Mike Linton, former CMO of eBay and Best Buy, Columnist for Forbes
As you might expect from someone who has this kind of experience there was plenty to discuss on the topic of ‘CMO Calculus: Balancing Innovation and Results’. My head was actually spinning after this one. Like most of the information that you get at these shows it’s not really a surprise because most of it makes sense when you hear it. What is interesting , however, is the sheer volume of things to consider.
Linton spoke about how if you are doing everything in your marketing efforts from a defensive position you will lose. Being on the marketing defensive is the result of no innovation. Marketing on the defensive kills growth while making stagnation and mediocrity common. In other words, if you are not pushing and innovating you are in what could be called the death throes of marketing. Note to self: Avoid this at all costs.
As for innovation he made it clear not to confuse actions (like price cutting) with innovating. It may look like a new approach but it is not innovation. According to Linton
Marketing innovation is trying something truly new designed to change the behavior of customers in a way that benefits the innovator.
The next presenter, Ken Wirt, VP Consumer Marketing of Cisco Systems took the audience through his experience of taking one of the most recognized brands in the technology world and associating the performance of the brand with consumer benefits using consumer generated media. I spoke with him after his talk and he said that many consumers don’t know that Cisco is involved in their lives but that the brand enables a lot of what they do every day.
While traditional Cisco customers care about technology, the average person setting up a home network is thinking about what it provides them with. They care about the benefits and not the features. They desire freedom and Cisco products can give that to them with the same brand that is integral to the inner workings of the Internet as a whole with its products like routers, switches and more.
The resulting consumer generated videos using students to make them, told those kinds of stories in a way that made Cisco the enabler of freedom and choice for people like Tim Ferris. This presentation had followed an attendee poll where 74% of the people in attendance felt that consumers telling their stories in their words was the most effective way to reach a customer. Timely indeed.
One caution offered by Wirt that it is best to provide some boundaries for the structure of CGM campaigns. People respond more when given direction as evidenced by the amount of video Cisco received, which was a lot. The folks on the other side of the Cisco ledger, the true technical users, tried the same idea but gave no guidance on how to put together the videos and received only 5 entries. People like direction but just enough to get them started with restricting them.
Summarizing these presentations is tough because there is a ton of great insights from the people that you don’t hear from which are the guys and gals at the top of the marketing food chain with all the responsibility and pressure that today’s marketing environment can bring. With the average CMO lifespan at 23 months, it can’t be easy.