CMO 2.0 Conversation with Phil Clement, CMO at Aon

Written by on September 25, 2012 – 5:30 pm -

My CMO 2.0 conversation with Phil Clement, who is the CMO at Aon was truly enlightening. Phil is an anthropologist by training with a background in econometrics as well — which makes for an interesting mix. Throughout his career, Phil has been in business development and marketing roles. He joined Aon, a $10B company operating in 120 countries, 7 years ago and recently moved to London to have better access to their worldwide operations.

Aon grew primarily though acquisitions — 419 acquisitions in fact. They range from startups to companies that have been around for more than a century — making for a rich mix of cultures, but also resulting in a tough job to brand a unified company. They built the brand from the inside out and spent more than two years making sure that everyone inside the company lived the brand promise before embarking on an external branding campaign. Phil truly believes that the 62,000 Aon employees are the ones that have the biggest impact on their brand. That is why they made the five qualities of the brand (e.g., teamwork, innovation, etc.) also an integral part of their HR system — with employees being evaluated by the same characteristics that are important to their clients. They truly “humanized” the Aon brand.

They account for local cultural difference in marketing through a program called Jazz — in which a global marketing platform gets developed and locally customized. One such platform was the sponsorship of Manchester United, one of the most recognizable soccer franchises in the world. In fact, more people have conversations about soccer than about religion, politics, and family — hard to believe. They developed a global marketing program whereby a football would go from one office to the next until it reached London, but what happened at the local offices when a football reached that office was totally localized — some might have a feast while others might have a show with native dancers for their customers. So they achieved global consistency while staying locally relevant.

Aon has not quite reached the level where they can do heavy customer segmentation based on behavior-based segmentation, which is one of the promises of big data, but they do know what makes a difference at different stages of the sales cycle.

Phil then explained how they have been moving from a more traditional insurance conversation to one that is centered on what we term “risk intelligence,” or he calls “empowering people’s decision making.” The main reason for this move is that their overall product footprint is now too large for the brand to stand for any particular offering.

Content marketing is a very important element in Phil’s marketing mix. It allows them to let the customer see how they think, it furthers their image and reputation, and it helps explain the depth with which they are approaching the problems in both risk and people. When they think about content, they use the acronym CUTT. Which is, Is the content compelling? Is it useful to the person? Is it timely? Does it lead to a transaction, or is it information about things you actually sell?

Next we delved deeper on the topic of culture. Phil being an anthropologist by training, of course, means that he focuses much of his marketing thinking on human behavior. He looks for hierarchies and symbols that dictate behavior, he looks at what gives people status and power, and always tries to understand social roles. He is also very aware of consumer cultures, and how you can sometimes influence those cultures. Internally there is a global work culture at Aon, one that emanates from their internal branding efforts mentioned earlier. Shaping culture can be very effective — in the absence of rules or the absence of a management decision, for example, culture dictates you what to do.

Lastly, we talked about the need for measuring the impact of marketing, and the difficulty associated with measuring some of the softer elements of marketing that we talked about. Phil thinks that marketing cannot be faith-based and wants to be able to measure everything. He will not embark on a program that cannot be measured. Measurement-based marketing is the only way to achieve consistency in marketing. The soft stuff, like the fact that a 15 year old will always see Aon as a big company in their life because of the Manchester United sponsorship, has to be a bonus — it cannot be the reason you embark on a marketing program. Good metrics include unification of the company, number of leads created, awareness increase, renewal rates, shortening sales cycles, etc.

Other things that we discussed include:

  • The importance of excellence in marketing and branding
  • What it truly means to have a team-work based culture
  • The importance of having a global brand on marketing budgets
  • How marketing is a mix of quantitative analysis and creative
  • The findings of the Social Workplace Trust Study
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Posted in CMO 2.0 Conversation | 3 Comments »

3 Comments to “CMO 2.0 Conversation with Phil Clement, CMO at Aon”

  1. CMO 2.0 Conversation with Phil Clement, CMO at Aon - C-Suite 2.0 Says:

    [...] item was originally posted by Francois Gossieaux on: Related Articles You May Enjoy:CMO 2.0 Conversation with Martine Reardon, CMO at [...]

  2. Why your employer brand and your consumer brand should be the same Says:

    [...] the company is like behind the brand.” Or as Phil Clement, the CMO at Aon said during another CMO 2.0 Conversation, when he described how Aon spent two years building the brand from the inside out before taking it [...]

  3. Why your employer brand and your consumer brand should be the same - C-Suite 2.0 Says:

    [...] the company is like behind the brand.” Or as Phil Clement, the CMO at Aon said during another CMO 2.0 Conversation, when he described how Aon spent two years building the brand from the inside out before taking it [...]

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