Turning Customer Data Into Brand Advocacy Requires Marketing Innovators And Enterprise Leaders


Kimberly A. Whitler, Contributor

May 11, 2015

To learn more about how the field of marketing is changing and the challenges that contemporary marketing leaders face, I am conducting the “CMO Insight Series.” These articles are designed to step back from the tactics of marketing and look more broadly at marketing across different companies and industries. As part of this series, I posed several questions to Deepak Advani, the former CMO/SVP of E-Commerce at Lenovo and the current GM of IBM Commerce. What follows are his thoughts.

Q: What is the biggest challenge that CMOs face?

We are living in the world of big data, conversations and personalization and the customer has assumed control. CEOs recognize this new dynamic and that raising brand awareness, while still vital, cannot be the only component of an impactful marketing strategy. In the age of social media, businesses must also work to drive brand advocacy and CEOs see the CMO as the catalyst to cultivating these customer champions.

The why is simple—CMOs are the gatekeeper to the customer and have the opportunity to understand each individual and guide them on the path through a mix of campaigns designed to cultivate loyalists. However, to succeed, marketers must embrace technologies that offer them the opportunity to build two-way engagements with each audience member. These new innovations allow marketers to gain insights into customers at depths they could never have imagined just a few years ago. Teams can then turn these details into paid campaigns that are fueled by data and deliver powerful and personalized experiences that engage customers in-context and ultimately build advocacy.

The ability to personalize every customer interaction is essential. It’s how companies win a person’s trust, which today is everything— According to Foundation Capital’s “Martech and the Decade of the CMO” report 53 percent of customers say they won’t buy from a company they don’t trust and 30 percent will share negative opinions online. When you gain trust, you gain loyalty that turns into revenue. According to same report when consumers move into an active shopping state, they’ve already picked their preferred brand and more than 75% will buy from that brand regardless of any new information they acquire while actively shopping.

The CMO’s ability to master their owned, paid and earned media efforts will enable them to elevate BOTH brand awareness and advocacy, the “holy grail” of marketing.

Q: Research shows that 80% of CEOs are disappointed with their CMOs. Why do you think that is? 

CEOs are focused on business success and see firsthand the impact that big data, mobile and social are having on their company. They also recognize that the logical person to lead the company in this era of the empowered customer is the CMO. This is precisely why CEOs need CMOs to step up to the plate and provide leadership across the entire business.

This is the crux of the issue. Delivering great customer experiences requires marketers to touch every aspect of an enterprise, from sales and products all the way fulfillment. This is unchartered territory for marketers which may explain why CEOs currently don’t see enough CMOs stepping out of the marketing bunker and putting on their business hat. In order for these two sides to align, CMOs must spread their wings, connect these dots and turn big data, mobile and social into a competitive advantage across the entire enterprise.

Q: As a former CMO and collaborator with many of today’s CMOs what do you see as a common mistake marketers make?

CMOsare in the position to become the most powerful member of the C-Suite but there are still too many laggards who are spending too much time operating within their own traditional siloedlanes and from the old book of tactics. This approach limits the impact they can have in an organization.  CMOs have the opportunity towiden their focus and extend their reach outside marketing into other business areas including customer service, sales as well as IT.

By collaborating outside the marketing sphere they can more easily acquire the tools to be successful, share their insights with colleagues and make sure that the customer is at the center of all business operations. With these new tools, CMOs can also address the fact that today most CEOs say that 50 percent of marketing is working, they just don’t know what part. Using these new technologies, they will be able to quantitatively demonstrate the return on marketing investment, further elevating their credibility with the CEO and the board.

Q: You mention the “old book of tactics”. Current CMOs are so busy trying to manage the business, yet the need to re-tool is critical. What advice do you have for current CMOs?

Old book of tactics were about majoring on building top of mind awareness through advertising. This required a great deal of energy that was spent on finding that right creative idea and then crafting the copy in a compelling and differentiated way. Demand generation was also done using mass marketing techniques like direct mail, automated email marketing and other.

Now contrast this to modern marketing, where the focus isn’t on differentiated advertising as much as delivering differentiated experiences.  We recently released some research with Econsultancy which really did a nice job of emphasizing the importance of experiences and how a failure to execute could drive a customer off to the competition.  With as a backdrop, I would tell these marketers that advertising is still important but it’s not as important as understanding your customers and then engaging them in a personalized way across a wide range of on-line and off-line channels. It’s this shift towards digital advertising and customer centric tactics that marketers really need to develop.

Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler

This article was written by Kimberly A. Whitler from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

There is 1 comment

  • Week 20 | import digest - 09/06/2015 00:29
    […] CMOs are increasingly in the line of fire.  Their game has changed from one based on advertising and creative to holistic customer experience which requires full stack Enterprise know-how: […]

Great ! Thanks for your subscription !

You will soon receive the first Content Loop Newsletter