Hanns Schempp, the founder and CMO of Miota talks to The Ortus Club’s Hannah Hodkinson about the latest marketing trends, his interesting outlook on virtual events, and the biggest career advice he can give as a seasoned marketing leader.
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First of all, tell us about your company. What does Miota do?
Miota, which was only founded last year, is actually an association of experienced marketing leaders. There are former CMOs of corporations and scale ups in our company. We offer what we call “marketing effectiveness frameworks”. Miota is actually born from a very visible fact which is that marketing has become more impulsive, irrational, and also extreme over the past decade.
As a result, a lot of scale-up CMOs, CFOs and managing directors have recently become unsure about how their organisation’s long-term effectiveness will look like, notably, as expressed in their full company profit and loss, rather than only how successful their teams are in disseminating content on social media. So what Miota’s framework actually does is to challenge existing data, interpretations, methods, and sometimes entire growth plans. To add to that, we also question existing channel and activity mixes. We do this with a platform that already operates globally since 2016 called proof GPS. Lastly, we help scale marketing organisations internationally. This happens from the onset and from a very intense practical experience.
What are your primary marketing objectives right now?
We are currently focusing on our word-of-mouth strategy. Our word of mouth really works well simply because the kind of companies we work for, as I mentioned scale ups, tend to have a lot of PR. They tend to be rather known brands at least in certain circles.
Well, if you look back at the pandemic, and most of the true existence of Miota has been throughout the pandemic actually, relying on word-of-mouth has been challenging. That requires a bit of time and opportunity to spread and this is precisely what the pandemic stole from us. Thankfully, that was largely countered by people that focus on the details of their work, namely data and numbers. So even with a bit of delay, that all added up a net positive for us.
Describe the most successful marketing campaign you have ever worked on. What made it so successful?
About six, seven years ago, when I was still working for a very large corporation, we put on a campaign that was in essence done in close conjunction with sales and the brand marketing of 12 countries in central and southeastern Europe. It actually served as a vehicle presenting startups and their business models to a wider B2B audience, which was something rather unheard of in Europe at the time. It was occasionally found in the US, and this is also where we snapped the idea from, but we managed to take this out into 12 very different countries in Central and Eastern Europe with a lot of cultural peculiarities. Initially, we were really unsure if this is gonna hook up well with local audiences. However, it turned out to have an immense visibility from across a much wider reach than we had imagined. And still, to this very day, I think this was one of the most successful campaigns that I’ve ever participated in.
Let’s talk about marketing and events a little bit. So many marketing opportunities especially related to events and event sponsorships became no longer feasible due to the pandemic. What type of new event opportunities are there for marketers today?
Everybody has experienced over the past months the power that virtual events can have. However, I see things flowing back a little to the realization that people can, in different ways than we knew before, be turned off in their attention by the virtual event platforms that we have nowadays. Now, a couple of technologies help to contain that problem and to sometimes even turn things around.
What I find really interesting as of the moment is that new types of physical events are currently being discussed and the first of them are beginning to be rolled out just as we speak. They involve keynote speakers in a different way than they used to be and physical evidence in a different way than we knew from previous on-site meetings. I’m really curious about these new trends because I see a lot of movement in that space.
Do you think there are enough or as many marketing opportunities as there used to be?
Yes I think there are absolutely more of them, I see much more than before.
What do you think is the most exciting marketing trend at the moment? How can marketers use it to achieve their goals?
The best marketing trend that I see currently, is what the industry, as well as the CEOs and CFOs of companies are beginning to understand about marketing leaders: It is that virtually no company can function solely by relying upon performance marketing. Sales activation in principle and diminutive efforts very often found at PR and word of mouth is also important. All companies basically need a balance of both the brand building as well as the sales activation to really function.
What’s an event you hosted last year that you were most proud of? Why was it so good?
The event that I found most intriguing last year was when we brought together 3 scale-ups in a rather traditional video call. It didn’t involve a lot of presentations or lengthy statements of what these start-ups do.
It was more or less organised like all of us watching together a Netflix film by putting together some visuals that showed how these companies had evolved over the past two years and what they were currently doing to not only contain the pandemic, but to make it work for them.
Without one word being said, I believe that a number of the leaders in that event, spent a good amount of attention that we haven’t seen otherwise before. I found this intriguing because it totally blew us away in terms of being different from what everybody says virtual events are supposed to be.
Can you share any challenges you’ve faced in the past, or recently, when it comes to organising events?
One of the challenges we faced in Miota was that it seemed that there were a lot of people who were resisting to use virtual platforms. We left them out of the game. Somehow, we found other ways to keep them informed and reach out to them. But now that it was necessary for them to join us, there was a bit of change management involved to get them fully into the groups and teams that we operated on. I think this is something that we had overlooked in the past, so this was certainly a big challenge.
What’s one piece of career advice you have received that’s been particularly valuable to you as a marketing leader?
It typically goes back to one of my favorite sports which happens to be surfing. For many years, I keep telling people that as opposed to what people think of surfers, there is no such thing as a perfect wave and that also is true for marketing or for any kind of leadership really. If you have the right people, either because you developed them or because you got them into the team from the outside, and if you are willing to take on challenges the way they are put on your table, then basically every wave is okay – no matter which lineup you’re sitting in, no matter how the weather is, and who’s watching. That’s essentially my takeaway for a lot of the marketing work that I do and also for leading people.
“If you have the right people, either because you developed them or because you got them into the team from the outside, and if you are willing to take on challenges the way they are put on your table, then basically every wave is okay.”