The CMO and the Cloud – Part 6

October 16, 2014 by Olivier Blanchard - No Comments

 In Part 5, we started a discussion in which we established that:

  • The role of the CMO is changing.
  • Though the role of Marketing isn’t changing, Marketing itself, the way it operates, is changing.
  • Many CMOs today are overwhelmed by fast changes in technology, capabilities, operational demands and new processes.
  • If CMOs who have fallen behind don’t get caught up fast, this will end in tears. That’s no bueno.
  • We need to fix this and fast.

Once we identified some of the problems and pushed through some potential causes, we started discussing ways of helping things along, starting with the need to make a choice: are you in or out?

Simple enough. Do you want to continue to be a CMO? Do you believe in you heart of hearts that you should, that you can? Is this really what you want? Because, you know… it’s work, and it’s about to get a lot workier. The next few years are going to be busy. If that excites you, you’re in the right place. If you would rather be playing golf, maybe it’s time to be realistic.

For those who answered yes, those who are in, those who want to swing for the fences again, we came up with a short list of topics requiring weekly briefings. It’s about education. It’s about getting caught up. You have to start with the basics. And that’s nice and everything, but then what? What is a CMO to do with all of those new insights?

Well, I give you the next piece of the puzzle: look for opportunities. (You’ll find them.) The tricky part is turning those opportunities and ideas into real world programs, campaigns, and so on. You’re going to be building things. Lots of things. And to do that, you’re going to have to surround yourself with people who can help you. You’re going to have to collaborate more. You’re going to have to form and nurture partnerships inside and outside of your comfortable Marketing silo. (Tip: this is not outsourcing. It is the opposite of outsourcing.)

Time to roll up your sleeves and get back into the fray. Here’s a short list:

The Fix – Partnerships you should be looking to form immediately if you haven’t already:

Analysts: go for both breadth and depth. Don’t settle for reports and 30 minute calls in which they go over the same insights your competitors paid for. Let them advise you. Make them if you have to. Work on developing a real partnership with them, not just being a client.

Technology developers: seek them out, spend time with them, explore their world. Go to their conferences. Look for innovation outside of the usual places. Give them an opportunity to build products for you and with you. (They aren’t just vendors. They’re partners.)

Cloud computing providers: go. to. cloud. conferences. Take your IT manager with you. If you have read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of this series, you know why. Stop fighting it. This is NOT optional anymore.

IT: Speaking of cloud computing and technology developers, it’s time to stop being technology-shy. You should be working with IT on a daily basis to develop faster, better, cheaper ways of 1) collecting and analyzing data, 2) of testing campaigns, 3) of doing market research, 4) of identifying and targeting key demos,  5) of monitoring campaign performance, 6) of turning metrics into kickass visualizations for the CEO, 7) of learning what works and doesn’t work, and why and why not, 8) of improving UX for all of your customer touchpoints, 9) of owning new platforms and channels to outperform your competitors, 10) of removing technology obstacles and replacing them with solutions. Tip: Marketing should be IT’s biggest client inside your organization. Make it happen.

Channel marketing specialists: if you aren’t working with people who live and breathe channels and communities, you aren’t properly leveraging the channels to use to reach your audience. This can be independent contractors or specialized agencies. Vet them, hire them, listen to what they have to say. Find out how to work with them. Listen to what they have to say. Learn their world. They are channel and community ambassadors. Don’t just hire them to do stuff; invite them to the table.

Creatives: you can’t run an art gallery if you don’t love art. For the same reasons, you can’t run a marketing practice if you don’t love creative. Lose the tie and dive back into the world of style, metaphor, beauty, cool and cleverness. Become engaged in the creative again, not just the budgets and high level client discussions and the briefs. (Your stuff has probably grown stale and kind of boring anyway. Jumping into the creative pool again will do you a world of good.) Roll up your sleeves and reconnect with the soul of what you do. Surround yourself with creatives and you will be amazed at how quickly the quality of your team’s work will improve. (PS: sketch, paint, write, dust off the old SLRs… whatever you need to do, but reconnect with your own creative side. Not optional. Do it.)

Customer service: social channels are radically changing the way brands interact with their markets, and customer service is often better positioned to provide real time market insights than marketing. Partnering with customer service is probably one of the smartest things a marketing department can do. (Sorry, Customer Service should have been at the top of this section.) Disconnects between Marketing and Customer Service are negligent, at this point. Fix that.

‘Digital’ and ‘Social’: Reclaim digital and social. They aren’t separate entities. They aren’t meant to be silos. Bring them home, now. If you don’t or can’t or won’t, you’ve already lost.

HR: It’s time to rethink and redefine roles and skillsets within your organization. You’re still hiring the wrong skills, traits, and experience, and HR needs your help more than ever to do a better job sourcing talent for your organization. (They’re not always the tip of the spear either when it comes to this stuff.) Talk about your needs. Look over reqs and make changes. Talk about training programs and career development (skillset updates) for hires every 4-6 months. This isn’t a “let’s talk when I need new headcount” partnership. This is a quasi-daily dialog that needs to happen. You’re rebuilding and adapting, not filling chairs.

Clients: Start going to their conferences too. Immerse yourself in their world again. (Get out of your own bubble.) Put yourself in their shoes. Peek into their universe of challenges, ideas and vision. Trust me, it will do you a world of good.

Your own customers: This isn’t even about the crowdsourcing of ideas or community management or influencer networks (though all three are valid areas of focus). Look… your customers are part of your ecosystem. They’re your fans, your friends, your users, your advocates, your critics, and ultimately your family. They’re the lifeblood of your business. Don’t just talk at them or to them. Don’t look at them solely as an audience, as sets of demographics (there’s a time and a place for that, and a time and a place to understand that they are much more than that), as a means to an end. These are the people who will tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. These are the people you will either impress today or disappoint tomorrow. These are the people who will either recommend you to their peers or warn them about you. LISTEN to them. Pay attention to them. Don’t just monitor their conversations. Reach out to them. Partner with them.

Your own employees: Those people who work for you will blow your mind if you shift from a vertical command structure to a horizontal (or diagonal) structure. Partner with them. Lean on them. Leverage their talents, their skills, their passion. Instead of telling them what to do and how to do it, ask them to help you solve problems. No more micromanagement. Reward initiative, creativity and excellence, not just ‘busy.’ Make them love working with you more than they ever liked working for you. Choosing to partner with your team is such a subtle shift in leadership styles but the results can be astounding. Try it. If you hired the right people, leadership and collaboration will beat management every day of the week. (Bonus: if you hired the wrong people, this is a great way of rooting them out.)

What… you thought this was all about ‘content’ and channels? Oh no. That’s the easy part. This is the fun part.

Now get off the interwebs and go build something.

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This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

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