Monthly Archives: May 2005

The “New” CMO

There’s an article posted in the current issue of CMO Magazine describing "The Future CMO".
You should read it, because it’s a perfect guide to how marketers can
continue to crash and burn. On the surface, the article is right on
target. It resonates perfectly with the marketer who has his back to
the wall, offering a clear antithesis
to all of the complaints about marketing coming from the boardroom, but
providing no real clue to the underlying dry rot of the marketing
"Here I come," it seems to say, "responding to the pressure for accountability with
snappy financial lingo, crisp analytics, and a  network of engineers
who respect me."
It sounds like the vision
of marketing by a clueless Marketing Executive staring lovingly in
the mirror.

The current obsession with financial issues simply reflects that
it’s through the window of performance metrics that we’re able to see
that marketing is broken. Learning financial concepts is important
because it makes your understanding of the indicators more acute–but
it doesn’t solve the problem. The CMO Magazine article articulates many
of the shortcomings of the marketing function–inability to link
programs to the bottom line, failure to integrate with other functions,
myopic focus on soft campaign measures–but seems to suggest that the
solution lies in restating attacks as declarative statements of what
marketing will be, some misty day in the future. What? You say we don’t
have metrics? Well, in the future we WILL have metrics.

really annoys me about this depiction of the future CMO, is that it
paints the picture of some slick executive deftly navigating the
c-level suite, as if simply rowing to the pounding drumbeat of the
current trend will open all the right doors. What the future CMO really needs to do is roll up his or her sleeves, get down in the trenches and serve sales, engage with
customers, listen to engineers, and start playing an active, service-oriented
role in the organization at the bottom first. If the future CMO can’t solve real
problems on the front lines, their lofty dream of "reaching across" the whole
organization to pull together all of the corporate elements and set strategic
direction is nothing more than a sales brochure for an expensive marketing MBA.

The most amazing section of this article is this statement:

To their surprise, the group’s findings suggest that the biggest
challenge may not be getting CEOs and CMOs to see eye to eye. One may
speak the language of revenue while the other may prefer talking about
customer satisfaction and brand awareness, but the research indicates
that these groups are on the same page when it comes to identifying a
company’s most pressing marketing concerns.

"We did not find any major difference between the CEOs and CMOs on any major topic," says McNally.

and CMOs with no difference on the most pressing marketing concerns?
This says everything about the actual survey, which I’d love to see.
Where are CMOs and CEOs perfectly aligned? Tactical management of the
marketing function. Where are CMOs and CEOs standing on opposite sides
of a tremendous gulf? On defining the strategic contribution of
marketing to the organization. Apparently the survey didn’t dig into the debate over the ultimate role of marketing in the organization, or it polled only those executives who accept the notion that marketing is little more than managing lead generation. If you want to talk about efficiency,
CEOs and CMOs are aligned, because it’s all about tactical improvements. If you want to talk about effectiveness,
CEOs and CMOs are in different worlds, because it requires a view of marketing that includes corporate strategy.

Most CEOs in America are weaned on the Porter,
TQM, Balanced Scorecard, Core Competency, Lean Production, Six Sigma,
Resource-based mindset of corporate strategy, which essentially
relegates marketing to a line function to be managed as efficiently as
possible. Strategy is a pre-packaged mandate and the title of "CMO" is given out to
soothe the egos of glorified marketing program managers. That’s not
true at all companies of course, but it’s the mass of the bell curve.
How do CMOs change the tide? Not by dipping their oars into the surface
currents while the deeper water sweeps them out to sea.

Personally, I’m looking for a Future CMO who
has an open invitation to the strategy discussion because they have
retooled their marketing organizations from the ground up by actively
serving their internal teams as well as they serve customers; they have
engineered processes as efficient as they are effective; and they have
relevant contributions to make to the strategy debate based on real
world experience in market development, customer intimacy, competitive
positioning, and brand management. Not because they’ve learned to keep
"ROI on the tip of their tongue".

Marketing Performance Measurement

Okay, okay, I’m up already. I’ve been getting emails asking where the #@$@# my next post is. I guess I underestimated the force of the whirlpool you get sucked into when you start a new job. Thank you for your subtle encouragement.

I’m sipping from the firehose a little more everyday. I went out to Chicago last week to attend the CMO Council’s Marketing Performance Measurement forum at CDW. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with some great thinkers I haven’t seen in person for a while, and to see some new faces in the marketing revolution. Jonathan Knowles delivered the keynote, dropping a few jaws when he challenged the entire room to put a number on the revenue that would be lost at their companies if they were fired tomorrow. He went on to propose an approach for quantifying marketing’s contribution to the market value of a business–a discussion that I think 5 years from now every CMO will understand, but today leaves about 80% of the room gasping for air. 

Alan Scott, the CMO of Factiva, was the highlight of one panel focusing on real-world implementations of Marketing Performance Measurement practices. I presented at a competitive intelligence conference last year where I first met Scott, and I’ve been continually impressed by his straight-forward, high-energy approach to marketing. You get the feeling that amid all the fluff about marketing revision, Scott is the real deal making it work on the front line. Interestingly enough, he came up through sales, not marketing, which may explain his common sense approach to marketing tactics.

Overall, the forum was an interesting departure from the usual hotel conference. A half-day session hosted at the headquarters of CDW, rather than some stuffy hotel ballroom, the forum attracted aboout 50 local marketing leaders, offering a manageable opportunity to engage in peer-to-peer discussions and networking. The content was focused on high-level marketing performance strategy, with panelists representing companies and vendors with various angles on the issue. Not all of the panelists were sharply tuned and on target, but most, like Larry Angeli from Compuware were candid and accessible in their descriptions of what’s happening on the ground in their marketing organizations.

Our next stop is Boston on June 21st. If you’re in the area and you’re a CMO or VP of Marketing, take a look at the agenda and put it on your calendar. It’s a good line up.

Okay, enough promotion. I’ve got to start looking at changes to the blog design.

Grabbing Hold of a Speeding Train

I’m finally back on the trail to posting. It’s been a crazy insane few weeks. I walked up to a major railroad crossing in life, watched a couple of trains roll by, and then reached out and grabbed a speeding bullet train. A lot will be changing in the coming days and weeks, but here’s a quick update of what’s been happening.

Last week I joined Global Fluency as Senior VP of Strategic Planning and Business Development with, among other things, responsibility for growing the CMO Council. After seven years as president of Cymbic, this is a big change and, as I’m learning more and more every passing day, one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made. I’m plugging into a network that undoubtedly represents the most concentrated circle of marketing brainpower ever–1300 of the top marketing executives from the companies that literally define the global economy. The council hosts an ongoing series of intensive executive forums, in-depth surveys and topical research papers. Unlike many of the opportunistic conference circuits that are long on sponsor fluff and short on content, the opposite is true here. I’ve struggled for the past week just to get up to speed on all the programs–there are initiatives on marketing metrics, efficiency and effectiveness, pipeline development, sales and marketing integration, global competitiveness, personalization–the list goes on and on, but focuses on all of the bedrock issues I’ve been digging into for the past 3 years and more.

If I sound excited, it’s because after years of ranting about the pathetic state of marketing, I finally found the place where relevant solutions are being forged not by self-proclaimed gurus, but by the marketers themselves.  It’s a great program and a great team running the show, and I couldn’t be happier. The opportunity to be on the frontline for the remaking of the marketing function has never been greater.

So what will happen with Cymbic? The verdict is out. This whole trajectory began when my partner, Kenichi Nishiwaki, was tapped for the position of Creative Director of Landor Asia, and couldn’t turn down the opportunity for a victorious return to Japan. My other partner, Russ Baker, and I looked at everything and decided it was time to jump into the abyss. We’re looking at a couple of opportunities, including an offer to sell Cymbic to another agency that wants to enter the tech market in the Bay Area.

As for marketonomy, I’m planning to keep the blog going, though some changes will likely be coming–first of all cosmetically, and then in content as I’m sure my posting will start to reflect more of the CMO interactions I’ll be engaged in with Global Fluency and the CMO Council. On the immediate horizon, I’m heading to a CMO Council Forum in Chicago next week on Marketing Performance Measurement, where Jonathan Knowles from Brand Finance will be giving the keynote. Look for some posts on the event next week, though I won’t be waiting until then to get back to posting.

Brand Design

I’ve got a new column up at BusinessWeek, focusing on the process of creating a brand. It’s causing me no small amount of grief trying to serve up functional value in 900 words. Opinions are easy in that amount of space, but functional substance is difficult, unless you spread it over many installations. It’s humbling that in my 3rd year of writing that column, I’m still learning how to work the medium effectively.

My biggest fear is that the column was more interesting to write than it is to read. I’ve had the tremendous privilege of working for the past seven years with two of the best strategic designers in the brand game–Russ Baker and Kenichi Nishiwaki–and learning firsthand just how strategic design can be in crystallizing the value a company provides to its customers, not to mention galvanizing the corporate culture. For so many of the clients we’ve served, the aesthetic process of determining their corporate or product brand was a seminal experience–a rare opportunity for the company to look in the mirror and make critical discoveries about who they are, as well as choices about who they want to be. There’s very little patience for that kind of process these days.

Let me know if the column stands on its own. If not, I’ll push on some the ideas a little more, and maybe even rope Russ and Kenichi into offering some of their own thoughts.