CMOs Focused on Reaching "Influencers" Via Social Media

By Pete Krainik Founder of The CMO Club

Having finished a series of 15 dinners in as many cities with chief marketing officers, I was struck by how around 75% of the formal dinner conversations centered around leveraging social networking tools and how to reach “influencers” through these mew media versus traditional outlets.

Also, as I looked around the tables at these dinners—put on by The CMO Club—I noticed a number of star CMOs sitting and listening, but not taking notes. But once we started talking about CMO Leadership beyond their marketing organization, all pens or mobile devices were out taking notes and engaging in the conversation.

These are the two topics clearly dominating the work lives of CMOs today—social media and crafting their own leadership strategies.

The first thing that separates star CMOs from all the others is their delivery as an Officer (O) in the company. Officers lead business-wide change, not department change. The only way you can drive the growth agenda for your company is to lead your brand company-wide. Randall Beard, Global Head of Marketing at UBS, led our recent NYC CMO CLUB dinner discussion on this exact topic. How much time are CMOs and marketing executives spending in this area?

Do you think Dell, GM, Starbucks, 6 Flags, and others can creatively campaign or leverage social media their way to future profitable growth? Company-wide focus on adding value to their customers is what’s needed and where CMO focus should be. Social networking tools are great new solutions for helping execute your customer value delivery plans.

The second thing that separates star CMOs is their delivery as a Chief (C) in the company. This is all about ensuring your entire organization has the talent and skills you need to compete in today’s world. Susan Lintonsmith from Red Robin Restaurants has done, in my opinion, a great job in focusing on restaurant level customer engagement by employees. Todd Townsend told me recently the things he learned while CMO at Sonic Drive-In have been extremely valuable to him in his new role at Qwest in focusing on organization wide customer engagement programs and talent development. Peter McNally helped me kick off a CMO Coaches program in the club about “Talent Development” and his CMO conference calls for our members have been one of the most popular roundtable topics. Remember, it’s all about leadership in company wide branding and customer engagement talent development. You would be surprised how many conversations I have with CMOs in which they put in new dashboards and metrics, start measuring, seeing where they are, but then not having the expertise within their departments to improve and lead “real” improvements in dashboard metrics. I did this, now how do I move the dials?

You want to be a star CMO (or help your CMO be a star)? In my opinion, make sure you lead as an officer in your company around company-wide business change and focus your energies on talent development and company-wide internal brand development.

This is a time in which a lot of bold experimentation, as it relates to reaching consumers via social media, is called for. It is a time of transition and upheaval, exacerbated by the recession. Success in getting through this period will not come from playing it safe, but rather demonstrating to the whole organization that all the new investments you are making in uncharted waters is part of a coherent plan and that you have the skills to take the organization where it needs to go.

This post kicks off our new series inviting guest bloggers to contribute to Brand New Day for a week.

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