Ten Cool Nuggets from CMO Summit

  1. The Increasing Need for CMO to Know Technology is Non-negotiable.
  2. Agency Model is Broken.  Big Consulting Companies are Playing a Bigger Role.  A New Model Needs to Emerge.
  3. Data is Becoming Commoditized.  Creativity is What is in Short Supply.
  4. You Can’t Buy Yourself Into Great Marketing Anymore. It is the Golden Age of Marketing.
  5. Ability to Curate Content is More Important Than the Ability To Create Content.
  6. Social Commerce is the Next Big Thing.
  7. If It Takes You More than Eight Weeks to Get from Problem Statement to MVP You are Irrelevant.
  8. You Can’t Be Too Relevant for Consumer But You Can Be Too Personal.
  9. Mobile is the Remote Control of People’s Lives.
  10. Programatic is the Glue to Data and the Glue to Different Devices.

A New Marketing Playbook

The Embers are Being Stoked.

Restaurant industry conferences over the last year have exploded with service provider panels selling apps, loyalty, and other marketing technology solutions. The iconic Chris Sullivan, founder of Outback Steakhouse, made an impassioned plea to marketers to adopt a new way of marketing to guests leveraging technology. He asked MEG Spring 2014 marketing attendees, “Who in your organization will champion technology? Your CEO? Your CIO? You will because it is important to the guest!”

The general feeling from recent industry conferences is that it is now not “if” these technologies will be adopted by restaurants but “when” and who will emerge as our industry’s Digital Pacesetter.

The Industry Needs Thought Leaders….and a New Marketing Playbook

The industry has been recently stuck in a cycle of re-running the same Marketing Playbook with diminishing returns with increasing outside pressure on margins from commodity price increases, healthcare and wage reform. There is a desperate need for marketing to drive sales profitably and expand margins.

The truth is that we know the old Playbook doesn’t work but what will the new Playbook look like? And who has the knowledge, talent and resources to figure it out? The restaurant category is in need of a total re-think of our standard go-to market plans.

I believe that technology that enhances the guest experience and captures data to power one-to-one data-driven marketing is part of the solution for our industry. The other half of the equation is for evolved thought-leadership from our Marketing teams.

Marketers Should Lead the Conversation…Not Providers

Marketers who recognize the value could spend months in capability reviews and webinars just to keep up to date. And many marketing teams are in analysis paralysis due to lack of resources and talent to conceptualize a new Marketing Playbook. Other brands that have adopted marketing technology are driving decisions based on tactical vendor selection versus C-level adoption of data-driven, cross-functional, cross-channel strategies.

The truth is that vendor selection has historically led the data-driven marketing discussion in the industry. However, that is beginning to change. Now more than ever before, proactive restaurant marketers are creating enterprise data strategies.

Before vendor selection begins, brands are mapping cross channel integrated consumer experiences with buy-in from all C-level executives. Vendor selection does not matter. Strategy matters. Starting matters. The vendor selection process should not overshadow the more important strategic discussion of the use cases for data-driven marketing.

There Must Be a Better Way.

Data-driven Marketing is a strategy, not a program, that requires CEO/CFO sponsorship because it is a cross departmental effort with cross channel execution. It relies on effective data capture through adoption of technologies that enhance the guest experience. Data enables guest segmentation for marketers to execute always-on one-to-one marketing. It can be automated. And it will transform restaurant marketing forever.

Ten Truths of Data-Driven Marketing

  1. Data is just a proxy for guest behavior. So “data” doesn’t drive your marketing, your guest does.
  2. Data-driven Marketing is a strategy not a program.
  3. Enterprise data strategy is a must.
  4. Data is not math- it is imperfect and directional.
  5. Data is like a box of chocolates. 14
  6. Data-informed Marketing accounts for both the data (Science) and for your experience and instinct (Art).
  7. Data and digital initiatives don’t conform to typical marketing production timelines.
  8. It is not just the segment, but the size of the segment that matters.
  9. Real-time data doesn’t matter unless you can operationally action it.
  10. Data is the great accelerator not the sliver bullet answer.  The number one variable to success is still the Value built in your business and your offer.

You are NOT the Boss of Me

After a particularly rough day at the office my daughter said this to me. “You are NOT the Boss of Me.”  It was a typical rant in a stressed moment between a tween asserting her need for independence to a stressed-out Mom that wasn’t slowing down to truly listen or empathize.

It was a funny wake-up call for me.  I knew exactly how she felt.

It is human nature to want to be in control.  And for creative independent souls like my daughter and myself, it is a birth right.  I was offering her advice based on my experience that wasn’t necessarily grounded in the facts of her situation. I was a kid once, so sure I knew how she felt. She knew I was wrong and did not like it one bit.

The Marketing profession is like this.  Everyone is an expert because everyone is a consumer.  Everyone has an opinion generally not grounded in fact but in personal experience.   Unlike others in the C-suite, Marketers may have very deep knowledge but at any moment can be questioned based on an executive’s, or their family member’s, personal experience with the brand.  This can be maddening.

“You are NOT the Boss of Me.”  Marketers know who the boss is. The consumer is the boss.  Thankfully, every day new tools and resources emerge to give a strong voice to consumers based on insight, research and data.


Today my role is Chief Customer Officer.   The title is a purposeful directive from our CEO to the organization to put the customer front and center- grounding each and every conversation on solving customer needs.  It creates healthy dialogue and transparency.  So in those stressful moments when everyone from the Board to the Intern has an opinion, we never forget who is truly the boss.

I believe every marketer has two key roles in their organization.  1) Guide and inspire the organization to be customer-centered 2) Anticipate, innovate, and solve customer needs in ways they never imagined!

Marketers, let’s make 2015 the year of the boss.