Managing Everyday Anxiety

In its simplest terms, anxiety is defined as your body's natural response to imminent threat or danger, or to an event or circumstances with an uncertain outcome.   It's what you feel when your body gets ready to fight back or run away.  Anxiety becomes a problem, however, when you are anxious and nervous without an actual threat or danger, your body stays in a hyperaroused mode, and the anxiety

Strong Fences Make Good Neighbors: Building Personal Boundaries

"I just don't understand why my boyfriend treats me like dirt!  I know he has someone else on the side, but there's nothing I can do about it..." 
"I hate it when my roommate takes something from my room without do I get her to stop (or do I need to move out)?"
"When my girlfriend gets mad, she gets in my face and screams and calls me every name in the book.  Then she trashes me

10 Things CEOs expect from their CMOs. How do you stack up?

Last week I blogged about a Fournaise study that found that 73% of all CEOs believe marketers lack credibility because they cannot quantify the value of their marketing efforts.

So the next logical blog post would be to share and comment on an article from MarketingWeek that outlines what CEOs expect from their CMOs.  If you can meet all of these expectations, then your CEO is probably in the 27% minority in the Fournaise study. 

How many of these expectations are you fulfilling?

1.  A focused financial steward
     - Do you manage your budget, maximise every dollar spent and measure ROI to the best of your ability and resources?
2.  A consistent innovator
     - Do you constantly look for new and different ways to communicate and strengthen the corporate brand, drive revenue or reach new audiences?
3.  A customer whisperer
     - Do you know who your customers are and what they want?  Do you know what the customer of your customer wants?
4.  A dedicated brand steward
     - Are you the protector of the brand (internally and externally)?  What steps do you take to ensure that the entire organization is protective of the brand as well as an advocate of the brand?
5.  A social media maven
     - Every business is trying to get on this bandwagon and you should be leading the way.  How much do you know about social media, and can you communicate the value to your business?
6.  A business strategist
     - Do you spend all of your time on marketing campaigns or do you get involved with, and understand the needs of other departments?  That broader understanding will not only get you a seat at the executive table, but also help improve your marketing efforts.
7.  A capable Crisis Communications Manager
     - How prepared are you for the unexpected?  Do you have a plan in place?  If so, do you share and practice that crisis management plan just as you would a fire drill?  When a crisis occurs, you're going to be expected to take the lead on protecting the corporate reputation.
8.  A data analyst
     - What data do you have access to that will help sell your marketing story internally?  If you don't have any analytics, you need to demand them, otherwise, you will always be fighting an uphill battle.
9.  A customer advocate
     - Too often when budgets are tight, or revenues slip, the easy solution is to sacrifice the needs of the customer to impact the bottom line.  How often do you fight to protect the people who are paying your bills?  The customer needs a voice.  Why not make it yours?
10.A motivator-in-chief
     - How much do you work to motivate your entire organization, not just the marketing team?  Do you work with HR on motivational initiatives?  Your customers are not just those on the other side of the cash register.  What efforts do you make to build loyalty with your internal customers?

This is a pretty big list!  How do you stack up?  Are you successfully delivering on these 10 demands?  I readily admit that there are some areas where I am stronger than others.  However, there is nothing on this list that every marketer shouldn't already expect of him/herself.

The key to success as a CMO is ensuring that you have an open dialogue with your CEO and that expectations are clear.  While I question whether many CEOs truly appreciate the value of marketing, the best way to solve that problem is to be proactive.  Make yourself heard by understanding your business and offering constructive solutions to problems.  Afterall, isn't that what marketers are supposed to do best? 

73% of CEOs think marketers lack credibility - Why?

A recent study by Fournaise found that almost 75% of all CEOs believe marketers lack credibility.  They think marketers place too much emphasis on brand values and brand equity without enough measurable data to prove how marketing drives revenue.

Will someone who feels this way please define success for me?  Define love.  Define the shade of gray.  If I got 100 definitions for each, they would all be different.  My point is that success, love and shades of gray are all subjective, yet the diversity of the definitions doesn't make them any less valid or accurate.

Marketing is a science that requires both creativity and access to data to accurately measure ROI.  Yes, sometimes measurement can be subjective, but often thats because the research needed to quantify its impact can take a significant amount of time or isn't given the proper infusion of resources (financial or otherwise). I can think of several companies (Amazon, Sony, Ford) that didn't make money coming out of the box.  It was continuous product development and marketing that ultimately led to their success. 

While I agree that every company should demand marketers understand and measure ROI and its impact on P & L, companies must also be willing to invest in the tools necessary to collect the required data.  If not, what analytics do CEOs want marketers to use?  The number of daily sales isn't a very accurate way to measure ROI if you don't know how many people are entering the store.

Additionally, the success of a marketing campaign can be directly impacted by internal or external variables that are often out of control of the marketing department. A campaign might increase store traffic by 100%, but if inventory management is poor, that campaign may have no impact on sales.

A good marketer will experiment with new communication channels like social media to determine their effectiveness, just as a medical researcher will experiment with a new drug to determine its effectiveness.  There are no guarantees that either will work.  So should a smart company just sit back and wait until the competition is effectively utilizing a new channel before making the decision to invest in it?  They could, but then they'd be fighting an uphill battle trying to win back the loyalty of the customers they lost to the competitor who was innovative enough to try something new.  We invest in research for new designs, new products and new systems every day without knowing what the outcomes will be.  Business requires calculated risk.  Marketing needs to be included in that equation.

Viewing marketers as lacking credibility is commonly the result of not understanding the science of marketing or not placing the proper emphasis on marketing.  Often companies will expect champagne results on beer budgets. But when goals aren't met, how often is the budget looked at as the problem?  I'm willing to bet not as often as the people. 

That is not to say that there aren't bad marketers out there who try to avoid quantifying their value.  I don't trust those guys anymore than the CEOs in the Fournaise study do.  Though I don't think the problem is any greater in marketing than in any other profession.  Can the value of HR or IT be quantified?  It's hard to do, but they are still valuable and necessary.  I've worked with many colleagues and business partners who weren't worth the paper their paychecks were written on, and I can think of several occasions when the marketing department bailed out other divisions without getting the credit it was due.

Marketing & ROI measurement should always go hand in hand, but expecting it without providing the proper tools and a willingness to take calculated risks is neither smart nor sustainable.

So before CEOs view marketers as lacking credibility, perhaps they should take the time to understand and invest in marketing first.  I'm willing to bet that those who do are probably not reflected in the 73% identified in the study.

PASSION! Do your customers have it?


According to Webster's Dictionary, passion means, "an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction".

We all experience passion from time to time.  Some of us more often and more intensely than others.  Sometimes passion is a good thing; other times...not so good.  It can cause us to act with emotion rather than logic or reason.  It can lead to unimaginable achievement, or unmitigated failure.  Whether good or bad, passion generates action.

We've all heard the phrase, "Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference".  In business, the worst reaction you want to your brand is indifference.  It will be the death of you.  So building passion for your product should be the first step in establishing brand loyalty.

According to a recent study by SAY Media, TRU and ComScore, brands, especially those using using social media, need to find "passionate voices" more than ever.

- Consumers who identify themselves as 'very interested' [or passionate] about a category follow at least 10 "voices" [brand advocates and brand devotees] in that category.

- 83% of these followers tell friends or family about products/brands they like

But how do you build that passion within your customers?  That's a difficult question to answer because passion is driven by any number of personal and very subjective factors.  Passion can come from consumer emphasis on cost, convenience, comfort, ease, taste, quality...the list goes on and on.  However, the simple and all encompassing answer is "value", or more specifically, "significant value". 

In order to provide significant value, businesses need to place greater emphasis on the consumer end of the demand chain. Identify how your customers define significant value.  Don't just find out why they buy your product/service; find out why they LOVE your product/service (or what would result in them loving your product or service) and then give it to them in spades. 

Social media is a great tool for identifying where the passion lies with your customers and who those "passionate voices" are. Your advocates are out there.  How often do you converse with them?  Find those voices, follow them, cultivate them and support their efforts to advocate on your behalf.  Geo-social platforms like Foursquare or Places are great channels for rewarding your "passionate voices", but simple customer engagement is a passion builder as well.  Let them know their voices are being heard.  Loyalty isn't always established through rewards.  It's just as often built through appreciation and trust.  A combination can create a passionate voice that will never go silent.

What are you doing to generate passion?

Mobile Marketing Skeptics Take Heed! The Day of Reckoning is at Hand!

According to a recent article on, "more than one-half of smartphone owners (55.9%) say they prefer using a smartphone to a computer when accessing the Internet", based on a new survey from Prosper Mobile Insights, with 53% saying they use their smartphone so frequently that, "it's their life."

The study also found that only about 16% of smartphone users used their devices "just for calling, text messaging, and email", with texting and internet access being the top two functions they absolutely must have.

When I see this type of data, I'm amazed that I still read articles and comments by doubters who are unwilling to accept the simple fact that mobile marketing needs to be considered as a core element of any B2C marketing plan.

We live in a mobile society.  Mobile communication channels are only growing, while geographic and financial barriers to mobile accessibility are being eliminated daily. There is no need to sit at a desk top computer, or heaven forbid read a newspaper, because almost any information you need can now be accessed through a smartphone.  I have seen no indication that this trend will reverse course anytime soon.  While the product lifecycle of the smartphone itself will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs, some other form of mobile device will simply pop up in its place.  Believe me, Dick Tracy like gadgets are only a few short years away.

More and more businesses are using geo-social mobile platforms like Foursquare and Places to build brand loyalty through customer reward programs, or encourage sampling through discount offers.  Almost every TV and radio station now offers podcasts to better communicate with and engage their stakeholders. And virtually every large retailer has a mobile app for greater shopper convenience.  For pete's sake, even Goodwill of Greater Washington has a very successful mobile app with plans in development to add a shopping portal and a mobile donation receipt. 

According to a study by Chetan Sharma Consulting the mobile app market will surge to $17.5 billion by 2012.

I've heard the argument by cynics that 1 in 4 mobile apps that are downloaded are never used again.  But here's a more powerful figure:  3 in 4 mobile apps that are downloaded are used multiple times!  Wow, where'd that come from?  Like any other strategy, a company that steps into this space needs to be smart about it and not jump in without a plan.

In most cases, mobile marketing is not ready to become the primary marketing channel just yet, but it needs to be added to the equation.  Though clearly adoption is growing.  A well designed mobile marketing campaign integrated into a multi-channel marketing mix can help a business stay in front of consumers in all stages of the customer lifecycle.

Is mobile marketing right for all businesses?  Of course not, but not all businesses need storefronts either.  However, businesses who haven't yet, should begin evaluating the strengths (and weaknesses) of mobile marketing and whether it can ultimately help grow their business or strengthen their brand.

Mobile technology isn't going away.