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Digital Marketing, Marketing Trends

What Does It Take To Be An “Evolved” CMO?

Marketers face plenty of pressure to keep up with the latest marketing strategies, tactics and channels. Something is always changing . . . and falling behind can leave your brand at a competitive disadvantage.

For CMOs, the challenges are even more intense. In addition to adapting to the everyday needs of the changing marketing landscape, CMOs must also evolve as leaders so they can optimize their position in the C-suite. It’s a job that requires constant self-evaluation and re-assessment of answers to questions like: What are our core priorities? How should we be adapting to realize opportunities across the enterprise? Who’s best to collaborate with to get the job done?

Understandably, charting the right course isn’t always easy, and that’s why I was eager to hear from Sheryl Pattek at SDL’s recent CMO Executive Forum. Pattek, a VP at Forrester Research and the firm’s Principal Analyst serving Chief Marketing Officers, recently published a report with important insights about what it means to be a CMO in 2014.

The biggest takeaway? CMOs need to see their role through a much larger lens than was used in the past. We need to see ourselves as business leaders, rather than just marketing leaders. By taking this broader view, we open ourselves to more knowledge, create opportunities for more collaboration and ultimately, lay the foundation to have much more of an impact.

According to Sheryl, here’s what it takes to be an evolved CMO in 2014:

  • Realize the importance of technology—and the person in charge of it. EveryCMO needs to make the CMO-CIO relationship a top priority. Why? Because a CMO needs the CIO’s help to put technology in practice—and to get the most out of data.Forrester’s survey indicates that 62% of respondents see the CIO as a strategic partner, and 51% made this collaboration a priority—up from 30% in 2011. And while the 65% of unsynchronized data systems in 2011 is now down to 50%, there’s obviously still some serious integration to do in the years to come.
  • Take an active role in management and bring vision to the table. 62% of survey participants viewed a good relationship with their peers as vital, while 96% stated that strategic thinking and vision—keeping an eye on the big picture—was integral, as well.Marketing strategy is still at the heart of every CMO’s role, but smart CMOs know that a broader business perspective will earn the respect—and cooperation—of the other members of the C-suite. 59% said they wanted to grow their influence in this area.
  • Tie marketing goals into overall corporate goals. Customer acquisition. Revenue growth. Customer retention. Product development. Brand awareness. Shareholder satisfaction. The CMO plays a role in all of these, and we need to make sure the entire C-suite knows that. By clearly tying marketing goals to enterprise-wide needs, CMOs can establish their role in the company’s success.

To be successful today, you need to leave old silos and purviews behind and make yourself an invaluable part of the larger team. Fortunately, it’s likely you’re not the only one who needs to do so. Communication and collaboration is vital for everyone in the C-suite.

You can find more insights by digging into Sheryl Pattek’s full report, The Evolved CMO in 2014. , and by visiting her blog on Forrester

Customer Experience, Digital Marketing, Marketing Trends

Evolve or Die: Are Marketing Campaigns Destined for Extinction?

Remember how business professionals used to be completely devoted to the BlackBerry – so much so that “Crackberry” was named Word-of-the-Year in 2006? Back then, we didn’t realize that most of the technology we were holding near-and-dear would quickly become passé.

But now, we’re getting more accustomed to the rapid evolution of technology and processes. Looking around, I know that much of what’s familiar in the workplace today is probably on its way to becoming obsolete, replaced with alternatives that are more user-friendly, more intuitive and always connected.

And I know that’s exactly what’s happening with conventional marketing campaigns, too.

As I see it, one-way, mass-market marketing campaigns are going the way of dinosaurs and dodo birds. In the not-too-distant future, they’ll be extinct – not because there’s anything inherently “bad” about conventional marketing campaigns, but because they’re becoming less and less effective.

Digital channels, social media and mobile communications have fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with brands. As a result, today’s consumers don’t necessarily show traditional buying behaviors. Instead, they design their own experiences, jumping between on- and off-line channels, consulting their social networks for input, creating highly individualized paths to purchase and then, ideally, continuing on to become brand advocates.

In the era of the empowered consumer, every one of your customers is unique. Your marketing communications must reflect that uniqueness, including each customer’s often unpredictable change in interest, preference and expectations.

Certainly, blasting out a one-size-fits-all campaign won’t do the trick. Nor will any kind of old-school push marketing.

If you want to achieve marketing success, start focusing on customers – not campaigns. Become part of your customers’ buying cycles by building relationships that are ongoing, consistent, meaningful and mutually-rewarding, and keep in mind. . .

The clock is ticking on this paradigm shift. And the customer is controlling the stopwatch.

According to the data my company SDL has collected as part of a year-long research project on Millennials, they are already expecting brand interactions that are more innovative and more relevant. They’re connecting with companies on social media networks, and they like it when a company reaches out with a holiday/birthday card or some other kind of brand building that is more personal and not product specific.

In other words, Millennials – the 20-somethings who may be your customers today and will certainly be your customers in the future – aren’t interested in traditional marketing campaigns. They want to interact with your brand in a way that’s more timely, more customized and more relevant.

Are you ready to adapt to these new expectations? Are you positioned to focus on the customer experience?

As marketers, we can’t be resistant as our tools and processes evolve and improve. I remember holding on to my Blackberry until the bitter end, determined that an iPhone-sans-keyboard couldn’t possibly replace my beloved email-savvy friend. But, I was finally forced to change over when a former employer mandated the switch to an iPhone, version 3. I took the iPhone out of the box, started downloading apps and never looked back . . . not even for an instant.

You can do the same. Forge ahead. Don’t look back. Even though traditional marketing campaigns are extinct, your organization doesn’t have to follow suit.

Find out more about our millennial research here.

Customer Experience, Digital Culture, Marketing Trends, Social Media Marketing

A CMO’s Take On March Madness and #CustomerExperience

March is one of my favorite months of the year.


Because as an athlete and  a CMO, March is when two of my great loves –basketball and the customer experience – collide, creating one phenomenally fun event: the NCAA college basketball tournament, one of the most popular athletic championships in the US. (In fact, the weeks-long tournament is so action-packed and the fans are so, well, “fanatical,” that the whole experience is now known simply as “March Madness.”)

Last year, I wrote about how brands leverage March Madness to connect with their customers in fresh and innovative ways. This time around, I’m sure companies will ratchet it up even more. After all, marketing success now comes from engaging with your customers, and relating to them on their terms. Today’s leading brands are finding ways to join in on conversations that consumers have already started.  And what about the next few weeks? You guessed it. Many, many of those conversations are going to revolve around March Madness and all the “hoopla” that surrounds it.

Of course, most of that hoopla is relatively new – for both the tournament and for marketing. Over the years, I’ve watched both evolve, and looking back, it’s almost as though they’ve truly been on some kind of collision course all along.

The first NCAA men’s basketball championship tournament was played in 1939 and involved only eight teams. By 1994, the tournament included 64 teams and was well on its way to becoming the one of the nation’s preeminent sporting events. Coincidentally, that’s the year I started working on a PhD in Media Ecology at NYU.

Every single person I mention that to asks, “What’s ‘Media Ecology?’” So as an aside, let me mention that Media Ecology is the study of how technology impacts culture. But as it turns out, I didn’t continue down the PhD path. Instead, I opted for a job in IBM’s Internet Division, where I worked on launching IBM’s first “electronic commerce” payment product. Those were the early, early days of the digital customer experience, when creating your own “home page” at technology conferences like Internet World was all the rage. And coincidentally, once again, it was just about then that the NCAA created the first online computer page for the Final Four (1996).

Since that time, digital channels, social media and mobile communications have fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with brands, and as all that was unfolding, the NCAA continually evolved the “experience” of the tournament. What started out as a competition that involved only the players and those in attendance has become something of an annual national Spring-time ritual where anyone and everyone – from office workers to students to the President of the United States – can share in the experience . . . all the while driving value and loyalty back to the NCAA brand. These days, March Madness has grown into the U.S.’s second most popular sporting event for advertisers, second only to the NFL playoffs. Media coverage of the tournament now extends across four TV networks, along with scores of radio stations, websites, apps . . . and new this year, a chance to win a $1 billion prize?

Yes, the customer experience has evolved considerably since my days in the Media Ecology lab at NYU, and the NCAA has done a fantastic job of keeping pace.

Make no mistake about it, the future of marketing lies in the customer experience. And as any marketer who’s filling out a playoff bracket this week will tell you, you don’t have to look any further than March Madness.