About a year ago, I reflected on thequalities of the new CMO, and why CEOs should be worried not finding them. Let’s imagine you are one of those superhero multidisciplinary CMOs, recently hired by a great consumer product company (you can extend the example to almost any category). You have great ideas, you have the knowledge, you have the team, then it’s time to execute.
I’m pretty sure you will be undermined by at least two of these three:
The Legal department. You start some project, it involves digital, mobile, point of sales… it’s perfect, it must increase the numbers, definitely. And then, in the last minute, when you’re ready to launch it, someone asks the ugliest question can be asked in such moment: “Has Legal seen this?”. Oops. You go back to the legal department, tell them what’s the project about (unable to hide your excitement about it). You lost two precious weeks in the process and they come back with quite a lot of things. Most of them, dismantling the so long optimized consumer experience. Now consumers need to accept an endless terms and conditions before even continue, where they accept basically everything to be accepted “just in case”. Don’t get me wrong, legals are necessary, not only to comply with the law, also to be protected from your own consumers, not all of them are friendly and love your brand. Legal is one of the most powerful department in the companies, since they can completely stop and throw your work, your budget and your passion in the trash. How to deal with them? well, first of all the obvious one, involving them in the project from the very beginning. But also requiring them to work as what they are, a support area: “Don’t tell me what I can’t do, tell me how can I do what I want and let’s discuss the trade offs”. Legal needs to work in a consultant mode, and that requires time and a bit of knowledge. But I’m sure your project is worth it.
The IT department. Nowadays, your marketing projects are likely using technology at some point, could be a web, could be a database for CRM, could be a mobile app or an NFC loyalty card or any combination of them. In fact, soon . Some companies don’t have any CIO, since they consider IT as a support area, keeping the laptops and the office networks in shape. That is a big mistake, since companies servicing the marketing area (typically agencies) are neither technology savvy. But since you are a superhero CMO you know what to do. The problem is you need servers, you need security policies, and a lot of things that, well, are not your business. Again, the IT department should help you reach your objectives, not putting obstacles up. When it comes to IT everything can be done, it’s just a question of time and money. If somebody says your project can’t be done, fire him. He or she should tell you what is the cost and times, and then you will decide if you want to spend that money. Well, you and your boss…
The CEO. Oh yes, you have a boss. And probably without the knowledge, nor the time, to understand the fancy things you are doing in Marketing. But you need the budget to do these fancy things, so you need to knock on his/her door at some point in the year. Not only you need to have your elevator pitch ready, but having your boss asking for numbers is actually good for you. Whatever new project you are starting, be sure it has a solid business case behind. Understand all the costs (that you will know because you’re asking for money), the consequences for every stakeholder (consumers, customers, employees), and the return. You need to know how you are going to measure success and what will be the return of that success. Return will not always be money (could be awareness if you are launching a product), but should lately transform into it (if you don’t sell more after an awareness campaign, something is definitely wrong). This measure oriented philosophy, should reach your team, but also your providers. Making your agency win a Cannes Lion doesn’t make you sell more. The scary question you have to always ask is “how much this good idea will contribute to my business?”. If you support your projects with a business case, built with the help of your team and your agencies (Media, Creative, PR), your boss will likely say yes, and you finally will help your company to grow. Wasn’t it your dream after all?
Do you think other internal areas can undermine you marketing activities? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
CMOs do have a BIG problem. Since some years now and for the first time in the whole marketing history, consumers are much more ahead than the brands they buy. I’m not going in depth on this, everybody knows why: distrusted hyper connected consumers much more informed and influenced by others’ opinions.