From Chief Marketing Officer to Chief Engagement Officer

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John Livingston, a senior partner at McKinsey, spoke recently at the 2013 Kellogg Marketing Leadership Summit on the need for CMOs to lead the organization in engaging with customers.

What did your presentation cover?

My presentation focused on the CMO becoming the CEO — “chief engagement officer”. With all the changes in the consumer decision journey – from the multiple ways consumers interact with brands to the iterative way they make decisions to the all the ways they influence both the brand and each other – marketing is really about engagement. For brands today, this is much more about engaging with the customers over the course of their relationship with the brand rather than trying to push a sale in a short interaction. Engagement is all about how you interact with the product and service around it. This is about moving from advertising to amplification. I emphasized a few of the things that CMOs can do now, such as developing an internal engagement council with representatives from the main client-facing and –supporting functions to develop clear strategies for engaging with customers across the organization. Since customers today interact with so many different parts of the organization, that kind of coordination is an absolute must-have and the CMO needs to drive it.

What did the audience most respond to?

There was a lot of interest in the idea of an engagement council to develop strategy. Any forum that brings disparate parts of the organization for substantive conversations – and the authority to make decisions – about customer engagement is an important tool in the CMO arsenal. On the B2B side, there was a great deal of interest in understanding how marketers can have more of a leadership role in the company. The conversation was animated, and focused on the operational side of marketing, i.e. what marketing can specifically do to drive change in the organization.

What was the most interesting thing you learned at the conference?

I really enjoyed the presentation by Robert Knight, MD. from Berkely, about neuroscience and how it’s starting to be implemented in marketing. Much of the conversation was pretty high level, but there was already some fascinating information about how brains aren’t reacting to impulses — such as advertising — in the same way that people say they’re reacting. This group is building 40 centers around the country to help with testing neuro-marketing. You can see how any ad would be tested on the marketplace by reading brain responses from specific customers. It’s quite futuristic.