Data is driving the rise of the CMO and with it a disruptive role change. This is the launch of a series of posts that review this change, what it means to the business and a few lessons learned, the hard way!
The final season of Mad Men has started airing and its timing couldn’t be more prophetic. Not only are Don Draper and the firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce going through tumultuous change but all of society as well. Their lives, their roles and the world as they know it is moving in a direction they don’t yet understand, predict or control. What they and their business yet realize is this is the beginning of the end for Mad Men. Marketing by intuition, personality and “controlling the conversation.”
Except for Millennials, Mad Men are what we in the marketing world have grown up with, trained under and built careers following – obsessing over every color, font size, dissecting every word and debating for days. Marketing by hunches, past experience and controlling information, the selling process and dominating the conversation. That has now changed forever.
Thanks to the Internet's gateway to information and easy access to peers, buyers are keenly aware of solutions in very little time – references are easily discovered on social media through blogs, forums, LinkedIn and more. It is no longer a selling process but a buying process, and the buyers are in control
What is rapidly emerging is a new breed of CMOs – Math Men. These CMOs are focused on the entire customer experience, gathering insights from data about the buying process and collaborating with buyers in that process. These CMOs are using data to reduce the risk of intuition, the “mystery” in marketing and the debates on what is working, focusing resources on programs and ideas that deliver results.
In this new world order, Math Men CMOs are outperforming Mad Men CMOs. The IBM Institute for Business Value just released their 2014 CMO study,"Stepping Up to the Challenge, CMO Insights from the Global C-suite Study". The study interviewed 524 CMOs from all over the world and a variety of industries. Math Men (Digital Pacesetters in the report) and their enterprises have a deeper understanding of their customer and are 60% more likely to be financial outperformers. Moreover, Math Men CMOs invite their customers to play a part in shaping the strategic direction in products and services they offer and are 59% more likely to outperform their peers.
This is not limited to business but a part of a broader trend effecting governments and societies. The past two U.S. Presidential Elections demonstrated how data driven campaigns outperform traditional Mad Men campaigns in getting out the vote, grassroots fundraising and focusing resources on key swing districts for maximum results. Money was not the deciding factor, data was.
"Inside the Secret World of Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win" provides some of the details on the impact data driven decision making helped the 44th President win a second term.
Data driven CMOs have found that data equals proof and transparency. However, it’s not a perfectly predictable formula. There is a need to decipher good data from bad, develop accurate reporting, the skill to analyze and put the conclusions into action quickly.
With our eminent demise, now what?
The great news, unlike our friends at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, our season is not coming to end. We can re-write our story. In the words of Don Draper “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation”. While not without its challenges, the move to a data driven CMO has been the most exciting marketing challenge of my career.
When we first embraced data driven marketing in 2007, it was with marketing automation for B2B IT infrastructure solutions. Some of the challenges were addressing data quality, finding leaks in reporting and evolving the Mad Men mindsets. But the advantages quickly became clear – innovating marketing ideas and blending data with instincts. We were able to validate what was working and worth doubling down on, A/B testing of a new idea or program quickly, and finding bottlenecks in our sales and marketing process in real-time so we could quickly fix them.
We also learned that the speed of our IT infrastructure had a direct impact on how quickly we could gather data, analyze and take action which required thinking about performance differently – increasing performance without adding infrastructure hardware. Like any business, there is never enough resources, time or a shorter list of things to do and marketing teams waste time waiting for data to be collected, processed and analyzed. In a market where the speed of business is always accelerating, this was critical.
Becoming a data driven CMO allows for greater contribution and influence on the business. Data driven sales and marketing can provide more accurate sales forecasting, optimized sales and marketing spend with improved ROI, and the ability to see and head off problems before they go critical. And the most important, provide the opportunity to innovate your marketing.
Additionally, your team can stop obsessing and start working. The marketing organization will be more effective, getting exposure without breaking the bank, tons of counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you while creating differentiation and collaboration with your customers.
So while Mad Men are going the way of old-fashions in the office, Math Men can still use great colors, smart copy and intuition but with an unprecedented opportunity to advance their businesses in meaningful ways and provide a unique customer experience.