Of course, it’s not curiosity that drives the process. It’s senior management’s permission to be curious, to take risks, to learn, and to fail, but always to grow, that gives this generation of marketers a new kind of organizational authority. Yes, the world is changing, they agree. But they are ready for the change, and you can be sure they will use it to their advantage.
Experimenting with the new doesn’t translate to discarding the old. “A major marketer has to be [advertising] on television,” emphasizes Anne Finucane, CMO at Bank of America. “We have to be where our customers are and where our competitors are.” And, in fact, our ongoing research suggests that traditional advertising media accounts for 80 or 90 percent of the marketing expenditures at many consumer companies. Companies that have adopted new media strategies early, like American Express, still spend close to one out of every two dollars on television.
Although the 30-second TV spot remains the most powerful tool available to product marketers, TV viewers are no longer the same captive audience that they once were. Even on TV, as Beth Comstock, president of integrated media at NBC Universal (NBCU), notes, “Consumers are in control. It’s more than just click-the-remote capabilities or the ability to do a browse/search on the Internet. Consumers are telling us that they want to be in control of the storytelling. And, as a part of that desire, they want to engage [with] advertising in different ways.” The CMOs who embrace new media will be the early beneficiaries of this change, and the rewards for this commitment appear to be significant.
Recognize the New Organizational Imperative
Successful companies are building marketing organizations that leverage and balance generalist and specialist talent. “In marketing, you need to use both halves of your brain,” says Diageo President of Global Marketing, Sales, and Innovation Rob Malcolm. “You need to have the analytics. You also need to have the intuition. And you have to be quite flexible at using and leveraging both.” Cie Nicholson of Pepsi appears to be in the market for the same kind of talent: “Some of our people come to us with technology backgrounds and others with agency backgrounds. They might be stronger in one area than another, but we look for people with both creative and analytical strength.”
Of course, a new kind of organization demands a new kind of training discipline — a program that introduces marketing personnel to new marketplace realities and, in doing so, builds a more informed and capable management team. “If you’re not training — especially at a company that’s promoting from within — you can’t expect to grow,” says P&G’s Stengel. “We need to be outstanding trainers and never be complacent about that.” As part of his program, Stengel has put a media-friendly mom in front of his management team so they can see firsthand what her day looks like and better understand how she receives product information. For Yahoo, training translates to an internal guest-speaker program: The company’s marketing group regularly brings in fresh faces and new voices — other marketers, authors, and thought leaders — for all-hands marketing sessions, with breakout exercise groups following up (and reinforcing) the messages of the meeting.
Training is just one part of the new organizational imperative. Another integral component of the realignment is grounded in the CMOs’ notion that the marketing organization can no longer live on an island. The department can no longer act as just the commercial-shooting or the get-in-touch-with-the-customer support service. It’s become an integrated part of senior management, and with that integration come some new and important lines of shared authority. NBCU’s Comstock frankly admits she cannot imagine doing her job without the full support of her chief financial officer. For Pepsi’s Nicholson, the bridge between marketing and innovation is an integral (“hand-in-glove”) part of her team’s performance. And at Diageo, Rob Malcolm’s portfolio of responsibility includes not only marketing, but also sales and product innovation.