Words From the Industry: Ron Askew

This week, TXADPR interviewed Ron Askew, a business leader with a unique array of experience across product, retail, media and service businesses. His most recent business roles include CEO and, later, chairman of TraceyLocke as well as CEO and founder of SQ Partners. In our talk with Ron, he provided valuable insight into what it takes to work with clients and run a business.

How do you know when you have the right idea?

You know that you have the right idea when the work: 

Meets the objectives for the piece of work

Reflects the truth of the brand essence (leverages proven brand equities)

Is built on a meaningful consumer insight that translates to generating the desired results

Addresses the “need-state” the recipient has when the work meets the brand

Builds in a memorable element that is intriguing.

One of my mentors used to say this about knowing when you have the right idea: “When it is great, there is no debate.”

How has your approach to marketing changed throughout the years?

Many of the core approaches to marketing have continued (e.g. targeting the right people, price-value relationships, compelling selling ideas). The main evolutions in marketing continue to be rooted in the data-driven realm. Data analytics have exploded and we are getting better consumer insights, better distribution insights, and better post-execution result insights. There has been an explosion of usable portals to reach the desired targets. Related to data analytics, we are better able to target and get feedback due to the consumers’ instant feedback.

How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

My experience has shown that creative thinking is best encouraged when you openly and publicly reward great idea generators. Be it a team or individual, providing platforms for reward signals we value creativity.

How do you identify a client’s unique selling point?

There are hundreds of techniques to identify a client’s unique selling point. Every agency and every marketing department has their process or system. There is no “only right way”. What is really interesting is to go online and study different processes. Agency and consultant sites have a wealth of techniques that they swear by, so, with that, I won’t dare claim that I have the best answer for finding the unique selling point.

What are the most important traits you look for when hiring new employees?

Beyond making sure that they know the skills and techniques of the job, my teams have always found three factors separate a hiring candidate:

  1. Command presence. Does the person own the room? Do they inspire confidence? Do they have a record of success that others interpret as respect?
  2. Mentors. Does the person have a teacher or coach that has developed them? Do they have a mentor that they have learned best practices from? Do they have clients that have in effect been “teachers of the business”?
  3. Student mentality. Does the person really study the aspects of great work? Do they keep evolving their leadership abilities? Do they have self-motivation to stay current?

How do you help new hires understand your business values?

One of my mentors used to preach: Trust is gained, respect is earned, honesty is appreciated, loyalty is returned.

Jack Eltife