Category Archives: Marketing Wednesdays

We Are Going to See Many Independent Agencies

Jack Marshall recently typed a piece about how there are very few independent agencies left after Razorfish, Digitas, Schematic, Blast Radius, AKQA, and Huge have all been acquired by Big Four ad holding companies (WPP, Publicis, IPG, and Omnicom).  The piece was titled “End of the Indies” and I wanted to respond to it with this blog post as its right in my passion wheelhouse.

For the most part, the advertising world innovates and acts similar to it did way back when.  There is not much foundational change.  Sure, there are pockets of brilliance (I’d like to think we’re doing very interesting things) but as a whole, the industry is working on a model that existed a long time ago.     Many people accuse this old model of being “bad” but then again, isn’t salt sold the same way it was bought by our ancestors thousands of years ago?

I think we are in the early days of the rise of the independent agency.   In fact, a whole wave of these indies.  In a couple of years, it will be the perfect time to start an agency.  There are a few reasons for this and I’d like to explain them:

People:  One can argue that the world is not becoming any more creative, but creativity now has a democratized platform to be distributed.  The new entrants in to the workforce never knew a world without a keyboard and mouse, ever-present connectivity, and digital cameras.  The DNA of this new breed has technological understanding as part of creativity.

This is very different than when I grew up; fewer rather than larger numbers of kids gravitated towards computers and it was typically known as a specialty.  I was known as a nerd, even while I was just playing games on my Mac IIe or LC (remember Stunt Copter?)

With this newly trained workforce, creativity is now at everyone’s fingertips which will unfold itself not just in better client strategies, media planning & buying, creative execution, but in organizational re-engineering, organizational behavior, and talent management.  The whole way we think about the advertising and marketing business is going to be impacted by this currently young group of people and they will be ready to start running businesses in the next few years.

Economy:  While I do not pretend to be an economist, it’s hard to debate that our economy is not overly stable right now.  Hearing stories of recent college graduates trying to find jobs to no avail is a commonplace.  Expect to see many of the recent graduates either create their own companies (made easier thanks to the Jobs Act) or go and work for a friends startup.  Just by the laws of large numbers, we should expect to see many new agencies created by people who have no other opportunity than to start their own company.

Technology:  While the workforce certainly understands technology such as how to use a mobile device  or download apps to tablets, technology is going to move to the center of the new independent agency.  And this will happen from Day 1, not retrofitted like many currently large (non) independent agencies.  Because it will be there from Day 1, we’ll see increased efficiencies and effectiveness, plus an open armed approach to welcoming new ways to leverage this technology.  Data will be part of all decisions including those in creative and the art of advertising will emerge in leveraging many of the sciences to derive insights that inform strategies.  The independent agency should be able to deliver on this vision.

Insurgents Become Incumbents:  I gave a pre-read of this post to a colleague of mine who reminded me of Clay Shirkey’s quote in a Wired article.    There are plenty of insurgents today who have become the incumbents, many named above and with the notion of the incumbents being much slower than an insurgent, plenty of talent is probably ready to jump ship and start all over again.  We see this happen all too much and expect it to happen again here.

I think there are significant opportunities for that emerging independent agency.  Plenty of them.  I’m curious to see if Adobe, Oracle, SAS, SalesForce, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! start to fund some of these agencies with both capital and technology.  I think that could be a really interesting model or eventually, where the insurgent goes to become an incumbent.



David Ogilvy's Awesome Pontification and It's Happening Today (Video + Post)

While I was in the gym this morning, I was watching an eclectic group of videos that ranged in topic from advertising talks thru TEDx random speeches.  One of the videos I viewed is from way back when, the exact date I’m unsure about.  The video is actually of David Ogilvy, who is widely known as the “father of advertising” and he talks about the future of advertising which is happening today on Madison Avenue.

If you watch Mad Men, watch the video.

If you work on Madison Avenue, watch the video.

If you are an entrepreneur who is building advertising or marketing technology, watch the video.

If you are selling media to agencies or marketers, watch the video.

If you are a marketer, watch the video.

Here is the link to the video on YouTube.

I cannot stress how important this video is to the future of the advertising ecosystem.  I’ve always said that we need to move towards a branded response model where both brand marketing collides with direct response.  Advertising without a call to action is a waste, especially when given the opportunity to have an audience take a measured response.  I wrote quite a bit about that here and something I stressed in this interview amongst many other places..

What does scale mean in an advertising world where it doesn't matter?

I have been thinking a lot lately about scaleable ad units and how they relate to digital media.  This is a question I ask myself as an investor and as a media buyer.  The latter part is probably more important as I’m consistently buying media in market each day thru The Media Kitchen.

Today, for the most part, we have text ads and display banners (of different shapes and sizes).  Both of these types of units (search & display) have been adopted and make up the majority of global digital advertising spend.  For the online world, they scale.  There are deep takeovers and experiences that can be bought, but they don’t scale nor do they makeup the majority of online spend.

For the offline wold, we too have very defined creative units which provide scale for publishers.  These defined units can be a 30 second spot, quarter page advertisement, FSI, or a 10 second live read (amongst others).

Scale allows dollars to flow, as it provides less friction to move money to purchase many media impressions.  If everyone accepts a 300X250 advertising unit, then its easy to invest behind $1,000,000 in media because there is enough inventory to support it.  There is even enough for $10,000,000 or $100,000,000 of media.

TV advertising is significant not only because it is one of the only mediums to convey both audio & video, but its mass reach with standardized units is almost frictionless;  it’s also really easy to buy.  Additionally, when it emerged as a media channel to purchase, it trumped it’s peer set and with limited other options, it became almost a must-buy.  TV ad spend as a percentage of United States GDP has been a pretty consistent 2.2% since 1919 (since first commercial).

Fact:  There are many ‘haters’ of online display ads because they are standardized.

Well, television advertising is standardized too, and there are some recent examples of run away creative (and business) success:  Nike’s Write the Future spot, NFL Play 60, and the older Jordan/Bird/Barkley McDonald’s commercials.  Note, these are all sports examples as I am a focus group of one, but the common thread they have were that they debuted not only against a high target audience composition but also with contextual relevance.  I generally see the NFL Play 60 spot during NFL games and the Write the Future spot appeared during the World Cup.   Audience plus context helped give these advertisements meaning.    In the future, audience plus content plus location will give advertisements meaning.

Within digital, we are still nascent, but we are starting to figure out some of the native characteristics of the digital platform.  A few recent examples of successful digital campaigns such as Elf Yourself, Old Spice Man, Whopper Sacrifice, BMW ActiveE (our agency), Giorgio Armani/The Room (our agency), have a common thread:  the foundations of the campaign are not immediately scalable.  Why?  Because unlike offline media, these examples require user interaction to be successful, which is virtually impossible with unplugged offline media.  In a television world, the best spots allow us to reflect on our emotions as we watch.  In a digital world, the consumer/viewer is able to create emotions with engagements on the fly. Think about this (*).

When creating effective digital communications, take advantage of the medium.

Paid media dollars are no longer the only dollars that are driving scale.   This is where the POEM (paid, owned, earned media) strategy becomes vitally important.  The best digital strategies are done with the POEM approach in mind.

A couple more words about scale:

1.  Historically, advertisers rent audiences.  We pay large media companies to rent their audiences for a period of time.  This is not a winning proposition, as the minute you stop spending, your audience returns to zero.  However, this is changing with the ability to use digital means to connect with your audience and disintermediate the media companies.  Nike’s Trevor Edwards (VP Global Brand & Category Management) had a great quote in the NY Times about 5 years ago, “We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive,” Mr. Edwards says he tells many media executives. “We’re in the business of connecting with consumers.”

2.  Scale is still used to help get word out and will be necessary in the future.  I’m not saying that media buying and advertising is going away, but the way we look at the traditional paid media model is changing.


* Inspired by a pre-read of this post by buddy Chad Stoller

** This post started out about native advertising opportunities and quickly morphed into a post about scale.  It wasn’t my original intention but that’s the way my brain worked while writing.  So, pardon the inconsistencies but I think I do get my point across.

*** Scale does matter in certain businesses and within components of the advertising ecosystem.  Example:  the more you buy (larger scale) on an exchange platform, the more bid requests you see.  Theoretically, the more bid requests you see, the better the performance you might drive.

Super Bowl XLVI Advertising, When TV Spots Are No Longer TV Spots

If you’ve been watching any of the major television channels over the past week, you’ve probably seen a little button on some of the commercials that pops up with a call to action to Shazam.  For those unfamiliar with this nifty app, it allows you to use your mobile device to take a sample of a sound in a room and send it to Shazam returning details surrounding the particular sound.  This initially launched around music – and I personally use it quite often to help me figure out who the artist is of a particular song so I can download the track at a later time.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve seen an increasing amount of television spots using Shazam technology to help consumers learn more about a product.  Back in February 2011, an Old Navy television spot featured Kim Kardashian singing and had a link out to Shazam.   This is the first commercial I saw that adopted this technology.  Since, some big brands are starting to use mobile to extend television spots.  Last night, I was watching 30 Rock on my DVR (lots of catching up to do) and there was a commercial for Progressive with a Shazam logo.  I took out my iPhone and Shazam’d it – and captured the screen shot here.

I’m predicting that we are going to see quite a few Super Bowl spots with Shazam tie-ins.  I’m not the first nor won’t be the last to say this.  AdWeek, back in June, predicted we’d see up to a third of all commercials.  They could be right.

While this is not an endorsement or commercial for Shazam perse, it’s a statement of stitching together multiple screens.  If brands are going down this path, they need to be thinking about the connected screen experience.  My buddy Pete calls this the Connected14I’ve written about it here.

Super Bowl XLVI could kick off (no pun intended) the main stream adoption of the connected experience.  I hope so.

Marketing Wednesdays: Display Impressions

One sentence exec summary:  New measurement of advertising impressions are helping drive performance for marketers.

When we purchase media, one of the major components of the buy is around how many impressions we will achieve with a campaign.  The common thought here is that the optimal amount of impressions against a target audience will yield positive advertising results.  This is fairly common thinking around Madison Avenue and has led us to using the Nielsen metrics as currency for TV, circulation metrics for print, and unique visitors as being important for digital media.  The higher the rating, the larger the circulation and the more unique visitors a media property has, the higher the amount of impressions, theoretically* and thus, the more media spend that they can handle.

I personally and professionally believe that it’s not about the impressions, but about the engagements.  Engagements can be quantified many different ways (thru sales to interactions) but just impressions alone is not a basis for marketing working or not.

In digital, there is a never ending supply of advertising inventory especially when publishers like this put stories across 5 or 30 pages.  Creating more ad impressions is not the problem with digital.  3rd party ad serving systems such as DART, Atlas, MediaMind, MediaPlex, AdZerk, adk2, OpenX, and others were created to help manage advertising inventory for pubs and advertisers.  Not only do ad servers help us serve media but they also help us track the performance which allows us to understand which media partners are doing well.

Historically, this was always about the amount of impressions served and the respective clicks or engagements on a unit.  This post is not about clicks or click thru rates, as that’s an entire topic in itself, and you can read about it hereWhat we will discuss through the rest of this post is how we as marketers should be tracking an impression.

As you have viewed on many websites during your normal course of web surfing, banners and ad units are all over a respective page and sometimes, you cannot even see the units as they might be below the fold.  Generally** as long as the web page and assets load (tags fire), then the advertising units on the page log impressions, regardless if the user scrolls over them or engages.

Sounds weird, right?  An advertiser pays for impressions without confirmation that the user has at least had the ability to see the advertisement.

Since 2008, we’ve seen startups like DoubleVerify, AdXpose, and AdSafe (amongst others) help marketers understand what how many of their impressions are in-view along with many other non-standard ad server metrics.  The in-view metric is important because that’s the number that should count for impressions (in my theoretical perfect world).  Lately, ad serving solutions such as MediaMind have incorporated this metric into reporting but it’s not historically standard across 3rd party ad servers (which is shocking).

Today marks a big day for the digital media community because comScore released the vCE, which is what they are touting as “campaign essentials” and it’s built on a product they created and merged with AdXpose called the vGRP to validate the impressions served and displayed by publishers.  The vGRP is very interesting because it goes beyond traditional measurement of 3rd party ad serving solutions to include things like time on screen and in-view/out of view.  While admittedly I’ve not run a campaign yet with the vCE/vGRP, I hypothesize based on historical campaign performance we’ve run, that a paid media campaign will yield better performance when a higher composition of impressions are in-view and for no less than a minimum amount of time.  Not rocket science.

Additionally, other companies are building advanced measurement solutions to help understand display impressions better.  The Goodharts over at MOAT are building a brand analytics dashboard which help marketers understand how many people are hovering over their display advertisements.  The theory here is that the more that a user hovers over an impression, the higher the engagement, and thus, the better a campaign will perform.

Evolution is occuring in the digital space.  From the days of offline media based on circulation and rating points to a now “validated” actualized number of impressions being seen digitally.  Over the next decade or so, we’ll see our online measurement systems (tools/technology/process) brought to traditionally offline channels.  Then, we’ll be able to really understand our media performance.

* Why I said theoretically is because advertising dollars don’t always follow the amount of impressions.  Some impressions are worth more, and potentially, you can spend more for fewer qualified impressions.  Think webmd or other niche publishers.

**  I say generally here because it’s more often than not

*** I lifted the above image from the website of MOAT.

Marketing Wednesday: Media

We’ve covered some pretty fundamental topics here for Marketing Wednesdays including The Chief Marketing Officer, The Marketing Plan, and previously, the Agency 101.  Today, we’re going to cover a very broad topic:  media.


Way back when, we used to divide media between Above the Line and Below the Line (ATL/BTL).  Above the Line was typically “brand” advertising which included print and television amongst others.  Below the Line was the non-sexy stuff such as direct mail and even today, most of the Internet.

We then went into an offline/online world; this was primarily from the 1990s thru today.

And now, we talk about media within the POEM construct:  paid, owned, and earned media.

  • Paid media is what you buy.  It’s a big billboard.  A 300X250 on Buzzfeed.  A captcha via solvemedia.
  • Owned media is what you own.  It’s your brand’s website.  It’s your Facebook page.  It’s your store windows.
  • Earned media is what gets amplified.  It’s the re-tweets.  It’s the check-ins.  It’s the word of mouth referrals.

Todays modern communications plans require thinking across the entire media landscape.  If you view slide 15 of our public Media Kitchen credentials presentation, you’ll see how we talk about this thinking.

I believe that the best marketing experiences play to POEM all in one.  It’s the future.  However, to deliver on tomorrow’s media opportunities, many folks will have to re-tool and re-structure.

I also believe that the way we purchase media will be re-tooled, to go from a human led and optimized process to a hybrid process of using technology where possible, not just for procurement but for optimization and insights.  We have invested in many of those companies here, but the entire media space is ripe for innovation.  This post is not about marketing technology, but about media, so I’ll stop there from a tech speak.


Many vendors sell media.  The way that agencies or marketers purchase media from vendors are on different cost basis:  CPM (cost per thousand impressions), CPC (cost per click), CPL (cost per lead), CPE (cost per engagement), ratings points (for TV), CPA (cost per acquisition), and others.  Each cost basis can “back into” others and savvy media buyers know how to work the numbers to make them work for individual clients.

If a vendor fails to deliver whatever is contracted, it’s common for make-goods to be delivered.  These make-goods are essentially exactly what they sound like: additional inventory to make up for missed performance.

When purchasing media, sometimes media properties bundle in “added value” which is essentially additional opportunities surrounding a core purchase that helps make the idea bigger and/or bring down the cost.  When a media vendor sells a package, the purchaser buys the specific package at a specific rate, but the added value is on top of it, which brings down the final cost-per metrics.  This is very common in the offline world and I’ve seen it often when buying site-direct sponsorship opportunities (online).

Media is also a big part of the agency world.  There are buying agencies, planning agencies, and integrated agencies.  I happen to work at an integrated agency where planning & buying are together (I can’t imagine them separate).  Agencies charge clients largely based on planning fees (based on time & materials) and buying commissions (relative to the media channel they are purchasing).  Some agencies put a % of their fee at risk so they can get a bonus based on performance.

Many people believe that the media agency model need to change, but I’ve not seen another model put forth which is the “golden” model.  All of the new models I’ve seen put too much risk on any one side of the equation.

Marketing Wednesdays: Agency 101

This post is part of my Marketing Wednesday‘s series which was originally inspired by Fred Wilson’s MBA Mondays and Albert Wenger’s Technology Tuesdays.  This is my 3rd post – the first being on the Chief Marketing Officer and the second being about the Marketing Plan.

There are two ways to handle marketing:  you can perform all the marketing functions inside the brand (client side) or you can hire an agency to handle some or all of the marketing functions.  Today, we’ll cover reasons why you would and should hire an agency.  Note, I currently work for an agency which rolls up to a larger integrated agency.  So with that said, my answer is inherently skewed by the nature of where I work, but this is my own thoughts and not necessarily thoughts of my employer.  OK, the disclaimer is out of the way, so let’s begin.

The Role of an Agency

There are different types of agencies and those agencies come in all shapes and sizes.  There are marketing agencies, creative agencies, media agencies, buying agencies, planning agencies, social media agencies, mobile agencies, search engine marketing agencies, pr agencies, digital agencies, product innovation agencies, production agencies, analytics agencies, and many more.  So yeah, there are lots of types of agencies.   The agencies role is to act as an independent view, but an extension of the client, to create strategy, research, and work and liaison with the vendors and partners needed to carry out with whatever the output might be.  When an agency/client relationship is going well, the agency is essentially an extension of the client, but is just different “enough” to push the thoughts and boundaries of the clients.

Most agencies bill their clients on time and labor based on an overall relationship deliverable or a particular project deliverable.  This is then written into a Scope of Work (and sometimes an MSA) and signed off by both parties.  This is sometimes negotiated by the client’s procurement department to put pressure to bring down the agency cost.  More on this here.

Media agencies will bill based on time & labor for the planning components and will then charge a buying commission based on the media channel which is purchased.

Depending on the agency, they might move to a performance compensation model where they might put a % of their fee or commission at risk for sharing in the upside.  These types of models are becoming more popular but are fundamentally flawed because agencies don’t touch many of the factors that go into a clients product/service, so they could be in a very high risk situation which is very much in favor of the client.

The fee a client pays an agency covers everything from a team dedicated (or semi-dedicated) to a client as well, as, the infrastructure that the agency has invested in (research, tools & technology, processes, overhead).  Many times, the blended rate an agency charges could be less than hiring a marketing staff on the client side with tools & research at parity.


Advertising agencies have to manage for conflicts.  In the USA, advertising agencies cannot work with clients who happen to be competitors.  This goes without saying, clients wouldn’t appreciate that.  Agencies essentially give partial or full category exclusivity when they sign up a client.

Additionally, in the USA, advertising agencies do not markup the cost of media.  Agencies act as “agents” and pass along the cost of media to the client with a pre-defined commission rate bundled on top of it (net/gross).  The commission rates are pre-defined as noted and changes based on the media type (i.e. Television has one commission rate and SEM has another).

Finding the Right Agency

There are thousands of agencies in the USA, let alone tens of thousands across the world.  How do you find an agency that’s right for you?  There are agency “search consultants” who help brands create a list of agencies to talk to and lead the agency RFP and pitch process, there are online sites that have agencies listed, and of course, there are always referrals.  Much of the business we see at the agency are through referrals and search consultants.  Finding the right fit with an agency is important so generally the first meeting is what we like to call, a “chemistry check.”  Having a positive relationship with your agency is like having a positive relationship with your spouse.  You need to make sure chemistry is there and sometimes it takes dating around to find the right place.

A Few Reasons To Hire

1.  Evolved Thinking
Agencies and their staff generally don’t sit within the walls of clients.  Sometimes we do however, though this is not the norm.  This is a major plus because we can help evolve our clients thinking in different capacities because we do not suffer from knowing their artificial constraints (based on politics, budgetary, knowledge, etc).  Since we are in the business of big ideas (or many good small ones), we are constantly ideating and can bring these ideas to our clients.

2.  Multi-Discipline Thinking
When you do the same thing over and over again, you start to think a similar way.  Agencies have many types of clients – you can be working on an automotive account, a juice account, a pharma account and a fashion account.  Thinking across all of these accounts can help bring new ideas that can break through a particular category.

3.  Someone to Blame/Buffer
It’s true, we’ve seen this happen before.  Our car breaks down, we through the automotive brand under the bus.  Of course, it had nothing to do with our driving.  Similar to marketing.  If marketing isn’t working, fire the agency.  Don’t fire anyone at the client side, just fire the agency.  It’s a safety net that has worked for years and Wall Street accepts it, at least for the most part.


Depending on the size of the brand/client, they might have one or many agencies.  Agencies might be broken down by discipline (search, social, pr, etc) or by product, or even both.  The overall decision maker for agencies is made by the Chief Marketing Officer of the brand but they might delegate the agency choice to their team depending on the organization they work for.  We have clients where the CMO has chosen us and we have clients where Brand Managers have (and clients in between).

Future Posts

In future posts about agencies, we’ll break down roles within the creative & media agency, discussions around compensation models, sequential liability, USA vs. EMEA contracts and more.  I hope you enjoyed this Marketing Wednesday installment.

Marketing Wed: The Marketing Plan

This is the second post in the Marketing Wednesday series.  The first post was on the introduction of the Chief Marketing Officer.  Today’s post is going to be on The Marketing Plan.   I’d argue that the Marketing Plan is as important as the Business Plan for a business and certainly for a startup.

Over the course of this post, we’ll explore the 7Ps of Marketing.  When I was in college, we actually learned about the 4P’s of marketing, but apparently, there are now 7 so lets discuss them.

Your product is king.  Is it the product that consumers will want to buy?  If it’s something that they aren’t asking for, will they be able to understand it and have the vision for it’s application into daily lives?   Is the product at the high or low end of the scale?

Pricing is unbelievably important.  Not only will the right pricing strategy allow consumers to buy your product, but it’ll also help your product be carried by intermediaries such as retail and distribution partners.  Pricing is about economics, specifically about elasticity of demand; so take pricing seriously.  A simple way to look at pricing is to examine competitive (substitutive) products and understand where there is opportunity.  If your product is using high end components, or has a premium feel, then pricing above market is probably necessary.  Economic factors also affect pricing, so don’t just look at your product, understand the economic environment in which you’re selling in.  

At the agency, we like to say that media is just important as the creative.  Don’t go and design something beautiful and skimp out on where you’re placing the creative.  Same here:  your product is important and where it is being exhibited and sold is just as.  If you’re placing an advertisement during an NHL broadcast is very different than marketing a product at a librarian convention.   

How are you promoting your product?  For startups, this is one of the top questions that we like to ask at kbs+p Ventures.  We want to know how a startup intends to get it’s product/service into the marketplace and what type of promoting it intends to do. There are companies built around tweaking promotion, such as a “headline testing” or “multi-variate creative,” and this all falls under promotion.

Without the right people, the organization is often suboptimal.  I was speaking at a recent sales conference for a startup and the speaker before me was the Chief Revenue Officer of a Top 5 media property.  He stressed how important it was for him to attract and hire the right people, as it’s the people who sell their product.  And that applies here too:  what type of people do you need internally and externally to evangelize and communicate your product/service?

Physical Environment
What is the tone of the environment in which you are marketing in?  Think about putting a product on a Virgin America flight vs. Spirit.  A very big difference that impacts consumer buying decisions.  

Think Zappos.  The aftersales (or before sales even) service is phenomenal.  What is the value-added services that you are bundling with your service/product?  How can you make it amazing (or not?).  

Your experience unbundling your iPhone 4S happens when you go to the store to pick it up, then open up the box.  It’s not when you turn on your phone for the first time.  Great packaging goes a long way.  You don’t need to go overboard, but put some thinking and time into your product packaging.

Now that you know what the 7Ps of Marketing are, they should all be addressed in your marketing plan. While many startups who pitch us today don’t always have a business plan, they have certainly thought thru their marketing plans to maximize their go-to and stay-in market approaches.

How long should your marketing plan be?  7ps – 7 slides.  Simple.  You should also revisit your marketing plan each quarter as you match it up to your business metrics.  Don’t be afraid to tweak and/or radically change.

One of the exercises I like to do around positioning is to create a quadrant chart and position my “competitors” in different areas based on the criteria that I’ve assigned for the x&y axis.  When I plot all my competitors (and secondary/tertiary), I usually see an opportunity within the marketplace by some open space on the chart.  This is a fun exercise to do and will help you understand where there are opportunities within a market.

Marketing Wednesdays

The Chief Marketing Officer

This is my inaugural post for Marketing Wednesdays, inspired by MBA Mondays and Tech Tuesdays.  Please take it easy on me as this is the first in the lengthy series.  I would love all of your feedback, so please leave it in the comments section.  If you are goign to tweet this post, you can use the tag, #mktgwed.

I figured we’d jump right in and understand the role of marketing through the job description of the senior most level, the Chief Marketing Officer.

In almost every large corporation and as startups mature, they add a Chief Marketing Officer (herein referred to as “CMO”).  In early stage startups, this tends to be the founder and/or CEO.  The role of the CMO is expansive and changing but a common attribute of a CMO is to drive vision (sometimes of the CEO) and consensus on how the brand behaves and is portrayed both internally and externally within the marketplace.  Marketers have many strategies and tactics in their role that they can deploy to achieve this.  It could be everything from advertising thru customer service thru product innovation (and many other things).  No two CMO’s are similar and are generally biased by the organizations they spent their formative years at (i.e. P&G, Unilever are very numbers oriented, so CMO’s tend to be heavily focused in research).

The Chief Marketing Officer does not act alone.  They are at the helm of an internal marketing team which may or may not liaison with one or multiple marketing and advertising agencies, which scale depending on the size of the corporation.  Some corporations do everything internally but many have agencies who act on their behalf.  In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss the role of agencies within the marketing world.

When talking to many of our CMO clients, they stress the major shift that’s occurring which has been lubricated by digital; the brand does not always rule the conversation.

Joe Tripodi leads global marketing, customer management and commercial leadership as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer of the Coca-Cola Company.  He wrote a piece for the Harvard Business Review about how the role of the CMO has gone from purely counting impressions to (that plus) making sure consumers are having good experiences with his brand.

Marketing has changed dramatically since Doc Pemberton poured the world’s first glass of Coca-Cola in 1886. On May 8th, 2011, Coca-Cola and our fans around the world will celebrate our 125th anniversary. While I’ll be curious how many impressions our activities generate, I will look most closely to the expressions of our consumers as a better measure of our success in keeping the world’s most valuable brand relevant for the next 125 years.

In most organizations, the CMO reports into the President/CEO and participates on the executive team.  The lifespan of a CMO is typically less than 24 months as per performance around sales is generally attributed to the marketing of a product; so the easiest thing to do is to switch out the marketing leadership.

In forthcoming Marketing Wednesday’s, we’re going to dive into very specific things such as marketing plans, media plans, advertising agencies, paid/owned/earned, clients, procurement, etc.  The list is very, very long.  However, I chose to start with the Chief Marketing Officer since it’s the top role within marketing and oversees any and all of this.

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