3 CMOs On 5 Big Marketing Challenges Facing Brands Now

CMOs are embrac­ing chang­ing job descrip­tions and look­ing toward a bold new future, but still face five big mar­ket­ing prob­lems each day.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

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.”

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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