The Impact of Digital on Growth Strategies for CMOs - MaryLee Sachs

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In the last quarter of 2011, I worked with TNS on a project to generate a "voice of the CMO" report, providing qualitative feedback from CMOs to the key themes from TNS' annual Digital Life Study. The Study itself is a robust quantitative piece of work based on conversations with over 72,000 people in 60 countries – it is the most comprehensive view of consumer attitudes and behavior online on a global and local level.

The 13 CMOs who participated in the interviews were remarkably aligned on several aspects – despite the fact that they came from a mixture of B2C, B2B and both B2C/B2B brands, and a variety of business sizes. And the report – "The Impact of Digital on Growth Strategies – CMO Imperatives" – was just released by TNS.

For me, one of the key insights emerging was a new set of brand-building priorities:

· Shareable content: content and experience development that has "share-ability" and is designed to enable and encourage advocacy. This applies to both B2C and B2B businesses, as well as PR or Corporate Comms influencer outreach.

· Co-creation and experience marketing: encouraging and welcoming consumer input to brand marketing campaigns.

· Brands as enablers: the Digital Life Study shows us that consumers are looking to express themselves online and welcome brands who act as enablers. This can take almost as many forms as the self-expression itself, for example, brands being entertaining, informative, playful, collaborative or helpful.

As an overlay to these priorities, CMOs have renewed faith in the central 'brand idea' or the 'big idea' because:

· Today's more empowered digital consumer has more influence on a brand's digital manifestation and reputation. With a stronger central idea, there is more likelihood the brand will be able to maintain the key essence or message they wish to convey, as it is remixed and shared by consumers.

· The proliferation of digital touch points means it's rarely feasible to create a different idea for every aspect so ideas need to be prioritized. Using the 'idea' as the rationale for planning, each touch point or channel is now selected on its ability to effectively deliver the idea; a great balancing force to the temptations offered to marketers by new technologies.

And growth in transmedia planning – story-telling across multiple platforms and formats – is helping the brand idea land more readily through digital as well. One of our interviewees was Wendy Clark, SVP Integrated Marketing and Capabilities at Coca-Cola, and I love how they have approached the story-telling and content creation aspect in a video entitled Coca-Cola Content 2020 Part One.

Other interviewees included, in alpha order: Barry Judge, Best Buy; Hugh Chambers, British Olympic Association; Mike Hogan, GameStop; Douwe Bergsma, Georgia Pacific; Jim Gurke, Getty Images; Lauri Kien Kotcher, Godiva; Lisa Macpherson, Hallmark Cards; Larry Bruck, Kellogg's; Jean Foster, Neustar; Simon Sproule, Nissan; Hope Frank, Webtrends; and Christa Carone, Xerox.

MaryLee Sachs was most recently US Chair and Worldwide Director of Consumer Marketing at WPP firm Hill & Knowlton. She launched her new book, The Changing MO of the CMO, How the Convergence of Brand and Reputation is Affecting Marketers, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on June 23. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Read all MaryLee's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at MaryLee Sachs.

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