For growth oriented companies, the stakes couldn’t be higher. To grow at the rates that a CEO would like, marketing’s role as business strategist, customer megaphone, product architect, chief revenue planner and demand tactician is critical. And if they want to preserve their bottom line, they have to manage their marketing ROI with previously unheard of vigilance.
It takes strategy and execution discipline to get it done
Last week, we spent a day with a couple hundred CEOs at the Vistage Executive Summit in Austin, TX. It was a terrific event. If there’s one coming to your city, you should attend. The “innovation” theme was appropriately bookended by a leading economist in the morning and an execution disciplinarian in the afternoon. After all, innovation without execution is only a bunch of good ideas.
How many times have we all heard the following questions about a new initiative – “What’s in it for me?” “Why do I have to change the way I am doing things?” “I am already successful, so why change what isn’t broken?”
A very knowledgeable and opinionated executive colleague of mine complained that his marketing department was harassing him to write blogs. To put it in context, he works in a $15M B2B technology company that sells complex enterprise solutions to the VP/C-level suite. Though he readily acknowledged the value of online content, he couldn’t really see the point of posting haphazard snippets of information and opinion, no matter how insightful. So his question to me was, “Does anybody read those things anyway? There’s so much information out there. Isn’t writing blogs just a huge waste of time?”
The breadth of discontent among companies with their marketing begs a further look at the why? How have CMOs become less well regarded than say their IT peers, who have something in the neighborhood of a 50% success rating for their projects? Why is the role of the CMO oftentimes the most precarious in the c-suite? Why are 80% of CEOs unhappy with their marketing talent? The consensus seems to be skill level. While many marketers are strong in one or two or even more areas across the board, strength in both left and right brain functions is rare. And oftentimes, the lure of a good creative can be seductive to a CEO, but at the expense of solid business acumen, disappointment is a sure thing. Few marketers have the finance, technical or operations knowledge to effectively lead business modeling, strategy, and positioning as well as marketing functions such as operations and technology, so instead focus on the ‘softer’ or more tactical aspects of the role.
Every Management Team knows the intricacies of their respective P&L, but can they honestly say they understand the value that each customer delivers to their franchise? More importantly, if they have gone through the hard work of developing a robust customer profitability analysis, have they taken the next step to implementing key business changes based upon the data?(http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/Issues/2008/Dec/ManagingCustomerProfitability.htm)
In 1997, Paul McCartney said, “If anyone was a Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” In my own reflection, manager Brian Epstein could also be called The Beatles CMO. Discovering the band in November 1961 in Liverpool after their many years in Hamburg, Germany playing mainly American rock songs, wearing their jeans and leather, Brian practically turned a miracle with his vision for their potential. Even after being rejected by virtually every record label of the day, Epstein found a way, earned more than any manager of his day (up to 25% of earnings after expenses) and helped build a legacy that seems to be without end.
Have you changed how you sell in the era of the informed customer?
The Wall Street Journal reported that UPS struggled with last minute Christmas demand from Amazon, Kohl’s, Wal-Mart and other online sellers. It should be no surprise to businesses that there’s been a big shift in how consumers conduct their holiday shopping. Most of us are, by nature, are procrastinators. Given the chance to make a last-minute decision with guaranteed delivery and easy price comparison, why would we commit early?
I read a staggering statistic yesterday. According to the Fournaise Marketing Group’s 2013 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program, a multi-year survey of over 1200 CEOs and top Marketing decision makers worldwide, in 2013 over 70% of marketers failed to deliver the (real and P&L-quantifiable) business results their management expected them to deliver (more sales, more market share, more sales-ready prospects and/or more conversion).