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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

b2b, content strategy, Digital Channels, Social Media Marketing

Content: Focus on Your Customers, Not Volume

Feed the beast. Tame the monster. Stop the roar. Why do marketers insist on characterizing their content consumers as unruly, insatiable animals?

I suppose it’s because that’s exactly the way many have learned to think of it. For years now, marketing organizations have been trying to create messaging that can fill what may seem like an infinite void. Just keep churning out the content, and somehow, someday, some way, it will all pay off in the end . . . right?

There is a better approach, and now that 90% of B2C marketers and 93% of B2B marketers say they’ve thrown their hats in the content marketing ring, you need to start using a strategy that’s more efficient – and more effective. If you don’t, much of your effort will be wasted, because your customers are becoming increasingly distracted by the marketing messages – the content – bombarding them at virtually every turn.

To be more effective, you need to cut through all that noise. And to cut through all that noise, you need to produce content that’s targeted, useful, succinct, and shareable delivered at the right time within each buyer’s journey.

I’m not suggesting that we simply substitute one impossible beast with another. Rather, the key here is to break the problem into more manageable pieces.

First, take a long, hard look at the data surrounding the content you’re already creating. Analyze it. Find out what your audience wants to consume and how you can best present it to them. In other words, learn which 10% of your content does 90% of the work to create impact.

Then, strive for operational efficiency in your engagement tactics.

For example, our research shows that Millennials turn first to social networks for content discovery, and then to online and customizable newsfeeds. How many of your customers are doing the same? Or let me ask an even more fundamental question; do you know where your customers are engaging with content? (A recent study from Forrester showed that for some top brands, Instagram delivered 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.) Are your customers using Instagram and wondering why you’re not?

As you dig into your customer data, you may also discover where and when to create triggers for communication at different points along the customer journey. Fine-tuning your messaging so customers feel like they’re being acknowledged as individuals –with unique preferences and paths to purchase – can also lead to very effective (and cost efficient) content marketing.

In the end, it’s not about satisfying an endless sea of content consumers. And it’s not about taming. Instead, marketing success today – and even more so, in the future – is all about paying attention to your data and implementing a solid strategy so your content finds the people who matter most, your customers.

Business Books, Business Transformation, Creativity, Customer Experience, Digital Culture

Shaking Up the Status Quo: Lessons from a “Disciplined Dreamer”

Modern CMOs have become the Swiss Army knives of the C-suite, forging skill sets that combine strategy, tactical know-how, data-driven insights, on-the-spot analysis, creativity and perhaps a touch of fortune-telling.

Nowadays, it’s not enough to fall back on what’s worked in the past or even to rely on what’s working right now. Rapid advances in technology and communications are changing the landscape at such breakneck speed that many are struggling to answer the top questions on everyone’s minds: What is the future of marketing, anyway? And how will we get there?

If you’re not looking ahead—way, way ahead—your competition may beat you to the finish line.

That’s why entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Josh Linkner is a passionate advocate for focusing on what’s next—and how to achieve it. His book, Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity, provided leaders with invaluable insights on fostering creativity and innovation amongst their teams—all with the goal of driving new ideas, new offerings and new methods to maintain a competitive upper hand.

Josh’s newest book, The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation, takes the push toward ingenuity and inspiration to a new level by urging us to act as change agents within the enterprise. He says that by actively and intentionally disrupting the status quo, we can actually jumpstart the process of innovation.

Now, that might sound a bit contradictory. After all, won’t disruption just lead to chaos?

Not according to Josh. As he sees it, the right kind of disruption can accomplish just the opposite.

It’s easy for marketers to get caught up in a web of systems and functions that fail to produce successful outcomes, especially if you’re stuck doing things the way they’ve always been done.  From that vantage point—mired in old patterns and processes—it can be difficult to perceive exactly where the problems lie . . . and what might be possible if you stepped outside of your organization’s established universe of silos and campaigns and channels and acronyms and buzzwords.

When we develop the courage to abandon “how things are” and “how things have always been,” we become free to pursue the goal of “making the complicated simple.” We become powerful change agents in service of our own vision and purpose—and ultimately, capable of greater innovation, greater transformation and greater achievement as a result.