The CMO's Curse

Silos within the corporate universe represent the CMOs' greatest challenge according to David Aaker's new book "Spanning Silos, The New CMO imperative."

This problem is hardly new, but the need to work successfully with silos will make or break any CMO.

Of particular interest is Aaker's section dealing with IMC or Integrated Marketing Communication that was announced in 1972 by Y&R CEO Ed Ney. He stated that the firm would create a team of specialists with the mission of leading the integration of general advertising, PR, sales promotion and direct marketing strategies providing a team approach for solving client communication needs.

Aaker believes the IMC challenge applies equally to internal marketing integration efforts.

As a silo leader for direct response in several national general agencies, I concur with his assessment that these efforts have mostly failed. 

Aaker's analysis includes three primary causes for this conclusion.

1. These agency silos compete for resources "each believing that its approach is the most effective."

Working in these environments for over thirty years, I can confirm that marketers tend to recommend what they know rather than what is needed.  

2. Another barrier to successful integration lies within silo leaders who see the marketing landscape with different eyes and apply different performance measures.

For example, from my perspective, awareness proponents rarely quantify their performance based on the client's increase in sales as direct response people do. And PR professionals equate success with the space costs the client would have paid for equivalent exposure with paid advertising.

In fact, Aaker warns that successful teams must begin their efforts by agreeing on performance metrics to succeed in their purpose.

Clients want financial results, yet general agencies typically shy away from such rigid performance requirements claiming they do not control the selling environment to take on such accountability.

3. Leaders who provide strategic leadership at the required level are in short supply.

Why is all of this important? 

Who can deny that more than ever the need for IMC has increased? "Reliance on mass media as the cornerstone of the communication program is fading."

The whole book makes deep observations about the problems CMOs must solve to achieve the demanding goals imposed upon them by their organizations' silos.

Silos are here to stay and are not in themselves inherently evil. They are simply a reality that usually stands in the way of brand cohesion and marketing leverage.

The book goes to great lengths to define the various roles CMOs can play to successfully accomplish their missions. With meticulous research, relevant examples and actionable recommendations, this book will earn the respect of CMOs who want to improve their companies' loftiest goals. I recommend it highly to new as well as seasoned marketers regardless of industry.

Posted on November 21, 2008 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy, General.