Does Trump’s Victory Signal The End Of Data-Driven Decision-Making As We Know It?

It’s not been an easy week or so for many of us in the US. Why did the election results surprise so many? How could we not have known how divided a country we were?

And what happened to a belief in the principles of fairness, respect, and equality for all, which formed the foundation of our democracy — despite an election’s outcome? One explanation is that many relied on predictions, polls, and data and misjudged the impact of voters’ emotions and sentiment on the race . . . and badly so.  

Four years ago, just after I joined Forrester, one of the first blog posts I wrote was about how the smart use of data helped elect Obama as our 44th president. In that post, I talked about how Obama and his team employed data science from the start to understand the electorate and target their engagement and messaging effectively to inspire voters to action.

In fact, to quote that blog post:

“What I found the most fascinating is how the use of data, the right data, served as the foundation for Obama’s successful reelection. Starting on election night, the analysts on the best-known news shows were already talking about how calm and confident the Obama team members were. And why were they confident? According to Obama’s team, it had the data to back up its march to a second term. The team members believed that data and how they used it was one of the biggest advantages they had over the Romney campaign. Think about that for a minute. Obama, traditionally seen as the image and message guy, ran his reelection campaign based on using the right data effectively. And it worked.

Read more

CMOs, Your Role Is Evolving . . . Are You Keeping Up?

I recently returned from an amazing vacation in the Galápago Islands where the impact of evolution is evident all around you. It was in the amazing Galápagos where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution by means of natural selection. And it might surprise you to learn that a tiny bird called the Galápagos (or more commonly Darwin's) finch played a critical role in the formation of Darwin's theories. The diversity of the various finch species and how they evolved from a common ancestor to adapt to the different food types on each Galápagos island fascinated Darwin. Although these birds act and look pretty much alike (e.g., size, plumage, behavior), there are actually 14 species with a distinctive size and shape of their beak. Some are long and narrow to get at available food in deep cracks of volcanic rock, and some are wide and short to scoop up the moss on the flat rocks by the shoreline, along with everything in between. These birds were only able to survive the harsh and unique conditions on the Galápagos by evolving to their available food supply.

Read more

Having The Right Team Players Won The Big Game. Do You Have The Right Team To Do The Same?

Super Bowl 50 is finally behind us. Forget the lackluster commercials — led by the silly puppy monkey baby— and the amazing technology feats that accompanied the NFL experience in downtown San Francisco. What was clear is that Americans are more obsessed with the national pastime of NFL football than ever. The leadup to Super Bowl 50 was like no other, with discussions of how the game has changed and the impact technology will have on the fan experience.

But the game is what most fans, me included, wanted to see. While it may not have been the most exciting Super Bowl of all time, one thing was clear almost from the start: Superstar and 2015 MVP Cam Newton couldn’t win the game on his own. Almost from the beginning, Denver prevailed — not because of the prowess of starting quarterback Peyton Manning, but rather because the Broncos had the right people in the right roles working together as a team to demolish the previously indestructible Carolina Panthers.

 What lessons can CMOs learn from this year’s Super Bowl?

While this may surprise you, your marketing team isn’t much different from the teams in this year’s Super Bowl. You doubtless have superstars who go the extra mile to power the marketing engine and make it succeed. But ask yourself: Do I have the right role players to keep the marketing team humming? Do I know what role players I need and what to look for when hiring them?

Read more

Adopt The Customer Life Cycle To Accelerate Your Journey To Customer Obsession

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.”

Read more

Empowered Customers Are Now In Control. Is Your Marketing Team Ready To Play By The New Rules?

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.

Read more

Want To Keep Your Competitive Edge In A Fast-Changing World? It’s Time For CMOS To Lead Strategic Planning From The Outside In

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.

Read more

It’s March . . . Time To Bring Structure To Your Messaging Madness

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.

Read more

CMOs: It’s Time To Rally Your Employees Around Brand Building

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.

Read more

CMOs And CIOs: A Couple Still In Need Of Therapy To Reach Power Status

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

Read more

CMOs Boldly Reach For More Influence Across The Enterprise In 2015

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.
 
Empowered buyers have raised the ante to successfully win, serve, and retain them, increasing the pressure on organizations to accelerate their journey to customer obsession. But almost halfway through the decade, we find organizations struggling to find the right leader to seize the reins and transform the organization to be laser-focused on the customer. Enter the CMO.
 
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:
 
Read more