Panel: Marketers must hang out with difficult customers

CANNES, FRANCE: Tata Communications' Julie Woods-Moss and Georgia Pacific's Douwe Bergsma spoke on the topic "How CMOs find and foster the best talent," moderated by MSLGroup North America president Renee Wilson.

CANNES, FRANCE: Tata Communications' Julie Woods-Moss and Georgia Pacific's Douwe Bergsma spoke on the topic “How CMOs find and foster the best talent,” moderated by MSLGroup North America president Renee Wilson.

Woods-Moss and Bergsma, the CMOs of Tata Communications and Georgia Pacific, respectively, spoke about the increasing importance of the role of a CMO in a session on day two at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2013.

The session was inspired by Changing MO founder and former Hill & Knowlton US president and CEO MaryLee Sachs' book on CMOs, which will go on sale later this month in Europe. The book is based on research conducted among 26 marketing chiefs.

Dual role
Wilson began by stating that marketers need to play a dual role. “Business and marketing leadership are the dual roles a marketer has to play now. There's a changing modus operandi; companies now need ‘super hero' CMOs for global growth,” she said. “Yet only 63% of companies globally have CMOs.”

Woods-Moss added: “A CMO will control more of the technology budget than a CIO in a company by 2017.”

Woods-Moss spoke about her challenges as Tata Communications' CMO.

“The Tata way is ‘do and not talk'… One in four people who access the internet are doing so thanks to Tata, but we are still not a well-known brand,” she said. “Other than in Asia-Pacific, we are a challenger brand. I was the first CMO of the company. When I took over, the marketing team was so close to the sales team, I had to bring out a new entity, without breaking the bond between sales and marketing.”

This was addressed by launching a few initiatives in-house, Woods-Moss explained. One thing she did was a crowdsourcing initiative.

“I encouraged anybody in the company to participate in ‘Innoverse,' where we asked people to post a challenge to anyone in the company,” she said. “The good sign was that 30% of the 30,000 winning ideas came from cross-teams.”

Bergsma also spoke about the importance of innovation.

“Innovating with a product is easy. But what needs to be done is innovation going beyond product,” Bergsma said. “Our innovation was taking our toilet-paper business to e-commerce."

Critical peer relationship
“We have a tendency to encourage our team to reach out to other CMOs to talk about processes. That's how they'll get to know what's going wrong. We also got two or three different agencies to combine to make a 30-second spot,” added Woods-Moss. “Agencies think of it as a competition; we get the best work.”

‘Everyone thinks they can enter marketing'
Speaking about the sought-after characteristics of a marketer, Woods-Moss said that “intellectual curiosity and honesty are a must.”

“Every marketer must ask why and look for answers. Marketers need to be thick skinned; everyone thinks one can be a part of a marketing and communications team,” she added. “The days are long gone when marketers only need to read papers and sit behind the desk. I encourage marketers to hang out with their most difficult customers rather than indulge in official activates."

This story originally appeared on the website of Campaign India, the sister publication of PRWeek at Haymarket Media. It was updated on June 18 to correct the name of MaryLee Sachs' new company, Changing MO.

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