Tag Archives: CMO Corner

CMOs Need to Balance the Expensive Cost of “Free”

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but that’s easy to forget when the CFO is blowing up your inbox with requests for a leaner marketing plan. How can CMOs defend their operating budgets, while still maximizing opportunities to defend the balance sheet?

The Art of Right-sizing a Marketing Budget Starts with Reassessing How You’re Communicating Value to the C-suite

I remember the lean days of the Great Recession – hoping for the economy to come bursting back so I could worry less about pinching pennies and more about developing career-defining creative work for our marketing efforts.

The economy has certainly roared back to life, but the pressure to do more with less hasn’t abated. C-suites are still feeling constant pressure to improve their stock performance. Solid earnings per share only leads to demands from analysts for even more impressive performance in the next quarter. Market forecasts improve, and creative executives try to find new ways to exceed expectations.

This is leading to a push towards automation in marketing. Great CMOs know how to balance new technology with proven strategies. But they need to be able to communicate a strong vision that protects their teams from unnecessary and potentially damaging budget cuts.

For this reason, I believe the most important skill a CMO can have is the ability to communicate value to others. This goes beyond messaging in your marketing campaigns. It starts with getting a sign-off from the c-suite to create winning campaigns that blow away the competition – even if they seem expensive on the front-side.

Here’s How I Strike Out Objections with Every Pitch…

I’ve worked with a variety of teams at multiple companies – it’s the nature of serving as an outside contractor. I’ve learned that delivering meaningful results starts with scoring sign-off from those that hold the corporate purse strings. To do this, you have to become skilled at building relationships quickly.

The best way to quickly build relationships with decision-makers is by playing into someone’s innate curiosity. Marketing seems like a black art to those standing on the sidelines.

Provide decision-makers with exciting pitches that teach them how the game is played. If they feel like they’re getting a look behind the scenes, you’re going to build mutual trust.

Eventually you’ll find yourself making the pitch that really counts. In that moment, if you’ve developed both a well-founded pitch and solid relationships, your chances of securing funding are much higher.

What Goes into a Strong Pitch?

My goal during a pitch is to paint a vivid, exciting picture for the audience. I relay personal experiences and then back up my findings with respected third-party references.

For example, one objection I heard recently was: “Hey Dan, why aren’t we leveraging more free software and services? I feel like we could shrink our software licensing fees a bit in your department.”

I chose three of our most used products and explained how they minimize the amount of time our graphic designers and social media teams spend completing tasks. The labor spend that we are able to save more than covers the licensing fees.

Then I showed them something more relatable to their daily lives. I asked them: “Why are you paying for all of those servers downstairs? Did you know that there are companies that offer free web hosting? Couldn’t you move some of your digital assets there and reduce the amount of IT equipment?”

They thought I was serious. I wasn’t. I answered the question for them by explaining the subtle weaknesses of different “free” solutions. Free solutions rarely deliver the kind of customer experience you need to create in order to compete in a crowded marketplace.

In a previous article, I outlined how important it is to validate stakeholder sign-off. It’s worth mentioning again here. Once you have agreement, don’t delay in memorializing it.  

With the exciting advances in data-driven technology and automation, CMOs are going to need to become better than ever at justifying their expenses. Spend time wrapping your head around where your department’s dollars are going. If you can show areas where you’ve already reduced overhead, your argument that your current operating costs are valid will go much further.

See what else CMOs can do in the digital age to help their bottom line and marketing with “3 Ways CMOs Are Putting Artificial Intelligence to Work.”

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Are CMOs Losing Their Best Ideas to The Competition?

In my previous article, I discussed how CMOs can lead more diverse teams and elevate employee engagement in 2019. Last year around this time, I took a hard look at the ways CMOs can mitigate risks when bringing in outside teams.

A fresh calendar year is fast approaching. So, I’d like to dive deeper into ways CMOs can protect both their ideas and talent from falling into enemy hands. And I’ll provide an update on how data security is changing in 2019, which is also creating new threats and opportunities for CMOs looking to protect their golden playbook.

Blockchain Could Help CMOs Protect Their Team’s Intellectual Property in 2019

The media is reporting breathlessly on the rollercoaster valuations of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. That might get the ratings, but I’m more interested in the technology behind bitcoin and other crypto currencies.

Blockchain is the digital ledger system that allows for digital currency to be mined and transferred between internet users. For content marketers, this same technology could help reduce the risk of content being ripped off and duplicated by less scrupulous marketing teams, often overseas.

CMOs know that developing cornerstone content for a marketing campaign requires a serious investment of skilled labor. Great content requires in-depth research and multiple drafts to finely tune the message it conveys to the reader.

Unfortunately, content theft is a major issue for content that’s published online. I think it is highly likely that we’ll see¾as part of the effort to combat fake news a public blockchain ledger that shows when original content has been published online. The source and timestamp can serve as a proof of intellectual rights to the content.

And in a world dominated by Google’s search algorithms, this type of information can help ensure original content producers are not penalized when others rip-off their work, creating duplicate copies online without crediting the original author(s).

A potential side-effect of this blockchain ledger will be a race to pump out content before the other guys. And there will always be efforts to steal content from other people before they hit the publish button on their own sites effectively establishing ownership of stolen content.

Again, I think this type of activity will be most prevalent overseas where bad actors can retreat beyond the reach of law enforcement or judicial proceedings.  

Corporate VPNs Will Continue to Benefit From the Rise of Consumer VPN Services

For CMOs, VPNs are essential tools for providing their entire workforce with secure access to internal corporate resources. It’s no secret that governments and corporations are collecting data and logging our use of the internet whenever possible.

And, just as unscrupulous websites plagiarize costly pieces of content, corporate espionage is alive and well as we head into 2019.  

The most effective content marketing strategies come from diverse teams of skilled creative. Freelancing is a powerful ingredient, but remote workforces force CMOs to electronically send bits and pieces of their playbook around the world.

Encrypting this kind of sensitive corporate data is a cat-and-mouse game. Corporations roll out new pieces of defensive technology, and hackers find more sophisticated approaches to breaking through. Or they just send Carl in account services a phishing email, which is not always sophisticated, but devastatingly effective, if they can score login credentials.

So, say it with me now, “Two-factor authentication is now mandatory!”

If your team can keep their access credentials out of enemy hands, the latest generation of VPN protocols support bank-grade AES-256 encryption with IKEv2 for fast, secure reconnection. This means that the data being sent around the world is only visible to the source and the authorized recipient.

These newer protocols are the result of an increased public awareness around data security and privacy. The consumer VPN services are contributing to and spurring new corporate VPN enhancements that will continue to make it safe for CMOs to leverage the benefits of outsourced labor.

CMOs Will Have the Power to Defend Their Intellectual Property in 2019

To summarize, 2019 will be an exciting year for CMOs. The type of content that is being consumed, and how we are consuming it is changing. The labor market for skilled content marketers has never been hotter. And we are finally going to start building a better online system for accurately attributing content to the right people.

If CMOs can keep the talented members of their team happy and engaged, the only way internal campaign information will fall into enemy hands is if it is digitally intercepted. However, enhanced encryption and more user-friendly VPN platforms are proving to be reliable tools for staying ahead of the black hats. 

Data is one of your most powerful tools. See how you can put it to even better use with “Go Further with Data Management.”

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Here’s How CMOs Can Build More Diverse and Creative Teams in 2019

Chief Marketing Officers, you can’t be a chief if you aren’t leading a team, and every CMO knows that creating powerful marketing campaigns is a team sport.

CMOs Will Battle the Temptation for Creatives to Job Hop in 2019

In 2019, employers will need to be ready to go above and beyond to compete for the best talent. In the latest BLS report, unemployment remained steady at 3.7%. This is the highest level of employment in America since 1969.

This means it has never been easier for creative talent to job hop and chase new opportunities. If you’re like me, I want the most talented marketing pros to hop aboard my team. And the last thing I want to do is to bleed creative to the competition, with them taking all the skills and knowledge they gained on our team to a new employer.

Attracting and Retaining a Diverse Team Is a Key Ingredient for Marketing Success

The other over-arching goal of great CMOs is to attract a diverse team of talent. The customers that you target with your marketing campaigns will have a variety of backgrounds and experiences. When you embrace organizational diversity empowering those with different perspectives to contribute to the work-flow you dramatically improve the chance of making a connection with your target audience.

You might be scratching your head, thinking that it’s the HR team’s responsibility to go out and recruit, recruit, recruit. This is partially true, but retention falls solely on management. A recent study of Facebook’s talent retention challenges shows that employees are leaving jobs when managers fail to create an environment that speaks to their passions and unique abilities. CMOs need to empower their management team to effectively nurture creativity and employee engagement.

That said, let’s dive into a few key things CMOs can do in the New Year to improve their chances of building and maintaining a killer team of creative gurus.

Nurture an Environment Where Team Members Can Pursue the Roles That Best Fit Them

I recently worked with a creative team that was tasked with creating a marketing rollout for a new snack bar. If you know anything about the grocery industry, you know that a supermarket shelf is one of the fiercest places to compete in retail.

The seven people that reported to me were experienced and capable¾all a real pleasure to work with. But I noticed something: One of our team members responsible for PPC graphic design was spending a ton of time with our packaging team. She had some killer ideas for helping the box visually leap off the shelf.

Her work on the PPC graphics was solid, but it was clear her interest lay elsewhere. She couldn’t help herself, and I was loving the synergy. As my time with the organization came to a close, I provided some thoughts in my exit interview about realigning their creative team to give this woman an opportunity to pursue her passions without being forced to leave.

My instincts were right. I later learned that she left the team for another opportunity shortly after my departure. She knew what she found interesting, and she was talented enough to make it happen with someone else, since we couldn’t better accommodate her.

If CMOs want to hold onto killer talent, it’s time to empower team members to job hop within the organization. This might sound chaotic, but it can be done. And if you fail to pursue a more flexible organization chart, they might just job hop across the street.

Generation Z Craves Mentorship, and They’re on The Way In

Those born after 1995 are rapidly climbing the ladders of corporate America. CMOs need to future-proof their retention strategies by adopting policies that speak to the unique desires of a generation that skipped dial-up internet and sent text messages in middle school.

According to a recent report on Generation Z entering the workforce, they crave mentorship and opportunities to constantly learn which is  only natural considering they probably learned how to perform basic coding functions in high school. This builds upon my previous point about empowering employees to discover and pursue their passions within your organization. Millennials of all stripes prefer to work in organizations that provide mentors. In fact, more than two-thirds are likelier to stay with a company for more than five years if they are part of a mentorship program.

A mentorship program has an added benefit in that it strengthens the bonds between senior management and entry-level team members. For CMOs, this can mean a management team that is more well versed in the perspectives and desires of younger generations.

Gen Z has a buying power of $500 billion in today’s economy. Any initiative that helps creative management speak to this demographic has the potential to move the needle in the right direction.

In conclusion, CMOs need to double-down on workforce diversity initiatives in 2019. By combining a flatter organizational structure with enhanced mentorship programs, CMOs can better meet the needs of their brand’s customers and the people that craft their marketing initiatives in the year ahead.  

Interested in finding out how else you can fine tune, tweak, and enhance your marketing efforts?  See what habits successful modern marketers are adopting with “Getting the Digital Handshake Right.”

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6 Ways Marketing Automation Is Evolving for CMOs

As a CMO, your job is to be ready for every marketing development. You’re never allowed to stand still, because the moment you do, something in your industry will change, and you’ll fall behind the competition.

Unfortunately, turnover for marketing jobs is increasing. One survey revealed that the average tenure of a marketing CMO is less than four years, and burnout is the number one cause. Automation is the solution to avoiding this burnout. It’s one of those constantly-evolving trends that’s a hot topic for marketers. 

Many CMOs are hesitant to engage in automation because it can have negative effects, like being banned from accounts or poor engagement. However, the landscape for automation is changing, and CMOs don’t have to be as scared of automation as they once were. In fact, you should be using it to your advantage as it continues to improve. 

You have enough on your plate without having to worry about spending enough time on social media to engage with users and create a strong brand. Here are some automation advancements that you’ll likely appreciate as a CMO. 

1. Real Engagement Is Possible 

In the past, automation bots were always a problem. Many CMOs refused to work with them because they caused awkward situations, lost your followers, and even got your account suspended or banned. 

However, automation has come a long way. There are still bots and automation services that can pose problems, but many more offer high-quality services that allow you to connect with real followers and not fake accounts. For example, SocialCaptain gets Instagram followers with strategic automation. The platform gets you real engagement as a result of authentic strategies guided by AI expert algorithms. 

There are great tools for every social media platform, not just Instagram. You can free up a lot of your time by using these tools while maintaining the desired engagement from your target audience. 

2. More Accessible Data 

In an interview with, Forbes, Matt Gay, CMO for Accenture, said that data is one of the marketers’ biggest challenges, particularly when it comes to the ability to use it. “It’s got to be in a form and format that is easily accessible and useable going forward, so you don’t have to have an IT person sorting through and making static reports,” he says. 

Thankfully, there is automation to handle a lot of the legwork in data analysis. The right software tools can help CMOs not only gather data but turn it into insights that can be used for advertising and marketing purposes. 

“CMOs would traditionally use data scientists and their analytics,” Gay says, pointing out that this is no longer a necessity with today’s machine algorithms that can do more than data scientists ever could. 

“Even with analytics and algorithms, these processes are manual, slow, and not leveraging the full capability of data scientists,” he continues. “As well, since machines can process massive amounts of data quickly, they will uncover insights faster and more efficiently than humans…allowing the data scientists to use their brains more and continue to seed the algorithms.” 

It’s an incredible tool that every chief marketer should be leveraging for the promotion of their business. 

3. Provides More Context 

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have come leaps and bounds in the last few years. They can now gather contextual clues much better than before, limiting inaccurate and sometimes embarrassing mistakes of the past. 

“Brands can use automation for contextual marketing, offering more personalized interactions,” says Linda Turley, an attorney at Turley Law Firm, who has experienced this first hand. “For example, data shows you when your target audience is usually online. Then, you can set your content calendar to post content at these times,” she explained. 

Additionally, data can show you trending topics, high-performing posts on social media, and highly effective advertisements in your industry. This information gathered with bots and other automated tools can give consumers the customized experience they most desire. 

4. More Valuable SEO 

SEO was once all about the use of keywords and link building to make your content searchable. However, it’s turning into a more personalized experience where quality content that’s highly valuable is king. 

Automation offers us what’s known as semantic SEO, “which aims to decipher what kind of question the person typing words into a search bar is actually trying to answer,” says Matthew Walker-Jones of Marketing Tech News. 

These semantics add value to SEO everywhere, offering a more tailored approach to understanding and catering to user behavior. 

“This marketing technique goes a long way to improve the traffic of a website by employing meaningful metadata through the removal of ambiguity in search queries and further creates clusters of content, grouped semantically by topic rather than keywords, developing meaningfully-connected networks that better respond to user searches,” he says. 

5. Augmented Reality Changes Social Media 

Connecting with consumers on social media is getting much more complicated and involved now that augmented reality is a part of the automation chapter. More and more users are demanding augmented reality, especially on social media. 

Many brands are responding, including major makeup producers like Estée Lauder and Loreal that allow you to try on colors with Facebook Messenger bots before they make a purchase through the app. Brick-and-mortar companies are also using AR to give consumers a tour of their businesses. 

AR is not out of your reach, no matter the size of your business. Automation tools not only provide insights on the highest-performing AR platforms, but they also make them more readily available. Simple smartphone apps and software tools are affordable and provide many options for incorporating these themes into existing marketing campaigns. 

6. Improved Integrations 

In the past, very few automation tools worked together. You utilized separate tools that ignored the others, giving you an incomplete picture of the collected data. Non-integrating automation tools still exist, but they’re becoming the minority. 

This is good news because seamless integration of every automation tool you use is vital to delivering a holistic experience for the customer. 

“The strategic focus of marketing automation needs to shift from the campaign or component approach to the customer journey in totality to deliver on the seamless customer experience promise,” advises an article from Martech Advisor that focuses on where automation will be by 2020. 

By the time we reach 2020, the current marketing landscape will be completely different, thanks to the prevalence of automation. These changes continue for the better, helping CMOs focus on what’s most important while staying on top of their engagement and marketing campaigns. 

Having trouble convincing your CEO that Marketing Automation is the key to sales and marketing success? We've got you covered. Download our free guide.

5 Steps CMOs Can Take for Successful Reputation Management

Did you know that it only takes seven seconds for someone to generate a first impression about a person or organization? They’ll quickly analyze your appearance, tone, style, and other factors to form a skewed idea of your reputation. Sometimes they’re spot on, and other times they’re missing much of the story. 

As a chief marketing officer (CMO), know the reputation your company will develop through that seven-second first impression. It often dictates the potential success or failure of your organization, and your job is to protect it at all costs. There are a few key things you can do to manage your reputation and avoid making a bad impression on customers and clients. 

1. Protect Consumer Privacy 

Nothing damages your reputation more thoroughly than a privacy breach. Customers trust you to keep their information safe, and when online accounts are hacked and information is stolen, they’ll blame you for your lack of security, whether it’s a justified claim or not. 

According to a survey from Ponemon Institute, the majority of respondents believe that a data breach is worse than a chief executive scandal. Nearly 50 percent said a breach in privacy would negatively impact their impression of a brand. 

If you want to escape the negative light cast by a security breach, take steps now to protect your organization online. Start with your own virtual private network (VPN). The best VPN for your company will protect all of your data on the web by severely limiting access from unauthorized users. A VPN greatly reduces your likelihood of being hacked, and it’s a must-have at the corporate level. 

Other security steps include changing passwords often, using complicated passwords, updating software regularly, using encrypted email, setting up basic security measures, backing up to secure networks, securing devices, and other security items as advised by experts

Training employees on privacy practices is also an essential step to securing consumer information. One of the leading causes of security breaches is employees making mistakes or intentionally releasing information, so keep your employees informed to protect your business. 

2. Be a Thought Leader 

Thought leadership has the power to transform your brand if done properly. This isn’t a process that happens overnight. Rather, it’s a slow and steady building of articles, videos, comments, and conversations that establish your company as a trusted leader in a specific industry. 

Building thought leadership begins with identifying an audience that can benefit from your expertise and catering your content to that group. Speak in a voice that your audience will understand, using jargon and tone that establishes your expertise, but that recognizes you’re teaching people who want to learn more. 

“Consistency is key here,” says Mike Clum, founder of Clum Creative, a video production agency. “You want consumers to remember you, which will be difficult if you’re constantly switching tones or leaving your iconic brand out of the mix. This consistency can be used across a variety of mediums, including blogs, social media, videos, and graphics.”

As you share insights, focus more on providing value to your customers rather than on promoting your company. Not only are you more likely to reach your audience, but you’ll also publish content on more high-profile sites. Nearly 80 percent of editors say that one of the biggest problems they see with submitted content is over-promotion. You’ll get much further with valuable content than you will with shameless plugs for your services.   

3. Respect Your Followers 

It can take a lifetime to build up a great reputation and only seconds to destroy it. This is particularly true today, thanks to the pervasive nature of social media and online reviews. It doesn’t take long for word of your bad reputation to spread online.

Disgruntled consumers don’t have to be the end of your good reputation, however. You can mitigate these problems by creating a culture of respect for your followers. When you’ve established yourself as a courteous, influential thought leader, consumers often won’t believe the negative things that disgruntled consumers share. 

Respecting your followers is more of an attitude than a single action. It involves a culture of timely responses, respectful and professional comments, a strong tone, joined conversations, no overselling, and acknowledgement of positive comments. Nurture your brand and your followers, and they’ll repay you with loyalty and respect in kind.  

4. Google Your Company 

It’s hard to know the changes you need to make to your reputation if you don’t know what your reputation is. To assess how consumers perceive you, do a thorough Google search of your company. 

Start with popular review sites like Google or Yelp, and read the reviews. Although positive evaluations can reinforce what you’re doing well, the negative reviews will offer the best insights regarding potential improvements.

Keep in mind that negative reviews often stem from experiences that aren’t written. For example, someone complaining about the prices or quality of products might be particularly upset because they had a bad customer service experience at the time, even though that’s not something they mentioned in their review. Use context clues to read between the lines and get a wholistic picture of a consumer’s experience.  

Check social media as well. Monitor every mention of your brand on social media to learn what people are saying about your company and the improvements you must make.  

5. Own Up to and Learn From Mistakes

You will make mistakes; it’s part of the job. Nobody really expects you to be perfect, even your pickiest customers. Good reputation management involves preventing mistakes as much as possible, but it’s more about managing the mistakes when they happen. 

Own up to mistakes when they occur. Don’t try to cover it up or deny that it happened—consumers are smart, and they don’t like to be treated otherwise. Admit it, apologize, and then give a detailed plan for how you’re going to fix the problem and avoid this same mistake in the future. 

After that, don’t repeat the error. Learn as many lessons as possible from that experience, and use it to make your company better. CMOs who listen to and apply feedback set their company up for success nine times out of ten. 

Reputation management is a mindset. It’s an unwritten part of your job description, and when done well, it’s the gateway to success in any avenue you choose. 

You may also be interested in reading: What is a Reputation Management System & Do You Need One?

8 Ways CMOs Should Engage Millennials on Social Media

As a marketer, you’ve likely noticed the shift across the industry when it comes to targeted audiences. Millennials are now the primary group that everybody talks about and extensively analyzes on social media.

The reason for this is simple. Within the last few years, there has been a massive wealth transfer between baby boomers and their Gen X and millennial offspring. Now millennials wield a larger spending power than any other generation.

Here are 8 ways you can better reach millennials with social media:

1. Prioritize Visual Content

Millennials are visual learners. They grew up interacting with screen-based technology like television sets, video game consoles, and computers. As a result, they tend to respond best to content that stimulates their eyes. Marketers who want to attract their attention will need to do so with a strong aesthetic design.

Make sure that the images you post are always of the highest quality possible. Reach out to talented photographers and artists for potential collaborations. Also, don’t skimp on videos. It’s predicted that by 2019 about 80 percent of all internet content will be video.

2. Stay Relevant

On average, millennials spend a little over six hours each week on social media. They often use this time to catch up on the latest news, trends, and discussions. “Given the speed that the internet moves and evolves, content that seems old or outdated has a greater chance of being ignored,” says Jonathan Foley, the founder of the popular Instagram pages @Positivity, @Deep, and @Societyfeelings.

“You should constantly monitor social media to keep an eye on what’s trending. If you see a great opportunity to jump into the public conversation – for instance, if there’s a hashtag that meshes well with your brand – then go ahead.”

Exercise a little caution, and do some research first, though. It’s best to avoid highly controversial and divisive topics, or else you might risk alienating your audience.

3. Invite Participation

Millennials are active internet users. Sitting back and passively consuming content gets boring for many of them. They would rather interact with others and contribute their own thoughts and creations.

There are many ways to tap into this inclination. You could ask your viewers questions, or tell them to tag their friends in the comments. Furthermore, you could encourage them to make user-generated content and then feature it on your page. Another good way to invite participation is by announcing a new product without many details. An example is the announcement of Microsoft Office 2019. Many users on Twitter, specifically millennials, made memes of what this product could look like driving product awareness.

4. Don’t Waste Time

There are numerous claims about millennials’ short attention span. Most of them are drawn from dubious research or based on overly negative, unfounded biases. The truth is that millennials are no worse than any other generation in this area. Instead, the real problem is that a large chunk of social media marketing is poorly suited for the medium.

Social media is used more in short bursts than extended periods. This means that users judge content based on quick initial impressions. People will watch a longer video, for example, if the introduction is compelling enough; however, they’ll quickly tune it out if it spins its wheels for too long.

So, in other words, make an effort to get to the point faster.

5. Change Your Influencer Approach

For a while, it seemed as if influencers held the ultimate key to marketing to millennials. Now, perceptions are shifting. Millennials are starting to trust influencers less these days, and the reason is due to a lack of transparency.

Too many brands and influencers are failing to disclose their partnerships. As a consequence, it has shaken their followers’ confidence in their honesty and integrity. While many still might hesitate in sharing this information, being upfront is significantly less damaging than getting caught and called out.

6. Humanize Your Brand

A lot of marketers lose sight of the “social” part of social networks. The main reason so many millennials flock to these platforms is that they wish to talk to other real people. They don’t want their experience interrupted by obvious marketing from faceless businesses.

This is why some brands have found success in adopting more organic, genuine personalities online. Just take a look at the MoonPie account on Twitter. Its unique mixture of self-deprecation and weird humor has won it many followers on Twitter.

7. Support a Good Cause

Generations are reflections of the cultural environments in which they grew up. It’s for this reason that millennials are more socially conscious than their predecessors. Not only do they expect individuals to contribute to society, but brands are expected to as well.

About 75 percent of millennials say they want businesses to give back to their communities and demonstrate social responsibility. That involves working with charities, organizing awareness events, speaking out about important issues, fighting inequality, and helping the disadvantaged.

8. Treat Them Like Adults

Despite how some use the word, millennial is not a catch-all for young people. It specifically refers to adults currently between the ages of 22 and 37. Anybody who still thinks of them as teenagers really needs to update their mental picture.

Address them like you would any adult. Don’t speak in a condescending tone or treat them like they’re still children. Give them the respect that they deserve.

Make sure to also read: 3 Tips To Reach More Millennials With Your Social Media Marketing

Getting Down to Earth in Cannes: Intelligent Tires & Bottom-Up Creativity

Cannes Lions is one of my favorite events for marketing and advertising professionals. The French Riviera in June provided the perfect setting for the annual International Festival of Creativity on communication, commerce, data, and design.

With senior executives from companies like Johnson & Johnson, Lego, PepsiCo, and Pirelli, we had lively debates on two topics that I feel will make a significant impact on the creative services sector.

Technology was our first big topic – specifically, artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and big data. I've seen the work of data scientists and creative marketers coming together to deliver really interesting innovations.

  • Lego is experimenting with voice-activated devices to help blind children build with Lego.
  • Pirelli is using sensors on their tires to understand their customers’ driving styles. We’ve heard about runners with customized footwear, but it looks like drivers will soon be able to get personalized tires!  
  • As voice-controlled devices in the home are becoming more mainstream, we also discussed the issue of security and consumer trust, which is now a key consideration for many tech developers.

Campaign magazine hosted the session. You can read more about the panel discussions here

The second discussion turned to talent recruitment and how to retain a fresh generation of workers. The advantage of diversity is particularly important to creativity. It was great to hear that our panelists shared my belief in hiring from unexpected backgrounds.

Bottom-up creativity can also give companies the competitive edge, and there were a number of comments about not allowing organizational hierarchies to get in the way of ideas from junior staffers being heard.  We also agreed that younger workers look for a sense of purpose beyond their paychecks, and companies need to keep this in mind.

Talking Talent, Creativity, and AI at Cannes Advertising Festival

In a little more than a week, industry luminaries from advertising, media, technology, and fashion will crowd the French Riviera resort of Cannes for its annual International Festival of Creativity on communication, commerce, data, and design. The festival will be packed with executives from the world’s top advertising agencies and influential marketers from a host of industries, and I hope you’ll tune in to see what Oracle has to say too.

On Tuesday, June 19, I’m looking forward to speaking on a panel exploring the impact of artificial intelligence on creative professions. On Wednesday, June 20, I’ll also take part in a discussion on how to attract and keep diverse talent and accommodate a generation of workers who value freelancing over fixed positions. And on June 21, Oracle will join a roundtable talk on the changing definition of creativity in a fragmented media landscape. You can follow the action at the conference web site and on this blog.

I’m excited to share examples from some of the world’s leading brands of how they’re capitalizing on  the Oracle Marketing Cloud. Pirelli, the iconic global maker of high-performance tires and 2018 double winner of Oracle’s Markie Award, is using the software to  transform their digital marketing efforts, shifting their focus from B2B to consumers and keeping in touch with them whether they’re online or on the road.

Heineken’s Urban Polo series in New Zealand is attracting younger audiences to smaller fields to view the traditional game, and using Oracle’s Marketing Cloud for automated chats in Facebook Messenger that convey information about matches and parties in place of a program.

Cannes Lions will host more than 4,700 companies, plus some show business stars to lighten the mood (Kevin Costner and David Schwimmer of “Friends” will speak, as will Smiths' guitarist, Johnny Marr). I hope you’ll join me in person or online to see what my colleagues from the advertising and marketing spheres are saying about their customers and industry trends. 

GDPR: Why CEOs Need to Lead from the Top Down

Oracle’s Alessandro Vallega discusses the need for cultural change to ensure GDPR compliance, and why that change must come from the top.

GDPR is now in effect. (Companies across every industry have been under pressure to become compliant since the law was introduced in 2016.) Some responded by changing their IT processes, others placed the burden on their legal team, but others only began to adapt in earnest just before the May 25 deadline was approaching.

Data protection must be treated with the right level of gravitas. It might be tempting to think you can steer clear of regulatory issues as long as you are not doing anything untoward with people’s personal data, but this is short-term thinking. GDPR may only mark the beginning of a global regulatory push to improve data protection, and regulation will only become more demanding.  

Real change requires a shift in culture. The way companies govern data has not yet caught up to the way employees use technology, which is why we still see staff taking a lackadaisical approach in many organizations. They save company information to personal devices, use (and sometimes lose) business laptops on the train, and turn to file sharing sites to share sensitive information. All these practices pose a security risk, and they are all too common. 

The cost of not complying with GDPR can be significant. Business leaders will be aware of the potential risk of non-compliance (up to 20 million euros or 4% of the company’s global turnover) but there are less obvious consequences too. Data breaches must be made public to the supervisory authority within 72 hours once a company becomes aware of them, and the reputational damage that comes with these if the company does not have a good handle on security, has its own cost.

In addition, a supervisory authority has the power to impose a temporary or definitive limitation including a ban on processing, and data subjects have the right to bring claims for compensation.

This makes GDPR a boardroom issue, but this does not mean companies can just appoint someone to take charge of compliance and let them run with it. With an imperative this important, the bucks stops with the CEO.

Business leaders must be figureheads for data protection. For an organization to manage data more responsibly and stay on top of its data in the long term, it needs buy-in from all staff. Each individual must be accountable for their actions and play their part in compliance, and this understanding must be driven from the top down.  

How can business leaders help achieve this? The first step is to make training compulsory. This could include anything from data management training, to workshops on protecting data or even running phish-baiting tests to help employees identify suspicious emails.

Incentives also help drive change. Data protection needs to be as much a part of someone’s job as doing their timesheets, so why not reward team leaders who have ensured all their staff have taken the appropriate training, or include security training as part of employee performance objectives? It will ultimately come down to HR, IT or legal teams to develop these initiatives, but the imperative must come from a company’s leadership.

For more information on GDPR and its implications for leaders across the business, check out our GDPR hub page.

What GDPR Means for CMOs: Is All the Hype Justified?

By Mark de Groot, Marketing Director, EMEA CX, Marketing Apps & CRM – Regional, Oracle

As a direct link to customers and their data, marketers will be uniquely affected by GDPR. In this Q&A, Oracle’s Marie Escaro and Kim Barlow discuss how GDPR affects marketing teams.

How Seriously Should Marketers Take GDPR Compliance?


European regulators have a clear mandate to tighten controls on the way businesses collect, use and share data, and the prospect of large fines for non-compliance is enough to make companies err on the side of caution. Marketers should take this very seriously, as a large part of their role is to ensure the organization has a prescriptive approach to acquiring, managing and using data.


Businesses increasingly rely on data to get closer to their customers. With data now viewed as the soft currency of modern business, companies have every reason to put the necessary controls in place to protect themselves and their customers.

What Does This Mean for CMOs and Marketing Teams?


Marketing teams need a clear view of what data they have, when they collected it, and how it is being used across the business. With this visibility, they can define processes to control that data. I once worked with a company that stored information in seven different databases without a single common identifier. It took two years to unify all this onto a single database, which should serve as motivation for any business in a similar position to start consolidating their data today. It’s equally important to set up processes to prioritize data quality. Encryption is a good practice from a security standpoint, but marketers also need to ensure their teams are working with relevant and accurate data.

What’s Been Holding Marketers Back?


There is still a misconception around who is responsible for data protection within the organization. It’s easy to assume this is the domain of IT and legal departments, but every department uses data in some form and is therefore responsible for making sure it does so responsibly. Marketing needs to have a clear voice in this conversation.

Many businesses are also stuck with a siloed approach to their channel marketing and marketing data, which makes the necessary collaboration difficult. These channel siloes within marketing teams have developed through years of growth, expansion and acquisitions. And breaking them down must be a priority so everyone in the business can work off a centralized data platform. 

Is This Going to Hamper Businesses or Prove More Trouble Than it's Worth?


Protecting data is definitely worth the effort for any responsible business. But GDPR is not just about data protection. It’s a framework for new ways of working that will absolutely help businesses modernize their approach to handling data, and benefit them in the long term. If we accept data is an asset with market value, then it’s only natural customers gain more control over who can access their personal information and how it is used and shared. Giving customers the confidence their data is safe and being looked after responsibly, while ensuring that data is better structured and higher quality will be good for the businesses deriving value from that data.

What Should CMOs Do to Tackle GDPR Successfully?


As with any major project, success will come down to a structured approach and buy-in from employees. CMOs need to stay close to this issue but in the interests of their own time should at least appoint a strong individual or team as part of an organization-wide approach to compliance. Marketing needs to be a part of that collaborative effort and should be working in a joined-up way, with finance, IT, operations, sales and other parts of the business to ensure all data is accounted for and properly protected.

Click here to learn more about GDPR and discover how Oracle can help.

Also read 5 Steps to GDPR Compliance - It's Not Too Late to Prepare