Marketers must adapt

18 March 2011

NEW YORK: A "new breed" of marketer is required to meet the challenges of the globalised and digitally-connected world, possessing skills covering everything from strategy to robust measurement.

Industry body the CMO Council - boasting 6,000 members, from 110 countries and handling $200bn in spending a year – tracks the latest trends influencing communications professionals.

"Today's cmo is someone who is measured by their ability to deliver results," Donovan Neale-May, the CMO Council's executive director, told the Financial Times.

"It's not about the brand, it's more about revenues and yield and value, and how you optimise those through technology, new organisational structures, and metrics."

Neale-May suggested core competencies now extend to establishing strategic priorities, engaging consumers and proving ROI, functions demanding attention in several nations simultaneously.

"Today, it's a much more globalised market, so an international background helps," he said.

Salesforce, the customer relationship management specialist, has tailored its approach to suit various outlets, but also focuses on a unified proposition applicable for every client.

"In Japan, our number two market, they are using a different range of products from their US counterparts," said Kendall Collins, the firm's chief marketing officer.

"There are a lot of nuances when you think about managing a global team, but at the end of the day, you are working to create a consistent message across your brand."

Such adaptability plays an equally vital role when it comes to exploiting emerging technological developments, from social networks like Facebook and Twitter to Apple's iPhone and iPad.

"Our mix has changed enormously over the past five years towards the web, digital and social media," said Tony Palmer, chief marketing officer of Kimberly-Clark, owner of Huggies and Kleenex.

Despite this fluctuating environment, the overarching aim underpinning all campaigns remains constant, he added.

"We define marketing as the object of selling more stuff to more people for more money more often," said Palmer.

Although many marketers bemoan the absence of formal board-level recognition, Palmer argued that the target should be to forge strong internal partnerships.

"People talk a lot about needing to have the chief executive back you, but I'll take a counter view," he said.

"It's important, but no more important than that a group president has the support of their chief executive. The important thing is to have the confidence of your peers, so they see you as a partner."

Jim Farley, Ford's chief marketing officer, stated agreement on corporate, and communications, goals are essential components of the automaker's revival, led by chief executive Alan Mulally.

"As soon as I met Alan, I understood his vision for the company," he said.

"We both feel the same about including everyone. We included the dealers in the brand campaign, the creative, and the tag line. Both of us approach work the same way."

Data storage provider EMC operates in a sector which has seen substantial innovation and competition during the last few years.

"These days [chief marketing officers] are under pressure to justify their existence," Jeremy Burton, EMC's cmo, said.

"If you go back 10 or 15 years, marketing was very much an art. It was about sitting down with an agency and creating a Zen environment to create the brand image."

"These days, marketing is a much a science as an art."

Lisa Arthur, cmo of software firm Aprimo, thus asserted a "new breed" of marketer is necessary.

"We've reached a point where we need a new breed of marketing innovator, someone who is not only tech-savvy, but also a true business leader," she said.

Data sourced from Financial Times/Forbes; additional content by Warc staff