Posts Tagged ‘CMOs’

Marketers need to stretch into the future

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 by Jon Clements

Attention marketers – if you want to be a chief marketing officer (or marketing director on this side of the Pond), then be warned: “the market is moving faster than the function”.

So says Jon Iwata, IBM’s senior VP of marketing and communications, who shared his thoughts in Harvard Business Review’s recent “Changing role of the CMO” webcast.

Based on the findings of an IBM Global CMO Study, he was joined by his counterparts at Yahoo – Elisa Steele – and at Schneider Electric – Aaron Davies – to examine how the most senior marketing role has changed and what the future holds.

And the kick-off point was the CMO’s job to “close the gap between [a company’s] desired corporate character and reality”. Iwata quoted no less a figure than Abraham Lincoln to make the point that “Reputation is the shadow, character is the tree.” In other words, how  a business is perceived externally is only as strong as the truth underpinning what that company actually does rather that what it claims to do.

Steele highlighted that we’re living in the “age of accountability” in which the volume of conversations about brand and customer experience hit CMOs where it hurts! But the availability of data and analytics means marketers who are not exploring the “science bit” are unable to support company growth in the way they should. As Davies metaphorises, “customer data is a gift, if you unwrap it correctly”. Perhaps masochistically, he also suggests that – for the marketer – “failure is a gift as well”.

Coming, inevitably, to social media and the CMO, Iwata describes IBM’s approach as empowering people to be good and responsible with it – especially as the collective number of IBMers on LinkedIn (300,000, apparently) and their 1st order contacts constitutes a larger community than visits every day. The combination of people and the content they create is a real opportunity, says Iwata, while Steele describes the social media-induced “collapse of the marketing funnel”. And despite the fact that social media ROI remains hazy, Steele feels that, intuitively, it’s the right thing to be doing.

Iwata acknowledges the obstacles at policy level in companies when it comes to social media, with finance heads fearing leakage or disclosure and HR balking at any online criticism of management. But, he says, “you can’t just use it [social media] for listening and co-creation but turn it off when people are criticising or saying things that make you uncomfortable”. Conversely, he sees social media as an investment that pales (in cost terms) compared to traditional marketing approaches.

But the effectiveness of using social media has “not been fully cracked”, according to Iwata, adding that “Web 2.0 is still in the mode of sending messages to individuals”.

However, traditional marketing still has its place, according to these leading marketers: Davies, despite calling digital “the wallpaper in many organisations now”, says there is “a place for everything still”, citing his experience of a 50/50 split of online and traditional marketing in China right now.

Leaving the final word to Jon Iwata, his advice for those aspiring to be future CMOs is “stretch yourself into new spaces”. After all, it’s the character of your company that’s at stake.




About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Marketeers Board the Social Media Clue Train

Thursday, November 19th, 2009 by Jon Clements

Who still hates social media?

Some have been vocal in suggesting that the principles are right but the execution is worth only throwing out and replacing with “something real”.

In Jeremiah Owyang’s recent blog post following the Forbes CMO summit in Florida, the former Forrester analyst and now strategist for the Altimeter Group claimed that this group of chief marketing officers had “elevated” the social media discussion.  Despite the prospect of shrinking marketing spend, he says, the marketeers had seen opportunities to “innovate with inexpensive channels” and not a moment too soon, as they were facing something new: a loss of power to the empowered consumer.

Owyang points out that social media in particular was “on the lips of nearly everyone”, with a focus on how it could apply to changes in influence, reputation management and be integrated with existing activity.  One example he cites from the companies represented at the event is that of Ritz-Carlton hotels, whose hotel managers apparently review online chatter about their hotel before doing anything else of a morning.

Overall, 70% of CMOs polled by Forbes said they’d be doing more work in social media next year, now comfortable that it offers real value, though measurement was still in its infancy.

So how does the picture look in the UK?  There is some caution but big organsiations have been listening and in some cases joining the conversations too.   Retail is one sector where business understands the need for customer dialogue.  It was more of an old fashioned PR stunt but Debenhams used social media to good effect with a twitter assistants day in September.   Habitat was an early adopter but got off to a false start with the hashtags debacle, in which they attempted to piggyback serious stories like the Iran election protests in order to flog lampshades.  ASDA’s new Aisle Spy and Your ASDA blogs are examples of a much more considered approach to long term engagement.

Twelve months ago the attitude of big business to social media ranged from cautious interest to total disregard.  Now, in the UK too, the sound of consumer chatter is gaining an audience in the board room.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''