Successful businesses are all about connecting with people

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11/09/2019

Fractional CMO, Mikki Hall, is an experienced global commercial marketing and customer experience strategist, but it’s helping businesses to really connect with people that makes her skills so effective. Here she explains how gigCMO helps businesses to grow…

How does gigCMO help businesses to grow?

We have a lot of experience helping companies deliver business transformation and commercial strategies. Our philosophy is to put people at the centre of the conversations. Personally, I use this phrase – ‘people to people’ or P2P. People buy from people and engage with people. Everything else is just a channel to make that happen. By putting people at the centre of the approach we help businesses connect with their customers and deliver a commercial success.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

As a Fractional CMO I enjoy that we get to work with so many amazing people on so many fascinating projects. I love the journey that we get to take people on. For example, we had a phone call from a company last year saying they had a huge challenge. The company was operating in a very competitive market, it was so price focused that the margins were non existent and the CEO doubted it would survive. The negativity in the room, the sense of defeat and despair, was palpable.

Over a few months however, we worked really closely together with the executives, from the CEO to the Director of Operations. We identified what was good about them, what they needed to change and where they needed to be. They had a lot of tough things to do, but after eight months they were in such a different place and it was reflected in customer feedback as well as the attitude of the staff. For me, what was special was going in, seeing the problem, seeing where we could add value and being a critical friend. That way we can help build the team’s confidence, skills and capabilities and could do it.

Why do you think a gig approach works well for businesses?

I think it’s because of the outside perspective that we bring. We help businesses to take time out and see things from a different standpoint. To push them, focus them on the things that really matter and to make the right impact. I think a gig approach, and in particular the way we bring different CMOs together at gigCMO to offer support to clients, is a cost effective way to make meaningful change. Even when you have a great in-house team, through mentoring, support and guiding over time our roundtable of Fractional CMOs can really add value. That flexibility really works.

What are you currently working on?

I have just finished a project which was very much about customer experience. It started with the company saying we need to train our staff better but when we did a deep dive into the organisation to see what they did and how well they performed, it resulted in a complete change of approach. We ended up doing a big piece of work on revitalising the proposition, coaching senior leadership and readdressing the sales strategy. This autumn at gigCMO I am working with a business in Africa who are about to launch a fundraising campaign.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I am surprised Croatian wine is not widely available in the UK. So, when I can, I run wine tasting events. I also do a lot with Buddy, my labradoodle. Recently we did an agility training course which he loved even more than I did. After eight weeks he would come into the ring and do all the obstacles by himself without me saying anything – all I had to do was to point.

Is there a particular book that changed the way you see the world?

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has always been my favourite book. The most memorable quotes for me are:

“I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”

And

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

I think it’s such a lovely book about how we worry about the wrong things in life but it’s really the people that matter. So you see, it’s about people again!

Do you have a favourite movie and why?

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with Jack Nicholson. It’s amazing. I think I loved it because it’s about human relationships. It’s about a clash between repressive and rebellious wills, and ultimately, it’s about leadership and power. Also, artistically it’s very well done.

Only yesterday I spoke to a friend who told me her client was still using clocking in systems for staff and I remembered this movie. We were not talking about a factory, but a small service provider with about 50 staff. The culture of an organisation is set by its leaders. They will get much better outcomes by setting the vision, empowering their staff and giving them freedom to succeed.

Tell us one thing most people don’t know about you…

I am actually quite shy. Networking and presenting are learned behaviours for me. Ones I have developed throughout my life. Many, many years ago, when I first came to England I walked into a job agency (those existed on the high street then). There was a particular job that I was interested in and the guy I spoke to said I wasn’t really suitable and there were three reasons why:

  1. He said it was because I am a foreigner
  2. I am a woman
  3. And I was in my early twenties and recently married, so I was likely to go on maternity leave soon.

What he did say, however, was that if I wanted to do something to help me get a job, I should read this book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. Naturally, I should have called him out on discriminating against me in so many ways. However, I did go away and read the book, and the message was an important one.

I think it’s easy for people to think that confidence is natural to professionals, but it isn’t always and it’s something I know many of my colleagues feel. I think as business leaders there can be huge pressure to seem like you have all the answers and it can be daunting. The Fractional CMOs at gigCMO have been in that position and we empathise with it – we know you have to feel the fear and get on with things anyway, but sometimes it’s nice to know that you yourself have someone to turn to for advice. That’s what we are here for.