who’s shy and hesitant to raise their hand to say, I have a great idea. Is a lot more willing to say, I have a horrible idea, you know, then it really becomes a competition. And once you start to share those horrible ideas, a little bit of magic happens in that people start to. And as soon as people start to laugh, their emotional guard goes, goes down.

They feel safer. They feel an emotional connection with everybody else and it changes the entire dynamic of whatever happens next. And so those are the two most important things that I suggest that people do. If they’re, if they feel they have this culture of intimidation and that it’s not okay to raise their hand with an idea, 

A. Lee Judge: [00:16:12] Well, in that, in that exercise, you mentioned about what’s the worst idea.

Have you ever seen that exercise done or given the exercise and then someone go ask you that isn’t a bad idea. 

Carla Johnson: [00:16:23] I have seen that happen and that’s, what’s so interesting is that every idea doesn’t have to be the perfect idea first. It’s just a springboard to whatever’s next. And sometimes we aren’t able to see the genius in an idea because we look at it from our own point of view.

And that’s the beauty when we’re able to come together as groups that are more connected when there’s a greater amount of trust in the, in the room. And we’re all focused toward taking advantage of the same opportunity or, or solving the same problem is that all of a sudden, everybody else can see potential in ideas that we might not have seen.

A. Lee Judge: [00:17:01] Interesting. I’m going to try that exercise sometimes. 

Carla Johnson: [00:17:04] Yeah. Yeah. I, you know, even, even if you do it by yourself, it’s really you’ll find yourself laughing. You know, if I can just like laughing at the potential. And then the fifth step of this process is learning how to pitch your idea because it doesn’t matter how great your idea is.

A bad pitch will kill even the best of ideas. And the interesting thing about this process that I realized is that these perpetual innovation. Tell the story of the journey of their idea, starting out by simply talking about, you know, I was in the coffee shop the other day and I observed these things.

And then I started to realize that this is really a pattern. And then I thought about how I could relate that pattern into the work that we do, which inspired me with this new idea that I generated. And so that literally is the pitch. And an interesting thing happens in that when people are able to go back and retrace the experience they personally had with coming up with their idea, they feel much more competent about sharing that idea in a pitch.

And the more competent somebody feels about something, the more confidence they have and more energy and passion. And that right there, when you bring the confidence, the energy and the passion to an idea that changes the whole dynamic between them and the person that they’re pitching to. And it’s just amazing, amazing to watch.

And all of a sudden these people who previously weren’t confident, felt shy. Didn’t want to stand up in front of somebody really come forth with a lot of, with a lot of vigor and energy with this idea that they really truly believe. 

A. Lee Judge: [00:18:38] You know, Carla, I’m guessing that every organization has some perpetual innovators, so, well, we hope anyway.

So I had to think about that after, as I said, maybe not all of them for the ones who do, how does the organization locate or, you know, identify and then nurture those perpetual innovators. 

Carla Johnson: [00:19:00] Well, one of the things that I let people know is that perpetual innovators come in a lot of different flavors.

And I discovered, I discovered six archetypes of innovators. There’s the strategist, the culture shaper, the collaborator, the psychologist, the orchestrator, and the provocateur. And what happens a lot of times with ideas is that many people have a stereotype of what an innovator looks like. You know, we told people like Steve jobs and Oprah Winfrey up as those big, huge visionaries.

And we think that everybody has to come to the table with ideas like that. But the truth is that’s just a small part of what it takes to bring an idea, you know, whether we’re trying to evolve that terrible idea into a great idea or whatever idea is, you know, to across the finish line and out the door and let it see the light of day.

And so if you only have provocative. You don’t have the people who understand how to put together a strategy and a plan and bring it into reality. You don’t have people who understand how to collaborate across different departments because let’s face it. There’s few ideas in a company that only require one team to make it happen.

And so we need people to help us understand how to collaborate, you know, back to our idea of bringing more humanness to what we do. We need those psychologists who are very empathetic. To what it’s like to be a person on the other end of the idea. We need the orchestrators who understand how to maneuver all of the, you know, political and bureaucratic things that happen inside an organization.

And we need those culture shapers who really are the storytellers of an idea. And so it’s not about understanding who is, or isn’t. A lot of it is just understanding what type of idea of person are you, and then being able to come to the perpetual innovation process. From that perspective, because what I found is a lot of times there are amazingly creative and innovative thinkers within an organization.

It’s just that they’ve been conditioned that there’s only either one right way to come up to an idea. Come up with an idea and share it. Or there’s only one group of people who have permission to be those innovators and really innovation is everybody’s business. And I found through the research during my book is that 90% of innovation happens outside of traditional product and service line development.

So if we look at that in, in most companies are focused on innovation, just in that product development area. They’re missing out on 90% of the opportunity that they really have to be innovative to stand out, to grow their revenue, to serve their customers. And I think that’s the, one of the big things that I really want people to rethink about innovation is that it’s everybody’s business, not just something that a handful of people are trained to do or are allowed to do.

A. Lee Judge: [00:21:57] You mentioned storytelling. And I want to touch on that a moment because, you know, my audience has both marketers and business executives together, all over the business organization. And whenever they hear storytelling is typically. From, an outward bound marketing, you know, position. But, I want to learn about your experience in using storytelling internally to incite change.

So how can we use storytelling internally within our companies to get beyond the, how we’ve always done it and get to a true organizational change? 

Carla Johnson: [00:22:27] And I think that it’s a great question, Lee. And I think one thing that has happened with storytelling is that it gets pegged as being used only in a particular situation.

And some people see it as, you know, it’s, that’s the light and fluffy thing that you do, but let’s get down to the real business of either what we’re selling or the meat of what we do. And I think it’s treated a lot sometimes how marketers are treated in the organization, you know, as a, as a nice to have, but.

When the real work needs to be done, the marketers and the idea of story is, you know, sent out of the room and then people roll up their sleeves and get the work done. But the reason marketers are so valuable is because we are the storytellers and storytelling. Isn’t just for, how do I tell a nice story about a case study of somebody who’s used?

Our product storytelling is really helping people understand a bridge between where you are right now. And the vision of the future that you want to get them to emotionally connect with so that they will begin to change their behavior and help move toward that visionary state. Now, especially for marketers and business executives, this is really an important skill because many times, the reason that change fails in an organization is because executives are so far ahead.

I think about it as a comment, you know, they’re at the, at the bleeding edge, the burning edge at the front of the comment, but most of the organization is back here in the tail and they aren’t able to tell the story. That connects where most of the organization is and the vision that the executive has.

And I know I’ve sat in rooms a number of times with executives and they say, why can’t these people get it? I mean, how many times do we have to tell them? And I think as executives and also as marketers, we live in, in steep in these stories, in the vision all day long, every single day, But most of the rest of the organization doesn’t live there.

You know, they’re trying to get invoices process. They’re trying to make sure that, you know, people’s computers work. They’re trying to make sure that we get employees recruited and onboard. It’s only a fraction of what they do every single day. So storytelling is something that is constant. It’s consistent.

It’s always reminding people just like when you sit down to read a book for pleasure. Okay. What book am I in? What chapter am I in? What’s happened to get me to this place who are the characters? How are they related? Okay. And now, now we can move forward. And I think a lot of times what happens with storytelling is that we just jump into it, try to tell a piece of it.

And we aren’t connecting those dots for it to have context and meaning, and to get people excited, to turn our, you know, to, to pay attention to our stories and create those stories that really are painful. 

A. Lee Judge: [00:25:23] So when you say, get people excited, cause we’re talking, you know, both internally and externally. and I think often companies get too focused on their product and not enough about their customer.

And so you mentioned earlier, I think in one of your talks that, companies are becoming more customer centric. and so how do you think that pivoting towards a more customer centric approach benefits an organization’s marketing efforts? 

Carla Johnson: [00:25:46] One of the statistics I like to share. It’s from Bain and company and they’ve researched both executives and customers and they ask the executives, how do you, how likely do you feel that you are meeting your customer’s expectations and these 80, 80% of these executives said, yeah, we’re meeting these customer’s expectations.

And then they survey the customers and only 8% of customers. Said we’re meeting these expectations. So we have a tremendous expectation gap. And often what happens is because the executives are saying, yeah, we’re meeting these needs. I mean, look at these new products. We’re releasing, look at all these features that really tie into what customers need and that what is happening is that brands are still, even though they say the customer matters to them and they’re becoming more customer centered, they can’t get away from their love and eat.

I’ve talking about the products that they sell. And that’s, that’s very reflective in, in what customers are saying about, I’m not getting the experience that I want in a customer. Doesn’t only care about the product. I mean, the only care about the product, because the product is the answer to a problem that they have.

But in order for you to really meet a customer’s expectations, You have to show and prove, I understand your problem. I understand your world. I understand your pain here. Let me teach you something about what’s going on in your world that you didn’t realize what’s happening. You know, again, let’s go back and connect the dots for the customer so that they can see the bigger context of what’s happening, how the problem needs to be solved, you know, sometimes even why it needs to be solved.

I think there’s a statistic that something like 60% of all B2B prospective sales aren’t lost because of another competitor. One it’s because the customer decided not to do anything at all. So back to that ability to tell a story and make sure that you’re truly addressing the need that your customer has.

You have to talk about it in context of what matters to the customer and your product is the answer. It’s not the whole story. And that’s, that’s what we have to remember as, as executives and marketers is, let’s tell the bigger story that matters that visionary front in that matters to customers. And then let’s connect the dots back to, oh, ultimately here is a specific thing that you can use and put into place that we happen to sell that can help you with.

A. Lee Judge: [00:28:14] No the way you explained that helps me really clearly see a situation I have going on right now with one of our vendors in which the vendor is very innovative, but they’re innovating on things that I don’t need. And I haven’t reached out to them and said, look, you know, I’m looking at your competitors and here’s why, and they responded back with, but look at all these features we have.

And I went through them and thought about, I don’t even need these features. I mean, these are new things. You have new, innovative things. None of them are useful to me. your competitors are speaking to me and they’re making a much simpler product because I don’t need 10 features. I need three good ones and they’re losing ground very quickly because they were one of the first of the market and they kind of had a monopoly for awhile back to the whole is how we’ve always done it part know.

Changing they’re innovating, but they’re not changing. They’re doing the same thing going forward. They’re not listening to the customer. They’re very, very product centered. and I think their marketing is all product marketing versus marketing to the consumer. And they’re losing ground because they’re innovating in the wrong direction without Liz.

Carla Johnson: [00:29:20] Absolutely. And there’s, there’s a simple exercise that I love to take people through and people can do a search on this. You’ll find the exercise on the internet. I’ve written blog posts about it, and it’s in Robertson. My book experiences, the seventh year of marketing, it’s called the exercise of the five weeks.

And it was Toyota that really put this into play from a production standpoint to get to root cause, but it’s easily adaptable to anything that marketers and executives do. And it’s also a great way to understand how to tell the story that matters in the context of your customer. And the process is on average.

It takes five times of asking why to get to the root cause of what matters to your customer. So essentially what Toyota executive saw is that when people came to, you know, their teams or the production line came to them with a problem, they realized that the problem that they came to them, wasn’t actually the root part.

And the same thing happens all the time in marketing. And I knew, especially between marketing and salespeople, salespeople will come to them and say, you know, I need a brochure or I need a landing page for this. And if marketers go through the process and say, okay, why do you need this landing page? And then a sales person will give them a reason because of this.

And if marketers say, well, why does that matter? And why does that matter again, looking at let’s reverse engineer, the conversation and get to what really matters. Then, what you do is you literally just flip the answers to those questions. And now you’ve been able to start out with this broader, more applicable storyline that immediately connects to that big picture that matters to your customer.

And then you just tell the story in that order. And it ends up with whatever that person thought the answer was, you know, that the detail that we need, you know, they, they need this because we need to tell them about this product or feature of our, of what we’re selling. But unless you can put that into the context of something bigger that matters to your customer, they’ll always, always one struggle with commoditization, because if you can only talk about the features of your.

You’re never going to stand out. And two you’ll always struggle to be sticky and not only re converting customers, but retaining them for the long haul is, you know, especially as an executive, looking at that customer lifetime. 

A. Lee Judge: [00:31:44] So Carla, before we go on a dig into your book, your book is called rethink innovation and it promises to show how to create a unified idea driven employee base that delivers more ideas in a shorter amount of time.

That’s a big promise. So I’m looking forward to digging into this book. So tell me more about the book and what we can expect. 

Carla Johnson: [00:32:06] Absolutely. It goes back a little bit to what we talked, talked about earlier in our conversation about people saying, I don’t know how to come up with ideas. And it was, it was a mix of people saying, I don’t know how to do it.

And also that’s just not my job. Or I’m not smart enough to do it. So there’s, there’s this perception of who the innovators are in an organization. There’s also a lot of confusion around what innovation actually is. And if you do a search for a definition of innovation, they’re going to be all over the board.

So if people don’t even know what it is, you can’t expect them to know how to do it. So I define innovation as the ability to consistently. Come up with new great and reliable ideas. And each of those words sound, you know, simple and easily easy to understand, but there’s a lot of power behind each one of them.

So if we look at an, at an idea that’s new, great and reliable. So a new idea is something that hasn’t been done before in your industry. Now it could be something that’s never been done at all period, but it doesn’t have to go to that extent. So for example, if you look at the layout for the drive-through for a McDonald’s restaurant, it’s patterned after a formula one pit.

So, is it a completely new idea that’s never been done before? No. Is it a new idea because it’s never been done before in your industry? Absolutely. And that’s how they’re able to service so many people so fast in such a short amount of time. Now it’s not enough just to be a new idea, because that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily going to work.

I mean, there’s lots of examples about new ideas that are things. When Colgate tried to go into the frozen food vertical and we have pulled gate lasagna, which sounds terrible. We have Cheetos lip balm. We have, big pens tried to come out with a line of disposable underwear. So it’s proof that just the new idea isn’t enough to do the job.

Didn’t look at a great idea, to be honest. A great idea is subjective. You know, it’s not the same kind of criteria, but a great idea. It’s something that similar to what David Ogilvy talks about. It’s one that really gets you excited and makes you a little bit jealous that you didn’t come up with it yourself.

So it’s a little bit more subjective, but it’s really the excitement. But even a great idea isn’t enough and even a new and great idea isn’t enough because we’ve seen a lot of products and services fail just with those criteria. But it’s the third leg of the stool that it’s also reliable is what really matters in a reliable idea is something that at the end of the day makes you money.

And it could be because it generates new revenue. It could be because it makes your business more efficient, more effective, whatever that criteria. For reliable idea is, but this idea, this ability to consistently that’s what turns it, that’s what makes people perpetual innovators is that they’re consistently able to come up with new, great and reliable ideas using the perpetual innovation process.

So once you practice this process, and I have people who go through the training and read the book and they tell them. Okay. Now I can’t shut my brain off. I have more ideas than I ever imagined, and they do see with practice. They actually are better ideas. And just like anything, if you’re going to become a stronger person, you have to put in the reps.

Or put in the time, you know, running biking, lifting weights, whatever it is in order to be better. The same thing is true of being an innovative thinker. You have to build that muscle, but it happens very, very quickly because these are all things that we naturally do as kids. And that’s the important thing.

And I think one of the misnomers of innovation. Is that people say ideas are the easy part. It’s the execution that really matters. That’s the hard part. And I beg to differ because I believe one of the reasons that execution is so hard is because they didn’t start with ideas that were new, great and reliable in the first.

A. Lee Judge: [00:36:18] Amazing. Well, Carla, I look forward to digging into the book and sharpening my skills as a perpetual innovator. And, I hope to see you on the speaking circuit sometime soon as well. So before we go, tell me where, where can we find you and find your book and all those things. Yeah, 

Carla Johnson: [00:36:34] absolutely. And I just have to say Lee, I think you’re going to find that this is a process that’s already very natural for you because I know how you think a little bit.

So, I’d be interested to see what, what effect it has on the ideas that you, that you come up with. So for anyone who’d like to connect with me, my website is Carla with a C Johnson. That CEO there’s no M just that CEO like Colorado. I always love it. When people connect with me on LinkedIn, after they’ve heard a podcast and let me know that this is where you heard me.

And, and if you have any questions about my work on my website, you can see how to sign up for my newsletter. I have an email that comes out every single Tuesday that teaches people a new. Tool lesson about how they too can become these perpetual innovators. And then I’m also pretty active on Twitter and that’s just at Carla.

Yeah. 

A. Lee Judge: [00:37:25] All right. Thank you again. Carla Johnson for being on the podcast, I really enjoyed the conversation. 

Carla Johnson: [00:37:30] Thanks so much, Lee. It was a delight to be here. Thank you for listening to the business of marketing podcast. A show brought to you by content monster.com. The producer of B2B digital marketing content show notes can be found on content, monster.com as well as a lead judge.com to continue the conversation.

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