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Today's Marketing Cookie - The Conflicted Role of the CMO
"Every important call is a close one."
Today's fortune came from my son Ethan. As you can imagine, today's blog post is a special moment for me, as I have the privilege of introducing him to you. In a few days Ethan will be 12 years old. He want to be an actor and plays the electric guitar and keyboard. He wrote his first song when he was six years old which is often played on a Saturday afternoon kid's show on WERS-FM in Boston. He and I have built a terrific tree house together and as you can see, I am a proud father... and for good reason!
Today's Marketing Cookie is about the conflicted role of the CMO.
Last night, I had the privilege of speaking with Rob Malcolm, a lecturer from the Wharton Business School and one of the greatest marketing minds of our time. During our conversation, he described how the role of Chief Marketing Officer must exist in a constant state of conflict. On the one hand, a CMO must establish rigid boundaries for the consistent, predictable and repeatable delivery of an excellent customer experience, while on the other hand, the CMO must also find new ways to break the established model, create disruption, push the boundaries, and take their brand to new places.
I believe his insight is absolutely correct.
As a CMO, if your marketing message is inconsistent, and your delivery unpredictable, customers cannot develop uncommon loyalty. You must therefore develop a process for how the company will deliver consistent customer delightedness, and you must develop and enforce brand guidelines so prospects and customers will always get what they expect. However, become too rigid and set in your ways, and the customer experience will become stayed and stale. So then, even when you're hitting a home run, and everything is going great, you must have enough courage to break the model and innovate.
When all is going well, it is easy to allow complacency in the door and set up camp in the board room. You've got a good thing going and no one wants to upset the apple cart, so the consensus is to continue deepening the grooves and stay on the rails. They reject anything from outside the guidelines and say, "If it's not broke dude, don't fix it." They've burrowed themselves comfortably into the ground and plan to hibernate for a long winter's nap. Meanwhile, the rest of your competitors are taking risks and trying to innovate and at some point, you may awake from your sleeping to discover a whole new world.
Whether you've been resting on your laurels and suddenly found yourself in great trouble, or if you have been "killing it", you must always be innovating and trying to break the model. Innovation, when everything is on the line, is heart poundingly exciting! I would even say the greatest moments in marketing are not when everything goes perfectly to the predicted outcome, but rather when success is in doubt. The pinnacle of my best is when the competition, the economy and a thousand other factors have forced me to the point of maximum tension between order and chaos. These uncertain times are when I've made absurd, risky choices in the interest of pure survival, and somehow connected with the audience in a remarkable way. This my friends, as today's fortune says, is when every important call is a close one!