When Doug Zarkin grabbed the reins as CMO of Pearle Vision five and a half years ago, he found a 55-year old brand that was "stuck in the death spiral of where brands never want to live -- in the middle." By Zarkin's count, the brand had gone through 10 different positions, 10 different reasons to believe -- none of which caught hold in the preceding decade. He was also greeted with a letter from a franchise owner that said, "Dear Doug: Welcome to Pearle Vision, I hope you suck less than the last person who had your job!" In our interview below, you'll see how Zarkin rose to the challenge and helped guide Pearle Vision into a clear positioning and a winning execution.
Whether it's seen as a guiding light or a perilous sinkhole, the use of data is a predominant consideration for B2B marketers, especially as they look ahead to 2018. In fact, gathering, dissecting, deploying and protecting data is so top-of-mind that you might think these folks were becoming geeks of the first order, mirroring the passions and predilections of coders and other IT professionals.
Finding myself among the 145 million American's who personal information was compromised by the gargantuan Equifax data breach, I welcomed the chance to talk with cybersecurity expert Norman Guadagno, senior VP of data security company Carbonite. Our conversation was both scary and enlightening as Guadagno pointed out how poorly Equifax handled the crisis, the inevitability of having your personal and company data hacked and, most important, the little-known fact that ever-growing marketing tech stacks are creating even greater security threats.
Walking around the studios of New York Public Radio in New York City, you're confronted with conflicting realities: one symbolized by a primitive radio microphone from 1924 and the other by an advertising poster from 2016 with the headline, "More Influential than Russia." As pioneers of FM broadcasting, it's not surprising that New York Public Radio is the largest public radio station group in the United States. What is surprising is that the station is one of the largest podcast producers. Its content arm, WNYC Studios, generates more than 36 million downloads a month from over 20 different shows.
When the pilot announced that we were number 19 in the queue for taking off from LaGuardia, I figured my odds for making my connecting flight in Dallas were about the same as my winning Powerball. Sure enough, an hour later the pilot confirmed a late arrival, spurring "WTF" groans from fellow passengers, who then went back to their inflight entertainment. But not me. I jumped on Twitter, shared the delay with @AmericanAir, and asked for their help. Less than 10 minutes later, I could depart from my uptight and locked position knowing I was safely booked on a later connecting flight.
"Can I say something controversial?" asks an energized Jackson Jeyanayagam, chief marketing officer of Boxed.com. "The ultimate goal is to take all of [your agency-side] experience and then end up on the brand side." Although Jeyanayagam spent 15 years working at digital agencies and just shy of three for brands, he's unequivocal about his recommendation.
Creating more immersive experiences has been the goal of storytellers since humans first gathered around the campfire and added a lion's roar to their tale of the hunt. The stunt-loving film director William Castle electrified seats in the '50s for "The Tingler" to literally add extra shock value! John Waters infamously included "Odorama" scratch and sniff cards for screenings of his 1981 cult classic, "Polyester." More recently, 4D theaters have been offering wind, water, smells, jostles and even pokes in the back to make sure we are transported beyond the humdrum.
No chief marketing officer understands how to scale a marketing program quite like Denise Broady. After getting her start consulting at small shops, then becoming the global chief operating officer at SAP's industry cloud organization, she's returned to another small company called WorkForce, which specializes in making timesheets, as she puts it, "sexy again."
Coss Marte is the founder and CEO of ConBody, one of the fastest growing fitness programs in New York. Marte's road to success, however, was forged along a path less traveled. His brilliant business ethos didn't evolve at an Ivy League school, but rather on street corners, and later, in prison. Marte's story is unique, and ConBody just wouldn't be the same without it.
Did you know that Shell Oil is the only major fuel brand that still operates in all 50 states? The company boasts 14,000 sites across the country, in fact. But the proprietary gas stations of big box retailers and grocery stores have become formidable competitors in the last 20 years, and now account for about half of the market, increasing the pressure on Shell to drive loyalty.
Pulling off a first-of-its-kind event -- with more than 60,000 attendees -- is not an easy feat. Without a legacy to generate momentum, the marketing department is almost entirely responsible for getting bodies into the room. Attracting a crowd is, however, made a little easier when the event is qualified with the tagline: "created by Steve Wozniak and friends."
"I really believe that marketing won't help you grow your business," says Jon Ferrara.
A dangerous lead given the audience of this column. But suspend your disbelief just for a moment. As the founder of Nimble, a relationship management app for those of us with thousands of contacts and no time to nurture them, Ferrara gathered 100,000 Nimble users and converted 15% of them to paid subscribers -- with no marketing budget at all.
"I'm just suggesting, humbly, that better products are easier to sell," says Jerome Nadel, senior VP and chief marketing officer at Rambus, a public software licensing company in Silicon Valley.
This begs the question, are better products really too much to ask for? For decades, the answer for many CMOs has been, unfortunately, yes. Like it or not, it has traditionally fallen on a marketing department to market a product or service -- as is -- to the best of its abilities, which can handicap even the most brilliant campaigns. The good news? The role of marketing is changing, slowly but surely.
Imagine you're a chief marketing officer and your company is about to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Not an enviable position to be in, right? On the surface, maybe not. But if you approach it like Morag Lucey and her executive colleagues at Avaya, what could be an organization's death knell simply becomes a bump on the road to a brand transformation.
About 18 months ago, Meredith Kopit Levien and her team at The New York Times made a bold decision. "We needed to start thinking about The New York Times as a consumer brand, and take its power as a brand much more seriously," she says. As chief revenue officer, Kopit Levien understood that for The Times to continue providing value to advertisers and readers, it would need to innovate and transform consumer expectations.
When you spy the occasional B2B ad campaign that is both surprising and relevant, veterans of the trade can't help but wonder, "Why wasn't that new 'organ' rejected by the corporate body?"
To answer this question, it helps to spend time with the top marketing surgeon (aka CMO). In the interview below, Lauren Flaherty, CMO at CA Technologies, helps dissect the strategic thinking behind CA's new global campaign, "The Modern Software Factory." In the process, her diagnosis identifies several truths that other marketers would be wise to take to heart.
Challenging the status quo takes courage. It also requires cunning strategy. At Pegasystems Inc., a publicly traded customer service automation company based in Boston, CMO Tom Libretto is cutting through traditional marketing treatments with precision. His competitors are the giants of customer engagement: Microsoft, IBM AND Salesforce. But Libretto believes his team is nimbler, and under his guidance has built a smarter, more conversational marketing system. That system both generates leads for "Pega" -- as the company refers to itself, internally -- and benefits its customers. It's the ultimate case of wielding the tools you sell, and it's helped the company improve and refine their services with ease.
Marketing technology has done wonders for the practice of marketing. It has refined, streamlined and taken the guesswork out of some formerly nebulous areas of the industry. But martech and the need to support ideas with data have increasingly pitted marketing against its roots: the art of creativity.
Every healthcare marketer has firsthand experience with the industry he or she supports, whether it's a sick relative or a child recovering from a broken arm. But not many have the story of Manny Rodriguez. Before taking on a chief marketing title at UCHealth, Rodriguez was a leukemia survivor.
One might think that a conversation with Chandar Pattabhiram, chief marketing officer of Marketo, would eventually lead to the aspirational, grandiose vision of someone who believes automation is the future of marketing. While Pattabhiram certainly does feel this way, he also touts the power of a more human side of marketing, in the form of storytelling.
If "every village has its idiot" had an antithesis, it would be "every community has its organizer." In any group setting, he or she is that person who naturally brings together disparate individuals with a common bond and, most important, mobilizes them for action.
If you ask Ryan Linders how to convert a customer, he'll tell you it's simply a matter of putting "the right thing" in front of them. This, of course, is a lot harder than it sounds. Not only does one have to learn what that thing is, but also when, why and how to present it ... and to whom.
On any given weekday, there's a group you might not expect to be hard at work in the offices at Spotify: scientists. Yes, scientists. They're not your typical lab coat-wearing, Bunsen burner-wielding geeks, although they might as well be. These relatively recent hires make up Spotify's new Marketing Sciences area, a department dedicated to growing the company as a data-driven, constantly listening, marketing machine.
What's that adage? "Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day; but teach a man to fish, and he'll never go hungry." Widely applied to the value of long-term investments, today we'll learn why this biblical entreaty also applies to content marketing. Rather than feed your bottom line with a few entertaining pieces of content, or even a short-term campaign, content marketing can indeed be an ongoing source of sustenance for a business.
Any master brewer or vintner will tell you that too much of one ingredient can ruin an entire batch. The same is true for a luxury brand, says Lee Applbaum, chief marketing officer of Patrón Spirits and winner of The CMO Club's Creativity & Storytelling Award.
"A lot of luxury brand marketing is brilliant fiction -- storytelling," Applbaum says. What can spoil their sales over time is too much glossy imagery, and not enough substance. Even brands that dominate their categories have lost market share because consumers eventually gravitated towards a competitor's more compelling, and authentic, story.
When Eric Reynolds talks about brand building, you pay attention. As the CMO of Clorox Company -- and a CMO Club Marketing Innovation Award-winner -- Reynolds is leading the charge for household names like Brita and Burt's Bees, directing his teams to give their brands new life "in a nimble, studio-focused, team way."
Dan Marks just wrapped a very successful 2016 as the CMO of Hancock and Whitney Bank. He has a lot to be happy about: the company's financials were healthy and its stock was up. But Marks seems pleased more by something else too -- his team's cohesiveness. "Seeing the team come together and raise their game was so far my proudest accomplishment," he says. "That gives me great confidence that we can continue to put up even more remarkable accomplishments in the future."
Word-of-mouth is the holy grail of marketing. Think about the last time someone made a recommendation to you, be it a restaurant, a cold remedy, or a local tailor. Chances are, you followed through and were pleasantly surprised. Because you trusted the person's opinion, their recommendation was guaranteed to carry a certain level of quality.
"Where others run away, I run toward challenges," says Dara Royer, chief development and marketing officer of Mercy Corps, a global organization that has been helping alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression since its founding in 1979.
Royer's biggest challenge? Refreshing the Mercy Corps brand and bringing it to life with a global team of 5,000 and a budget of just $50,000. If, as a marketer, this makes your hair stand on end, you're not alone. In fact, Royer's ability to hit and exceed her goals earned her the prestigious Officer's Award from The CMO Club in 2016.
After the tsunami of 2003, Arra Yerganian, at the time an executive at a home construction company in Northern California, was approached by a group of mothers who asked if he would match the proceeds of a bake sale they were holding to raise money for victims. When Yerganian later met with the Red Cross to hand over a check, he was struck by the altruism of the volunteers' impending missions. "The fact that they were so selfless in their dedication to humanity moved me in a way that I had never imagined," he says.
Gone are the days of "just throw it out there" and "let's see what happens" when it comes to marketing campaigns. The hard truth is that in 2017, we have too much information at our disposal to lean on our instincts and creative prowess to connect with consumers. Today's leading marketers know this better than anyone.
CMO Spotlight: Claudia Schiepers, Greystone
Real estate has played a tangential role in defining 2016, given that America's incoming leader forged his reputation in that industry. There is a less trumpeted side of real estate, of course -- one that Claudia Schiepers, chief marketing Officer of investment and advisory firm Greystone, knows well. Coincidentally, Schiepers won the Belgian version of "The Apprentice" some years ago, but it's no coincidence that she also received The CMO Club's Corporate Social Responsibility Award in 2016.
CMO Spotlight: Elissa Fink,Tableau Software
Here's the trouble with New Year's resolutions: we treat them as all-or-nothing challenges. Work out every day, or fail. Listen to an informative podcast every day, or fail. With such a steep path to success, it's no wonder so many of us tire of our resolutions by mid-January!