Nick Westergaard

By Nick Westergaard on June 15, 2015

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The Threat of Eroding Relevance with Martha Pease

martha pease

“The threat of irrelevance has probably never been greater for any company.” As a consultant, investor, and industry thought leader, Martha Pease has spent her career focused on helping companies solidify their relevance and create value for their customers. I couldn’t wait to discuss how brands can benefit from enhanced customer focus, empathy, and relevance on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast. 

Enjoy This Episode Now

About Martha Pease

Martha Pease is Co-Founder and CEO of DemandWerks, a consulting firm that helps business leaders drive growth and long term value by increasing a company’s relevance to consumers. Ms. Pease’s expertise is at the intersection of technology innovation, customer markets and demand creation. In executive roles, she has worked closely with innovators in many industries, marketing IBM, Apple, Neutrogena, Elizabeth Arden, L’Oreal Paris, Lifetime TV, and Domino’s Pizza.

Ms. Pease has also been an active investor, board member, and strategic advisor for Internet start-up companies. She served on the board of Fetch Technologies, as an advisor to Springboard, and was CEO, President and Board Member of tech start-up Magnetique. Named to the Neutrogena Operating Board from 1990-1992, she is a director of HBCare, and served on the advisory board of Voice Publishing.

Ms. Pease is a frequent on air and online contributor to CNN on the subject of branding. Her new book, Think Round, describes the short cut to creating long term company value by focusing on customer relevance, a subject on which she also speaks. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College, with a BA and high honors in English Literature and Film History, where she served on the board of the Dartmouth Film Society. She has lived, worked, and raised a family in London, Paris, Malibu, Taos, NM and New York City.

Episode Highlights

What ties Martha’s diverse career together? “The string and bow that ties everything up is that it’s all focused on helping companies facing eroding relevance.”

“Think of a company today that’s successful and not relevant …” You can’t! That’s because “relevance equates to revenue.” The rate of change across all industries is greater than ever before. However, everything — especially consumer-focused industries — is based on the emotional relationships brands create with their customers. “Today, the customer has a choice on whether or not they let you in.”

The emotional drivers to creating a relevant relationship. We used to focus solely on price, quality, and speed. Now we see that there are real emotional drivers involved that transcend price.

How can organizations put their fingers on the pulse of their customers’ emotional drivers? “Ask yourself, ‘What are the emotional drivers of your category?’” What space are you in and what matters most to customers? FedEx is a logistics company but they’ve framed their business decisions around their customers’ emotional needs. The payoff? Relevance!

Don’t pivot. Reframe. “Branding is an important part of the emotional experience we have with customers but it can’t be everything. It can’t be a silver bullet.” If your challenges are great, Pease advises reframing your business around customer relevance as Apple did in shifting their product focus (and their company) from computers alone to personal communications (Kodak and Polaroid failed to take this critical step).

Like pivoting? Wrong! “A pivot is reactive. It’s responding to something you’ve done wrong. Reframing is proactive.”

What brand has made Martha smile recently? Hubspot. Specifically, she loves their SlideShare deck/ebook about their company culture. I love this brand touch point as well and am glad to have another reason to share it!

To learn more about Martha Pease and her new book Think Round, visit demandwerks.com.

As We Wrap …

Ethan Beute recently tweeted us about the Cision list of the Top 50 PR, Marketing, and Social Media Podcasts that this show was featured on. Thanks for listening, Ethan! Thanks again, Cision!

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!



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Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.


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