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Focus. Execute. Learn. Repeat.

A new study by the CMO Council confirms what many of us see every day. Marketers are far too distracted by short term issues ("random acts of marketing").

Several months ago I spoke to an MBA class (CMOs in training) at the University of California, Irvine and shared my POV on the hallmarks of great marketers. Given today's business climate, it would be unwise for any CMO to attempt to excel on all the traits I outlined. With mounting demands and pressures facing today's CMO, and with ever-decreasing resources, it's essential that a CMO set priorities and operate within a clear and focused framework. For example, I recently offered this framework to a CMO at a large company:

  1. Clarify the value proposition. Seek relevant differentiation. The noise in the market is loud and confusing. Make sure the offering is in-step with customer needs.
  2. Reassess loyalty drivers. Get close to your best customers. Categories and customers change. What drove loyalty five years ago may be less sticky today.
  3. Appeal to new segments. Begin attracting tomorrow's customer -- e.g., younger customers, multicultural markets, older customers, etc. If the target statement in the marketing plan reads like it did three years ago, time to blow off the dust.
  4. Make sure the website is the best in the category. The most functional. The easiest to navigate. The most well designed. This is a powerful manifestation of the brand. Ensure all marketing activities lead back to it.
  5. Continue improving. Innovation doesn't have to happen on a grand scale. It can be a series of small test and learn opportunities. Follow the 70/20/10 rule.

Recessions don't last forever. The smart marketers are those that are focusing on initiatives that will help their company be healthier, leaner and stronger as the economy recovers.