In ancient Greek mythology, Cassandra, the beautiful daughter of the King of Troy, had the gift of prophecy with complete knowledge of future events. But the impact of Cassandra’s gift was stymied by her inability to alter the future or even convince others of the validity of her predictions. The metaphor of Cassandra hasn’t remained just an interesting myth. We see it applied in a variety of contexts, including politics, psychology, science, entertainment, philosophy, and business.
Since at least 1949, when French philosopher Gaston Bachelard coined the term “Cassandra complex,” organizations have been grappling with the disconnect between establishing a new vision for the business with the ability to reach consensus and actually move forward toward reaching that vision. Achieving a clear, shared vision is often difficult, as it does not match reality and many not feel a sense of urgency to change, resulting in a lack of commitment to the new vision. At the same time, those who support the new vision are termed Cassandras — they are able to see what is going to happen, but no one believes them. Even Warren Buffett, who repeatedly warned that the 1990s stock market surge was a bubble, earned the title of “Wall Street Cassandra.”
In 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln was elected President, Milton Bradley invented his first board game, the Checkered Game of Life. The game simulates a person's travels through his or her life, from infancy to retirement, with jobs, marriage, and possible children along the way. Some squares on the board help you along, with little lithographed hands pointing the way, but almost any spin from nearly every square involves a decision, a choice among as many as eight possible moves. The Checkered Game of Life requires you to make decisions — lots and lots of them — and each of those decisions leads you down a different path, requiring more decisions as you go.
Over 150 years later, the premise of the Game of Life holds as true for the decisions our customers make as it did for the personal decisions outlined in 1860.
In the post-digital world of today, empowered customers have taken control of the relationship they have with the companies they interact with. Your customers now face a maze of media, devices, conversations, and interactions as they make decisions along their path to purchase. As marketers, you must engage customers in the right way across the entirety of what Forrester calls the customer life cycle, from customers initially identifying a need to researching their options, making a purchase, and using the product.
There’s a particle accelerator in the basement of one of the most celebrated art museums in the world — the Louvre. It's a piece of technology in the most unlikely of places that produces helium and nitrogen beams from a single source to reveal layers of work that are invisible to the human eye.
Why would the Louvre have invested in and put such unconventional technology to work? The better question is, “Why not?” Rather than go on a competitive hunt for more masterpieces, the Louvre devised a strategy to make the most of the assets it had. Staff members were determined to put themselves in the mind of the masters, to think outside in, and to imagine how their artists might have used their precious (and difficult-to-come-by) canvases in more ways than one. Could they discover new treasures that would fuel the Louvre’s leadership in the art world?
Putting its strategy to the test, the Louvre used the accelerator to undercover five lost images from the masterpieces of famous artists from Picasso to van Gogh. The device revealed several layers of images that had been painted over in the final version of the painting. No one knew they were there. By putting an unconventional artist-centric strategy in place, the Louvre harnessed its greatest assets. It armed that strategy with the right technology and a scientific approach to uncover the hidden story that lay beneath the surface of a painting.
In the same way, it’s time for CMOs to lead the transformation of their firm's strategic planning process to an outside-in perspective focused on the customer.
Being the sports enthusiast that I am, I love this time of year. March Madness is in full swing and down to the Final Four. And what madness this year’s tournament has delivered so far. Exciting opening rounds, Sweet Sixteen and Elight Eight games. A decision here or there has decided great games, and amazing execution has followed. We’ve seen surprise after surprise of upsets of favored teams by the upstarts — all with the common goal of cutting down that net.
While surprises, upsets, and last-minute execution shifts may make for thrilling college basketball games and entertainment, they’re not part of a winning strategy for your market messaging and customer engagement, which drive the growth that your CEO expects.
In our discussions with CMOs and marketing leaders across industries and business models, we find that many senior marketing executives still struggle with bringing a disciplined approach to the creation and execution of messaging. Rather, we see messages developed in an ad hoc way to solve the need of the moment, giving little thought to alignment from the customer’s view across touchpoints.
Fred Rogers touched the hearts of millions of children through his work in creating and hosting one of the most beloved educational television programs — Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Throughout its run, the show built a strong brand that was recognized as a leader in educating millions of young children. When public funds for the program became scarce, Mister Rogers stood before the US Senate Subcommittee on Communications to passionately defend the educational mission of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The goose-bumps-producing testimony compelled one of the most impatient subcommittee chairmen to approve $20 million in funding for the show.
Mister Rogers was able to accomplish this inspiring feat by building a strong brand for his show and using that brand to accomplish a seemingly impossible task — creating a community of devoted fans that Congress was compelled to keep alive and growing.
As our friendly neighbor Mister Rogers showed us, it’s possible to build a strong lasting brand by charming a community of involved supporters.
CMOs, it’s time for you to take a lesson from Mister Rogers by rallying and engaging your entire organization to reach the full potential of your brand.
A new pneumonia virus first infected a few people in China in November 2002. A scant seven months later, the virus known as SARS had infected more than 8,000 people in 26 countries and caused 774 deaths. The international medical community mobilized: Within one short month, it discovered the virus that caused SARS, completed its genetic sequencing, outlined its modes of transmission, and communicated guidance for managing the outbreak.
How did this happen so fast? The power of collaboration. A network of 11 laboratories in nine countries came together and collaborated to identify the cause of SARS and how best to combat it. They shared research in near real time, empowering each lab to build on the work of the others. Compare the success of this collaborative effort to the three years it took to discover that HIV led to AIDS as well as the slow movement to solve our current Ebola crisis. Clearly, collaboration when mobilized can have a huge, positive impact on the world in which we live, work, and play.
Now, just because CMOs and CIOs are not curing world hunger or an infectious disease, that does not mean they can choose to ignore the power of collaboration. In fact, as CMOs and CIOs, you too need to be collaboration superstars in order to prosper in the age of the customer.
For as long as there have been children and travel, frustrated parents have been subjected to repeatedly hearing a simple, “Are we there yet?” In their innocence, children seem to understand that all journeys should lead to a final destination; with those journeys never reaching their destination quick enough.
In 2015, Forrester believes CMOs will step forward and take responsibility for turning the enterprise toward the customer, evolving their role into the engine that fuels customer-centric company growth. It’s time for CMOs to cultivate the trust, respect, and collaboration across the entire C-suite and use that influence to ask for the right to not only hold but also turn the keys to the customer.
My colleagues, James L. McQuivey, Moira Dorsey, Laura Ramos, Sarah Sikowitz, Tracy Stokes, and I therefore studied the landscape and expect CMOs to seize this new opportunity to both shape their personal success and accelerate the growth of their organizations in 2015. In particular, we predict that:
Having its root as an Igbo and YorubaNigerian proverb, “It takes a village” has come to mean that the responsibility for raising children is shared across the larger family and community. But it hasn’t stopped there. Hillary Clinton adopted this proverb as her own when she published a book on children and family values in 1995. And in May 2014, Pope Francis had a crowd of more than 300,000 school students outside the Vatican chant the saying over and over again.
This simple proverb has taken on an important meaning throughout the world, as it communicates the importance of community, cooperation, sharing, and bringing together the skills of many different parts of the community to produce the best result — the raising of a well-rounded child.
But at its core, “It takes a village” applies to more than just raising children.
In a business environment, “it takes a village” applies to how you find and then bring together the best resources to grow your business. Speaking at Salesforce Dreamforce 2014 this morning, Hillary Clinton shared her views of how organizations must do good while doing well by adopting the core values of innvation, fun and giving back to the "village" at large.
I admit it; I’m a sports junkie. And, this is usually one of my favorite times of the year — the first few weeks of the NFL season. But this year, it’s been more about how poorly the NFL is managing what happens off the field than it is the excitement of what’s happening on the field of play.
Somehow the NFL has forgotten what its carefully built brand stands for. It's forgotten that every experience fans have with its brand — including players’ behavior — makes a difference. And it's lost touch with what matters to its customer base.
With a serious case of misjudgment, the NFL missed the opportunity to have its brand set an example and agenda for the rest of the country to follow with a no-tolerance stand on domestic violence. Instead, the deplorable way it's handled the Ray Rice domestic violence incident as well as others that have since come to light has damaged the carefully crafted NFL brand image, reputation, and ultimately overall success of its $6 billion business. So what can CMOs learn from the NFL experience to avoid missteps and instead build a strong and resilient brand?
Read my new report “How To Build A Strong B2B Brand” (subscription required) to help you avoid the pitfalls the NFL fell into. Expanding on Tracy Stokes' work in our brand experience playbook, my new report applies Tracy’s work to the unique challenges B2B marketers face in building, growing, and managing customer-centric brand experiences.
Since rising to prominence as a part of the C-suite back in the late 1990s, the role of the chief marketing officer (CMO) has never been as critical to the success of organizations as it is in today's customer-driven post-digital age. And CMOs are taking notice, stepping up to the leadership challenge as a full partner in the C-suite. As marketers indicated in our report on The Evolved CMO In 2014 (subscription required), their business leadership requires them to optimize the marketing organization they oversee. Forrester believes that as empowered customers take control of their relationship with brands, CMOs must optimize their teams by redefining their organization in the form of a marketing operating system (MOS).
An MOS-based structure transforms every facet of a marketing organization requiring CMOs to inspire their organizations to think and act differently. It’s up to you, the CMO, to establish the vision, define the new values, and model the behaviors you want from your team as you implement your MOS.