Achieve Marketing Excellence through Story, Strategy, Systems

As a CMO, you’ve got a brand to build, leads to generate, revenue goals to hit, and the ambition to be TopRight in your industry.

You’ve got the opportunity to apply your collective knowledge into a winning strategy, but a few obstacles may have cropped up along the way, including:

Story: A lack of timely, relevant customer insights to define a truly compelling yet simple story and to connect with and engage your target audience.

Strategy: An inability to clearly connect that story to your customers through formats that they consume, in channels that they use, across every touch point, and at just the right stage in their buying journey.

Systems: Inability to align the necessary systems to flawlessly execute the strategy – with the supporting organization, culture, performance measures, data, and technology.

Overcoming these obstacles is incredibly important. Why?

Because they represent conditions for success—where you deliver on your brand promise and customers deliver on theirs (in terms of payment for your product or service).

“93% of multi-national companies are in some phase of changing their business models… and just half of executives believe that their company is well-versed in transformational change.”

– Kim Whitler, UVA Darden School


We have learned from experience that success among TopRight companies occurs when they excel in the 3S’s: Story, Strategy, Systems.

The lens through which to evaluate excellence is Simplicity, Clarity, and AlignmentTwitter_logo_blue_16. Any great brand that you can think of—from Apple to Zappos—has been built on the guiding principles of Simplicity, Clarity and Alignment.

One Voice. One Look. One Story.

Simplicity, Clarity, and Alignment through the Right Story, the Right Strategy, and the Right Systems

Simplicity in Story – The heart of Transformational Marketing is the story—a distillation of who you really are, a peeling back of the layers to discover “why” you do what you do—why that matters to your customer—and how you deliver that value to them. This is the key to simplicity in your story.

Clarity in Strategy – One would think that having gone through the process of simplifying the complexities of your story, clarity automatically follows. But no, at least not without intentional and deliberate effort and process. Clarity speaks to the “what” of your story. What is it that you are actually doing, what is the value of your products and services, and what impact will you achieve for your customers? You must be clear.

Simplicity and Clarity get you part of the way there, but as most marketers know, everything is a communications vehicle – inside and out. More often than not, if you stop reading this right now and ask 10 co-workers to tell you the company story, you’ll get 10 different answersTwitter_logo_blue_16.

Alignment in Systems – Why? All of your marketing, all employee communications, all sales collateral, all enabling technologies, all of your people at every customer touchpoint must be fully aligned to bring your brand to life. As David Packard once said, “Marketing is too important to be left just to the marketing department.” Alignment equates to the “how.” How do your people communicate your story, how do you want your customers to experience your brand, and how do you specifically deliver value? This is often where companies and organizations struggle the most.


Alignment sounds easy but is actually quite difficult to achieveTwitter_logo_blue_16, and even more difficult to sustain. It requires ruthless focus and consistency throughout your entire organization, both internally and then externally. Great brands only move to the TopRight if they are first understood, launched, and lived “inside-out.”

Simply put: you can’t have more than one Story; you can’t have more than one Strategy to deliver that Story; and you need complete and total alignment of your organizational Systems to execute the Strategy. You must be fully aligned.

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

– Steve Jobs


This is the heart of Transformational Marketing; this is how you move to the TopRight – with the right Story, the right Strategy, the right Systems – all measured by looking through the lens of Simplicity, Clarity, and Alignment.

As I said before, it all begins with your Story. Next week we’ll discuss how TopRight companies create compelling brand stories through the lens of Simplicity.

To learn how you can put this philosophy into practice in your organization, download our FREE ebook: TRANSFORMATIONAL MARKETING: Moving to the TopRight.


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