September 14, 2023

From Pitch to Practice: Getting Organizational Buy-In for Strategic Initiatives

All aboard! If you want to bring any strategic vision to fruition, you need to bring everyone along with you—from the CEO, to the executive team, to employees throughout the org. That’s what we explore in today’s episode with CMOs Melanie Marcus of Surescripts, Grant Johnson of Billtrust, and Lauren Boyman of KPMG US.

All three have led impressive strategic initiatives at their respective orgs, and in this conversation, they share the behind the scenes work that it takes to get there. Tune in to as they share how to navigate corporate dynamics, win over the skeptics, and get consensus for the big ideas that will move the needle.

What You’ll Learn

  • How 3 CMOs led large strategic initiatives
  • How to get buy-in from the C-Suite and the board
  • How to get employees excited about your brand’s new direction

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 362 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned


  • [3:41] Melanie: What does Surescripts do?
  • [4:19] Leading Surescripts’ 9-month brand transformation
  • [8:46] How to get buy-in & gain trust
  • [9:52] Involving your CEO in brand initiatives
  • [13:15] Grant: What does Billtrust do?
  • [13:57] Make your own mandate: Unifying 6 business units (at Emburse)
  • [16:59] Getting consensus at the executive level
  • [20:16] Lauren: What you may not know about KPMG
  • [22:38] Leading KPMG’s front-office transformation
  • [26:34] Getting global buy-in at a complex company
  • [28:22] Why CMOs love CMO Huddles
  • [31:50] Top-down or bottom-up?
  • [35:38] Bringing skeptics along
  • [37:25] Getting employees excited about a new direction
  • [40:39] How to get organizational buy-in for strategic initiatives

Highlighted Quotes

“If you don't have a change mandate, you need to create one.” — Melanie Marcus, @Surescripts Click To Tweet “Find those change champions. They could be at various levels in the organization, but they're going to help ensure you keep momentum and that it sticks.” —Grant Johnson, @Billtrust Click To Tweet “You're getting feedback because you want to evolve and get to a place where they will buy in, be an advocate, and feel like they had a part in the process.” —@LaurenBoyman @KPMG_US Click To Tweet

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Melanie Marcus, Grant Johnson, and Lauren Boyman

Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. And I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you will also enjoy audiobooks. Well in that case, did you know the audio version of Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, was recently ranked the number one new B2B audio book by Book Authority. Kind of cool, right? Anyway, you can find my book on Audible or your favorite audio book platform.
And speaking of audio before we get into today’s show, I do want to do a shout out to the professionals that Share Your Genius. We started working with them several months ago to make this show even better, and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at and tell her Drew sent you.
Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.
Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade Drew Neisser.
Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers! Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite the top rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals.

Drew Neisser: I’m your host, Drew Neisser Live from New York City. In my book Renegade Marketing, I emphasize the importance of getting organizational buy in before you launch a major strategic initiative, including a rebranding. And by the way I in the book I talked about a story where that did not happen, and it was a disaster. It may sound like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times this often proven truth is overlooked in the name of I know what’s right or we don’t have time. To paraphrase Dara Royer, now the CMO of Syracuse University, she said, “Being right is useless if the whole organization doesn’t buy into your thinking.” And that means you the CMO need to bring people along with you making them part of the process in some cases, feel like it was really their idea. All right. With that, let’s bring on Melanie Marcus CMO of Surescripts and star of episode nine of Renegade Marketers live and now on episode nine of CMO Huddle studios. Hello, Melanie. Great to see you again. How are you? And where are you?

Melanie Marcus: I am well and I’m in Washington D.C.

Drew Neisser: All right. So you’ve been at Surescripts now for six years? What does Surescripts do?

Melanie Marcus: Sure, well, Surescripts is a Health Information Network. We exchange health intelligence across the country to the tune of almost 22 billion times a year. If your physician is sending a prescription from your physician’s office to the pharmacy, or when you’re with your physician. You see your medication history there, or PC some kind of clinical history from another. Providers offices offer Surescripts behind making that exchange possible.

Drew Neisser: I often wondered how that sort of magically happens, right? I mean, you’re at the doctor, you get your prescription and next thing you know you stopped by Walgreens or CVS and bingo, there it is. Okay, you’re on the show because you led a big strategic initiative. Could you share the background and the timeframe for where you were to where you wanted to get to?

Melanie Marcus: I thought about this a lot because there are many of these initiatives than my job at Surescripts. We are a growing and changing company and there is plenty of change to lead when I joined Surescripts six years ago, and was brought on with really a change mandate too. The company had just brought out probably five or six pretty big products to the market. And the products were in the form of like transactions that were being transacted across the network. And they really didn’t know how to talk about them. There was no content, no framework, no infrastructure, nothing, in fact, that go to trade shows, and my new boss or CEO at the time, would say, Melanie, every single person has something different to say about sure scripts help us. And so the first thing that I had to do was change and create brand architecture and naming process. And it can just be that like, that’s marketing jargon. That’s not very exciting. So I’ll talk about that in a minute. couldn’t use those words. But that’s what we did. And nine months later, from when I joined, we brought out an entirely new way to go to market with the great way to talk about the products that we were bringing to market, great way to talk about the network that we use, all by itself has lasted us for almost six years. That’s funny, I sit here talking about that today. And today we are in the process of evolving it very quickly. So it’s changing as we speak. But it’s lasted us for a good long time.

Drew Neisser: First of all, the thing that nine months, for those of you who’ve never been through a transformational process like that, is actually pretty fast. And second to last six years, I gotta say the only way that ever happens is if the same CMO is in the seat, because there is a tendency to just as a CMO, I’ve seen this where it’s like, well, we need to redo it. But it’s a testament to the work that you did that enabled it to last this long. So yeah, look at that process of what you went through how’d you fly in.

Melanie Marcus: So this is my first nine months on the job. The key here is I was brought in with a change mandate. And I’m sure we’ll talk about that a lot throughout. Because if you don’t have one, you need to create one, I had one. And it was pretty much from the top down. I’ve been in other situations, including insurance scripts where I need to create them, but I didn’t need to create it. The other piece of this is that as I brought it through the whole organization in my morning, the organization to I had to make sure I wasn’t using marketing jargon, I was really taking this straight to how is it going to help the business, the business, we brought out these new products. That’s fantastic. And we need to be able to sell that. And here’s how this is going to help sell. That was a key component, that really the biggest challenge here was culture change, not only culture change for how do we go to market, which was not insignificant, but also culture change? And how do you view marketing, marketing was not viewed as the trusted partner to help bring a strategic initiative through the organization. So I had to gain trust. Marketing was an order taker, I had a very, very small team at the time. So I had to gain enough trust to say, Hey, we got to stop order taking to my colleagues of the executive team, like we’re stopping order taking, we will do these things. But this is why and this is what you can expect. As a result, they couldn’t wait nine months for a deliverable, they had to see something early. And I would say one of the things that really held us was that three months into the job aligned with our head of sales at the time, which was also key, we brought out a pilot, like, Okay, this is not perfect, but this is a version of how you can talk to the market about what we’ve got. Use this for a little while, give us feedback, we’re gonna go do the work. That helped tremendously.

Drew Neisser: Wow. Okay, there was so much in there to unpack, I have to check on a few things. But one is that you do have a quick win or a quick something to show for your efforts. We’re going to change our culture, we’re going to change our go-to market, we’re going to change how we talk about the brand. Trust me this is going to work, what things did you do to gain that trust?

Melanie Marcus: I had to put together a roadmap on how it was going to happen and involve my colleagues, including my own executive colleagues in that work. And while we’re doing that, I had to methodically deliver on the things that we promised out of that order taking we had to deliver it now hopefully a better way than we were before. Make sure you get all of the voices into the process without being a big committee, get all the voices and listen really carefully and reflected back to everybody. So across the organization, people feel heard, and it doesn’t mean that you’re going to take every piece of it hook line and sinker. It’s part of a bigger input into a process.

Drew Neisser: I’m thinking of times when big brand ideas got implemented and one of the things where it can die you can do all the interviews, but if the CEO doesn’t feel it, you’re done. And so I’m curious how you involve particularly the CEO in the process.

Melanie Marcus: So the CEO helped me because as I said, we’ve evolved this brand, this work over the six years that didn’t just stay stagnant, we evolved it. One of the keys I’ll use this word, which she brought to me, was to be a thought partner, so I wouldn’t always go to my boss with a brand-new presentation and pitch for him, I would sit down and go, here’s where I’m at. I just need your thought partnership in this. Where are you at? What are your thoughts? We do this regularly, in our one-on-ones, so that I knew where he was, and he knew where I was. And it wasn’t always just trying to pitch him.

Drew Neisser: Because it’s such a smart way of doing it. And as you think about persuasion, particularly when it says CEO, it’s not that it has to be their idea, but they do have to think it through with you. And if you deny that opportunity, they’re really going to just look for the problems.

Melanie Marcus: The CEO is the front face of the brand, they have to believe it. And I’m sure that if they’ve been enrolled for any amount of time, even if they’re brand new, we’ve had a new CEO in the last 10 months, and they’ve got a view on what the brand could be, should be.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. And so I also want to go back to the order taking I’ve heard that term a lot for folks, that marketing is just in supportive sales, just creating the present, hey, we got a pitch next week, create a presentation and or hey, we got to pitch next week, we need content and learning how to say no nicely. At the same time, though, you need to deliver some of those things, as you said to buy yourself time because ultimately, it was nine months.

Melanie Marcus: That was the riskiest thing to say to the head of product innovation, “I’m not going to deliver everything you thought we were going to deliver this year because I need to do this.” And it was an act of trust on both of our sides to do that.

Drew Neisser: All right. We’ll come back to you Melanie on Avid. Thank you. Great start to the conversation. Next up let’s bring on Grant Johnson CMO of Billtrust. Grant has been on this show was he was the star of episodes 328 and 347 of the predecessor to this show Renegade Marketers Live. Hello, Grant, how are you? Where are you?

Grant Johnson: I’m doing great group. And it’s always a pleasure to speak with you. I’m in sunny Southern California.

Drew Neisser: So, I’m just curious as you heard Melanie talk about her process before you joined Billrust. But thinking back on selling in big programs, what resonated with you as you were listening to her?

Grant Johnson: I’ll be honest, Melanie, it all resonated. As you know, I’ve been acquired seven times I’ve acquired more than 20 companies as part of the executive teams, and just the whole way that she approached it thought ethically and getting buy-in and setting and managing expectations sequentially, driving the change proof point by tangible change. And just the fact that it’s a change process. And as human beings, we don’t like change as much as one might expect.

Drew Neisser: And what I appreciate is that you know, you’re doing the right thing, when this is a change of go to market and a change of culture, then you are really having the impact that marketing can have. So let’s talk about Billtrust, you’ve been there five months, what does Billtrust do?

Grant Johnson: Very simply, we help companies get paid faster, which in this economy is pretty cool. We’re in the Office of Finance, Office of CFO, digital transformation, lots of ways to describe what we do is order to cash. So for companies that have lots of customers, we make it easier for the customers to submit their invoices to their companies so that our customers can get paid faster. And who doesn’t want that?

Drew Neisser: One thing Melanie mentioned is that you need a mandate for change. If you don’t you need to create it. Were you given a mandate? And if so, can you talk about that?

Grant Johnson: Yeah, I was given a mandate for change. But it’s up to you. I think, you know, I spent more than three years at my last company. And that’s probably a bigger change process to talk about it in bursts. I’m having a conversation. Everything starts with a catalyst with the CRO and we’re talking about how we’re syncing up with six different business units. We sync with the executive team, and there’s nine folks and they’re six different business units. And I said to him stop the madness. He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, it’s not really efficient that we’re going to market on a global basis. And we’re also going to go to market on a six different business unit basis, and then we’re having to sync with six different GMs.” And so I was in an executive offsite meeting where we had a facilitator, and this was an organic society that didn’t enter the company planet to do this if the inorganic catalysts and the facilitator said well, anything’s a safe zone, anything can be recommended. And I said, “Why don’t we blow up the business units?” And there were six GMs in the room and I said that. So that was pretty controversial. But fast forward, we all made that decision to drive really strategic initiatives to make the company more efficient. We ended up with three segments, small business, midsize or corporate, and enterprise. That meant there were implications on leadership, organizational structure, and business processes, and quite frankly, a much easier approach to measuring success was measured across three segments instead of six.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, it took a little courage and confidence. And obviously, you’ve done this before. So you know that, in this particular case, if you didn’t blow that up, you wouldn’t really have a chance to be successful. I think I’m inferring from that there are some problems that marketing can solve. And sometimes it’s an organizational problem that if you don’t fix it, marketing is kind of dead in the water.

Grant Johnson: Well, you’re absolutely right, you and I met early in my career, and I brought together three separate businesses, Perceptive, Read Soft, and Kofax. This is bringing together six businesses. And one of my mandates was to unify under the lead brand and burst these six distinct brand identities and business units if you will. I didn’t have staff that I could dedicate to all six business years, we were in a marketing shared services world anyway, certainly, we could dedicate more resources to larger segments. But it was just the best chance for marketing and sales to succeed and sales said, “Hey, I can’t do my job this way.” But to some extent, with dedicated salespeople by business unit, it wasn’t as difficult as we all know that marketing tends to have a small organization and sales. They’re not quoting Karen; we’re not quoting Karen. And that’s why but you’re right, that was key to what became a very successful three years of driving change in growth.

Drew Neisser: So as I think about this, one of the pivotal moments was one you had the insight and so did your CRO that you had to blow up the business. But the fact that you had an outsider there to facilitate that, it must have taken a little bit of the heat off of you, but also that everybody was there, and could wrestle it to the ground. So at least everybody in terms of the executive committee, and again, where these things fall apart, it feels to me is like when marketing is either trying to do it on their own, it hasn’t built a coalition and consensus at the executive level.

Grant Johnson:  You are absolutely right. And I would say it wasn’t one-and-done. So in the debate discussion, there was an individual, one of our executives, who was the ostensible head of the business units on the executive team. He and I debriefed afterward as well, I didn’t know if you were talking about people or structure process, I said, I was talking about structure. And he said, some of my GMs, so they all ended up having different roles, which was great. One became a chief of staff and one moved into sales. And it wasn’t a cost reduction exercise was an efficiency gain exercise. After I sort of explained the reasons behind it in more depth, people understood it, which enabled him to support the GMs in making the transition versus resisting it because you can declare a change. And I’ve done this globally, and then you leave the country or leave the business unit discussion. And then people go back to the old way of doing things, Melanie was talking about this, you have to hit those touch points again, and just make sure that it’s taken hold before you go three steps ahead. Nobody’s with you. That doesn’t work either.

Drew Neisser: And I’ve just seen the old notion of buyer’s remorse. Right. This is not one-and-done. As you said, this is a process of making it stick. I also wonder how your CEO felt at that moment because in some ways CEO should be driving this thing or certainly embracing it.

Grant Johnson: It’s a great point because a couple of months before that meeting, this was during COVID, we met near the beach, our CEO flew out to Manhattan Beach, if you’ve ever been there, and the CFO, the CEO, myself, we’re talking about it. And we just started describing the two of us to him that, hey, we can keep operating this way. But isn’t there a better way? Should we be thinking but it’s it? Yeah, I’m trying to figure out how best to drive the trains, obviously, to will need to be instrumental in facilitating it. And so we sort of had an early discussion. And so he supported the idea, as did the president at the time. And had they both said, we can’t deal with that. Now, I wouldn’t be here talking about the change that happened for the better.

Drew Neisser: And I think that’s so pivotal, you can make a lot of things happen as you did. The other thing is you’re thinking about reorganizing, if that’s the kind of organizing by customer type is smart because it says customers are the most important thing in our universe, as opposed to the business units being the most important thing. But if you hadn’t had that conversation with the CEO, and said, “I got your back”, it’s not going to happen, because too many people will just go around and do it. All right. Very cool. Thank you for that. We’re now going to talk to Dr. Lauren Boyman, CMO of KPMG USA.

Drew Neisser: Hello, Lauren, welcome to the show.

Lauren Boyman: Hi, Drew.

Drew Neisser: And where are you this fine day?

Lauren Boyman: I’m also in New York City, I’m probably a couple of blocks south of where you are in Midtown.

Drew Neisser: Okay, you’ve been at KPMG, for three years now a little bit more, I think. And most people have heard of KPMG. But I suspect there are some things that they don’t know about it tell us a little bit about KPMG.

Lauren Boyman: Today, the answer to that is really what attracted me to be CMO at KPMG. So the company is truly fascinating because it’s got a really strong brand recognition for being part of the big four accounting firms, and is well known in tax in Risk and Compliance areas. But beyond that, KPMG has incredibly strong technology and data and analytics capabilities that were less known for, which is the story that my team gets to tell. Even beyond embedding technology and analytics into the capabilities of our audit and tax work, we have a massive consulting and deal advisory business where we join forces with leading technology companies through what we call alliance relationships. These are tech giants like Google, Oracle, ServiceNow, Salesforce, and Workday to name a few. And we are recognized as one of their top implementation partners. So we take our deep industry expertise, work in tandem with the tech companies, as well as shoulder to shoulder with our clients, and deliver on digital transformations. Just today, I don’t know if you saw but there was an announcement about KPMG and Google Cloud expanding our alliances to bring Google Cloud innovations and Gen AI to the front. And there’s just a tremendous and dramatic impact of Gen AI that we need to help our clients navigate. And it’s not a question of if it will benefit them. It’ll just be a question of how and how quickly. So it’s an exciting place to be there’s just a ton of capabilities at KPMG that we’re not known for. I could go on for hours. We have strong capabilities in the web three Metaverse, space, and entrepreneur in residence program just spun off a company from our KPMG studio called cranium, which is a software solution that secures AI and machine learning technologies. We’re all seeing a surge in that right now. But KPMG has been at that for a really long time. So it’s a really interesting marketing and branding challenge.

Drew Neisser: So you’re on this show because you’ve led a big strategic initiative, let’s talk about that. How do we get people or your target audience to recognize that?

Lauren Boyman: There’s this whole other part of KPMG they may not have known about, there’s a big brand perception gap that we are trying to play with. We started about two years ago on a brand refresh effort and got to launch early in 2022. We’re looking at this effort as an enabler of our growth overall. So, in that same timeframe, we announced then began our front office transformation, which I’ve been knee-deep in for some time now. So both the brand refresh, as well as how sales and marketing work together and are enabled by technology. It’s all about amplifying growth and showing the many capabilities that the firm has. And what I get most jazzed about is how the brand and how we’re seeing in the market that’s acknowledged internally to be critical to our growth agenda. And I think that’s a big tailwind for marketing. And for marketers listening to Melanie and Grant. That’s not always the case. So that’s helpful. And not to say that we don’t have challenges in perception or in gaining a seat at the table. But there is a lot of support for just the fact that marketing is a key growth enabler to a company.

Drew Neisser: One of the things about a professional services firm is that it’s about the people. So if they don’t understand the brand, or don’t have a sense of the brand or clarity around the brand and why it exists. It’s a problem. Talk a little bit about it, because it sounded like part of this was to help your employees rethink how they thought about KPMG. Right?

Lauren Boyman: I think our employees know, they have amazing capabilities that the firm has, and there’s a constant effort to talk internally about the broader capabilities and technology solutions, and innovation support that we provide. I think for us, it’s our clients are aware of it. Our employees are aware of it. It’s more about that broader marketplace, and that’s what we are seeing in the research of our clients. We have strong and trusted relationships but it’s those prospects and those nonclients that need to better understand what we do. So we kicked off this effort. And just an interesting aspect of the dynamic at a company like KPMG is that we are a global brand. But we are legally independent member firms. The ability to get a brand transformation done or a brand Refresh is a tremendous amount of partnership and collaboration with our global CMO, Sam Burns, who is just amazing, and I have a terrific relationship with the big eight-member firm CMOs, all have really strong partnership relationships. But that’s really how any real meaningful change will get made. Because we are legally obligated to use the brand and all the brand guidelines that KPMG International has. So we all partnered together and locked arms and did this as a global entity. We hired a brand agency, we developed a few different positions. We did testing in eight big markets, and the results of that data bind market, they weren’t all consistent. And that helped us to make a decision. And to let the data guide us in terms of what was the right decision. Although there was still a tremendous amount of debate and back and forth that took place between both the marketers and the business side, given the dynamics of a really big complex organization like ours.

Drew Neisser: I’m just imagining this. It’s somewhat similar in Grant and Melanie’s case, there’s one company one brand one owner, if you will, or some combination of that, is that sort of the biggest challenge that you face. And all this is just getting this global buy-in.

Lauren Boyman: The interesting thing is at what level do you communicate at that umbrella brand? Versus there’s a tremendous amount of marketing activity that goes on and messages that get driven through different channels or for different audiences and or different purposes. But we had to keep revisiting what are we trying to accomplish. Which is, how do you talk about unique capabilities and what ties three businesses together audit, tax, and advisory, and what can stand the test of time and also work across such diverse but complementary businesses that all sit underneath the KPMG umbrella?

Drew Neisser: I think that the thing that is clear from this process is the methodical nature that you had in the process of getting people to just get where we’re going, why this is good for the business, and bringing them into the process to get to conclusions. That could not have been easy.

Lauren Boyman: Definitely not easy. I would say it requires a good amount of patience, for sure. Persistence and collaboration amongst lots of different stakeholders across different time zones don’t happen on the timeline that you or I, you know, ideally want it to but nothing good gets done alone, as they say. So I would say patience is a virtue. And I learned that and practiced that throughout this.

Drew Neisser: That’s such a hard thing, because I don’t know, a good CMO who recognizes patients as a value. It’s not in your nature. All right. Well, thank you for that. We’ll come back to you and the whole group, but at this moment, I’m going to talk a little bit about CMO Huddles, launched in 2020. CMO Huddles is an exclusive community of over 100 highly effective B2B CMOs who share care and dare each other to greatness. In fact, all we’re thinking about is inspiring B2B greatness. That is the world of CMO Huddles, that is why we do this show. We hope you find inspiration out of it. Anyway, given how hard things are getting out there who doesn’t need a little reassurance that they’re not alone. Everything about CMO Huddles is designed to be a force multiplier helping you to make faster better and more informed decisions. Since no CMO can outwork this crazy job CMO Huddles is here to help you outsmart it. And that’s the really interesting part. And I want to talk to Grant and Lauren and Melanie, as you think about CMO Huddles in terms of whether are there moments where you are able to take something that you got whether it was in a Huddle or in a recap or something that inspired some action that you were able to move the business forward.

Melanie Marcus: The most recent is probably on many people’s minds, AI. You hosted a great AI session probably a month and a half ago with Noah and it was just eye-opening and I have since engaged with him and he’s starting to train my team and we’re sending people to his first-ever New York-based day-long conference so we can explore what does AI mean For the marketing team, that’s an example.

Drew Neisser: That’s great. Laura?

Lauren Boyman: I mentioned our front office transformation, which is our implementation of both sales and marketing cloud from Salesforce. And there are just many different angles and components to that. And the first question I’ll always ask myself is what’s best practice had other people do this, what did others learn and to just be able to reach out to a CMO community and ask for very specific parameters, I think went to your assistant and said, I’m looking for people who have this Mar tech stack and have done this in the last year. And she was able to give me three people who I then had great conversations with, not just them, but they brought their key lieutenants on so that we could get into the weeds and the details of it. And it was incredibly valuable to me and my team.

Drew Neisser: That’s amazing. And so Grant, you’ve been with us a long time as well. And you’ve been so helpful on the one side advising, but I’m just curious if there’s a circumstance where in the last year or two something came through Huddles, that really sort of helped you?

Grant Johnson: As you’ve mentioned, the one-on-ones and we’re always trying something new, we’re gonna go into a small business segment or at a product or open a new vertical. And who else has done that? And what are the lessons they’ve learned in the pitfalls that we can avoid as CMOs, that’s been helpful, as well as the summaries that the CMO Huddle does because sometimes, this my whole team knows that content marketing tips are how to do the best combination of virtual in-person events to build audiences attended to pipeline, and there’s value in every Huddle, it’s as much as about actively participating in seeking information. And as you said, it’s quid pro quo, I’m happy to help others and share the insights and my lessons learned as well.

Drew Neisser: Which is great. And I thank you for that. Because it’s one thing if you need help, it’s another thing to be able to give it to so Huddles is grateful that you do that. And all of you do that. Anyway, if you’re a B2B CMO can share care and dare with the best of them and are ready to be inspired to greatness. Check out CMO So now let’s talk about one of the things when you’re first starting one of these initiatives. Are you top-down, get the CEO behind you, or bottom-up? And if top down? How do you make sure it gets beyond the C-suite? So any thoughts on this methodology and process grant, you’re shaking your head? So let’s do it.

Grant Johnson: One of the lessons I learned from this big strategic initiative in my first tour of duty as a CMO is to get a couple of board members behind you because you could be updating a board on a quarterly basis. But what the heck, why are we going laugh I thought we were going right. I found that getting a couple of board allies is a great one. And you can meet in person, of course. And if they’re behind you, the CEO gets even more supportive. If they’re not, that’s a different conversation.

Drew Neisser: It’s obvious in one sense because the CEO reports to the board if the board is happy, great. If the board isn’t happy, would you do so to cover your bases there? Okay, Melanie.

Melanie Marcus: I think it can go both ways. Top-down I talked about earlier, if you keep that messaging in place for six years, you got to keep it fresh, you got to keep moving it and all of that. And one of the things that I did was more bottoms up, it was more grassroots up. And in that case, anyway, you have to build the case. And you have to make people feel it. You have to use your marketing skills, not just the data. The data store is interesting. But when you’re talking about changing, we evolved our purpose statement, for example, I mean, touching your purpose statement, but we had to, and I had to explain why. And I had to make people feel it. And the other piece, I would say there is as you’re going through this, whether it’s top-down or bottom-up, being able to draw a positive picture of what might be what is right, what is a positive picture, not just what’s wrong. So like Greg talked about a pretty major restrictor, and that he had to go with what would it look like if we did it this way? It’s positive. And that helps in both the top-down and bottom-up.

Drew Neisser: And when you talk about them feeling it? I’m curious, do you have a specific example of what that looks like?

Melanie Marcus: Our previous purpose statement was phenomenal. The whole company got into it, but they got into it because the outcomes that focused on it called the best in the marketplace that put us in a competitive space wasn’t quite right. And as soon as you explain that you get people’s energy going.

Drew Neisser: Oh, yeah, that’s right. Yeah, no. Lauren, as you’re thinking about this, top-down, bottom-up, you had a lot of that.

Lauren Boyman: I think you have to start top down because I think when you start a large brand effort, which is what we were just talking about in our case, it’s not clear what we’re talking about always and we have to ensure that we are being clear because When you talk about brand, you can also move into the value space or the culture space, or are we changing the logo? What are we trying to achieve here? And what are the levers that we’re going to pull to make that change? And I think if you don’t agree on that, top-down, and it’s not to say that it’s hard and fast and concrete, you can’t change it. But you do need to make some of those key decisions upfront. And then work sideways to your point, there’s a tremendous amount of sideways work and bottoms-up work to do. And then you got to go back to the top down to close it out and make sure that everybody’s aligned.

Drew Neisser: There’s always a naysayer somewhere. And there’s this just sitting on the sidelines going like this, oh, there goes marketing again, or whatever. I’m curious how you’ve tried to bring some of the stragglers along and how you cajole them into going from skepticism, if you will, to embrace or, at least keep them from doing damage and undermining it. I’m curious if any of you have had that situation.

Grant Johnson: Yeah, I won’t name this person. But he was freaking out. It’s like, if I don’t have dedicated marketing support, and the world is coming to a halt, or stop spinning, and I said, “Look, I’ve got to make the same number you’ve got to make, and I want to make sure that instead of a dedicated person, you have complete access to a wide range of individuals on the market who are aligned for you to achieve for the company to achieve its goal.” So, I had to reassure this person through a couple of calls. And when you have to fast forward to, once the change takes hold you were right, but I just couldn’t see it at the time, because it was such a tough change to embrace.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, and I’m just thinking of these situations if their arms are crossed, the entire time you’re presenting, make a note of calling that person after the meeting, I’m also thinking about the Godfather, quote, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. If they’re like this, you just can’t avoid it, you’re just gonna have to confront it sooner rather than later. But Melanie, any thoughts on that?

Melanie Marcus: I’d say, listen closely, because there might be something there that will help the project, either help the project, generally or help you scale it to others who you may not know about who are feeling something similar, there just may be something there and you’ve got to be able to address it.

Drew Neisser: Even if you’re just full of Gods ahead, you’ve just got to bring this person there. And what I love about listening, is there might be something there, it’s the old Bill Bernbach, that they might be right. And so if you could just let him know that you’ve listened and brought him with you. Okay, so we have this broader theme of organizational buy-in, we mainly focus on getting to a big fork in the road and pushing a company in a new direction and bringing them along. And let’s assume that you’ve got whatever it is the new thing, the new brand, the new positioning the new purpose. I’m just curious, today tactically, what MIDI or methods or approaches have you done, to sort of get the buy-in and again, on a broad level, and make it stick. And so any thoughts and things that you’ve done, I’m gonna start with you, Lauren, in terms of getting KPMG employees even more excited about this new direction.

Lauren Boyman: This is a journey, and this will be an ongoing thing that we are going to be activating. But at the start of it, one of the key audiences was employees and getting them to be excited about it, and to want to be brand ambassadors for each of them, but really represent the brand and feel proud. And what we did was in addition to things that you would probably expect, like videos, or web portals, or other things like that, to make them aware and have information available. We asked each of them to update their LinkedIn banner with our new brand positioning. And so what that did was, when you look collectively, at all of our employees on LinkedIn, you can see this consistency, and we didn’t have just one option, we had an array of options. But that was exciting, and I think it got people to want to show up in their professional environment with our new brand. There are other programs that we’re looking to roll out that are about how we’re storytelling and about how people live the brand whether it’s their client engagements or their communities or within the company on a day-to-day basis. And I think that will be powerful as well.

Drew Neisser: I love the story there. 300, 400, 1000 I mean, how many employees are there globally? It’s huge. It’s big.

Drew Neisser: Imagine suddenly, all of this number of people have a new LinkedIn banner and it’s aligned. But the key insight there I thought was that you had multiple versions. I bet very few brands would do that. They sort of have the one but here you gave people that choice a little bit. So it’s like they got to choose the polo shirt with it, but the color they want it, so they could wear it a little more comfortably. I love that it’s a nuanced thing. But I think it’s really, smart, Grant, Melanie, anything to add to that?

Melanie Marcus: Well, and be a Brand Champion. That means that yes, they’re out there doing the social media, etc., Also we’ve engaged them in focus groups. So when we get far enough along, we’d bring that group together. And we still do that today. And big projects, bring that group together to get some input from a broader group of employees.

Drew Neisser: And it’s so obvious, that it doesn’t happen a lot. You went to them to get their input at the beginning. And then you say, Okay, we’re off and running, and we’re rolling it out. But that’s so smart that now they’re brand ambassadors, and then you can use them as a feedback loop. Again, empowering them a little bit more to shape the direction of the company. Amazing. Well, first time for what would Ben Franklin say some words of wisdom before we go to your words of wisdom. And we’ve talked a lot about that. There’s no heroism in being right, in this role, there is a collective getting to a place. And so I think what Franklin would say about this, as he said, “Singularity in the right has ruined many.” So thank you for that, Ben. So, if you’re talking to a bunch of B2B CMOs, as we do a lot, and CMO Huddles land, who are struggling to get by, if you each could a couple of do’s and don’ts for getting organizational buy-in on strategic initiatives. And I think we’ll start with Lauren because you were last at the beginning.

Lauren Boyman: So, I would say my go-to is to have one-on-one conversations with people. And it’s time-consuming. And you really must spend time and be willing to listen to the objections and not be immovable about your position. So you’re getting their feedback because you want to evolve and get to a place where they will buy in and be an advocate and feel like they had a part in the process to develop it. So I always go to those one-on-one discussions as a way to really connect.

Drew Neisser: Got it. These are important. We’re going to sit down, we’re not only going to listen carefully, but we’re going to incorporate their feedback. As Melanie said earlier, they might be right. Okay, let’s go to Grant’s final words of wisdom.

Grant Johnson: I would do a combination of what both Lauren and Melanie have said. It also depends on its founder and lead, as I’ve worked for strong-willed founders getting that person behind it. And it’s so much easier to get the buy-in of the rest, especially if that’s their management style. But if it’s more consensus driven, I’m not sure I have to get to everybody on the executive leadership team. But certainly, one-on-ones with most of them make a lot of sense. But the other thing is to find those change champions, whether it’s brand change, go-to-market change, or whatever it might be. And they could be at various levels, the organization, but they’re going to help make sure you keep momentum, and it sticks.

Drew Neisser: I’m thinking about the first part of your thing as you do need to cover off anybody who has veto power, anybody who could kill it. So that would be the one-on-ones for sure. And then the change champions is so interesting because your research will have identified those individuals. After all, they will be excited about it. And then you’re going back to them and empowering them. And so what you’re training them to become the people who can then go and train everybody else in terms of what this new positioning or program might mean. Okay, Melanie.

Melanie Marcus: So we’ve talked about the need to create or have a change mandate, I would say, that to do that must be based on the needs of the business that I just said, we need to change our purpose. But we need to change our purpose. Why? Because we’re going somewhere in our vision, our strategy that our purpose is not supporting. Okay, now there’s something there and to keep it positive. So to keep it grounded in the what if, instead of that this doesn’t work.

Drew Neisser: The what if where we’re going and I just want to emphasize this, you all in your roles have been really smart and have done this before and understand where you’re gonna get, and you know how the pieces are gonna fit together. You’re gonna need to bring people along with you. And the key that I heard there was helping them understand the why. And then painting the picture with the what if. All right, thank you, Grant Johnson, Melanie Marcus, and Lauren Boyman, you are great sports and have great insights.

If you’re a B2B CMO, and you want to hear more conversations like this one, find out if you qualify to join our community of sharing, caring, and daring CMOs at To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live. Join us on the next CMO Huddles Studio. We stream to my LinkedIn profile, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!