When In Rome
The Ugly American Imagine the search engine marketing agency as an American tourist, visiting CMO-land. For kicks, let's make CMO-land France.
So our young SEM packs his "Lonely Planet" guidebook (with a very handy five-page phrase section to read on the plane) and sets off. Oh, and he's dying to meet a very attractive, native CMO.
Upon arriving, he finds the environment more hostile than expected. No one seems to understand him. He finally meets a CMO willing to have coffee. To start a conversation, the SEM shows off his knowledge of clicks, spiders and mod rewrites. The sophisticated CMO stares blankly. The SEM speaks louder and louder to get the message through. The CMO yawns as she lights a Gitane.
Suddenly, the SEM remembers his phrase book. "Zut alors!" It is too late. The CMO's friend pulls up on a Vespa and whisks her away. "Au revoir, américain!" she says. He curses her and her Freedom Fries for "not getting it."
Instead of a phrase book, the poor chap should have taken a language immersion course.
Learning CMO-Speak According to the CMO Council (a peer networking group of senior technology executives), it is actually the search agencies that "do not get it" (in the broadest, most inclusive sense). CMOs today are craving comprehensive, integrated, measurable campaigns that evidence tangible business value. Donovan Neale-May, the executive director of the CMO Council, says, "I don't think there is a CMO who believes he/she shouldn't be spending on some form of search optimization, as that is essential to acquiring leads and driving site traffic and prominence."
One such marketer--my acquaintance Steven Cook, vice president of worldwide strategic marketing worldwide for the Coca-Cola Company--agrees that search is important. "I believe in interactive and electronic," he says. "I have conviction that your brand message needs to be where, when, and how your customers want to interact with you." So what would he tell interactive agencies? "Help me create solutions to maximize my brand's promise, level of consideration, engagement and experience with my audience."
Note his choice of words: brand promise, level of consideration, engagement and experience. You see, the CMO could care less about the average cost per click. When you score that golden meeting with him (or her), she wants to hear how you will change her business.
Another acquaintance, Eileen Zicchino, senior vice president, and CMO of JPMorgan Chase's treasury & securities services, asks that agencies recognize that for every budget decision, there is a tradeoff. "When you tell me it only costs X, remember that X is still a lot."
So the next time you pack your bags, remember to pitch the larger, strategic implications of search in the context of your CMO's annual mission and budget. Oh, and leave the chewing gum at home.