Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Tale of Two CMO's: A Study in Contrasts

As someone that's spent the last 16 years of his life doing some form of advertising or marketing, I've been thinking a lot about what an exciting, yet anxious time this must be for most chief marketing officers (CMOs). To that end, there are still a number of CMOs and marketers that have chosen to ignore or hide from recent trends like social media and its ability to help brands -- big and small -- retain, engage and ultimately grow their current customer base.

While there is nothing to say that the strategies and tools that marketers have used for decades can't still be effective, there are also a number of new tools that could greatly benefit their efforts. To help illustrate this point, I've decided to create a five part blog series titled, A Tale of Two CMO's. The series will juxtapose the approaches of two marketing leaders with different backgrounds and viewpoints by asking them to answer questions -- some that I will ask, others that I hope the readers of this blog will contribute. Each post will focus on a different marketing goal such as:
  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action
post script: I've updated items 2-4 based on my colleague, Joe Jaffe's, AIDA version of the marketing funnel in his new book, Flip the Funnel.

To help bring the series to life, I've fleshed out the personas for Mr. "old school" CMO and Ms. "I'm okay with change" CMO. My goal is to post a new installment every week for the next five weeks -- in a perfect world, this will be every Wednesday morning -- but please know that I live in a far from perfect world.

Meet Our Two CMOs

Who: James Hossenpfeifer, CMO of a large consumer package goods company
Age: 61
Education: BA from Notre Dame, MBA from University of Michigan
Likes: Single malt scotch, World War II movies, Frank Sinatra and weekends at the country house
Favorite publications: The Financial Times, AdAge, Businessweek and the Wall Street Journal
Tools of choice: Direct mail, inserts, primetime television ads, print ads, the occasional outdoor ad to mix things up and recently, takeover ads on some of the larger networks like Yahoo.
Experience: During his first 12 years, James worked as an account exec on Madison Avenue for two well-known ad agencies. Feeling stuck in his career, he took two years off for B-school and then jumped to the client side at age 36. Since then, he's held senior level marketing positions at three Fortune500 companies, the latest being the title of chief marketing officer at his current company (current tenure, 14 years).

Who: Tessa Brown
Age: 34
Education: BA from Columbia, MBA from Emory University.
Likes: Malbecs, spending time with her husband and two daughters, Coldplay and tv shows, Grey's Anatomy and Madmen
Favorite publications: AdAge, Adweek, MarketingSherpa, the Wall Street Journal and marketing/PR blogs by people like Brian Solis and Seth Godin.
Tools of choice: e-mail, select television and online advertising, event sponsorship, corporate blog and most recently a little Twitter and a lot of Facebook Fanpage
Experience: started off as a marketing manager at a fast-growing startup where she quickly rose to the rank of VP of marketing. Following the birth of her second child, she left the startup world for B-School at Emory University in Atlanta. Tessa took a plum job as SVP of marketing at a Fortune1000 services company. A year ago Tessa was promoted to chief marketing officer -- a title she's still working on getting comfortable with.

So now you know are two CMO's. And yes, I am playing a little bit of the stereotype card here with the old/young thing but I figured that that would be part of the fun.

To make this more exciting, I'd love to field questions in the comments section of this blog that I'd be willing to "ask" each of the CMO's prior to upcoming posts. For example, I'll have both CMO's answer the question, "if you had to cut your marketing budget by 25% next year, how would this impact the amount that you spend on generating brand awareness."

POST SCRIPT (1/8/11): I've added links to the other posts in the series below. Enjoy!


  1. This will make for a fun narrative, Aaron. Here's the most fundamental question of all "Who owns the brand?"

  2. I want to know how these two interpret the "perceived" need to be involved in social networks during a sluggish sales season. Can they justify a position for staying out of this potentially revolutionary, but longer-term strategy to sales (ie no hard selling, social is conversation based, takes time). The hypothetical struggle is: "client's think they need to be involved, but want immediate returns - what's your pitch/position?"
    : D Fun idea btw.

  3. Wow - two FANTASTIC questions for our CMOs. We will make sure that we grill the hell out of James and Tessa over the next couple of weeks.

  4. I think it's leading the witness a bit to write, "...there are still a number of CMOs and marketers that have chosen to ignore or hide from recent trends like social media and its ability to help brands..."

    Just because a CMO doesn't invest resources and dollars heavily in social media, it doesn't mean she or he is necessarily ignoring or hiding from it. Like you and probably most other readers, I am a social media true believer. But not diving wholeheartedly into social media doesn't mean the CMO is a coward or an ostrich (or incompetent). My sense is that many continue to take a wait-and-see attitude. That's somewhat understandable, particularly with organizations that are particularly set in their ways, risk-averse, and/or in more traditional industries.

    Of course, there are many downsides of coming late to the party. So I'd be curious to ask James and Tessa how important they think it is -- to brand leadership, to competitive advantage, etc. -- to actively participating on the Social Web *now*, as opposed to waiting until you "feel the is right."

  5. Consistency in brand/message being a given, what are some of the things (tangible and intangible) that must be considered throughout cross-channel marketing - web site, mobile, social, email, print/DM, TV, etc.? And which companies do/don't the 'best' job with this, why/why not?

  6. Matthew - thank you for stopping by to stir things up. It's always boring when everyone just agrees with one another. So let me start by saying, yes, I did kick this off with a leading question. However, I don't want people to think that I am calling any CMO's cowards or ostriches. What I am trying to imply is that certain CMO's are hoping that social is just a fad that will fade over time because quite frankly, social can be a scary thing (and I mean that genuinely). Not because of the harm it can do to a brand but rather the transformational effect it can have on a business.

    My goal for this little project is to help frame the mindsets of the two extreme ends of the CMO spectrum in order to facilitate a dialogue and create some common ground somewhere in the middle. With that said, your comment will help keep me honest and from drifting into the easy path of bashing versus offering up constructive criticism.

    I look forward to your thoughts on this as it evolves.

    Aaron | @aaronstrout

  7. Mike - another good question. Thanks for helping make this project more fun and rewarding.

  8. BTW - I asked, purposefully, in hoping to hear from both CMOs and how their opinions might differ in this day and age with so many channels available

  9. Aaron - In hindsight, my post does sound more combative than it was meant to be. I know you well enough to know that you've got immense respect for everyone in business, whatever their role or perspective.

    You summarized things perfectly with the phrase "social can be a scary thing" (can I steal that phrase for my own blog post?) and the observation on how transformational it is on the business. Kind of like, once you go social, there's no turning back. (I like how Sam Lawrence, formerly of Jive Software, used to say "The toothpaste is out of the tube.") And that's definitely a scary prospect.

    BTW, I love the Two CMOs format, and look forward to the rest of the posts in this series.

  10. Matthew - we're good. ;)

    I would be flattered if you used "social can be a scary thing" for your own blog post. BTW, that phrase by our friend, Sam Lawrence, was also one of my favorites!

  11. I am quite surprised after reading this post, how two different personalities can be involved in social networks during a sluggish sales season.

  12. Aaron, what a good idea! Building up conversation with the contrast of arguments in the both of the same rope is one good dimension - what about adding the dimension of the corporate culture the personas work within? The stereotype cards to play here could be 'good old we know it all product driven culture' vs 'we listen to the world and have our ears close to rails marketing driven culture'. Kind of broadcast culture vs youcast culture. Could be interesting to see old James in a youcast kind of company maybe will make him shine... And Tessa stucked up in a stiff white shirt/black tie kind of company will... ;-)

    Benny Forsberg, CMO Squace, Stockholm Sweden

  13. Benny -- I like you're thinking. In the second installment, I tried to make James and Tessa more similar than you'd think they would be. Not sure I will turn James into a "youcaster" but I may have a trick or two up my sleeves still.

  14. That is somewhat understandable, particularly with organizations that particularly set in their ways, risk-averse, and/or in more traditional industries.

  15. I love this idea and will be following it Aaron. I know you're going to do your best to be even handed, but I'm curious as to how you're creating their personalities and from what "pool" they will be drawing their opinions from?

    All "stereotypes" we each perceive are necessarily colored by our own psyches. Will we be looking at two sides of Aaron Strout, or are you creating composites drawn from the experiences and preferences of colleagues you interview for this purpose? Just wondering.

    Either way, I'd like to see something about the brands and cultures of the companies they represent, independent of their personalities. Many companies have CMO's who will do the right thing by their corporate brand even when it isn't in alignment with their own views. It would be interesting to me if one of them WOULD delve into Social, because they felt it was the right move for their product line and brand, even though they have no personal interest, nor predilection to deal with it themselves. Would they hire a team of social Community Managers and use a hands off approach? How would that differ from the management style of a CMO who WAS Social savvy and hands on? What would be the effect on successes, failures, dedication to the methods for each company?

    This whole exercise could be a fascinating course study at a university!

    Darin Kirschner~