In the face of fragmentation and other seismic changes in the media industry over the last several years, if chief marketing officers are to effectively cut through the clutter and reach their elusive target audience, they have to be ready to think -- and think big. Big picture, that is.
A company CMO is expected to drive the marketing strategy for business growth by building their custom advertising and marketing ecosystem to reach the consumers they want with the stories that will resonate with them the most. They must consider how the young and diverse 18-to-34-year-old consumer is harder to reach than ever ... and that all of these linear, OTT and digital platforms demand best-in-the-business advanced advertising capabilities to get the most value for advertisers. Doing this creatively and effectively is easier said than done.
I recently moderated a Social Media Week New York panel featuring fellow CMOs Donald Buckley from Showtime and Thomas Burkhardt of Marchon Eyewear, and we discussed just that challenge. Both agree that keeping an eye on the big story, or what Buckley calls “the promotional narrative,” helps chief marketing officers in a variety of ways, such as providing a more streamlined process when dealing simultaneously with dozens of brands, strategies, audiences and platforms.
In Buckley’s case, a holistic approach allows him to run campaigns for a variety of programs with different genres, audiences and cadences while also maintaining the leading brand’s positioning. “The marketing for The Chi, which is in its second season now, launched last year, and it’s quite a different marketing challenge than Billions which we launched almost four years ago,” he noted.
For Burkhardt, keeping an eye on the main goal helps him navigate 30+ brands with different budgets and promotional needs. Put it another way; big picture thinking helps better align and integrate ecosystems that otherwise would be overwhelmingly difficult to manage. “The beauty of working with big consumer brands is that we can integrate with their promotional efforts in an efficient way for consumer reach,” Burkhardt said.
Multi-platform marketing becomes less challenging when looked at through a more integrated lens. “Creative begins on Instagram and branches out from there,” he said, explaining Marchon’s way to leverage its big consumer brands’ promotional efforts.
Showtime has been able to leverage its stars’ social media accounts to advance its marketing goals, similar to the concept of influencer marketing. “Instagram and Twitter are the favorite platforms of actors and other talents,” Buckley explained, adding that some stars receive social media coaching to obtain better results from their efforts.
Another advantage of a more integrated approach is the ability to balance more specific storytelling with the broader promotional narrative. The elusive 18-to-34-year-old demographic tends to hop between platforms yet continues to expect meaningful and authentic connections with brands on each platform. You can’t make one piece of content and be platform agnostic about it; you actually have to be committed to storytelling across each platform. For example, an Instagram story is very, very different from a YouTube video.
CMOs who solve for fragmentation by thinking big picture also realize that “it’s all about behavior now,” as Buckley said. The idea is to focus on what you want your consumers to do and where they will do it. This requires you to constantly keep your marketing organization finely tuned, current and willing to innovate.
For example, the Showtime CMO plans a “knowledge transfer,” or the ability to permeate the organization with new skills brought in by temporarily hired external experts that you may need in your marketing organization. Both suggest honestly assessing your marketing resources when thinking “big picture.” From consolidating channels to measuring the impact of in-house versus external teams, resources go a long way when executives are approaching a fragmented landscape with a unified vision.
Burkhardt shared what is on the mind of every CMO: “There’s always something else you can do, but you need to figure out if it’s the right approach for your brand.” The reality is you can’t do everything. But at the end of it all, your marketing efforts need to get you to your destination.
In my case, I think in terms of revenue and how many consumers I have to reach to ensure that I have the right amount of trial and repeat customers to buy my products and services to reach those revenue targets. That’s the ultimate big picture. So, when the others think small, the CMO goes big.
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