What I Learned From 150 CMOs

deb cmo blog post finalThe Spring 2016 CMO Club and Inspiration Summit, a two-day gathering of CMOs in New York, was the perfect venue to gain perspective and learn from some of the world’s top marketing leaders. They shared their ideas, concerns, visions and amazing personal stories. But beyond the tremendous shares, there were many intimate and informal mind-melding, brainstorming breakout sessions. It was an amazing environment to humanize brands by seeing them in a unique, neutral environment.

My insights coming out of the summit served as subtle reminders to step back, realize we know what we’re doing, and share similar visions for growth in this digital transformation landscape.

Be Genuine:
As our daily interactions become increasingly digital, we hunger after something genuine (click to tweet). What consumers and customers really want is not a product or a service, but an experience—an experience that is more honest, transparent and authentic. Who is in charge: the customer.

Jeff Jones, the CMO of Target, reminded us not to forget to be great marketers in this noisy data-driven world and how we must have clarity in order to bring a unique perspective and create value.

“Customers thrive on authenticity. That’s why social influencers are increasingly popular. Customers can relate to these figures and trust their opinions, advice and, consequently, the products they endorse. People also want to know what good companies are doing for the world.”

Recognize The Value of True Believers:
Corey Maynard, VP of Marketing, YETI Coolers
, said, “Start with true believers—they become multipliers of your brand. Don’t have the first time someone is exposed to your brand be in the form of an ad.”

Today, nothing is more valuable than genuine advocates and influencers, both within your organization and beyond, who believe in your brand, product or their jobs. Corey Maynard’s belief in his product shone through during his presentation. It was so compelling that I actually went out and bought one! I can’t see how much more influence a person can have than a genuine passion for what he or she does.

Build Emotional Connections with Consumers:
Emily Culp, the CMO of Keds
saw the value of narrower targeting when she created a Keds campaign that focused on empowering women. The company went back in time to tell the story of why Keds was created—to empower women. The brand used real women and the iconic figure of Jackie O getting married in Keds to recruit passionate online influencers and word-of-mouth marketers to steer consumer micro-moments and build belief in the brand.

With near daily evolutions in mobile and digital technologies, consumers are now part of the stories, and markets are driven by self-interests and desires. “If we can win in this tiny screen—we can win!” said Culp on the power of mobile marketing.

Tell a Good Story:
A CMO spoke about how humanizing a b2b brands is just as important in this socially savvy world. “A good story is like an iceberg. The audience only sees just the tip of what the storyteller knows and what he or she needs to experience and discover.”

By telling stories that are compelling, useful, timely and transactional, brands can feel relevant and offer fresh perspectives. While it’s difficult to master all four of these areas, marketers must think holistically and find new ways to measure consumers’ connections to the whole story, not just a single chapter.

It’s important that we stop to enjoy the micro-moments—in ourselves, with our clients and with each other. I enjoyed this experience tremendously. It reminded me that when you are genuine, value-based and passionate you will gain all the momentum you need to break through.

In the words of Norman Learwriter and producer of All in the Family, Sanford and Son and several other hit TV shows,  “I want to wake up feeling as I usually do, loving the day—moment to moment. And now I’m looking out at you. It took all your lives to get here, so this moment is the moment. Even this we get to experience.”

Norman Lear, television writer and producer, speaking with Pete Krainik, founder of the CMO Club and former CMO of Mars Inc.