Just as I was about to finish this post, a great article came out on Medium addressing the trials and tribulations of hiring chief marketing officers.
As the author points out, finding genuinely good people for this key position - and for any marketing positions for that matter - is no walk in the park. I have a pretty good idea why.
Want to skip right away to what I feel makes for a great marketer? Then click here.
I’ve worked with a lot of marketers throughout my career. Even in my pure technology days, from the earliest times, they would come to me to better understand certain (or all) technical aspects of a product.
Then later as a pre-sales engineer and evangelist, I worked closely with marketing folks helping them plan GTM, feature highlights, and pain points. Many of the prospects we pitched to were technologists themselves and so, having been in their shoes, it was easy for me to share insight about what made them tick, and what kept them up at night.
I helped marketing teams develop documentation, how-to’s, and battle cards as part of my job was to educate prospects, train customers, communicate with analysts, and keep close tabs on competitors to better position our offering against theirs.
In the luxury watch industry, I worked closely with marketing personalities and agencies to develop advertising collateral, positioning, and messaging. Then at Hublot, I worked with the greatest luxury marketer of all - the Steve Jobs of horology - Jean Claude Biver. In four months with him, I learned more about real-world marketing than most people ever will from any Marketing school worth its salt.
At Autodesk, while planning, building out, and executing on the company’s global digital customer service initiatives, I worked relentlessly with Marketing teams and department leaders integrating our digital efforts across properties, aligning on strategy, metrics, and collaborative efforts. It’s fair to say that without their help and support, we couldn’t have achieved the success we did - politically and operationally - especially on the content publishing side.
At Sprinklr, where I reported to the CEO, COO, and CMO at various times, I was actually part of the Marketing team so there again, I was lucky to work with a small tight-knit group who managed to take a startup from the shadows to the spotlights of an entire industry rubbing elbows with established giants - and eating their lunch in the process.
All my years of operating and working with Marketing people at all levels have given me some precious insight into what makes a great marketer. And it’s not always what you read about in the books.
As the article points out, part of the problem is that your typical marketing leader needs to wear many hats. There isn’t a simple one-liner describing what every marketing person does except maybe “help sell more stuff to more people at higher prices more frequently”.
There are, however - at least in my opinion - a set of characteristics describing great marketers. In purely subjective fashion, I list these attributes in a quick presentation here.
It’s by no means comprehensive, but if you’re looking at a Marketing person who happens to lack one or more of these traits, tread lightly is the best I can suggest.
Happy purple cow hunting!
I’ve been wondering lately about what it means to “win at social”. Specifically, what it means for large organizations to be successful at big social”.
Most executives and social practitioners want to be successful at social for obvious reasons - not the least of which is recouping their investment and keeping their jobs. But few people - at least in my experience - can articulate what “success” means in social across the board. At best it’s one of those “it depends" or "we know it when we see it" kinds of exercise.
So I started wondering if I could come up with a more deterministic approach. A set of observations “normalized” across large brands that anyone could check [X] Yes or [X] No for, and in the end say: if all these attributes are observed, then chances are this company is successful at being social. No matter what industry.
Here’s what I came up with (no particular order):
1. Minimal internal damage - no permanent harm was brought to the organization while evolving from a traditional to a social business. It’s a “do no harm” principle.
2. Operational velocity increased - decision making - and associated action taking - has increased at least one order of magnitude across all facets of the business. Either top-down, or horizontally.
3. Dots are connected - internal siloes may not have vanished entirely, but clear, effective and quick communication lines have been established between them via key people who “get it”. It’s what I call the “organization graph”.
4. Employees are happier - surveys and activity show that employees are happier, more engaged, trained faster, more productive, and prouder of their brand outside the office. Hiring has become quicker and more efficient.
5. No holds barred - the organization has become confident and transparent enough to feel safe admitting errors or problems both internally and externally if needed. As a matter of fact, it’s become one of their strategic communication advantages if and when used judiciously.
6. Customers are happier - albeit a feel-good Kumbaya expression “happy customer” means lowered churn in a SaaS business, and is generally indexed on loyalty metrics. Actually, defining what “happy customers” means for most industries is far from easy.
7. Product (or service) cycles shrink - social drives much faster feedback loops when done right. So the effect should be observable whether you’re producing widgets, software, or providing services. Clearly related to #2 and #3 above of course.
8. Copycat effect - successful social businesses tend to motivate and scare peers by innovating. They’re also quick to try new things. Which sometimes causes competitors to copy then poorly execute similar social initiatives.
9. Publish or perish - successful social brands produce better, more engaging content. I can’t prove this correlation, but have never seen a successful social business produce crappy content - at least not consistently. Part of the reason is that in order to know what to produce, who to produce it for, and how to deploy it, it helps to genuinely be social.
10. KISS - successful social brands have very simple and clear strategies in place. Sometimes deceivingly so. In other words, if their strategy emanates from this site, chances are it’s not very successful at social.
So there you have it folks. Ten tell-tale signs your company might just be winning at social or at least well on its way to be! :)
"LET ME TALK TO YOUR MANAGER!!" - famous last words in traditional customer service channels.
There’s no equivalent on social channels because, quite simply, customers now expect to talk directly to brands on there. So it’s not like they’ll ask you to “escalate” the issue to your social media director or department head because, well, there is no such entity behind a Twitter or Facebook service account. There’s a brand, or a brand’s customer care division, and that’s about it.
If you don’t get satisfaction, you can make more noise, get nasty, rally the troops around a cause, even make a viral video - or buy negative ad placement on Twitter - and cause all sorts of PR problems for a brand. But you still can’t “talk to the manager”.
However, that’s not exactly true. Because in fact, some brands have a social CEO and people will - believe me - hit him or her up real fast if they have unresolved issues. That was the case at Autodesk with CEO Carl Bass. It’s also true at ING and a few other big logos. “Few” being the keyword unfortunately.
That’s a shame because I think brands are more humanized by having C-level folks on social networks. There’s a sense of authentic and genuine care by doing that - it’s like the whole “family” from top to bottom is out there in the fray listening and caring about what customers have to say.
Some folks will say “Well, you can’t have a C-exec on social. Their accounts will get hacked or abused or flooded”. Nonsense. In my experience, people are fair and reasonable about hitting up Top Honchos for stupid reasons.
And if they do, it probably means the brand’s mainstream social care channels have a problem. Happy loyal customers don’t typically ask for a manager. But if they do, they should have a pathway to appeal. In turn, you get a clue.
So if you want your brand to be perceived as more “human”, and if you want to really be social - as opposed to just doing the social jig - put your top dogs on the wire. It’s only fair to you and your customers.