Overheard in the Market-Argyle CMO Leadership Forum

CMO Leadership Forum

I recently returned from the Argyle CMO Leadership Forum in San Francisco, where top marketing executives across industries gathered to discuss best practices in marketing. If you sat in the main session room – you would have heard these words/phrases often – data, agile, digital, limited resources, experience, customer centricity, journey, persona, etc. Depending on who you talked to, the general outlook was ‘glass half full’ or ‘glass half empty’. Personally, I think there is a tremendous amount of opportunity for marketers today to challenge and overcome the status quo, especially after listening to a particular speaker at the event – Julian Aldridge. Argyle session speaker Julian Aldridge, VP of Brand Evangelism and Activation at Charles Schwab, said that marketing today is all about attitude and leading from the front. His session, entitled “Leaving Fear Behind: How Venture Marketing Vanquishes Fear” covered the issues that marketers face today (i.e., you’re only as good as your last campaign) and why that’s ineffective for the well-oiled marketing organization. For those of you not familiar with the term, venture marketing is an approach to marketing that aligns with a venture capitalist’s approach to investment. In the VC world, investors take risks and bet with the expectation that they may only win 75-90% of the time. And these wins – well, they’re big wins. So, the old point of view (you’re only as good as your last campaign”) is no longer a mantra in the new world of venture marketing. Now we’re talking about being OK with failure – as long as we’re taking each test scenario as an opportunity to learn. In a related piece in the Argyle Journal, Aldridge mentions that his CMO is a fan of the saying, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” The Charles Schwab VP interprets this cliche through a “venture marketing” lens – noting that venture marketing breaks the marathon into a series of one-mile increments, where each mile is a complete test, opportunity to collect data and potential for a big win. During the speaking session, Aldridge highlighted an excellent example of venture marketing in action – Adidas. Yes, the footwear brand sponsored last year’s World Cup (holy investment Batman!). But Adidas moved beyond the traditional television spots to achieve on its marketing objectives with a content-first strategy. This content strategy enabled Adidas to execute small, agile-oriented tactics to build positive buzz for the brand. The brand used social media to broadcast its content on a mass scale, used its sponsorship to access teams, players and other assets to drive its campaign content. In the end, the company increased brand interactions by seven times and significantly exceed its planned sales goal for the World Cup Adidas ball. The practice of venture marketing is new – and like content marketing, there’s much buzz but not ‘tried and true’ step-by-step processes for success. What I mean is that there’s no single right way to approach venture marketing for your business. Aldridge did point out a couple of useful tips though:
  • If you can’t get your marketing project up and running in 90 days, then it’s not a venture marketing project
  • Create a marketing backlog – much like an agile developer’s backlog – to explore brand stories, epics, and themes
  • Amplify everything with social
  • Beta test commercials with YouTube
  • Test and learn, test and learn
I wish you luck on your next marketing adventure!

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Author- Hillary Ashton

Hillary Ashton
Hillary Ashton has 20 years of experience in helping Fortune 500 companies across various industries such as retail, financial services, telecom, manufacturing and hospitality. As SVP of Customer Analytics at Manthan, Ashton is focused on helping B2C businesses leverage marketing, analytics and technology to better understand their customers and drive profits. Prior to Manthan, she served in various marketing leadership positions at SAS, Digitas and several technology startups.

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