The CMO Statutes: Guidelines for Building a Tactically-Driven Marketing Organization

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“Quick! Do something manly!” Did you notice how Snickers made a social commentary about how men can bear their boobs, wardrobe malfunctions notwithstanding, without a fuss? Maybe you noticed their other subtle jab at how auto workers are so poor, they can only afford just one Snickers bar per two people? Well, whatever you noticed, consider that there were so many interpretations of Snicker’s “mechanics” commercial during Superbowl XLI, it proved impossible to convey a consistent message to such a large audience simultaneously. What does this mean?

Ratings down? Sales collapsed? Marketing budget cut? Consider that in textbook (or, as we’ll call here, “classical”) marketing, we’re exhorted to arrange our marketing efforts around media. Of course, then media converged (1), but because textbook publishing is so lucrative (just reprint newer editions with different page numbers, and presto! new text but no new investment in content), publishers neglected to mention the sophistication of convergence in their books. Anyway, with much of marketing predicated on (and even conflicting with) the forms of media as the drivers of strategy, any bursts in new marketing thinking stewed in back-office as “services” rather than leapt to the forefront as drivers of marketing strategy.

And marketing innovation being what it is, (a series of incrementally “edgy” tweaks based on nothing more than some other bloke’s dumb luck at drawing awareness) marketing as a whole has few significant innovations (another unexpected outcome of increased accountability, where marketing execs now have the shortest shelf-life). And herein lies the opportunity — an innovation on marketing as a function, not merely the tools in its bag of tricks.

Let’s be clear: customer relationship marketing, experience marketing, and all the other highfalutin names for repackaging old marketing tricks are steps in the right direction. But what the tactically-driven marketing organization should strive to achieve to truly innovate on their marketing is segregating all tricks into larger buckets by how those tactics function, rather than target audience or the more obsolete, media. Consider the following:

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By appointing viral, guerrilla, and mass marketing czars (Figure 1), for example, the chief marketing officer can:

1) manage investments in media in a superior way, since the name of the game isn’t discounts on media for bulk buying, but targeted, planned investments;

2) more effectively reach audiences not by the ever-increasing media and content choices demanding their ever-decreasing time, but by involving your brands with the activities and transactions consumers ordinarily engage in during their typical day;

3) finally allow vendors and creatives the flexibility to explore the most effective operating structure for them, rather than forcing them into the industry-standard cookie-cutter operation, a structure which regrettably hinders them from offering clearer differentiation while also counter-intuitively increasing your cost of finding new providers, since you need consultants to help you differentiate and monitor your vendors and creatives;

4) shift performance discussions away from ratings, hits, and headcount and towards participation, transactions, and referrals as more relevant metrics of marketing’s performance. This further disconnects marketing’s role in sales from product quality, availability, and merchandizing, permitting a more fair debate over which executive really is doing the bulk of the work to increase the bottom line. And tangentially, is a great way of taking some power away from Nielsen.

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