Chief Growth Officer: The Last Jedi?

The C-Suite in an organization is the power center who share common duties, such as strategic planning, in addition to their functional responsibilities. They are no less than “The Jedi”, the main protagonists in the Star Wars universe who are depicted as an ancient monastic, academic, meritocratic and paramilitary organization whose origin dates back to c. 25,000 BBY.
So what has spawned the rise of a “Chief Growth Officer” as “The Last Jedi” to protect and lead the growth of an organization.

C-M-O = A dangerous acronym

At the top of most organization's marketing heap, stands a Chief Marketing Officer or CMO. This is the person who maintains the whimsical vision and executable strategy for the company's marketing plan. Inherent within this title, however, is one of the largest lurking dangers of the business world: a glorified role without any purposeful impact on the bottom-line. Indeed there is no acronym so dangerous in the English language as C-M-O.

Why CGO is the new CMO?

Sales’ is no longer about “trying to flog things” while marketing can’t sit in a silo, free from commercial objectives. It’s about trying to give them high quality advice and be there for them if there are any problems. So, the sales team is really a service team and then a marketing function more than anything else.
“Easy growth” is now a thing of the past. “Companies no longer can rely on traditional methods of incremental expansion and innovation—be it a new category, market, acquisition or distribution channel.
Marketers are simply not seen as growth drivers. Search firm Russell Reynolds, says CGOs aren’t just enhanced CMOs. They are growth-focused brand builders, trusted CEO advisers, and internal connectors who align conflicting agendas.

FMCG companies are at the forefront:

According to Russell Reynolds, these are “first-generation” CGOs. FMCG companies began to appoint CGOs around five years ago. Consumer goods giants including Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Coty and Mondel─ôz have all hired CGOs to “accelerate growth efforts” or to “bring focus and growth to our platforms”.Another example is Kraft Heinz, where marketing and sales is led by a president of global growth.

CMO was expected to lead the growth:

Over the past decade, marketers have continued to position themselves as experts in advertising, brand positioning, millennials and the latest digital fads – instead of being growth drivers – and this has led to CMO positions disappear.
While corporate leaders look to the CMO for growth opportunities, the marketing function certainly does not own all of the organization’s growth drivers. As many as five C-level executives are responsible for driving new revenues, according to a recent Accenture Strategy report. However, CEOs are most likely to hold their CMOs accountable for missed growth targets.

The expectations from a CGO:

A CGO, thus, primarily infuses a "growth mind-set" in the organization.
As Mondelez International CEO Irene Rosenfeld rightly states,"The creation of the Chief Growth Officer role ensures that growth remains at the forefront of our company strategy. It will bring the same focus and discipline to driving sustained, profitable growth that we have brought to improving our cost structure and expanding margins".

Five questions to ponder upon for a CGO :

1. What’s the plan? The CGO needs to construct and have a firm grasp on the overarching strategic plan of the organization.
2. Why the plan? A CGO needs to understand the essence of the plan – what it was based on – the insights, market trends, analytics and data at its core. They should be mindful of how to gather and incorporate client data, prospect data, competitive intel, and economic insights.
3. How the plan? What is the method by which the CGO will execute the plan? What resources will be incorporated? How will marketing tools be incorporated? What cross-functional planning is required? How does Sales get involved?
4. When the plan? What is the timing for the execution of the plan? How often will it be reassessed and updated?
5. Outcomes of the plan: Will the CGO have a thorough understanding of the dynamic measurement of the plan, on an ongoing basis? Can they articulate the ROI in terms of measurable metrics that have a downstream impact on revenues?

This evolution and elevation of traditional corporate leadership roles to a CGO can give a blueprint for companies to align the senior executives to the urgent need to address sustainable business growth and improving future growth prospects in times of uncertainty.

5 Ingredients to plate your 2018 Marketing Dish like a Pro

Molecular Gastronomy should not be considered a style of cooking but a new scientific discipline” argues Professor Pete Barham, from the University of Bristol, who has worked extensively with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal. Why?

Because it involves chemical sciences: agrochemicals are involved in the way food is produced; chemical changes occur during harvesting, packaging and transport to market, and subsequently during processing and cooking and finally, an understanding of neurochemistry when the brain reacts to the presentation and taste of the food.

“Taken to its extreme”, Barham argues, “It should be possible to quantify just how delicious a particular dish will be to a particular individual. Thus, in the future, it may be possible to serve different variations of the same dish to your dinner party guests so that each has their own uniquely enjoyable experience”.

Molecular personalization? Isn't that we want to do in marketing- create a unique customer experience.

With that thought let me list out a few in-season ingredients which will help you whip up your marketing dish make it delectable in 2018 !

Mobile at the core :
There’s no doubt mobile has become core to the digital marketing ecosystem – as a  communications channel, support and service mechanism, purchasing tool and more. But according to Forrester’s 2018 mobile predictions, marketers need to put even more emphasis on understanding how next-generation consumers are interacting with brands via these devices in the New Year. Mobile strategy goes way beyond a responsive website, even if it is designed mobile-first. The caveat of this is that the screen size for these mobile devices are tiny compared to laptops or desktops. It is much more difficult to convey all desired content into a website while still maintaining readability and clarity for such small screen sizes. Having mobile UX in mind, web designers and developers can collaborate and create products that should potentially be very clear and easy to digest in terms of their content, layout, and style

AI at the fore :
“With AI at the forefront, marketers will be better able to understand the likes and dislikes of a customer, determine what specific branded content should be served to that consumer, and track all their interactions through the customer's journey.  
“AI will also be imperative to provide customers with a seamless personalized digital experience in the future, for brands to get cut through, and for marketing to help deliver ROI.”  
Future-facing CMOs will adopt a challenger-centric approach in 2018, investing money where they see most value.

Millenials drive your purpose:
You are going to need to have a very clear brand purpose at the centre of everything to pull this off. Millennials, if they actually existed as a segment, would demand a clear and transparent brand purpose or they would simply not buy from you.
They don’t really care about ‘what’ the product is, they just care about ‘why’ you made it. That makes the millennial segment incredibly hard to market to; partly because they might go into the supermarket to buy bananas and bag of flour but come out with a unicycle and a bottle of brandy, but also because they demand a brand purpose. Who cares how your beer tastes? Why did you make it? And what are you doing about orangutans in Borneo?

Storify it through :
Can you imagine the power of a marketing department exclusively staffed with storytellers? Who needs strategy when you can weave a magical story? Does gross margin really matter when I can tell an impressive tale to explain it all away? And who wants brand managers when fairytales are an everyday aspect of operations?

Gather the advocates:
The strategy of paying a celebrity to syndicate brand content out to millions of followers has left many marketers disenchanted in the last few years. Finding the right partner who can co-create content up to brand standards can be equally difficult. Where brands should invest their time is reengaging customers who already love to talk about their products, developing new ways to build armies that feel less promotional or gamified and more rewarding, focused on building a culture of gratitude within the brand’s social community.

And there you have it, the story to unfold in 2018. Using AI to drive the millenials through a good story in their mobiles augmented by trusted advocacy. Let us check back in 2019 of how all of these shaped up!

Do Butt Clicks Count? Why Marketing is a Bad Investment

If you cannot measure it, there is no point in doing it.

Or so goes the case for measuring the return of our investment, whether in dollars or time, for any given marketing activity. It is good actually. Technology has been an enabler for marketing to drill down to the microscopic level of marketing. However, the focus on a granular level has taken away the vision to the bigger picture. Why?

Because, we’re evolved!

What’s the ROI of the flight delayed for a son to see a dying mother?
What’s the ROI of a smiling usher in the restaurant?

May seem a complicated question to ask. But, an employee smiling at a customer doesn’t cost anything. The customer experience has so many possible touch points today that it almost seems impossible to measure a true financial ROI.

ROI’s roots are in evaluating one-time capital projects. “But is marketing a one-time capital project?” Clearly not! ROI is a useful starting point for sizing up any investment. Remember that ROI is a historical measure, meaning it calculates all the past returns. The point is that an investment can do very well in the past and still falter in the future.

"When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind," he said, "I don't consider the bloody ROI."Tim Cook

If marketing’s mandate is to maximize ROI, there is every incentive to never do anything new at all.

Marketing is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability :

ROI by itself says nothing about the likelihood that expected returns and costs will appear as predicted. Neither does it say anything about the risk of an investment. ROI simply shows how returns compare to costs if the action or investment brings the expected results. Therefore, a good marketing investment analysis should also measure the probabilities of different ROI outcomes. It is important to consider both the ROI magnitude and the risks that go with it.

The Citizen Brand :

Headline Findings in a recent 2017 study includes the damning facts that people wouldn’t care if 74% of the brands they use just disappeared and that 60% of the content created by the world’s leading 1,500 brands is “just clutter” that has little impact on their lives (or business results). Instead of customers, propositions and activation, brands need to embrace the new three P's of marketing: people, purpose and participation. This is the future of marketing. This is the ‘Citizen Brand’.

Are we prepared for the world beyond ROI?

The pursuit of a perfect ROI calculation will exhaust the very resources that are supposed to deliver ROI.
We have uncertainty all around the plate, probability is the new ingredient and AI seems to be the sauce that will perfect the taste! The development and testing of new attribution models that move away from last touch and toward more comprehensive assessments, which includes multiple futures, will be the way forward. These models will eventually impact how marketers measure ROI and plan campaigns. New AI-powered algorithms will be tested to determine entirely new ways to create meaningful experiences and then define and measure the REAL ROI.

 “Even though you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there”. Will Rogers.

What are the multiple futures that could turn a marketing plan upside down?