As marketers, we each face unique situations in terms of our industry and our business. Some of us run B2B campaigns for technology services firms, while others aim to engage with consumers to build brand loyalty for cosmetics, food products and apparel. At the same time, we share similar core objectives and face similar fundamental challenges.
Which means we can and should learn from each other.
The recent CMO Club Fall Summit in Nashville was an ideal opportunity for marketers from a wide range of backgrounds to exchange ideas and share experiences with their peers. While the speakers and focused panel discussions addressed a variety of specific topics, three themes consistently emerged:
- Effective use of technology
Diversity is obviously a hot topic in business these days. And while we can talk about the importance of fairness and doing the right thing, the most effective argument in favor of diversity is the impact on the bottom line. Findings from a recent study by McKinsey & Company include:
- Ethnically diverse organizations are 35 percent more likely to outperform their competitors
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians
- In the United States, for every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings rise 0.8 percent
The CMO Club Summit in Nashville provided some great insight into the specifics of howdiversity benefits business. At the event, I was fortunate enough to share the podium with my good friend Fabian Urquijo, for a panel discussion on how diversity can impact marketing strategies.
From his perspective on the B2C side, Fabian described how diversity enables the insight needed to understand the specific requirements of niche audiences. And how, by engaging with particular groups, a business can develop “islands” of brand loyalty. As an example, Fabian cited how Revlon has developed hair and skin products specifically for the features of African Americans.
While my challenges as a marketer for a B2B technology services provider are in some ways quite different, diversity is integral to our success as well. And it’s worth noting that “diversity” can mean many things, and can include different experiences, backgrounds and skill sets. My team comprises a mix not only of nationalities and cultures, but of baby boomers and millennials, creatives and analysts. This mix helps us to develop different C-level personas by identifying their pain points, priorities and hot buttons, and then delivering compelling value propositions and creative campaigns to align with those criteria.
Effective Use of Technology
Technology is transforming every area of business, and marketing is no exception. Capabilities around intelligent automation, data analytics and virtual reality are creating new possibilities – and expectations – for marketing professionals. We are continually refining our ability to collect and analyze data to better understand our customers and deliver increasingly personalized, tailored and meaningful interactions.
To take advantage of these tools, we have to develop and manage partnerships with our counterparts in the IT organization. But what’s the best approach? To gain insight into how technology is impacting the marketing function, we at Softtek recently partnered with the CMO Club to conduct a survey of marketing executives. The report identified some of the key challenges facing CMOs, and outlined strategies for partnering with IT. In subsequent discussions with individual CMOs, we dug deeper into issues around measuring ROI of technology investment and keys to successful IT/marketing collaboration.
Agility is essential for marketers to respond to constantly changing environments. And I mean “agility” in a broad sense of mind-set, but also as an organizational discipline. Specifically, the concept of agile marketing as a parallel to agile software development, which is characterized by close collaboration with customers, rapid releases and ongoing testing and evaluation. The agile approach is gaining increasing traction in the technology space, and I believe it is equally valid for marketers.
For me, agile also as a personal connection. As a devotee of the Skanda school of yoga, agility and flexibility, and the ability to go with the flow, are essential to my daily responsibilities as well as to my long-term goals. To respond to ongoing changes in the market and to effectively support and mentor my team, I need to be flexible, focused, persistent and (occasionally) courageous. I need to support transformation – both for my team internally and for our customers. And goodness knows I need to be able to breathe!!