Posts Tagged ‘IBM’

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 ''

Social media is a different playground – please play nice

Thursday, April 9th, 2009 by Jon Clements


The social media revolution is afoot – and we could be in the process of ruining it altogether.  

On the first point, thanks to Social Media Playground for bringing PR Media Blog’s attention to the latest research from IBM – “Beyond Advertising: choosing the strategic path for the digital consumer – which puts numbers against the current shift in consumer expectations and marketing responses.

The trends revealed in the study show US consumers wanting to be engaged with online: word of mouth and online marketing is expected to grow to 27% of overall expenditure by 2012 – up from 7% in 2002; 76% of people are watching video (up 27%) while 32% are consuming it on a mobile phone or other portable device. Advertisers are increasing online/interactive marketing spend by 63% and are engaging more in “brandsactional” advertising, by which I assume it means marketing activity that sits comfortably, rather than intrusively, in the social media arena.

So far, so good, right?

Well, on my second point, Spike Jones at Brains on Fire blog is already warning that the lunatics are taking over the asylum, with traditional marketers tumbling headlong into traditional methodologies that don’t belong in social media, namely making relentless noise, pushing out messages and screaming “listen to me!”.

It’s no surprise. Social media forces many marketing communciations people (across the spectrum of those with spiked hair, greying hair and those without hair) into a discomfort zone they’d rather not be. “Where’s the control? Do we really have to talk to the – urgh! – general public?” And this naturally brings a reversion to type; adopting the trusted methods of yore. Don’t get me wrong, many of yesterday’s practices remain relevant today, and may always have a role to play.

But treating social media as another medium to be “targeted” simply misses the point. As Spike Jones concludes, if marketers try to exploit social media to be the “centre of attention”, people will “just change the channel”.

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 ''