The Good, Bad and Downright Ugly Parts of a Head of Marketing Job

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Did you know that the average tenure of a Head of Marketing position continues to fall, reaching just 41 months according to the latest Spencer Stuart research published by the WSJ?

It is still one of the shortest average terms of office of any chief in the C-suite, according to a recent report by Korn Ferry. But one piece of good news in the past year is that although conditions for CMOs have become more difficult since the coronavirus pandemic, “In many cases, CMOs are not being removed, but it’s been pretty dramatic layoffs beneath them” said Greg Welch, practice leader for marketing, sales and communication at Spencer Stuart.

So just how long have you been in your position?

The Bad News

A global survey by the Fournaise Marketing Group provides one possible explanation for the continued decline in tenure. It highlights the ongoing tensions between CEOs and CMOs. A huge 80% of CEOs don’t trust or are unimpressed with their CMOs, compared to just 10% for their CFOs and CIOs. Why is this?

Perhaps it’s because CEOs don’t understand the role of a CMO or is there still an issue with the ROI of the marketing budget? I’ll let you be the judge of this in your own situation.

Another piece of research by HubSpot reported that Marketing as a career suffers credibility issues as well. It ranked the most trustworthy jobs, with Doctor ranking number one and near the bottom, just above Car Salesman and well below Barista, was “Marketer”. Car salesmen? Really? That is scandalous!

The Opportunities

Let’s start at the beginning. What opportunities are there, that marketers can keep their jobs? Despite the short lifespan of a CMO, and while the position is plagued by high turnover, this could also be because CMOs are highly visible.

Therefore they can be targets for promotions or a steal by their industry competitors. Nice to feel wanted, isn’t it?

It is understandably important that a new CMO quickly makes an impact. More so than any other c-suite function, bar the CEO of course, who sometimes faces almost immediate criticism by shareholders and the financial world, upon being named.

Another piece of good news for the head of the marketing function is that being on the executive board they have access to resources. The bad news is that as the CMO is a member of the EB, management expects them to make (profitable) changes fast.

And even more so if they have just been hired! The board trusts the new CMO to analyse the situation, identify what needs to be done, develop the plan to do it and then take actions. And all of this in their first 3 months or so!

Are you or have you yourself been in exactly this situation? Tough isn’t it?

That’s why many CMOs hire a supportive advisor or sounding board such as myself to accompany them on this stressful early part of their journey.  Continue Reading

How Marketers Like You Are Fully Benefiting From This Awesomely Changing World

I’ve just returned from a trip to California, USA. All you marketers who follow me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, will have seen some photos of the various places I visited, from San Jose in Silicon Valley near San Francisco to the huge sprawling metropolis that is Los Angeles.

I was there to attend a conference on how business people, not just marketers, can break through our self-limiting behaviours. I also took the chance to catch up with a few C³Centricity partners. All the experiences were mind-blowing or rather mind-stretching, and it is this idea which prompted today’s post. How we marketers can break through our well-established but self-limiting thoughts and behaviours to make our businesses shine.

Heart-centered versus Customer-centric

The conference I attended was a great opportunity for me to meet many other people from around the world, who want to make their businesses more heart-centered. You know that I am a champion of customer centricity, so you might be wondering what the difference is between a customer-centric and a heart-centered business. After my three days in San Jose, I would say that in my opinion, not much. I believe it is difficult to think customer first without it also involving the heart; at least, it should.

As we try to put our customers at the centre of our organisations, it is through a concern to satisfy and delight them. A heart-centred business would probably go further to ensure that what they do also benefits non-customers, or, at least, doesn’t harm them.

Creating shared value for smart marketersCreating shared value has become a strong commitment of many of the leading global players in the consumer goods market, with Vodaphone, Google and Toyota leading the way according to the Forbes “ Change the World” List. If the topic inspires you then you might also be interested to read an article on ” Innovation and Creating Shared Value“, which I was invited to contribute to the latest issue of the Journal of Creating Value.

But back to businesses; which is yours? Heart-centered or “just” customer-centric, or are you not even there yet? (>>Tweet this<<) Do you think customer first but forget about those who are not yet customers? If so, then here are a few current habits that some companies have, which show how customer centric they are – or not:

  • Asking credit card details for a “free” offer. This information would only be of use to charge the client and is a “trick” often employed by companies making time-limited free offers, in the hope their clients forget to cancel within the allotted trial period. Customer-centric businesses would only ask for such information once the customer is committed to purchasing the offer.
  • Requiring full details on a contact form when the customer just wants to ask a question or download something. This information rarely provides value to the customer and is a real turn-off for many. Customer-centric businesses avoid asking more information than they need for immediate action.
Continue Reading

How you React to Failure could Make you a Success

These past few weeks, I have been speaking about very basic, rational and tangible subjects like brand planning, innovation  and portfolio management. Therefore I’d like to take a step back and look at a more philosophical and emotional approach to marketing this week. After all, we’re all creatives, even if these days we must manage brand data almost as often as we create communications.

Life is a journey made up of highs and lows, wins and losses, and the same applies to business. This week I have been working on a new product idea based upon the most popular blog posts on my website. These are the ones that suggest actions coming from some of the most inspiring marketing quotes I’ve found over the years. In my search for new ones, I was reminded of one of my all-time favourites:

“A man’s life is interesting primarily when he has failed. I well know. For it’s a sign that he tried to surpass himself” Georges Clemenceau, French Statesman

I love this quote for two reasons. Firstly because it reminds us that we all – without exception – fail sometimes. And secondly, that it is these failures that are the signposts of our moving forward. If we never try anything new then we are unlikely to fail.

Why is it then, that at least in Western culture, we are taught to avoid failure and celebrate success? Shouldn’t it, in fact, be the other way around? A similar proverb shows how Eastern culture has, at least in my opinion, a better perception of failure:

“Fall seven times, stand up eight” Japanese proverb

In other words, it is not the failure that matters as much as what we do afterwards. If we learn from it and get back up, then success will follow. In fact, it was the prolific inventor Thomas Alva Edison who it is claimed “failed” thousands of times before he succeeded in inventing such things as the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. As far as he was concerned:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”

We have all known and will continue to experience failure, but it is what we do after it that differentiates winners from losers, the successful from the less so. However, failure in itself doesn’t mean that you have failed, only that you haven’t as yet found the right way to succeed.

So with a few more inspiring quotes on failure, let’s all think about the future, stand back up and take action; success might just come from our very next idea.

1. “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure” Bill Gates, American Businessman (>>Tweet this<<)

THOUGHT: Do you only celebrate success? If so, your business is giving out the wrong message. In fact we learn much more from our failures than from our successes.

 

2. “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be” John Wooden, American Coach (>>Tweet this<<)

THOUGHT: Learn from every failure and celebrate those who share theirs with everyone, because it takes courage to do so, but also gives free learning. Continue Reading

What Martin Luther King & Apple have in Common: Inspiration & Excitement

The world’s press is full of references to Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech this week. This is because Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of one of the key moments in American civil rights history, even if these days the 28th August 1963 is better remembered for King’s speech than the March on Washington itself.

Some claim that the speech was in fact something of an afterthought and came about because one of his supporters supposedly whispered in his ear to “Tell them about your dream.” His speech inspired thous ands of people then and continues to do so even fifty years on. It also inspired me to write this post, although I need to paraphrase it slightly:

“I have a dream that one day this world will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all products are created equal”

Even altered they remain inspiring words indeed, but unfortunately, when it comes to innovation, successful new products are rarely created equal. Why then did I find my inspiration for this post in them? Because I believe that the main reason many new products don’t sell as expected, is because they are sold as such – as just new products!

Today’s consumer has so much choice that product benefits on their own rarely sell. Consumers dem and so much more. They ask that they are in fact sold a dream! An inspiration to believe in a better world for them and their families.

Does Apple sell just a computer, an MP3 player, a mobile phone? No, they sell creativity, excitement and individualism. I am not criticising their products, they are of course fantastic, but rather highlighting that even if their products are sometimes said to be better than their competitors, Apple is selling each one emotionally. They have found a way to build excitement, longing and love into each one of them. Who else has people camping out overnight to be amongst the first proud owners of their latest product? Apple has enabled each and every consumer to feel unique, special, privileged, an individual. And in this mass market world that we live in, this is certainly something that we all desire, dare I say crave?

So what can we learn from Martin Luther King and Apple in launching new products that will sell? Many things I am sure, but here are the first three that came to me:

  1. Inspire a dream – why will your customer’s life be better with your product or service, and I mean emotionally not just rationally? Describe and picture their future with your product or service in it, and make them crave it even before it is launched.
  2. Build emotion – make consumers excited by the launch; build anticipation, make the wait an integral  part of the sell, so that they will be lining up to buy it. Use tease campaigns, get press coverage, talk about it in interviews and on the TV weeks, even months before launch if you can.
Continue Reading

Inspiring Quotes to Ignite your Customer Centricity

This week we celebrated Swiss National Day on August 1st. It is a wonderful day of celebrations and sharing, that ends in many communes with a formal speech and bonfire, and if you’re lucky, a wonderful firework display as well.

This gave me the idea that we all need to get excited and fired up occasionally, so here is my sizzling Summer selection of quotes to ignite your own customer centricity.

Each quote is associated with some questions and ideas of actions, as usual. They are all taken from my forthcoming book “Winning Customer Centricity”  which will be published in the second half of 2014.

#1. “There may be Customers without Br ands, but there are no Br ands without Customers” Anon

Marketing is all about br ands, but without our customers, there wouldn’t be any br ands. What did you do for your customers this week? Prove to everyone that you are serious about being more customer centric by signing all your emails with this or another suitable quote.

#2. “Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets”

This post from Nido Qubein (Businessman, author, speaker, President of High Point University) reminds us of the importance of targeting. Are you precisely choosing the customers you target for each of your br ands or are you just taking anyone who buys the category? Choice means ignoring some category buyers, which is a hard but necessary decision to make. In order to fully satisfy your target, based on your ability to satisfy and win them, concentrate your efforts to increase your chances of success.

#3. “The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing”

John Russell (CEO of Manganese Bronze, former VP Harley Davidson Europe) speaks of an essential element of business today, engaging with our customers. When did you last speak directly with your own customers? If you are not doing this at least monthly, and ideally weekly, you are not keeping close to them, nor up-to-date with how they are changing. Please get out of your office NOW! (You can tell your Boss I told you to!)

#4. “If you use st andard research methods you will have the same insights as everyone else”

This quote from David Nichols (Managing Partner at Br andgym) suggests that there is more to be gained than lost, from revising our methodologies, especially when we have been using them for many years. Some people mention lack of comparability as a reason for not changing, but the world is changing so fast that even if our methods don’t, people are changing and will not answer in the same way as in the past.

Therefore ask yourself when did you last review your market research tools? Are you really comfortable that you have all the right methodologies to gather the information you need? Today’s markets are changing and your customers are altering their behaviours even if you aren’t. Continue Reading

10 Inspiring Customer Quotes

Need a quote about the customer to start or end a marketing presentation or to bring home an important point to your audience? If so, then this list was created just for you.

A few weeks ago I shared some of my favourite Infographs of the moment. The post received record hits and loads of shares across many social media channels.

It seems you like “best of” lists so this week I thought I would share with you some of my favourite quotes on the topic of customer centricity. As I did for the Infographs,  included are some ideas of actions to be taken, prompted by each quote. Enjoy.

#1. “Worry about being better; bigger will take care of itself. Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can” Gary Comer

Action: Choose one of your customer segments and decide a few ways to make their experience even better. If you don’t yet have a segmentation, check here for some ideas on simple ways to start.

#2. “Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business” Zig Ziglar

Action: Get a list of all the complaints, issues and suggested improvements that customers have given to your care center operators or promotion demonstrators. Do the same from your customer-facing staff if you have your own retail outlets.

#3. “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else” Sam Walton

Action: Find out what your customers are spending with your major competitor and more importantly identify why. Then find a way to meet one of their needs that you are currently not satisfying.

#4. “Spend a lot of time talking to customers face-to-face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers” Ross Perot

Action: Spend a day operating the care center phones or working on the shop floor. Find as many ways as possible to talk to your customers and ask them questions, if they are willing to answer them. Share your learnings with everyone else.

#5. “Customer Service shouldn’t be a department, it should be the entire company” Tony Hsieh

Action: Identify one or two members from each department who are particularly customer centric and form a customer support group. Meet regularly to identify how to ensure everyone in the company underst ands their role in satisfying your customers.

#6. “Every client you keep, is one less that you need to find” Nigel S anders

Action: Review the reasons why your customers leave your product or service, and identify one thing you can do differently to stop that continuing.

#7. “Research is not proof, it just improves the odds” David Soulsby

Action: Review the last five or ten market research studies that have been conducted and the decisions that were taken based upon their results. Continue Reading

The Great Trends Hoax: They don’t give a Business a Competitive Advantage

Do you follow trends? I bet you do! Everyone likes talking about the future, imagining what it might hold and then taking pride in seeing that they were “right”, that what they had “predicted” has come true. If this is how you work with trends, then you must read this post – urgently!

There are many trend providers today, from futurologists, to trend agencies, to gurus, all claiming to have “the truth”. An ex-colleague of mine made an interesting comment to me last weekend, as we hiked up to the top of La Dole, one of the small hills in the Lac Leman area of Switzerl and where I live.

We were discussing trend following and she was comparing the providers with which her company had worked in the last five or ten years. Which of them “had got it right” and which ones hadn’t. I said that I wasn’t too keen on businesses working with trends alone, as there was no competitive advantage in doing so. She then made a wonderful comment: “You’re right of course. In fact when you go to these meetings to hear about the latest trends each year, you are sitting with a group of 20, 50, 100 or often even more people, all hearing the same presentations and “predictions”. If you all go back and start working on actions to respond to the future that was just presented, you’re all doing the same things and are in a way actually making the predictions come true”.

As I said, I have never really liked working with trends other than for developing plausible future scenarios, but she had put one of my concerns into words; you don’t gain competitive advantage from following trends. Whilst they may at best provide indications of some tactical actions you might take in the short-term, trends cannot help you develop your vision and strategy.

So if you want to achieve the real advantage of following trends and to get a head-start over your competition, then it’s time you started developing your own future scenarios. How? Well, here’s a 10-step approach that I have found has worked with many of my clients, which assumes that you are already following trends of some description:

10-Step Process

  1. Identify the most relevant trends for your category from all those that you are currently following. This evaluation is often best h andled by your market research and insight group, who have access to a lot of information, both internal and external, and not just on trends. If this is a new area for you all, you may decide to seek some external support to help you make these first difficult choices.
  2. Invite a group of about 10-15 people from various departments within the organisation and who have ideas about what will happen in their different areas of the business, to join your “Futures” team. I have found that when invited, few refuse and in fact more ask to join the group when they hear about it, than you really need, so you’ll get the wonderful privilege of choosing the best and most complementary members.
Continue Reading

Build Better Insights in just 4 steps

We are lucky to be living in an information rich environment, where numerous data sources are readily available to us.

However, this can also be a challenge since we are usually:

“Drowning in data and starving for insight”

as I have often been quoted.

If you too are drowning in data, take a look at these four easy steps you can take to meet the challenge of better insight development. We call them the four “I’s” of Insight development to impact business:

Step 1 – IDENTIFY: first identify the most relevant pieces of information for the issue or opportunity you have selected to address, as well as for the business or industry you are in. How do you decide what is relevant?

Look at who your target audience is; what do they like to do in their spare time; what are their hobbies; what are their needs, desires and dreams; what motivates them; what are their basic values? What are they tweeting and blogging about? Do they speak about problems they have with the products and categories you are reviewing? All of these will help you to really underst and them and what issues or opportunities there are for your product or service and br and.

Step 2 – INTEGRATE: once you have gathered and prioritized the most valuable sources of information, it is necessary to integrate them in order to reap their full benefits. Customer information and facts that are integrated help to build deeper knowledge. It also enables the extraction of essential underst anding on which the business can grow.

Data integration can be done manually or using technology, which is advisable when managing large amounts of information. Integration of underst anding can be done by looking for themes and key topics that get repeated across the different sources.

Step 3 – INSIGHTS: after integration of the information, you need to develop the insights. If you haven’t already done so, get a mixed team of experts from different relevant departments together to review all the information, and have the project led by one of your Market Research or Insight group. They will love both the recognition and the challenge of running an insight development session, using everything that has been gathered and integrated.

Step 4 – INSPIRE: as the team begins to hypothesize insights coming out of the information, find someone who can then synthesize their findings into a compelling story. Storytelling will fire enthusiasm into both the team and the company at large, and everyone will be more ready and willing to take the required action. Storytelling helps the findings and insights to be transmitted to all interested parties within the organisation. In some cases, a presentation using storytelling is sufficient for decisions to be made.

How do you develop insights in your own organisation. Do you have other ways to integrate information and knowledge? Please share your ideas with everyone.

For more on Insight development, please see our website https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

This post first appeared in C3Centricity Dimensions on December 29th 2011

C3Centricity.com Continue Reading

5 Ideas on How to Present for Action not Boredom

Many of you in market research, information & planning functions, can clearly see what needs to be done to make your organisations more customer centric, but are frustrated that nobody seems to want to listen to you or make the changes you propose.

Having been in the same position myself, I also know that you fight a constant battle to bring these much needed transformations to the attention of management, but usually get blocked by negative reactions or even worse disbelief. If so, I hope you find inspiration in this post.

Last week I came across an inspiring – if long – video made by Sony Music about their segmentation work. Anyone who has run a customer segmentation will surely underst and that although the project itself can be quite complex, even daunting at times, it is nothing in comparison to the challenges you must face to introduce it to the organisation and to get them to action it.

In the video they speak of a number of ideas that they came up with to get the company to buy into the study and to make the adjustments in their customer approach that were identified by the results. If you haven’t yet seen it I would definitely do so to get inspired.

This made me realise that however complicated an analytics project might be, it is only if its results lead to action that it can be termed a success. Therefore I came up with the following five points to help bring change and action from all data and underst anding, be it from market research projects, trawling the web for information, or any other form of knowledge gathering:

#1. Don’t tell me what you’ve done

I know we all want to be believed and we think that sharing all the work we have done, the hours of analysis, the thous ands of interviews carried out etc will impress the audience. This can’t be further from the truth. Either the listeners already know what was done, or at least can find more information in the report, that you will no doubt provide at the end of the interview.

Instead, why not tell them what they need to do? What are the actions they need to consider to take advantage of the opportunity you have uncovered? Let’s spend time talking about ideas rather than information.

#2. Dump the data

Almost any gathering of data and information provides more knowledge than anyone can swallow at one time. Instead of sharing everything you have found, why not share only the small proportion that led you to the decisions and actions you are proposing? If people want more they will certainly ask and in general most people ask for less rather than more data in a presentation. Use their time for dialogue rather than a monologue!

#3. Dramatize by Visualizing

A picture tells a thous and words, so why do you continue to torture people with text and tables? Show pictures instead, or simple graphs at the very least, so that people will listen to you rather than analysing what you are showing, or reading the words on your slides. Continue Reading

What do Martin Luther King and Apple have in common?

To paraphrase the great Martin Luther King’s famous speech: I have a dream that one day this world will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all products are created equal.”

Inspiring words indeed, but unfortunately, when it comes to innovation, successful new products are rarely created equal. Why then did I find my inspiration for this post in them? Because I believe that the main reason many new products don’t sell as expected is because they are sold as such – as just new products!

Today’s consumer has so much choice that product benefits on their own rarely sell. Consumers dem and so much more. They ask that they are in fact sold a dream! An inspiration to a better world for them and their families.

Does Apple sell just a computer, an MP3 player, a mobile phone? No, they sell creativity, excitement and individualism. I am not criticising their products, they are of course fantastic, but rather showing that even if their products are arguably better than their competitors, they are selling them emotionally. They have found a way to build excitement, longing and love into each of them. They have enabled each and every consumer to feel special, privileged, an individual. And in this mass market world that we live in, this is certainly something that we all desire, dare I say crave?.

So what can we learn from Martin Luther King and Apple in launching new products that will sell? Many things I am sure, but here are the first three that came to me:

  1. Inspire a dream – why will your consumer’s life be better with your product or service, emotionally not just rationally. Describe and picture their future with your product or service in it.
  2. Build emotion – make consumers excited by the launch; build anticipation, make the wait a part of the sell, so that they will be lining up to buy it
  3. Provide individualism – make consumers feel privileged to have bought it, whether this is through great after-sales service, automatic club membership, personalised offers or limited editions; even limiting distribution can work, although this needs to be done very cautiously, as it can have the opposite effect and disappoint rather than inflame the longing

With so many new product failures today – I have heard anything from 80% to 95% – consumers have become blasé about them. They know that if they are not immediately satisfied, there are many more out there on the market to try. Building loyalty comes from connecting with your consumer on an emotional level, so that there is no comparison to competitive products and services, even if they are in reality very similar at a rational level.

What other keys do you see for new product launch succcess today? What would you add to my starter for three? Do you have your own list? Please let me know if I have “inspired you emotionally as an individual” to comment here. Continue Reading

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want me to catalyse your growth and profitability, just book a call.

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