Not so long ago, life for a chief marketing officer was a lot simpler than it is today. A brand's narrative was a controlled monologue and the formula for awareness involved nurturing and building the brand, partnering with an amazing agency, diligently targeting the right consumers in the most impressionable places, and spending enough dollars to support the broadcast of compelling advertising enough times to make an impression. The primary measure of success was counting the impressions of how often and how many people would see, hear, or read an advertisement. Consumers didn't talk back, engage, or criticize. It was simple because everyone understood their role.
The game has changed and the rules are now being controlled by empowered consumers. While brand impressions help to inform the size of an audience and are still used to compare audiences across all types of media, impressions don't measure interaction. They don't measure engagement, expression, or emotional connections. Awareness alone is one dimensional, whereas involvement expressed through consumer-created content and community engagement can create brand advocacy and involvement.
Like technology, the dynamics and dimensions of marketing are changing rapidly and they'll likely be unrecognizable 10 years from now. Consumer touchpoints have multiplied, as have the number of agency partners a CMO manages. Content created by consumers in a two-way dialog has replaced the one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. Consumers are an undeniable part of the process with a growing arsenal of tools to create and curate their own content around the brands they love. Technology enables them to share content on their networks and take an active part in a brand's dialogue. There is no doubt that marketing is still responsible for impressions, but it's no longer just about the quantity, but rather the quality of impressions and how they're made. It means that tomorrow's CMO will have to be a master of all of the "C's": communication, creativity, consumer collaboration, community, creative curation, and a huge dose of consideration.
Here are five uncommon sense tips for mastering all of the C's in CMO:
- It's not your brand, it's the consumer’s. You don't own your brand, your consumer does. Inspire and enable your biggest fans to spread the love.
- Create brand-relevant content that is so compelling, authentic, and relevant that it can be used in every medium.
- Fuel consumer-generated content by feeding consumers with content that touches their passion points. Understand how your consumers relate to your brand and fuel their engagement with relevant and provocative ideas. They'll generate more connections for you than you ever will alone.
- Be the ultimate CMO by fueling, encouraging and participating in conversations in your community, but don't try to control them.
- Experiment often by rapidly prototyping new ideas and quickly replicating successes, but be content and move on when something fails.