In a recent post, I urged CEOs to view marketing as a strategic partner, the glue that binds the different parts of an organization together to deliver a consistent, cross-channel consumer experience. A 2012 report from Forrester and Heidrick & Struggles concluded that marketing is “moving from the outskirts to the core of the enterprise” in helping leadership teams develop and implement customer-centric strategies. In other words, marketing must become a force for visualizing and evangelizing the future.
I must have touched a nerve as there have been over 130 comments so far. Some observers thoughtfully pointed out that, if CEOs embrace the idea of marketing as a strategic partner, they will soon see what’s missing from marketing’s ability to deliver on that promise. Indeed, before marketing can even consider taking on the five key responsibilities I outlined in my previous post, CMOs must make three things fundamental to the way they and their teams operate:
1. Embrace Next-Generation Skills
Today’s marketers must possess a hybrid of traditional marketing skills and quantitative skills— mixing both art and science. But it’s not enough to have both on the team; you have to some of each in everyone (like having a major and minor in college.)
We’ve started living this at SAP. To let the science influence the art, we gather data and feedback on our marketing ideas before we make a full commitment. For example, this post you’re reading is one way we are testing our ideas on the future of marketing. We will use your comments and feedback to refine and develop our messages. Internally, we also use SAP Jam to discuss marketing ideas, settle on best practices, and vote on the things that work best. And once we know which concept is most likely to be successful, we use the creative skills of our marketing teams to bring it to life.
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2. Measure What Matters
A CMO of a large company told me she was thrilled that her team tweeted 1.2 million times in 2012—surpassing its goal of 1 million. These kinds of “ego metrics”—website page views, Facebook fans, conference attendees, etc.—look great on a dashboard but don’t really move the needle for the business. I believe we should track outcome metrics, not activities.
For example, instead of asking how conference attendees rate a session, how about analyzing which sessions correlated with attendees who later bought something? Ultimately, the CMO I was talking to decided that a better metric would be the percentage of non-employee followers who re-tweeted the company’s tweets—a measure that would provide insight into how the market was amplifying the company’s message.
I’m lucky. I have a dashboard where I can track and optimize the entire marketing process from brand positioning all the way to customer demand—in real time. It’s great input for decision making. That said, we can’t let metrics completely displace our judgment and experience. We can’t be so driven by the numbers we forget that not everything that counts can be counted. It’s simply that the balance is so skewed to gut feel today that hard metrics barely play a role.
3. Walk A Mile In Your Customers’ Shoes
As marketers we spend so much time tracking customers’ activities that we forget to consider what they are experiencing. So many marketers bandy about the popular term ‘customer experience’ but have never walked a mile in their shoes. For example, when was the last time you called your contact center? Or tried to purchase a product or find information on your website? Are you listening to live conversations on social media? If you want to be a champion of the overall experience, you first have to experience it yourself.
This certainly isn’t everything we need to do as modern marketers but they are three things that I commonly see missing in marketing departments.
What do you think? Is marketing ready to step up to its new leadership role? What else needs to change? I look forward to your comments.
This blog was originally posted on LinkedIn on February 20, 2013.