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.

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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.

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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.