Marketing is changing dramatically every day. Consumers, data, and technology are driving this change. As chief marketing officers embrace their changing job descriptions and look toward a bold new future, here’s what CMOs from Frito-Lay, YP, and Nickelodeon say are some of the biggest challenges they face each day.
1. Managing Constant Consumer Conversations And Relationships
More and better data and technology also means the relationships brands and their marketing teams have broadly with consumers – as well as the ones CMOs have with them specifically – is also changing.
“I think the job description is changing from ‘marketer’ to ‘marketing technologist,’” said Ram Krishnan, SVP and CMO of snack food brand Frito-Lay North America, who spoke recently at Ad Age’s Digital Conference.
According to Allison Checchi, CMO of local marketing products company YP, CMOs are growing increasingly connected to consumers in part because they can have more direct conversations with them.
“It used to be a handoff from marketing to sales,” she said. “Now it’s much more fluid in all the ways we can talk to customers and engage them.”
2. Leading An Organization Where Everyone Owns The Customer Experience
These changes also mean all individuals within a given organization own the customer experience, which Checchi calls “an empowering and scary thing.”
In fact, Checchi said all employees are brand ambassadors, which means a very large YP team distributed across the country interacts with customers each day.
“It’s about how to control the conversation, which is a scary proposition, but our customers control the customer experience by what they say about us, particularly out there in social, where everyone owns it,” Checchi said. “It’s really imperative that someone is thinking about the end-to-end experience.”
That’s why, in part, YP has added a Chief Customer Experience Officer, she said.
Krishnan agrees everyone in an enterprise owns the consumer experience now. He also echoes Checci’s earlier comment, saying the Frito-Lay brand has 30,000 employees on the “front lines,” interacting with both retailers and consumers every day.
“The biggest challenge is how to teach them about the consumer experience,” Krishnan said. “It’s a mindset change that all of us are chief experience officers.”
Krishnan uses the example of the annual Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest, in which the Frito-Lay potato chip brand asks consumers to submit new flavor ideas. One big consumer frustration during the contest is not being able to find a specific flavor, so Krishnan said the brand has trained its front line about what to do.
“It’s not what you tell them, it’s how you tell them that is much more important,” Krishnan said. “We get instant feedback now and we can aggregate all of this conversation and can send information from Twitter about products that are out of stock. That’s a closed loop we didn’t have in the past.”
3. Adapting Brand Messaging To Post-Millennial Consumers
For her part, Pam Kaufman, CMO and president of consumer products at children’s cable network Nickelodeon, points to rapidly changing media, and consumers that “want content anywhere they can get it.”
“[Children] are touching every single screen and expect content to come up, so we need to serve customers completely differently,” she adds.
What’s more, Kaufman said the post-Millennial audience is vital to Nickelodeon, but this “whole crop of new kids is a completely different consumer and we must understand them.” For example, Kaufman said this post-Millennial generation loves their parents and so Nickelodeon, which used to create content “where parents used to be off to the side and kind of stupid,” must now focus on content that shows “a very happy family and a family that is making decisions together.”
In other words, she adds, “We ignored parents many years ago and now must include them and the family.”
4. Using Internal Resources To Their Full Potential
Frito-Lay spends quite a bit of time on internal marketing as a means of eventually helping its external marketing efforts, in part because the brand has a multi-generational workforce, according to Krishnan.
“They’re young and all digital natives and it’s sad we don’t use those skills when they first come in, so we’re starting to build that and teach them how to be ambassadors of the brand,” Krishnan said. “We use them as advocates, but they have to understand the nuances of what the brand stands for.”
In other words, young employees often have untapped skill sets that marketers can use to the brand’s advantage, but CMOs must help make sure those young employees receive a proper education when it comes to brand messaging.
Similarly, Kaufman said she feels like an air traffic controller in her role as CMO as she must make sure her team has the resources to do their jobs so they can go out and reach consumers and communicate properly.
5. Focusing On The Right Consumers For A Given Brand
“I would rather have passionate advocates than disengaged users,” Krishnan said of Frito-Lay’s efforts to target very specific customer groups.
When it comes to a brand like Doritos in particular, Krishnan said he and his team have to “make conscious choices all the time to get deeper engagement. We have to do programming that is really targeted and speaks to them.”
And that means brand messaging for Doritos is the result of a conscious decision not to talk to the general population. Further, Krishnan said technology is a unifying factor in making consumers more omnicultural overall.
“Some brands are global brands, but it’s crazy how consumers are the same across the globe,” Krishnan said. “The Doritos 19-year-old target doesn’t change…I would have thought the target in Turkey is very different than the U.S., but consumers identify with who they are rather than what.”