One of the most startling trends of the year is demonstrated by large corporations such as IBM and American Express (AmEx) in their new thought leadership initiatives. AmEx has created the Open Forum where a new social community is developing. The marketing gurus at AmEx were smart, they invited thought leaders to participate, be featured, and advertise. What has emerged is a vibrant, content-rich platform – in my opinion, one of the better online magazines, that allows thought leaders to demonstrate their expertise and engage with peers.
Additionally, to make it easy to comment on a post, you can login to the Open Forum using your LinkedIn profile. But in order to set up a real account and contribute, you need to be an American Express card member. Talk about driving conversions! One of the nice things for me is that I’ve connected with some of the people through social media channels (e.g., Google+) growing and extending these digital relationships.
In keeping with the current trends in thought leadership, IBM has conducted video interviews with C-suite leaders around the globe. They’ve compiled and organized the segments and transcripts at Executive Exchange, a vast library of information. For me, this CMO study was a compelling affirmation of some of my marketing beliefs. Knowing that over 1700 participants contributed to the study provided a level of statistical significance that you don’t often see.
The overarching consensus by CMOs was focused on the growing challenges and anxiety over persistent and looming complexities in marketing technologies. As a CMO, I share the concerns about a high level of market, technology, and regulatory complexity over the next five years. The dynamics of marketing have changed, and the requirements for tactical execution are now skewed towards a technology-centric individual, sometimes leaving behind the strategy that comes with competence and experience.
The data benefits of technology have raised a level of expectation for “return on investment”, which has been a continuous mantra over the past five years. CMOs are faced with obstacles to achieving value and measurability across all media channels. Part of the challenge is the intangible value of a brand and traditional marketing channels. This continues to be exemplified through moments of pure viral marketing when the passion and enthusiasm of an audience propels an unknown entity to the forefront of public acclaim. These are the spontaneous actions of empowered customers that catapult or diminish brand value.
Despite the unforeseeable changes in technology and the ever-present quest to engage with our customers, CMOs strive to effectively develop marketing strategies that cultivate meaningful relationships, connecting with customers in ways that we can only hope are perceived as valuable. This is an evolving time for promotion, with some channels retiring and others emerging. This new and diverse age of media preferences continues to create challenges for message consistency, audience penetration, and depth of engagement to our key target audiences.