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Driving Deloitte's Growth Agenda

Diana O’Brien spent 20 years as a consultant to clients for Deloitte, including acting as advisory partner for a global biotechnology company. That experience, she says, taught her a lot about building relationships and earning client trust, as well as about the art of listening and surfacing client issues. Now, as chief marketing officer, O’Brien is pursuing her true passion — shaping the entire customer experience. “My business background also makes it easier to connect with my C-suite peers and speak in a language they understand,” she acknowledges.

O’Brien’s mandate at Deloitte is to drive the growth agenda and change the perception of marketing as a cost center. By demonstrating the value marketing brings to the organization, she says her team will exert greater influence within the C-suite. O’Brien, a featured speaker at the Association of National Advertisers’ Advertising Financial Management Conference, May 1 - 4 in Boca Raton, Fla., provides more insight on her role and how Deloitte is helping its clients become business-driven marketers.



Q. How are you carrying out your growth agenda internally with your team? What changes have you made to the marketing organization?

A. Marketing is transforming and expanding. The creative and advertising elements of traditional marketing are still important, but the whole organization now needs to be empowered to shape the client experience. The CMO is in a unique position to orchestrate this experience. At Deloitte, our organization is called “market development” instead of “marketing” because that better describes all the elements we bring together — including how we go to market, build relationships, and bring ideas and insights to our clients. Our model combines marketing, communications, and brand, as well as public policy, government affairs, and corporate citizenship.

We also have responsibility for all those who lead our client interactions, including managing partners in key cities, account leaders, and our industry practice leaders. The leaders of our client and market teams are incredibly valuable from a marketing perspective because they build client relationships and lead teams that play a major role in delivering our client experience. And because we think digital is so fundamental, we have a strong digital practice — Deloitte Digital — that serves our clients and our own in-house marketing teams on a daily basis. 

Q. How are you advocating for the marketing function with other members of the C-suite and gaining their trust?

A. It’s more important than ever for CMOs to connect and partner with their C-Suite colleagues, whether it’s talking with the CFO about tracking metrics that matter to the business around sales and revenue and extracting powerful customer insights; working with HR to empower employees as brand ambassadors; or collaborating with the CIO to employ new technologies that accelerate and automate campaigns while also showing the true value of investments.

It’s also about helping the C-Suite understand that marketing is no longer about one-way broadcasting of messages through traditional tactics and ad campaigns. It’s now about finding ways to engage in unscripted multi-channel conversations and driving innovative customer experiences that translate into better business results and growth.

Q. What is Deloitte doing to help client CMOs with their marketing challenges? Please provide an example. 

A. We’re doing a lot. According to The CMO Survey: Understanding Marketing Today and Tomorrow — a bi-annual survey of marketing executives by Fuqua School of Business marketing professor Christine Moorman, which we co-sponsor — marketing has a hard time determining what works and what doesn’t work and answering the essential questions about ROI.

We help clients better quantify and guide their marketing investments. We are also working to develop a model to transform the way C-suites approach business in the digital age, and, as my colleague Andy Main in Deloitte Digital asserts, provide greater ownership of, and return on, end-to-end customer experience. With Deloitte Digital, our goal is to be the single place our clients can go to connect business strategy with creative strategy and content, customer experience, core business operations, transformational technology, and campaign execution. 

One great example of this is our work with LG, where what started as an exercise to define a go-to-market strategy for the Signature Kitchen Suite evolved into an opportunity to develop and execute a compelling creative campaign to bring the strategy to life. We are sharing what we learn on the newly created CMO.deloitte.com, our portal of information and insights for marketers who seek to address the challenges that come with this marketing transformation. 

Q. The marketing industry as a whole is dealing with a host of issues, including talent acquisition, ad blocking, ad fraud, media transparency, and viewability? What issue concerns you the most? 

A. In short, all of this is concerning. As the role of marketing expands, so too do the risks associated with it. Fraud is a significant concern, of course. It is estimated that some $1 billion dollars in advertising money is being lost to various kinds of marketing fraud, including ad fraud, and malicious mobile apps. The recent CMO Survey reveals a host of other concerns for marketing, including assessing the value of the increasing spend on social media and analytics, as well as hiring the right talent.

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