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Who's Who 2006: Dennis Dunlap

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Ask CEO Dennis Dunlap how the American Marketing Association is responding to management upheaval in b-to-b marketing and step aside.

Dunlap, a 40-year marketing and advertising veteran, has a number of initiatives planned to help AMA's 38,000-plus constituents navigate the ever-changing marketing landscape in which the average tenure of a CMO has shrunk to 23.2 months, from 23.6 months in 2004, according to a recent survey by executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

"There's a tremendous amount of churn," said Dunlap, who spent 25 years with ad agency Leo Burnett Co. and nine years with information services company RR Donnelly before taking the reins of the AMA in 1999. "We need to better equip [AMA members] with the issues they are dealing with. That leads to better performance, which is what their CEO wants."

Dunlap hopes AMA's Mplanet conference, a two-day event to be held in November at Walt Disney World Resort, will help with that process. "We want to try and bring some new ideas, new thinking and new research to address what's keeping marketers up at night."

Dunlap, who formed an advisory board to develop the content for Mplanet, said the conference will focus on six areas that b-to-b marketers are currently grappling with: performance-based marketing; the rapid proliferation of new marketing channels; increasing customer clout; leveraging innovation; brand relevance; and new organizational realities.

Dunlap said an educational emphasis on new corporate realities is crucial to marketers if they want to keep their seat at the corporate table.

"Marketing is much more complex today, and we need to change the marketing mentality for the top line," Dunlap said. "There's been more change in business in the last five years than in the previous 25 years."

Another new initiative spearheaded by Dunlap is the Knowledge Coalition. This is a think tank comprised of six senior marketing executives and six marketing academics.

"We really need to drill down on the key issues for senior marketers and find out the two or three most pressing challenges for them," Dunlap said. The group's findings will be "audited, packaged and finally pushed out to AMA constituents via print, online and events."

-M.S.

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