2018 CRC: From ad world to fintech

The #1 planner Jason Chaney on how he's applying his CSO skillset to his new post at Koho.

Chaney, Jason

This article appears in the March 2018 issue of strategy.

What CSO skills/insights did you learn from the agency world that you’re applying to your new role at Koho?

One thing we learned with SickKids is that consumers expect brands to be human. Imbuing a sense of humanity into the brand requires a lot of flexibility and self-awareness. The other thing I learned by leaving the ad business is that I actually love the ad business. There are elements of it that I really miss. But that’s what makes it so fantastic – that you can walk away from it and miss it like that.

You used to bring junior strategists to coffee shops to watch people and learn from those experiences. Is that something you’re able to do now?

I do that a lot. Part of my process has been to not articulate how a consumer feels, but feel how a consumer feels… whether it’s frustration, joy, anger, happiness. You need to feel those emotions, internalize them and experience the brand. I’ve done that with Koho. I spent the first week basically doing user support and talking to customers. In our business, we tend to over-intellectualize things, but everything’s emotion.

When did you think to go client-side?

It came out of nowhere. The more I spoke to [Koho’s founder and CEO], Daniel Eberhart, the more I became enthralled with the purpose of the organization, the product itself and the people assembled to build this company. For a startup tech company, brand is usually something thought about at the very last minute. What attracted me was the fact that they wanted to invest in the brand early.

What will be your biggest challenge at your new post?

My process of feeling allows me to not over-intellectualize and get stuck in a rut. When I feel something, then I know I have magic and I just trust that feeling, and because of that, I’m able to come to conclusions very quickly.

The challenge is actually showing my homework. That was always my biggest challenge in advertising and will be my biggest challenge at Koho as well. How do I explain to a bunch of people who don’t exist in that world of marketing or advertising and creativity – though they’re all creative in their own right – what I want to do with the company?

Do you see any long-term industry trends emerging?

Really concentrating those dollars and making an impact, as opposed to spreading yourself thin and trying to do everything, I think that will become a trend. The other is you’ll probably see a lot of agency people starting to become clients. I’m getting a lot of requests for coffee to talk about my experience. Definitely the interest is there.