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CMO explains why improv and marketing go together in business (Includes interview and first-hand account)

Provident Loan Society of New York is one of the country’s oldest lending institutions – founded in 1893 by the famous financiers JP Morgan and Cornelius Vanderbilt.

It’s a company rich in history and culture, but today, its Chief Marketing Officer, Scott Watson, just wants to make his employees laugh. In fact, he considers it part of his job to get employees thinking more creatively with the help of improv.

On Thursday, Watson led the monthly SPEAKeasy series, which brings thought leaders from different industries together to share their insight and knowledge with others. Watson explained to the audience made up of business professionals and entrepreneurs how marketing and improv can work together to create better ideas.

“Do you get up in the morning and script every conversation you’re going to have in the day? Of course not. You’re leading an improvised life whether you like it or not,” Watson said. “Improv can help you think more creatively on your feet. It will help you be more in the moment with your clients and collaborators. And it will help you solve problems.”

Watson leads many roles in life.

In addition to being the CMO of Provident Loan Society, he is also the head of faculty for Artistic New Directions, which is a nonprofit theater company that helps aspiring actors and writers develop their work. He’s also performed with The Second City of New York and in several off-Broadway musicals.

But talk to Watson, and you will see him get most excited when he talks about how improv is helping Provident Loan Society grow within the community.

His boss, CEO of Provident Loan Society of New York Isaac Rodriguez, said Watson has brought an entirely new creative approach to the business that the founding fathers of the company probably never envisioned.

“He’s really changed my life as a person too,” Rodriguez said. “His approach to life and work brings our business alive.”

Watson even convinced Rodriguez to completely change the way they market themselves in the community, beginning with their TV commercials that can be seen in New York and on CNN. All of the commercials are scripted by Watson and Rodriguez together.

So what advice does Watson have for marketers or business owners trying to improve their market share?

Watson says begin with improv. He says it will help you be more in the present, help you think on your feet and become more aware of how your colleagues and clients are responding to your message.

You can see more of Thursday’s SPEAKseries workshop — How Improv and Marketing Work Together — on the video.

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