How a CEO Can Leverage Marketing Strategies for Fast-growth with Karen Hayward at Chief Outsiders

Driving new revenue is not just having a great product or service. Companies have to get the message distributed to the right people. If you had marketing strategies for fast-growth, you would see more traction in your market. CEOs often resist some of the strategies that require them to be the face and voice of the company. Developing marketing strategies for fast-growth requires new thinking. My guest today is Karen Hayward, Managing Partner of Chief Outsiders. His company was ranked #2827 in the 2019 Inc 5000 list. Karen and I discuss the power of the CEO’s voice to share the stories that drive the company forward. Discover the keys to marketing strategies for fast-growth.

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Karen Hayward: The Transcript

Target Audience: Karen Hayward is the Managing Partner & CMO, Speaker & Author dedicated to helping mid-market CEOs & PE Operating Partners accelerate revenue. Chief Outsiders, LLC is a nationwide “Executives-as-a-Service” firm, with 70+ part-time, or fractional, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) engaged from coast-to-coast… Because of its market-based growth plans, quality of leadership, and experienced team, Chief Outsiders has been recognized for the past six years by Inc.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Karen Hayward
Well, if you want to be in a high growth environment, it’s not the customers that are going to make that happen. It’s your employees and having an agile team of super high quality that feel like they have a huge stake in the outcome that’s a game changer. Especially in a world today where resources are so tight. I mean, you know, when I speak to CEOs, literally all over the world and one of the things they’re always grappling with is talent acquisition. And so if you don’t focus on those employees, you’re not going to have the good ones. You know, people will quit forget to leave.

Intro [0:41]
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host, my name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett [0:58]
Growing your company takes a massive amount of attention on the right strategies for growth. That could be marketing strategies, sales strategies, operations strategies, or financial strategies. There are many strategies that you have to keep your eye on as a leader. And as a visionary leader, you want to make sure you have that alignment together. What we’re going to be talking about today are marketing strategies. And some of the specific mistakes that CEOs are making, the opportunities, they’re leaving, because they’re not courageous enough. And they’re not really putting those strategies to work the way they should.

Gene Hammett [1:32]
Today, we have Karen Hayward, she’s a managing partner at Chief Outsiders, she’s also the publisher of stop random acts of marketing. Well, the title of that book, but we talked about some of the mistakes that CEOs are making about, you know, where they should really be the voice of the company and sharing their stories and what that means not only inside the company but also outside the company. When you think about taking your leadership to the next level. I’m here to give you some details behind the strategies we share today. In an interview with Karen, make sure you tune in, make sure you have your team aligned around the certain issues that are necessary to keep your company growing.

Commercial [2:11]
Before we dive into the interview, I wanted to remind you that you can actually get a tool that I’ve been working with clients with for the last couple of years, I’ve refined this tool this gone through several iterations. Now we have it completely automated, you can actually go online and fill out the leadership quiz. To get the leadership quiz. Just go to That’s pretty easy, right? what you will get when you do that you will answer a few questions. You will see where you rate based on the core principles of fast growth companies. If you’re ready to grow your company or you want to see where you are, then make sure you go to inside it you will get insight to where you are, understand where you want to improve and you will get them mapped into the 10 areas that are most specific to fast growth. company’s, again go to the leadership quiz calm and you can get that right now. Now here’s the interview.

Gene Hammett [3:06]
Hi Karen, how are you?

Karen Hayward [3:07]
I’m great. How are you, Gene?

Gene Hammett [3:09]
I’m fantastic. excited to have you here at Growth Think Tank. I’ve already given the audience a little taste of who you are your role there at chief outsiders but tell us what Chief Outsiders is.

Karen Hayward [3:22]
Chief Outsiders is a national management consulting firm of operational chief marketing officers. Everyone has been a CMO in a fortune 1000 company and people work exclusively for us.

Gene Hammett [3:38]
Well, that’s a pretty interesting thing. I hear a lot about fractional CFOs and things like that. So is that sort of what it’s like a fractional CMO?

Karen Hayward [3:47]
Yeah, absolutely. We work part-time and on an interim basis for mid-market and high growth companies. And we also do project work and coaching and leadership development.

Gene Hammett [4:01]
Well, I want to ask you a little bit about the book too, because you’ve just recently published a book, Stop Random Acts of Marketing. I love the title, where the title comes from?

Karen Hayward [4:12]
Well, I was working with one of my good friends who’s been really a great counsel to me. And I said, we got to come up with a title and I knew what I wanted the book to be. And I know what I see when I work with mid-market companies. There’s a lot of random things going on. And we were going back and forth. And my girlfriend said you should just call it to stop random acts of marketing. And it was like Eureka bingo, there we go so…

Gene Hammett [4:40]
Well, naming books is hard if you’re if you haven’t named one yet before because you put your heart and soul into writing and your ideas and you want it to really make traction if you will. You being a marketing expert. Did you put a lot of pressure on yourself?

Karen Hayward [4:59]
Yeah. I mean, you want it to be good. And you’ve, it’s sort of like your baby, and you just work on it and work on it and work on it. And, you know, I think what I tried to do was Think back to all of the best practices that I had learned growing up at Xerox Canada and really just tried to write size them and share with the mid-market CEO. You know, what can be done? Does that make sense for a mid-market company?

Gene Hammett [5:31]
Well, I want to dive into the reason why I wanted you on the podcast and Chief Outsiders is on the Inc list you guys grew, you know, really fast. You were in the top 500. from a marketing standpoint, what is it about your own marketing that allowed that level of growth?

Karen Hayward [5:51]
Well, when you’re in a firm full of chief marketing officers, there are lots of opinions. We do have an amazing CMO. Who is our Managing Director P taste? I think we keep it simple. I think we keep it very focused, we’ve been very true to our value proposition. And we’ve used market insights to hone and, you know, continue to evolve our value proposition in the marketplace.

Gene Hammett [6:24]
Well, one of the things that you talked about at cheap outsiders is, you know, your ability for everyone to be centered around the values. One of the values you shared with me just a few days ago, when we’re doing this research was that the CEO is the best marketer for the company. So what does that mean in your words?

Karen Hayward [6:44]
Yeah, it’s our number one value when it’s the CEO is the number one marketer for the company. And it’s really about the fact that when we come into work with a leadership team and a CEO, our role is to be the number two marketer in the company and to really translate the CEOs vision and value proposition into an insightful and, you know, actionable plan to deliver the outcomes the CEO wants. So it’s all about focusing on the CEO’s vision, and operationalizing it.

Gene Hammett [7:23]
Let’s look at some of the mistakes that are happening that you see, you’ve worked across many companies now you’ve got all of these consultants that are CMOs at big companies, what are you know, some of the top mistakes that CEOs are making in today’s world?

Karen Hayward [7:42]
Well, I think the number one thing would be random acts of marketing without a cohesive plan, but let’s dive into that maybe a little deeper. I think it’s really they take a factory out versus customer in approach. What I mean by that is they build their value proposition internally and take it out to the marketplace, versus understanding what’s going on in the marketplace from a competitive and customer standpoint, and building it from the outside in. And I can give you some examples.

Gene Hammett [8:24]
Yeah, it would be helpful to see what you mean by that.

Karen Hayward [8:27]
Yeah. So we were working with the Glass Company in Los Angeles. And when we were looking at building out their value proposition, it was all about where the quality people were the quality people and the whole team was focused on quality. And, and when we went and looked at the competitors, the competitors were also focused on quality. But when we talk to the customers, they were all about know-how these is the only company that delivers on time, every time. So here you have the message going out to the marketplace that’s all about quality. And the only thing that clients care about is not the only thing but you know, the quality was really sort of commoditized in that sense. But people really cared about on-time delivery when that, you know, the massive building is under construction. So, you know, that was an easy way to tighten up a value proposition and be way more relevant to the marketplace you’re going after?

Gene Hammett [9:31]
Well, I know I want to dive into a little bit more about value proposition because you’ve mentioned it so many times here. What other mistakes are CEOs making, that you see in today’s marketing world?

Karen Hayward [9:43]
You know, I think certainly in b2b companies, I think there’s a real lack of alignment between sales and marketing. And I think that’s probably a reluctant role that the CEO isn’t really interested in playing as being the arbitrator between those two functions. But I think there’s a lot of hidden productivity in tightening up the definitions of leads the handoffs and outcomes. So I think there’s just a treasure trove of productivity sitting there, waiting to be explored. And most companies

Commercial [10:25]
Karen just talked about lack of alignment and sales and marketing, you may have leaders of those teams get together. But I want you to think about this even bigger. Your job as a CEO is to create the kind of conversations that allow people to get that alignment back, and how often you do it as often as necessary. How deep do you go? Well, whatever it takes, because your job is to be that visionary leader to set direction and have the team understand that they’ve got to play well together collaborate at times, they’ve got to challenge each other, but they’ve also got to commit The goals in a big way. And we’ve what we’ve been talking about today is marketing. But this applies across the company is a You are the one responsible for creating that kind of alignment across the company. Back to Karen.

Gene Hammett [11:13]
This happens all the time when they have these individual teams, right? They don’t look at it as we’re both in this together, they create the silos. And you know, most of the people listening in here, probably smaller companies, they can’t afford to create silos are trying to get so much done with so many people. But what you’re really talking about is CEOs that can align those two functions together. When you think about that. What is one piece of advice you would if CEOs facing that right now?

Karen Hayward [11:45]
Okay, the starting point would be to get both your VP of sales or your sales director, your sales leader and your marketing leader in the same room and agree on black and white terms. To the definition of a marketing, qualified lead. So, today, many of these companies don’t have any definitions. And if they do, the sales leader wants it to be almost to order and the marketing person, you know, wants it to be the name and the phone number that came out of the trade show. But I think there are some best practices around a lead definition that can be black and white. So it could be what are the Job says I was just working with a company in Edmonton, Alberta, and back, and we were going through this exact process, and I said, it’s got to be black and white. So let’s have all of the job titles that are acceptable, and we listed out every single one, and then what industries are acceptable. And we listed out every industry and so you can they’re like five or six things you can do that are black and white, that define what a marketing qualified lead is and then and then that goes to sales and they have something that is tart the right target audience the right size, the right dimensions in terms of distributed organizations or not. So I think that is my number one piece of advice to force that conversation.

Gene Hammett [13:16]
Well, I don’t want to beat up on all the mistakes here. But one of the things I see quite common Karen is CEOs that don’t want to be the face of the company. Right? They write others to run with that they want to be in the backgrounds. They want to make it sellable someday, so they don’t want to be tied to it as much. What do you say in those situations?

Karen Hayward [13:38]
I think they’re leaving an opportunity on the table. Yeah, people want to know who’s behind the brand. They want to see the whites of their eyes they want to buy into a story. And so many of these founders have really exciting, interesting stories to tell and I think it gives them brand cachet.

Commercial [13:59]
Hold them for Second, Karen just talked about you want your team to buy into the story? Well, one of the things that we can do as leaders is to share the origin story, why we are a company why we had to solve this problem? What’s the big mission here? Your ability to tell that story? Well, that only helps attract new customers, but also aligns the people inside the company together. That level of storytelling is necessary for visionary leaders, all of the great ones are able to do it. Now. If you don’t have this skill, all you have to do is think about what it takes to create that story and the courage it takes to share it and the need to serve. The reason why. If you have any questions about that, make sure you reach out to me [email protected]. I love to help you do that specifically. So make sure you reach out to me back to Karen.

Gene Hammett [14:54]
When you say opportunity like I’m sure you’ve had examples of where you’ve worked with people that have stepped up Been that visionary leader and shared their story in a powerful way. And that made a difference for that the entire trajectory of the company. Does something come to mind?

Karen Hayward [15:10]
Oh, I see. So many of them shy away from wanting to do that. Not one comes to mind right now.

Gene Hammett [15:24]
Maybe it’s not within your clients, but maybe someone that you see externally. We talked about maybe Southwest.

Karen Hayward [15:31]
Well, yeah, I mean, there’s a perfect example. You know, Virgin Airlines with Branson stepping up Southwest focusing on their employees. You know, Branson, is there a better spokesperson for Virgin Airlines. I mean, his eyes sparkle and twinkle when he talks about the airline.

Gene Hammett [15:52]
You know, and he’s one of the ones that is one of those visionary leaders that is actually said you should put employees first and Right, they will put customers first. And when you think about that, because I know chief in outsiders believes in putting their employees first so that they will take care of their, their clients. What do you think about that from a marketing standpoint?

Karen Hayward [16:18]
Well, if you want to be in a high growth environment, it’s not the customers that are going to make that happen. It’s your employees and, and having an agile team of super high quality that feels like they have a huge stake in the outcome. That’s a game-changer. Especially in a world today where resources are so tight. I mean, you know, when I speak to CEOs, literally all over the world, and, and one of the things they’re always grappling with is talent acquisition. And so if you don’t focus on those employees, you’re not going to have the good ones. You know, people will quit forgetting to leave.

Gene Hammett [17:02]
It’s the number one problem across everyone I’m asking right now is how do we hire more people that are very talented for those roles that are a very good fit for us, and are really a fit for our culture. And retention is not the issue, but it’s just hiring more people. And marketing plays a role in that.

Karen Hayward [17:20]

Gene Hammett [17:21]
When you think about this, tell us a little bit more about the role marketing plays in creating a place that people love to come to work too.

Karen Hayward [17:29]
Well, it plays a huge role. I mean, everything from internal communications to being very explicit and deliberate in your client in your employee acquisition strategy. So we’ve done a couple of engagements, where literally, we were working for the HR department, and going out and finding Why do employees come and work there and what would take employees to come and work there and Then really work with leadership to put the strategies in place and really position the communications and position the company in a way that’s super appealing to their target employee.

Gene Hammett [18:15]
Well, I want to give you a chance to talk about the value proposition. I didn’t know there’s probably maybe something you wrote about this in your book, stop random acts of marketing.

Karen Hayward [18:23]

Gene Hammett [18:24]
How do we know that we’ve got the right value proposition for our business?

Karen Hayward [18:30]
So there’s, there’s really three things. So first of all, you have to have the right market insight. So when you go to develop your market position, you really have to look outside the window, you have to look at what are your what is the competitive landscape? What are your customers think about you and then internally, what are your employees think about you and then you triangulate, and you find that white space where you have something to offer that your customers really want, that your competitors don’t have.

Karen Hayward [19:07]
And then you follow the formula for a value proposition which is a standard template you can find online. But it really gives you the talk track to articulate how you’re different and the value that you bring to the marketplace. And you know, as I said, at the top of our discussion, this is an outside-in job, not what you think, and then push it out. And you’d be surprised about the number of times we go to do the market insight work and get the voice of the customer. And it’s, it doesn’t match at all, to what you know, the CEO and the marketing team they’ve been operating from that inside, inside out kind of you.

Gene Hammett [19:54]
When you think about value proposition, what is the one thing that that you will tell us to do to kind of know if we’ve got it the right fit?

Karen Hayward [20:05]
Market research. So if you haven’t done this, that this is a game-changer for companies, especially high growth and mid-market companies where things are changing quickly. When loss analysis, go back, take six wins, six losses, get an independent third party, not the CEO, not the sales department, get an independent third party to call those clients and go through a call flow and understand how those deals were one in love.

Gene Hammett [20:41]
Wow, what a powerful interview. I love when a guest gives specific strategies that you could take and apply you know the value of looking at your win and loss ratio. Having an outside perspective of why you won why you lost me even a filter that backs into marketing and sales strategies allows you to grow as a team Is you willing to do that? Do you have the courage?

Gene Hammett [21:02]
Well, what we talked about will really help you as a leader grow. All of this is about growing your capacity for leadership and about being the kind of leader that leads to growth continuously here is to be a member of the Growth Think Tank tribe. Thanks for sharing this episode with those that you think to want to be better leaders who want to grow their companies, and make sure you keep tuning in. As always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.


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