CEO Mentoring Session Shared in Public

CEO2CEO by Accelerate St. Louis Pairs Corporate CEO with Startup Founder for Unique Public Mentoring

CEO Mentoring Session #CEO2CEO

Klein, Scoville and Sheridan

Accelerate St. Louis
is coordinating some extremely interesting conversations between two very different types of CEO. One series of conversations, titled CEO2CEO features a startup CEO sitting down with a large Corporate CEO from the same industry and sharing thoughts, ideas and lessons learned. Tonight’s conversation features former Energizer CEO and Executive Chairman of the Board at Edgewell Personal Care, Ward Klein and Scoville & Company CEO, Agnes Scoville, moderated by Travis Sheridan of Venture Café.

This particular event felt like I was sitting in on a great mentoring conversation between Klein, the veteran marketer and consumer packaged goods (CPG) and Scoville, the bright and insightful up and comer. What follows are a few of the most interesting points.

  • Marketing ROI is still difficult to calculate but getting easier with better analytics. Large scale advertising, however, remains difficult to measure.
  • ROI sometimes comes from surprising places. For example, Dr. Scoville, attended conferences where mommy bloggers gathered hoping to gain awareness and pick up some sales along the way. Sales were limited but she did meet with an executive from the Hallmark Channel who highlighted their product, Pacidoce, gaining millions of eyes.
  • All CPG produces must gain Distribution, Awareness, Trial & Repeat customers. This creates a franchise.
  • Branding is about creating an authentic story around the brand, something people, your customer, will identify with.
  • For entrepreneurs, the traits of the founder are often the primary traits of the brand itself. This is not the case with large corporate brands.
  • By and large, consumers don’t care about the CEO of their favorite packaged goods. These items, often commodities, require a brand that’s focused on ‘what’s in if for me’, or benefits for the consumer.
  • Large brands are moving budgets away from mass media and towards digital options because it is less expensive, more focused and easier to measure.
  • Brand consideration is more important than brand loyalty. Consider, most brands (diapers, batteries, etc) can’t expect loyalty, only consideration at every purchasing decision.
  • Product development: Should a small business with one very cool, unique product, put together 4 or 5 more products so they can carry a portfolio to their distributors or should they focus on the one product and R&D on other unique products? Klein shared this particular piece of genius: Focus and max out the one product. Leverage the distribution you have currently. You’ll have only 6, perhaps 9 months, to hit the retailers expected turn rates. If you don’t you’re entire portfolio will be out of the stores. If you’re less than unique products don’t perform, they may be your downfall at the retailers. They may also distract you to the point that you no longer execute on the original product.
  • The role of the CEO is interesting in that many people see it as the top of the org chart but it’s not. It is the middle of an hour glass with a Board of Directors and investors above and employees / staff below. It is indeed a pinch point of responsibility.
  • Team means “we are in this together.” When your sales dept thinks the marketing dept is the enemy or eveyone thinks IT is the enemy, you have big problems. The only enemy you have is outside, competing against you with all they have. They’re probably bigger and better funded. Don’t ever let your team forget this.
  • Scoville to Ward re career advice: Use all of the digital tools at your disposal to engage with the up and coming millennials for both internal and external communications.
  • Ward to Scoville re: career advice: Enjoy what you do. No matter what you do you’ll work hard and invest lots of time but life is short so be sure you enjoy it.

This chat was phenomenal. I hope to see you at the next one.


Jason Thomas