Under the Spotlight: The Growth Director’s Secret

Under the Spotlight: The Growth Director’s Secret

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By Jennifer Woollford

To kick of the Marketing Society event series for 2018 in Hong Kong, we gathered to hear and discuss the “Growth Director’s Secret” with Andy Brent, author of the book of the same name.

Over an early morning breakfast, we were all keen to hear what the big secret was.  Through his marketing career at blue-chip companies in the UK and Hong Kong, combined with recent research for the book, Andy believes he has discovered the secret to what companies need to do to drive sustainable, profitable growth.  Much needed given “most companies are surprisingly bad at delivering it . . . only around 10% of companies grow profitably for any sustained period”.

So, what is the big secret?
“The key to sustained, profitable growth is becoming the default autopilot choice for your target customers”.

For those of us familiar with the application of neuroscience to marketing, this is a reinforcement, rather than a revelation.  For those yet to have been through training in how the brain works and how we, as consumers, process and make purchasing decisions, Andy’s talk and book will help to de-code this for you.

“We all shop on 'autopilot' from a small portfolio of favourite brands. We choose these autopilot brands subconsciously, bond with them emotionally, and give them 75%+ of all purchases. Crucially, we screen out attempts by other brands to persuade us to switch from autopilot choices”.

Becoming a ‘favourite brand’
Andy introduces the concept of MEE Moments “Moments of Maximum Emotional Engagement” and encourages us to build propositions that will win at these moments amongst the relevant “target customers”.  He shared some compelling case studies to reinforce this point such as the phenomenal story of Premier Inn, a hotel chain in the UK, that single-mindedly focused on owning a “good night’s sleep guarantee” to become the brand of choice for business travellers, who prioritise, above all else, waking up having had a great sleep.

The Fundament for Profitable Growth
Andy talked about the knowing the WHO (customers) and the WHAT (proposition) that will drive your growth – in the case of Premier Inn - guaranteeing business customers a good night’s sleep.

He also talked about the HOW – ensuring your ‘executive team’ is 100% aligned.  In my view, this is the absolute key to success, and is so often over-looked as the responsibility for driving that alignment is ambiguous.  Marketers cannot execute a winning proposition without that proposition being authentic – and that comes from 100% alignment across the business.  In the case of Premier Inn, the business model was completely overhauled to put all investment behind what contributed to a good night’s sleep (top quality mattresses and a selection of pillows), and save cost on what didn’t drive value against that proposition (such as mini-bars and slippers).  

Given it’s their secret, who is the Growth Director?
Only 4% of the top 100 (consumer) companies have a Director of Growth.  It should come as no surprise then that companies do a much better job of hitting their profit targets than their growth targets, given 100% of companies have a Director of Finance, accountable to the CEO, and in turn, the shareholders.  

Until last year this figure was lower than 4%, it’s been boosted by Coca-Cola introducing a Chief Growth Officer role, merging responsibility for Marketing, with Commercial and Customer responsibilities.

I hope that no marketer reading this would argue that their role isn’t responsible for sustainable growth of their brand or business.  The subtle importance in labelling and escalating the role of a Growth Director, is to move beyond bringing consumer insight and strategic direction to the table, and giving the empowerment to influence the full marketing mix, and to lead the alignment of the organisation.

So, whilst the secret spreads itself throughout the marketing world, led by those such as Andy who are able to bring neuroscience understanding into marketing application, those who will win will be those leadership teams who embrace the focus on long-term growth and drive accountability and responsibility to deliver it into their organisation.

This piece was by Jennifer Woollford, founder and director of Neon Marketing Asia.


Author: The Marketing Society
Posted: 06 Feb 2018
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