Architecting the future of marketing is no easy task, but this year’s CEO & CMO Summit made bold attempts to solve problems that keep marketing leaders up at night. Attendees learned the importance of different marketing growth frameworks, got inside the heads of high-performing chief digital officers, gained insights into the power of diversity, and were inspired to improve the core discipline of marketing to add greater value to their organizations.
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey kicked off the event with a discussion of innovation and corporate responsibility. He explained that Twitter has become a lot more agile lately and is paying attention to trends like AI, decentralization and a universal native currency for the Internet. Through Twitter Blue, the company is exploring subscriptions, tipping and audio chats in exciting new ways to help more creators earn money worldwide.
“The faster we are to embrace trends and take a little bit of risk, the sooner we’ll be able to create additional value,” Dorsey advised. He told attendees that building agility and observational capacity around trends is the way to make anything possible.
In a separate panel, Chipotle CMO Chris Brandt echoed Dorsey’s view: “I don’t have to predict the future,” he said. “I just have to be aware of what’s coming down the pike.”
Much of the two-day event was focused on helping CMOs become more essential to their businesses. On a panel dedicated to discussing the changing role of the CMO, marketing leaders from Hyundai, Uber and Peloton agreed that being a CMO is both exhausting and exhilarating.
Peloton SVP, Head of Global Marketing & Communications Dara Treseder said that the key to her success involves constantly “answering who we are and making sure our customers know it.” She noted that marketing is both an art and a science, and that the trick is coming up with ideas that combine authenticity with an element of surprise, like the brand’s first-ever music festival, All for One.
“Customer insights need to shape what we do,” Treseder explained, as she talked about her focus on elevating and celebrating all Peloton members “from Beyonce to Mom19240.” In addition, activities must have a positive bottom-line impact. “Show me the ROMI, I keep telling my team. Show me the return on marketing investment.”
On another panel, Walmart’s CMO William White agreed that “experience is the brand” today and advised all marketers to work hard to create meaningful experiences. During the pandemic, Walmart delivered “generous brand gestures,” like turning parking lots into drive-in movie theaters and using drones to put on holiday light shows and deliver COVID-19 test kits.
Several of the panels at this year’s CCS discussed the kind of talent needed to create a winning marketing organization.
Thomas Ranese, VP, Global Marketing at Uber said that marketing teams “need integrators, people who can connect the dots and make sure that stories get told in the right ways.”
Chipotle’s Brandt said that “the beauty of marketing today is that it’s both left and right brain,” suggesting that marketing teams should have a mix of people with diverse backgrounds, not just technology. “I look for people with a lot of ideas,” he said. “And when I interview people I ask myself if I’d be happy or sad to see them in a conference room during a meeting called on Friday at 5 p.m.”
In a panel focused on the rise of the chief digital officer (CDO), leaders from Nike, Colgate-Palmolive, Estée Lauder and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts discussed the kind of mindset it takes to take on one of the hottest jobs in marketing today.
Because digital has disrupted traditional business models, the ideal candidates for CDO tend to be disrupters themselves. Sol Rashidi, Chief Analytics Officer at Estée Lauder, embraces the challenge of “flying the plane while building it at the same time” and noted that “no one chooses to be a CDO; it chooses you.”
Brigitte King from Colgate-Palmolive agreed that “you need a pioneering spirit and a lot of stamina” to thrive in the role, while Marc Speichert, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Four Seasons said what he likes best about the position is the ambiguity of it.
A central theme of the conference was how the pandemic forced companies to reflect on their purpose and use technology to reach consumers who were mostly homebound, confused, and even scared.
Pam Griffin, Associate Director at The Clorox Company, said that while her company has always been customer centric, her team had to “lean in on that skillset in ways we never imagined.” She said that her marketing efforts moved from “why consumers should buy Clorox products to why they can trust Clorox in a time of anxiety and uncertainty.” With the help of IBM Watson Conversation Technology, Clorox offered a convenient, AI-powered chatbot that consumers could use to get answers about cleaning, disinfecting and sanitation.
Because marketers must respond to changes as quickly as possible, Walmart’s White noted that his team has done away with annual plans in favor of quarterly increments. “The pace of retail keeps you on your toes,” agreed Brandt from Chipotle. “If you’re going to do your job the same way this year as you did last year then you’re falling behind.”
In a separate presentation, Neil Morgan, Professor of Marketing, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University presented MMA research on how marketing organizations can better drive growth. The importance of this topic can’t be overstated, as 70–80% of businesses are unhappy with the effectiveness of their marketing organizations.
Morgan revealed that the key factor distinguishing winning marketing organizations from lagging marketing organizations is marketing-capability fit, or the distance between the capabilities a marketing organization has and the capabilities it really needs for growth.
The MMA’s annual CCS event has always been designed to inspire marketing leaders to push the envelope when it comes to adding value to their organizations. Deborah Wahl, Global Chief Marketing Officer at General Motors and the current Global Chair of the MMA, said that the event is so powerful because it helps marketers “learn from the brands that are transforming their industries.”
Representatives of the most influential brands in the world are members of the MMA, and their willingness to share their techniques and best practices makes CCS the marketing event of the year. To learn more about what this year’s speakers had to say, view select sessions from this year’s event on demand now.
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