Digital is in my blood. It is the way I look at the world, and it is my starting point for reimagining the customer experience.
I see opportunities and challenges in equal measure. They're what keep me up at night and put a spring in my step each morning. I am an optimist at heart, so let’s start with the opportunities.
3 Opportunities That Propel Me Out Of Bed In The Morning
1. The ease of innovation: Marketers today have more leeway to think out of the box, thanks, in part, to the ability to quickly assess the effectiveness of initiatives. “Test and learn” can now be applied to new media, platforms, and formats just as much as to creative–making marketing a true, real-time connector of business and the customer. What an exciting time.
2. The abundance of customer engagement opportunities: Just as our customers have so many choices for how they can connect and engage with us, so, too, do we as marketers have an equal wealth of choices for how we can engage with them. From the more established platforms of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to emerging platforms such as Storify, Whisper, Medium, or even Google+, quality, authentic customer engagement is more attainable than ever before and is the new standard against which all of marketing programs will be measured.
3. Answers at our fingertips: Thanks to big data, we marketers have answers to more questions than we even know to ask. Those companies able to interpret all that data to hear what their customers are saying and then act accordingly will be at a distinct competitive advantage. But for all of the emphasis on “Math Men” quant gurus able to slice and dice that data, the insights derived serve us (and our customers) best when they inform creative. This is a critical shift in marketing, and one that I believe will, finally, enable us to market in ways that are truly relevant (and resonant) to our customers.
3 Challenges That Keep Me Up At Night
1. Managing the complexity: Marketing is more involved than ever before. Connecting with the right customers at the right time in the right way now seems to have the logistical and technical complexity of manned space flight. Where to start? How to set my priorities? Should I be thinking short term? Long term? My good friend Deborah Wahl, CMO of McDonald’s, advised me to focus on just three initiatives for the company to rally around.
2. Acting quickly enough: The pressure on any CMO is enormous, and I am no exception. I feel a powerful sense of urgency to deliver quickly to help the company. Planning cycles that once occurred annually have shortened to quarterly and even monthly. The landscape is changing fast, and companies must be nimble enough to respond. Keeping up requires that we adapt and execute faster than ever before.
3. Setting (and sticking to) priorities: It’s hard to say no to promising ideas for innovations and initiatives. You can almost hear the grumblings in the hallways. But, while innovation and new ideas take center stage in today’s world, they lack context or history or benchmarks against which to measure. Choosing which ones to pursue can feel like a leap of faith. Success depends on focusing company resources astutely. And, yes, this requires prioritizing (see Challenge #1).
What I do know for certain is that one of the best parts of this job is the time I get to spend with our customers and partners. Each time I meet with them, I am energized by their passion and buoyed by their successes.
I’ll end with this: A the 4A’s conference in March, I participated in a great debate hosted by Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia, around technology and ecosystems. There are no easy answers, but, boy, the challenge of it sure is fun. Just like the role of the CMO.