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Marketing In The Digital Age: 5 Tips For CMOs

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Fauscette, Group Vice President of IDC's Software Business Solutions Group. Fauscette's group encompasses research and consulting in enterprise software applications including ERP, SCM, CRM, PLM, collaboration and social applications, software partner and alliance ecosystems, open source software, software vendor business models, SaaS and cloud computing, and software pricing and licensing. Fauscette's knowledge of the market and enterprise software applications provided some great insights for today's CMOs.

Recent Gartner research showing that 25% of the enterprise marketing budget is focused on digital initiatives and 9-10% of company revenue is coming from digital spending puts the pressure on businesses to reach out and deal with customers in a way that they have not necessarily done in the past. The digital age has given extra empowerment to customers and their expectations have changed. For businesses to succeed they will need to redefine how they interact with customers, providing customers with support that is customer-driven, not company-driven.

According to Fauscette, this new marketing "strategy", which includes having to build a community and communicate one-to-one with customers on multiple different channels, can be downright overwhelming to a CMO who may not have had a lot of experience with direct customer interactions. "If you think about it, in the past what may have been considered customer "interaction" was really more of a broadcast - pushing things out to an audience, running campaigns, analyzing the results and generating leads. Building a community that is an interactive conversation is, in general, something that most marketing executives have never done before," says Fauscette.

The rise of the digital CMO was recently highlighted in a Harvard Business Review post, noting that by 2015, 25% of the enterprises will appoint a chief digital officers to potentially drive digital transformation initiatives. So how can a CMO overcome the obstacles of marketing in the digital age and achieve success? Here a five tips from Fauscette:

Partner with the CIO - According to a recent Wired magazine post, "Who Own Big Data: The CMO or CIO?" there is much discussion around who should own big data. The Wired blog concludes that, "The CMO can't own big data, because the CMO cannot architect a cloud solution that will help big data be stored and quickly processed. The CMO can choose the tools for the purposes of analytics and data reconciliation, but the CIO makes them work." Fauscette says, "In the end it's the CMO who owns the results of big data but with all the data we have access to there are all these new things we can do to drive marketing in a different way and there is an opportunity for someone to drive that. " He goes on to explain that when the CIO does not take the wheel, they end up playing the role of compliance officer and the CMO is left to drive the new marketing technology. However, overtime the CIO will need to help the business understand this new technology and partner with the CMO who needs help figuring it out. Instead of struggling until this is realized, CMOs and CIOs should partner on marketing technology initiatives upfront.

Be the Source of Influence - Recent studies point to consumers being engaged with as much as 11 touch points before making a decision to purchase. In addition, a B2B study found that 60% of the decision making process is complete before the customer even picks up the phone to contact a business. With all the information and connections that consumers have access to, it is clear that businesses need to be educating consumers all the way through the sales process. "The source of influence is becoming the source of education," says Fauscette. It's no longer about trying to influence at the end of the sales process, it's about the process of education and engagement all the way through the sales process to get to that decision making point. "The sale happens way before in the process, so businesses need to be the source that influences that buying experience," says Fauscette.

Don't Ignore Customer Communication Platforms - Fauscette tells us that customer communication platforms are important and should be the first piece in building the customer experience. He explains that by getting customers into a trust-based community, businesses are able to learn overtime the social network preferences and behaviors of their customers. Fauscette explains in an interview with MyCustomer.com that marketing departments can then retrieve valuable insight from these communities that can then be used to understand needs and target products more intelligently.

Look to Bigger Vendors for a Complete Solution - "Today I don't know of one phone call that could be made to solve all the problems of a CMO," said Fauscette. CMOs today are tasked with pulling all the technology pieces together. Fauscette recommends that CMOs who want a complete solution look to the big three vendors: Oracle, SAP and Salesforce.com. While these vendors still have some work to do to pull together a complete offering, they are getting there. If you are looking for specific things, such as email marketing, analytic and socialistic tools, it makes sense to go best-of-breed.

Integrate Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) to Connect to Customers and Partners - IDC survey findings demonstrate that while 79% of companies in North America have already implemented some form of Enterprise Social Network (ESN), 28% reported that they have more than one. But Fauscette believes that in reality, this figure is much higher - big businesses just aren't aware of how many networks their divisions have subscribed to. Deloitte predicts that by the end of 2013 more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies will have partially or fully implemented an ESN, a 70 percent increase over 2011.

In general, the feature set of ESNs are similar across vendors; it's the approach (standalone, embedded or specialty) that differs. For most businesses, the ESN should be an interconnected set of networks that solve specific business problems. But Fauscette believes that best practice should involve a "social backbone with an overarching ESN to be the connection point for all the other networks". This could also include communities that exist outside of the organization, such as customer communities and partner communities. But whatever the make-up of the concept, the important thing is that the business defines its communities and networks and ensures that they are properly integrated to avoid the proliferation of organizational silos.

Fauscette concludes that as all the different marketing technology pieces come together, the real question becomes how do we take all this - the relationships created by social systems and the data analytics - and put it together, in real-time, to help make decisions and solve business problem that can't be solved in a traditional system? According to Fauscette, the market is moving in the direction of what he likes to call an "ad-hoc decision support system", basically getting people and data together in real-time to help facilitate a specific problem and get answers - something that could never be done in the past because all the pieces were separated.

As a CMO, I can tell you that this is good news!

You can watch the full interview with Michael Fauscette here. Please join me and Michael Krigsman every Friday at 4PM EDT as we host CXOTalks - connecting with thought leaders and innovative executives who are pushing the boundaries within their companies and their fields.

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