Reality Marketing, Part 1: Letter From the CMO

Who needs reality TV when you work in marketing? In today’s ever-changing landscape, there are plenty of real-life challenges to overcome: Which new technologies do you pursue? How do you keep up on all the latest trends and opportunities? Where do you place your bets with your marketing budget? How do you raise the bar on accountability?

In this series, I’ll provide email dialogues between several key figures within a fictional marketing organization: the CMO, the director of advertising, the brand strategist, the customer marketing manager, and the director of online marketing. What ensues might not be that far from your reality.

Don’t worry, I won’t be asking you to vote the worst Web analytics reports off Data Island. Although with over 6 million custom reports available in the major tools, that might not be a bad idea. Read on for the letter from the CMO that kick-starts it all.

To: Marketing Leads
Subject: FY07 Planning Prep — MUST READ
Date: June 29, 2006
Importance: High

Hello, everyone!

I’m back from my London trip, and on the plane home I captured a few things that have been on my mind. I’d like you to spend some time thinking about these things before we meet in two weeks for our planning meeting.

Analysis Mandate

Moving forward, there will be zero tolerance for investing marketing dollars without justification or analysis of what’s working and what isn’t. I know we’re all tired of hearing the word “accountability,” but it’s the reality now.

Does this mean we’ll lose our creative backbone and become overly data-driven? We won’t take risks? No. Just the opposite, in fact. I envision our group getting out of the weeds of “conversion rate by keyword by search engine by day of week by time of day” and instead start our planning process with our key performance metrics baked in up front when we define our goals.

How can we get traction on our analysis mandate? Should we staff differently? Do we have the proper tools? How can we get our team ready? I expect this to be a core component of our plan this year.

Capitalize on the Trends

Yes, the customer is in control. And the Web is the hub of marketing. Got it. Every magazine I read tells me we should be shifting our advertising budget from offline to online.

So how do we capitalize on these trends? What’s the smart play for our business? How does each marketing channel affect the others? What’s the right balance between our brand-building goals and our direct marketing goals?

No More Buzzwords, Please

Multivariate testing, behavioral targeting, brand engagement, Web 2.0, site optimization, campaign optimization, search engine optimization, email optimization. Is there anything we’re not optimizing? Let me be the first to admit I don’t know for sure what we’re talking about.

I don’t want to hear any more of these buzzwords in our planning meetings, unless you have a detailed plan with defined goals, key metrics, and forecasted lift outlined. We need to get real. Which of these things are relevant to our business? Which will provide us the highest yield? Does it make sense for us to invest more in online community development, Webcasts, podcasts, V Casts, or any other form of casts out there? You get my point.

I know that’s a lot to digest. We’ll need to prioritize our efforts. Think through these questions and come prepared to provide your insights.

As always, if you have any questions before we meet, let me know. The door is open.


Have you sent or received a similar manifesto for improving your planning process? If you’re the senior marketing executive, what response did you receive from your staff? If you’re a marketing manager on the receiving end, how did you respond? I’m always interested in your feedback.

Stay tuned. Over the next few columns, I’ll tell you exactly how this group of marketing leads reacts.

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