Mark Botros: Hello and welcome to the LIFE WORKS Podcast.
01:32 - Joining me today is Kip Knight. Kip, thank you so much for taking time to spend with me today.
01:41 - Kip Knight: Thanks, Mark. I’m looking forward to it.
01:43 - It’s gonna be fun. Mark Botros: You are a mathematical impossibility.
01:46 - To look at your resume. It’s just, it’s ridiculous.
01:50 - It’s one thing to have, all of these incredible brands.
01:53 - Just one time, like something to aspire to, but you have led some of the most incredible and most iconic brands in the world.
01:59 - So I’m very honored to have you on. So I want to jump in here and I wanna jump right into one of your, one of your big achievements and I want to talk about the Chihuahua.
02:10 - So tell me about the Chihuahua campaign that you led for Taco Bell.
02:15 - Kip Knight: I guess it’s going to be the big reveal right up front.
02:18 - I inherited the Chihuahua campaign at Taco Bell.
02:20 - And for those folks who haven’t seen it. I’m sure it’s still on YouTube.
02:25 - Drop the Chalupa and all that other fun stuff.
02:27 - But Mark that campaign, unfortunately, while it was very iconic and famous and it got all kinds of awards, it didn’t really build the business.
02:36 - And it was guilty of what I’ll call “video vampire”.
02:39 - In other words, people would watch that commercial, talk about it.
02:44 - At the time social media was just getting started.
02:47 - So it didn’t really light up the airwaves yet.
02:49 - But we had plush dolls. I think at one point we were selling more plush dolls than tacos, which is not good if you’re a restaurant company.
02:56 - Mark, true confession time, I’m the one who ultimately had to kill the dog.
02:59 - Not literally. We had to recognize that we’d probably gotten as much publicity as we needed off the dog.
03:06 - And we went back to talking about food. So that’s a bit of a lesson for marketers is they used to have a a joke with the ad agencies, you can get somebody’s attention easily, just put a gorilla and a jockstrap dancing on stage.
03:17 - But at the end of the day, if that doesn’t have any meaningful benefit to your target audience, you’re just wasting your time.
03:24 - Wow. Mark Botros: Wow. That’s incredible insight.
03:26 - And this is, and that’s one of the things I really wanted to talk about, here was to talk about how marketing really works.
03:32 - So, I’m really grateful for that insight. So, I want to take a step back for a moment, and talk about brands.
03:41 - What is a brand, and what makes a good brand? Kip Knight: Okay, so let’s pretend that unfortunately the human race gets wiped out and a millenium goes by and we have creatures from another planet come down and they’re holding up what we would call a a Pepsi can.
04:02 - And they would look at it and they would find it to be an interesting archeological artifact, but they wouldn’t know anything at all about what the brand Pepsi stood for.
04:12 - And the way I think about a brand is it’s the collective human consciousness of the good, the bad and the ugly, of whatever you associate with that particular product, call it a brand.
04:23 - And one way of also thinking about a brand is if you look at a balance sheet on a company and you try to figure out what the real worth of a company is, there’s something called goodwill, and the biggest part of a balance sheet.
04:40 - For most companies today is the goodwill part of the balance sheet.
04:44 - It’s not in the physical assets, the factories, or the machines or any of that.
04:50 - It’s how much does a particular target audience love, appreciate, and consume that particular brand.
04:57 - And good friend of mine who actually came after me at Taco Bell, greg Creed, who went on to be the CEO at Yum.
05:03 - He had the best definition of what a CMO does, and I think what marketing’s challenges today, and that is CMOs got to build brands build sales overnight and uh, build a brand over time.
05:15 - And so you see this eternal struggle. And this has been going on ever since I started marketing of, where the numbers, where the sales were going to quarterly earnings call coming up, we’d better have a good story.
05:26 - Go. And then on the other hand, you’ve got this thing called brand equity, which takes an investment.
05:32 - It takes patience. It takes the long view.
05:34 - And those two forces are eternally in conflict.
05:39 - And the smart folks are the ones who can figure out the right balance between the short-term performance, and the longterm brand equity building that a marketer has got to engage in.
05:49 - Mark Botros: So part of the job of a CMO is it’s not just creative and there’s a pretty heavy business emphasis on marketing from the CMO perspective.
05:59 - Kip Knight: Absolutely. In fact, I would say the most important role of the CMOs, the strategic role.
06:03 - You’re hiring the agency to provide the creative aspect of it.
06:07 - It doesn’t hurt if the CMO has got a a creative side to him or her, and they can have a good sense of what good creative looks like.
06:15 - But even if they don’t have that, as long as they are really strong strategic thinker they should be just fine.
06:23 - Mark Botros: So what brands are really doing well right now in your mind? Kip Knight: I’m biased toward Apple.
06:27 - I’ve been a Mac user, my entire career. I’m an Apple shareholder, I believe in the brand that strongly.
06:35 - And they just go from success to success because Steve Jobs had another really good definition of a brand brand equals trust.
06:43 - And if you think about it among the brands you really love, if I ask you the question, how much do you trust that brand? You’d probably say absolutely, or a lot.
06:51 - And I could probably also say are there any brands that you used to love and you don’t love anymore? More than likely somewhere along the way, they broke that trust.
06:58 - And it’s like your reputation. It takes a long time to create and build and can be destroyed in an instant.
07:06 - And I think that’s the danger that some brands, face today, they they get the wrong spokesperson or they make some stupid brand move.
07:13 - And then all of a sudden, they go from hero to zero.
07:16 - That’s why it’s just so important that the CMO is the steward of not only the short-term results, but also the guardian of that brand equity, because at the end of the day that will be their legacy.
07:28 - It won’t be if they met the last quarter results, that’d be whether or not they added to the long-term equity of that brand.
07:35 - Mark Botros: Yeah. Are there any brands that should be concerned right now? Kip Knight: Oh, there are a lot of brands that should be concerned.
07:43 - I think unfortunately, due to COVID there are a lot of brands that probably are not going to be around, even though they it was through no fault of their own this will date this podcast, but Game Stop has been in the news all this week with, a lot of market forces going on.
07:56 - And the one thing I can’t help but think is, if you’re the head of marketing for Game Stop, what do you do? You’re caught in the middle of a hurricane.
08:07 - And so there are some times and I’m from Louisiana originally.
08:10 - And there’s one expression. Sometimes you get the bear.
08:13 - Sometimes the bear gets you. So sometimes despite your best efforts, brands are in a tough spot that they can’t get out of.
08:19 - But for the most part, if your brand is founded on a real key, fundamental insight of a target audience, and you’re consistently delivering a benefit to that target, you should be able to figure out a way to survive no matter what the outside forces are.
08:36 - Yeah. Mark Botros: Tell me about the marketing landscape today versus what it was say 20 or 25 years ago? Kip Knight: Obviously the biggest change is the whole digital universe has exploded.
08:48 - My marketing career actually goes back 40 years and at the very beginning, it was really simple.
08:53 - You had, three major television networks, newspapers were still.
08:57 - A thriving business radio was actually still, a big part of the mix.
09:01 - And I think as of this year, digital has overtaken television believe it or not in terms of the absolute amount of money that’s spent also media habits have radically changed in terms of, more time spent on social media than on television and the ability for.
09:19 - A relatively small number of consumers to have a really big impact on how the world views your brand.
09:25 - The biggest change is just coming to grips with the the fact that the media channels have changed the consumption has changed the amount of control that you have as a marketer has radically changed.
09:36 - And the final thing I think that’s changed is I think.
09:39 - We’re going through a number of mega trends right now, as far as social issues go.
09:44 - And some companies are doing a great job embracing those challenges and leading through the change and being proactive and other companies are just pretending like they don’t exist or they hope they go away.
09:56 - So I think one of the other big outcomes of what we’re seeing right now is those brands that are leaders in terms of championing you know what I’ll call the social good are going to be much, much better off in the long run than those companies that don’t want to engage in that.
10:14 - Mark Botros: So you recently, co-authored a book with Bob Pearson, another guest of our show called.
10:20 - Crafting Persuasion. Why did you and Bob and another author Ed Tazia Kip Knight: Ed Tazia also was one of the coauthors.
10:31 - Mark Botros: Yeah. Why did you all write that book? What was the problem that you were trying to solve? Kip Knight: I think the biggest problem we were trying to solve is that we were working with the State Department on helping the people on the field figure out a way to be more strategic in their messaging.
10:49 - And the specific problem that we heard over and over again is let’s say you were in an Embassy and the Ambassador, said, I’d like to get a Facebook posting, or I want to send out a Twitter announcement, or I want to do a YouTube interview.
11:04 - And, they would do it becomes that was part of the job, but they were frustrated in terms of I’m not sure I understand why we’re doing it or what the long-term goal of this is or who are even trying to talk to.
11:17 - And we need you guys to come in and try to create some type of a way of thinking about this to frame the conversation so that our upper management, so to speak, quits doing all of these, short-term executional exercises and gets more strategic in terms of how we communicate with our target audience.
11:36 - So that was the genesis of it. And what we basically did is we took a lot of the learnings that I had from , and Ed, had from Procter and Gamble which I think is pretty darn good at figuring out strategic communication, along with all the work that Bob had done over the years with various agencies and companies he’d worked with and, all modesty aside, I think it’s one of the better books out there.
11:57 - If you’re trying to figure out what’s the best way to create a a viable, practical. . And yet strategic approach to how you do communication.
12:06 - and it doesn’t matter if it’s a one-on-one communication or you’re talking to millions.
12:10 - The fundamentals are always going to be the same.
12:13 - Mark Botros: You talk about the origin of the book, starting with a call to come to the White House.
12:19 - Tell us about that call and that meeting. Kip Knight: Yeah,I thought at first I thought that was a prank but it was a 2008.
12:26 - The Bush administration was winding down. I was actually winding down my time at eBay and I got a phone call one night and.
12:34 - The individual said I’m from the National Security Council and America’s image is really taking a beating and we’re inviting a couple of marketers to come to the White House and talk to the National Security Council about what we can do about it.
12:47 - And, after I verified it wasn’t a prank. I was pretty excited as you think, any marketer, that was like, A marketer dream come true.
12:57 - Your country needs you come come help us out.
13:00 - And went to the, went to DC and went to the White House and went to the cabinet room across from the Oval Office and met for I think we had about an hour meeting with the actual National Security Council.
13:09 - It wasn’t the junior assistants or anything.
13:11 - It was the real deal. But at the end of it I just said, look, this has been a real honor and a privilege and a pleasure, but.
13:17 - If you guys are serious about trying to change the way that we communicate with various audiences around the world, we have to do a better job training the people on the ground.
13:27 - And at that point I had done a couple of not a couple.
13:31 - I did a number of seminars at both PepsiCo and eBay on training people how to think more strategically about marketing communication.
13:39 - So we created what we came to call the United States Marketing Communication College the USMCC.
13:46 - And for about the next decade pro bono, we taught at the State Department training facilities several thousand, diplomats of various types on how to think more strategically.
14:00 - And that was again, the basis of the book and the book we’ve captured.
14:03 - The model and how it works. And a lot of real world case studies as well, both, both from the private sector, as well as from government.
14:11 - Mark Botros: Tell us a little bit about that model Kip Knight: if you think about it, any kind of model, that’s going to be any good for you.
14:19 - You don’t want to have to go look it up, on your computer or a book or try to remember what was that.
14:25 - It’s gotta be simple enough that you can carry it around in your head.
14:28 - And I could literally wake you up in the middle of the night and you could just spill it out to me.
14:32 - And so we said, everybody knows their ABCs.
14:35 - So here’s the way to think about the model five core elements on any communication strategy A for Audience B for Behavioral Objective C for Content.
14:48 - A D for Delivery and E for Evaluation. But that’s in essence, the model, and anytime you develop a a strategy and one of the things we’ve done is also created a template for folks.
14:59 - So if you go to the website that we’ve created, that goes along with a book, crafting persuasion. com, you can actually go to the exhibits and.
15:08 - And you can see an example of a template. That’s got the definitions and also a blank one.
15:13 - And so you can create your own strategy, which the big mantra for the marketing college that we stressed over and over again.
15:21 - And I see it violated on a daily basis strategy before execution.
15:26 - Strategy before execution. So no matter what you’re trying to communicate, take the time to really figure out what is your strategy.
15:34 - And what are those fundamental questions that you need to answer for us? And you can literally go through the ABCDE who is your audience? What are you trying to get them to do? What is the content that’s going to persuade them to go do that? How are you going to deliver that message? And what’s your success criteria to evaluate it? So this is not rocket science.
15:52 - This is not very complicated. And yet I would argue way too many folks don’t do it at all.
15:59 - And if you want to go back to the example of great brands, I can tell you the great brands absolutely would check every one of those questions off consistently.
16:08 - So if you take nothing away from this podcast, I hope people, remember strategy before execution and perhaps our book can help them figure out how to do that.
16:17 - Mark Botros: So a lot of companies and marketers, as you said, focus on just content and delivery of their marketing campaign.
16:23 - What’s the price that they would pay if they didn’t follow the model as you’ve outlined it? Kip Knight: I think a one word answer would be confusion.
16:32 - Their potential audience. Doesn’t ever even find out about them because they haven’t figured out, where does that audience, consume their media? What is their audience care about? What would be a motivating benefit for that audience? And it also makes it really difficult for the next team that comes along and is in charge of the marketing because.
16:53 - There’s no thread, the reason I’ll mention Geico is another brand I think has done an outstanding job.
16:58 - Geico, believe it or not spends a billion dollars a year, for one simple message give us 15 minutes will save you 15% more on your car insurance.
17:09 - And yet, that must keep working for them because they’ve come up with.
17:13 - Oh a half dozen creative approaches. I could just off the top of my head, give you to just reinforce that message over and over again.
17:20 - So they’re very consistent creatively. They knew where their target is.
17:24 - They know what their behavioral objective is by our insurance.
17:26 - And they’ve got enough content and media vehicles and then know how to evaluate it more premiums collected every year.
17:33 - To answer your question. There’s confusion and chaos and ruin if you don’t do it.
17:37 - And if you do it well untold riches and success.
17:40 - You choose which one do you want? Mark Botros: That’s a compelling argument where do marketers or their companies get marketing wrong? What are some of the marketing missteps or marketing campaigns that have really just misfired in the public? Kip Knight: I don’t want to pick on any particular brands because they’re for the grace of God go I I but just look around one, one exercise that I’ve done ever since I started at Proctor and this was what my hiring manager told me to do.
18:10 - I was so excited to get started and he said, okay, slow down.
18:14 - I just want you here’s one homework assignment.
18:16 - Every time you watch a television commercial, I want you to evaluate.
18:21 - Whether or not, you think it was an effective ad and to be able to articulate to me why or why not, and a hundred thousand TV commercials later, so I actually look forward to most TV commercials because I’m almost using it as a way of, sharpening the sword every time and being able to articulate to myself, okay, I can give that a 90 or a 60 or a 20.
18:42 - And here’s why and a lot of the mistakes people make is.
18:46 - And you see this, unfortunately on way too many Superbowl ads.
18:48 - How many times have you watched a Superbowl ad? And number one, you have no idea what it’s, what brand you’re talking about.
18:55 - Number two, you have no idea what benefit they’re selling, and number three, you’re not quite sure what they want you to do next.
19:00 - Other than that, the agency and the client got to go to the super bowl and have a good time, there’s no real lasting benefit.
19:07 - From what they’ve done. So look around you, you don’t have to look very far to see examples of really disappointing advertising and in a world in which everything is being measured and, what’s the ROI and how do we cut money? One of the fastest ways of decimating your marketing budget is to be non-strategic to not really be able to demonstrate any benefit from your marketing.
19:28 - And I guarantee you, your finance friends will come in and go, thank you very much.
19:31 - We’ll take it from here. And before you know it, you’re trying to exist on price promotions, which is the ultimate death nell for any brand, because unless you are a value based brand and that’s your sole reason for being if you’re down to competing only on price, then pack it up and go home.
19:47 - You’re done. Mark Botros: What are some of your favorite campaigns? 100,000 TV commercials later? Kip Knight: Let’s see here.
19:54 - I had a couple that I I was thinking about, I think if you and this is dating me a bit, but if you go back 10 years and remember the.
20:00 - I am a Mac, I’m a Windows, the those ads talking about the Macintosh computer.
20:06 - Those are classics more currently and a friend of mine actually did these ads.
20:10 - Farmer’s Insurance. We know a thing or two about insurance because we’ve seen a thing or two about insurance.
20:14 - If you think about it, as opposed to a Geico ad, which is primarily talking about, what a great value they are, Farmer has never really talked that much about price.
20:22 - They talk about expertise. And, obviously that campaign must be working for them because they’ve run it for a number of years.
20:29 - And I’m sure in their research, in terms of, name of brand that knows what they’re talking about.
20:34 - They would rank high, Capital One this is another one that even though I find the creative a bit irritating, they’ve really drilled home.
20:41 - The idea of what’s in your wallet. And if you think about your own habits, you probably only are going to use.
20:48 - One or maybe two credit cards and, in your personal finance and I’m sure one of the reasons they’ve continued to do well is that, that credit card, Capital One credit card has become the credit card of choice for millions of users.
21:02 - So again my criteria for success is not only does it get your attention, is it focused and memorable? Does it have a meaningful benefit, an actual call to action? But, what were the business results and you add all those up.
21:16 - And unfortunately that’s a shorter list than a lot of agencies and brands would would like to think about a lot of ad campaigns go nowhere.
21:23 - And they’re just a waste of money. Mark Botros: Want to do a post-mortem on an ad that went live a few years ago and it was in 2017 and it was actually your, one of your former employers PepsiCo.
21:37 - And I want to actually. Do a little bit of an armchair analysis of a campaign or a rather an ad that they put out featuring Kendall Jenner, that completely misfired.
21:49 - What do you think Pepsi’s intent was in that ad? Because I’m sure that there was a lot that a lot of thought that went into that.
21:56 - And why do you think it, it didn’t quite hit on all cylinders.
22:00 - Kip Knight: Pepsi has historically been known as a a rebel, a cutting edge brand or a little bit of irreverent brand as opposed to Coke, which is much more traditional.
22:11 - And even though I know nothing at all about, the thinking behind the commercial, I think they were trying to embrace some of the social changes and causes that are out there, but they were doing it.
22:23 - in a really awkward way. If you look at some of the corporate advertising, Procter and Gamble is doing in terms of inequality and making sure people get a fair shake, that’s got a pretty serious message to it.
22:37 - Cause it’s a serious problem. If you’re in the middle of a riot, the idea of going out there and offering, somebody a carbonated beverage and all of a sudden everything’s cool.
22:46 - That’s almost satire. In fact when, unfortunately when the January the 6th riots were going on, part of the news on social media was, is Kendall Jenner is heading to DC now with a case of Pepsi.
22:57 - So it’s going to be okay. So yeah it became a bit of a punching bag for what I’ll call really stupid commercials if I’m not mistaken.
23:05 - I think that was was that on the Super Bowl when they aired that one? It may have been.
23:09 - Yeah. And from memory, I don’t think it aired much after that.
23:13 - I think it was one of those that had got such a backlash and one, one good or bad thing about social media is you don’t have to wait around very long and know what people think about something.
23:21 - So that one became the laughing stock and I would bet whichever agency did that, it’s not on their best of real.
23:28 - It’s a misfire, but in fairness, Pepsi, they’ve had a number of really great ads and then you can’t win them all.
23:37 - And every now and then you rank out. But no, that was just an ill conceived campaign from start to finish.
23:42 - Mark Botros: Yeah. What do you think are some of the misconceptions that people have about marketing and what is the truth that people need to know about how marketing really works? Kip Knight: I think the biggest misperception people have about marketing is it forces people to do things that they don’t want to do.
24:01 - I think a lot of folks think of marketing the way they think of used car salesmen.
24:05 - They’re. Pushy they’re loud, they’re arrogant, they’re insensitive.
24:09 - And to me the mantra that every marketer ought to have is and this is basically what gets drilled into you at Proctor and Gamble.
24:17 - Our mission is to listen, to and respond to the voice of the customer.
24:21 - And if you think about it, if you’ve got a C-suite of executives and you’re sitting around the table the sacred duty of the marketer is to represent the consumer at that table, and with all due respect to the other functions, nobody else is going to speak up for the consumer marketing.
24:35 - Doesn’t. Listen and respond to the voice of the customer.
24:38 - Nobody will. With all due respect to the finance folks, there, that’s not their number one goal there.
24:43 - They’re not really thinking about that. Neither is operations, neither is IT.
24:47 - Neither is legal or HR. The only function that is there to represent the consumer is the marketing person.
24:54 - All those functions are really important. But I believe the marketing one is especially important because of the importance of making sure that.
25:02 - The person who makes it all possible. That is the ultimate consumer.
25:06 - If they’re not strongly represented and that’s not top of mind on everything you do on a daily basis, then the brands at risk and the business is at risk.
25:16 - And again, Proctor is, again, I’m such a continue to be a big fan of that company.
25:22 - their their mission is touching consumers lives every day.
25:26 - Which they do. They’ve got products that I guarantee you’ve used, throughout the day, week, year, your life.
25:32 - And a lot of their success has been because they’ve just got that consumer front and center on every single thing they do.
25:40 - And it trumps anything else in terms of how much money can we make or how much social media presence can we generate.
25:48 - Or any of that stuff, just making sure people feel like they’ve got a trusted partner with that brand is top of mind.
25:56 - And that’s what great marketing is. And that’s what great marketers do.
26:00 - Mark Botros: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would offer up to an up and coming, CMO chief marketing officer and their C-suites.
26:12 - Kip Knight: One of the things that I try to do throughout my marketing career.
26:15 - And you can actually do it today. A lot easier is always be testing ABT.
26:20 - Now what does that mean? That means that in fewer, the CMO taco bell, the way I was at any particular point in time, we had five or six different experiments going on around the country.
26:30 - It might’ve been a new product or a new. Advertising campaign, maybe a new media task, maybe a new distribution idea, maybe a new strategic partnership test.
26:42 - Cause here’s the challenge on a marketing. You have to make big bets and if you are forced to make a big bet with having little or no knowledge you might as well go to Vegas.
26:53 - Whereas if you have a continual. Series of experiments going on and you’ve got very clear criteria and you’ve got a timeframe.
27:02 - You know what the financial implications are to be able to go to your CEO and your CFO and say, we came, we saw, we conquered, we did this experiment.
27:12 - It really looks solid that the results are good and let’s go spend $10 million on it.
27:18 - That it, those are the things that either make or break a career.
27:21 - So my biggest advice would be always keep your test pipeline full, always be thinking about what can you be learning and try to take those learnings in a real disciplined manner and apply those to scaling.
27:35 - Because again the really strong marketers I know or are never done school’s never out, that’s frankly, part of what makes marketing fun.
27:42 - There’s always something else you can go learn and try and experiment with.
27:45 - And that’s how you get innovation and that’s how you get breakthrough.
27:48 - So always be testing Mark Botros: part of you.
27:51 - Your work is where you actually are an operating partner with a venture capital firm.
27:57 - And you work with a lot of younger companies in the portfolio.
28:03 - How would your advice change for them? Those that are closer to the startup.
28:09 - Phase or what may be just, early in the phase of their existence, because I think that it, for a lot of companies, it’s easy for them to come up with a product or a service, but I think they might not really understand how to do marketing.
28:22 - What advice would you give to them? Because that’s advice that you actually give fairly consistently to your portfolio? Kip Knight: I would give him the same advice we’ve talked about earlier.
28:30 - I would say, strategy before execution. So make sure that they’ve gone through the really hard work of figuring out who’s their audience and why and really know that audience better than anybody else, really understand the behavioral objective that they’re going after understanding the kind of content.
28:50 - In terms of benefit, reason to believe brand persona that would appeal to that audience.
28:54 - What are the right media channels or vehicles to get to that audience with that message and how are we going to evaluate it? So let me assume they’ve done the good work on the strategy.
29:04 - And then the other piece of advice I gave it earlier recall that I said is even easier to do that today than it used to be.
29:10 - You can do an infinite number of AB test on marketing now.
29:14 - And since digital is the predominant way. Of doing it go nuts.
29:19 - I would have a series of experiments going on in terms of, messaging and even drilling down to the nitty gritty because it’s amazing Mark, sometimes the difference, a different color or image or font or message or, so think of all of the digital marketing into the multi-variable equation, which are continually trying to optimize in real time.
29:42 - I don’t care if that’s your Google ad words or your email campaign or your social media, or et cetera, et cetera, you can always be going into the lab doing experiments.
29:52 - We’re no different than the R and D department.
29:54 - We just have a much bigger playground to work in.
29:56 - But it’s that disciplined approach in terms of, we’re getting better and better over time honing our message and making our target audience want to go do what they want to go do.
30:06 - Based on our understanding of what they’ve told us.
30:08 - Yeah. Mark Botros: One of the things that I’m hearing a lot as you’ve been responding is the critical role of data in marketing.
30:18 - It’s that? That’s a little bit of a surprise to me.
30:21 - I think maybe to a lot of people is how seemingly data intensive marketing really is.
30:26 - Kip Knight: I’m on a board of a company that we’ve invested in called NetBase Quid.
30:30 - I have been on that board for about 12 years.
30:33 - It’s amazing the technical advances they’ve made in terms of being able to take what I call tsunami worth of data coming in and think about data, not only just data from your own company, but just the data from.
30:49 - The bigger pool of it’s ocean’s worth of data, from social media from competitors, from economic data to government data and the beautiful thing that companies like NetBase Quid can do is to take all of that data and try to make some sense out of it.
31:04 - Because if you don’t have some really powerful.
31:08 - Platforms and algorithms and ways of quickly analyzing that data and figuring out okay.
31:15 - One of my favorite mantras about PepsiCo chairman was what, so what now? What, and if you’re thinking about looking at a big ocean worth of data, the three thoughts in your mind ought to just be what, so what now? What and how can we do that in real time? Because you don’t have the luxury.
31:31 - Like an academic of taking a couple of years to study it.
31:34 - You’ve got, in some cases literally, a day, a week, maybe a month, if you’re lucky, but you gotta make the call and in the more you can make it on a data-based judgment is going to be a lot better than it just felt right.
31:50 - Or my gut said, go do it. Sometimes you have to go with your gut.
31:53 - But I’ve always been a big fan of gut backed up with data and that’s the ultimate combination.
31:58 - And the other thing I’ll add there is and I think this was Steve Jobs, you’re never going to get a hundred percent confidence on anything, but if you can get up to about a 70% confidence level, then go for it where you tend to make the mistakes is if you’re only at 30% and you’re just going and you’ll look back later on and go, wow.
32:16 - If we just taken a little bit more time to, to get the right data or go through the right analysis, we would’ve come up with a totally different conclusion.
32:23 - So again, a lot of marketing, is ying and yang and this data versus gut, you’ve got to somehow figure out the best way to bring those together, to make the best decisions for your brand.
32:34 - Mark Botros: Tell us about your next book. Kip Knight: So the first book Crafting Persuasion was more like a textbook.
32:42 - And I say that with all the love in my heart, because it, it deals with a very rigorous topic.
32:48 - And in fact, some colleges are now using it for textbooks.
32:52 - Okay. That’s cool. That’s awesome.
32:54 - I’ve I’ve been really blessed and lucky in my own career.
32:58 - I’ve had the opportunity to do things that, as a kid, I would never even imagined.
33:02 - I’ve worked in over 60 countries around the world, and have done, and have had the opportunity to do a number of, really interesting things.
33:10 - And what I’ve done is collected a series of stories that have happened to me.
33:16 - And, look, I don’t want to pretend like I deserve here’s my biography because I don’t think I’m that interesting, but I do think I’ve got enough lessons learned that I organize the book based on some values that I’ve learned and tested and experienced over my life.
33:33 - Things like resilience or integrity, or audacity, or creativity.
33:40 - And I think it’ll be a fun book because it’s going to be designed so that, don’t feel like you got to read it, page one through the end.
33:46 - You can literally jump around depending upon what you’re interested in.
33:50 - Let’s say you’re wanting to be inspired to be a bit more creative, where you can read the the chapter on Creativity.
33:56 - And at the end of it and I’m going to give you some examples from my own life on how I’ve been able to leverage my creativity.
34:03 - And I’ve got some reflection questions at the end so that you can either reflect to yourself or, if you want to reflect with some other people, but the whole idea of this book is wouldn’t it be cool if I could take some of those things that I learned over the years and share with other people and encourage them to take take that chance because the other lesson I’ve taken away from all of this, and this is an expression I picked up in India and it’s simply leap and the net will appear and I’ve read enough biographies of famous people to know that the biggest regret that most people have is not what they did.
34:39 - But what they didn’t do and what I’m going to encourage people in this book to do is look, don’t go to anything stupid, don’t go out and throw caution to the wind,.
34:47 -… . But it’s, if it’s a bit scary or you’re not quite sure how you’re going to figure it out give it a shot.
34:52 - Especially when you’re younger, because. That is what I’ve done during my whole life.
34:57 - Sometimes because I felt like I had to and sometimes because I wanted to, but my goal at the end of my life is to look back and have no regrets to feel like, I gave it a shot and, sometimes.
35:09 - It worked out and sometimes I’ll learn some valuable lessons, but that’s what makes life interesting.
35:13 - And I would hope that would inspire some people to maybe take a risk that otherwise they might not take, Mark Botros: it sounds like a compelling book.
35:22 - Kip Knight: Yeah. So I’ll you’ll be one of the first to get it so you can tell me.
35:25 - Thank you. I appreciate Mark Botros: that.
35:27 - Yeah. So I want to do something a little bit different actually, and I want to do something called speed round.
35:34 - So I’m going to say a word. And you tell me the first word that comes to mind.
35:40 - Taco Bell Kip Knight: innovative, Mark Botros: innovative.
35:43 - Kip Knight: First of all, look at their the product lineup.
35:46 - And I can poke a little bit of fun and Taco Bell, I love Taco Bell.
35:48 - I eat Taco Bell on a weekly basis, but it’s not really Mexican food.
35:52 - If you go down to Mexico and compare what they serve, what Taco Bell serves.
35:57 - So they’ve taken, I’ll call it Mexican inspired food.
36:00 - But they built up such a loyal following among a core group of consumers and, all the other good stuff.
36:07 - They’re great. Restaurant brand has to have in terms of consistency and quality and just making it a really interesting consumer experience.
36:15 - So yeah, I think they’re an innovator. If you compare them to almost any other fast food chain out there like at one point, I think one of the slogans was I think outside the bun.
36:24 - And I’d say Taco Bell is absolutely done that.
36:27 - So yeah, they were an innovator and a $10 billion brand and to boot in annual sales.
36:32 - So Mark Botros: not too shabby at all.
36:34 - KFC Kip Knight: Global. Believe it or not.
36:38 - KFC is much bigger outside the US than a lot of people realize it’s a monster brand over in China and.
36:47 - I’m really pleased to have been a small part of that.
36:50 - When I first started working with a guy named Sam Siu who went over from PepsiCo to try to revive the the brand in China there were four failing restaurants.
37:01 - If you look fast forward to today, I’ve lost count there literally, thousands of restaurants and billions of dollars of the sales in China.
37:10 - And a very dominant player that is right up there with McDonald’s.
37:14 - So that and I opened up a KFC in about a dozen markets on my own, I was general manager throughout the world.
37:22 - Global would be my answer KFC. Nice E-bay Renaissance.
37:27 - Jamie Iannone is the new CEO at eBay. I was at eBay 20 years ago.
37:32 - And when you’re hot. And at the time eBay was probably the hottest company around.
37:37 - I think that one thing Meg, Whitman used to say is the disrupted become the disruptor.
37:43 - And then it eventually reverses itself because, if you get used to the status quo, other people come along, but I’m excited with some of the stuff Jamie’s doing with eBay.
37:53 - And I think they’re going to have a bit of a Renaissance and I think Amazon’s probably going to be the dominant player in the e-commerce space forever, but I think eBay is going to find its way and do well, with its own special secret sauce.
38:06 - Yeah. Proctor and Gamble. I’d say of all the companies in the world, they are consumer obsessed.
38:11 - They’ve been around for almost 200 years. And not only do they tell a good story from a marketing point of view, but the reason they can tell a good story is that they have amazing R and D and they really put a lot of thought into every product they make.
38:26 - And I’ve been really pleased, during this pandemic, they’ve had a bit of a Renaissance as well in terms of sales and profitability.
38:34 - I still think it’s one of the greatest companies in the world and they have one of the greatest portfolios of brands in the world.
38:40 - So I’m really honored to be affiliated with the a P and G alumni group.
38:45 - Yeah. Mark Botros: Pepsi Kip Knight: Challenged.
38:48 - And the re the reason I would say that is I think that they are going to continue to have to figure out how to pivot away from, what’s historically been, their main stay in carbonated beverages and salted snacks.
39:01 - I think as the population ages and as younger folks become more nutritionally concerned they’ve tried.
39:08 - They’ve got like Quaker a number of those brands and Gatorade and such, but and, they continue to grow.
39:14 - And the good thing about Pepsi is they’re never going to sit on their laurels and assume that everything’s going to be good.
39:19 - They’re continually figuring it out. But that’s a really good example of a company that has got to figure out how to, how do you retool, for changing conditions, changing consumers and I’m confident they’ll do it, they, they’ve got a lot of heavy lifting ahead of them.
39:33 - Yeah Mark Botros: HP. Kip Knight: I would say trouble.
39:35 - I know they’re a significant player and. Silicon Valley.
39:39 - But if you look at their history over the last decade or so, I think they’ve had some real internal challenges as far as, which direction do they want to go? They split up in terms of the actual business.
39:49 - And once upon a time HP equal printer in fact, I’ve got one here in my office and, it’s a great printer and all of that, but.
39:57 - Again, as far as what the future holds for HP, I think they’ve got some real strategic work to do to try to figure out in the mind of the consumer, what do they want to stand for and how do they deliver a point, Apple what can I say, a rebel? And I think the persona of Apple is Steve jobs.
40:14 - And even though his personal style might not have been, Yeah, suited for everybody.
40:18 - He was relentless in terms of pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable.
40:23 - He was passionate about the quality of his products and Tim Cook and the rest of the Apple organization, I think really live that on a daily basis.
40:33 - And I think I’ve read their latest quarter was an all time record.
40:36 - They just continue to go from success to success.
40:39 - And in terms of both, the branding and the quality of their products and their R and D they are the one to beat.
40:46 - They are an amazing company. Amazing.
40:48 - Mark Botros: CDC. Kip Knight: Okay.
40:50 - Come back. I think they’ve had a rough 12 months and we won’t go into all the reasons for why they’ve had their ups and downs, but I continue to be impressed by the overall, quality and rigor of their scientists.
41:02 - And I think their intent has always been to do the right thing for the American public.
41:08 - And hopefully with this new administration, they’re going to be able to shine once again and, become partners with, the world health organization and, we got we got a buddy up with a lot more folks on this because this is a, a threat to the human race.
41:22 - It’s not just a threat to Americans and we need to point the guns outside the fort, not point the guns inside the fort.
41:29 - We’re all hoping the CDC has amazing success because the more successful they are, the more we can get back to what we’re all calling the before I, I liked the, before I missed the, before I want to get back to that.
41:41 - Mark Botros: Amazon. Kip Knight: Ginormous.
41:42 - I my, my son actually worked at Amazon for about seven years and one thing you’ve got to give him a lot of credit to Bezos for as he’s been extremely consistent in terms of his mission and his very first letter to shareholders, it’s Day One.
41:57 - And it’s always going to be Day One. And I think by having that kind of attitude, you’re never gonna be satisfied with the status quo.
42:05 - And I think that the really great companies never get complacent.
42:09 - And if you look at the companies that are not around any longer, they got complacent.
42:13 - I’ve worked with any number of companies. At eBay, we worked with radio shack for a while and Ay yay yay it’s even when, even back then you were going, so what’s your future game plan here? It’s it’s not looking real good and there’s a long list of dead brands and I think that’s the ultimate determinant did they get up every morning and say it’s Day One? Or did they say, hey, we’re fat and happy and we don’t need to worry about it.
42:39 - Yeah. Mark Botros: Disney. Kip Knight: Family.
42:43 - I actually have a photo of Disney in my office here as a bit of inspiration.
42:48 - I think he was very thoughtful about his target audience.
42:53 - It’s first and foremost families. That’s everything he ever did was family oriented, and that’s true across the board, whether or not it was the the movies, the cartoons, the amusement parks, the merchandise and they try to bring a little bit of joy in everybody’s life.
43:06 - Who’s gotten young kids, I’d say they’ve been quite successful in doing that.
43:11 - And I’ve been very impressed with their latest efforts like Disney plus, which we subscribed to along with.
43:17 - Yeah. millions of others. And all the really smart acquisitions they’ve done, like with Marvel and Pixar, some of the other brands that have become part of that portfolio.
43:28 - They are entertainment powerhouse, but again, they’re not sitting on their, got the same spirit that Amazon’s got, every day is Day One and they’ve got to continually figure out.
43:38 - What’s next. And like I said about testing, they’re testing all the time as well, to make sure that whatever it is, they come up with, they’ve got enough confidence to make, not just a million dollar bet in some cases, billion dollar bets.
43:50 - Yeah. Mark Botros: So I want to take a step back a little bit and just explore a few, just general advice and lessons learned questions.
43:57 - If you could share one secret of your success, what would that be? Kip Knight: I would say, Churchill’s quote, never give up, never give in never, accept when honor indicates that you should back away.
44:09 - And let me explain that a little bit. I’ve had, some serious setbacks in my career I’ve been fired.
44:15 - I’ve had disappointments, I’ve had some financial, messes that I’ve been in the middle of and one of the things I’ve got, and I give my mom a lot of the credit.
44:25 - I’m an incurable optimist. The trick is that the Japanese have an expression, fall down six times get up seven, so it’s that, willingness to, Take your, take your licking and keep on ticking, to try to learn from anything that’s happened to you.
44:40 - Not to take it as a sign of your, personal failure, but, hey, I didn’t fail this particular situation didn’t work out, but I’m going to take those lessons and move on to the next opportunity.
44:52 - And there are some times and this is the one exception never give in.
44:55 - And sometimes you’ll look at a situation and go all things considered, that’s just not worth it, yeah, if you think of a Venn diagram in your head, you’ve got to have an intersection of, God-given talent, a market need and people are willing to pay for it.
45:09 - And when those three things intersect. Then you typically can be successful.
45:14 - But you’ve gotta be willing to recognize that in certain situations, maybe one of those Venn diagram circles is not, there, or not big enough and you maybe need to move on to the next opportunity.
45:24 - So that would be the biggest advice I’d give to folks, never give up, keep trying, learn, reapply yourself and be your own cheerleader, not to the point of being an egomaniac but also never feeling like you’ve gotta beat yourself up too much because many people either get cynical or burned out or give up.
45:45 - And the people I truly admire are the ones who have that resiliency.
45:50 - We have this new business I’ve started CMO Coaching.
45:53 - We have this thing called CMO Bootcamp. And one of the most powerful things we do in CMO Bootcamp is what we call the Power of Failure.
46:00 - And what we do is we have these incredibly successful marketing leaders get up and talk about the biggest failure of their career and what they learned from it.
46:08 - And Mark we’ve had people leave that bootcamp going, Holy Crap.
46:13 - If that guy could be that successful, and recover from that kind of failure, then I’m walking out of here with a coat of armor.
46:21 - I know that I can take take a few setbacks in my own career and still be okay.
46:25 - So that’d be a really important message to, to spread around.
46:28 - Just keep on pushing, keep on trying, keep on learning.
46:31 - Cause at the end of the journey it’s not going to be the destination.
46:34 - It’s going to be the journey of that counts and that’s what makes it fun.
46:37 - Mark Botros: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you would like to share any final thoughts that you want to share with us? Kip Knight: I think the only final thought I would share with folks is as part of this coaching business, I’m starting, I’m doing a lot of online learning.
46:50 - And one of the courses we have is what they call.
46:53 - Appreciative Inquiry. And one of the things I’ve learned from that is you can go a lot further with any relationship.
47:02 - If you approach that person with a real sense of respect and appreciation for whatever it is they’re doing.
47:09 - And one thing my mom taught me and this has worked almost every time I’ve had one or two instances where it didn’t work, but if there’s something you really want to learn about, and there’s an expert, if you go to somebody like I go to Mark and I say, Mark, I understand you are really good at doing podcasts.
47:25 - And I would be so appreciative. If you could just teach me one or two secrets of your success.
47:30 - It’s amazing. I’ve asked that question hundreds of times to very powerful people.
47:34 - And most people are really flattered if you approach it in that way.
47:37 - So the one thing I would leave everybody with is what can you do in terms of appreciative inquiry with the people that you either. know or would like to know to, to enhance your own knowledge of the world and maybe make them feel a little bit better, and the process this world needs a lot more appreciation for everybody.
47:56 - And if we all do it on a daily basis, I think we might be a little bit more fun place to live and work.
48:03 - Mark Botros: Kip, I agree. This has been an amazing interview.
48:08 - Thank you so much for the time that you’ve spent the advice that you’ve shared, where can people find you online and connect with you? Kip Knight: I think my platform of choice would be on LinkedIn.
48:20 - It simply Kip Knight. I do regular posts there and if you want to message me, that’ll be fine.
48:26 - You’re also welcome to just send me an email kipknight@gmail. com and I’ll be more than happy to get back to you, Mark Botros: Kip.
48:33 - Thank you. This has been fantastic.
48:35 - Thank you for everything that you shared. Thank you for your advice.
48:40 - Thank you for your wisdom. And thank you for your time, for the time that you spent with me today.
48:45 - I appreciate it. Kip Knight: Thanks Mark.
48:47 - It’s been Mark Botros: fun. .