CMO 2.0 Conversation with Ted Gilvar, EVP and Global CMO at

Written by on September 29, 2009 – 7:19 am -

Ted GilvarMy CMO 2.0 Conversation with Ted Gilvar, who is the global CMO at Monster (and also a customer of ours), was a really interesting one as I have a fairly high level of familiarity with their business. It is also fascinating to see how some themes, even though they are sometimes called by different names, are recurring among CMO’s – even when they are operating in very different lines of business.

As is customary with CMO 2.0 Conversations, Ted started off by talking about his background and the business challenges he is facing. In his case he had a life-long career on the agency side before taking on the role of CMO at Monster 2 years ago.

Having come into existence by being a classic business model disruptor, we quickly started talking about where the next disruption might come from and how to leverage innovation to get prepared for it. Not surprisingly, the biggest shift on the horizon is the advent of social media and how this allows “the social”  to become part of the talent acquisition and development process again.

When they think of innovation at Monster, they think about it both from a product point of view as well as from a marketing point of view, says Ted. The biggest recent innovation on the product side was to add semantic search to refine searches – and that innovation came to Monster through an acquisition. On the marketing side, one of the more recent innovations was getting people to trial the service – even though Ted did not really call it that. That happened when they organized the “Keep America Working” tour, which offered a a free career fair to any employer who had jobs. In marketing, Ted believes that success cannot be predicted based on what happened in the past – and so you need to be willing to innovate all the time, even when looking at traditional marketing programs.

After this we spent a fair amount of time talking about the impact of social media on the talent acquisition and development process – a process that is inherently social to start with. One of the cornerstones of their social media strategy, community-based talent acquisition and development,  happened through the acquisition of Affinity Labs. They host affinity-based communities centered around professions – where members can network with like-minded professionals and get inspiration to help one another further their careers. With this community-based approach, they are transforming the relationship that they have with professionals from an episodic transactional-based relationship, where you interact with them only when you are looking for a job,  to an ongoing peer-to-peer community-based relationship. With the most recent recession, and people being forced through painful job/career transitions, the reciprocity that powers those communities – people wanting to help others and be helped – has been very strong. Other benefits of this community-based approach include:

  • The fact that people’s profiles will not just have static career/job information but will now also contain some social context – which is very powerful.
  • The fact that besides search based-matching, the process of matching people to opportunities now has an added social filter.

Another important lesson that we can take from Monster is that while they have a destination site, they also realized that they need to supplement that by being other placdes job seekers are, and so they syndicate their content to other sites. A federated approach like that allows them to get a larger share of attention from job seekers – and especially from the coveted passive seekers.

Next we talked about the impact of Monster audiences becoming increasingly digital on market segmentation and marketing programs in general. Not surprisingly, most marketing budgets at Monster are focused on digital marketing – giving you a quick and accurate sense of what works and doesn’t. Moving forward, community based marketing is expected to play an increasing role in the marketing mix.

Ted also spoke about the importance of social media monitoring and engagement as part of their marketing strategy. Seeing the fusion of marketing and customer service in social media was one of the most interesting learnings from engaging in those conversations, he said. If done properly they see social media based customer service as an opportunity to diffuse an issue before it becomes one.

We also talked about the importance of content in all aspects of marketing. When peer-to-peer communication is becoming the most important form of communication, companies like Monster need to think differently about content – developing it so that it travels in the networks that matter.

Ted also pointed to the fact that marketers should spend more time monitoring the quality of the content that they put out, not just the strategic fit. People vote on the quality of your content with their time and attention, and that is why you need to produce content worthy of consumption. It will be interesting to see the increasing role of user generated content as they go further into community-based marketing.

Other things that we discussed include:

  • How they connect their traditional marketing programs with social media
  • The halo effect of social endorsements in the recruiting process
  • The potential benefits of adding hyperlocal community activities to their affinity-based communities
  • The challenges of segmentation when you have a mass appeal and limited budgets
  • The think locally act globally strategy for international markets
  • The changing profile of people who staff successful marketing departments
  • The dynamics of the emerging Gen Y workforce

As usually you can listen to the podcast below and soon we will be publishing a transcript as well.

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Posted in CMO 2.0 Conversation | 1 Comment »

CMO 2.0 Interview with Marty St. George, CMO at JetBlue

Written by on September 24, 2009 – 8:33 am -

Marty StGeorgeMy CMO 2.0 Conversation with Marty St. George, CMO at JetBlue was truly enjoyable – especially since I am intimately familiar with the service they provide and biased in that I am a big fan of the company. JetBlue managed to turn what has essentially been a commoditized service by other airlines into a brand that is far from a commodity.

JetBlue’s original mission was to bring humanity back to the airline industry. So the first topic we tackled was how you can humanize a brand when there are so many employee touch points that can make or break that brand promise. It turns out that for JetBlue, the most important ingredient for success is having a values-based culture – one in which every single employee bases his or her actions on those values. Not surprisingly, the values that drive the JetBlue culture are fairly straightforward and easy to live by:

  • Safety (the most important of course)
  • Caring
  • Integrity
  • Fun
  • Passion

All employees get screened against those values during the hiring process, go through extensive training on it after they get hired, and get constantly reminded of those values throughout their career. The end result is that everyone at JetBlue feels part of a big team, single-mindedly focused on improving the customer experience and by proxy the JetBlue business. Front line crew members are empowered to make independent decisions based on those values, and because of that values-based approach they end up with a self-enforcing culture that has built-in organizational learning. Off course, and in order to make true empowerment work for a company, you also have to have a tolerance for failure.

Marty further talked about the importance of transparency in forming a cohesive workforce – one that focuses on them (the customers) and not us (the employees). Briefing employees on how the business is doing and addressing their concerns in a timely manner is at least as important to JetBlue executives as it is to deal with investors.

Surprisingly (or maybe not because it is an effective marketing strategy in just about any other industry), one of most effective marketing techniques at JetBlue is getting customers to try the service. I say surprisingly because I would have never expected an airline marketing executive to talk about trials. But if you look at the All You Can Jet program (#aycj on twitter), where people can fly as much as they want during a 30 day period for $599, or their “JetBlue Cheeps” program (@JetBlueCheeps on Twitter), where they announce cheap fares between selected locations every Monday, that is exactly what they are doing – getting people to try the product. The results are very good because they are confident that once they get someone to fly with them, they’ll get them back again.

As usual we touched on the marketing mix impact of the fact that most of their audiences have gone digital. And since 80% of all JetBlue tickets are sold on, it is not surprising that most of their marketing spend is online – with very strong marketing metrics as a result. Even though I would consider JetBlue a strong adopter of social media-based  marketing and customer service, Marty believes that there is still a ton to learn and plenty of unearthed opportunities for them (and others). Twitter is an especially successful channel for them – providing both a window into the brand and as said before a tremendous source for trials and customer service-based interactions. As they engage with disgruntled twitterers they constantly have to make sure that they don’t undermine the decisions made by empowered front line employees – they do not want twitter to become a court of last appeal. Fortunately that is where a values-based culture comes back into play – they can predict 99% of all decisions made by front line employees and reinforce those decisions where needed on twitter without having to check with those decision makers.

Lastly we spend some time talking about the importance of innovation as part of JetBlue’s success. While the innovation process is informal and organic, it is part of everyone’s job to think about innovation. They also have a few avenues for customers to get involved in innovation. According to Marty, one of the key ingredients to make innovation with customers and employees work, is to be a good listener and to always provide a response – positive or negative – to every suggestion. As with many other CMOs we interviewed Marty does not believe that you need a reward system to incentivize innovation – it should all be based on a social contract.

On a closing note, Marty mentioned the simple mission statement that he has for his marketing team, the 3 B’s – “Brand, Buzz, and Butts.” You got to love simplicity when it works like this.

Other things we talked about include:

  • The pros and cons of adding social media information as part of your CRM profiles
  • The importance of internal review teams to allow for lateral communications and sharing of best and worst practices
  • Their social media monitoring and engagement process
  • How you have to stay small as you become a big company
  • The importance of customer privacy and the impact of social media profiles on that privacy
  • How their JD Power award, which they have won for multiple years now, is going on tour to all their local centers, much like you would have a hockey trophy going around
  • Other ways through which to create passion for your brand

As usual you can listen to podcast below and soon we will publish a transcript.

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Posted in CMO 2.0 Conversation | 21 Comments »

CMO 2.0 Conversation with Rob Spencer, Chief Idea Management Officer at Pfizer

Written by on September 22, 2009 – 12:38 pm -

Rob SpenserAs usual I had a great deal of fun conducting this CMO 2.0 Conversation with Rob Spencer from Pfizer – this one focused on innovation.

Rob started out by providing some context around his job and the innovation processes he manages at Pfizer – although he does not call them that, preferring instead “collaborative problem solving.” He helps people from all over the company tackle challenges through electronically facilitated problem solving techniques – and he does that for all sorts of problems, not just drug discovery related challenges.

The underlying process used for problem solving is actually an old one – one that he calls diverge/converge. First you define the problem, you lay out some clear goals, and you broadcast it widely . You then set up a  review teams that includes technical reviewers as well as business people and you make sure that you have a good balance between people who will benefit from the solution and those who are willing to pay for any future solution. This latter concept is a very important one if you want to ensure that your solutions will get funded. Rob will typically assemble problem solving teams ranging from 200-4000 people, and occasionally will run problem solving challenges with tens of thousands of people.

Next we talked about the difference between collaborative problem solving and a social innovation process. You collaborate with people you know and they do it because it is part of their job. A social innovation process is one where people help you solve a problem without knowing one another and without it being a part of their job. Rob uses different language, based on Chris Anderson’s Long Tail concept, to mean the same thing. He talks about the head of business problem solving – which involves those people whose job it is to solve a problem in a very directed way – and the tail of problem solving – which involves electronic media to greatly expand the scope of people who may participate to groups whose job it is not to solve those problems. At Pfizer they use both the head and the tail, although there is a dominant use of directed innovation with the head of problem solving.

When we talked about breakthrough innovations at the edges Rob reminded us that innovation in health care is heavily constrained by the human genome – which is actually very small. Being bound like that by nature limits the innovations at the edges – most innovations in the health care space come from within the genome. This  is why directed innovations work so well in the pharma space.

An interesting concept that Rob brought up is the importance of individual thinking in problem solving. While there are great benefits to be had from collaborative problem solving, collective individual problem solving is an important component of innovation as well. At Pfizer they try to have people first come up with individual ideas and only after that do they ask others and groups to build on and review these individual ideas.

As we have in other conversations, we also touched on the role of rewards in innovation. Rob uses recognition instead of reward. Of course there is an inevitable dichotomy when you deal with employee teams, especially with those at the head of business innovation. For them it is their job and therefore they get both rewards (in the form of salary and bonus) and recognition for solving problems. That being said, Rob reminds us that it is important not to monetize what are essentially social contracts. Monetary rewards can also be very distracting from the core business challenges at hand and add unnecessary bureaucracy to the business environment.

We also spoke about the role of constraints imposed by government regulations and patent law. Without constraints you have runaway innovation with people falling in love with every single idea that is being proposed.

Other things we talked about:

  • The importance of technology to scale innovation to the far corners of your organization
  • The need for proper framing of the challenge that is being considered – and the need to constraint the problem as well as expand the scope of the problem
  • The benefits of scale in innovation
  • How altruism may be a level above the highest level in the Maslow pyramid
  • The importance of details and hard work in innovation
  • How you could leverage fear to trigger altruism, but only occasionally – as opposed to good behavior which can be done chronically
  • The importance of flexibility to change in promoting and recruiting people

As usual you can listen to the podcast below and soon we will publish a transcript.

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Posted in CMO 2.0 Conversation | 11 Comments »

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