Big Rethink – Entrepreneurial CMO

I was fortunate to attend The Economist’s, The Big Rethink in NYC, attracting like-minded marketers exploring our profession. Marketing means different things to different people. It’s actually a very broad profession, somewhat similar to being a physician. Do you know a dermatologist who is willing to talk to you about your stomach issues?

New York City

New York City

Here are a few stories and lessons that I learned from my experience at The Big ReThink:

  1. Chris Hummel, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Schneider Electric, faces similar challenges that I dealt with during my 40 year career in banking. In a traditional industry where marketing isn’t deemed “essential” and where the engineers run the company, Chris asked “What is the brand of marketing?” Exactly! What are the expectations of others within your firm? Are you able to generate leads that provide incremental revenue for your firm that is acknowledged by others? Can you fulfill those actions while being intellectually stimulated by following your own marketing path? He also stated that where marketing is a core value to the business, valuations tend to be higher.
  2. Pamela El, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at the NBA, discussed the “busyness” faced by legacy companies dealing with infrastructure, including managing data, privacy matters and people filling current slots. She aptly said, “It’s not the size that matters, it’s the mindset”. “Don’t let them get you down,” she said addressing the legacy matters. Another challenge Ms. El spoke about was the “data hairball”. Yes, you know what that means! She said, “We can’t innovate if we don’t integrate”. There was considerable discussion around having good relationships with CIOs, CTOs and others that are integral to obtaining and managing data to gain insight and build-out new systems.
  3. Marc Mathieu, Senior Vice President at Unilever, discussed the advantage of new(er) companies, where legacy and protecting someone’s turf isn’t a priority. He described a major challenge of CEOs as building ecosystems as opposed to protecting silos, protecting the current instead of building the future. “It’s about knowing what is important, and doing it.” “Be a human being first.” He aptly described the customers’ take on all of our silos – “the customer doesn’t care!”
  4. Greg Stuart, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of the Mobile Marketing Association advised that based upon recent studies, being first can provide huge gains in not only market share, but also market capitalization. He said, “the next new thing is really hard”, and “mobile is the closest you can get to the customer” (which has become the position of the MMA). Mr. Stuart also disclosed that a recent study the MMA commissioned (which is coming out soon), suggests that a company’s entire marketing budget should be at least 15% mobile-related.
  5. Lynn Vojvodich, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Salesforce, opined that large companies won’t survive 10 years from now due to their silos. She also stated that customer centricity must come from the CEO, if not she said, they should “leave the company”.

Overall, it was a great experience to learn from these leaders. A few questions for you to consider about your company are:

  1. What do you believe is your brand (of marketing)?
  1. How can you break down your silos to become more effective?
  1. What have you done lately with your CEO, CIO, CTO and engineering groups? Are you able to share stories and achieve common ground and objectives?

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