The 2021 CMO Club EMEA Innovation & Inspiration Summit was attended by more than 130 top marketing leaders from across the globe. During the event, they explored the role of the CMO as a business accelerator, engagement expert, and change leader. The event was filled with straight-talking conversations, peer networking, and intimate breakout sessions.

The CMO Club is a ‘safe space’ for marketing leaders to share their true opinions, and there are few people better at cutting through noise than columnist, consultant, and marketing professor, Mark Ritson.

Simple strategies, visible leaders

Mark was joined on the virtual ‘main stage’ by London Chapter President and Global SVP of Digital Transformation at Bacardi, Sebastian Micozzi, to give their thoughts and lend their insights into questions from fellow marketers.  When it comes to ‘what must CMOs do to evolve marketing strategies that drive growth and enhance revenue’, Mark’s response couldn’t have been more clear: keep it simple. With so many marketing plans and strategies blown out of the water by the pandemic, CMOs need to come back to three core principles: Who are you targeting? How will you position? And what are your core marketing objectives? These are strategies that don’t need to be complex – just designed appropriately for the year ahead.

Mark believes the best CMOs over the last 12 months are the ones who have simply been doing their jobs.

The CMO is the chief representative of the customer – nobody else gives a $#@£ about customers in the organisation…We are the ones that say what the customers are doing or thinking, and bring that into the boardroom.
– Mark Ritson

When asked how CMOs can evolve strategies to drive change, Sebastian Micozzi honed in on the importance of marketing leaders being just that – leaders. He likened the CMO, during the course of a pandemic at least, to a Field Marshall, ready and willing to adjust tactics as rapid changes happen.

Visible leadership is increasingly important. The majority of us have been working from home, so there has been a tendency for leadership to dissipate… It’s critical for leaders to become visible again.
– Sebastian Micozzi

Being real, and salience over identity

What can CMOs do to evolve marketing strategies that deepen customer connections? Mark and Sebastian suggest approaching them with a healthy dose of realism.

We wake up thinking about our brand, what our brand needs to say, the brand point of view, the brand identity… But let’s be clear. Consumers don’t.
– Sebastian Micozzi

The pair had equally stark advice on the topic of brand identity. Today, salience coming to mind in buying situations, irrespective of what you’re known for is five times more important to your business than identity. Mark even going so far as to suggest that some experts believe brand identity no longer plays any role at all. He went on to suggest that the most important thing is being noticed – and it doesn’t always have to be for the most positive reasons. With this in mind, brands can begin to be less inflexible and start to have a little fun.

Time after time brands get into a little trouble and everyone predicts doom and gloom. But the reality is sales go up… because ultimately it means being noticed and coming to mind.
– Mark Ritson

➡ Full recap of the keynote discussion