Simple Reminders From The Smartest Marketers In The World


John Hall, Contributor

March 31, 2014

This last week, the CMO Club Summit was held in New York City. Marketing executives from all over the world shared their challenges, experiences, and predictions for 2014.

Here are some straightforward reminders and takeaways from the event:

Companies Are So Concerned With ROI That They Forget About Storytelling and Branding 

I have to be honest: I haven’t really thought about this myself recently. Naturally, marketers are looking for more ways to track ROI because clients are thirsting for metrics that prove something is worth the investment. It’s important to track data to make better decisions and measure ROI, but that shouldn’t mean that you don’t assign value to other areas that are hard to quantify.

For example, I spoke to a vice president from American Express, and I gave her an example of how someone had been drawn to AmEx through a resource offered in OPEN Forum. That same person is now a brand advocate who consistently sends business to AmEx and even uses it as an example of a great resource in speeches. There’s a lot of compounding value there.

Brands Face a Lot of Pain Points in the Content World

During one intriguing session, null  I recently wrote a blog post about it so I won’t dive too far into this, but the challenge begins with creating a strategy that helps all of your different marketing channels work with your content.

Too many companies are creating content because it’s the newest trend. Avoid the bandwagon mentality and instead ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why am I releasing content?
  2. What type of content is most valuable to our audience?
  3. What differentiates our brand from others?
  4. What are we going to do with this content to help accomplish our goals?

Some of these might seem basic, but it’s important to be thoughtful and develop a game plan so your content and marketing efforts complement each other. Avoid being a bandwagon brand; take the initiative to pursue the content marketing efforts that work best with your industry and, most importantly, your target audience.

Quality Always Comes Before Quantity in Content Marketing

In a chat with Elisa Romm, senior vice president at MasterCard, I could easily see that quality was a must-have for her when representing the brand. I asked her to show me an example, and she provided me with a well-thought-out whitepaper that had clearly taken some time to develop.  It was easy to see that it was aligning the brand with quality content, and it served as a resource that was incredibly valuable to the brand’s audience.

There’s a lot of content out there, so ensure that your team is crafting pieces that distinguish your work from other brands’ content. Your content should represent the highest quality for your industry.

Startups Can Attract Big Players From Big Brands 

Oftentimes, late-stage startups still have a developer or engineer in the CMO or CEO position, even though it might not make sense to do so. If you’re on a fast-growing path, you need someone with experience who can take the company to the next level.

I ran into former marketing execs from ESPN and Coca-Cola who were looking for their next opportunities, ones in which they could be game changers for the fast-growing companies that captured their experience for their leadership teams. I chatted with Kim Feil, former EVP at Office Max, and it was clear that she was a valuable resource who wasn’t set on only working for a big brand.


Salespeople Are Finally Starting to Sell Second and Add Value First 

At past conferences, companies bombarded me as soon as I walked by their booths. It almost felt like I was at a flea market in Cancun.

At the CMO Club Summit, it was interesting to see a non-solicitation conference that barred attendees from selling anything. For example, MediaMath had a booth set up, but it wasn’t selling to people who walked up. Instead, it provided them with resources (books, content, etc.) that were valuable to their audience. I would typically shy away from these types of booths, but this caught my attention and allowed me to lower my instinctual sales barrier.

These marketers reminded us of the intense need to make a connection with our audience; if we don’t provide value to the people we’re trying hard to reach, we have little else to offer. Tell your brand’s story and showcase what makes you different — your audience, and your bottom line, will be grateful.

John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a company that helps brands build their influence.

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