What Top Marketers Are Focused on Next

So, 700 chief marketing officers walk into a bar…well, more of a ballroom, actually. That would describe the kind of events CMO Club founder Pete Krainik hosts for his chief marketing officer (CMO) members. Krainik, who started the organization in 2007, described the club’s mission, the impact social media has on traditional marketing, and the ever-changing world of marketing in a digital age.

BusinessNewsDaily: How have marketing officers' jobs changed with the advent of social media?

Pete Krainik: In hosting dinners for over 700 CMOs in 25 cities globally, the single biggest change has been what I call “leading the brand beyond the marketing department.” Up until recently, corporate communications or PR functions handled the "official" communications of corporate programs, messaging, etc. to press, which then communicated with customers and consumers. With the explosion of social media and technology-based communities, every employee and partner represents not just what the company does, but what the company stands for. The best CMOs are passionate about leading the brand beyond the marketing department and educating, listening and sharing with employees and partners.

BND: Is traditional marketing becoming less effective because of social media or more because you now have an additional marketing tool?

PK: If traditional marketing is defined as campaign-driven, message-pushing programs and broader segmentation of a few years back, then, yes. However, CMOs in the club don't think in terms of traditional versus new, but additional tools and areas of focus to engage customers, differentiate themselves, and sell more products and services. Many successful programs are based on leveraging all the marketing platforms, not new versus traditional print, TV, radio, etc.

BND: Does your networking group, The CMO Club, have any affiliations with colleges and universities to recruit students into the field of marketing?

PK: The club's mission is to enable the world’s best CMO conversations and is focused on the one place CMOs can go to get help, share ideas and become better marketers and leaders without being sold to. We do have marketing students as interns in many cities to engage with CMOs but I really like your suggestion and will look into this for the club.

BND: How has social media changed the way you market to the average consumer?

PK: Two key changes for marketers. The first is a shift from talking to listening. Finding your advocates and influencers within your customer base is an important part of marketing today. A number of CMOs are leveraging social media to find unhappy, vocal customers and turn them around to happy, vocal customers. Having an ongoing dialogue with customers on new product ideas, how to improve customer service, what competition is doing are all changes versus a few years ago.

The second key change is a significant shift from traditional segmentation of customers to more granular, focused groups with interests and buying patterns versus demographics. I worked at M&M/Mars some years back and the idea, for example, of focusing on males 18-24 for Snickers is no longer optimal. Now it’s football fans that like Blackberry, prefer Duncan’ Donuts to Starbucks, and just got a new job in NYC and tweet about the Jets every weekend with over 10,000 followers...

The three key priorities haven't changed:

  • Differentiating your brand
  • Engaging customers
  • Selling more profitably.

The approaches to do these do not include social media in each area.

BND: What social media marketing tool do you think is the most effective in today’s business environment?

PK: First, tools for monitoring social media conversations and identifying the most influential customers, bloggers, in the market. Both positive and negative. Again, it’s not just who likes you, but how likes you and has influence.

Second, tools that support the measurement, ROI, and scalability of social media plus analytics tools for cross-channel digital monitoring and quick response. Tools that can help marketers quickly see what’s working, and can react and re-allocate resources and programs are extremely valuable.

BND: What traditional marketing strategies do you see eventually dying out and being replaced by social media advertising ?

PK: I don't see traditional marketing strategies in total dying out but based on new target customer communities, the use of older, traditional media and strategies being eliminated. The tools you use to engage 15-year-old girls in Minneapolis will be much more social media driven than, say, retirement communities in Florida. Those customers will continue to respond to traditional media for some time. I think larger bands of customer segmentation will stop being used in the future.

BND: What effect has social media had on global marketing?

PK: One of the biggest values of social media is not just the external, customer-facing aspect but larger global companies leveraging social media internally for employees and departments worldwide. Internal facebook for employees or groups is becoming extremely valuable for CMOs. Education, alignment and, as important, listening to employees and agencies worldwide is critical for success.

Externally with customers, it’s added another degree of difficulty as social media maturity varies by country and in some cases regions within countries. That maturity drives the level and sophistication of social media as part of integrated marketing mixes worldwide.

BND: What's the next big marketing thing that our readers haven't heard of yet?

PK: It's all about mobile and mobile apps . Brands are investing lots of money looking at ways to engage customers, understand more about their patterns, travel, spending, family, etc. Customer-specific (not segments) advertising, customer support, applications to help them via mobile. It’s all about customer specific engagement, how they want it, and in support of their personal lives.