The New CMO Reality Is Not New

Posted: October 14, 2010 in CMO, Fragmentation, Social Media

I’m not sure how much longer people can keep continuing to write the same articles, about the same topics, saying the same things, predicting the same “changes”, and expect anything to fundamentally change. I’m referring to an article published in Advertising Age called “The New Normal for CMOs” ironically under the column called CMO Strategy.

Simply regurgitating the same information that has prevailed the past several years is not strategic, and surely won’t help CMOs. Listing what the prevailing market conditions are, rather than offering new ideas for CMOs on how to deal with prevailing market conditions, is not strategic – it is informational. Plus, the information provided most of the time, or at least in this piece, is not new.

If a particular mindset has been in place for years or even decades, it should already be normal.

To paraphrase the main points in the article referenced above, each of which the author points out as “changes” or shifts for 2011:

* Your media mix is probably changing.

* LTV and customer loyalty is crucial, rather than a churn and burn strategy.

* Marketing and customer engagement is better when rooted in analytics.

* Marketing is no longer siloed and close partnerships with Finance is necessary.

* Performance-based procurement partnerships will become prevalent.

* Niche, creative expertise replaces one-size-fits-all agencies.

* Production and creative will decouple for efficiency’s sake.

* Consumers are tough to reach; agency compensation models will change accordingly.

* Minorities, and minority buying power, are significant, too.

* CMOs need to have a diverse skill set.

Summary: CMOs will be asked to do more with less.

Really? Which one of those have you not heard of before? Some of this is so basic and fundamental to what a CMO should have been thinking about for year that if you’re not thinking about them now, you shouldn’t be a CMO.

Everyone knows about the allure of social media. Everyone knows a 30-second spot won’t blanket your target audience anymore. So what can CMOs do, what should their new reality be? CMOs and top marketing executives need some new thinking or alternate points of view. I will give you two:

1) CMOs need to stop talking about shrinking budgets; everyone’s budget is tight and everything is fundamentally related to the recessionary times we live in. At some point, the more CMOs talk about their budgets shrinking, the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sure, it is tougher to reach consumers than ever before, and CMOs have to “do more with less”, but when has that not been the case?

If your partnership with the CFO is as strong as the author in the Ad Age piece says it should be, and your marketing is rooted in analytics and ROI as the Ad Age piece says it should be, then why is your budget shrinking? Why not work to get your budget larger at the expense of another non-revenue producing, unproven, less impactful area? You can fix your shrinking budget, trust me.

2) Why do you think audiences are so fragmented nowadays versus, say, 10 years ago? Because they have thousands of places to get and receive content, and communicate. Content includes communication, but also includes websites, forums, social networks, and blogs. Why aren’t CMOs focusing on creating content for themselves or their brand and build their own communities that way? It is great to rely on Facebook and Twitter as communication mechanisms and platforms, but why not own your own real estate rather than renting? Have the conversation on your own (branded) terms. Then it becomes a lot easier to engage your target audience.

I think this should be *the* trend for 2011. By “creating content”, I’m not solely talking about having a Facebook page. I’m talking about creating your own forums, blogs, mini-sites and the like. Let your target audience and potential consumers talk about your brand and your product on your platform or your site where you can be a lot more creative and interactive. It is cheap, free, easy and efficient.

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