SES San Jose C-Suite Track #1: The Adaptive CMO

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Search Engine Strategies San Jose kicked off the C-Suite track with The Adaptive CMO: A New Paradigm for Digital Marketing, featuring a solo presentation from Brian Featherstonhaugh, Chairman & CEO of OgilvyOne Worldwide.

As discussed in Moderator Bill Hunt’s post detailing the creation of the C-Suite track, this block of sessions focused on perspectives from the senior marketer, working for large and small brands; not the agency side.

…we wanted to hear from the marketer themselves what is happening and why is it just so damn hard to close that digital divide and make search a larger part of the overall marketing mix

This initial session set the stage for the C-Suite track and provided the “strategic view of how marketing is constantly evolving and will define the critical role that search must play.”

Bill Hunt, President of Back Azimuth Consulting kicked off the session explaining the history of the creation of the C-Suite Track and quickly turned it over to Brian Featherstonhaugh to begin his presentation.

Brian confessed “not a search expert but a passionate search enthusiast“. With over 30 years of marketing experience he wonders if we have found the “holy grail” of marketing in search?

Brian’s presentation takes us through the history of marketing evolution, how the digital age is transforming it, how the CMO is impacted, and why search should be at the forefront.

First: Why would search end up being this valuable?

  • It helps understand customer intent
  • Search is scalable
  • Search happens in real-time

The Pending Question: Will search end up being a fundamental change in marketing?
To do so, search needs to be better inline with the agenda of the CMO’s of the world. Right now, it is still on the peripheral.

Brian explains that CMO’s are sitting in the hot seat. They need more creation, more development, more innovation, as well as differentiation! However, they still need proven ROI with minimal risk.

For long-term search potential, SEM’s need to better connect with the CMO’s of the world.

Perspective: How Marketing is Unfolding
Before the key issue is addressed, we gain insight into how marketing has evolved. Brian breaks the development of marketing into three main eras:

  • The first era was run by mavericks and entrepreneurs: big ideas and creativity by leaders like Henry Ford and David Ogilvy.
  • In the late 70’s and 80’s came the ascendancy of marketing science and market customization. Key drivers included the adoption of personal computer, the credit card and the explosion of targeted marketing vehicles (best example: the television).. It was the beginning of measured, one-to-one marketing
  • Finally, starting in the 1990’s came Global Digitization everyone getting into global marketing and digital technology. Many did it and while many succeeded there were many who failed. Leaders in this era included Apple, Google and Amazon.

Failures of Marketing Development
Why did some fail? At the beginning of the digital era, there were many mistakes: lots of superficial agendas; people talking about “it” but not doing it well.

Some of the reasons for failure included:

  • Belief in integration without full understanding – it’s unbelievably hard and one must know the tools and information involved in the entire process
  • Marketers still lag consumers in digital adoption – Brian shows a slide illustrating the gap between marketing spend versus customer adoption in the applicable vertical. Identified as the “Marketing Confidence Gap“, the reality is we’re chasing our consumers.
  • CMO’s need better reporting dashboards. The average 13 year old playing World of Warcraft and has better performance dashboard than the CMO [chuckles from the audience]. CMO’s need better, more effective information in order to make decisions

So What’s Next?
Brian suggests we need a new platform for marketing. There needs to be an evolution from the “4 P’s” (Product. Place, Price, Promotion) into the “4 E’s” (Experience, Everyplace, Exchange, Evangelism)

<emWhy the change? The original concept was based on the premise that the marketer was in control. There is a richer experience to be realized by listening and working with the consumer. In today’s environment marketers must understand they don’t control the agenda of the consumer.

Inspiration for This Change
At this point, Brian goes into some examples of leaders in adopting a new style of marketing to consumers. Some of the examples included:

  • Apple – who have done a great job shifting product to experience; great package design, storefronts and customer service experience
  • Dove – in the package good world, one of the earliest adoption of a web-centric marketing campaign; the Dove film “Dove Evolution“, had a media budget of ZERO and today has over 500 million views.
  • USAA – according to Forrester the USAA site is the best customer centric site available. It does not speak from the marketers’ voice, instead using testimonials, blog, and independent 3rd party ratings to deliver the message
  • The last example was a non-profit supporting African babies and women with AIDS. Their exchange was simple: you give me your money I will give you the smile of a baby. Using television sets at workstations, donations made (through an entry at the top of the set) triggered the TV screen to change from a baby crying to smiling. It was a fantastic emotional experience and generated reaction even from those watching in the room. [I tried searching for the video that was shown online but was sadly was unsuccessful]

So how does this all impact the search engine marketer?

Brand Marketing Performance
What search engine marketers need to do is bring together the magic of these examples with the logic that demonstrates ROI. Right now, search engine marketers are still keeping them separate and there must be a connection.

Is search on the CMO’s agenda? Yes, but right now, it’s a small fraction of the priority.

While it should be at the top (indicated in research and survey information) there is SO MUCH ELSE on a CMO’s mind. Brian illustrates the core subjects that are on the CMO’s plate.

Not only are CMO’s worried about marketing ROI, they’re also concerned about job security. The average tenure of a CMO is two years and if you can’t prove results, your job is at stake.

After this comes marketing organization: employee benefits, promotion, headcounts, workload etc and then the time spent assisting revenue generation units, often in areas the CMO has less direct control.

ONLY THEN comes marketing communication which also includes retail, digital, direct mail, etc. Digital is approximately 15% of the budget and search may only be 5% to 10% of that.

How can search engine marketers change this?
Brian recommends 5 ways to improve the visibility of search on CMO agenda:

  1. Start with a customer journey NOT search – there is a circular series of events that CMO’s get. Understanding how search can play a part in this equation is critical. Brian lays out five key points: Trigger events – Research (SEARCH) – Shop/Purchase – Usage – Share (which then leads back to the Trigger event for someone else). Search must own trigger and research. How we (the search engine marketer) can take a larger percentage of this audience?
  2. Search = Research – CMO’s love consumer insight; they’ve been BUYING research since they were just out of school. Search provides the language of the customer, real time information and a global scale with projectable quantities
  3. Need More Lift, Less Attack – Don’t attack the marketing competition; show how search supports and improves other media. CMO’s get television, direct mail, and traditional advertising; help them understand how search improves each of these channels.
  4. Search can help CMO extend power – Search allows CMO’s to improve efficiency and limit duplication across business units, especially in global organizations.
  5. Search + Innovation – Remember that innovation is on the CMO’s agenda. Search helps discover new innovation especially across the four main sectors that are of the most interest to the CMO today: mobile, social media, local and the digital point of sale. Be there with them.

Derek Edmond is a Managing Partner at KoMarketing Associates, a B2B Internet Marketing Company based in Waltham Massachusetts.