Marc de Swaan Arons on Global Brand Marketing Strategies
Susan Bratton

Episode 195 - Marc de Swaan Arons on Global Brand Marketing Strategies

Marketing is a global endeavor. The difficulty of managing such a tremendous opportunity arises from the naturally distributed environment of a global marketing organization and the rapid homogenization of an Internet-connected world.

Marc de Swaan Arons is a Dutch guy who cut his teeth on global brand marketing at Unilever and went on to found a marketing consultancy, Effective Brands, that helps large organizations align and streamline their global strategies.

Effective Brands's "Leading Global Brands" study identified the key issues of global marketing and created a series of business models and frameworks organizations of this scale can use to be efficient and effective in marketing globally and locally.

"The Global Brand CEO: Building the Ultimate Marketing Machine" is Marc's (and his partner, Frank van Den Driest's) book that covers the frameworks and models, communication tools and case studies and vignettes of global marketers who are "doing it right."

Listen in to learn about:

  • 5 Drivers of Global Marketing Effectiveness
  • Brand Positioning Alignment Framework
  • The Brand ID Framework
  • The Servant Leadership Mindset
  • The Looking for Similarities Mindset

Marc has offered a personally-autographed copy of this impressive tome to a lucky DishyMix listener.

To be considered, post your desire on the DishyMix Facebook Page and one winner will be selected in April 2011.



Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton, and on today’s show you’re going to meet an old, but still young, friend of mine, Marc de Swaan Arons. Marc’s the co-founder and chairman of a company based in York, Amsterdam, Singapore and I think London called EffectiveBrands. They’re a marketing consultancy that focuses on global brand marketing. And Marc and I met each other years ago, maybe 16 years ago now when he was running something called The Interactive Brand Counsel, IBC at Unilever, Unilever being one of the largest multi global conglomerate brand companies in the world, bigger often in it’s portfolio and its media buy than Procter and Gamble that seems to get more press. And so Marc is a global citizen himself, and this is a natural, natural place for him to start his own consultancy. He’s written a new book, and we’re going to talk about The Global Brand CEO: Building The Ultimate Marketing Machine. So lets welcome Marc on DishyMix today. Hey Marc.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Hey Susan. It’s very exciting and thank you very much for the invitation of being on your show.

Susan Bratton: Well how the heck else am I going to catch up with you and find out what you’ve been up to? Isn’t this so handy for me? I do a weekly show and I catch up with people that I adore like you.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Well it’s very, very mutual and I think back with enormous warmth. In fact our CEO was just saying recently to me isn’t it funny how now, we just launched a study on how to organize for social media and it’s sort of a byproduct of the learning project we do, and he looked at me and said, “Have you realized how you come full circle,” and it felt very true, but you were there right at the beginning teaching me things about the new interactive world.

Susan Bratton: Well I’m ready for you to teach me some things, and I want to hear about how to organize for social media. Lets just start right there because I know you do, I think it’s an annual global survey so this must be a derivative of it or something. Talk about your brand survey work, and then talk about this.

Marc de Swaan Arons: All right. Well no, it’s not an annual thing, it’s an ongoing thing, and it’s been going for nine years now and we call it the Leading Global Brand Study. It basically was built on a lack of knowledge not just on our part but fundamentally in the market. When we started EffectiveBrands we were very enthusiastic about the concept of brands going global, we saw it happening all around us. But when we actually stepped back both as practitioners, but also later as consultants, and said, “So what hard evidence is there to help people find out what works and what doesn’t work.” There was literally nothing around. There was no book. Literally when I was in my last global role I looked for it and it wasn’t there. There wasn’t a counsel to join, and as you know at the start of new things, just like in the interactive space, there were a lot of counsels that you could join and you could discuss with peers what was working for you and what wasn’t and you could be honest about your difficulties and learn from each other. But there weren’t any around specifically how to go global with brands, and there also weren’t any consultancies. So we filled the void on the consultancy front, but very quickly realized that we needed to beef up our knowledge very fast. And we started the Leading Global Brands Project to do just that. And it started with a very simple value exchange, reaching out to old colleagues and people we knew in the global marketing space saying, “Will you give us in confidence two hours of your time, and we will ask you about all the things that maybe you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on the conference platform, but that you could be honest to us about,” because what you’ll get back after 20 or 30 interviews we’ll come back to you and tell you what speaking to all your peers floats to the top, what seems to be working. What are the things that people wish they’d done on day one of their job? What do the people think that they should never have done? What are the consultancies to avoid and which ones really help you? And the sort of key question is when you’re new into a global role that really make a difference, and that was the foundation of the Leading Global Brands Project, and I guess we knew we were onto something when within the first year we had people calling us saying, “Hey, I hear about this project. I’m the head of Heineken Global. Can I participate?” So what started off with maybe ten people in three months snowballed into something that was over 25 big global brands in the first year, and now, nine years later there’s over 250 global brands that have participated and we’ve added a quant component, a real survey that’s standardized and that we use in every project that we basically work on, and we now have over 21,000 global marketers and their colleagues that have responded to some standard questions around what does it take to win in global marketing? And that’s the ongoing study. Every project we start contributes again into that study. But from time to time we find sub tracks that are of specific interest for people, and one last year was about going into the Chinese market and you may well know that we launched our book in Shanghai and we had a dedicated summit where we brought a lot of global marketing leaders that were responsible for taking their brands into China together. This years theme is very much not about what to do in social media - there’s enough people looking at that - but how to organize for it, who does what within an organization when the whole organization becomes transparent not just at a local level but across regions and globally.

Susan Bratton: So in the Global Brand study, which is a really impressive thing and I’m glad that it was a juggernaut that took off for you, good ideas have a tendency to do that, how many of these organizing principles that are in the book came out of it? ‘Cause some of the things that I wanted to talk to you about were the five drivers of global marketing effectiveness, the brand ID framework, the brand positioning alignment framework and the servant leadership mindset. Those are four things that kind of bubbled to the top for me. Were any of those things that you constructed from the feedback you got in the study?

Marc de Swaan Arons: Absolutely, all of them were.

Susan Bratton: All of them, okay.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Lets be very frank…

Susan Bratton: So that’s all entirely new information that you created, the crowd sourced wisdom of global marketers.

Marc de Swaan Arons: That’s a nice way to describe it Susan. I’m going to use that [inaudible]…

Susan Bratton: Yeah, I think you should definitely write that down, you know.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Yes.

Susan Bratton: That’s a good sales pitch.

Marc de Swaan Arons: I like that. No, it’s absolutely true. I mean obviously one of the things you mentioned is a positioning framework. What we like to say very often is that basically if you’re a marketer and you’ve been promoted into a global marketing role, whether it’s a regional role where you have suddenly 12 countries that you’re responsible for, or a global role where really, you know, you’re in charge of the health and the growth of that brand across the globe, basically you got that role because you were good at marketing. You went to bound to be a good business school and your first role was an assistant on some brand and some great company, and you worked your way up the ladder and one day you become head of a region or head of global. You don’t get that role if you’re not very good at what we would call the ‘what’ of marketing. The ‘what’ is what is the vision for the brand, what is the positioning of it, how is it competitively advantageous for us as others, what is the innovation work behind it – in other words, in products, in solutions, in services that we need to offer to deliver the brand promise – what is the communication strategy behind it? For all of these there is a litany of consultancies and support, but also in company expertise available. This is what marketing has been for many, many years. Are insight was at the beginning of EffectiveBrands that these marketing leaders are therefore actually not that worried about that part of the job. What’s new to the role is that suddenly you have the responsibility for trying to align lets say between 12 and 102 countries behind one strategy. In fact, you want to develop a strategy that actually encompasses their key challenges and opportunity and delivers against their market needs. You want to develop innovation, which then gets adopted, and not in an old situation where local marketers sit back and say, “Well lets sew what they develop and maybe I’ll buy it or maybe I won’t.” But that they actually say, “No, the global team is working on what makes me successful next year.” And so it’s not the ‘what’ of global marketing roles that challenges these new leaders, it’s the ‘how do I do that in the context of highly matrix complex global marketing organizations’, and that’s the part we help with. So some of the concepts you mentioned earlier are very specific around how do you do that well. How do you drive a strategy once its been developed into a company in such a way that people that really matter, the key local marketing directors, the key chairman, that they adopt it, see it as their own and most importantly then make it successful locally because you can’t push it down their throats, you need them to take a global strategy and apply it locally in a way that makes sense.

Susan Bratton: That was so eloquent. I love that. I feel like I should stand up and go, “Yes, yes, yes” now. The question that came to my mind that I wanted to get a level set on, when did you start EffectiveBrands? Like ten years ago, right, 2000?

Marc de Swaan Arons: You know what Susan, it’s so nice you asked that. Last week it was ten years.

Susan Bratton: Yay! All right, there you go. So ten years ago.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Very, very recently, and now we have a huge program within the company where we’re going to celebrate that, and it’s actually something I’m very proud of because…

Susan Bratton: You should be.

Marc de Swaan Arons: we’ve grown so much over the last two years. Our average growth rate over the years has always been between 20% and 30%, 35%, but last year it was, 2009 was horrible. We grew, but it was horrible. But last year we grew by more than half. And one of the things that you will have picked up from the book is that we really believe that organizations where everyone in the company feels the purpose of the company is inspired personally by the purpose of the company. Not by growth or not by profit or by revenues, but just by what is it we’re doing. How do we make a difference in the world? But that’s the kind of stuff that gets you 20%, 30%, 40% more payback out of people just because they want to do the work. And as we stepped back as a board last year we took a hard look at ourselves and said, “Can we honestly say that after a year of, you know, 40% plus growth, that everybody in the company is completely centered around and inspired by what it is we do as a company?” And we said, “No, of course not.” There was so many people that have come on board. We’ve been so busy trying to keep quality up and building our network that this is something that we need to step back and focus on. So we have created a session in the end of March, it’s going to be the last three days of March actually, where we’re going to bring for the first time everyone in the company – now we’re small, we’re 60 people, but they’re all over the world. We have those four offices that you mentioned, but then we also have people on the ground in Tokyo and in Paris, and we’re bringing everybody together for three days in Rio de Janeiro to focus around our purpose of EffectiveBrands, which is about unleashing global marketing potential. And if you’d like I can tell you a little bit about how we’re doing that, but that might not be on your topic.

Susan Bratton: Well there’s so many other things that I want to talk about that I’ll save that for if we have time. Thank you. And it begged the question for me then years into this and six years that I’ve known you before that – you’ve been in marketing for 20 odd years now – in working for Global Brands and with Global Brands how much of the, you know, 600 million people on Facebook now, you know, so many people all over the world are online; how much has the internet and internet access, global internet access, homogenized what we need to do with regard to global marketing? When you used to think about global marketing 20 years ago you thought about localization. You thought about taking that product, moving it into global markets and localizing it for that market need. But I wonder now, because a lot of what you said the Effective Brand’s focus is for your customers is actually about what I would almost call like change management. A lot of change management is alignment of systems, people and infrastructure around an overarching or thematic strategy, and it seems like that’s what you’re doing. So is localization diminishing and, you know, alignment increasing from a consumer perspective and from the job that needs to be done, and how much if you could ever quantify it?

Marc de Swaan Arons: Well I think it’s very insightful Susan. When somebody faces a gun to me and says, “What exactly do you do,” I always say, “Well I guess it’s about 50% marketing consultancy and 50% change management.” Because what you’ve pointed out is a very hard factor a lot of companies are struggling to deal with, is that the outside world has globalized so much faster than the organizations that are supposedly servicing this world. So I would never be the one to argue that there is now one global consumer profile being developed where people are becoming so alike that basically you can pretend as though they all live in the same country. That’s not the case. At the same time, every one of our clients – and, you know, we’re talking about big companies – are seeing that key segments, like youth, show such consistency across geographies. I mean we mentioned in the book that, you know, somebody that’s a youth in Shanghai actually has more in common in terms of preferences, habits and interests and attitudes to youth in New York, Paris and Milan than they do to their own family members who live two hours south of Shanghai. So it is true that the outside world and the internet has played a humongous role in that, also satellite TV and such like, but nevertheless I think the internet has been the big democratizer of knowledge and learning to consumers. Organizations have note kept up anywhere near the same speed. An example that I like to quote is Starbucks, that at the time many years ago when we were working with them the Chinese team of Starbucks was extremely proud because they’d been invited to open a coffee shop within the Forbidden City. Now this, if you know anything about China, is not something that you decide on your own; you get invited to open a coffee shop in the Forbidden City. But the Chinese are very commercial, and there’s a lot of tourists there and they must have figured out that it made sense to have a Starbucks there. And so the Chinese team of Starbucks was tremendously proud of this. However, this news came out and about two years later, both in England – particularly actually in England – but also in the U.S. the global Starbucks teams and the local Starbucks teams there that had absolutely nothing to do with this, and in fact hadn’t even heard about this yet, were being blasted by the press for being culturally insensitive. Here yet again was an example of an American company, you know, bulldozing its way into a cultural heritage side of one of our allies and respected blah, blah, blah, and it just showed again how insensitive, and the truth was, “Hey guys, we were invited in.” But the local Starbucks marketers in England and the global Starbucks marketers in Seattle weren’t even ready for this news yet. The internet had spread it so quickly, so the big point of consumer transparency is something that every organization has to face up to, whether you like it or not and whether you have the responsibility internally or not. Whatever happens anywhere in the world you’re going to hear about it. And guess what, if it’s wrong you’re responsible for it. So there’s a lot of organizations that are trying to catch up and are trying to indeed develop processes and organizations to live up to a reality that’s already happening outside.

Susan Bratton: So I want to move into some of these – and thank you for that – I want to move into some of these constructs that are in the Global Brand CEO book that you wrote. It’s a hell of a book. I mean in a lot of ways I kind of felt like in all the best terms of this word and none of the bad ones, it was kind of like a textbook, an operating guide, a manual for a global brand manager, the case studies, the constructs, the examples of global CEO’s and their stories, you know, just felt like it had a real, it was like the opposite of a book that you had just consumed that was like a fad. It was the kind of book that would be a reference book, not only pinpointing a moment in time, but giving you some fundamental knowledge that you probably didn’t wear anywhere before. So one of the things that you talk about – and I want to start with this – is this notion of servant leadership mindset. There are actually two mindsets that you say are fundamental to a well-run global marketing organization, the servant leadership mindset and the looking for similarities mindset. Can you share a little bit about those, but also do them at a fairly high level in that there are quite a few other things that I want to talk to you about.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Got you.

Susan Bratton: And people will only give us like a half hour of their day and they’re happy to go buy a book, so just give us a high level on it.

Marc de Swaan Arons: I will Susan. And indeed, the brief for the book was to be a manual for people in the job. I have a personal fad, I go into LinkdIn and I look at how many people have the title Global Marketing in their role, and it’s exploding. Now this is not scientific because, you know, LinkdIn I’m sure its total membership is exploding too. But the number of people that I find online that have global marketing in their title description is now over 600,000. So we know who we’re writing this to. It’s all those people that are saying, “How do I do this?” That’s exactly what we set out to do. Now the two terms – and I am not at all surprised that you picked up on them and I’m sure most of your listeners, knowing you Susan, will not be surprised, because the servant mindsets is one that is really stolen with great pride from the 1970’s from a philosopher that from a leadership perspective launched the term. And it’s about recognizing that the most effective leadership is the type of leadership where the people that you lead actually believe that you’re doing it for them. And they really understand that somebody needs to step back and do the things that they don’t have the time to do or they don’t have the resources to do or they don’t even have the expertise to do, but they are the non-urgent but very, very important things that will determine our success not today, but tomorrow. And that is what we believe is the mindset that the best global marketing leaders should take, the servant leadership mindset. There’s two constituents. It means that if I’m the head of lets say Dove worldwide I need to understand precisely what my key five or ten markets – Germany, America, China obviously – what those markets are going through, what their reality is, what their competitive war is and that I’m working on things that will help them get better next year. I shouldn’t be meddling in how they’re fighting their tactical battles on a day-to-day basis, but I should be thinking about the big things, big innovations, big communication programs that they can implement next year to beat the competition. And those people really have to know in those countries that that’s what I’ve made my agenda. That creates respect. That’s the servancy. However, there’s a leadership component to it because quite frankly – and this is a personal philosophy – I believe that everybody in the world has the right to a boss. When somebody says to you, “Okay, I heard what you said, but it’s going to be left, not right,” that takes a burden off your shoulder. And if there is 52 marketing directors because there’s 52 countries they all full well understand that there’s a time for them to make their case of what they really need, but they also understand that the organization isn’t going to do 52 different things and that it makes an awful lot of sense for somebody at some point to say, “I’ve heard your case, I’ve weighed the pros and the cons, and now it’s this direction that we’re going. This is the vision, and take it or leave it.” And that means that if you work for Tide Detergents in Argentina and you don’t like the color orange, well there isn’t a phone number in Cincinnati that you can call. They just don’t care what you think of the color of the packaging. And if you work for Apple and you think that the iPad should’ve been launched differently, I think you can always move to the east coast but there probably isn’t anybody on the west coast that’s willing to listen to you ‘cause there’s somebody that’s made that decision. And it’s that balance between real servancy and having the key players and key markets and know that you’re working to make them successful rather than your ego and, you know, your CMO profile, who cares. There is no global markets. If those five markets don’t win you don’t win, and at the same time having then the maturity and having earned the respect to be able to step back and say, “Okay guys, we can’t have five strategies, we’re going to have one, it’s this one.” And everybody leans back and goes, “Okay, lets just do it.”

Susan Bratton: Yeah, you’ve paved the way to get the buy in. That’s very, very important.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Now what that does require, and you raise that in your question, is that within the company there needs to be a sense of a culture I would say almost of looking for similarities. And this is not something that the marketing leader needs to take responsibility for because as the world is globalizing – and I don’t think we need to spend much time on that – big organizations are making the analysis and coming up every time again with the conclusion if we don’t leverage or global expertise, if we don’t leverage our global skill we’re going to be beat. We’re not going to be here in five years. So what we need to do is we need to have a mindset that says, “What can we use from other places that we can roll out here quickly so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel?” Now quite naturally people are actually programmed differently. We are all programmed, if I show you a picture of a funny airplane… We do this at innovation programs sometimes Susan, and the wings face the other way and the cockpit is supposedly in the wrong place and I ask 50 people to make some comments, 80% of those comments will be negative. It’s the way we work. We look for what’s wrong. We look for what won’t work. And that’s not the way you build effective global marketing organizations. So a global marketer will only be effective if the CEO and the COO and the CFO and the head of HR are all singing in tune and saying, “We need to be more global or we will die.” And there are PDP, you know, personal development aspects, there’s a cultural thing about thinking global or acting global or promoting global. If that’s not in the culture and people are still being promoted and respected for actually picking apart a global strategy and saying, “Eh, that won’t work here,” then you might as well give up, because then the groundwork for being effective at a global level isn’t there. So a global marketer needs to show servant leadership mindset, but he needs to be able to build on the culture that says, “Hey, we’re going global and we’re looking for similarities to make that happen.”

Susan Bratton: You know, a lot of people who are listening to you talk right this very second are thinking to themselves, “Well I’m not the global marketer; I’m the only marketer. Like, I run marketing for my company,” and they might not even have ‘global’ in their title because they just assume, “I’m global, you know. Everything I do, I run a company that is a global company because what we sell, you know, is sold all over the world.” So global almost becomes not even something you’d think about because you just, it’s like assumptive in what you do. You sell your product and you’re responsible for sales and marketing all over the world. For a person who comes from a small and medium business, not a business where there are multinational headquarters in different organizations, but where there’s a single HQ in the U.S. but they sell to companies all over the world, what kind of advice would you give that marketer about how they could be more successful with international sales? What are some of the things that you can affect as the VP of marketing or the CMO or whatever it might be in a small to medium business now today? What’s the thing, what are the two things you’d tell that marketer to do to increase sales at a global level?

Marc de Swaan Arons: Well Susan I think you make a good point, and there really is two dimensions that we look at. Ultimately what characterizes a global marketing organization is that it’s complex. But there’s lot of organizations that are actually completely national and that are very, very complex. If you think about an insurance company that has life insurance and home insurance and car insurance; those divisions are typically run as completely separate business units with different marketers, different sales people that are operating under the same brands. And what you’ll typically find in those organizations is that there is actually someone somewhere that is responsible for building that brand and growing the business and supporting each of those business units with brand materials and brand vision and working with them to see how the brand can actually generate growth. I think everything that we say in our book is very, very relevant for those people too. At the same time we’ve talked to organizations where they have regional sales offices and actually there are people on the ground representing the brand in different regions and thinking through, “How do we make this and this beer relevant to New Orleans rather than to New York, very, very different cities?” And so the principles very much translate to similar situations. And those principles keep coming down to really connecting with the key players that are across the markets, whether they’re regional or business units, and understanding what role the brand really plays in that marketplace, and then looking for the pieces where you say, “Well we could create something bigger than the local person could just do or the region person could just do.” You know, we worked with Smirnoff in the past and they decided to make a music program, and just because they were bringing different markets together within the U.S. they were able to assemble budgets that were bigger and they were able to get bands that had national fame rather than some local jazz bands. And so it’s about basically getting an organization, no matter how big, to understand that there is always the short-term battle that will drive success today, but then there are bigger things that if we group together and cluster our strength and expertise and budget that we can probably do, that otherwise our competitors couldn’t do, and they will drive competitive advantage next year or next month. And so I think marketing leaders, no matter how large the organization, if they take the step back and say how clear are the market circumstances to everybody, how inspired are the people within the organization about what it is we’re trying to do as a company, as a brand, how clear are we on the key three objectives for the business for the year ahead, how well is it known exactly who does what, because that so often turns out to be a roadblock for action. You’re just not sure that you’re allowed to do that or there might be somebody else that wants to sort of mingle in that planning process or in the execution. And finally, what tools are there to help make me successful. Surely somebody’s done this before. Am I going to have to reinvent the wheel here or is there somebody that says, “Oh, in New Orleans you want to do a series of jazz concerts. Well we did it in three other cities last year; here’s a checklist of how to organize a program like that”? That’s nothing to do with global or local; that’s about leveraging best practices and making them available to people in markets everywhere.

Susan Bratton: So how does somebody get a hold of all those great checklists and things? They work with you?

Marc de Swaan Arons: Well actually what we created the book for was just that. We really did want to have a marketer that is confident about their marketing mix, about their marketing experience, about their marketing leadership skills, to have a guidebook to say, “Okay, but I’m in a new role, there’s lots of people looking at me expecting me to say brilliant things and help solve everything in a totally unrealistic time span, how do I go about this? How do I before I even accept the job” – you may have noticed the last chapter…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Marc de Swaan Arons: is all about preparing for the role and then the first 100 days into the role.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, that’s brilliant.

Marc de Swaan Arons: “How do I set my…” Yeah, well you know, it just so much of this is about managing expectations. So how do I set up the role? How do I make sure that there’s clarity around what I’m going to do so people don’t have high sky expectations that I can never deliver against? And how do I know that I can hold people accountable and say, “Hang on, when I took this role we agreed that this is what I was going to be able to decide, so what are you doing in the room?”

Susan Bratton: So I notice that you reference a number of things in the book. Like on the inside front cover you talk about things like your survey, Leading Global Brands, Pulse Check, Brand Sessions, Share of Experience, Purposeful Positioning, The Brand Idea, The Global Brand CEO, The EB, EffectiveBrands Progression Map, The EffectiveBrands Role Matrix, The Effective Global Marketing Roadmap. Are these all best practices, pieces of information that a marketer working with you has access to that help them figure all of this out? Is that what those are?

Marc de Swaan Arons: That’s right. And at the same time I want to be extremely realistic. For example, how you do positioning, there are probably 50 models in the world on how to do that. We have a very strong belief that purposeful positioning, in other words a brand that is built on something that is a belief, a purpose, that’s bigger than making just money will be a significant competitive advantage, and this is a model to help do that. The Brand Progression Map is really a way for big complex organizations to cluster the different markets and to say, “Okay, we’re trying to do different things in different markets,” but surely across all of those there’s probably five clusters that we can organize markets around so that we can think about those clusters and say, “What will be right for those clusters of markets,” rather than having to develop 82 plans. So these are frameworks, they’re planning tools, they’re concepts that really help marketers do their work faster, I would be the last in the world to say these are the ones you must go with because otherwise you will fail. Some of them are very, very unique to global marketing, and we truly believe that they will speed up your process by months if not years. Others are the way we believe it works best, but I would never fight against another consultancy and say, “Oh, theirs doesn’t work.” Very often what you find across complex organizations is that it isn’t so much the framework that matters; it’s the getting everybody in the organization that matters…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Marc de Swaan Arons: to line up behind one and make some decisions.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, exactly, alignment. That’s really what I got out of this whole conversation is that what you do is help people align around a strategy and that it could be any number of strategies. So last question, and this is specifically about your book. Your book was published in Holland. I noticed that you self-publish because I saw that the imprimatur was Air Stream, and I know you have an Air Stream RV.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: You decided to self-publish, and I notice that it’s a very beautifully produced book. The paper stock is nice. The illustrations are very sophisticated. You put an enormous amount of your knowledge and energy in this book. As I said, it’s really a textbook for global alignment. Why did you self-publish? Why didn’t you try to get, you know, Malcolm Gladwell’s publisher to publish your book or whatever? Why did you get it yourself and are you glad you did and how did that go?

Marc de Swaan Arons: It’s very interesting that you raise it. The answer is yes, yes and yes. We’re very glad we…

Susan Bratton: That’s the answer I always like. Yes, yes, yes.

Marc de Swaan Arons: You know, I did my homework. I was interviewing key stakeholders and leaders for the book. Some of them had written their own books, and I would always spend half the conversation, particularly at the beginning and say, “So, you know, what are the advantages and disadvantages of publishing with a house?” And in the end it came down to do you want to be in a Barnes and Noble on the table as people walk in or not? Because the only way you’re ever going to get there is if you have a big publisher behind you. The answer of course for us is not. Our target is the 600,000 people in the world that have global marketing in their title. And those people, they hear about books at conferences, they read about them online and they buy them on Amazon. So that distribution matter was settled very, very quickly. The next question became well what about the promoting and making sure that people hear about the book? And then I spoke to other writers that had significant experience with other publishing houses, and remember we’re all in the marketing space, and the term I kept hearing is, “Actually, I’m doing the marketing. Actually they gave me a marketing banner, it was so bad I rewrote it. Publishing houses aren’t known for marketing strategies,” and it’s so true. So there was really that part of it which said all we’re going to do is we’re going to bring in people that don’t understand the space in terms of global marketing, and they’re going to try and effect… In fact, one of the publishers I talked to had his title change dramatically at the 11th hour into something which really didn’t resemble the contents of the book because the publishers thought that would be sexy in the market. Stories like that really scared me off, and quite frankly I didn’t have the time or the energy to have yet another key stakeholder to deal with. Thinking then about the actual production closed the deal because I’d seen a lot of books and I, you know, as I was preparing with my partner. By the way, you haven’t mentioned that yet and I want to mention it; this was very much a co-production with the other founder of EffectiveBrands Frank van den Driest.  He and I always said we want this to be a piece of work where when you feel it, when you touch it it’s actually going to feel old school in the sense that it makes you feel comfortable and it makes you want to feel to use it. And we looked around and looked at some books that we really liked and very quickly had about three in terms of size and look and feel, and the funny thing is that that little country Holland is known worldwide for graphic design and for printing quality. I actually too a copy of this book, we launched it in Shanghai, I think I mentioned it to you, and the first print run was very expensive to do. So I had lots of copies with me in Shanghai, and I had a meeting with a big printer in Shanghai thinking that he was going to tell me that he could print it for a fraction of the cost. And he opened the book and he was holding it and he was feeling it, and he said, “We call this Dutch Press.” I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “The way this is finished this is called Dutch Press in the business. Nowhere else in the world can they do it this quality.” And he came up with a quote, which was about 20% cheaper. And then when I did the math with the taxes and the shipping and all the worries about getting it from China into the rest of the world, I thought you know what, we had a beautiful Dutch designer work on this, she did a fantastic job. She’s going to be warm and glowy when  she hears your review. And we had great printers that worked with us at every stage and even when we found the last minute little corrections that needed to be made they were flexible enough to do it for us and they produced a kick ass book. I’m so proud of this book as it sits now, and I wouldn’t change anything for the world.

Susan Bratton: I love hearing that. And I agree with you that it’s an absolutely beautiful book, and I would like to give one personally autographed copy away to one of our DishyMix listeners who listened to the show. Would you be willing to do that?

Marc de Swaan Arons: Well of course.

Susan Bratton: Okay. So if you haven’t been listening to DishyMix yet you’ve got hundreds of episodes to catch up on. What you do to get this copy of this beautiful book, The Global Brand CEO: Building The Ultimate Marketing Machine by Marc de Swaan Arons and Frank van den Driest, is go to the DishyMix Facebook page and post on the wall that you’d like to be the winner and why, and I will pick my favorite request and Marc will sign it and he’ll mail it to you and you’ll get to touch and feel the beautiful Dutch Press with all this great global information. Does that sound good Marc?

Marc de Swaan Arons: Absolutely, and I was just going to say that if your listeners want to know a little bit more about the book, if they go to there’s a book description right off the homepage, and that gives them a little bit of an insight of whether that is something that will be interesting for them or not. And it’s available on of course.

Susan Bratton: Perfect. Well listen I’ve really enjoyed, we barely scratched the surface. There is so much depth of information in the book and in your mind that 30 or 40 minutes doesn’t do it justice, which is exactly how it should be, right.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Right, I guess so.

Susan Bratton: You and I are just the amuse bouche for the global brand marketer today. We just gave them a little taste and there’s plenty more where that came from. I really appreciate you coming on the show today. It’s always a delight just to hear your voice. I miss you. It’s been great to have this small amount of time just to hear the amazing work that you’ve been getting done in the world Marc. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Well thank you so much. It was a great pleasure and a great honor to be on your show Susan, and I look forward to meeting you in person hopefully sometime in the near future.

Susan Bratton: Well seeing me again. We’ve met before, but yes.

Marc de Swaan Arons: Yes, absolutely. No, I mean re-seeing you.

Susan Bratton: Re-seeing me, retouching me, giving me a big hug.

Marc de Swaan Arons: It’s been too many years, exactly. Exactly.

Susan Bratton: All right…

Marc de Swaan Arons: It’s been far too many years.

Susan Bratton: So you have just gotten to know Marc de Swaan Arons. Marc is the co-founder of EffectiveBrands. You can find him at of course, and he’ll be a post on the wall at DishyMix. Just search for DishyMix on Facebook and you’ll find me. And I’m your host, Susan Bratton. Thank you for tuning in today. I hope it was a pleasure for you. It sure was for us. Have a great day and I hope I’ll connect with you next week. Take care.