Deep down in the atmospheric and intimate TV Studio at The Hospital Club in London, Forbes launched its inaugural CMO Summit Europe on Tuesday 14th November 2017, after 13 successful years of running the event in the U.S. Gathering illustrious CMOs from across the industry at this ‘community’ meeting and with an exciting, varied agenda, EI Advisory was invited to take part in this first European iteration…
How do brands survive?
The event began with a panel of esteemed representatives from major brands, whose companies together represent over 700 years of heritage. Lisa Gilbert, CMO at IBM, Lucy Sinclair, Director of Audiences & Media at the Royal Opera House, and Geordie Willis, Creative Director at Berry Bros. & Rudd, discussed the challenges and advantages of being a highly established brand.
Even though these three firms operate in entirely different sectors, Berry Bros. & Rudd, the 319-year-old wine and spirits merchant, the 275-year-old ROH and 106-year-old IBM are all faced with similar challenges in varying ways: keeping a forward-facing, agile culture, encouraging customers (and employees) to move with you, and maintaining a sense of self-awareness of not only your business, but your position in the market. Leveraging new technologies to create new streams of revenue is key, and developing your digital proposition to match a digital world – the ROH now streams performances at cinemas, whilst IBM has dropped business lines to become more streamlined.
Moderator, Charlie Crowe, Founder at Triplesec Consulting, summarised that humility and recognising positive paranoia are perhaps the common denominators for brands to adapt and survive in the long-term.
Creating a deeper customer connection
The following two sessions, although entirely different in subject matter with a panel on Bots, AI and Machine Learning, and a Fireside Chat with two fantastic entrepreneurs discussing the individual behind their young brands, both had a common theme of the continual enhancement of the customer experience.
The tech panel, comprising Inma Martinez, Partner at Deep Science Ventures, Dale Renner, Founder & CEO at RedPoint Global, George Porteous, UKI Head at Cognizant Digital Business and Kriti Sharma, Vice President at Bots and AI and CEO at Staysafe.ai, focussed on leveraging technology to create a deeper relationship with the customer, but highlighted that this may not always mean a ‘seamless’ transaction – it’s about knowing your place as a brand and what your customer journey should look like. Whereas James Cadbury, Founder at Love Cocoa and Kit Miles, Founder at Kit Miles Studio discussed creating a meaningful customer experience and a likeable product that will be able to endure, in order to differentiate in a competitive market. Two vastly diverse sessions resulted in similar conclusions; buying a product is ultimately an experience for the customer and brands must enhance that experience, be that through technology, personalisation, or your own approach. Knowing your brand’s place, your customer’s expectations and your customer journey are key to success here.
Strategies to build your credibility as a marketer
After a brief networking break full of buzz from the early afternoon’s discussions, the next panel took to the stage – Scott Allen, UK CMO at Microsoft, David Burnand, Enterprise Marketing Director EMEA at Adobe, Tony Jarvis, Co-Founder & Managing Director at EI Advisory, Cara O’Nions, Marketing & Customer Insight Director at Vocalink, and Christoph Woermann, MD, Head of Marketing, Global Transaction Banking at Deutsche Bank.
These respected representatives deliberated over ways in which marketers can build credibility with their internal stakeholders. As a topic that seemed close to the hearts of many marketers in the room, the panel did not disappoint. The requirement to be self-aware surfaced for the second time that afternoon, through the need to not only know your industry, customers and competitors, but your company and how you fit into your industry.
Combining this understanding with the ability to draw a direct line between the business plan and the marketing plan, by using science in the selection of marketing activities, is vital to reinforcing this credibility. There was also lively discussion around the use of agencies and bringing capabilities in-house. CMOs are finding it harder to justify blanket engagement with broad generalist agencies, and instead are opting to build in house know how, complemented by specialist external support, but bringing those specialists in for the long term, enabling them to become an extension of your team. The general consensus of the broad panel was to move away from end-to-end engagement with massive, global agencies, and instead, to focus on more strategic, specialist providers, allowing them to become an extension of your team, and establishing a strong mix of both agency and in-house talent.
Old dog, new tricks – can we learn from each other?
Sandwiched between two keynotes – one on the culture war, and the other discussing digital disruption in the customer experience – the final panel of the afternoon debated the challenges and opportunities for the ‘old dog’ established banks versus the ‘puppy-dog’ challenger banks.
Representatives included Annie Coleman, Global Head, Culture & Client Marketing at UBS, Guy Hudson, Head of Marketing at Stonehage Fleming, Valentine Kristensen, Head of Marketing at OakNorth, and Keith Moor, CMO at Santander.
Whilst the traditional banks did not cite challenger banks as the most concerning issue of the current market (with some suggesting regulation, democratisation of data and financial platforms as the main challenges), it was more of a harmonious debate, discussing ways in which these institutions can learn from one another. Agility for banks was a point of interest, and showcased the differences between established and challenger banks in terms of legacy platforms – whilst OakNorth built its IT from scratch and is now fully cloud-hosted, the bigger and more established players are faced with legacy structures and the challenge of modernising these systems to become more agile.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the marketer
The closing session featured Keith Weed, CMO at Unilever, who was named by Forbes as the world’s ‘most influential chief marketer 2017’. Keith was interviewed by Jo Renea, Head of CMO Practice UK at Russell Reynolds Associates, and engaged in an interesting discussion around the role of the CMO and how it is changing.
Keith suggested that the move from reaching the masses to connecting with the individual is perhaps one of the biggest opportunities and challenges for today’s CMO, in a more and more digitally connected world. The rules of modern marketing have changed, and marketing has exploded; from hyper-fragmentation of consumers, to maintaining your influence at board-level, the CMO is faced with new challenges and opportunities every day. The final session ended on a very positive note with three top tips for CMOs tackling today’s challenges: firstly, “eighty percent of success is showing up” (Woody Allen); secondly, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is ‘extra’; and thirdly, it’s a great time to be in business.
EI Advisory was delighted to be a part of this panel and is looking forward to next year for the second iteration of the Forbes CMO Summit Europe.