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During my commute this evening on the LIRR, I came across Frank Germann’s piece in HBR and thought I’d share my perspective on highly effective CMOs.
For more than a quarter century, Taylor has collaborated with some of the most innovative and influential CMOs representing the world’s leading consumer brands. During this period, I have come across two (2) distinct types of chief marketers. There is a collection of CMOs who seem to concentrate a majority of their efforts on “the brand,” 24/7. This type has a tendency to rely almost exclusively on traditional ad agencies to accomplish their “marketing” goals, and together, they may garner numerous accolades in the form of gold and platinum objects. We all know there is indeed a correlation between “brand-building” and gains in market share, but unscientific approaches to M&E suggest, at times, that the “line” drawn towards sales and profitable revenue growth is not always as direct or hard-wired as some might think.
Alas, there are many more CMOs cut from a very different cloth. I’m proud to say that Taylor has often engaged with chief marketers who not only understand the importance of brand-building, but also recognize the critical need of laddering up to a much higher place. They expect, demand and take great care to ensure brand strategy aligns directly with the CEO’s pillars of growth for their organization. This CMO possesses the ability to process information equally via the left and right hemispheres of the brain. And they are confident leaders willing to embrace ideas and direction that’s not necessarily in their wheelhouse or comfort zone.
You see, before an evolved thought-leader like this ever turns to agency partners for direction, they’d engage the likes of McKinsey or Bain to truly understand the global marketplace, the competitive landscape, their customers’ needs (five years out) and the most relevant distribution channels; to zero in on opportunities for high-margin growth on a much broader scale than most ad agencies could ever provide. And during this key phase of discovery, this highly-trained and capable CMO would work most effectively alongside fellow C-Suite members (CEO, CIO, CSO, CFO, CCO) to ensure total alignment is achieved within the aforementioned areas.
Finally, at this stage, this visionary CMO empowers their internal marketing and communications teams, pulls in their respective agency partners, and together they outline clear objectives. This CMO, the one I so admire, lays a foundation for the development of a well-informed, integrated marketing strategy and creative platform that’s built and designed to achieve a result that is BUSINESS-BUILDING.
A moment to reflect…..
I’ll never forget one of the first global marketing sessions I attended on behalf of MasterCard. It took place in 1989 in Rome at the tail end of my first year at Taylor. I recall a smoke-filled room with marketers from across Europe and South America, knocking down espresso like it was water. But it wasn’t the black mud that provided a jolt to my system that morning. It was an American chief marketer who communicated — in a most influential manner — the business rationale for sponsoring the FIFA World Cup. He made it clear that this was not a hospitality play, nor was the investment intended to simply generate brand awareness in their respective markets. He concluded his presentation with clearly defined metrics for success that spoke specifically to business impact. Nothing more, and most certainly nothing less.
That visionary leader was Joseph V. Tripodi, and he was the first, but thankfully not the last, to demonstrate to me what can be achieved through an innovative and strategic approach to a powerful and always evolving discipline.