CMO Issues That Just Won't Die

From Tenure to Green Marketing to Consumer Control -- Expect More of the Same in '08

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The CMO's office seems forever fated to have a revolving door in front of it, as the post shows little sign of becoming more accommodating to risk-taking, big-thinking marketing leaders. Too many CEOs, boards and shareholders seem too impatient to let CMOs do their thing, which often requires more than a mere two years. Bottom line? You simply don't take this job if you're looking for long-term job security.
Reap what (or more than what) you sow. Simple as that. Otherwise, it'll be you who gets the ax (see "CMO Tenure"). Why is it that marketers still have an aversion to specific and measurable media (or at least to demanding that their agencies think beyond the :30)? Instead, they continue to gravitate to and earmark large parts of their budgets for hard-to-measure traditional advertising. Is it that they don't know any better? If that's the case, we need a new job description for the CMO. But that's another story.
Did you actually think the consumer was ever not in control? Before, he was just humoring you. Now, he's laughing in your face. The abundance of new-media platforms simply enable him to make that laugh heard. And they just give him more options with regard to what brands, information and media he consumes. Yes, the consumer's in control. Yawn.
Save the planet. Or not. Consumers' interest in all things environmental has been piqued. Whether you're a marketer that does right by the environment remains largely your choice, but right now, "doing right" might give your brand the extra push it needs come selection time. Of course, as many experts warn, it's not enough just to slap a green label on your product. Consumers are getting savvier by the day and are learning to smell a carcinogenic-plastic-using, PCB-dumping skunk three miles away.
If they're walking the aisles, they're motivated buyers. Really, do we need to analyze it further? Point of sale is an area where marketers can grow revenue, but many focus on building out the splash factor of advertising campaigns rather than the impact of in-store displays and promotions. Oh, and there's this issue of product quality. Bottom line: All three aspects need to be in good working order: the branding campaign, the product itself and the environment in which the consumer purchases the product.
Emotions have an impact on consumers' brand and product selection. So that means it's no longer enough that marketing succeeds in selling a product or service. Now it must help brands emotionally connect with the consumer. Emotionally connect? So we're to date our dish detergent? Court our car insurance? Evidently. Or at least that's what those products and services are supposed to be doing to us. Marketers, if you've downed the Kool-Aid, go for it. Emotionally connect. Just make sure you financially connect too.
"Actions speak louder than words." There's a reason why this is a saying that's old as time. How many times have we been told that focus groups are dead and it is not enough to just listen to consumers, that instead we must watch them, carefully, cautiously and deliberately? We must observe whether their actions and their words line up. We have to understand consumers' mind-sets. Get inside their minds. Watch them in their native habitats. As if they were a newly discovered albino goat in the Italian Alps. Got it.
Marketers do a really bad job of coming up with new products it seems. We're told they make all kinds of mistakes: They're reluctant to financially invest in true innovation, they are fearful of taking risks and they make too many copycat introductions. Mmm, bad ideas, all. Marketers, don't do those things.
Music affects brand, corporate, product or otherwise. We see no argument there. The argument part comes in the form of "What's better: original ballad or borrowed tune?" That debate has many voices, but we think that by now we can all agree that regardless of where you stand on that score, you've got to pay close attention to the soundtrack of your creative.
It's a digital world after all. But marketers are still trying to figure out what that means for them. There's a whole world going on online and on mobile platforms that's populated with opinionated, passionate, savvy and creative consumers -- whom marketers would just love to get their hands, er, brands on. They know it has something to do with engaging with them in an authentic yet effective way. Tall order for marketers, indeed. Best as you can, figure out what works and what's hype and then invest accordingly.
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