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Memo to CMO’s: Business Marketing Strategy First, Metrics Second

Posted by Mark Hughes on August 31st, 2012 at 9:38 am

C3 Metrics CEO wonders if CMO’s are on Vacation (or Permanent Vacation)?

Several years back, I escaped to Sea Island, GA for a vacation.  Upon return, my boss came into my office, quietly closed the door, and asked if there was anything I wanted to tell him.

Puzzled, I said everything was fine.  He told me that when people go away on long vacations, momentous decisions were often made.  People would reflect during this time of pause, and make life-changing decisions--announcing divorce, big career shifts, etc.

He asked me again.  Same response, I’m fine.

I was running advertising for a publicly traded company, with an agency known for its Cannes Award-Winning work.  Within six months, I left for the Internet.  In fact, I made plans for that dramatic career shift while on vacation.

As CMO’s leave for vacation this year, the seeds of shift will spawn.  It’s no secret the average tenure of a CMO is 22 months and shorter.  So the question every marketer will ponder from California to Cape Cod is how to reverse that trend.

As the CEO of C3 Metrics, you would think my answer would have something to do with media buying, such as attribution modeling or viewable impressions, as this technology directly assists CMO’s in ‘moving the needle’ towards better ROI and this is what C3 Metrics is all about.

As a former CMO, I too will be on vacation on Cape Cod.

And if you join me for a few days of kayaking through the salt marsh, yoga, and evening walks on the tidal flats, my answer to that question will be this:

Dump the P’s, focus on the C’s.  Bring your business strategy.

In today’s business environment, the reason why 90% of CMO’s get pushed out is because of revenue.  A CMO’s job in the eyes of the CEO and CFO is to drive revenue while leveraging cost. Very simple.

Most CMO’s focus on the four P’s, and whether a target audience is watching this program or that program.  These are not unimportant, but for the CMO, you’re rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  Your fate is sealed if you focus on this, because you’ve got a limited amount of time.

It’s not the Four P’s that’ll keep your job, it’s the C’s + Business strategy.

C’s meaning: Customer, Competition, Cost

What does your customer want (or what can you create that they’ll want) which your competition isn’t delivering?  You can create or you can compete—competing is a slow road to failure.  And, marketing costs money (the third C).  Don’t marginalize your ad dollars with vanilla creative—demand every last ounce of effort from your agency to go places they’ve never gone before.  Unchained.

Steve Jobs is perhaps the best product man and marketer known to mankind…but his best marketing didn’t happen with ‘1984’, his best marketing didn’t happen with ‘Think Different’.  His best marketing wasn’t the day that iTunes launched, propelling a record-breaking run on the stock to become the most valuable company in the world today.  No.

His best marketing was the 1997 return when reviewing all the current and proposed products at Apple. Apple had a slew of products.  He said, “this is crazy,” grabbed a Magic Marker, went to a whiteboard, and drew a two-by-two grid.  “Here’s what we need.” At the top of two columns, he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro.” At the side of two rows he wrote “Desktop” and “Portable.”  He proposed discontinuing 70% of all Apple products, focusing on making four great products, one for each quadrant.  Consumer, professional, desktop, and portable.  That was his greatest marketing moment.

It was Business Marketing Strategy.  It set Apple in motion from disaster to outer space.  It more than moved the needle.

As a CMO, you won’t move the needle with this new ad campaign or that new campaign.  The way you move the needle is with Business Marketing Strategy.

Think your product is too small?  Think again.  One of my marketing mentors, Don Price, got assigned brand manager to Rit Dye, a product with 10% market share, a competitor with 90% market share, and a category suffering negative growth every year.  With his newly minted Harvard degree he pitched a marketing plan to spend money on this and that, but was summarily shut down with nary a marketing dollar at his disposal.  He then focused on business marketing strategy.  He detached from the everyday cycle of the office.  He helped reverse the gravitational trend and moved the needle to Steve Jobs proportions—by creating the tie-dye shirt.

He didn’t need better marketing, he needed business marketing strategy—and he delivered.

So while you detach from the office this summer vacation, think not about GRP’s.  Today, incrementalism is for losers.    Think about business marketing strategy; business marketing that sets in motion inertia of revenue never seen before.

Don’t, and you’ll be the next CMO on permanent vacation.

2 Responses to “Memo to CMO’s: Business Marketing Strategy First, Metrics Second”

  1. Sheila Bacon says:

    Mark,
    Encouraging marketers to focus on the business marketing strategy is actually just the 'leadership' that is often missing. Thanks for your perspective.

  2. This was a great post, Mark. You've inspired me in my own business to focus on the 3 C's to help my business grow!

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