In partnership with The CMO Club, Drew Neisser, CEO of the social/marketing firm Renegade, has interviewed and written about nearly 100 club members.  As you might imagine, Drew has amassed a range of insights on marketing overall as well as specific thoughts on CMO effectiveness.  Some of these came to light at the recent roundtable of CMO Award winners that Drew moderated so we thought this was a good time to turn the spotlight around.

Pete: Thanks for moderating the CMO Award winner roundtable.  It was a great conversation overall.  What was your key takeaway? 

Drew:  As the CMOs introduced themselves and shared their top challenges, it started to remind me of the old Monty Python “You Were Lucky” sketch in which four Yorkshiremen one up each other with tales of their tough childhoods. All kidding aside, the reality is that being a CMO is a very hard job but chances are there are other CMOs that have bigger challenges and more importantly, there are other CMOs to talk to that have already addressed or overcome your issues.

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Pete:  What were some of the more common challenges mentioned? 

Drew: One big area was measurement as CMOs struggled to build simple yet useful dashboards, optimize their marketing mixes and deal with complex attribution models.  Given the range of businesses present, the conversation couldn’t move to a universal solution set for this challenge other than to suggest that each CMO define the metrics in the context of their CEO’s overall goals and understanding of how marketing works.

Pete: Interesting.  Organizational issues were also brought up a lot in the roundtable.  What did you hear?

Drew: CMOs have a lot of departmental dependencies that can impact marketing effectiveness but that aren’t always under their direct control.  For example, a number of CMOs brought up the challenge of aligning interests with their IT teams with whom they need to develop websites, CRM solutions and all other digital programs.  Among those CMOs who had had success collaborating with IT, the most common suggestion was to meet as often as possible (even socially) to gain mutual respect and trust.

Pete: I know you’re a big believer in content marketing.  What was the conversation like on that topic? 

Drew:  It was really interesting.  While there was universal belief that just about all of them needed an effective approach to content marketing, there was little consensus on how to tackle this challenge.  Some were big believers in finding the right external partners while others felt this needed to be an in-house competency.  One of the more interesting expressed goals was to find a way to deliver the right content at just the right time “without being creepy.”

Pete:  What should CMOs be thinking about when it comes to content?

Drew:  Let’s start with the fact that in all likelihood 99% of the content they are creating is being completely ignored by their customers and prospects.  We have noticed, through our Social Media Audits, that one of the big reasons for this is that most brand content just isn’t all that interesting either visually or verbally.  This is sin number one which is quickly followed by sin number two, creating lots of individual posts that don’t add up – somewhere along the line, marketers forgot about the idea of campaigns when it comes to social and content marketing.

Pete: Tell me a bit more about Renegade’s Social Media Audits?

Drew: Renegade started doing audits 5 years ago when big brands were just getting their feet wet in social and needed a step-by-step road map that defined strategy, metrics, brand voice, targets and channels.  Interest in these audits has actually increased of late as fast-growing midsized brands are looking for every possible competitive advantage they can get.  Our process has evolved along the way and includes more tools, more interviews and more solution sets.

Pete: What’s the biggest mistake you are seeing in social media right now?

Drew: Funny enough, most brands have stopped being “social” and simply are looking at social channels as another means of pushing out messages.  Not surprisingly, consumers are ignoring these messages. Nonetheless, the opportunity to become a social brand remains, and that starts with listening, not just to what consumers are saying about your brand, but also about your category and their lives in general.  Brands that listen well tend to have their operational house in better order, develop products that meet new needs faster and resolve issues quicker than their deafer competitors.

Pete: Okay Drew, I have to ask, what the heck is a “Social/Marketing Agency?”  

Drew:  LOL!  Here’s the truth—Renegade has a long track record of helping clients cut through by developing highly targeted multi-channel programs–programs built around razor sharp insights.  Today these insights are often found via social media listening and our solutions tend to leverage (although they are not limited to) social and content marketing.  So, I suppose you could call us a Socially Inspired, Strategically Driven, Content Rich, Channel Neutral Marketing Agency but nobody’s searching for that on Google right now.  So, Social/Marketing Agency sounds a bit better, don’t you think?