Emotional marketing, the last refuge of the CMO

By October 20, 2015 Thinking No Comments

We have all read about the death of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). So how widely held is this perception that marketing is not delivering at the strategic table, how can we take simple steps to change this belief and is the debate around emotional marketing a help or a hindrance?

Research indicates 80 per cent of CEOs claim they have lost trust in their marketers and have stopped imposing KPOs and KPls as they don’t see the CMO as a credible business growth generator. CMOs, they believe, are unable to demonstrate how cross channel marketing and campaigns grow value, customer demand, increased sales, more prospects, greater conversions or market share.

More than three quarters (77 per cent} of CEOs also believe that CMOs keep talking about brand – brand values, brand equity and other similar parameters – that the leadership have trouble understanding or relating to results that really matter: sales, revenue, EBIT or even market valuation. A similar number (74 per cent} of CEOs think that CMOs focus too much on the latest trends like social, but struggle to demonstrate how this will generate more business for the company. They suggest CMOs don’t think like business people and focus on the creative, fluffy, ‘artsy’ side of marketing and not enough on the business science.

I can hear you say ‘that’s not right’ but these findings are from research of some 1,200 CEOs and CMOs in 11 countries across large, medium and small companies. Thank you for not including marketing agencies in this research but in my opinion agencies can’t hide either. At the risk of sounding like a naysayer, emotional marketing won’t help change the situation either.

What we should be doing is focusing on the issues raised above and fixing them with some basic steps before unleashing the power of emotional marketing.

First, have comprehensive data analysis capabilities and a consolidated dashboard of metrics covering all channels. Technology now allows rigorous analysis and reporting on a broad range of deliverables: it can monitor brand and product sentiment down to city level, define where the opportunity and threats within customer sets exist and give a thorough analysis of the customer journey from initial contact, re-targeting and a direct link between marketing and sales. I would recommend you integrate a number of processes and analytical tools into a single portal giving the business and your CEO 24/7 access to one dashboard evidencing the tangible value marketing delivers.

Second, make sure the business has a compelling and unequivocal value proposition that helps customers choose between providers, products and services. This appears to be increasingly difficult in B2B – most probably because true innovation is not always present. However, this is no excuse for marketers to focus on emotional territories as a means of delivering business value. It has its role but in our experience too much focus on this simply feeds into the view of the CEO that marketing is fluffy.

When we asked customers what they valued most about the businesses and offerings servicing this sector it could be summed up as quality, performance and value. As Steve Jobs said: ‘A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.’ So when we looked at this example across other categories we found little difference. B2B is primarily focusing on the ‘what’ and this is what customers say they value most. However, it doesn’t help customers choose. Creating a difference seems to be leading marketers to leverage the ‘why’. Customers (CEOs included} are skeptical about the value of ‘why’ in B2B marketing. Our view is to make sure you also have a thorough understanding of the ‘how’. It’s a rich territory for differentiation.

Lastly, you may wish to point out to your CEO that Milward Brown calculates that the brand as a business asset accounts for 30 per cent.

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