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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The Power of Focus

focusshareableI have written several posts on the power of focus. (Just use the category tab on the right to find them.) My friend and professor David R. Palmer always said, “There is no company that cannot improve its results, by narrowing its focus.” This is true of large companies and small ones.

P&G, which I noted was reorganizing its marketing back to the 1950s, has also decided to drop more than half of its brands to narrow its focus to improve its results.

If you want to improve your results, narrow your focus.


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Process Observations on Cab Lines

Some airports in the US have long cab lines. Las Vegas and JFK come to mind. In Las Vegas the line exists simply because so many people fly in and need cabs that the capacity to fill them is the constraint. The same is true at JFK. Turns out Newark, NJ (EWR) also has a cab line but for a different reason.

In Las Vegas, the goal of the cab dispatcher is to get people into cabs as fast as possible so visitors are not frustrated by the wait and to get visitors to their hotels so they can start stimulating the Vegas economy. In JFK I’m not sure the goal is to minimize frustration, but they do seem focused on getting people into cabs.

At EWR, the goal of the dispatchers seems to be to prove they are in charge. Their process slows down the cab line, frustrating both the cab drivers and the passengers, but does assure that the dispatcher is in charge.

Every process is perfectly constructed to produce the results it does. If you are not getting the results you want from your process, we recommend you look at the process first, not the people. Though at EWR and the cab dispatch process, we may have found an exception to the rule.


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How Can You Call Yourself A CMO If This Is True?

customerretentionThe title of Chief Marketing Officer is controversial. Some who hold it think it is insufficient. Others who hold it are really just the Chief Marketing Communications Officer (CMCO). People who hold the position often state that the position gets no respect and up until recently the average tenure of the CMO was less than two years. (I have written several posts about the CMO and you can read them by using the CMO category if you are so inclined.)

I am however, always amazed at what others write about CMOs in all seriousness. The latest is an article entitled “Customer Service Is Your CMO’s Blind Spot.” The article cites three key areas within customer service that he has found are deficient in many CMOs. I have no reason to disbelieve him, I am just stunned that anyone who seriously considers themselves to be the Chief Marketing Officer (as opposed to the Chief Marketing Communications Officer) would be blind-sided by any of these … ever.

He notes meetings he has attended where the CMO and the head of customer service are just finally meeting for the first time. How can that possibly be true unless one of them just joined the company in the last week?

He talks about how customer service has to deliver on the brand. Duh, how can a competent CMO not know that, and not make sure that is happening? Really, CMOs don’t already know this? If that’s true, no wonder the position gets little respect in the C-Suite.

Am I expecting too much in your opinion?


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