In the past, CMOs were protective of their turf, often remaining guarded about sharing any details about their brand strategies with other marketing leaders. But today that has changed. Now more than ever, CMOs are building relationships, sharing ideas, and collaborating with one another, particularly in noncompeting industries.
In other words, we’ve let down our guard—and are all the better for it.
As CMO of B2B software marketplace G2.com, I regularly reach out to marketing leaders at companies in a variety of industries, be it retail, technology, or tourism. When I see a great piece of marketing—such as Taco Bell’s social media campaign and Coca Cola’s guerilla marketing campaign—I often call the brand’s CMO or send an email to let the person know. More often than not, I hear back quickly. Likewise, other CMOs have reached out to me, and I always say yes to meeting them.
What do we talk about? All kinds of things. We exchange ideas about how the nature of our work is changing. We discuss the new challenges and opportunities of being what Deloitte calls “growth drivers” for our organizations. We talk about the new marketing software that we’re working with and the incredible frequency of activations for our brands. We discuss the inspirations for great ideas and the environments that help creativity flourish. We consider the data that dictates where marketing is heading. And we share tales about the risks and rewards of watching our organizations evolve.
To be clear, we don’t necessarily have these chats with direct competitors, since that could raise concerns. (Although a 2017 survey did find that 18% of CMOs said they were increasing interactions with competitors on non-price strategies.)
What I’ve Learned
As we respond to the unprecedented pace of change in how business is done, cooperation is becoming more essential than ever. Capgemini reports that we’re in a new era of cross-industry collaboration, and “the real conversation these days is about creating new business models and orchestrating cross-industry customer journeys.” And Ericsson boasts that with its cross-industry collaborations, “there are unlimited opportunities for creating value.”
Some conversations I’ve had led to great insight on risk-taking, how consumers respond to new kinds of pitches and messaging, and new forms of storytelling that highlight brand value.
Learning Across Divides
The relationship-building among today’s CMOs doesn’t just benefit startups looking to gain wisdom from marketing leaders at established enterprises. Sometimes, the disruptors are the ones offering great advice and ideas to power players. CMOs at large enterprises can learn from their counterparts at emerging firms, particularly in terms of how to remain agile, speed up innovation, and improve effectiveness in the use of resources. Likewise, B2B marketers should collaborate with those in B2C, and vice versa.
In fact, that’s why I attended the marketing community’s International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France, which generally draws more B2C leaders.
To my fellow CMOs: I highly encourage you to join this new era of cross-industry relationship-building. We can all learn from one another without sacrificing trade secrets or confidential strategies. It’s an exciting, challenging time. In many ways, we’re all in this together.