The 1999 CMO vs 2014 Digital Marketer

In 15 years we have evolved a lot in the world of marketing. Remember back in 1999 we very much in the emerging Internet era and banner ads, search engines, email marketing and online affiliate marketing while in the earlier stages were still in the arsenal of the marketer if they so chose. Well I am here to tell you the CMO of 1999 who didn’t really understand all things digital (sorry Walt & Kara) still is here in 2014.

This has nothing to do with age nor with their ability to be a power user of modern technologies. It really comes down to what matters to them when it comes to modern marketing. That key attribute is a strict and all encompassing adherence to data and analytics to every campaign endeavor and strategic plan which underpins all the creativity that generates from that marketing department. This commitment is clear with no compromise and is a founding principal at the top of the department, meaning the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

I should mention that the reason you want the 2014 version is threefold;

  1. The obvious reason being you want to work with, for or invest in a modern function head who is at the cutting edge of marketing giving you organization and the team the best chance for success and growth.
  2. Marketers who are experts solely in TV, Radio and/or Print are like factory line workers who are experts in the old fashioned production line. These are declining aspects of society and totally ignore the digital and mobile revolution that is fast encroaching on their entire territory
  3. The 2014 version is willing to be held to account to hard and verifiable metrics just like a Sales Head or Chief Engineer is in an organization and can’t rely on “soft” unverifiable sentiment to justify their actions like a politician tends to all to often do.


How do you spot a dinosaur?

I have been in many meetings with marketing leaders of large and small companies, selling products to them, negotiating partnerships and even job interviews.  Generally within the first 5 minutes of the marketing head opening their mouth you can tell if they truly belong in a 2014 world or operate in a headspace where Sears, The Gap, Circuit City, Print Newspapers and Mad Men agency style marketing strategy still matter.

Here are the traits to look out for in your marketing leader whether you are hiring them, being hired by them, working with them, choosing to partner with them or investing funds in their company. It is not that they need all of these characteristics but a majority is a great sign whereas a few or none would mean something between proceed with extreme caution or just walk away.

  • Power Spreadsheet Users
  • Business Analyst in Department
  • Devoting Funds to Digital & Mobile with Channel Specialists
  • Universal Tracking
  • Lean Approach to Marketing
  • Strong Working Relationship to Product Group

Power User of Excel or other Spreadsheet Program
I do mean a power user of these type of programs as someone who is not only comfortable using a lot of the features and formulas to do reporting and analysis but also a person who uses it as a go to app to do ad hoc calculations of ideas and events every day. I am a strong advocate of testing all marketing employees on their Excel skills because it not just about being able to use the program, it is the mindset that person brings to marketing as a strongly data driven practice.

Business Analyst in Department
These people can be known by many titles but their core function remains the same as it relates to Marketing. They are folks that are deep diving into the hard numbers of the business to optimize a process, a marketing channel, integration with product and sales, providing insights to customers and for content marketing efforts and finally being the go to people in an organization to bring an advanced scientific approach to the marketing function. If a marketing head is not actively looking to create this role or add to the elite team they already have with people with great passion for math, engineering, science and/or statistics and able to converse with this person intelligently then you are probably closer to a 1999 version.

Digital & Mobile Investment
The amazing thing that has happened in marketing since the dawn of the Internet era in the mid 90s is the ability to finitely track. This ability has only enhanced over the years despite various types of hurdles but it allows the marketer to assess their investments in a given down to the individual user, click or view action, engagement with content and across multiple channels. Therefore if someone has spent $1M in Search Engine Marketing versus $1M in Print Ads I will be able to tell to the penny exactly what the digital investment returned and optimize the campaign spend in real time as data dictates. This isn’t just about ads, it includes online content, websites, mobile apps, emails and more and allows the marketing function to be far more nimble and accountable.

Universal Tracking
This is the always on the strategic plan goal of the 2014 marketer to ensure that significant resources and timely effort is constantly being devoted in daily practice to ensure that we are tracking everything that we do and create. This is not to stifle innovation or creativity but rather to measure it and drive future innovation from the learnings of the past. If you ask a CMO and they can’t tell you the performance about any of their channels and how they derive their results and ideally the interplay between their various efforts then you have a 1999 version.

Lean Approach
In the widely acclaimed The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, he has put forward an approach to product development both in early stage companies with limited resources and for new innovation with traditional companies that is nimble, constantly tests hypothesis in live environments and subject to constant measure. It also uses funds and resources in a prudent and agile manner. This methodology should be equally true of marketing functions. Marketing is one of those lucky functions in an organization that can operate effectively hiring personnel behind the need unlike sales and engineering which ideally needs personnel ahead of the demand to best allow the business to prosper. Marketing is able to utilize contractors, interns, agencies and outside platforms to offset need in the near term without severely disrupting operations and business success while mitigating risk with outside parties unlike sales and engineering. So if you see lumbering teams with a lack of clarity then you have a 1999 marketing team.

Strong Relationship with Product Group
It is often and rightly said that when Marketing and Sales function are working well then you will have a high performing business. Well I believe that is only part of the story as that is the outbound function of the business is performing well but the internal one is dependent on the strong working relationship between Marketing and Product. Traditional marketers coming from Arts and Humanities backgrounds have often not had a productive relationship with Product functions who largely come from Engineering and Science backgrounds. Their respective views of the world and looking at ways of doing things often bring up hostile reactions rather than cooperation. Well as 2014 marketers are adding science to their repertoire and product people are being increasingly taught Lean Startup principals and to not ignore external feedback a productive dialogue can now take place in high performing 2014 companies.

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