If Marketers Are So Smart…

Discussion
Jun 23, 2006
Al McClain

By Al McClain


If you’ve been to any retailing industry conferences lately, you know that
there is no shortage of presentations with titles like “Branding in a Global
Marketplace,” “Reinventing Marketing,” or “Connecting with Shoppers.” And, many
conference workshops showcase the fact that new media can now be measured, consumer
demand can be forecast, and we have more shopper insights and marketing options
than ever before.


“Gut feel” is out and measurement is in. So, with all these new tools and insights,
things should be just peachy in the marketing department, right?


Wrong. According to a new Spencer Stuart study reported this week in Ad
Age
, the average Chief Marketing Officer’s tenure is 23.2 months
– and has actually declined from last year. Further, 53 percent of CMO’s
have been on the job less than a year. One bit of good news is that nearly
25 percent have been on the job 3+ years. (Note: these statistics are not retailing
industry-specific)


So, with more tools available, and presumably smart people in these jobs, they
sure aren’t staying long. Why? Factors suggested in the Ad Age article
include:



  • Short-term Wall Street demands

  • Lack of access to CEO’s

  • Changing media mix

  • Job switching

  • Inability to balance board/shareholder expectations and necessary innovation


Moderator’s Comment: In the retailing industry, what
are “best practices” for marketers looking to establish the proper balance between
short and long term marketing needs? Is there a way for marketers at public
companies to satisfy shareholders and executive boards, while innovating to
the degree necessary to effectively compete?


It all boils down to communication. A great marketing
plan, poorly communicated to top management, will fail due to lack of support.
A top marketing exec needs to be a great marketer AND be able to convince the
controlling forces that the plan is in the long- and short-term interest of
the company. Clearly, this mix of skills is in short supply.

Al McClain – Moderator

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12 Comments on "If Marketers Are So Smart…"


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Laura Davis-Taylor
Guest
Laura Davis-Taylor
14 years 8 months ago
As a former Agency executive, this one is close to my heart! I agree that the Marketing guy is not the sole culprit. However, he or she is certainly a BIG one if they are still operating “the old way.” Fact is, shareholders are happy if sales expectations are met. Sales expectations are met if customers are happy, buying and coming back. If marketers aren’t connecting with them effectively, it all falls down. They all have MASSIVE budgets to deploy to do this so it all gets down to what they are doing with those budgets. The conundrum is that we’re at the forefront of cataclysmic change in the marketing landscape. It’s no surprise that many CMO chiefs aren’t surviving, as 50 years of tried and true marketing planning and execution formulas are blowing up! Yet, dig into many of the current marketing plans and we will see one that resembles the standard silo mix of traditional, interactive, direct and promotions with a bit of “next generation” testing thrown in. Look at the stores and,… Read more »
Lilliane LeBel
Guest
Lilliane LeBel
14 years 8 months ago

I believe it’s a combination of what has been written above. While much of the responsibility lies with the CMO to design and implement new ways of thinking and new market plans, often times they are told that they can go ahead with a new plan but that it must have a very high ROI immediately. Boards are no longer willing to give new ideas a chance to develop. It takes time to turn a large boat around. And shareholders for the most part don’t know or care about new strategies being implemented — all they care about is their ROI for the quarter.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 8 months ago
Finally, we get to this topic of who’s in charge of the Brands’ business growth, strategic direction and the financial results of the Corporation. And it’s totally the CMO. Absolute baloney!!!! And I’m not talking about Oscar Mayer quality baloney. All you have to do is look at the Board level’s ineptness, including the CEO, President and CFO, telling Wall Street that this Corporation isn’t playing these forecast games. And the Corporations that do deliver to Wall Streets’ demands, and exceed such numbers, still get nowhere…best managed and marketed entities like G.E., Pepsico, Johnson & Johnson, to name a few. Look at Home Depot, Chico’s and Nestle USA that missed their numbers. Down goes the stock price and so does the consumer service level and marketing dollars for the Brands. And you want the CMO to be a magician, and keep the consumer in place? The best marketing and strategic plan communicated well (and communication isn’t the issue) with the financials for the year, and impact over three years,in most cases, is blessed by the… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

Many companies large enough to have Chief Marketing Officers covered by the Spencer Stuart study are large mature slow-growth businesses. Chief Marketing Officers have it tough when their bosses cannot agree upon reasonable expectations. The easiest defense for the CMO: a variety of tests and measurements to prove that every likely alternative path to growth is being explored. It’s also great to agree in advance on a measurable set of expectations with specific target dates. That’s often a key part of the budget process, and it can work if the performance expectations are listed along with the specific pretested actions likely to achieve those results. But corporate life is rarely so orderly, and businesses need to be run even when many tactics haven’t enough testing time. It’s even worse when all the test alternatives fail to meet expectations. Some businesses, regardless of their desires and demands upon their executives, aren’t going to grow.

Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
14 years 8 months ago

We live in an instant gratification world. Consumers want instant gratification, execs want instant gratification and investors want instant gratification. We also live in a world where we are able to measure results and ROI. Investors watch for results on a quarterly basis. Thus, new fresh marketing ideas, with an ROI, had better produce quick results. The pressure becomes enormous on the CMOs and thus the high turnover. Eventually, with all the musical chairs played by the CMOs, most company’s marketing plans may have a very familiar ring to them.

Herb Sorensen
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

“‘Gut feel’ is out and measurement is in.”

The problem is, what to measure? Since my business is all about measurement, you might find odd my comment that it is all about gut feel. But it is only gut feel that tells you what to measure.

Ben Ball
Guest
14 years 8 months ago
Two forces are colliding to torment today’s would-be CMO. The first is a phenomenon I call “instantaneous ubiquity” — the combination of information access and product availability that puts almost any new product or technology within reach of consumers overnight. The second is the sorcerer’s web of mystique that marketers have woven around ourselves (yes, I am a reformed brand marketer myself) in an attempt to convince CEO’s and boardmembers that we are “marketing magicians”; modern day Merlins who have the power to divine the mysteries of consumer needs and lead them to the cash register like the Pied Piper of yore. But it just ain’t so. The cold truth is that what grows brands and businesses is meaningful product innovation – truly new stuff that does something either different or significantly better than previous alternatives. And that is hard to do. You certainly can’t do it by putting a slightly different flavor on the same old lolly pop. And that is what 90% of today’s “product innovation” really is. Having said that, meaningful product… Read more »
Laura Davis-Taylor
Guest
Laura Davis-Taylor
14 years 8 months ago

I agree that the “Master System” comment is indeed a great one and that moving to “One View” of the overall activities is critical. However, I don’t agree that it’s all that matters. It’s an enabler to provide insights into the methods and strategies that are running through it. If the strategies are junk, the Master System will prove it…and vice versa.

There are so many compelling points here and it seems that we in this discussion are proving that the CMO of today needs to work with a plethora of specialists to brave this new world. The answers don’t reside in an Agency or any one group; they reside in a village of innovators helping to test and prove new theories.

Reading through this, the thought occurred to me that today’s CMO would be very different if he/she became a CAO–Chief Attraction Officer. Sounds like a great challenge to me!!!

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
14 years 8 months ago

Race’s comments above are disheartening if true: a company’s “Master System” should not determine its strategy. While it may be the case in a disturbing number of companies, true leadership will break down such a system. After all, that “Master System” was undoubtedly the embodiment of some earlier leader’s strategic vision. Weaker leaders rely on the system instead of reshaping the system to their way of thinking. If a company’s management, including its CMO, set a new agenda, they must simultaneously change the “Master System” to reflect what they want to measure.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

I agree with Laura Davis – marketing is facing cataclysmic changes. Current marketing VPs were not trained to face this dynamic, fragmented, technology-oriented marketplace. Old training or thinking doesn’t work to solve today’s problems (paraphrase of Albert Einstein). Creating a consumer-centric company places new marketing practices at the center of the organization and the CEO must be willing to change business processes to make the company truly consumer centric. If the marketing VP does not have the training, vision or insight to see what changes are necessary and/or if the CEO does not have the training, vision or insight to see what changes are necessary, the fit is wrong and “churn” will be the result.

Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
14 years 8 months ago

Every CMO is part of an organization with a massive Master System. This System controls how every single bit of information is captured, transferred, and processed, and what information it processes or rejects. By doing this, the Master System determines everything an organization does.

In-depth analysis of 1100 organizations shows that it doesn’t matter how smart or progressive or open-minded or diligent the CMO or CEO is, or the Board; it doesn’t matter how sincerely the executives want to communicate well or how hard they try to do so; it doesn’t matter what superb new directions and ways of thinking they encounter, and even want to follow (such as many of the ideas posted here). They will only be able to do what the Master System allows them to do, which will be more of the same thing they have already done. The only way to change this ultra-stable pattern is to map the Master System and dismantle its ineffective elements.

William Carlson
Guest
William Carlson
14 years 8 months ago

“Gut feel” is the mind applying the results of our history of experiences when considering a new challenge… so, in effect, using history to guide the future rather than making sure to take into consideration today’s unique dynamics. But some things change and some things remain the same, so you simply cannot take for granted that anything that worked in the past will automatically apply today. Therefore, at a minimum, it’s critical to test gut feel against your current specific challenges, with the full benefit of understanding today’s environment, even if the results of research do nothing more than validate the prevailing gut feel!

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