What’s it take to be a marketing leader? Well, you can have boundless knowledge of metrics, have a mind for strategy somewhere in the neighborhood of Sun Tzu’s, and write copy that would make Hemingway blush, but just having the sharpest tools on your belt won’t cut it. Above all else, you need to able to mobilize your team.
As Thomas Barta puts it, you need to be energetic, you need to inspire, and you need to be a role model. As the authority on marketing leadership, you’d be wise to heed his call. Barta was a partner and senior marketer at McKinsey, led the world’s largest study of marketing leadership (68k+ assessments!), published a book on the subject, and is a regular contributor for multiple news outlets. He’s consulted and marketed for 20+ years, in 14 industries, across 45 countries. You could say he’s picked up a thing or two on the way—tune in to this week’s special episode, recorded with a live audience of top-tier marketers and CMOs (who contribute along the way), to hear more about marketing leadership, effective attribution, learning from the customer voice, and more.
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Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in Conversation with Thomas Barta
Drew Neisser: A fellow agency owner asked me the other day. Hey, Drew, do you actually get any value out of all of these interviews? Is there an ROI? Why? I paused for a second and said, how long do you have? In truth, I’m fascinated by the dynamic challenges that CMOs most face. I’ve learned so much from every interviewee that even if the value stoped there, which it doesn’t. The ROI for me and Renegade is off the charts. Another side benefit of doing several hundred interviews is that I’ve connected with an elite group of CMO scholars, including today’s guests Thomas Barta, based in Cologne, Germany. Thomas is an authority on CMO leadership. Having done extensive research on what it takes for CMO is to be successful leaders. When I say extensive, I mean over twelve hundred surveys plus several hundred interviews of both CEOs and their bosses who are sort of judging them and their success. The result is a book called The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader How to Succeed by Building Customer and Company Value. Before we get started, I also wanted to mention that this is episode 150 now. 150. And so to make that a bit more special, we’re recording in front of a live audience of CMOs. Thanks to my friends at Zoom who make this possible. In the third segment, these fine folks will get a chance to ask Thomas questions as well. All righty then. Let’s get started. Thomas, welcome to Renegade Thinkers Unite.
Thomas Barta: Thank you for having me on. Obviously, you’re 150th episode congratulations! That’s very good.
Drew Neisser: That is pretty cool. You know, a number 100 was with my dad, which was pretty special. So that, you know, that puts you up there. Before you became a leadership coach, speaker, and author. You spent seven years as a marketer at Kimberly-Clark and then another 11 years at McKinsey in those 18 years. Easy question. Who did you learn from the most?
Thomas Barta: So, I’m a marketer like many people on the call, and I always learn the most from consumers. I’m very honest because those are the people who tell us what we need to do. Those are the people who know what really is important. The problem is, I think like a marketer, I had mixed success in getting that customer view right inside the company. I think that has been the struggle over time. And I feel when I’ve been proud of my marketing life, it’s when I’ve been able to make it happen. I wasn’t so proud as one was when I failed.
Drew Neisser: Right. Mean customer, you’re looking for specifically an insight that allows you to create sort of transformational marketing.
Thomas Barta: Totally. I mean, look, if every market in the world is getting one thing right and that is building those bridges between the people out there, the customers or consumers, as we call them and the CEO, we’re doing well. Then we are the center of the action than the company knows what to do. It’s just really hard to do. That’s why I’m doing all the research on books because I’m trying to help figure out how we can bridge those.
Drew Neisser: Why is it so hard? You’ve got all sorts of ways of capturing the voice of the customer, whether it’s people that are calling in or reaching out to them. Why is it so hard to get an insight that you can really leverage?
Thomas Barta: Well, we don’t have an insight problem in marketing, but we have an execution problem. Think about this. Everybody in marketing has the toughest job in the world. The business world, I’d say. Think about what you do. Think about what every marketer does every single day. When you have the marketer to say something, you typically talk about the future, future revenue of future profits, you know, future customer behavior. What do you say to someone who promises you, ‘I know the future’. You just laugh. Exactly. That’s what it takes. So whenever we stand a marketer, stands next to someone from finance, the marketer sounds less credible, less reliable because they are. That’s the reality. Second, just imagine a great customer experience. How many people in the firm would have to be involved? Basically almost everybody. Think about the United Airlines dragging a past paying passenger plane. I think the best brand campaigns in the world, but that doesn’t help you if that happens. How many of those people report to marketing? Very few. Marketers have a massive power gap. I’m not going to talk about marketing skills today if we talked about leadership. The technical stuff is just moving really fast. So every marketer always has a skills gap, trust gap, power gap, skills gap. It’s really difficult. Now, in this situation, be the central person that gets hold of news together and finds consensus. A difficult task, but the ones that get it right have rocking careers and changed the world. So that’s what we need.
Drew Neisser: Interesting. It’s funny because you and I talked before the show. This show, if you go back to the other 149 episodes, is mainly a skill show. We talk about how to do marketing better. And so I’m excited to focus now and really talk about leadership. What I liked about your book is, is first of all, for someone who needs a little framework. You made it really simple. I could get it down to one word mobilize and then and then it could move it down to four words. Mobilize your colleagues or four areas, mobilize your colleagues, mobilize your team, mobilize yourself. Oops, I missed the first one. Mobilize your boss. That’s what got them right. Well, that’s the first chapter in the book. Let’s talk about it. Is that the place to start?
Thomas Barta: Yes. The big thing you learn when you move from being a marketer, which I loved for a little while before I got sick and tired of finance, a lot of people who wanted to cut my budgets. That’s why I left by the way. Having a top management mindset, haven’t a view of the CEO when you run a brand is big because maybe you work in a bank, and maybe marketing just isn’t on the agenda. And you know what? Maybe that’s OK because you’re in a regulatory crisis. You know, you’ve got to understand this. We’ve found in the research, and it was indeed the largest ever study on the success of marketers, that the really good chief marketing officers had a really good connection to the top. It didn’t rely on, you know, oh, this is what they told me, in recruiting, I should come in and make us more customer-focused. So off we go. No, they check back and saying, this is what we really mean? This is what’s really important now? Do you agree? Do you still agree?
We talked about this in the book about this wonderful Indian guy who invented prepaid phones. Now, most people on the call who are on in this podcast or video will not know what was like before because they’re too young. But there was a time when it wasn’t prepaid. It was unthinkable to do something where people pay before and then make calls. The belief systems couldn’t do it. The finance people were saying you wouldn’t want to for people, you know, stuff like this. He changed everything by convincing the top management of two things. One is this is what customers need, they need shelter videos and everything else. What videos it would be at this time and the numbers, but he also made the numbers with finance, he worked with operations to figure out how this works. He talked to the CEO several times said, look, guys, you know, why are you afraid of this? How can I help? You know, bridging those gaps. He bridged all of those. And that’s what he was, he worked at what we call the value creation zone. He got customer needs and the company needs to overlap was a really difficult fight. But you think about prepaid, it’s the number one mobile phone product in the world. And it’s just because someone did the homework to get the two together. So that’s why it’s so important. That’s why we call them over, emphasize it more.
Drew Neisser: What’s interesting to me so, you know, CMO longevity is obviously a thing that comes up a lot. I had Kathy Button Bell on the show and she’d been CMO for 20 years. Now, she’d had the same boss for 20. He’d been there one year longer. It seems like when a CMO goes in to interview for the job, they should be saying, is this a CEO that’s going to stand behind me that I can work with or not? Do you find in your research that the CMO is are doing a good job qualifying the CEO and saying this guy, or gal, is really going to support me in a pinch and help me do my job?
Thomas Barta: Well, here is the saying, right? This is quite a great question, I like this question. Kim Whitner and her colleagues have a different and wonderful Harvard Business Review article about this because they were exactly looking at this issue and it’s very consistent with what we found. The alignment between the marketer and the CMO is often poor, and there are exceptions, those are the ones we cite all the time. You cited one I could cite many and you could cite many others, but it’s often not aligned. The reason is that the CEO does not know exactly what they’re looking for. They hear these things like customer focus, and then they think there’s someone coming in who has this magic wand and can do it. In reality, it’s a change management job. It’s a tough job. We work with everybody and the CEO needs to understand that and don’t always.
The marketer that it’s on the stand that whatever the CEO is has once said may not be the only truth. You’ve got to check back. Right. It’s like in a relationship. If I may say so. Right. The first couple of years here together, it’s not one thing you’ve said will then be carved in stone and that’s how it is. So you have to figure out, oh, see, you’re changing. Right. There’s a new trend coming in here. There’s a new interest. Maybe there are some new priorities. You have to consistently, as a marketer, align. That’s why maybe if you have the same boss for 10 years, you know exactly what you need. I mean, maybe it also gets a bit boring. But I guess that alignment is huge.
Drew Neisser: By the way, we will link that article in the show notes. It’s a great article. I read it. It’s important because as you get into the job if your CEO isn’t there, you can’t succeed. All right. And a perfect place to take a quick break. And when we come back, we’ll dive into a few of these other powers. Again, get specific. So stay with us.
Drew Neisser: Ok, we’re back. This is episode 150, and my guest is Thomas Barta. We have been talking about the importance of CEO and CMO alignment, but that’s really just one of the 12 powers. So I went through the powers and I did this, I ranked them by percentage impact and I ended up four of them. Let’s see what one? I ended up four of them and I got to 50 percent. No, I get to 60 percent. Right. Let’s see. Get the mix right, that’s 20 percent. Fall in love with your world, that’s 18 percent. Hit y dollars, that’s 13. Right. And then let’s see, 12 is delivered returns no matter what, that’s 60 percent. Boom. Done. Can we just go because on those four and call it a day?
Thomas Barta: What you just cited are different leadership behaviors in those four different areas, mobilizing your boss, your colleagues, your team, and yourself. In the 12 powers of the market leader. What we have done with this massive research, like you said, it as well from that study to questionnaires. We have 68,000 assessments of needing us from the NCF database and we really only list the things that matter, which means we have a list of over a hundred leadership behaviors, traits, things like geography and all these things. Of those, only the 12 big buckets were left after we’de done analysis was the real network. Everything that we’re talking about has a real impact. The trick will be to be above the bar. You’ve got to be above the bar on mobilizing your boss, your team, your colleagues, and yourself. Even if technically you’re right, you could say, I do half of it, but then I’ll let you off. The other half could be enough for you to get five or just be totally ineffective. Strength, space leadership really works and strength space development really works if you are above the bar. So that’s the number one job, then you can spike, and that’s great.
Drew Neisser: These are all skills. Is it sort of taken for granted that, you know, marketing and marketing skills? I mean, these are all leadership traits and so forth. Is it taken for granted that you’re a good marketer? It’s like, you know, fluoride in toothpaste.
Thomas Barta: So it was a great question because we did this neural network to figure out what matters overall. Then there was this big question, like what is it? But people saying, oh, it’s gender. People saying personality. We really got a good show. And then the numbers came back and they were full of surprises. B2B sees very little impact, agenda sees the very little impact. So when it comes to screwing up and marketing, we have actually really equality was quite nice. Personality, reasonably small, so sorry, can’t blame your parents on the 5 percent. Think about the skills gap power gap and such. Then came skills, and they were 15 percent, and that was an interesting insight. It means two things. One is, as a great marketer, you’ve gotta know how to do brand pricing and stuff. Of course, many people know that. So the bar, of course, in skills, you know, is already here. So we didn’t have people who didn’t have skills. I think what’s what got clear is that it just didn’t make the difference between the truly successful marketers. You’ve got to be above the bar.
Thomas Barta: You said something earlier, you said falling in love with your world and getting the mix right, for those of you who haven’t bought the book these are traits of understanding your industry, your products, your company, but also getting the right skins into the team. Yes. This stuff matters and it’s big. It will not make the difference between you being successful and being very successful. That is where the leadership comes in. That is what is changing people’s agendas coming. That’s when it gets you from good to great.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, it’s funny. It’s completely consistent. I had great quotes from Spencer Stuart, who runs the CMO practice there. Yes. Really talked about that’s what we’re talking about here is leadership and how that’s what distinguishes the good from the great. So totally aligned with you there. I’m wondering, as you do coaching and you assess these some of these CMOs, are there some traits that are just harder for CMO most master than others?
Thomas Barta: So most CMOs are very good at figuring out what the company needs when they put their mind to it. That typically is something we can crack a reasonably fast and it typically says, oh my God, I that’s easy. I think what is a little bit harder for a lot of CMOs is to start to see themselves as role models that have to mobilize all the other people and accepting that all these people can say no. ?T’s like, you know, it’s out being angry about gravity. You know, you can, but it doesn’t help you. Right? You still droop. So I think getting that behavior is it’s just hard. It’s just I mean, and for better people, it means the years of frustration, having to figure out that it’s OK to be frustrated. Then, you know, deploying some too. Then I think once people are on the way because marketers are great storytellers, they’re very energetic people, very inspirational people. They have all the skills. I think that’s just putting them together in the right way. I’m just like click.
Drew Neisser: Have you been able to do this assessment and you say, you know what, you’re really scoring low on these three areas. And you found that with some coaching, they can get certain mastery of that and instead move from good to great?
Thomas Barta: Yeah. As always, these are humans, right? Everybody is very different. But I’ll tell you, we outflow. There’s one person who has always been exceptionally good at marketing for that person. What’s the next step up? Everybody was not considering them because they were really good at marketing and everybody felt great. Keep going. Right? But of course, you want to develop and to position for the next role they had to talk the company’s language. They had to push the company agenda and even ask questions outside marketing. We actually picked supply chain in that case and the person has been able to position himself as a true leader. We were basically playing this like if you were CEO, what would you do? What were the questions you would ask? And it has to work. It took three or four months of meeting after meeting, and people were surprised initially, but it can work.
We had someone else who was always super diligent and micromanager who basically failed to develop people who do the same thing, which is going out and walk into halls and mobilizing people. Over a three to four-month period, they’ve been able to change course, let people try things, gave them permission, you know, but the team does the job. Yes. It’s these things that are well possible and comes back to the insight that personality is such a small factor. There is a lot of applied science, a lot of stuff you can learn and pick up on and try. It’s like brushing your teeth. You know you can improve your technology. It’s going to take a while, but you can get that. So it’s possible.
Interesting. So it’s not about personality. That’s it’s fascinating. Not too much. Now it’s in it’s interesting. It’s like if you look if you’re a Myers Briggs fan and you look at the quadrants and you say, well, these people are this and so forth. What’s interesting about that is, you know, they’ve been presidency United States from all four quadrants. They’ve been great leaders from all four quadrants. They figure it out mastery. One of the things that’s interesting in this is you can’t know everything. So when it was funny, you talked earlier about the CEO sort of having certain expectations, and these days, the board of directors will say, ‘we need digital, whatever that means, we need digital. We’ve got to find a CMO who knows digital’. So they hire somebody who’s done a social media campaign and built a website. And that’s funny. From a skills standpoint, you can’t know everything, so what are these great CMOs doing to sort of fill those gaps?
Thomas Barta: First off, what’s very interesting to realize is that there is a vacuum in almost every organization I’ve come to know, and that is digital strategy. I don’t mean marketing. I mean in the company. A lot of CEOs are struggling to get help because if you think about the firm, you know, you have the operations you have to offer and then you have like the whole business model. Digital could play a role everywhere. All CEOs are completely confused. They just don’t know because it’s difficult. So they’re always looking for people who can help. I’ll tell you what, if you are a CMO, you can come into this firm and say, OK, I looked at what you’re doing, I’m not tech, but I’m digital everywhere, but I think maybe in the operations there’s a massive opportunity to simplify. I don’t know what the tool is, but look, I can get people in marketing that do. So I will give us the biggest bang for your buck, making the top-level case of what matters in digital. Those are the people who are really respected. The people that are not respected are the ones who get lost in 45 digital marketing tools and then ultimately get frustrated because they still can’t measure everything, which we know is true. So it’s just more of the same stuff. Just imagine 50 years ago you would have come into the firm saying, I’m the one who was ready. And they say, great. Does your radio say what they have considered you for bigger jobs? No, because you’re a radio guy.
So it’s the same with digital. The trick for marketers and digital is not to know everything. In fact, you can’t, that would be crazy, but a doctor can’t know everything right? But what a doctor would know is what is the problem and what is what are the specialists we need? One of the things we can look at? Then you go doing deep on a few things. You would not expect your general practitioner to know every single detail of every single disease. That’s what marketers are getting frustrated with. And no, you can’t. But don’t. And a really good see, CMOs, they have a strategy.
I give you an example. One guy I worked with, they’ve figured out that their biggest problem was B2B and everybody was on the B2C, blah, blah, blah. And he said, look, I know what the biggest challenges we have is that the B2B buyers that buy from us, hate brochures and they go somewhere else. We’re losing contracts every single month because of that. You know, guys, whatever we’re going to talk about, let’s go there. Let’s fix that. Let’s make us the place where they want to go to get all the insights. It was a very different job. So what I mean here is people who can set priorities are much more relevant for CEOs than people who know nitty-gritty tools that, by the way, keep changing.
Drew Neisser: Leader first, skills second. All right. We’re going to take a break and we’ll be right back with audience participation. So stay with us.
Drew Neisser: Ok, we’re back and we are now ready for the audience participation portion of this show. First up is Vishal Dhar, who is the CMO of SirionLabs? Very interesting company. Vishal what’s your question?
Vishal Dhar: Thank you. Thank you for having me. It was very nice hearing the first part of the show. My question was, in deliver returns no matter what, which is power number two, if you look at the role of marketing over the years that I’ve been in marketing, has become more and more elastic. THat’s from traditional definitions to managing partnerships, recruitment, customer experience, investor relations, sales programs. Is there still a core in that role of CMO? Or, is it so broad today that it just, you know, as you said, deliver it does, no matter what?
Thomas Barta: Ask 10 people, what does a marketer do and you get about eleven answers. It’s true. Right? Marketers are strange because it’s one of the few jobs where you have a title and what you do might be fundamentally different from what your neighbor does, which is, by the way, one of the brand problems we have. No, first off, the rule is super broad, and it’s great that you highlighted this, you know, and we look, by the way, in the tough paths of what marketers are doing and you’re right, there is massive rage. Whatever you’re doing there is still, however, the following challenge. If you think about a typical board agenda, there’s a lot of discussion about revenues. There is a lot of debate on costs which down in total gives you profit. There are some long, some strategic questions. What if you as a marketer, what if you’re not revenue? You ultimately cost and then, you get into corners of the cost of doing business and we need this maybe top of the staff. I believe you don’t have a choice as a marketer to at least have a discussion about the value you create for the firm. Revenue is a good proxy because that’s what people are looking at. Everybody understands that there is an impact and there is time. And maybe it’s some of the things you do will have an impact long down the way. The marketers that are not seen as revenue, that are seen as a cost of doing business functions. Those are the ones that I see in trouble.
Drew Neisser: So let me ask you a follow up on that. What that can lead to, and by the way there’s no doubt Vishal that the CMO is the most bespoke role. I mean, that’s one thing that blows me away after all these interviews are that everyone that I talk to has a different set of responsibilities. So that’s hard. But, if you focus on revenue, what that could mean is you’re mainly focused on acquisition and not focused on, say, retention, and even employees that you need to enable retention and to enable it. So where’s this balance?
Thomas Barta: So do the job you have as the marketer is to explain to people how marketing works, because believe it or not, they don’t understand this sometimes. I have the wonderful example of a CMO of a building firm holding firm. I mean, how much how important is marketing for the CEO? I didn’t even think that played any role. Who applied the very simple funnel that we all know by saying, look, you know, here’s your sale, but here’s everybody. My job is to bring more people towards that sort of sale, we can basically pull. Here is what we’ve done this year because we made more people prefer us, which helped the sales team. By the way, my estimation is X to Y million dollars. The CEO knew that wasn’t accurate, but the CEO also was stunned because he’s never, ever thought about that long term effect, ever. Funds are a great way to quantify in communication. Right? What the value is, even if it’s long term. And tip number two is just get together with finance. I mean, they might be your biggest challenges, so why not get them on board? They know the marketing role could ultimately be useful, but crack together how important it is. And if you do this at least for 80 percent or 60 or 70 percent of your work, there will still be the 20 percent that you don’t worry about, like maybe employee marketing. Is that right? Let’s do that. But let’s do the first half.
Drew Neisser: Ok, great question. Who’s next?
Dan Lowden: Drew, I’ve got one.
Dan Lowden: Thanks, Drew. Thanks, Thomas. Question for you, Thomas. You talked about mobilizing teams within the organization. One of the key things in my organization, there are brilliant data scientists, the brilliant threat intelligence analysts and I want to give them a voice. I want to mobilize them. They’re more of the type, you know, more of a type that normally doesn’t do that type of thing. I would love to get your view on how I could potentially mobilize a group like that or, you know, some examples of how you’ve done that for employees of the company to really uplift the storytelling and uplift the brand.
Thomas Barta: So, Dan, you probably have known of the time when Ford was basically bankrupt and that was really tricky. I mean, the firm didn’t really spend marketing. Jim Farley was the CMO at the time. I talked extensively with him about what he did. And he had a depressed marketing team, he had everybody saying, that’s useless. You know, we don’t need this about sales and engineering. And he said you know guys, what we’re doing here is not marketing. I tell you what. This is the blue Ford model, the reason that people are buying Fords, my parents, and my neighbors have bought Fords it is that they were proud of having it. What we need to do is this is our job. We’ve got to bring the pride of back in the Ford of that is the job. From this, we start this story in mind he led the team to do things in the environment as a whole. Sort of series you can do with the teams. But it all starts with giving the team a very strong purpose, something that they want to talk about over dinner rather than, you know, in the team. And it can’t be, it won’t be profitable. It won’t be margins. It will be something else. I’m getting them to believe in this. And then if you apply other innovation skills, you will have a great platform. So that’s would be my starting point.
Drew Neisser: All right. Next?
Jed Alpert: Drew?
Jed Alpert: Hi Drew. Thanks for having me. So my question is I once worked for a CEO who was very adamant that there were no 10 percent goals. So if you have a 10 percent goal, it’s something that, just never gets addressed, and that’s nothing that you’re able to focus on. So I have a two-part question. I’m looking at the different powers, is it that exceptional or great CMOs have to have all 12 powers? Or, can they succeed if they’re only world class in a handful of these? And how does that play out? And then, Jeff, any advice on how to focus on 12 different attributes in sort of your everyday life?
Thomas Barta: Can you tell me what to tell what a 10 percent goal is?
Jed Alpert: So a 10 percent goal would be to say if I have 10 things that I need to do to achieve my bonus, each is 10 percent.
Thomas Barta: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Well, how many things can we focus on overall? Yes. So I think if I understand your question correctly it’s do you have to be good at all of these things? And then the second was how could you even get there? As I said earlier, strength space development is really good if you’re above the bar. The powers, as we’ve researched them there are already 12 of 100, so there are like 88 that we’ve taken a side. So the rest is important. You’ve got to be above the bar. You’ve got to be good enough. And most people can get there. It is not rocket science. I mean, if you go through a book, you see like, oh, I can do that, I could do this. So you have to be above the bar. You can spike and a few and you will. You always will, because that’s you, right? That’s you. Some people are really, really good with bosses, and they love it. For other people talking to the boss is a real pain in the neck, but they can get there. Team mobilizations are another way, some people love their team, they really, really do. And other people say, look, you know, OK, I need them, I got to get better at this. And that’s OK. As long as you are above the bar. What I would do is I would step back and say, what’s my value creation zone this year? What is the one big thing that I could help my company do differently? It could be a marketing thing, it could be even outside marketing, and then think about which of the skills would really help you get there. Because that is how you learn leadership. In my view is you have to apply them to a real issue you have. Rather than doing some artificial exercise. So that’s what I would look for and then pick the one or two to get better, I think you’re on your way.
Drew Neisser: I love that expression value creation zone. It’s just so important and it really so many of you are in that role. The folks at the in it very recently. So, it’s so hard because you see so many things that you want to fix. But I think going back to what Thomas said, yeah, it feels like one of the value creation zones is if you don’t have a purpose. If your brand is not certainly unique at this moment, then you need to have the courage to step up and say, all right, the real value we’re gonna do is we’re gonna create a North Star for the company. We’re going to find a clear and express a clear purpose and we’re going to get people involved in it so that they believe in it. Is that a fair summary there? Just put some words in your mouth Thomas.
Thomas Barta: I think it’s a great summary. And, you know, look, it’s 2019, right? Everything is called Inspire and Purpose, all the magazines. But it does work really well because we think about it like a marketer, you have a job where everybody can say no. Bosses, teams, colleagues, everybody. You’re going to need a lot of energy. There is this case of Simon Count and some income is a great example of this. Simon Kahn was a manager at a company called LG, nowadays, you know what it was called before? It was called Lucky Gold Star. You can imagine how cool that was in the US business, which basically meant he had no business because there wasn’t anything and a shitty brand and terrible products. And he was basically given that job so that he would resign. That was the idea of his boss, I think that’s what everybody suggested. He had this dream, and this is a real story I met him at Seoul Airport. He told me this story in a lot of detail. He was a very humble guy. He said you know what? I sat there on my sofa, I was half asleep. And I said you know what? I want the LG logo on Times Square. If I could do anything, that would be it. It sounded like a funny idea. But in fact, what happened is, over a period of a couple of years, that really kept him going. He had this idea of coloring, making red, green fridges. So they were the first ones to have these light-colored things that you can now buy everywhere. He wasn’t even a marketer. But that kept him going and I think that this true purpose is not what you write on some papers. It is what you genuinely believe in. If you find something like this, it could can really keep get you going for a couple of years. And I encourage you every marketer to find that. It’s a bit of work. But, you know, if you have a boy. I mean, you can really push the pedal.
Drew Neisser: So, Peter, we haven’t heard from you and we haven’t heard from Kevin.
Kevin Fliess: Right. Well, I have a question.
Kevin Fliess: Thanks, Drew. Hey, Thomas. Earlier in the conversation, you talked about being a revenue producer versus perceived as a cost center. I’m sure in the 149 podcasts that preceded this one, there’s been a lot of talk about marketing attribution. What would be your advice for four CMO is in terms of connecting the dots between the work you’re doing and actually producing revenue? And what is the best way to communicate the value you’re creating to your CEO and to your stakeholders?
Thomas Barta: So if I understand correctly, it’s about how you actually prove the value, how you prove the returns that you are or that you are producing. I love this. I love this question because it is indeed, you know, even with an eye how many years we are now doing marketing a hundred or something. Right. It’s been a question that’s been around forever and I’m sure it will be around for the next hundred years because we’ll never be perfect. One of the challenges we have in revenue attribution is we will never really be able to do it well. To give you an example, the message, just the actual message, if you have two very different executions can have radically different returns, no matter which medium you use on frequency and context and all these things, right. So there are so many factors it’s almost impossible to generally prove. And that is exactly the problem a lot of marketers get stuck and trying to prove things at that level; and you are up against the biggest, the highest possible wall you can think of. While what we often see when I talk to very senior leaders is that this isn’t what they’re asking for. Sometimes I see CEOs who don’t even understand or see the basic connections, and I would always start there. I mean, this is target group marketing. If you think about it this way. Right. I mean, in a way, you have to run a campaign that people who don’t know marketing that well really understand.
So two options work well. I said one mentioned earlier, a really basic funnel, like a super basic funnel and this is very basic, you can do it with one question in marketing research because you can figure out where everybody is and just use that to triangulate, get three estimates, you know, estimate from three different ways how your marketing is help in broad ranges. I don’t think we need 5,000, 10,000 dollars. What we need here is, you know, X percent of my budget, 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent. Half the challenge and I talked only about Jim Farley and he did this really well at Ford. They developed a model together with finance to do roughly something like this. It was a two-page model, it was basically saying TV does roughly this, if you invest that much it will roughly give us this. Ranges, you know, and he presented it to a lot of this country, to regional CEOs and everybody time he got a challenge, he said, great, I love your challenge. Do you know what helped me make this better? But I’m not going to leave the room unless we have agreement on the basic principles. Then he went back to the finance teams and did some more numbers. I think he solved this on the first 20 percent of attribution and not on the last 80. And that to me is the challenge. If you are cut, if you get this right, I don’t think any CEO in the world will challenge you that you couldn’t figure out where that 4,000 dollars went because they know it’s impossible. So it’s so that’s the number one way. It’s two things. One is a simple model. Work with the finance guys. Get them on board. No. Have them challenge it, work with them. And certainly is, of course, the language.
I love to show that there’s a chart by a friend of mine who was the CMO of a large firm 2016 marketing priorities, and he was up there with some segmentation review. We wanted to include the millennials. You wanted to increase programmatic across all channels and a side to seal whatever the fuck that means. He had some VR trials, and the problem is outside marketing, I mean, I’m telling you, look, you are very senior. I’m telling you things that we all can laugh about. But basic things like revenue, customers, and profit, it’s just a great language. Even attribution is something that they don’t want to hear. So keep the language clean and basically run the company in a simple model, get finance, evolved, sort out the language. Start there and then once they got to 20 percent fixed, you have 80 percent of the credibility, I think. Then you do the rest.
Drew Neisser: It’s funny. I think the key that I took away in this is, is if you can get the finance guy to believe, then you have a fighting chance of getting the CEO to believe. I love that notion. I think I won my interviews a few years ago with the former CMO of American Express. He said we have a tendency to overvalue the things we can measure and undervalue the things that we can’t. That’s so hard in our business because if you just look at and say, I’m only going to spend money on things that I can measure, the challenge that you have is you’re going to end up with we’re only spending money on search. You can’t grow brand because how did they get to the search engine? Awareness. How did they get awareness? Well they went to an event or they did this other thing and they saw it and so forth. So it’s hard. I will say there’s a lot of folks out there that are big fans of Byron Sharp because he did simplify measurement. He’s essentially said awareness matters. Number one, it matters a lot more than you think about. You’re not going to close the sale with the ads. So make sure that when the sales guy calls, they know who you are. I love that, but there, you know, there’s a famous CEO saying you can’t eat awareness. So I don’t know.
Anyway, it’s a lifelong battle, but you have to try. I think helping the CEO, you know, what’s interesting to me is everybody thinks they’re a marketer and everybody wants to be involved in marketing. So if you could do a little barter with the CFO and say, hey, dude, I’m going to teach you everything about marketing, in fact, I’m going to involve you in this, you’re going to think it’s really cool and you’re going to help me come up with some kind of marketing model attribution that you believe in and then you can rock it. We haven’t heard from Peter Weingard.
Peter Weingard: Can everybody hear me now?
Drew Neisser: All right. We can hear you! He was the star of episode 44. All right. Take us home. You got one question. Go for it.
Peter Weingard: All right. Well, I’m going to talk about a practical thing here. I love how in the book it talks about mobilizing oneself to walk the halls. I think Tom Peters used to call that management by wandering around. I feel I’ve never learned as much about my customers than when I spend time with them in stores or other places or other people in the office or my competitors by going to conventions. But probably like a lot of senior executives here, I don’t have time to wander the halls if I’m not in meetings from the moment I walk into the moment I walk out. How does a senior person find time to do the kinds of things you’re describing to have the freedom to wander around and learn the business.
Thomas Barta: If I understand your question correctly, you’re saying you’re so busy, it’s hard for you to walk the halls because you were in meetings too often.
Peter Weingard: Absolutely.
Thomas Barta: There, too, are two ideas. Let’s see how practical they are for you. As a CMO was started he was at a steel company, and you can imagine, right, steel is an interesting beast. He figured out that in week two that one of his problems as he wouldn’t be able to read and know, the products, the company, everything. So he agreed with his boss that would leave marketing for eight weeks and do nothing else but steel. He came back and he said this has been the biggest and most important thing I’ve ever done in my entire career because I now know the people I know understand the product. I know exactly what people to shop for. Are you still selling the stories? I mean, he was only eight for eight weeks, but it made for two years of stories. Now, that may not be practical for you, but I always suggest if a marketer starts in the firm, can you start can you not start marketing for the first eight weeks, which is sounds tricky, but it makes a big difference.
The second question is this walking the halls and getting to know the people. If you think about this, you’re in the business of change as a marketer. You’re not in a business of numbers, markets change. You want to change what customers do, what your colleagues do. It’s a business, you can do change by e-mail, itis a contact sport. And like with sports. Right. If you want to get fit and you want to do it when your calendar allows, you will never get fit because the truth is your calenders will never allow it. So if I would sit with you, I would go with you through your calendar and say, okay, how can you squeeze in an hour here to do what we just talked about? So, no, I don’t think it will happen by accident. I think you will have to take a very purposeful effort and prioritize it. I’ll tell you what, I know a lot of CEOs who just do that. They say, you know, I gotta be out there, I’ll make my secretary block the time. So I hope that was practical.
Drew Neisser: I had an interview actually a couple of times with Beth Comstock when she was at uni and she actually quantified and said she spent 25 percent of her time out of the office, either with customers or with new folks that could sort of inspire her. She said, I’m not a creative person, but boy, did I get a lot of fodder out there. And I love that. I think that’s a good place to wrap it up. I know all of your listeners. You’re going away. My commute was over 20 minutes ago. How can you still be talking anyway? I thought this is a really interesting conversation. First, I want to thank the live audience. Thank you so much for being here with us. Second, I want to thank Thomas. I thought you had so many interesting insights. I love that marketing equals change and as a result of that, you need to be thinking about the value creation that you can do on the highest level possible for the organization. That’s just such a great perspective to have and inspiring. I also so thank you, Thomas, for being on the show. I want to ask you, where can people find you?
Thomas Barta: Well, Thomas Barta, I mean, the good news is not many people have that name. So if you Google me, I’ll pop up everywhere. The other thing is if you have some cash left, tough parts of the market leader. I’ll make a dollar per book. So you make me seriously rich by buying it. No seriously, that’s how publishing works. But if you want to learn or perhaps do something for your team, it is currently still the only leadership book out there for marketers. I believe we can probably all make a difference.
Drew Neisser: And if I all of the folks that are in the audience today, we’ve got copies for you, so consider yourself lucky. Oh, awesome. Yeah. There you go. To the listeners, thank you for hanging with us on the show.