If You Want To Become A Chief Marketing Officer, Read This Book…

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Marketing – for your new startup, your small business or your established brand – is a pretty big deal. I don’t just say that because I’m the founder of an internet marketing company. I say it because without marketing (even if it’s just word of mouth), you’re going to end up selling your product or service to a grand total of about five people. Not a strategy for success.

There’s all this advice out there about how to market yourself and your company. I’m a practical guy – I spent a big part of college building an IT company, and I don’t deal well with hypotheticals.

That’s why I was glad to pick up a copy of “Chief Marketing Officers At Work” by Josh Steimle. It’s a collection of interviews with CMOs at all sorts of great companies. Josh, in case you don’t know, started MWI – one of the great up and coming marketing firms out there.

I like how this book is split into little bite-sized chapters. I’m convinced that if anyone wants to become a chief marketing officer (or do any kind of marketing,) it would be important for them to read this book. I’ve been jumping in and out of different interviews over the past couple days and I thought I’d share some of the smart stuff I picked up.

Data gives you stories

Here’s something we think about a lot at Yalla. How can we tell our product’s story? We’re looking for ways to show how Yalla helps people in their everyday lives, so we can use those examples as our value proposition to potential customers.

Seth Farbman is the CMO at Spotify, and he makes a great point. You can pull stories about your product from the user metrics you collect. His example was sleeping. They looked at the data on Spotify users and found a lot of them were listening to certain types of music for long periods of time late at night. Turns out they used the music to help fall asleep. Now Spotify has a concrete example of how someone uses their product, and they can use it to say, “Hey, do you like falling asleep to music? We can help with that.”

Farbman made another really good point in the interview, which is that big data is still just a tool for marketers.

“[Data] is something that is unbelievably helpful in validating your thoughts, desires and narratives that you want to share. You look at it for insights, but that doesn’t replace the spark of inspiration, the desire to create something never seen before, and the willingness to give people a reason to dream.” – Seth Farbman, Spotify CMO

Live your customers’ lives

Let’s switch to a more traditional retail company. Target is second only to Walmart when it comes to discount stores, and their marketing is everywhere. They’ve got a really distinct look in all their commercials that I think most people would recognize without seeing the Target name.

Josh interviewed Jeff Jones, the Target CMO and Executive VP. He talked a lot about empathy and how much time/money Target spends trying to understand its customers. His whole argument is that you can’t really fill a need for someone unless you know where they’re coming from.

To do that, Target’s executive team is trying something called Guest Immersions. They’re literally spending a couple days in their customers’ homes to build that understanding.

“Nothing creates empathy for who you’re trying to serve more than being with them in their homes, talking about their lives, their families, and their challenges. Those immersions are a very powerful tool.” – Jeff Jones, CMO at Target

Treat your partners well (they’re your best salespeople)

Did you know Hong Kong has its own PR firm? I didn’t. Edith Wong is CMO for InvestHK, which basically exists to bring startups, companies and foreign investment into Hong Kong. They’re in 29 cities worldwide.

Edith talks about how important face-to-face interaction is even in the days of social media and the internet. InvestHK likes to do networking events for industries they work with, and they bring in all the companies and people they’ve worked with.

“Our sector colleagues continue to engage with them and if they need any further support, they can always approach us. That’s the message we want to send out to the investors, to the companies that have cast their vote of confidence in Hong Kong.”

The cool part is that some of these investors and partners turn into formal ambassadors for Hong Kong. They basically do InvestHK’s job for them because they’ve done business in the country and they know how easy it is.

“It’s better that these messages come from their mouths rather than through propaganda from us.” – Edith Wong, InvestHK CMO

Follow your fans

It seems like there’s a new social media service popping up every day. And for every one that pops up, another one shuts down because nobody can figure out a way to make money off of it. Even as a marketing company, it’s pretty difficult to track.

Nice to know we’re not alone. Comedy Central CMO Walter Levitt says if you’re a marketer in 2016, you better be on every single platform out there. Your consumers are there, especially if your demographic is a little younger. And it doesn’t matter if you can’t directly make money off a platform right away.

“The dilemma for media companies is that you can’t wait for the monetization to catch up with consumption because it will probably be too late for your brand to have a significant footprint at that point. You need to make some bets, and you need to invest in being where your fans are.” – Comedy Central CMO Walter Levitt

This kind of advice is the tip of the iceberg in Josh’s masterpiece of a book, so Go buy a copy of Josh’s book, because it’s full of good advice like this. Follow him on Twitter, too, because he reviews other helpful books all the time.

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