top of page

Embracing Unpredictability: Outcompeting Through Creative Marketing

Embracing Unpredictability: Outcompeting Through Creative Marketing

Alfred P. Sloan was a pioneer for customer driven innovation who outmaneuvered Ford and built the foundations for modern-day vehicle design and marketing practices. For his remarkable leadership of GM he is lauded as the greatest business leader in American history.”

In times of radical change and fierce competition, winning companies demonstrate a nimbleness that enables them to take advantage of new opportunities and to quickly address risks that threaten them.

Marketing leaders are responsible for understanding the customer and industry, and for communicating the company’s innovations to the world. They are the linchpin of success for companies operating in high-growth markets.

Sloan’s purposefully designed systems for meeting the unpredictable and ever evolving needs of customers can be a guide for thriving in today's dynamic landscape in other fast growing industries.

To follow in Sloan’s footsteps, businesses must embrace unpredictability as a driving force behind their marketing strategies.

In this article, we delve into the art of creative marketing in high-growth markets and how to balance unpredictability with playfulness to unlock new opportunities and outmaneuver the competition.

The High-Stakes Game of High-Growth Markets

According to Virginie Glaenzer, Fractional Chief Marketing officer, “High-growth markets are characterized by their fast-paced nature, where consumer preferences evolve rapidly, new competitors emerge, and disruptive technologies reshape industries.

Navigating these turbulent waters requires a fresh approach to marketing—one that embraces the unpredictable.

In the 1920s and 1930s, automobiles were one of the fastest growing markets, for the first time delivering affordable, comfortable, and fast-paced personal transportation into the hands of regular middle class workers.

Today, some of the fastest growing industries include leisure & entertainment, healthcare & health services, renewable energy, transportation and logistics, data, software and information security. These markets are also brimming with innovation, new entrants, and disruptive technologies.

The Power of Creative Marketing

Creative marketing transcends traditional strategies by tapping into in-the-moment needs and trends, bold and unapologetic uniqueness, and the element of surprise. It captivates audiences, sparks engagement, and leaves a lasting impression.

For example, the 2023 Winner of Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Award, Yeti, started off the year by generating an itinerary of personalized, Yeti-endorsed outdoor events and then displaying a personalized highlight reel of their fans’ year-to-come with inspirational music, photography, and videography based on their fan’s interests and activity preferences.

In new and in high-growth markets, creativity takes on a new dimension. It becomes a necessity rather than a choice as companies strive to create demand across previously untapped customers.

Emerging technologies, services, and customer needs all need to be integrated into the experience to stand out.

The Paradox of Unpredictability

Unpredictability, often viewed as a hindrance, can be the catalyst for creative marketing excellence. It challenges marketers to think beyond the status quo and disrupt conventional norms. It provides product teams with new challenges and stimulates innovation.

When harnessed effectively, unpredictability can fuel innovation, foster agility, and drive marketing campaigns that stand out in crowded markets. It requires risk taking and the ability to manage for quality and excellence while staying flexible and agile.

Planning for Unpredictability

Creative adaptation requires trust among the leadership team and fast decision making, but it does not mean that process, quality control, or planning should be thrown out the window.

On the contrary, excellent creative agility is facilitated by processes that ensure that once a decision is made, it can be turned into action quickly.

In the 1920s Sloan developed the process by which GM annually refreshed the car models for all of its subsidiary brands, using customer demand and customer feedback to decide on which cars were going into production.

Changes were made to models up to 6 weeks before the cars were shipped to customers. His rigorous process for constantly delivering new features and improvements is the basis for most innovation processes in product development today and the primary reason GM outcompeted Ford and grew to be the world's largest company in 1955.

In order to adapt the company to the unpredictable nature of customer demand, Sloan developed a novel model for organizational design - centered around cross-functional teams that included representatives from every involved department. He also developed a clear framework for decision making: what type of decisions needed to be made earlier, what decisions could be made days before the cars were in production. He clearly identified the brand elements for each of the subsidiary car models to ensure consistency and differentiation, but without limiting the creativity of the teams outside of that.

The result was that the teams were self sufficient, they had a lot of leeway to make decisions on the fly, but they were still aligned with the overall strategy and purpose of the company. They were able to stay unpredictable and react to the customers and markets without sacrificing the ability to function in an organized and purposeful way.

To manage marketing unpredictability, businesses need to create an organizing framework that allows them to execute novel ideas quickly.

Data as a Guiding Star

Embracing unpredictability doesn't mean abandoning data-driven insights. On the contrary, data provides the foundation upon which creative marketing thrives.

Good marketing teams seek out customer feedback, actively investigate the work of their competitors, and analyze customer behavior and market trends to uncover opportunities amid the chaos.

Great marketing teams have a process that ensures they are constantly receiving new data and insights.

These are the elements that are the most outside of control of any company, big or small. The best approach then, is to be aware of shifts and changes and to use this information to influence the direction and messaging of the company.

For instance, if data analysis identifies a sudden surge in demand for sustainable products in a high-growth market, creative marketers can swiftly adapt their campaigns to align with this trend. This agility and responsiveness become critical assets in a constantly shifting landscape.

Adapting to the Unexpected

High-growth markets are notorious for unforeseen disruptions, such as economic shifts, regulatory changes, or global events like a pandemic.

Creative marketing isn't just about crafting catchy slogans or eye-catching visuals; it's about adaptability and resilience.

Companies that embrace unpredictability are better prepared to pivot when the unexpected occurs. They have contingency plans in place, enabling them to respond swiftly and maintain a strong market presence.

In the early 1920s, a limiting factor for car sales was the consumer’s cash-on-hand. Many financial professionals and car manufacturers rejected the idea of the car as an investment and refused to provide payment-plans and financing for vehicle purchasing. The GM leadership listened to the needs of their customers and refused to be limited by what is already known and established. They chose to believe that providing the means for driving home the dream vehicle today would unlock the potential for car sales without compromising integrity or financial security of the corporation.

They did the unexpected, and were able to attract new customers to purchase cars earlier than they would have otherwise and previous owners to replace their cars earlier.

The Role of Storytelling

Storytelling is a potent tool in creative marketing. It allows brands to connect with their audience on a personal level, transcending the transactional nature of business. In high-growth markets, the unpredictable narrative can be a powerful ally.

Consider a startup operating in a rapidly changing tech sector. By sharing its journey, including the challenges and pivots it encountered, the company can build authenticity and credibility.

Customers are more likely to support a brand that acknowledges its struggles in real-time and adapts to evolving circumstances through dialogue and feedback.

Embracing Risk as an Opportunity

Creative marketing in high-growth markets requires a tolerance for calculated risks. It means venturing into uncharted territory, experimenting with new channels, and daring to be different. Risk-taking becomes a calculated move informed by data insights.

For instance, a consumer electronics company might decide to launch a bold guerrilla marketing campaign in response to a competitor's product launch. While risky, this move can generate buzz and capture market share, provided it aligns with data-backed insights and customer sentiment.


In high-growth markets, the rules of engagement are ever-changing, and the only constant is adaptation.

Embracing this unpredictability and making it a cornerstone of creative marketing strategies can set businesses on a path to unparalleled success.

Creative marketing isn't just about thinking outside the box; it's about recognizing that the box itself is subject to change.

Companies that remain nimble in their marketing strategies can seize opportunities as they arise and mitigate the impact of unforeseen challenges. To be able to react quickly, the company must create organizational systems that support innovation, risk taking, and fast action.

By cultivating conversations with customers, utilizing data-driven insights, storytelling, and calculated risk-taking, companies can thrive in high-growth markets where unpredictability is not a hurdle but a springboard to innovation and growth.

Embracing Unpredictability was a central theme in a recent online webinar where several fractional executives discussed diverse strategies in strategic business planning. Listen to our conversation here.

About the Author

Dasha Tyshlek Fractional Strategy & Growth Officer.

Dasha Tyshlek

Fractional Strategy & Growth Officer.

Throughout her experience, Dasha has collaborated closely with numerous CEOs and founders, helping them bring their visions to life through strategic planning, implementing new processes, and coaching executives to achieve success. Her exceptional technical expertise and adeptness in forging complex multi-company partnerships have established her as a recognized leader in the space and satellite industry.

Dasha can help your team not only write the strategy to achieve your goals but also set up the strategy execution practice. She coaches managers on the 8 habits, teaches skills such as “Simple Quarterly Planning” and “Sensible Process Design”, and implements software and systems that help your team scale.

If you are exploring the option of hiring a fractional executive for your next phase of growth, discuss with Dasha Tyshlek to lead strategy and planning.

Read Dasha’s bio.

Secure your fractional executive today!

48 views0 comments


bottom of page