CMO Q&A: David Cumberbatch, ACT

David Cumberbatch, chief strategy marketing officer at ACT, talks to Lindsay Stein about reinventing the 50-year-old educational nonprofit.

David Cumberbatch, chief strategy marketing officer at ACT, talks to Lindsay Stein about reinventing the 50-year-old educational nonprofit.

How do communications and marketing work since both teams report to you?
I worked with the CEO on the vision for the CMO role. One of the first things we did was change the title to CSMO.

Strategic marketing is very different than marketing and we had to explain to the executive team and the company that we were building a strategic marketing function.

I brought in my team, which spans corporate development to market research to marketing and communications, as well as creative services.

The communications and marketing is under my VP, Edward Walters. He works with Ogilvy Public Relations on the cultivation of the brand and our new position, which we spent a year researching.

Results show consumers see ACT (formerly American College Test) is changing from a testing nonprofit to focusing on insights that unlock potential.

Tell us more about the campaign.
We started our first campaign in September 2012 called Improve Yourself.

If you go to ACT.org, you will see the "im" is in red and "prove yourself" is in blue. Prove yourself is all about the scores we give that provide evidence of achievement for skills learned over time, and improve is in line with our strategy.

We want folks to have insights from kindergarten through their careers and look at it as a developing curve instead of an IQ test.

How is messaging getting to staffers?
We spent six months working with Ogilvy on an internal communications plan. We brought in speakers to discuss with employees where education and the workforce are heading so they could understand the shift in the market. We plastered the campus with flags and have employee T-shirts.

If the team embraces the new mission, it gives us a platform to stand on. Then we can focus on what we're working on, bringing the message to the street with a heavy reliance on PR and social media. 

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