August 03, 2022
We’re all experienced, senior marketing professionals, and so it is with the greatest of respect that I share these thoughts and challenges with you all.
Donovan has built an awesome pool of talent in today’s CMO Council – a huge leap forward from the day when I was the opening Keynote speaker at the first European Conference, and a relationship I am still proud of to this day.
Around that time, when I was the Director of Global Brand and Customer Management at HP in California, I published a paper on “The Futurology of Brand Management”, and the last sentence was:
“The BM of the future will have to be marketer, scientist, psychologist, business person and anthropologist – the customer will demand it”!! (ISSN 1 469-7025 Vol8 No 1)
Fast forward 22 years and with today’s technology enabling undreamed of ability to analyse customer behaviour, SM and “influencers” causing so much opportunity and trouble in equal measure, with capital goods and services being sold / purchased without any human interaction, and so on, then maybe I got lucky with the prophesy!
BUT – what hasn’t changed in this kaleidoscope of marketing?? In a word – People.
Permit me to use my favourite marketing related quote by a gentleman called Ronald Coase, a Nobel Prize winner (in 1991) for his paper “Nature of the Firm” in 1937:
“Satisfying Customer Needs via Relationships We Maintain”
A simple seven words that describe OUR task succinctly and almost perfectly. I would simply add “at a profit” after “Needs”. And in order to do that, our CMO role requires us to do three things extremely well:
I could speak at length on each of these three things, of course, but this isn’t the place, and I am sure you all know about them anyway…..
So please let me focus on the major thorn in my foot about our wonderful function, and pose a question:
Why oh why are there still so many companies out there which profess to care about their customers, but which are STILL getting it so very wrong?!
The CUSTOMER. Not a data analytic element. Not stupid. Is human. Has a brain and feelings. Has legs – and is very happy to use them when we mess up!
We’ve all said this many times I am sure, “The ONLY reason we have a business is because we have customers.” I can hear the groans BUT we continue to fail!
From huge banks, to supermarkets, energy companies, you name it, I have many stories which I use in my lectures and conference appearances to highlight the extent of this perpetual lie – “we care about our customers”.
So, another question: WHO is responsible, ultimately, for this dreadful situation?? The disturbing answer to that is… US!
That person who stares back at us from the mirror every morning is actually responsible for the CJ and CX.
Yes, I am a Professor, but my main grounding and career was the ground floor of marketing on up through CMO, CEO and Chairman. Both views, academic from my colleagues at Cranfield University, and practical, real-world experience, are that our function has four main processes:
Each one of these has that critical word “Customer” in it, and I am aware that there will be some of you who have got this far and are muttering “yeah, yeah, yeah tell me something new!”.
My response to that is, almost all the “new” of our function is in the Execution part of our role. The critically important part is in those seven words by Mr Coase.(plus my own humble additional three!)
When you bump up against bad service in your own personal life, and get angry and feel bad towards the company concerned, remember that there is a CMO sat in there somewhere responsible for your plight! Would you be proud of that performance? Of course not.
You want to feel proud of your team and company in the way they shepherd your valuable customers – note I didn’t use the word “manage” here.
So let me conclude with a few points and an example of why this is important and how huge success can result:
Some years ago I developed something I called “Humanity-Based Strategy”, which has just three components:
The meanings are:
Just one example – How Big a Difference Can I make??
In 1957, Jack Taylor started a car hire business with 7 cars. This turned out to be the nascent Enterprise rent a car which came into existence in 1969. A nobody in the world of Hertz and Avis, and after three failed strategies, he decided to focus absolutely on superb customer service. When he died in 2016, his company was worth more than Hertz, Avis and all the others combined!
I hope you enjoyed my focussed, brief “ramble”. Thank you for reading this far, and I’ll end with a great Warren Buffet quote which is exactly how I’ve tried to live my roles as CMO / CEO / Chairman:
“Keep learning….and have a genuine desire to delight the customer.”
With over 30 years of international experience and former Director of Global Brand Strategy for Hewlett Packard in California (HP Invent), Ian now has a portfolio that includes NED and Board Adviser roles, consulting on business sakes, as well as his pro-bono charity work, speaking engagements and guest lecturing. Two recent Chairman positions include Romonet Ltd, a world-leading software and services company operating in the data centre analytics market, and DCD Group Ltd, for three years. Current Chairman of Buzzword Ltd, a marketing services company. Ian spent several years in Palo Alto California with Hewlett Packard and includes roles of CEO for Uffindell, a medium-sized brand consulting company, Senior Corporate Vice-President for Unisys Corporation and Deputy Group CEO responsible for the relaunch of BSC, The Chartered Institute of IT in his extensive career.
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