MMA CEO Greg Stuart kicked off this dynamic event, designed to help CMOs develop marketing organizations that add real value to customers.
The live event brought four years of powerful research to life, sponsored by the MMA and Salesforce and spearheaded by Omar Rodríguez-Vilá, Associate Professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.
Guided by the MMA’s global board to ensure practicality, this groundbreaking research offers a measurable approach to improving marketing performance and business growth through organizational structure.
The research takes the politics out of marketing decisions, freeing CMOs to break through the complexity and pick out the capabilities they must be good at to drive their unique goals and objectives.
Read through the key takeaways from the live event below, and be sure to benchmark your current status with our Marketing Capabilities Assessment.
In the opening session, Retired Col. Thomas Guthrie and Mr. Rodríguez-Vilá explained how the U.S. Army’s new Mission Command approach, developed in the years after 9/11 as a replacement for the old Command and Control model, could provide inspiration for business.
As wars in Afghanistan and Iraq spread troops out over vast areas, commanders were forced to give a lot more freedom to young leaders. With little physical contact, commanders had to provide guidance, vision and intent and let the troops in the field figure out how to get the job done. “The biggest factor is establishing mutual trust,” Col. Guthrie said. “But once you empower your people, the innovation and agility you’ll get from them is extraordinary.”
Noting that leaders don’t need to be the smartest people on the team, Col. Guthrie said that “If you can move decision-making authority where the information actually resides, do it.”
In another presentation, Alicia Tillman, Global Chief Marketing Officer at SAP, said that CMOs need to “create freedom within a framework.” She offered that team members “want the ability to … showcase their thinking, but they also want to know what the ultimate goals … are.”
Peter Schelstraete, Co-Founder & CEO of Ubuntoo, added that only when leadership creates a culture of enablement can you “look for the changemakers inside the company.”
Omar Rodríguez-Vilá noted that many marketers get tempted to add new capabilities and technologies even if they don’t really need them. Instead, he tells marketers to first define their mission: Why does marketing exist in your organization? What do you want/need it to accomplish? The answers will be different for DTC companies, financial services firms, and other types of businesses, based on the type of value they want to provide to customers.
Mr. Rodríguez-Vilá said that a company like Chobani needs to focus on Engagement Value. Delta Airlines is better served by an Experience Value-led approach and focusing on Exchange Value is a better fit for a retailer like JustFab. For more on the distinctive types of customer value that marketing can deliver, please see the Harvard Business Review article on this research.
Once your mission is defined, it can be easier to align your team around common processes, tools, and even language, according to Dr. Neil Morgan, the PetSmart Distinguished Chair in Marketing at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. “Common processes and tools aren’t control mechanisms,” he said. “They’re like brakes on a car: they enable you to operate at your best.”
Janet Balis, Americas Customer and Growth Market Leader and Marketing Practice Leader at EY, said that CMOs have to “move beyond the org chart.” In today’s world marketing is interconnected within the organization and with external partners like agencies, freelancers, providers, influencers, and customers.
As Mr. Rodríguez-Vilá likes to say, “We’re not designing a function, we’re designing a coalition.”
For Amit Shah, President of 1-800-Flowers.com, marketing success is all about talent and alliances. “You have to be loud about your talent needs and push hard,” he tells CMOs. “Build a team that will evangelize a growth strategy and have honest conversations with your peers in finance, sales, customer success, and other areas.”
Ms. Tillman looks at talent as a network of internal and external resources. “As a CMO, I need to take that network and give it a shared sense of purpose,” she said. She starts with the basic promise of her company — SAP enables companies to run at their best — and asks members of her network what that means for them. “My basic intention is small,” she explained. “I don’t want to control the experience, I want my network to build from that from their perspective.”
Stephanie Buscemi, Chief Marketing Officer at Salesforce, relies on her extended network to help tell the brand story. “My dream state,” she mused, “is that we only create 50% of our branded content internally.”
Mr. Shah, whose background is in marketing, was very clear about the “false dichotomy” between brand and performance. “The outcomes sought by both functions are complementary,” he said.
By incentivizing outcomes over activities, Mr. Shah believes that business leaders will realize that they “need the short-term wins to fuel the long-term investment.”
According to Mr. Rodríguez-Vilá, “Marketing has always been the voice of the customer for the rest of the business” and that role can increase dramatically with access to the right data.
Rebecca Messina, Former Global Chief Marketing Officer at Uber and now a consultant to CMOs, said that “marketing can be a unifier within an organization.”
Mr. Rodríguez-Vilá’s research revealed three types of internal value that marketing organizations can bring to a business: Strategic Value, Operating Value, and Knowledge Value.
Ms. Buscemi suggests that CMOs need to appoint themselves as “Chief Customer Officers. “If you have a seat at the table and can speak about more than just marketing, your influence will grow organization wide.”
If you’re a CMO or senior marketing executive who wants to understand what’s possible and what’s needed in terms of your particular marketing organization, we encourage you to dive into the research by reading the article in the Harvard Business Review and take our marketing capabilities assessment. You’ll have a much better idea of where you are today and where you can take your organization in the next two or three years.