You know this. You talk about the new realities of social, mobile, video, content, and the advisability of restructuring to seize them – but, what are you doing about it?
We marketers are choking on talk. Today, each of us is a brand, competing to interest an audience with millions of content options. It’s an audience with a short attention span and a bottomless appetite for the new. So, we exhale our idea-rich content. We talk the talk.
The result is a conversation that has gotten far ahead of the reality of most marketing organizations. Meanwhile, examples of fundamental restructuring to adjust to these new realities are few and far between.
So, why so much talk and so little do?
1. Follow The Money
As a CMO, you’re measured on the efficiency of your marketing spend. When you set aside dollars for innovation, the immediate result is a decrease in efficiency. As a result, you often doom tests with inadequate funding and too-tight timelines. Under pressure to justify your experiments, you may place too high a burden of proof on new programs – often higher than you apply to your more traditional expenditures. All of this is a recipe for delay, failure and, ironically, inefficiency. A quarter of a year like this, and your conservatism is likely to be reinforced.
2. New Realities, Old Structure.
This whole budgeting problem is accentuated by the structure of most organizations, in which the CMO runs marketing and someone else runs the development of the product or service. This can be a director of engineering, the head of product management, a development leader or other title, depending on industry. This structure developed when the role of marketing was to sell the product that the company chose to make. Of course, that isn’t the world we work in today. So, who should fund the budget for innovation? We delay while we try to figure that out.
3. One Little Letter (CEO vs CMO).
There is enormous tension between the CMO and the CEO on these issues. The CMO may perceive the CEO to be sending mixed messages. On one hand, the CEO expects significant gains in marketing efficiency. On the other hand, s/he is enormously impatient to see evidence of a new model in marketing. Does your CEO watch TED Talks and viral marketing videos? If so, you are likely in this vise. If not, this is a good time to start getting ready for the new CEO.
4. Chickens Eating Eggs.
The challenge with the budget ends up being a chicken and egg conundrum. You can’t budget because you can’t project. And you can’t project because there are no tests from which to safely extrapolate. If the efficacy could be proven, the money would be there. But without the money, the efficacy cannot be proven. In this scenario, the chickens are eating the eggs. Until that changes, the future of chickens is in doubt.
5. The Fog of Novelty.
There’s a novelty bonus in marketing that can be huge. The first time a brand – Oreo, for example – does something novel and promising, such as live tweeting the Super Bowl, they get so much more than a bump in engagement and brand energy. They get to own a story that becomes one of the guiding parables of social marketing. Opportunists, entrepreneurs and agencies will further hype the innovation, adding to the noise and uncertainty. Deep down, the marketer knows that these results can’t be extrapolated into an ongoing program. Starting a bandwagon is much more profitable than jumping on one. So, what to do?
6. Too Much Change to Manage.
There was a time when the innovations arrived like babies, one at a time, and only occasionally in twos or more. That couldn’t be further from the way things are today. While undoubtedly there is a huge amount of hype obscuring the true story of innovation, I do not doubt that that true story exists. I have helped my clients upend entire industries. The old certainties really are in doubt. There are so many real, immediate and urgent changes to manage, you have little time for speculation or for planning ahead.
7. The Hole In The Org Chart.
My mission is to close the gap between the CMO and the CEO. One approach is to create a new C-level position encompassing both product and marketing – The Chief Growth Officer. The business of business is growth, and organic growth will be the Chief Growth Officer’s mandate. Marketing insight will better inform the development of the product or service, helping change leaders to penetrate the fog of novelty to perceive what is really important to audiences. Which in turn will create more decisive advantages for marketing to promote. The conversation will then be truly a two-way conversation, not just about trivialities but about fundamental things. The budget bifurcation will be mediated by a single manager.