Audi marketing director: make yourself deaf to negative thinking

A welcoming office environment and willingness to adapt work to cater to different platforms are key for successful marketers, Audi's marketing and digital director writes.

Leap like a frog

Several frogs lined up to race to the top of a high tower. As they started to jump, spectators muttered: "It's too tall," and "They'll never make it!".

The frogs began to doubt themselves. One by one, they admitted defeat. Except for one frog, who continued to climb. He alone reached the top of the tower.

The crowd asked the brave little amphibian: "How on earth did you manage it?" But there was no answer. The crowd suddenly realised the frog was deaf.

Within this simple fable lies an important message. As marketers, we have a responsibility to progress and sometimes radically reinvent our brand. Our role is to be the positive disrupters of the business.

But companies, like people, can be overly conservative: the only person who is truly comfortable with change is a wet baby.

You will encounter naysayers. Don't let them chip away at your courage or steal the best aspirations of your heart. Always remind yourself of the power of the words that we hear or read; turn a deaf ear to negativity, and there's no reason why your goals and dreams cannot come true.

Let’s dare to be different. Let's be that frog. Be selective with your hearing.

Make space for success

Your job as a leader is to create a strategy, give direction and support your team in fulfilling the goal. Give them the tools and the motivation for success.

Feedback - in both directions - can't wait until the end of the year. Do it weekly in one-to-one dialogues.

And it's not just about talking. We spend more time in the office than we do at home, so it's vital to create a warm, welcoming environment. Get rid of dress codes, people should be able to show their personality.

In the last year at Audi, we made small changes that have made a big impact on the team and our results. A redesigned office space with collaborative working areas, ensuring work groups are formed based on current projects, rather than a prim organisational structure.

Having the person from finance sitting with the creative team instils a positive synergy that's totally missing in rigidly delineated roles. Which is especially crucial, because…

Marketing is maths

There is no point coming up with the next transformative idea if the people holding the purse strings won't give you the money to see it through.

To be fair to managing directors through the ages, we were asking them to take punts in the dark: we couldn't honestly tell them how our endeavours translated into the bottom line.

But now, thanks to the rise of econometrics, you can tell your bosses how much money they'll get back for each marketing pound they spend - and know the most effective media to buy and message to send.

Suddenly everyone in the company is facing the same way and with confidence. There's just one important caveat: remember you need that transformative idea in the first place. The numbers will only work in your favour if the creativity has been flowing too.

It's a wider world

The ever-changing digital world is wider than the analogue one we previously lived in - and this presents us with limitless opportunity.

But we need to think strategically to grab people's attention. Our "Clowns" campaign, which depicts an Audi safely negotiating the daft on-road antics of a circus troupe, has won awards for its creative brilliance.

We'd love for everyone to view the full 90-second ad, but people don't always have the time and they're not all looking in the same direction; cyberspace is a pretty big place. That's why we crafted the film in six-second chunks, which can stand alone and be disseminated easily on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, wherever the audience is.

Tailoring your message for all the available platforms takes thought and hard planning. But it's worth it.

Benjamin Braun is marketing and digital director at Audi UK and a member of Campaign’s Power 100.

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