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Marketing Maturity with Scott Jeffrey Miller

Great brands aren't built overnight, and they're also not built without mistakes being made first. Earlier this year I had the pleasure of speaking with best-selling author Scott Jeffrey Miller to discuss all things branding and marketing. Our discussion runs the gamut from learning to focus on what's right, versus *being* right, and how people can learn more from others' mistakes than they can from other's successes.

In addition to being an author, Scott is also a radio and podcast host, leadership coach, columnist, and global keynote speaker. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

If you'd like, you can also listen to the conversation on any streaming platform, such as Spotify or Anchor.

Scott Jeffrey Miller:

Every marketer's biggest temptation is to spread themselves too thin, across too many ideas, and deliver a bunch of C+'s versus having the patience; quite frankly, the maturity. It kind of boils down to, do you have the maturity to say no to good ideas, including genius ideas that you cook up, that might come at the expense of executing with extraordinary excellence on a game-changer.

Ian Evenstar:

Welcome to this episode of All About Brand. Today we are joined with no other than the Wall Street Journal best-selling author Scott Jeffrey Miller. He's here to discuss his latest book "Marketing Mess to Brand Success."

As a quick opener, I was hoping you could tell the audience a bit more about yourself.


Sure. I live in Salt Lake City with my wife and our three sons. I just concluded a 25-year career with the Franklin Covey company. Many of your listeners may know that, of course, as the iconic brand, behind "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and dozens of other leadership development solutions. For almost a decade, I was the Chief Marketing Officer and served as the Executive Vice President of Thought Leadership. I also write a column for Inc Magazine every week. I'm a multi-time author. Fortunately, now a bestselling author, and I host the world's largest weekly leadership podcast globally, called "On Leadership with Scott Miller." And I love occasionally being a guest on podcasts as well.


Scott, you have such a decorated background and resume. It is a true honor to sit down and have this opportunity. Thank you for carving time out. I know that our audience will love your insights, and be eager to pick up this book. Why don't we jump off with one of my favorite branding questions: who are you, and why do you matter? You told us the "who you are" part of the question, but why do you matter in this world of marketing and branding?


I'd say I'm a bit of a mess, and that that doesn't mean I haven't had success. I just had lots of successes, but they generally have come through mistakes, challenges, and setbacks, and I have been privileged to write a series of books in the "Mess to Success" series. My first book was "Management Mess to Leadership Success", which came out 18 months ago. My second book is "Marketing Mess to Brand Success." And I've got a whole litany of books that are kind of in that genre of just recognizing that we all have messes and everybody's talking about them. Everybody knows them. Why not just embrace them, acknowledge them, show the vulnerability not just to own your mess, but teach through them? I think everybody learns more through somebody else's mistakes or messes than you do their successes.

I've hit this pinnacle of my career, and I decided to be vulnerable; to share all the mistakes I've made in my 30-year career that spanned the Walt Disney company for four years, and now Franklin Covey for over 25 years, and share with people that are in the same journey that I am, some of the insights that I've learned from both my successes and my messes. I think it's rare. You see a lot of speeches and books written by C-Suite people. People like myself, and much more successful than me. You don't hear a lot about their mistakes. You hear about the, ya know, tripling of market cap and, and all the acquisitions. Rarely do you see the underbelly that got them there. Most people that have got these successes, they've had hundreds, if not thousands of failures and messes. And I think that's where the learning is to be shared.

Ian: That's a wonderful premise. I couldn't agree more. I think when it comes to branding and brand-building; oftentimes, people feel vulnerable when they share those messages or mistakes, not only in their professional life, but also in their personal life. So when you can own up to those mistakes, or messes as you call them, and teach with them as a tool, I think you're right. I think people really gravitate toward them and learn a lot. I'd love to come back to a question about, is it necessary to repeat some of these messages on your own to truly get the lesson or to learn the lesson, but why don't you share with us one of the lessons that you have learned along the way, and maybe one that we would find in the book.


I can share a lesson that I actually learned from another brand, and this is a public discussion there, the household appliance we know as the Roomba, right? The automatic electronic digital vacuuming device. It originally was launched. It was originally launched. It was called ISOC. No, not that well-made, but from a group of very competent people. And what we now know as Roomba was enormously well tested in factories and for batteries and durability. And when they first launched the product, a surprising number were coming back with burned-out motors, far beyond what any of the QA testing had shown, and the researchers and the owners and the engineers could not figure out why there was this massively disproportionate number of Roomba motors that were burning out with consumers. None of which was replicated in any of their QA testing in the development of it.

Well, after a lot of research, what they realized was that when this product was launched, a significant number of consumers buying them were heart patients, people that had just recovered from a double bypass or a triple bypass or heart transplant, they were home for several months, could not leave their house for a variety of obvious reasons. And they also were not able to vacuum with an upright vacuum in their home. So they, or their family members, bought them a Roomba, a bot to keep their house clean, because they could receive guests, but they couldn't leave. They wanted their house to be clean, but they also wanted companionship. In many ways, the Roomba was a friend, it's a family member. In fact, in most cases, people named their Roomba. And so I guess the hindsight of that is, their market research was really not perhaps that clear on who was their consumer, what was the circumstance, to quote Clayton Christianson, the famous Harvard business professor, a friend of mine who passed about a year ago, "What is the job to be done? What is the problem that your product and your brand is solving? And can you deliver on it and build a reputation around it?"

Again, I don't mean to criticize the Roomba team cause, you know, maybe who could have figured that out. But I think there's a great lesson to be learne