The CMO as a Transformative Force in Business
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Episode 53 Transcript:
Chris Curran: Growth Igniters Radio Episode 53: The CMO as a Transformative Force in Business. This episode is brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated, enabling successful leaders and companies to accelerate to their next level of growth. On the web at BusinessAdvance.com. And now, here’s Pam and Scott.
Pam Harper: Thanks, Chris. I’m Pam Harper, founding partner and CEO of Business Advancement Incorporated, and right across from me is my business partner and husband, Scott Harper. Hi, Scott.
Scott Harper: Hi, Pam. We are dug out of the blizzard, and as always, it’s a real pleasure to be together with you again for another episode of Growth Igniters Radio. If this is your first time listening out there, our purpose is to spark new insights, inspiration and immediately useful ideas for leaders to take themselves and their companies to their next level of success. So Pam, what are we focusing on today?
Pam Harper: The CMO as a Transformative Force in Business. Now, over the past year we’ve seen the increasing trend of C-suites and Boards working collaboratively to transform and grow companies, right?
Scott Harper: Right…
Pam Harper: And while there are compelling advantages to doing this − which we’ve discussed in other episodes of Growth Igniters Radio − it definitely requires a mind shift of everyone.
Scott Harper: That’s right. But this mind shift can be really challenging because these C-suite folks have to not only pay attention to the excellence of their own function and areas, but take on this new broader business perspective as well. It’s one of those patting the head and rubbing the tummy things −
Pam Harper: That’s right.
Scott Harper: It can be a little challenging.
Pam Harper: That’s right. And that’s why we’re digging deeper into the new role of the Chief Marketing Officer with today’s guest, Drew Neisser, founder and CEO of Renegade LLC, The New York-based agency that help CMOs transform marketing from mere messaging to programs of genuine value. Drew is the author of a new book, The CMOs Periodic Table, A Renegades Guide to Marketing, that features insights from 64 marketing luminaries − and this is out of the more than 150 marketing luminaries that he’s interviewed over a number of years.
He is ranked among 50 thought leaders over 50 in 2015 and 2014 by Brand Quarterly, and is a prolific blogger for a long list of online publications including Forbes, Fast Company, Social Media Today, CMO.com, and more. You can certainly learn much more about Drew by going to www.GrowthIgnitersRadio.com Episode 53. Drew, welcome to Growth Igniters Radio.
Drew Neisser: Thanks, Pam and Scott. It’s really great to be with you guys.
Pam Harper: Let’s just start out by having you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what inspired you to write that book.
Drew Neisser: It’s funny, I have had the fortunate opportunity to interview all these CMOs and I can’t say it’s been entirely selfless; we target CMOs, and in order to get to know them I started interviewing them about 6 years ago. And I quickly realized, first of all my heart goes out to these folks, because they have about two years in their job to really make a difference − to do something innovative − to have a mentorial impact on the perceptions of their product or service, or they’ll lose their job.
They’re under the gun, and one of the things that occurred to me as I was interviewing all of these folks is that, each one of them − the really good practitioners − knew how to take the certain number of elements that were exactly right for their situation, blend those elements together and put together a successful marketing program. From elements it’s easy to make the shift to the periodic table, which we all remember from high school.
I used that periodic table as a guide to organize the book, and also the way a CMO has to approach their job. There are basic things that every CMO needs to do and think about. Then there are some all the way to the right some inspired and what I call inert fundamentals and noble pursuits that the great ones seemed to be able to mix in on top of some of the more tactical elements that are in the middle of my book. That’s where sort of the impetus for the book came from, and looking at all these interviews − and frankly a friend said, “Hey, you know there’s a book in there.” It was really both to help me understand and to help the CMOs and other marketers and maybe even board members get a better grasp of what modern marketing is all about.
Scott Harper: That makes a lot of sense, Drew. Building on that, the name of your company is Renegade; you used the term guerrilla marketing; your company’s logo is a saw − what are the implications behind all of these symbols that connect to your philosophy affecting marketing?
Drew Neisser: We’ve always have the saw as our logo − let me just start there, and I have a little lapel pin that’s a saw which means that I get into a lot of conversations with carpenters in airports…
Pam Harper and Scott Harper: Yeah…
Drew Neisser: The basic notion of the saw is to cut through; I mean that is a fundamental imperative that doesn’t change over time. Being a Renegade is really a mindset. I mean, Renegade is a full service agency but we see traditional advertising as the vehicle of last resort. We really want to get a marketer to be thinking about things that they can do versus things that they say. That’s another big mind shift because for years in the Mad Men era, you just figured out what the line was − right − you came up with the ad, and that was that.
Pam Harper: Right.
Drew Neisser: Now, we really say, “What’s the service that your marketing can provide?” I can give you a quick quintessential example of what I’m talking about: Renegade did a program for 14 years for HSBC, called “The Bank Cab,” and we took a checkered cab and we painted it red and white. We did a search for the most knowledgeable cab driver in New York City − we found him, and it became a big press event. Then, this checkered cab gave free rides to customers for this 14 year period, and the amazing thing is if you actually got a ride in this cab you were twice as likely to recommend HSBC and you were twice as loyal.
Pam Harper: That’s interesting…
Drew Neisser: It was marketing that was a service. It also served as a unique outdoor kind of vehicle, but customers loved it, the employees of the bank loved it, and it was a wonderful tight program to help New Yorkers realize that, “Wow, HSBC is in fact a knowledgeable company with local knowledge as well as global expertise.” That’s just an example of marketing as a service, and that’s a mindset that we really prescribe to brands today.
Pam Harper: It’s very interesting that you’re talking about this, Drew, because marketing really has evolved over the years; I mean just from what we’ve been seeing there’s so much more to it in terms of positioning a company in the right way. You have certainly researched this, and have experience. How do you see the CMOs as a transformative force in accelerating business growth, based on all that research?
Drew Neisser: I do believe that the great CMOs are in fact a transformative force, and that they understand that marketing is effectively just about every single touch point that a business has, whether it’s their employees or their supply chain or their customers. All of those in fact have an impact on the brand, and even though the CMO doesn’t have control of that, the CMO needs to be thinking about this broad basis in order to have as I said at the very beginning, an innovative impact.
Let me give you a quick example of a transformative CMO − I’ve actually interviewed him three times now − a gentleman by the name of Phil Clement, who is the Global CMO for a company called AON. Now, AON is this giant company which is in 120 countries, that was made up of 400 acquisitions. You can imagine the mix and challenge that this organization faced just to come together. Phil really created a whole program called “AON United,” and there was an external message, but there was also an internal message − right − that “we need to come together as a company.” In order to do this he also brought in and partnered with Manchester United, which is sort of the New York Yankees of football, as they call soccer in Europe.
Scott Harper: Right…
Drew Neisser: This program, after two years − because they did both internal and external; and it was really important by the way, the target was both employees as well as customer − actually brought the company together. At first it was a promise, and it became a reality. That’s transformative. He didn’t try to micromanage each of the individual countries, but he did give them the tools that would allow this global campaign to come to life on a local level. That’s the biggest form of transformation, when you can bring an entire organization together and unite them with one vision and common values.
Pam Harper: Yes, I would agree with you there. I think there’s a lot more that the entire C-suite and Boards need to know, and we’re going to talk about that right after the break. Stay with us, and when we come back we’ll speak more with Drew Neisser, founder and CEO of Renegade…
Scott Harper: You are listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated − on the web at www.BusinessAdvance.com. We enable successful companies to accelerate to their next level of innovation and growth, and if you like what you’re hearing, spread the good word! Go to www.GrowthIgnitersRadio.com, select Episode 53, and use the share links for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter at the top right of the page to tell your social media communities all about us. And while you’re there, sign up for our weekly alert of upcoming episodes so you’ll always be up to date.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper − that’s me − and Scott Harper. Scott and I are talking today with Drew Neisser, founder and CEO of Renegade, about the transformative potential of the CMO. Drew, how can people find out more about you and about Renegade?
Drew Neisser: Thank you for asking that. You can find us at www.Renegade.com; that’s pretty easy. You can find lots of my interviews and new elements and keep discovering on the www.DrewBlog.com, and on social media almost every channel you will find me at @DrewNeisser.
Pam Harper: Truly the transformative marketer, right?
Drew Neisser: There you go.
Pam Harper: Absolutely. And of course you can access all this too by visiting www.GrowthIgnitersRadio.com, Episode 53, where you can find downloadable resources and other episodes that relate to the C-suite. Getting back to our conversation − what does the rest of the C-suite and the board need to know about the role of the CMO that would enable them to collectively have a greater strategic impact as a company?
Drew Neisser: What I’ve noticed with boards − and I’ve talked to a lot of CMOs who actually either are on the board or report to the board on a regular basis − what they tell me is that the board members actually have no background in marketing. They either come to the table with an unrealistic set of expectations that every dollar spent will result in $10 of sales, or they have no idea what it can do and can’t do. As a result, they don’t ask the right questions or they get into the weeds too early, so It’s a real problem for the CMO.
But I don’t think it’s easy; I’m happy to suggest some quick fixes. It was funny − I was talking to a CMO last week about this, about the idea of giving the board members a crash course in marketing and letting them understand that here are all the elements. For example, I − if I were a CMO − I’d give them all a copy of my book, because I think by reading that, suddenly they have 64 case histories that they could look at and say, “Oh, this one might be relevant, maybe I could at least ask some good question.”
Then I think the second thing that the board needs to think about is to really ask the CMO, “What are the dependencies?” What are the things that for the CMO’s marketing campaign to be effective, what else needs to happen? For example if you’re doing a campaign where you’re talking about service and how great you are − well, the customer service group better be at the table and ready to do it. If you’re talking about employees and their terrific attitude − well then, you better be working with the HR Department to make sure you’re hiring people that are enthusiastic.
Then finally I think the thing that boards can do is say to the CMO, “Do you have any pilot tests, or do you have your 10% of dollars allocated to experimentation?” Because I think the CMO that isn’t doing pilot tests is really at risk because they’re not learning, they’re not trying new things, they’re insufficiently curious. I think this is where that little Renegade mentality could come in as, “I’ve got 10%; I’m trying these new things. We’re experimenting on channels, we’re experimenting with messaging, we’re experimenting with various things,” and all of these are so easy to test today via digital channels.
Scott Harper: Okay, great ideas. Now − we’ve seen that customer-focused marketing is increasingly becoming this driving force; do you have any specific case studies or stories about how you’re seeing this marketing mindset penetrate across all the functional areas of the companies, as you’ve been describing?
Drew Neisser: There’s so many different stories − I mean, my book is rich with them. I think one of the interesting challenges that I talked about in the book is my interview with Sheryl Adkins-Green, who is the CMO of Mary Kay. They have 3.5 million independent sales people that their entire company has depended on. What’s fascinating is that’s the customer for Mary Kay, and how they market, and it becomes as much about making sure that the culture which was founded by Mary Kay − who was really a real person − not only is understood by each of the individuals, but evolves a little bit.
That’s been an artful thing that the CMO Sheryl Adkins-Green has been able to do, is find elements in the original culture that would allow her to say, “You know what, we need to be thinking about digital, which is the next generation and how that fits in.” I think that’s one interesting example of a marketer with a very interesting challenge using all the tools, from culture to digital to marketing campaigns to bring this organization together with independent sales people.
Pam Harper: It’s really as we were saying at the top of the episode − it’s the transformation of where the marketer was once upon a time − a long way from just ads. Seems like a lot of changes of traditional habits of thought too. What do you think really needs to change to enable this to happen throughout the organization?
Drew Neisser: I think there’s one thing first − it’s the metrics that companies look at. And this is one area where I’ve talked to a lot of CMOs about it, and I’ve actually witnessed it where there tends to be an area where the CEO and the CMO are often at disagreement. The CEO is looking for top line revenue, and the CMO translates that into cost per acquisition. The result of that is a lack of focus on the customers that we want, and simply focusing on the cheapest way to acquire any customer − which is a race to the bottom, versus a metric like lifetime value based on your unique value proposition − putting it in front of the right people who actually need that. And so I find that the metrics simply reflect a lack of strategy − that we just want to acquire customers. That’s not strategy, right?
Pam Harper: What about the fact though that different parts of the company actually have different issues that they have to measure on? For instance, the board is looking at certain metrics; the CEO is being rewarded for accomplishing certain goals − what’s the resolution? Is there one?
Drew Neisser: There is. I mean, I think it takes the brave CEO to set metrics that everybody can be aligned with. One that a number of companies have gone to is the net promoter score, for example, and looking at customer satisfaction as the ultimate measure and saying, “We’re all going to be measured based on how happy our customers are.” That’s a very interesting perspective today, because your customers − particularly with social media − if your customers are unhappy, the world is going to know about it. Once you say that everybody is going to be aligned against customer satisfaction, then you can have transformational organization activity, right? Because we’re all pointing here, and we’ll do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer under the assumption − that’s a proven one − that happy customers equals a successful bottom line.
Scott Harper: It’s taking that old saw about “you get what you measure,” and saying “you better be measuring the right stuff that really gets you what you want.”
Drew Neisser: It’s so true. I can’t tell you how often I see this, that they are measuring the wrong things. But there are enlightened CMOs; in one of the chapters on measurement, Antonio Lucio of Visa totally gets it. He says, “Look, there are three measures; I know that we need to increase usage of Visa, but how do we do that? First, we need to measure reach, and awareness as a proxy for that. Second, we measure brand lift − our customers, what are they thinking about us? Are they using us more? Are they using us less?” A third measure, which at the moment it’s just fleeting… but the point is, he’s not reliant on one and he’s gotten everybody to agree that if this happens then this happens and this happens, then you’ll be happy Mr. CEO − because all these things will be aligned. But it’s not “did the cash register ring” as the sole metric of marketing.
Pam Harper: You said something very important, which is that there was a basic agreement. It doesn’t matter in some ways if the metric is a great metric if nobody else is agreeing with it. Everybody has to be… everybody has to be aligned, and clearly that’s a great example of that actually happening.
We’re going to take another quick break, and when we come back we’ll talk more with Drew Neisser, Founder and CEO of Renegade about some immediately useful ideas for creating a stronger and more effective connection between the CMO and the rest of the C-suite and the boards. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: Pam, our listeners may or may not know that Business Advancement Incorporated does speaking at events, conferences and company offsites. Can you tell our listeners why our clients engage us?
Pam Harper: They are seeking new insights for dramatically accelerating company transformation and growth. They are also seeking new leadership insights about themselves, their teams and their organization so they can make bold new decisions about strategy and implementation. It’s been specially rewarding to find that some of our company offsite have resulted in breakthrough decisions that have generated as much as ten fold growth over five years. Very exciting for everyone.
Scott Harper: Absolutely. Contact us today at www.BusinessAdvance.com to arrange for a brief call to discuss your needs and options for helping you achieve your most important goals.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. Over the last two segments, Scott and I have been talking with Drew Neisser, Founder and CEO of Renegade about what the rest of the C-suite and the board need to know about the transformative role of the CMO. Drew, can you tell us again how people can find out more about you and buy your book?
Drew Neisser: Yes. We’ll start there. The book is available on Amazon, barnesandnoble.com and you can find everything you need to know about it at www.CMObook.com. Of course you can find me on Twitter, @DrewNeisser; same thing on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and just about every other social channel.
Pam Harper: And of course you can find out more about Drew and get links to episodes that are related to this topic by going to www.GrowthIgnitersRadio.com, Episode 53. Now, back to the conversation. We are at the point in our episode where we like to talk about some really tactical kinds of things people can do − right? − as soon as they are done listening to put some of these great ideas to work. And of course we’ve been talking about some things in the previous segment, but let’s focus on just three. What’s the first one, Drew?
Drew Neisser: I think the first one is case study sessions. I mean, the CMO should really share case studies not just from the category − because I think it’s often helpful to look outside the category − to help establish common vocabulary and metrics for success so that you look at this and say, “Here’s what the problem was, here’s how they approached it. Here are the multiple channels and strategies. Here how it’s implemented internally which is often so important. Here’s how it was executed externally.”
Pam Harper: Great learning point. Okay, what else? What’s another point?
Drew Neisser: The second thing is a mind shift to something we call “marketing as a service.” Let’s focus less on the tag line and more on the things your organization could do to educate, enlighten, excite or entertain prospects and customers. Let me give you a quick example of that: Small Business Saturday from American Express is a service that has become a movement. It’s in its fourth year. It has multiple components, but if you start to think about it you realize, “Whoa, that is a very different kind of marketing.”
They were looking for a way to help small businesses in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, right? They created a day that helps their small business customers grow − calls attention to them − and they know that whatever helps small businesses will ultimately help American Express. That notion of enlightened self interest creating a service is really a profound shift in how you think about marketing.
Pam Harper: Sure. Tell us what else.
Drew Neisser: The last area I would say is customer listening. We have an unprecedented situation where your customer or your prospect is talking somewhere in real time, and there’s the opportunity to listen to this. I literally want to have the head of social media to go in to the board and say, “Here’s what people are saying about the leader and the category; here’s what they are saying about us. Here’s what they are saying good; here’s what they are saying bad.”
I tell you what − social customer listening has become a profound weapon for a number of companies. I’ll give you a quick example. Microsoft launched Windows 10 this year. The social media team went to the product development team and said, “Hey, guys. If you take care of these five things our number of complaints will drop 80%.” They did those, which is amazing, right? The social team is informing the product development. And then the social team, after it was in beta said, “Hey, guys − five more things to fix; fix that by launch and we will have customer satisfaction through the roof.” Getting the board to understand that social isn’t just a loudspeaker for you to say what you want, but it’s really about listening and not being a bore at a party, but actually being the life of the party. It’s about listening, and helping your customers in their personal journeys. That’s just an interesting new way that I think boards are not thinking about today.
Pam Harper: That is. Yeah, do you think this is going to be something that’s going to take an increasing importance over the next year?
Drew Neisser: I have no doubt. I have a number of other folks I’ve talked to. [For example,] at Hershey, they’ve been driving product development and tests. Interestingly, they discovered that the fans on Twitter wanted a half pound Reese’s peanut butter cup, right? They took that data and they went to a retailer and said, “Look, there’s a social demand for this. How about carrying the product?” and then Walmart did. The next thing you know, fans said, “Give us a pound version.” You have this wonderful cycle because then you can go back to the customers who asked for it on social media and say, “Hey, you asked for it; we got it, and it’s now available.” You have social listening as not only a way of solving customer complaints but as an opportunity to find new product ideas, new service ideas, it’s a wonderful thing.
Pam Harper: It’s a growing trend; I think that’s an important thing to recognize.
Drew, this has been wonderful. Do you have any final thoughts that you can leave with us with regard to the transformative force of the CMO in accelerating business growth?
Drew Neisser: One of my favorite lines I think a creative director said is that “great brands do great things.” Let me just share − KIND Snacks; I had a chance to interview Daniel Lubetzky who’s the founder of KIND. Everything about that brand is about being kind to your body, being kind to people around you. This CMO − you might call him crazy but he’s extraordinary. He’ll go on the subway − and he does this every day − he’ll see a total stranger, and he’ll hand them two KIND bars and say, “Look, I just saw you giving a chair to someone on the subway; I thank you for that. Here’s a KIND bar. By the way, give this other one to someone that you see doing a kind act.” It’s an extraordinary vision. It’s a company with a purpose. He just announced yesterday they set up a KIND foundation and all they want to do with the foundation is support people who are doing kind things. It’s a big inclusive outward thinking purpose that I think is the kind of thing that will transform any number of businesses who can find that mindset.
Pam Harper: It’s a great example, and we’re big fans of KIND.
Scott Harper: That’s right. And the purpose-driven company as well.
Pam Harper: Absolutely. Drew, thanks again for being our guest today on Growth Igniters Radio.
Drew Neisser: It was a lot of fun. Thank you both.
Scott Harper: Drew, thanks to you, and thanks to you out there for listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. To check out resources related to this conversation, share on social media, find out about upcoming episodes, read Drew’s bio, or open a conversation with us, go to www.GrowthIgnitersRadio.com and select episode 53.
Pam Harper: Until next time, this is Pam Harper…
Scott Harper: And Scott Harper…
Pam Harper: Wishing you continued success, and leaving you with this question to discuss:
Scott Harper: What can we collectively do to transform the power of marketing to accelerate our companies growth this year, and in years to come?