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Change your way of thinking: The accountant that soared to success using rock music

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Cross started out as an accountant at PwC before joining Boots, where he helped slash overheads by roughly £100m. During his eight years at the retail giant Cross also led the Boots store development team in opening several stores, such as the flagship outlet on London’s Oxford Street.

After Boots merged with Alliance Unichem in 2007, he decided it was time for a change. Cross set up Morgan Cross, his own consulting company. But his way of communicating with consumers may not be deemed conventional. In fact, it’s the epitome of creative thinking.

He found engaging with prospective clients really took off after he decided to bring his love of electric guitar-driven rock music into the mix.

“I’ve always loved guitar-driven music and I have a real appreciation and love for great song lyrics,” Cross said.

“When I set up Morgan Cross I was looking for a way of communicating with potential clients which would be compelling and I hit on the idea of using song lyrics throughout my content.”

Each week he draws on his musical knowledge to deliver a nugget or “rock” of wisdom on how businesses can grow. 

For example, one of his latest posts suggested that the most important thing you can do to deliver success is to set a challenge for your organisation. 

“Establishing a number one goal – a single, quantitative performance target – that sits over and above all of your other objectives provides cut-through and focus for everyone to help deliver,” he explained.

This was aptly followed by a brief cut-out of the song “Move On Up” by Curtis Mayfield:

“Just move on up,
And keep on wishing.
Remember your dreams are your only schemes,
So keep on pushing.”

Read more about music:

He suggested the “Business Rocks theme” has helped drive engagement, with many readers contacting him regularly to comment on his choice of lyrics.

“The lyrics were really well received and the feedback was that people enjoyed guessing which lyrics I was going to use,” he explained. “More people commented in terms of talking about the song than to discuss the business issue I had been discussing.

“The lyrics were so popular that I decided to make them the main focus. Business communications can seem quite dull so it’s fantastic to be able to inject a little bit of personality and fun.”

It sets up a great “hook” in terms of luring readers and clients back for more. Consumers will read all the way to the end to find out what lyrics had been used and may even start trying to guess for themselves before unveiling Cross’ own suggestion.

“I also think readers can relate to the business information a little more easily and retain it better if it’s linked to a popular song that they know,” he suggested. 

“Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and I certainly plan to keep on rocking.”

Perhaps it’s time to take Cross’ advice. There are three ways that you can lead your market, he suggested. The first is to be better than everyone else. But in many markets customers have already made their choice about what the “best” is and are unwilling to find a new “best” unless they’ve been slighted. You would have to offer something absolutely amazing.

“The second approach is to identify and focus on a new or under-served set of customers,” Cross said. “Lynx, for instance, isn’t trying to be the best deodorant brand, but it has grown and succeeded by becoming the first non-sports, lifestyle deodorant brand for teenage boys. And I can smell the evidence of their success every day in my sons’ bedrooms!”

The third route is to offer something very different to the existing players in the market. 

“What if, for example, you developed a chewing gum that acted as a deodorant, or created clothing that would never smell?” he suggested. “Well, a quick search on Google showed me that you can buy Deo Perfume Candy in the US and that the clothing retailer, Uniqlo, offers sports shirts with deodorising qualities. These solutions may not yet have hit the big time, but they probably have a better chance of success than another me-too deodorant.”

All businesses need to invest in the ongoing improvement of their products and services, but it’s worth developing a totally different way of delivering your product or solution for and communicating with your target customers.

To this, Cross cited the lyrics from “Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking” by Bob Dylan:

“Gonna change my way of thinking,
Make myself a different set of rules.
Gonna put my good foot forward,
And stop being influenced by fools.”

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