ADT catches CMO

ADT catches CMO

Steve’s breakdown: Here’s a new CMO at a company that wants to look like it’s out from under its owner, Tyco, that is tasked with putting “some rigor in place around how we’re going-to-market and generating leads to drive new growth.” Now there’s a simple BtoB account to break into. BTW: I use ADT at my house.

BOCA RATON, FL: Tony Wells recently joined ADT as Chief Marketing and Customer Officer after holding the CMO position at 24-Hour Fitness for the past five years. I recently asked Wells about his new role, his experience at 24-Hour Fitness and his lessons learned as a Marine. Here are the highlights of our conversation.

JOHN ELLETT:     One of the things I learned during the research for my book is the importance of being clear about your mandate as a marketing change agent. How would you describe your mandate as a change agent at ADT?

TONY WELLS:     This is a unique opportunity in that ADT is a company that’s almost 140 years old and is going to go out on its own by separating from Tyco. In talking with my boss, Naren Gursahaney, President of ADT, his focus is on getting us out of the nest, and promoting and protecting the ADT brand that’s gotten us to this point. He also wants me to put some rigor in place around how we’re going-to-market and generating leads to drive new growth.

The category is changing rapidly with Telcos and cable companies coming into the space. So we’ve got to make sure we’re relevant and we resonate with customers who are making a decision about protecting and connecting in their homes. That focus on being relevant has never been more important to the company.

JOHN ELLETT:     What are you hoping to have accomplished in your first 100 days?

TONY WELLS:     For anybody who’s coming into a new company you’ve got to get your hands around the culture and the way that the company goes to market. In my first 100 days I am really trying to get a handle on my team, my job and the company; those three main things.

We have a lot of different stakeholders. We’ve got dealers, we’ve got employees, we’ve got customers and I’m really trying to quickly get a snapshot of how they all view the ADT brand — how we can continue to evolve it and to make it better. I’m trying to make sure I learn all those stakeholders’ points of view and be grounded in facts, data and voice of the customer. I’ll look to establish some quick wins from a standpoint of building value for the organization, using a team, learning the business and saying, “Here’s some things that I think we can do better that will grow our business and that will improve our brand.”

JOHN ELLETT:     What experiences will you take from 24-Hour Fitness into this new role?

TONY WELLS:     Both are subscriber-based business. Marketing begins with identifying customers and creating a value proposition that warrants their consideration. Then comes the customer experience — on-boarding them correctly, making sure they understand your product and the value it offers. Finally it’s keeping them in the family by making sure that you maintain that value. It’s not a one-time transaction and you’re done.

So we’re focused on building out our product offering. We launched ADT Pulse almost two years ago and it’s an amazing product that connects the home. We have a lot of customers who aren’t aware of it or don’t have it installed, so we’re looking to find the opportunity to show them what the system can do. At the same time there’s a lot happening on small business and home health.

The transition from 24-Hour Fitness overall has been similar from a subscriber-base perspective. And I think ADT is looking to be even more customer-centric on a go-forward basis.

JOHN ELLETT:     What leadership characteristics do you think are going to be most important for your success at ADT?

TONY WELLS:     I’m a big believer that leadership does matter and that it’s different than management. My belief is probably rooted in my history as a Marine — know yourself, know your people and know your job. If you do those three things well, you’re probably going to be in a position to succeed.

At this time in our company’s history it is important that we continue to be innovative and increase the speed of change. We have to accelerate a little bit.

This is an industry that was rooted for a long time in the same product offering hardwired back to a monitoring station. The world is changing with the wireless digital products and technologies that are coming to market now. Innovation has never been a more key to the value we’re going to have to represent.

JOHN ELLETT:     What did you learn through being a Marine leader that translates to operating in such a fast-paced, rapidly changing environment of marketing today?

TONY WELLS:     There’s something that I was trained in as a young Marine leader called Maneuver Warfare which has evolved since then. It was this idea of gaps and surfaces — determine gaps that you can exploit and use to win, and determine your strengths.

The premise of Maneuver Warfare is the loop of “observe, orient, decide and act.” The quicker that you can make decisions and speed through them the more advantageous it is. Action counts and I think that’s one of the things I learned as a Marine — moving first is much better than waiting and trying to get all the information before you make a decision. I’ve been talking to my team a little bit about innovation and speed. There’s a difference on the scoreboard of green and bright green. If we can get it green and we feel good about the decision and the information we have then let’s go, versus waiting to get every fact and every piece of data. The marketplace changes so quickly and not being one of the first movers leaves you in a bad place.


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