CMO Disruption: Marketing Is More Than Just Promotion!!!

I recently did this Google Hangout with Jon Reed on CMO Disruption. He didn’t want to use the term “disruption,” but I think that is exactly what we’re facing in the marketing industry.

Whether it’s a dilemma or really disruption for the CMO, across the industry, I think we can all agree that marketing is changing.

CMOs are struggling with how to deal with the massive changes happening in the media landscape. The large majority of CMOs and Marketing leaders know they need to change, but don’t have a good sense for how to tackle the challenges.

You can’t buy attention!!!

Jon wanted to talk to me about all this based on my post “Why I Bet My Career on Content Marketing” where I talk about my belief that marketing has a marketing problem, there is a content marketing imperative based on our need to start attracting our audience vs. buying it.

Jon did a great job summarizing our conversation in his write-up and pulled this quote from me:

I believe content marketing is no longer a question, but an imperative for every brand – large and small, across every industry, in B2B and for consumer brands as well. The reason is because all of us are now firmly in control of our content experiences. We opt-in to the content we want to watch, read, share and binge on. We opt out of the ads we don’t want and will not accept interruptions to the content experiences we want to consume or share.

Jon summarized my point by saying that we are now “opting in to the content we want and opting out of the content we don’t.”

We are counting marketing success in the margins!!!

I talked about all the marketing we ignore. I talked about how 90% of executives wouldn’t take a cold call from anyone, for any reason. I talked about the 0.01% of banners that actually get a click, and who the heck knows who is actually doing the clicking. Based on the massive amount of data to support the amount of marketing being tuned out, I stated that we are counting marketing success in the margins.

Jon, gets it. He said we need to “develop an audience that trusts and respects you” and then there isn’t any cold calling because your audience already knows who you are.

What about content marketing ROI?

I am so happy Jon asked this question. We get it a lot. My simple answer:

Content marketing is infinitely more trackable than marketing overall. Content is a trackable medium delivered in digital channels that returns digital signals, allowing us to see who we’re reaching, how they’re engaging and whether they’re converting. Seth Godin has this great quote, “Content marketing is all the marketing that’s left,” because A, it’s trackable and B, it’s really publishing the stuff our audience is looking for, instead of what we’re trying to do now.

I used the now-famous example from Julie Fleischer at Kraft who said that content marketing is four times more effective than even their most targeted advertising. And I provided my view on how to track content marketing ROI for any business:

  • Identify the cost to create the content you already have
  • Check if that content was used? How much of that content reached anyone? In most companies the answer is “not much!”
  • Then, run the numbers on how many views, shares, leads and sales you got.

My line on utilization reflects the real opportunity with content marketing ROI:

Every piece of content that gets created and doesn’t reach any audience is complete waste – stop creating the crap that no one wants.”

If marketing does anything, if CMOs do anything, to face the disruption they are facing, it should be to put someone in charge of content. Stop creating the crap no one wants. And start publishing content that helps your audience.

Can brands become publishers?

Jon tried to get me worked up by asking if I disagreed with Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher who believes that brands cannot compete as publishers.

But I didn’t bite. Because my definition of content marketing is relatively simple. Create content that helps your audience, and you will earn their attention and their trust. I explained:

Content marketing is not about trying to become the New York Times, it’s simply trying to answer earlier stage questions that customers (and potential customers) are looking for…

…Can we create content as good as the influencers in our space? The answer is: we’ve got to try. We have information, we have expertise. We can help educate our audiences. Are we going to become as good as Probably not, but can we be helpful to our audience? Absolutely, and I think that’s the difference. Are we trying to become real publishers? No, we’re just trying to be helpful to an audience.

The #1 Job of CMO is Culture!!!

I talk a lot about culture here and here and even more broadly here. I believe the biggest mistake CMOs are making is really about having the courage to change.

Their #1 job should be to focus the culture on customer-centricity. I pointed out that the brands that succeed are the ones who put their customers ahead of the natural desire for the business to promote itself. I spoke to Jon about these brands:

They’re the ones that make their mission to help their audience – not just by selling product,  but by helping them to solve a problem. It’s like getting back to the genesis of why they exist.

We talk about brand purpose… The companies that are successful are the ones that understand their core purpose – not from a sustainability or a feel-good, hippie-dippie perspective, but truly from a view of why that company exists, who they serve and for what purpose…

…The brands that understand this could pull their content strategy straight out of their mission statement.

Thanks to Jon for this great discussion in Purging the content marketing clichés

In Hashing the CMO Dilemma – is content eating the org chart? Jon and I discussed whether journalists belong on top of the org chart.

I don’t think so, but I explained to him how I predict that the marketing org chart will evolve beyond channels and into content, data and technology. When Jon asked me why this wasn’t happened, he recalled our email exchange where I said:

My view is that most CMOs don’t see content as a problem. Or more importantly, they don’t see their under-performing marketing investments (programmatically-bought banner advertising no one sees, and logos on stadiums that have nothing to do with what you sell) as a problem.

Ouch! Right? In this second video, I mentioned that there are CMOs who get it:

The ones that get it are simply trying to generate higher return on marketing. They measure ROI to whatever extent it can be measured, and they see that their current content and advertising are largely wasted investments. They know, as digital consumers themselves, that effective content attracts current and future buyers.

I defined my views on the focus of the CMO in today’s digital world:

  1. Create a culture of content
  2. Break the traditional campaign mentality and think more always-on
  3. Demand results-driven performance vs. activity-based metrics reporting
  4. Define your role as Chief Customer Officer and get a seat at the boardroom table based on ROI

I talked about some examples of CMOs doing it right and how to face some of these challenges in a real way. So check out the videos for more details.

And be sure to follow Jon @jonerp for his always-insightful views on the digital economy.

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Check out the discussion on video here:

And the second part here:

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.