Similarly, at FedEx, a key part of marketing’s job is “speaking up on the customer’s behalf and ensuring that what we have to say is taken seriously,” says Mike Glenn, executive vice president of market development and corporate communications. At Yahoo, the marketing team brings senior managers into the company’s consumer labs “to build empathy for what consumers are going through and create an appreciation for the value of talking to consumers,” says Dunaway, who also heads Yahoo’s customer experience division. At Google Inc., there is an equally strong focus on “the user perspective,” says Omid Kordestani, senior vice president of global sales and business development. “Because we operate in real time...we took a very different approach: Let’s not do traditional marketing.... Let’s put a lot of our services out and then innovate at a rapid pace.”
No marketer would ever admit to taking his or her eyes off the company’s prime prospects, so the concept of consumer-centricity may sound mundane. But successful CMOs don’t assume that familiar tasks will necessarily be simple. P&G’s Stengel says it took nearly a decade to reposition the customer at the heart of P&G’s business. It’s a transition that great companies must make, and the effort required to shift the mind-set of a whole organization should not be underestimated.
Make Marketing Accountable
Finding a way to accurately measure the return on investments in marketing remains a thorny problem for CMOs. In fact, our research over the last several years has shown that 90 percent of marketers across nine industries refer to the measurement of marketing effectiveness as a major challenge and the leading factor, by more than a two-to-one margin, that brings marketers under increased pressure from management.
For many enterprises, the development of accountability follows much the same path, as marketers learn to transform raw data into actionable planning. Stage one is evaluating what is being measured and how it is being measured; stage two is condensing scores of diffuse reports and metrics down to a useful few; and stage three is creating targeted analytics and a core report to gauge performance and help determine where best to focus going forward.
Jim Garrity, who retired in the summer of 2007 as the Wachovia Corporation’s CMO, recounts how his team benefited from having access to transactional data for (and, thus, direct relationships with) tens of millions of customers. Overlaid on this base were even more millions of data points of attitudinal information about market-by-market brand awareness and brand equity. In this instance, marketing accountability has enabled Wachovia to evaluate important resource allocation trade-offs across geographies and marketing vehicles. As Garrity puts it, “We knew we had a lot of dots. We just needed to connect them.”
Embrace the Challenges of New Media
To be successful in the 21st century, our interviewees agree, marketers must not just select and purchase proven instruments. The ferocious appetite for more access to consumers along with the willingness to go out on a limb and try new ways to connect with them are noteworthy characteristics from a group that, not long ago, took great comfort in the stability of mass media.
At Pepsi-Cola North America, CMO Cie Nicholson observes, “Our people are evolving along with this changing media model. We do a lot more grassroots work now, much of it experimental. We’ve always done sampling, but when we bought SoBe Beverages in 2001, it brought us tremendous expertise in that area. We’ve also gained sophistication in the digital arena and in customer marketing, and our innovation skills have improved as well.”
Yahoo’s Cammie Dunaway, when asked to name the most important capability for a new marketer, replied, “My answer is simple: Number one on the list is intellectual curiosity.” When that curiosity is buoyed by the fortitude to admit a mistake — to realize that no one has all the answers in a branding marketplace that’s different from what it was yesterday and that will be more different tomorrow — a new kind of CMO emerges. “To be a great marketer,” concludes Dunaway, “you must be a great student.”