CMOs' Vision Crucial To Their Success

I think marketing is going to be getting much, much easier over the next couple of years.  The primary challenge to marketers over the last 15 years or so has been fragmentation, and we are now rapidly heading toward a landscape that is the opposite of fragmented.  With consolidation,  marketers need only pick a few partners and go deep with them in order to creatively reach their target audience.  Follow me down this logical path....

First of all, the media space has become simpler in the last few years.  In TV we have a number of key media companies who lead the charge and have created a conglomeration of both primary networks and cable channels that allow you to reach key audiences.  

Look at Disney, which owns the Disney Channel (obviously), ABC, ESPN and more.  It provides a single stop for reaching lots of people across a multitude of channels (and that doesn’t even include its ownership of LucasFilm and Marvel, whose properties are aired on other networks and stations).  



Next, look at the Web ,which has become dominated by a few players like Google and Facebook, and a second tier of strong players like Pinterest, Snapchat -- and open Web companies like The Trade Desk, Mediamath and others  that can activate the programmatic space. 

If you pick a few partners and go deep with them, allowing for optimization and multiple campaigns to run in parallel you can be very effective. 

The same goes for print, outdoor and radio.  There are super corporations who you can work with to go both wide and deep across these channels.  If you do your due diligence you can pick a few partners and they will provide you with options across the landscape which means your media buying agency doesn’t need to present a media plan with 30 to 40 unique partners.  

Secondly, it’s all about the data -- both data in and data out.  Once you’ve selected the right partners on the media side of things, you shift to audience planning or people-based marketing, and you learn to identify an audience across devices and channels and tell them the right story depending on where they may be in the journey.  This is where the complexity lies, but in the near future of automated intelligence (my unique definition of AI), then you create a campaign mode that can optimize some of its own direction and allow you to focus on your brand and the messaging you want to deliver.  After all, that’s the fun stuff and what most marketers are essentially good at.

The third element is technology.  Once you know the partners to work with (easy) and once you commit to the data (requires some trust, but easier than it used to be) then you select the technology partners you want to work with who offer this cloud or that platform.   If you pick the right partner, you can control activation across CRM, advertising, and all the owned/earned/paid channels you can find.  If you pick the right partner who is integrated with the right media channels, you can access both data in for targeting and data out for measurement (some of which you own and some you depend on the channel to acquire).  The technology enables control and that’s what every marketer wants, right alongside success.

The challenge lies in how you set all of this up.  How do you transform your team to make this “easier” stage actually happen?  I'll admit that's not easy.  That’s what the role of a CMO is: to create this system that will drive the kinds of long-term success you need without sacrificing the short-term growth you expect. 

That's why a CMO is important in today’s enterprise.  I say this because we see the tenure of CMOs averaging closer to four years now, vs. the two reported just a few years back.  I would argue this transformation can be done in two years, which gives a CMO a two-year window to view the results and optimize.  That may be not enough time, though, unless of course the entire thing has been a colossal failure at the two- or three-year mark. 

It’s like watching a coaching change in the NFL.  The San Francisco 49ers can’t keep a coach for more than a year because they have no patience, but also because they lack a vision for the future.  A good coach has a vision.  The same can be said for a good CMO -- he has a vision and milestones to measure progress.

So if you are a CMO, or if you have one on your executive team, ask for the vision.  Ask yourself if your vision for the future hinges on the right partners, the right data and the right technology to enable your team to do more with less.  If the answer is yes, then share that vision with the others around you.  That is what will keep you in place -- along with successes along the way.

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  1. David Cooperstein from Figurr, February 22, 2017 at 12:16 p.m.

    True enough Cory, and glad you pointed out how consolidation in tech and media enables the job to shift back to strategy/vision. But I would add that the CMO and the CEO need to share that vision in order for the results to really shine. 

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