Business transformation; the increased expectations of the connected consumer (Part 2)

Following on from my initial post, here are my five remaining pillars as to how the marketing function can support business transformation in the age of the consumer.

Agility is important as it enables an organization to respond more rapidly to changing market conditions. Creating an agile environment helps support creativity and innovation and can reduce the constraints imposed by the usual planning and execution boundaries. The foundation to be able to adopt an agile approach is to ensure that you set clear objectives and always focus these on defined market outcomes. This empowers execution to take its own path.
Marketing considerations; adopt a flexible organization structure, introduce project teams, take every network meeting you can to learn what is new in the market, deploy a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach and test, test and test.

It is simple and that is that your customers expect an organization to be connected. Their expectation is that however they engage or are engaged, the organization should act as one and to be able to recognize the full relationship that they have with the company.
Marketing considerations; provide a consistent customer view to all functions, establish a single preference center, introduce customer governance with rules on engagement & frequency of interaction and set outside-in customer metrics.

Customer engagement is becoming more complex every day as more data sources become available and there are more ways and channels by which a customer can engage an organization. Technology is crucial to help connect customer insights with engagement, improve response times, enable efficiency and provide organizations with wisdom for improved decision making.
Marketing considerations; always start with process and once defined then look at technology enablement, deploy a test, learn, adapt approach, fully commit don’t half bake and involve everyone who is a stakeholder throughout entire process.

Marketing has always been local. People have connections and ties to the local community, to their home town, to where they live which influence their beliefs, needs and areas of interest. Location is key to understanding context and understanding context is what helps marketing ensure offerings are relevant.
Marketing considerations; segment by geography, adopt a geo-cluster approach that combines demographic data with geographic data, assess impact of environmental conditions such as seasons & weather and ignite word of mouth marketing in key geographic / community / tribal clusters.

In today’s modern era successful companies are those that take a Market-In approach and focus on the customer first and foremost. The real trick is therefore to always ask yourself the following before making any investment or running any activity; will they care, is it important to them and do they benefit?
Marketing considerations; consider introducing a Customer Officer, develop a customer advocacy program where there is a mutual exchange of benefit, establish a communities portal and only engage with customers when there is value for them.

success concept

What are your TOP TEN and do you have any examples as to why they are important?


Can marketing do more to help society?

I was very fortunate to be invited by Pete Krainik (@cmoclub), who is the founder and CEO of The CMO Club, to a recent charity event in New York to support K9forwarriers (@k9sforwarriors). I was not expected to be so emotionally affected as I was, especially at 9am on a Monday morning, but when you see what this charity does, there is only one possible reaction and that is to be blown away. I will leave it to you to go to their website to better understand what they do, as you really need to hear this from the people who have been helped, in fact saved, by man’s best friend. I can’t even start to do this justice in writing.


So what does this have to do with marketing?
Well how many of you have heard of this cause? Not many I imagine and this is because they don’t do marketing, they spend 96% of their proceeds on helping the people that matter. So here I am writing a blog and now hopefully (well if anyone reads this) we now have more people that are aware of this wonderful charity. This makes me think, is there more that we as marketers can do to help these worthwhile causes? We have the networks and we know how to engage consumers so why wouldn’t we dedicate some of our time to worthwhile causes.

I am a great admirer of Marc Benioff (@Benioff) and the Salesforce foundation 1/1/1 (@SFDCFoundation) that he created. He is now in the process of asking other companies to make the same pledge and he describes it as ”The 1/1/1 Pledge is an effort to invite technology entrepreneurs and their companies to commit resources (time, equity, product) and integrate philanthropy into their business”. The 1/1/1 refers to 1% of employee time, 1% of equity and 1% of product to be made available to help worthwhile causes.

So how can marketers help? Pete Krainik gave a very emotional address at the event and taking inspiration from his words I think we as marketers can help in the following ways:

Donate time
Time is precious, we are all so incredibly busy with our hectic lives but perhaps we need to take a short breather every now and then and look at the bigger picture. Surely we can find 15 minutes or more to help create a better world.

Activate networks
Many marketers have extensive networks with tens of thousands of followers on Twitter etc. Can we activate our networks to help these organizations raise their profile and perhaps lay the foundation for them to receive more assistance from companies, brands and consumers? We could even help embed a social purpose back into our own organizations and build stronger more valuable brands. A win-win for everyone.

Change perspectives
We are creative people at heart and who better to help the wider world gain a better perspective on things that really matter, than us. We can help create messaging and content that enables these worthwhile causes to better convey the incredible impact they are having on people who need help the most.

I am writing this from a patio overlooking Long Island Sound and realizing just how lucky I am. Thanks again to Pete for the invite and for the chance to reflect on what is truly important.

Business transformation; the increased expectations of the connected consumer

Many companies are facing significant challenges due to the rise of the connected consumer. As the needs and aspirations of the consumer have increased so has the need for organizations to respond to these increased demands and to transform themselves.

There are numerous articles and books on this topic and I have consolidated the leading thinking in this area into my top 10 list. This list reflects the key pillars that I believe are fundamental for how the marketing function can support business transformation in the age of the consumer.

Here are the first five. I will share the remaining five in a follow-up post.

Leadership is about defining the long-term direction of the company and providing a working environment that enables and empowers the organization to successfully achieve their goals. Key qualities include; a very clear definition of the long-term goals of the organization and the journey it will take to get there, consistency in how this is expressed and a very transparent and pragmatic approach to how company progress is shared both internally as well as externally.
Marketing considerations; employ a journalist who can help craft the story, position your vision as a journey and share progress through employee and client stories that bring it to life.

An organization’s social purpose is becoming increasingly influential and needs to be part of the overall brand promise. This is important both internally as well as externally and will become a growing part of a customer’s decision process in the future.
Marketing considerations; ensure brand / company values reflect a social purpose, develop a specific social program by which all employees can participate and implement initiatives that enable the social purpose to be embedded in day to day working,

A brand promise is no longer enough to convince an audience of the values and merits of an organization’s product or service offering. Consumers are now relying very heavily on the experience of other users to determine the viability of a brand. A wealth of information is available as individuals share their experiences through social and e-commerce channels. Brand reputation is now the cornerstone for future commercial success and every organization needs to recognize that how it acts is now more important than what it says.
Marketing considerations: start with employees and build a culture that can successfully deliver the brand proposition by focusing on the 4 S’s of play to people strengths, keep it simple, give people space to express themselves and provide a support system.

Consumer understanding is imperative for an organization to be able to deliver an experience that meets the needs and expectations of each and every customer at every touch point. This is now the basis for securing customer satisfaction and for building long-term customer loyalty.
Marketing considerations: always start with data, establish a marketing sciences team, ensure that every decision is informed by insights and make reporting very easy to consume and act on at all levels in an organization.

It is all about the customer and the experiences that they take away after every interaction or touch point with your company or brand. This is where the rubber hits the road. Think customer, think experience and then work backwards from there.
Marketing considerations; employ UX designers in marketing, map-out the customer journeys, put yourself in the shoes of the customer and experience what they experience and always focus on delivering the right outcome rather than on the activity or process that underpins it.


These five pillars are focusing on the business transformation strategy, which are all about defining the destination. Next week we will focus on the actual journey.

The new connected society; what it means for brands?

I had the privilege this summer to take a weeks vacation in Bermuda, which is a glorious place. I wholeheartedly recommend it so if you ever have the opportunity to visit then you should not hesitate and go.

The reason for mentioning Bermuda is that when you are there you realize just how well connected everyone is. Everyone seems to know everyone else which is not so surprising when you consider that the country is 27 miles long and only 1 mile across at its widest part. But what is surprising is just how friendly and caring everyone is. My initial observation is that they live in this wonderful country so why wouldn’t they be?


However having spent a few days there I started to realize that there is a sense of collective here. It is as though no one wants to let the other side down. It is more than peer pressure; there is an embedded and heartfelt belief in the value of contributing to a wider community and upholding values that are commonly shared. Everyone takes pride in contributing to a greater cause even when it requires the individual to go out of his or her own way.

There was a terrific post recently by Arianna Huffington related to this topic. It was titled “How to Immediately Improve Your Life (Hint: It Starts With Improving the Lives of Others)”. I will not try and distill this down, as everyone should read the entire article. However my take on this is that in a faster paced, complex, stressful and more unforgiving world people can cope better, be happier and healthier if you care and contribute to others.

Bermuda it seems is a great example of this and you feel that the physical boundaries of the country have created an environment where people are naturally better connected and this has resulted in a more caring society where compassionate empathy is normal.

So a key question is to ask if this is starting to happen in the virtual world? It is interesting to note that the fastest growing news site is Upworthy whose mantra is “Things that matter. Pass ‘em on.” Is this a sign?

One of the most obvious outcomes of our love affair with social media is that we are becoming more and more connected with the broader world about us and not just the community in which we live and work. Will this influence our brand choice? Certainly this is the viewpoint of Simon Mainwaring in his article “Purpose-Driven Social Brands Will Win Marketing 3.0″. Another good read is from Edelman.

So in summary today’s consumer is better educated, informed and connected than ever before and is now more conscious of the world around them. This enlightenment is starting to influence consumer priorities and decisions. Are consumers really that selfish that only their needs and expectations matter? I don’t think so, and increasing connectivity may well change this forever.

Image a Starbucks where you can see a live feed from the coffee growers or in a Burberry store you can hear about some of the community initiatives taking place to support the factory workers. Would we pay more, wait longer or take a less packaged product if we knew that our actions would make a positive difference to the people we impact.

It is an interesting world we live in and I believe global connectivity will influence consumers to support companies that “make a difference” rather than just satisfy their needs. It is already not just about the customer. So how should we respond as CMOs:

  • Understand the impact your company has on the environment and society in general.
  • Identify and establish a social purpose for the company.
  • Embed this social purpose into the brand values that you wish the company to portray and live by.
  • Identify how you can develop a culture that reflects and supports this social purpose.
  • Help employees bring the social purpose to life and to be able to demonstrate the commitment and passion of the organization through acts not just words.
  • Be transparent and honest in everything you do.

The future of brand marketing is almost upon us.

Left Brain Right Brain, Art & Science; what does this all mean?

There is a lot of commentary at the moment about the role of the left side of the brain and the right side of the brain. Here’s a great example from our friends at Marketo. In psychology the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance is based on the premise that each side of the brain controls different types of thinking.

The left-side of the brain is considered to be your verbal and logical brain and is often described as being better at language, logic, critical thinking, numbers and reasoning. It’s the analytical, objective side.

Whereas the right-side of the brain is considered to be your non-verbal and intuitive brain and best at expressive and creative tasks such as the ability to recognize faces, convey emotion, reading, color, intuition and creativity. It’s the subjective and holistic side.

So which way do you think? Please try this test; left-brain right-brain test 

I always see the image turning anti-clockwise initially and then it changes to a clockwise rotation. Bizarre. Perhaps I may have found the answer to Scott’s question of what does it take to be a marketing technologist; you need to be able to see life in both ways and have the ability to combine both creativity and logic.

This brings me to a great story and one that always amuses me. The correlation to the theme of this blog, the ability to combine creativity with logic, is frankly pretty weak but the story is fun none the less. I also have to own up that I borrowed it from The Art of Living Blog, so thanks to the folks there for letting me repost it

One day during a speaking tour, Albert Einstein’s driver, who often sat at the back of the hall during his lectures, remarked that he could probably give the lecture himself, having heard it so many times. Sure enough, at the next stop on the tour, Einstein and the driver switched places, with Einstein sitting at the back in his driver’s uniform.

Having delivered a flawless lecture, the driver was asked a difficult question by a member of the audience. “Well, the answer to that question is quite simple,” he casually replied. “I bet my driver, sitting up at the back there, could answer it!”

So finally getting to the point what does all this mean for a CMO?

  • Recognize that your team members will have different skill sets, some more creative, others more logical.
  • Organize your teams to reflect creative excellence as well as analytical excellence.
  • Always ensure that you balance the creative and the logical. Great marketing requires both.
  • Finally don’t take life too seriously and have fun. A happy motivated team will deliver more outstanding work.

So in signing off and borrowing from the old joke of how to tell a pessimist from an optimist.

So what’s the difference between a left-brain dominant (logical) and a right-brain dominant (creative) individual. Well a right-brain dominant individual will say that the glass is half full whereas the left-brain dominant individual will say that the glass is twice the size it should be.

Till next time.

CMO leadership: how to succeed in the modern era

I am deeply honored and delighted to be nominated by the CMO Club for its annual CMO President’s Circle Award.  This award recognizes CMOs who have demonstrated success in leading teams, leadership in marketing innovation, and leading beyond just the marketing department.

Usually I am embarrassed by recognition such as this but it sparked me into thinking about what are the key leadership characteristics that would help make a CMO successful in today’s world.

When I think about leadership I always refer back to Jim Collins and his excellent book “Good to Great”.

In this book he talks about Level 5 leadership. Jim defines a Level 5 leader as “Building enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will”. In effect it is the ability to create and establish absolute clarity of purpose whilst ensuring that success is only seen through the action of others. To achieve this it means your primary focus can only be on two areas; the people you work with and the ability to build market understanding.

So here are some proposals as to how you can be an effective leader in these two areas. It is just a selection but hopefully it will be useful:

People and teamwork

  • Start with culture and establish a function that is built on respect, transparency, collaboration, shared success and fun.
  • Great culture will attract great people. Jim Collins once said; “if I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could”.
  • Get to know the skills and competencies of your team members and focus their efforts on areas where they excel.
  • Always recognize, support and motivate your team members by focusing on the positives, whether it is success or opportunities to improve. This will ensure your team contributes more so imagine everyone gives a further 10%, you have just increased your FTEs by 5 people for a team of 50.
  • Allow people to be personally accountable and give everyone the chance to show what they can deliver.
  • Set goals on outcomes and not activities, this way you allow freedom to experiment and innovate.

Data, knowledge, wisdom and foresight

  • Always start with data.
  • Try and ensure that every decision made has considered all available insights.
  • Establish a marketing sciences team and empower them to always provide recommendations with any analysis.
  • Create a structured, uniformed segmented view of the market so everyone is looking at the market in the same way.
  • Set targets based on market / customer segments so you can better gauge progress at a micro level.
  • Make sure objectives are based on business outcomes and not just on specific activities as these end up being proxies.
  • Apply the concept of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) so you report performance across all stages of the customer lifecycle in a joined up fashion. There is no benefit in doing 4 out of 5 things well if that one element that you don’t do well breaks the chain.

To best summarize this it brings me to the magic of Arthur C. Clarke who once said; “The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information — in the sense of raw data — is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these.”

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So, in signing off, if you get the right people onboard, establish a culture in which they can express themselves and then empower them with the best possible insights, you will have gone a long way to becoming a successful marketing leader.

The role of art and science in customer satisfaction and loyalty

There is significant talk nowadays of marketing being first and foremost a science and that the CMOs of the future will be data scientists.  In fact some editorials and opinions go so far as to say that unless you have a background in data and analytics you will not have a future in marketing.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) defines marketing as: “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”, but does this really catch it all? Yes, it is extremely important to create satisfied customers but does this in itself evoke brand loyalty?

Take the example of an individual coming to the end of their mobile contract. They may well have been satisfied with the product and service but perhaps they are looking for a change, to try something new. On the other hand there might be an individual who is also coming to the end of their mobile contract and has suffered some issues but remains fiercely loyal due to the emotional connection they have established with the brand. Satisfaction does not necessarily infer loyalty.

I see customer satisfaction as the outcome of applying the science of marketing. It is the ability to understand the customer, to recognize their needs and wants and to provide them with the right offer or response depending how the interaction took place. This is almost becoming a given, an expectation of every consumer interaction. However, customer loyalty is dependent on the art of marketing, creating an experience that forms an emotional connection, where empathy is established by reflecting the values, thoughts and aspirations of the individual. This takes creativity and innovation.

Jonathan Mildenhall, the creative genius at Coca-Cola best sums it up when he says, “Creativity is behind every leap in science and marketing”.


Finally, here is a link to a performance on Britain’s Got Talent. It is clever, great science at work but how do you feel when you watch it?  Does it light up your life, pull your heart strings and create a lasting memory? For me, this is creative genius, it is art at its very best and why great marketing will always require both art and science in equal measure.