American Express, the financial services provider, has tested a “learning curriculum” in a bid to empower its marketers at a time of disruption across the industry.

Elizabeth Rutledge, the CMO of American Express, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2018 Masters of Marketing conference.

“We’re 60 days into a marketing pilot around a learning curriculum,” she revealed. (For more, read WARC’s free-to-access-report: How Amex uses training to avert marketing disruption.)

The main areas of focus include customer insights, measurement and analytics, creativity, innovation and an exploration of marketing channels.

A key insight from its learning program, Rutledge said, is it “really needs to be bespoke … If you are a digital-acquisition manager, versus a programmatic-media buyer, versus a brand manager, you need to understand different sets of skills.”

That means a generic learning program would automatically have some holes to patch. “We’re finding that we really have to customise it,” said Rutledge.

Moreover, she added, “and this is no surprise both to Amex, and maybe to a lot of large organizations, an American Express education program needs to be ‘Amex-ized.’

“Yes, you learn those skills at a foundational level. But, you also have to run them through the specific Amex processes, infrastructure [and] system.”

During the ANA conference, it was announced that Rutledge will serve on a dedicated “Talent and Organisation” committee forming part of the CMO Growth Council, an initiative co-sponsored by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Cannes Lions (a sister company of WARC).

Another finding from the first 60-day wave of instruction at Amex, she explained, is the need to build new agility methodologies into the business-as-usual marketing-communications processes.

One indicator of this shift, she offered, is that “we’re empowering our employees to broaden their scrum teams and make decisions right on the spot".

Looking beyond the quick-time lessons from the 60-day program, Rutledge believes, “we need to define what marketing is. And it needs to be a more expansive definition than the one we have now.”

More specifically, this refreshed definition needs to incorporate a recognition of the maturation in departmental purpose “from marketer to collaborator”.

With that new role in mind, she continued, marketers at American Express are learning to embrace a “Be-Do-Say” ethos: “Marketing is about who you are; it comes from what you do ... What you say follows [that identity].”

Sourced from WARC