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CMOs discuss accountable marketing

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Chicago—Braving wind chills as low as 40 below zero, about 400 people packed an Executive Club of Chicago breakfast Thursday to hear top marketing executives from AON Service Corp., Walgreens Co. and CDW Corp. address the topic of“Accountable Marketing: What to Measure and How to Measure It.”

Each of the executives spoke about the need to measure marketing activities—aligned to business goals—while continuing to experiment with new ways of communicating with existing customers and prospects. All emphasized the need to understand customers, and their buying cycles, deeply.

Repeating his oft-used mantra, Phil Clement, global CMO of AON, said, “If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.” He also recommended “doubling down” on creative ideas, media placements and processes that demonstrate returns. While messaging can be measured in “near real time,” the construction of systems to properly take those measurements “literally does take years,” he added.

Mark Gambill, VP-CMO of CDW, said it’s critical to quantify what he called “white space,” or the gap between the company’s current market share and its high-value opportunities. This exercise applies to the analysis of acquisition targets and market penetration goals alike, he said.

Gambill said CDW always pays close attention to a customer’s first purchase. “What drove them? What stimulated them,” he said.

All three speakers shared advice for managing in the current, volatile business environment, saying speed and flexibility were keys to success.

After the stock market collapse last fall, “We made day-by-day adjustments,” said Kim Feil, VP-CMO of Walgreens.

Feil added that marketers need to stop being “precious perfect” about their campaigns.

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