Scotland’s 40 Under 40
Yekemi Otaru joins 39 other business innovators included in the Scotland’s 40 Under 40 list for 2016. She is Managing Director at YO! Marketing Limited. She is also a second year part-time DBA student with the Department of Marketing at Strathclyde Business School.
On hearing the news, Yekemi noted, “I’m totally honoured to have made the Scotland’s 40 Under 40 list with a host of awesome achievers.”
Before YO! Marketing
Yekemi worked in software-related engineering roles for five years. She then moved into senior marketing roles because she saw an opportunity to translate complex engineering ideas into ideas that senior managers can buy into.
She won several internal awards for her leadership, creativity and passion for sharing knowledge with her peers. Yekemi led strategic marketing for the flexible pipes business at GE, providing customer, competitor and market intelligence which was vital for developing business’ product line strategy.
Yekemi recently became a published author with her first book, ‘The Smart Sceptic’s Guide to Social Media in Organisations’ (Rethink Press 2016). She based the book on research she conducted between 2012 and 2015. She interviewed marketing experts from companies like IBM, Dell, GE, SAS and EMC as part of her research. The result was a three-step framework for implementing social media programmes with employee participation. The book entered Top 100 in five categories on Amazon UK during its launch in February 2016. The book continues to rank well in the Social Networks (Kindle) and Web Marketing (Paperback) category.
Most recently, Yekemi drew on her research into social media to led the implementation of the company’s first employee social media advocacy programme. Starting with 30 employees, the initial pilot was successful. Website traffic increasing by 15% and several sales leads generated just a few weeks into the programme. Plans are in place to roll out the programme to up to 100 employees across all Lloyd’s Register.
Now and The Future
Yekemi is now a B2B marketing consultant, working with mostly with engineering and advanced manufacturing firms.
Along with her Bachelors & Masters degrees in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Yekemi has an MBA (Distinction) from Henley Business School, Reading. At the business school, she is researching the conditions for positive market outcomes in digital innovation. She plans to develop an offering to support digital innovation in various industry sector.
Can you think of any cool brands?
Apple, Google and Virgin come to mind.
What makes you feel cool? I feel cool when I have something others want. Exclusive privileges makes me feel cool too. Like being in business class on a long haul flight. That’s pretty cool.
A while ago, I started researching what key ingredients cool brands have in common. There’s a great article in Esquire, “Small things that make you feel cool (that really shouldn’t)”
The article lists some fleeting moments in life that make us feel cool. Here, I use some examples of those moments to show the feelings that any brand can strive to stimulate for a cool customer experience:
1. Ordering cocktail without consulting the menu
We feel: Knowledgeable and skilful
2. Strolling confidently away from a shop counter after handing over the exact change. No need to wait around – you know it’s right
We feel: Knowledgeable, proactive and bold
3. Withdrawing more than £100 at a cash machine
We feel: Prestigious and privileged
4. Using a complicated sequence of keyboard shortcuts
We feel: Expert and skilful
5. Being recognised by an attractive person on the street in the company of your friends
We feel: Good-looking and recognised
6. Pulling out a copy of The Times on the tube while everyone else is scanning The Metro
We feel: Exclusivity and prestigious
7. Answering any request from your boss with ‘I sent you that last week’
We feel: Smart and proactive
8. Buying the non-sale item in a place with an end-of-season sale on
We feel: Prestigious, cutting-edge, contemporary
9. Passing through the gates of the tube without breaking your stride
We feel: Focused and forward-thinking
10. Cracking an egg with one hand
We feel: Skilful and bold
And so on – you get the idea.
It boils down to two things: Cool brands make customers feel
e.g. good-looking, contemporary, bold
e.g. knowledgeable, skilful, expert
Your tone of voice, content you share, how you engage and even your chosen sales channels are all key aspects of a cool brand.
To be successfully cool, ensure your product or service makes the customer experience journey a joy for the customer. Don’t be tempted to make your brand the hero. Remember it is your customer that is the hero.
Now, go make a cool brand.
I have a confession to make
I want people to like me. When I enter a room, I look for signs that the people in that room think I’m alright. These signs could include:
Smiling at me
Starting a conversation with me
Pulling me into a conversation by asking me questions
Making eye contact
Nodding in my direction
It’s a hard thing to admit in a society that tells us that caring about what people think is bad, a sign of insecurity. On the other hand, we work in business markets where we want to attract as many customers as possible. We study them, and we seem desperate to catch their attention. It is fair to say that we care what customers think. Are businesses therefore insecure?
Businesses have compromised their value proposition
Most people, like businesses, want to be liked. But I’ve found that if a room full people all like me, I’m probably not being true to myself. It’s likely that I’m going out of my way (with some of them) to say the things they want to hear. Consciously or unconsciously, I’ve compromised my real value. Do businesses do the same in a bid to secure new customers? I think so.
In fact, if your value proposition is for all customers alike, I can tell you with a degree of certainty that your business isn’t being true to itself. It’s the old adage of trying to be all things to all men (and women).
My value proposition doesn’t resonate with everyone
As much as I want to be liked by everybody, I can’t achieve that without losing sight of my real focus. I have become comfortable with this.
In a room of ten people, for instance, it is not unusual for me to really hit it off with two or three people. It’s a kind of natural selection and I’ve learned to rejoice in this.
Therefore, focus on adding value in your unique way. Recognise who you should say, “No” to. You read that right. You will not add value to some customer groups. And the less time you spend on these groups, the better focus you give your business. Hence, it comes down to targeting and positioning, along with a clear value proposition.
What are your target customer groups and what is your specific value proposition to these groups?
Which customers are you chasing now that you should be saying, “No” to?
If you would like support in answering these questions for your business, get in touch with us today