Archive for the ‘CMOs’ Category

Blending the Art of Marketing with the Science of Technology

By Jeff Schick, Vice President, Social Software at IBM

Investments in IT have long been the domain of the CIO, but all of that is changing as CMOs increasingly impact IT investments in today’s social and digital world. Given the business realignment between marketing and technology, the CMO and CIO can no longer afford to operate on separate stages. To succeed, they’ll have to forge a shared agenda to deliver business results through innovation and efficiency.

CMOs: imagine your job, but with next-generation skills, expanded peer networks, and the tools and technologies to transform your profession. CIOs: think about sharing your expertise in enterprise IT integration and expanding your horizons further outside the firewall. Together you can approach marketing as an essential enterprise system that delivers innovation, business results, and better customer experiences.

One area challenging both CMOs and CIOs is how to leverage the growing social sphere.

Today’s CMO is struggling with how to better reach and engage with customers. According to the 2011 IBM CMO Study, 82% of CMOs say they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years. We know today’s consumer has unlimited access to information and can instantly share it with the world. This immediacy has raised consumers’ expectations for 100% personalized communications and top-notch service.

At the same time, CIOs are facing a similar struggle within the organization’s walls. That same empowered consumer is today’s empowered employee striving to meet deadlines and deliver superior results at an even faster pace. According to IDC, employees typically see up to 30% increased productivity using social tools internally to complete their work. With a workforce that is socially oriented and geographically distributed, CIOs today are struggling to provide company data on every type of device for their on-the-go, highly motivated employees.

While social is a common denominator for today’s CMO and CIO, what does it look like when they come together to achieve their goals and in the end realize business value for their organization?

Here are some examples of organizations across the globe that are leading the charge, pioneering this C-suite social agenda, and as a result, delivering a superior social, digital brand experience for their customers and employees:

  • Taking advantage of cutting edge digital experience and social technologies, Wimbledon has transformed its web presence to meet the needs of the 16 million people who tune in online to the annual tennis championships. By visiting its website,, fans can share information, interact with, and connect to The Championships as though they were actually there.
  • is similarly embracing web experience technology to provide a 360-degree view of its entire business operations, enabling dealers to examine current inventory, change pricing, and manage photos, among many other business activities—ultimately providing better services to its customers. Today, has scaled to support 200 million unique visitors a year, an increase of 145 million visits since 2007.
  • Gruppo Amadori, a wholesale distributor of quality foods in Italy, has improved its online presence, enabling the company to communicate more directly with younger consumers and increase consumer loyalty. The organization can create new mini-sites up to 40% faster, saving time and costs. Amadori has also created an up-to-date database of consumer details, helping the company better understand the needs of its customers.
  • The region of Windsor-Essex, Ontario, Canada has created a community portal built to provide the region’s government and related organizations with the tools to help citizens with emergency and community services, transportation, health, utilities, and life events, such as getting married, having a baby, or retiring. Through the region’s innovative use of IBM technology, asthma attacks have been alleviated, a local automobile manufacturing plant diversified into the aerospace industry, and 250 tons of waste materials from a road construction project was made into new housing for those who needed it the most.

Despite a few trailblazers, like the organizations listed above, this collaboration between CMO and CIO is the exception and not the rule, but it’s clear that if your organization is looking to gain an advantage over the competition, this relationship is the ticket to success. It’s time as a marketer to knock on your IT department’s door and get collaborating!

SXSW: 8 Essential Takeaways for CMOs

By Margaret Molloy, Chief Marketing Officer at Velocidi

Since attending the SXSW Interactive Festival in March, a number of CMOs have asked me for my key takeaways from the event. Articulating these succinctly has not been easy. After all, SXSW provided such valuable insights into new technologies, inspirational speeches, and fantastic networking opportunities. Upon reflection, I can summarize my key learning in a few words: get back to basics.

The pace of the technological evolution is dizzying—racing to keep up with it can cause us CMOs to lose site of the big picture. Digital platforms are not an end in themselves, they are tools that help us more efficiently do what we’ve been striving to do for years: engage customers, know them, guide strategy, and achieve growth and influence in our markets.

Based on this premise, here are eight imperatives to guide us through our rapidly evolving digital landscape, garner internal support, and achieve growth:

  1. Align all digital marketing activities with your company’s business goals. Focusing on the bottom line will help you choose the right platforms to engage your customers and build the digital initiatives to help you achieve the right results. (Remember that innovation and learning can also be excellent desired outcomes.)
  2. Manage your brand’s digital presence (web, social) with the same vigilance as your CFO manages cash flow. A well-executed digital presence—and the appropriate investment in it—will yield the customer data and engagement required to drive business strategy and impact your company’s valuation.
  3. Know your customers in a better, deeper, more textured way than your competitors do. Leveraging social media platforms to understand your customers’ personal interests, preferences, and motivations can provide you with data required to drive powerful new marketing campaigns.
  4. Embrace customer segmentation and pricing with discipline, or risk margin erosion. Given the degree of price transparency and ease of information sharing online, your margins need constant vigilance—not all customer segments require discounts to establish loyalty, referrals, advocacy, and repeat purchases.
  5. Channel your inner educator, specifically your economics 101 professor, when addressing digital marketing tactics with management. Train your executives on the strategic metrics for your business, or risk them defaulting to the popular definition of ROI (number of followers, website impressions, etc.). If management doesn’t know how to assess and measure the effectiveness of digital marketing initiatives, it’s not realistic for them to fund the programs.
  6. Strive to balance long-term customer relationship building with lead generation, activation, and sales objectives. Avoid the temptation to jump in and close a prospect on the first signs of potential interest, or risk losing them.
  7. Consider your brand a publisher and be clear on your content goals—education, entertainment, community building, etc. Draw on the entire spectrum of content (brand-generated, partner-created, user-generated, curated, etc.) to select the right mix to cost-effectively engage your customers.
  8. Be authentic in your customer engagements through all communications channels. Customers are smart, well connected, and can easily identify insincere behavior and expose questionable tactics—honesty remains the best policy.

Focusing on these imperatives will ultimately provide you with a compass to guide you through the evolving digital landscape and toward the digital programs that will help you achieve your business goals.

How Social Media is Helping Marketing, PR, and Sales Become Better Friends

By Michael Brenner, Senior Director of Global Marketing at SAP

The biggest question I get asked on B2B Marketing Insider is about the challenges of sales and marketing alignment. I try to address the big issues in B2B marketing—such as integrated marketing, demand generation, and social media—but somehow, the topic comes back around to the relationship between sales and marketing. And it extends to our colleagues in PR.

I guess this shouldn’t be a huge shocker. I started my career in sales. Then I quickly moved into marketing to follow my frustrations. The alignment problem is what drove me into marketing.

BtoB Magazine recently reported on a Forrester survey that proves the point that this is huge challenge: only 8% of B2B companies say they have tight alignment between sales and marketing. Just 8%. They identify marketing’s long-term view vs. sales’ short-term view as the main reason for this disconnect.

So how can marketing and PR lead our organizations to better alignment with sales? The answer is social media.

A recent survey of 175 CMOs by Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club tells us that 74% of CMOs will tie their social media activities to quantifiable ROI in 2011. While that should help address the timing differences, I think there is more to it.

Today more than ever, marketing sells and sales people are marketing. And we are all communicators—some of us just more highly trained or capable. As Joe Pulizzi recently exclaimed, “Yes, We’re All Media Companies. What Now?” We need the content we produce across our companies to be professional, solve real customer problems, and be easily found.

Along comes social media, causing even more of a collision between sales, marketing, and PR/communications. The reason? We are all trying to align around customers through social channels. Add customer service, support, HR, and operations folks, and we have a real social media cocktail party happening.

Steps towards social alignment:

  • Define the goal. Marketing and PR should help lead our organizations to a better total customer experience in alignment with sales, but also across our entire organizations.
  • Work together. Social media can help us all get along (better). Marketing and PR should continue to take a leadership role in social media by defining how to best orchestrate social media strategy with sales, customer service, support, and other customer-focused groups across our companies.
  • Develop a crisis plan. This is really where PR can take the lead. They have the skills and best practices knowledge, but they also need to partner with marketing, sales, HR, and customer service so that a 360-degree process is identified. As the Kenneth Cole fiasco on Twitter showed us, the crisis can come from anywhere, even within. So get your crisis plan in place today.
  • Manage responses. One of the biggest opportunities for companies in social media is to develop a full response plan for inquiries, complaints, and so-called “trolls.” Here is an excellent example of a social triage process that can be used a model. By taking a leadership role in defining how we listen to social conversations and how we will respond, our companies can begin to achieve the true goal of a positive total customer experience.

I believe that by following these steps, we will start to see marketing, sales, PR, and all the functions across our companies become much better friends. And we just might create some new, happy customers along the way.

A CIO Takes On CMOs and Social Media Marketing

By Colin Osburn, Chief Information Officer at

As a technologist, most everything I do has a technical bent first, with true ROI close behind. I realize that technology and finance to a marketer are like sunlight to a vampire, but steadily more and more of the marketing types appear to be following the technical and ROI trend. Metrics, reporting, automation, and justifying that mind-numbing campaign are all things that marketers are doing presently, while showing true technical aptitude.

I’ve had a real taste of why marketing and I are such distanced bedfellows. Running a national automotive parts Web site is complicated. A lot of technical effort goes into the operation and improvement of our search function, images, text, etc. Our customer base is earned through large partnerships, SEO (technical in its automation), and complimentary business lines. We even launched a short-run TV commercial this year for the first time in the company’s history.

It’s readily apparent that everyone—from small businesses to mega corporations and all the MLM shills in between—is jumping on the “new wave of technology” known as social media. To any decent technologist, this “new wave” is the same stuff we’ve been working with for years, but it’s in a new box with a bow.

All manner of Internet black magic that I can find, I heap upon our willing CTO to do a test run. I’m always looking at the newest technology for application to our business model. Automated sharing toolbars and widgets? Yep. Banner ads? Of course. Social media? Absolutely.

But I should have mentioned we do not have a CMO on staff. (Either that, or I disabled his account and forgot about him.) That means the technologists and sales executives are running the show. That also means we got exactly the results from all of these new implementations that you would expect:

  • The banner ads are completely pointless. I intend to remove them.
  • The toolbar never gets used, and no one shares anything.
  • The forums are dead.
  • We get very little response from our e-mail blasts.
  • We keep Facebook and Twitter because they keep the brand public. We also keep them because it’s a new type of customer service.

The site is designed for commerce. We make money when someone buys an auto part. Pretty direct. We haven’t added articles and sticky reading-style content because our user base comes to our site for a very direct task and wants to do it quickly. The same people most likely do participate in auto enthusiast forums and spend a lot of time browsing “car porn” (photos of hot rods, tricked-out cars, and classic vehicles), but not while they’re buying a part. We also have a disproportionately large number of auto dealers who use our site, and the service manager isn’t interested in reading something while trying to get the customer’s part overnighted.

We have Facebook. We have Twitter. But I refuse to attach our brand to MySpace. We have hundreds of friends, and there are a lot of people talking about a lot of things, 99% of which involves the buying and selling of cars. It’s pretty damn hard to get people hot and bothered about a camshaft replacement or that hot new discounted windshield replacement. Have you figured it out yet? We’re not just commerce, but commerce as a subsection of a larger vertical. And that vertical has plenty of content and places that provide it. So we implement what we can as fast as we can and tweak, wait, watch, and adjust.

In reality, some key points came to light for me over the past year:

  • CIOs and CMOs need one another. That’s so painful to admit.
  • Marketing helps those awesome new technologies become ubiquitous.
  • If you don’t have a marketer on staff, this is a good time to start talking to your network.
  • Technology for technology’s sake works some of the time, but not enough to generate an ROI that keeps the monthly revenue high.
  • Content sites will almost always make more on the items I listed, from social media to banner ads. Commerce sites will overall make more on a direct revenue basis. Build a widget, sell a widget.
  • Commerce sites can make progress with these social media tools, but they should not bet projections on them.
  • Being a subcategory makes you look for the “why” a lot sooner. Dell and Ford kill it on social media and “new wave” commerce sales because they are the market. We sell parts. There’s a huge difference.
  • Take what you can get. Better customer service and communication has been a real win for us with these tools, even if we don’t make millions on banner ads.
  • The Get Satisfaction site is a real winner for us because it enabled us to learn from our customers what we need to know. (Facebook has helped us with that as well.)

To be continued…

Do CMOs Really Understand the Value of Twitter?

By Kent Huffman, Chief Marketing Officer at BearCom Wireless and Co-Publisher of Social Media Marketing Magazine

In a recent blog post on, CMO Club CEO Pete Krainik noted, “Most Chief Marketing Officers see the value of engaging with customers—and the value of engaging them where they hang out, talk, and spend their time.” Pete is surely right about that. But then why are only a very small percentage of CMOs active in the social media world themselves, particularly on Twitter?

I attended the CMO Club’s semiannual CMO Summit in San Francisco last week. Again this year, it was an excellent event and was well attended by a nice cross-section of B2C and B2B Chief Marketing Officers from around the country, representing all different types and sizes of companies and organizations. On the last day of the Summit, I was part of a panel who discussed the business impact of social media and community building, including the most effective social media marketing tools. But surprisingly, I discovered that out of the 80-plus heads of marketing in attendance at the Summit, only 16 who carry the official title of CMO for their organizations are currently active on Twitter:

B2C Chief Marketing Officers:

B2B Chief Marketing Officers:

B2C/B2B Chief Marketing Officers:

This is obviously not a scientific study, but two things struck me when reviewing this list: 1) even though there were more B2C CMOs at the Summit than B2B, more B2B CMOs are active on Twitter than their B2C counterparts, and 2) very few “big brands” in either the B2C or B2B world are represented by their CMOs on Twitter. It’s also interesting to note that you can make the same basic observations when reviewing the list of the top CMOs on Twitter that I curate as Co-Publisher for Social Media Marketing Magazine.

So why is that the case? Do most CMOs not understand the value of Twitter and other social media tools? Or do they just not consider them a priority for their careers or their companies?

“Most CMOs barely understand the value of building relationships with customers and giving them a voice, let alone how to navigate and make use of the world of Twitter. Social media marketing to most in the C-suite is still something campaign based, but social media marketing needs to be woven into fabric of all marketing channels, strategically managed from a 360-degree perspective,” said Ted Rubin, Chief Social Marketing Officer at OpenSky and the most-followed CMO on Twitter. “The key here is to convince CMOs to get personally involved in social media by having someone with hands-on knowledge mentor them, so they get first-hand knowledge, build their own personal following, and learn from the ground up. That way, they can properly guide and manage the integration process,” Ted added.

John Dragoon, the Chief Marketing Officer at Novell, noted, “All markets are conversations, and good marketers are embracing new tools to have these conversations. The beauty of social media tools is they allow you to experiment quickly and learn even faster. Active participation is the key to success. And make no mistake—your customers are listening.”