Showing posts with label multi dimensional. Show all posts
Showing posts with label multi dimensional. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why the "CMO extinction" theme is a tired climate change cliché:

This Fast Company published blog is once again the same old song: that one being taunted by all sorts of new age marketing experts, trying so hard to look & sound oh so avant-garde by displaying a  breakthrough headline to sell their next episode:  as for those who invented the Internet or decided to dress cool by blaming global warming on modern industrialization for the past 50 years rather than considering the bigger picture, the data & the documented global temperature cycles that existed well before human CO2 contribution, the CMO’s extinction is an easy-sell theme, a popular urban legend in tabloid marketing circles…

I find that not only the reasons given in this paper for the theory of extinction of the CMO are distorted, redundant & incomplete but that, on the contrary, we are indeed living a defining time of evolutionary stage for marketers that should eventually see us regain more leadership in the C suite of more & more corporations; here’s why:

1)        If it is true that "....budgets are shifting..."  marketers have however been from the start at the forefront of the development of new  analytics , budget allocation tools & metrics of success beyond overall corporate performance & top line results; from marketing & media statistical modeling, new digital engagement metrics or web analytics, CRM data mining and customer segmentation or Customer Dialogue Management platforms are all tools & know how that marketers have created & mastered in adapting to a more complex landscape of consumers & channels; that means that the evaluation, dashboards & resource allocation process are more & more strategically driven by a more informed & analytics savy marketer rather than I.T transformation implementers or sales forces: marketers are the architects & designers of demand generation or systems that power the customer strategy that other functional teams help implement.

2)        If "...Social media exacerbates one thing..." it is the call for the real customer centricity order. The cacophony is an old (pre-digital) challenge that marketers already learned to address through real multichannel, integrated marketing strategies .If the consumer is now more empowered and an active co-writer of the brand story, the CMO always had, by sitting at the intersection of all Medium, to inspire, channel & harness that constant dialogue/relationship between the brand & its audience segments: has anyone seen customer feed-back, consumer research /opinions, ad testing  or CRM data being gathered & interpreted by other talents than those who are supposed to engage, respond & adapt to the markets every day…? Even call centers or Retail employees get their cue from marketing when it comes to the script & directions behind customer dialogue management or revenue optimization…
3)        "...The democratized web spawns confusion and trust issues…" and it’s precisely because everybody claims to be an expert in marketing that a C-suite relies on the CMO to sort out business intelligence , make determinations or present informed arbitrations; the P.R. crisis doesn’t dictate marketing, the sales people are way to entrenched into field management & too partial to analysis of success or failure and  web analytics still  tend to give a bias section view of the full customer base & patterns…Hundreds of TJMax "Maxinistas" or American idol contestants don’t replace a few dozens prominent rocks stars or gifted  fashion designers who actually know how to abosrb market trends whilst also monetizing them so effectively. It’s funny how the ultimate democracy or twit doesn’t automatically make everybody the best natural born communicator , buzz expert or leader !

4)        "...Pressure to demonstrate a return on investment with marketing has reached a fever pitch..." But it is hardly a new phenomenon. I have worked with most top CMOs in past 10 years  who in the mid-90’s started , under  the pressure to demonstrate their accountability in the C-suite, to hire an array  of powerful vendors & experts to help them make the case for their marketing MROI, budget sizing & allocation: from the management consulting or I.T. strategists , the top digital agencies to media marketing mix modeling divisions, CRM software Business Intelligence modules or Central Decisoning, they all cater their expertise to the CMO and feed his own decision making & dashboards: if there certainly  is pressure and stronger accountability , there is no cluelessness nor shortage of new science available; find me a single sales officer or CIO who can speak to MROI analytics & interpret the results of market research in front of a board !

5)        "...Lines of responsibility across marketing and sales are disintegrating..": again nothing new here: BtB or Btc marketers have long worked with sales force, customer services , call centers or customer facing agents…Marketing has always been all about top line revenue growth and extracting more value from every customer. I would argue that there is a danger in the GE solutions example as far as the artificial dichotomy between upstream and downstream: as any good marketer knows, product development is a key element of demand generation & can be informed & refined by downstream practices & experience. This is where integration stemming from a sharp understanding of consumer’s evolving needs & expectations can drive the product development or inspire go-to-market strategies: that what marketing genius Steve Jobs so beautifully embodied as the ultimate integrated marketer from corporate vision to technical execution, brand building or Retail strategy; I say the new generation of CMO is the Stve Jobs type, the best customer reader & advocate, the one who understand all pieces of the complex puzzle , dynamics & dimensions of what a brand is at heart and can nurture through a in-tune relationship with consumers & markets.

Now, of course, they are some of us who are not as talented as others or simply unable to adapt, wherever they sit, in marketing or somewhere else in the organization. Old media types , tired sales man or new digital wunderkinds are not necessarily cut for the greatest job of marketing leadership…I laugh at that underlying accepted cliche that puts any social media blogger or web designer at the pinnacle of marketing instinct & vision.

All in all, it is well known that the CMO role has been constantly reshaped & had to re-invent itself for the past 15 years with an incredible acceleration since digital reached a critical mass,radically changing the center of gravity of the relationship between consumers, channels & brands.The good marketers is te the one who understands & embodyies best the essence of the brand , both from the corporate and consumer’s perspective.He is the only one  who possesses the necessary subtle balance between art & science, creative, analytics & optimum mix across all available touchpoints, both strategically & operationally. They have their feet in the market, incredible sense of smell & hearing for the “air du temps” , have developed wings & acute long term vision to foresee future  markets shift... and the memory of an elephant when it comes to the roots of the brand.

The CMO role might be redefined or rebranded Chief Brand Officer, Chief Experience Officer or Chief Customer Officers etc… but the fact of the matter is that while the contours & areas of responsibility evolve constantly under more & more pressure or scrutiny from the board, they are the most multi-skilled  & adaptable of species and the customer centricity agenda that they naturally lead has become more than ever before a central strategy to full scale corporate transformation that many CEO’s are now embracing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What’s behind the rise of French brands on the global scene

The Artist’s historic triumph at the Oscars not only warmed my French pride and special love for French cinema but it also reminded me that many French brands still seem to have this Je-ne-sais-quoi and are actually very active / present in the global marketing landscape (many of them actually leading most of these big tickets advertising slots during that kind of annual iconic mass…)  From L’Oreal to Chanel, Danone, Vuitton or Michelin ,  I was wondering what makes these French brands stand tall against perennial, global American juggernauts such as Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonalds, Apple or Ford…

Maybe it is the universally sensitive & charming sides that transcend various cultures, the delicate balance between brainy & emotional, mindful of their connection with an audience know to be diverse and complex. Where the British brands are so good at standing for civilized wit in a  universal English language, la French touch thrive to convey refined yet exotic & skilled at tapping in something very universal in each of us: that something being “the soul”.
As much as American brands carry a unique sense of power & dominance (epitomized by Dodge’s Guts & Glory , bordering on arrogance & imperialism), it seems that French brands uniquely personify suave & opening us to new things: the US brand is aspirational & speaks of leadership, the French brand is inspiring, accessible, attractive & evocative without being too esoteric or spiritual as Oriental brands can be seen. Descartes (Reason) meets Beaudelaire (symbolism/lyrism) or Lafayette meets Scott Fitzgerald…
It seems to me that the lessons in the area of marketing /brand strategy are the qualities that most successful French identity icons or other non french brands understand so well:
  1. Remain true to your roots: you should stay true to yourself when you grow & reach out to the world, speak the universal language of your roots (no pun intended, L’Oreal) in a way that’s not afraid of being original, sounding different and minding the diversity of your audience: whilst the Chanel legend has been reinvented & exposed over & over again instead of being diluted whilst being reinvented by design (Chanel’s Lagerfeld, Guesquiere’s Balenciaga) , retail or aggressive brand extensions to multiple spokespersons /faces ; Chanel, Vuitton, Armani…
  2.  Embody Universal but multi-identity: it also tells us that once you found your voice (brand positioning, channels) you can be as flexible as to have variations around a central personality or theme (Vuitton or L’Oreal’s “You are worth it” could have looked a bit rigid but has been spun & played by many stars or multiple faces (also H&M, Zara, Orange, Petit bateau)
  3.  It's OK to be unapologetically Aspirational & stylish: Refinement & sophistication are OK even in Mass marketing: you don’t need to oversimplify to be effective, popular & recognizable; they are ways of making the average Joe feeling special & impacted/empowered by a challenging , non-Politically Correct idea (Dove natural beauty campaign) or a deliberately elitist branding (Stella Artois, Marc Jacobs, Air France … )
  4. Don’t be afraid of mystery, epic or drama::in love as in life, not everything needs to be explained, analyzed or demonstrated: nurture the mystique, play with the grandiose & symbolic, everybody loves a big saga;know how not to reveal too much too soon and keep your audience guessing or real life pain or doubt or open interpretation: that's what keeps it exciting/ entertaining or interactive  even overtime or overexposed...see Apple, British Airways, Les Miz, Edith Piaf, Catherine Deneuve…
  5. Stay relevant & connected:keep surprising by innovating, don’t be too predictable : you should show your main target groups that you understand  new modes of communication & love to connect with your consumers in new or diverse ways the Medium is the message: multichannel /multi mode of communications (Sponsorship, grassroots, online, social media etc…), your brand should be confident & consistent enough to diversify its touchpoints & medium of choice (HSBC, Michelin, Ikea, Perrier, Agnes B or Old Spice’s “the man your man could smell like” type campaigns)
  6. Use modern yet timeless know-how: renew the message & the narrative but cultivate the legend, the savoir-faire (Lacoste, Hermes, Evian, Laduree) and the love of the craft: quality will always be in Fashion, the story of the making is eternal
  7. Play from tasteful feelings and sensuality don’t hesitate to pack on subtle sex appeal or sentimental, naughty or emotional: as long as it’s not vulgar or too hard-sell, cute or racy is refreshing & impactful  (Orangina’s Sexy Jungle, Mugler, Amelie, The Smurfs,  Nespresso’s George Clooney)
Now, even in French branding, there is no miracle recipe, it's all about work, consitency, vision & art, the last thing boiling down to the right execution...but most importantly in the way these traits are relevant to your brand strategy & marketing objectives at a given point in time or on the long term...