November 19, 2011
Last weekend a client sent me a link to a blog on Forbes. “The CMO: Dead Men Walking” by Paul Magnone. I have read it a dozen times and I’m still not sure what his point is.
He started off by saying that in IBM’s recently-released Global CMO Study 71% reported that they’re underprepared for the “Data Explosion.” He didn’t go into detail. He did, however, quickly go on to say that we now have more data available to us than ever before, but it’s not giving us much to work with — insight-wise. No examples to help me figure out whether or not I agreed.
So correctly or incorrectly I leapt to the conclusion that a hell of a lot of CMOs are drowning in a sea of useless information — out of which, Magnone was quick to point out, they are expected to figure out how to “improve the customer experience and deliver value to empowered customers.”
Doesn’t sound like marketing’s job to me, but I’m only about half way through the blog. It’s also very early Saturday morning, I’m still a bit groggy and I haven’t had coffee yet.
When I returned from Starbucks and started reading again I saw that we were now “following the customer’s north star” — which meant that we should be asking ourselves whether the customer actually wants the product or message we’re giving them. Or are we selfishly giving them what we want?
Well, this is a subject that is very close to my heart. But worrying about the message after it’s been delivered is a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. Which could explain why Paul Magnone thinks that CMOs are dead men walking. As for the product not being relevant (which is essentially what he’s saying here), even after a low fat Grande Latte I still don’t think it’s marketing’s problem. So maybe the CEO should really be the dead man (walking or not) because it looks to me like he’s trying to pass the buck.
Frankly, I’ve long believed that it’s not uncommon for a client to expect an advertising campaign to solve a problem that it couldn’t solve. What actually needed fixing could have been the product or service they were selling or the lack of customer service they were delivering.
But despite what I think, as best I can tell, it is Paul Mangone’s contention that CMOs days are numbered unless they take the lead — not just when it concerns marketing, but also when a major business decision is being considered. That it should be the responsibility of the CMO to ensure that the product, sales, distribution and legal teams are driven by the customer’s needs and wants.
Again, a subject that is very close to my heart. But again, I do not believe this is marketing’s issue. This must be inherent in the corporate culture. It starts with the CEO and it has to be embraced by everyone who works for, and is connected in any way, to the company.
Paul Magnone has good credentials. He’s VP of business development and strategic alliances at Opennet Telecom. He’s the co-author of a book. He worked at IBM for 21 years, where he started and grew four sales and consulting businesses. Forbes liked what he said, because they published his blog post.
So I’m prepared to accept that I’m missing something here. Do me a favour and check out the story; and explain to me why all this data is the kiss of death for CMOs.