This continues a series of guest columns from practitioners and bloggers I respect. The category - The Real Deal describes them well.
Judith Rothrock. Ball of fire. Honed her marketing skills at IBM, Mobil (remember their in-your-face ads in WSJ?), Hyperion, Lawson. Now runs a marketing advisory firm appropriately named JRocket. Has won a bunch of marketing awards. I have written here about her tenacity.
Here she writes about the bad choices tech firms make when picking their CMOs. Agree or disagree - you better listen to Judge Judy!
"Recently a Businessweek column asserted that the weakest executive position in the corporate world, in terms of strategic influence/power, is the Vice President of Human Resources. I’d offer that the weakest executive position in technology, in terms of appropriate practitioner experience and knowledge is the Vice President of Marketing - the CMO.
Corporate Boards and CEOs each day mistakenly recruit their marketing chiefs from the ranks of those with impressive academic or corporate pedigrees – but with little marketing know-how. Or, they recruit marketing chiefs from marketing segments that are not fertile training grounds for strategic marketing management. The end result is the same…ineffective, often-expensive marketing programs that don’t get the job done.
Once Boards and their management teams get past the mistake of hiring non marketing execs for CMO roles, they need to understand the 3 very diverse segments of marketing: marketing communications, product marketing and partner/alliance marketing. Sitting squarely on top of these three functions should be a strategic marketing chief focused on delivering the Big Picture objectives.
Product marketers make lousy marketing chiefs – their detailed product focus is rightfully centered on the critically important role of accurately identifying customer needs and working with product development to bring those requirements profitably to market. In that role, their myopia is a coveted blessing, but it’s the inverse reciprocal of the strategic marketing vision and multi-focal skills needed to guide an organization’s overall marketing machine.
Marketing partnership/alliance heads have exemplary people skills and deal closing finesse that provides them with an effective training path to sales leadership. These folk are talented and critical to organizational success – for channel, product extensions and installation…but they are not trained to evaluate and project the effectiveness of multi-million-dollar ad campaigns.
The best marketing chiefs come from the marketing/corporate communications realm where they’ve often done the objectivity stint of reporting, industry digestion/writing analysis…and weathered the campaigns to see what works and what doesn’t. CMO’s from these roles tend to have the following advantages:
· Strategic objectivity (healthy skepticism based on multiple data/market points). Immediate recognition of competitive differentiation versus competitive commoditization.
· Effective written/oral communicators (If they can’t write an emergency press release, speech or standby statement in 20 minutes don’t hire them)
· Big Picture focused (follows the Board’s goal of market share, profitability, visibility, market entry, like it’s the holy grail). Doesn’t get distracted by campaigns and marketing theatrics.
· Rapid research condensers (can scan read 50-100+ related industry documents, customer interview or industry/internal POV’s (points of view) with rapid speed and comprehension…and glean a direction in 30- days (not 6 months, or more).
· Cost comparison campaign execution based on tactical experience (marketing is one of a corporation’s largest expenditures…if you don’t know the difference between the structure of a $30,000 direct mail or viral marketing initiative …. and one that costs $300,000….you are going to put too much power into the hands of your ad and PR agencies on “faith” .
Effective marketing leadership is out there, but companies need to stop recruiting from non-marketing and “wrong”-marketing operational ranks to get at it."
You can reach her at email@example.com