Getting In Touch With Customers? … Or An Excuse

cadillacemblemCadillac recently announced they were being split off from GM as a separate business unit. Good for them. As long as they don’t follow Saturn’s fate; as a separate business unit that is. Cadillac also announced they were moving sales and marketing to New York City, SoHo to be exact; to be closer to their target customer. Guess they finally figured out that Detroit is not really the heart of their target market.

I commend Cadillac for their focus on getting closer to the customer. However, why SoHo? Ostensibly because the SoHo resident is more in line with their target customer. Or perhaps that’s just where the VP wants to work? Really … SoHo? How many people who live in NY City drive a car regularly? In my experience, not many, and especially not many in the Cadillac income bracket.

If you want to get closer to the Cadillac target customer, an office on the Westside of Los Angeles, where everyone drives a BMW or a Mercedes, would seem to have been a better choice. But then, I ‘m not the VP who gets to choose.

What do you think?




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Blackberry Is Irrelevant … In Case You Weren’t Sure

Blackberry-logoWhile Blackberry may no longer be on the verge of bankruptcy, they are irrelevant. What a come down from the defacto standard smartphone to oblivion in a few short years. But, that’s what comes from believing you control the market. You miss the disruption, or you at least ignore it, rather than creating it. As I said in my book, It’s Not Rocket Science, “It’s better to compete with yourself, than to have someone else do it.”

In case you missed it, Blackberry introduced their new phone today. It’s called the Passport. If it matters to you check it out. I suspect it won’t matter to you or many other people anymore. Meanwhile Apple sells 10MM iPhone 6s in a week, and Samsung is continuing to innovate.


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Apple’s Innovation Challenges

Apple-logoAfter Steve Job’s death, I posted a few times about where Apple heads next with innovation. Many people have asked the same questions. With the introduction of the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch (aka iWatch), we are beginning to get a clearer view.

Some have suggested that Apple may be losing its “cool” factor. Perhaps, but given the record long lines at Apple Stores last Friday to be “first” to buy an iPhone 6, that suggestion is premature.

I noted in an earlier post that the innovation issue for Apple was going to be the need to change its innovation archetype, and that was risky. Since the beginning, Apple has used the Visionary Leader innovation archetype.  Due to Steve’s untimely death, I felt they were likely to no longer be able to follow that approach. Indications are that they are not even trying and have moved to the most common archetype, Systematic Innovation. This is not really a surprise since shifting from Visionary Leader to Marketplace of Ideas is a huge shift and Collaborative Innovation is also way outside their culture. The Systematic archetype seems the most logical.

We see indications of that also in the number of innovations Apple is now working on. When Jobs returned to Apple after his Next adventure, he famously reduced the projects from hundreds to a handful. Indications are that Apple is now working on dozens (at least). Pundits suggest that Apple needs to do so because they cannot move the needle anymore with a simple $1B innovation. They need many of those. Or a $50B innovation as Jobs was more inclined to look towards.

Anyway, as I have said previously, Apple has its challenges ahead and only time will tell if it can make the transition. The bar is very high, but then so is their cash on hand.


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Eleven Years Later And Back Where They Were

lovinitBack in 2003 McDonald’s was suffering from a lack of execution that was affecting its top and bottom lines. The CMO at the time was given credit for turning things around with the “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign. As I noted in an earlier post, the ad campaign may have induced trial or retrial, but without improved execution, the campaign would have “bombed.”

Today it’s widely reported that MacDonald’s is having similar problems and it’s postulated by some that the “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign may be on its way out. Perhaps because customers aren’t lovin’ it?

Expert opinions abound about what’s wrong this time. My opinion is that the same thing is wrong this time as last time: failure to deliver on the brand promise. Perhaps because they are trying to do too many things and no longer have an affinity with Millenials. (I noted also in an earlier post that focus matters.) Perhaps because corporate is disconnected from the franchisee? Maybe because the product is not as good as it needs to be? All of the above?

If they want to know, some bodies from corporate needs to get out of the headquarters and spend more time in stores. This problem did not happen overnight and a new branding campaign is not going to fix it. If you want to prevent this kind of crisis, get out more. And once it happens, you’d better get the troops out of the tower and into the trenches.

And how does a great company keep having the same problem anyway?


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Now You Can Relax … Or Not

cmotenurechartSpencer Stuart, in a recent article, noted that CMO tenure was continuing its upward trend and was now at 45 months (as of 2013). We noted this back in 2013 when they first reported it for 2012. The article shows a nice chart with the increasing trend (well, ok 2012 and 2013 were flat, but way up over 2006).

Does this show, as they mention, that the CMO position is becoming more stable and better defined? Maybe. However, they also note that even at 45 months, the average tenure of the CMO is still only about half that of the average CEO. Maybe you better not get to relaxed … yet.

The CMO role is still the easiest position to replace when growth stalls. After all the job title suggests they might be to blame for a lack of growth. (The real job description may not, but most analysts don’t get into that level of detail.) Therefore, sacking them due to a lack of growth seems like the proper move on the part of the CEO. The CMO position is not really well understood by investors (or CEOs for that matter), so it’s unlikely they were considered a super-star C-level exec. Thus replacing them does not raise a red flag.

In fact, axing the CMO due to a lack of growth may be part of the reason CEOs have a longer tenure: new C-level exec to blame for a lack of company performance.

Might not be time to relax yet if you are a CMO.

How do you see it?


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Who or What is a Chief Growth Officer and Why Would You Need One?

Sometimes I think this whole “title” thing is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Or maybe it’s just to distract the Board. Or, as my father says, “confusing motion with progress.”

This could just be a variation on the theme of CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) wanting a new title. I noted this last November when Beth Comstock, CMO at GE, asked to be considered the Chief Growth Officer because being CMO was not correct. I mentioned in that post that if Ms. Comstock would check the 1952 definition of Marketing at GE, she would understand that CMO was the correct and valuable title.

The CMO title began to gain traction about 10 years ago. Marketing professionals liked the idea because they believed that Marketing was finally going to get a seat at the table in the C-Suite. Fooled them.

Firstly, the CMO position was a revolving door. I pointed out back then that CMOs were likely created to be the scapegoat. That is, when the company had a bad period, the CEO needed to “sacrifice” someone. By using the CMO as the scapegoat, they were clearly taking action because a C-Suite member was being axed, but not anyone critical to the company. The stock would move up due to action rather than down due to losing a good person. At that time, CMO tenure was only about 18 months or so.

The next problem with the CMO title was the range of responsibility so-called CMOs might have. Some were no more than directors of advertising while others had more comprehensive responsibilities. Even so, most CMOs were equated with running the “back-end” of Marketing: Marketing Communications. As such, they were usually just CMCOs (Chief Marketing Communications Officers). Those who had more responsibility than that (as Ms. Comstock did), likely wanted a title change so they could differentiate themselves from mere CMCOs who masqueraded as CMOs.

Now we have the CGO (Chief Growth Officer). A recent article noted that LinkedIn found over 2,000 people with that title. Apparently the job title is gaining traction. But what is it? If it is simply a retitled CMO, then what? Clearly, it will not be as easy to scapegoat your CGO, but are these (CGOs) gaining responsibilities?

All that being said, if the goal of the company is to grow, how is the CEO not the CGO? Ok, perhaps the company is too large and needs to delegate some responsibilities.  I can see an organizational structure that looks like this being interesting:

 CRO-COO Org Chart

A CEO with four direct reports: The Chief Growth Officer, responsible for Demand Chain (marketing, sales, customer service, etc); A Chief Operations Officer, responsible for the Supply Chain (service delivery, manufacturing, engineering, etc); A Chief People Officer (responsible for talent acquisition, retention and improvement); and A Chief Financial Officer (responsible for the balance sheet). One could find several viable variations on this, but in this case the Chief Growth Officer is clearly not the CMO, but rather the person responsible for creating and keeping customers. The Chief Customer Manufacturing Officer if you will. I could get behind this position as a viable contribution, just as the other three would be.

However this is not what the Chief Growth Officer, as currently configured, does. Renaming the Chief Marketing Communications Officer something else, will not improve results or make the position more valuable. CMO is a useful position, as is CMCO, but the two are not the same and neither of them are the CGO.


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What’s Going Wrong Here?

justiceisblindBack in September of last year I posted about Quinn Emanuel and their willingness to help their prospective customers understand the value of working with the firm with what I thought was a great headline. Back then their claim was 90%.

Recently the headline has changed to a win rate of 88.4%. Are they hiring “B” players now? Are they losing a lot more cases now? Doesn’t look good, though I may be the only one who noticed the drop. (I am also of the belief that when they started running this campaign, it was closer to a 95% win rate.)

One of the problems with “benchmarks” is they can come back to haunt you. Even though their win rate is still very impressive, it is moving in the wrong direction. One wonders why?



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