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Smart lessons from the CMO Summit

It was a schedule like no other. Three days packed full to the brim with keynotes, panel discussions, roundtables and one-on-one meetings – all executed to military precision in the sunny Gold Coast. It was the ANZ 2015 CMO Summit where the head of marketing departments from organisations across Australia gathered with a cross section of agencies and service providers to share ideas, learn from one another, and develop opportunities for the year ahead.

A special mention has to go to the Chair of the event, Sonia Adams, CMO of GHD (the infrastructure giant, not the hair straightener). She kept the energy levels high between presentations and added a good measure of humour and personal insight along the way. As well as hearing about some of the challenges she’s faced in the past getting a marketing voice in the traditional world of engineering and construction, we also learnt about Sonia’s recent success – personally delivering over 50% of GHD’s sales targets this year. That’s over 50% of all sales targets delivered by an individual in marketing. Not surprisingly, that effort has caught the attention of the traditionalists. Go Sonia!

Lesson 1: Don’t underestimate the power of marketing for delivering sales results!

Whilst still feeling fresh on day one, Christophe Eymery of L’Oreal had us all oohing at the pure ‘genius’ of their Make Up Genius App (I suspect there was a spike in downloads during his presentation). The app is fantastic, there’s no disputing that, but what I found fascinating was L’Oreal’s focus on using this platform and product to drive B2B results – visitation, trial and purchase for their retail partners. By leveraging the power of their brand, their deep insight about the gaps and opportunity in the customer journey, and the power of immediacy, L’Oreal have invested significantly to make digital technology an intrinsic part of their go to market strategy.

Lesson 2: Brands have a responsibility and power to drive strong customer experience – this is equally true of B2B as it is for B2C. 

From the good looks of L’Oreal to the smarts of Google, Wendy Glasgow their Head of Data Platfroms APAC, gave us a tour inside her world of data. And not just any old data, because let’s face it, you could feasibly measure just about everything if you cared to. The key is to use data to deliver insight. It goes without saying, Google provides a myriad of free and paid products all aimed at delivering insightful data – and although this wasn’t a sales presentation, Wendy did a great job of giving context of the various tools Google provides, and how they can be used to augment other data sources. What I loved most was the message she echoed from marketing guru Jay Baer “we’re surrounded by data; we’re starved for insight”.

Lesson 3: Data without insight is pointless, so keep asking, “So what?”

Sent to challenge our very perception of marketing and its function within business, Tricia Weener from HSBC in APAC took us on a journey of the future of marketing. What a journey it was. Adamant that marketers shouldn’t just limit their scope to traditional areas of responsibility, she challenged us all to use our unique insight into customer experience to be the drivers of change in business. Tricia illustrated this point by sharing the story of an unlikely innovator – the British funeral home whose marketing team dug deep to identify critical points along the customer journey that would significantly improve the client experience during the difficult time of preparing for the burial of a loved one. In doing this, marketing was able to lead customer service innovation through a digital platform that facilitated transparency, a simplified process, and a feeling of confidence and respect.

Tricia also reminded us of Microsoft – and the innovation that moved an industry away from programs being downloadable from disc to being downloaded from the web. Again, that innovation was driven by Marketing.

As Tricia made one strong point after another, she challenged us once more with the future of the marketing team. From ‘Director of Audience’ to ‘Simplicity Engineer’, the simple truth is that marketers of the future will be a diverse and complex group.

Lesson 4: Marketing has a duty to work across the organisation to drive innovation for the purpose of customer experience.

In the discussion on diversity and reinventing common marketing channels, Joel Goodsir, Head of Marketing for Inspirations Paint captured our imagination as he described their authentic content marketing in action for a mere investment of just $3.49 – that’s right, about the price of a coffee! For ANZAC day, spurred by a fleeting thought, Joel downloaded an time lapse video app (for $3.49), and decided to paint an ANZAC wall mural using their own paint and their own staff.

The team now regularly post DIY upcycle projects, and How To’s to their YouTube channel creating authentic content that is on brand and drives customer engagement. Joel also made a great point that I’m quite passionate about. Not all content needs to break the bank. In fact, in this world of content forming a core part of marketing, story telling and customer engagement, content needs to be frequent, accessible, authentic, and so simply can’t require a big production with a big budget. In fact most probably needs to be what Joel referred to as ‘utility’ content. Home-grown everyday content that adds value to the audience, is quick to produce, and at an affordable price.

Inspirations Paint captured our imagination as he described their authentic content marketing in action for a mere investment of just $3.49 – that’s right, about the price of a coffee! For ANZAC day, spurred by a fleeting thought, Joel downloaded an time lapse video app (for $3.49), and decided to paint an ANZAC wall mural using their own paint and their own staff.

Lesson 5:  It’s not all about the BIG idea, connect with your audience in many small ways that are each a reflection of your brand and its values.

Let’s face it, BIG brand ideas (albeit less frequent) are also important. John Broome, Marketing Director ANZ for Kellogg shared with us the critical step they took with Nutri-Grain to completely reinvent its brand promise to breathe new life into the increasingly irrelevant ‘Ironman’ brand. Searching for the insight that would drive engagement with their market of teenage boys (and requests of mum to buy Nutri-Grain), Kellogg and their agency discovered the reality that teenage boys lead ‘always on’ lives. Constantly plugged in and facing pressure from all perspectives, they have difficulty finding inspiration. Nutri-Grain found a purpose. Connect with teenage boys by uncovering stories of young men who’ve overcome great obstacles to pursue their passions and dreams – they were the inspiration these teenage boys could look up to. They were UNSTOPPABLE. A series of videos have been created about each unstoppable, perfecting the edit to reach what John referred to as the ‘optimal emotional arch’ in each story to generate the connection resulting in a huge number of views.

Lesson 6: Dig deep in your buyer’s persona to uncover the critical insights that allow you to build a strong emotive story.

All in all the CMO Summit was a huge success – many great lessons learnt, some inspiring conversations, and the start of some great friendships (but that’s another story).

I would love to hear your perspective on these lessons, or if you were also at the summit and would like to share many of the other lessons that I didn’t capture, I’d love to hear them.

The Fine Print: This is a collection of my insights and lessons, and the accuracy of these details is a measure of my memory and note-taking skills.