Archive for January, 2010

The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers (Habit #5)

This is part five of a ten-part series that will share my Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers, based on my experience and what I have learned from others.  See my January 13 entry for Habit #4 — Get your team right.  And do it early in your tenure.

Habit #5:  Champion innovation, especially disruptive innovation.

This is an especially important habit in these turbulent times, where we are not confident we are out of a recessionary mindset among the people we serve through our brands.

Business history is chock full of successful brands that launched or relaunched during recessions; Google and Apple are two examples.   There is nothing more important a CMO can do in a recession — or anytime really — than to lead the innovation program for a brand or a company.  Usually in partnership with the CTO.    True innovation is impervious to recessions, witness the recent success of Amazon’s Kindle, Motorola and Verizon’s Droid, and the breakthrough results for Avatar.

Leading innovation is too often not a high enough priority for CMOs.   They are distracted by the many short term issues that can consume the best of us. Here is what I have found that has worked for the best CMOs:

— Ensure your forward-looking innovation portfolio is building your value as a brand.  Value is always important, but these days it is especially important. And this is very measurable before your innovation goes to market, so make it important in your pre-launch criteria.   And expedite those innovations that do build value.  When people, consumers, rate your brand a better value than the competition, I guarantee you will grow and achieve market leadership.

— Ensure your innovation portfolio is sufficient to meet your future growth goals.  Sounds obvious, but I am amazed at how many CMOs and CTOs cannot answer that question.   There are a variety of ways to measure this pre-market introduction, and if you do not have those capabilities in place you need to do that.

— Build balance into your innovation portfolio.   Most innovation programs are dominated by incremental product or service innovations,  with 80-90% of the initiatives directed at maintaining the brand’s position in the market.   This would include things like longer protection from a deodorant, more on-time departures for an airline, or an improved taste or crust for a pizza brand (I must say Domino’s is creating a lot of buzz now for an incremental innovation.) You need a balance of incremental innovations like these with a small portfolio of discontinuous innovations.  Discontinuous innovations are things that change the dynamics in a category, create new markets, solve problems in new ways. Clayton Christensen has wonderful insights in this area. Discontinuous innovations are riskier, but great CMOs create and manage a diverse portfolio of innovation … with the obvious benefit of stronger growth and the less obvious benefit of cultivating a culture of creativity and bold thinking.

So, if you are a CMO and you are not championing innovation, start today.  I cannot imagine a higher ROI for your time.

Read Next: Habit #6

Categories: Business, CMO Habits, Marketing, Speaking Events

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The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers (Habit #4)

This is part four of a ten-part series that will share my Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers, based on my experience and what I have learned from others.  See my January 5 entry for Habit #3 — Live the Four Cs:  Design your organization for what you need to win — core work, capabilities, career path, and culture.

Habit #4:  Get your team right.  And do it early in your tenure.

Hundreds of experts have written about the importance to business success of getting the right people in the right jobs.  Highly effective CMOs do this;  the secret is that it entails deep thought and quick, smart choices based on what a brand or company needs at a given period of time.

A CMO is like any other leader — she is only as good as the people she entrusts.  The key is to assess where you want to be great, best in class, and then to build your team based on that.  And an even more difficult decision is to assess what part of that team you want internal to the company, and what part you want to source externally.

My CMO role was in a large, multi-brand company, P&G.  I determined early in my tenure that I needed two teams — one team comprised of marketing leaders from our many business units, and one smaller team comprised of my corporate staff.  Each team had different priorities and deliverables.

The business unit marketing leader team was focused on advancing our competitive advantage through the business units.  We chose priorities every year, and stuck with them until we baked the capability into our business model.  I needed people on this team who were passionate about marketing, who had allegiance to me and their business unit President, and who would participate in a shared leadership model.  I needed people who would lead, and also reapply work from other businesses.  I formed this team within the first three months of my appointment.

The second team I formed was a smaller, central team, focused on leading innovation, systems and processes that would lead to competitive advantage.  One of the best decisions I made was to move outside the marketing discipline to staff this team with people experienced in skills P&G needed at the time.  I brought in a purchasing manager to help with external agency management, I recruited an HR manager to help with talent management, I leveraged a finance manager to improve strategy and operations in selected areas.  These people and a few others formed the nucleus of my “brain trust” that helped P&G advance to the next level.

With both of these teams, I cannot overstate the importance of setting your standards high for the people you choose.  Especially in the corporate roles.  Too many companies place “second tier” managers in these kind of roles.  That is unacceptable.  These people need to have the highest respect from top management, and key external partners.  Their role is to create sustainable competitive advantage in marketing, and that demands high performers with strong track records.

I find in my research that most CMOs have weak teams.  That is one reason CMO job tenures are still short lived.  And the ones that survive feel burned out.  So for the health of the company and its brands, for your health as CMO, get your team right early!

Read Next: Habit #5

Categories: Business, CMO Habits, Marketing, Speaking Events

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The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers (Habit #3)

This is part three of a ten-part series that will share my Ten Habits of Highly Effective Chief Marketing Officers, based on my experience and what I have learned from others.  See my December 17 entry for Habit #2 — Be Clear What You Stand For And Be Visible Inside And Out.

Habit #3:    Live The Four Cs:  Design your organization for what you need to win — core work, capabilities, career path, and culture.

This is the most underrated habit.   And one of the most powerful.   Great CMOs are brilliant organization designers, architects, leaders.   This is hard work, often not understood by CEOs, who are looking for a quick fix to their marketing.   I was fortunate at P&G as A.G. Lafley and Bob McDonald understood this and valued it.

This is hard work as it entails some research, some analysis, but most importantly, it involves hard choices.  And these choices on core work, career paths, capabilities, and culture are difficult as they may be different from what the historical strengths of the organization have been.   And that is when the leadership skills become so important, because the best plans are worthless if not conceived, planned and executed with passion and care.

Let’s talk about each of the Four Cs that make up Habit #3:

Core Work — One of the most provocative questions I ask my clients now is “What are your people working on, what is valued?”  It is amazing how many leaders don’t know.   When I began as Global Marketing Officer at P&G in 2001,  I asked this question of our marketing leaders in the business units, and their staffs, and none of us liked the answer.    We found too much time was spent on internal alignment for decisions, project coordination, and rework.   This kind of work does not build the world’s greatest marketing organization!   So we set out to define the work we WANTED our people to do and excel at,  we changed systems and rewards to implement the changes, and then we measured the progress.

Capabilities — I remember a conversation I had with Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit and a P&G Board member, about the importance of an organization clearly choosing what capabilities they wanted to drive for competitive advantage.  And then resourcing them,  measuring them,  and innovating against them.   One of my mentors in this area, besides Scott, is Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Mangement in Toronto.   He is a “stickler” for this concept, and I learned a lot from him about how to arrive at these choices.    One capability I am very proud we built at P&G was our excellence at Shopper Marketing;  this was a vague concept years ago and is now one of the drivers of P&G’s competitive advantage.

Career Path — There are many areas within brand building we cannot control, that is why authenticity and good intent is so important.   But one area we can totally control is how we move people through careers: what experiences they have, who gets promoted, what skills we value, what work gets valued, what destination jobs we create and how we prepare people for them.  This is where the core work and capabilities come together.   This is the most visible thing we do as leaders,  and if we do not “walk the talk” on this everything falls apart.   One company I really admire here is LVMH.   They really believe their people need to develop an intuitive understanding of the categories, brands  and people who buy their brands,  and they manage careers accordingly.   One principle that underscores this is that LVMH moves their people between brands infrequently, running counter to many practices at other brand companies.

Culture — Culture is the visible sign of what is valued.  Again, this is within the leader’s full control.  Tony Hsieh at Zappos has built an amazing, visible culture around Zappos’ brand ideal of Wow! service.  This drives who they hire, how they train, how they talk with customers,  what they reward, and on and on.   And just look at their results.   Culture does not just happen, it is created, constantly renewed and refreshed, and it is the oxygen for the other Three Cs.

Read Next: Habit #4

Categories: Business, CMO Habits, Marketing, Speaking Events

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