Every so often a business magazine will publish a survey of multinational CMOs and reveal what they think they need more of in the next few years. And, with the exceptions of topical hot buttons like social media skills, the answers tend to be the same: more insight, greater creativity, more innovation, new kinds of business partners, that kind of thing.
I am particularly interested in the comment about insight, because in my experience one of the things CMOs should spend more time being concerned about is the loss of existing insight, rather than simply the acquisition of new insight. Every time a large multinational has a re-organisation, it has in effect a corporate stroke: it loses a huge slice of corporate memory. It takes the person who has made Brand X a raging success in Vietnam, and rewards them by putting them on Brand Y in Brazil. The person who really understands what lies at the heart of the brand when it is at its most successful is replaced by a new face, usually with little or no handover. Given the promotional cycle of most large companies, the rest of the team moves on within 14 months as well, and within 2 years, all that knowledge about the brand is gone, and what is left is confined to a few powerpoint decks with half remembered voiceovers. And a new team starts effectively from scratch.
This is about more than inefficiency, it’s about profitability: what is the cost of that learning curve to a company? Particularly when replicated all over a region, or even the world? Technology is now so pervasive, accessible and easy to integrate that there is no excuse for the failure to capture the insight that lives in the mind and experience of a successful marketer before they move on. A CMO’s task today is to help the organisation capture the wealth of what they already know about a brand’s success, as well as seek the wealth of the future. Remarkably few are actually doing that.
This article first appeared in Campaign Asia Pacific