How Mar­ket­ing Lead­ers Can Thrive Amidst ​“Tec­ton­ic” Shifts in Expectations

Originally posted on KelloggInsight, four of the biggest marketing experts dis­cuss CMOs’ unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to dri­ve growth and col­lab­o­ra­tion across their companies.

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BASED ON INSIGHTS FROM: Gregory CarpenterEric LeiningerDiane Brink, and Jim Stengel.

Over the last decade, the roles of the mar­ket­ing team and chief mar­ket­ing offi­cer have under­gone fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tion. As a result, mar­ket­ing lead­ers are under­tak­ing expan­sive, nuanced roles that require great agility.

Four mar­ket­ing experts on Kellogg’s fac­ul­ty — Jim Sten­gel, for­mer glob­al mar­ket­ing offi­cer at Proc­ter & Gam­ble, Diane Brink, for­mer CMO for glob­al tech­nol­o­gy ser­vices at IBMEric Leininger, for­mer cor­po­rate senior vice pres­i­dent at McDonald’s Cor­po­ra­tion, and pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy Gre­go­ry Car­pen­ter — dis­cuss the ways cur­rent trends are remak­ing com­pa­nies, brands, and mar­ket­ing careers.

Jim Sten­gel: One of the trends I’m see­ing is that CMOs and senior mar­ket­ing lead­ers are going way beyond the old def­i­n­i­tion of the mar­ket­ing func­tion. They’re lead­ing a repo­si­tion­ing of com­pa­nies. They’re work­ing on the cul­ture. They’re get­ting every­one across func­tions on board, on the pur­pose of their com­pa­ny and what that means to everyone’s dai­ly work.

Diane Brink: While brand build­ing is still essen­tial, there is an expec­ta­tion on: Where are the new sources of rev­enue? How can I become deep­er ingrained in my exist­ing cus­tomers? How can I acquire new cus­tomers? It’s all about dri­ving growth.

The aspect of mar­ket­ing that hasn’t changed is the function’s under­stand­ing of the cus­tomer, the mar­ket­place, and the com­pe­ti­tion. And I think that since mar­ket­ing lead­ers are unique­ly posi­tioned to offer up those insights, there’s an expec­ta­tion that new ideas and new ways to per­form will come out of mar­ket­ing depart­ments’ efforts.

Anoth­er aspect is that clients are doing a lot more to dri­ve the con­ver­sa­tion and the expec­ta­tions of the work they do with com­pa­nies. Clients are more self-suf­fi­cient, so cus­tomer engage­ment has been expand­ed to be omnipresent.

Sten­gel: And the end con­sumer has changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly. Peo­ple are shop­ping dif­fer­ent­ly, get­ting infor­ma­tion dif­fer­ent­ly, being affect­ed by news dif­fer­ent­ly — and most com­pa­nies are strug­gling to keep up with that.

Eric Leininger: To add to that, there are two top­ics that I think are real­ly increas­ing in inten­si­ty for mar­ket­ing lead­ers. The first is what I would refer to as tec­ton­ic chan­nel shifts, par­tic­u­lar­ly in b2b. The b2b mar­ket­ing depart­ment role is real­ly being changed by a dis­rup­tion from the tra­di­tion­al sales-dri­ven chan­nel focus — where mar­ket­ing was in a sup­port role — to dig­i­tal, auto­mat­ed capa­bil­i­ties.

Mar­ket­ing peo­ple also need to take on explic­it­ly — in ways that may have been more implic­it in the past — respon­si­bil­i­ty for cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Com­pa­nies need to realign their work­flows so that a cus­tomer has a more con­sis­tent expe­ri­ence with the brand across chan­nels. This is a lot eas­i­er to say that it is to do! You’ve got to get the orga­ni­za­tion work­ing hor­i­zon­tal­ly instead of ver­ti­cal­ly and edu­cate so many more peo­ple about the expe­ri­ence you want the cus­tomer to have with your com­pa­ny.

Brink: Mar­ket­ing is the one func­tion that can knit the var­i­ous func­tions togeth­er in an enter­prise. How many times have you been around the table and you were orches­trat­ing the con­ver­sa­tions between sales, finance, gen­er­al man­age­ment, prod­uct devel­op­ment, right? Many times, it’s the CMO who’s facil­i­tat­ing that end-to-end align­ment for the enterprise’s suc­cess. I believe that’s going to con­tin­ue to be an essen­tial part of the CMO’s role.

Greg Car­pen­ter: There used to be so many more peo­ple who were under the direct con­trol of the CEO, and now it’s peo­ple out­side the orga­ni­za­tion you have to inspire as well as inside. I think of Steve Jobs and the app devel­op­ers: 60,000 employ­ees and 400,000 devel­op­ers, which sug­gest that the CEO must inspire peo­ple out­side the orga­ni­za­tion in addi­tion to lead­ing the for­mal orga­ni­za­tion. Devel­op­ers are smart peo­ple who can do lots of things with their time. Is that task of inspir­ing peo­ple out­side the orga­ni­za­tion falling to CMOs too?

Sten­gel: As a CMO, I think your peo­ple have to believe in it and inter­nal­ize it, under­stand their role and be able to talk about it in their own lan­guage. We live in a fren­e­my world — we’re work­ing with so many peo­ple that we’re also com­pet­ing with, and I think it’s impor­tant they all under­stand what you’re try­ing to do: your pur­pose, your mean­ing, your dif­fer­en­tia­tors. I recent­ly read a PWC study that showed that near­ly 30 per­cent of CEOs are con­sid­er­ing or are work­ing with com­peti­tors. Think Microsoft and Dell, Ama­zon and Unilever, WPP and Google.

Brink: To build on that, the col­lab­o­ra­tion that’s required across func­tions by the CMO is incred­i­bly intense. Take ecom­merce: the con­ver­sa­tions that CMOs are hav­ing now with prod­uct man­age­ment and how new offer­ings are designed to be able to seam­less­ly work through dig­i­tal chan­nels is a whole dif­fer­ent set of con­ver­sa­tions than were had in the past. Or con­ver­sa­tions with the CFO on new types of met­rics as you look at dig­i­tal engagement.

One of the lead­er­ship imper­a­tives that CMOs today need to embrace and demon­strate is get­ting com­fort­able with the uncomfortable….” — Diane Brink

Sten­gel: I was with the CMO of a glob­al bev­er­age com­pa­ny recent­ly. And the CMOlaid out the capa­bil­i­ties they need­ed to build for the future. Think about these ver­sus tra­di­tion­al mar­ket­ing skills: the first one was ecom­merce lead­er­ship, the sec­ond one was dig­i­tal sto­ry­telling, then agile inno­va­tion, agile data, ser­vice capa­bil­i­ty, and ven­ture cap­i­tal capa­bil­i­ties. I mean, geez.

Car­pen­ter: Can you talk about the ven­ture cap­i­tal capa­bil­i­ties? That seems a lit­tle bit unusu­al. The oth­ers seem more appar­ent or obvi­ous.

Sten­gel: Every­one has some method or sys­tem to work with star­tups. They real­ize their orga­ni­za­tions are not that great at cre­at­ing new val­ue, and they have to be bet­ter at act­ing like ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists. That means hav­ing a wide-swath approach to ideas that are rel­e­vant for their com­pa­ny, how to source them, how to find them, how to invest small amounts of mon­ey to see if they’re prov­ing out.

You’re hard-pressed to find a lega­cy com­pa­ny that doesn’t have some sort of active ven­ture cap­i­tal – like oper­a­tion. And good CMOs are in the mid­dle of that because they’re respon­si­ble for the growth of the com­pa­ny.

Inter­est­ing­ly enough, GE, which is a com­pa­ny that faces many chal­lenges, has a very aggres­sive ven­ture pro­gram with more than 100 com­pa­nies they’ve invest­ed in, part­nered with. We may see GE turn around based on these rela­tion­ships they’ve built through GE ven­tures. And they recent­ly made the GE ven­tures head, Sue Siegel, Chief Inno­va­tion Offi­cer for GE.

Leininger: This calls out some old par­a­digms that are still in place and that may be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. One is the b2b ver­sus b2c par­a­digm — it’s just not as use­ful as it used to be.

Peo­ple like Jim at P&G and Diane at IBM and the lead­ers at McDonald’s, we weren’t just think­ing about b2b and b2c, we were think­ing about B to G: busi­ness to gov­ern­ment; B to E: busi­ness to employ­ees; and B to S: busi­ness to stake­hold­ers. This requires much more inte­grat­ed think­ing and plan­ning and inter­nal orches­tra­tion than how those func­tions were man­aged in the past.

Brink: One of the lead­er­ship imper­a­tives that CMOs today need to embrace and demon­strate is get­ting com­fort­able with the uncom­fort­able and hav­ing the abil­i­ty to employ agile meth­ods to think about speed ver­sus per­fec­tion and cre­at­ing envi­ron­ments and cul­tures that are open and curi­ous ver­sus planned and sta­t­ic.

At IBM, in our dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing work, we would have two weeks spurts where we would try dif­fer­ent things, and if some­thing failed, we would char­ac­ter­ize it as ​fail fast and move on.” We saw no down­side to mak­ing a mis­take. If some­thing was slight­ly off-brand, we would take that, inte­grate it into our learn­ing, and apply it in our next round. It was quite uncom­fort­able. It wasn’t the tra­di­tion­al plan­ning process where you have 6– or even 12-month mar­ket plans. You were lit­er­al­ly evolv­ing what you were going to do every two weeks.

Car­pen­ter: All of you describe the job as much more com­plex: it’s much broad­er, it involves these cross-func­tions, it involves more con­trol out­side the orga­ni­za­tion, it involves deal­ing with ambi­gu­i­ty and change. So it seems like the per­son who would do this is real­ly a very dif­fer­ent sort of per­son with dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics than would have been val­ued 20 years ago.

Leininger: You see many few­er peo­ple who came up one orga­ni­za­tion, and many more who made strate­gic moves across com­pa­nies, across indus­tries. Rel­a­tive to 20 years ago, it’s more glob­al in scope. Glob­al capa­bil­i­ty is now prac­ti­cal­ly assumed, as opposed to being a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing capa­bil­i­ty for can­di­dates in the past. The require­ments that have changed least are oper­at­ing expe­ri­ence with prof­it and loss respon­si­bil­i­ty, enter­prise-wide gen­er­al man­age­ment ori­en­ta­tion, and lead­er­ship skills.

Sten­gel: When I was at P&G years ago, there was a very delib­er­ate career path: get out of your own coun­try, do learn­ing assign­ments in oth­er func­tions, go spend time on the retail cus­tomer teams. It was meant to open up your mind, give you dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences, get you out of your com­fort zone by being in a dif­fer­ent cul­ture. And I think that more thought has to be giv­en to the capa­bil­i­ties that mar­ket­ing depart­ments and CMOs want to build now, and struc­ture career paths around that.

Leininger: When I talk to peo­ple about their careers now, I say, go some­place where you’re going to get that strate­gic dis­ci­pline, some­place that knows how to move fast and where the mod­ern mar­ket­ing capa­bil­i­ties are ful­ly in place.

I feel like that’s good advice, but it also puts a lot of bur­den on the per­son think­ing about their career to go find those places, because it’s not as sim­ple as say­ing, ​sev­en years at Proc­ter & Gam­ble and you’re gold­en.” We used to be able to sort more by com­pa­ny, and now we’re telling peo­ple, ​here’s what you need to go look for.”

Brink: It means being able to get com­fort­able with the fact that there isn’t a cook­ie-cut­ter career path that you’re going to fol­low or a cook­ie-cut­ter job descrip­tion. The CMO role will con­tin­ue to evolve and trans­form — accept that and embrace it.

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