CMO Changes & Challenges: Cisco, Xerox, GE

The Chief Marketing Officers from Cisco and from Xerox presented at today’s Philadelphia America Marketing Association (AMA) on “Changes and Challenges CMOs face” and I attended with about 100 others.

Much of what they said reinforced recent observations I’ve had with client and prospect companies in terms of what are executive marketing priorities.  The theme was ‘measure and be accountable but don’t be afraid to go with the gut’.  There are 3 specific areas that were covered today that are worth delving into:

  • Segmentation – There are several key questions to be asking which will later inform the content creation and/or marketing automation strategy to reach prospective customers.  Usually this step is surprisingly overlooked in prospect companies of mine where they have not done enough recent diligence to understand how their buyer buys today (not how they bought 3 years ago) and Cisco reaffirmed this position by offering up some basic questions to review such as – who is our customer?  Do we really understand what is happening in our buying cycle?  Do we understand what message resonates and why?
  • CRM/Marketing Automation – Cisco invested billions in new company acquisitions but the back end infrastructure has not kept pace.  Consequently, the nirvana of a ‘closed loop’ lead system is not yet in place where one can track inquiry to close, likely because of several instances of CRM and/or marketing automation.   A strategy in place to not only identify how to consolidate these instances but how to measure the impact is needed.
  • Experimenting – Xerox emphasized the importance of keeping 5% of their annual budget as an ‘experiment’ budget that gets used with CMO approval.  So often, prospect companies that I work with have hamstrung themselves so much, that the ‘experiment’ promise sounds really good, but executing to that is really challenging.  A good experiment bet to make right now is LinkedIn (see my prior posts here.)

GE Healthcare’s CMO who was an audience member asked how both aligned with emerging market sales efforts.  There seemed to be universal agreement that China and Russia were growth markets.  However, Cisco (and I later discovered in GE) really do not have the marketing resource today to invest in branding and campaigns in these regions, so much of the marketing is event driven marketing.  This is where the puck is headed for marketing and in business – to understand how to get to these new markets by leveraging cost effective technology that has been proven in mature markets.  This runs under the assumption that in region, campaigns are accepted in a digital format (in China for example, YouTube is not allowed/utilized in the buying process.)  This is probably an emerging opportunity for marketing to consider as they plan their campaigns to reach new prospects globally.

What have you found as your burning priorities?

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