The role and responsibility of the CMO has fundamentally shifted with the advancement of technology and the velocity and accessibility to information.  These changes have reset many proven marketing strategies, tactics and channels for CMOs.   The pace of change driven by technology is constant and the ability to market in this shifting landscape is becoming increasingly complicated and nuanced.

“The Current Marketing Landscape Requires CMOs to Think Creatively and Outside-the-Box to Make an Impact in the Evolving Marketplace”

The fundamental outcome of change is the access and availability of Information.  Today, information is literally everywhere and every customer/consumer has a seemingly unlimited series of options around information access and consumption.  Additionally, the manner in which information is consumed has fundamentally changed.  We are in a world where customers/consumers are comfortable communicating and interpreting important information in short content bursts using a very limited number of words.  This new vernacular is based on experiences that all of us have around short, direct and highly personalized content, again created and enabled by technology.  For marketers, if we don’t understand and speak with the new vernacular no one will understand what we are trying to say.  (On another related note around information and vernacular - the continued development of IOT boggles the mind around the increase of data and how information is communicated and consumed.  My prediction is that this content will be consumed in even smaller increments with higher frequency, but that’s a topic for another day)

Marketers today face two challenges based on the exponential growth of the information landscape; the first is the consistent ability to access, aggregate and report on this seemingly endless amount of information; and secondly, the need to learn and recognize how to interpret and respond to the information that has been gathered.  The subtle nuance is that most of this “new” information being created is in an unstructured format.  For years marketers have been able to work with structured data coming out of transactional systems, but this information is different – it is opinions, reviews, comments, images and videos that all provide relevant information about an organization’s products/services/brand. 

In an ever increasing circular relationship, technology is the only answer to consistently enable the access and aggregation of content and the analytical tools to review and create insight.  These technologies need to scale to the exponential sources of data and be able to quickly recognize patterns/trends that are relevant to the brand and marketing activities.    

Against this backdrop, some new rules are forming for CMOs:

  1. You must understand technology - Successful marketing activities now require CMOs to become students of this developing world and fundamentally understand the tools and technologies available to solve these problems. Marketing today requires a deep understanding of how technology enables content creation, consumption and distribution.  If you don’t understand how all the pieces fit together you will not understand the results. 
  2. Never discount individual points of view – The point of view of customers/consumers holds more validity to consumers.  There is a very low barrier of entry for consumers to provide feedback and ratings. In fact, almost every form of content and purchase requests feedback, so the access and availability has changed; and secondly, consumers tend to review this feedback and accept that it is true and relevant.  Positive and negative comments, aggregated at the point of purchase or decision, can destroy the purchase and value. 
  3. Your audience is global – There are very few barriers to information flow today.  A purchase experience in Idaho could have relevance and impact to a potential transaction in London.  The great equalizer of technology eliminates borders and gaps and opens up your business.  As a result, never limit your information review and analysis strategy by geography.  Your information “fishing net” should cover the expanse of your operations. 
  4. You don’t know the culture and vernacular – Customer segments today have unique culture and vernacular that requires individuals from those segments to interpret and respond.  Your marketing team should mirror your customer segments and understand how information creation and consumption is done, so that the response is consistent.
  5. Information channels extend and proliferate – The information channels that exist today may not be the same channels that exist tomorrow.  Assume that change is constant and marketing needs to be vigilant to seek out new sources and distribution points for information.
  6. Monitoring and Measurement – Your approach should be as wide as possible in information monitoring and there may be data sources that you never considered that are relevant and valid.  Your measurement quantitative metrics should focus on the elements of aggregation and distribution while qualitatively you can measure insights and client impact. 

I want to close this article with an example from my business that demonstrates these principles.  JLT is one of worlds’ largest specialty-focused insurance broker and advisors.  We operate in 135 countries and have 10,000 experts worldwide.  We deliberately differentiate around our Specialty focus in key industry and product areas and follow the basic mantra of “We are not all things to all people.”  One of our most successful Specialty areas is Cyber Risk mitigation and management. 

If ever there was an example of information overload it is around Cyber Risk.  Every single day there are new revelations about breaches and the impact of these actions.  Cyber Risk has moved beyond simply Personally Identifiable Information loss and has moved into physical loss and damage, asset valuation changes and liabilities for Officers and Directors.  Needless to say it is a massive challenge to stay ahead of these changes following existing information gathering models. 

Faced with this realization, the JLT team came up with several unique activities to aggregate and analyze information.  First, we recognized that we couldn’t do it alone and that the best approach was to find partners who provide technology or advisory services into the space and work with them to combine our individual content aggregation. We quickly found that each partner’s unique point of view enabled a more comprehensive overview of Cyber Risk and yielded better insights into how all the pieces fit together.  Additionally, we engaged with technology providers that have the ability to review multiple unstructured sources of data (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to understand the dialogues that are occurring around this area and how they relate together. 

This approach has enabled us to have one of the most comprehensive views of information around Cyber and enabled us to provide better insights and feedback to our clients risk management and mitigation. 

This process continues to evolve and develop and we are learning and adjusting each day to refine and improve our ability to aggregate and understand the new world of information that we all live in.