Chief Marketing Officer: What’s in a Job Title?The Product Management function for Internet companies is a Marketing function. If it’s not under Marketing in your company, it’s simply time to move it.
|Marketing people can't do viral marketing.|
Today’s Chief Marketing Officer must not only straddle the fence between product specification and traditional marketing, but to be successful, remove the fence.
This isn't the Mad Men type marketer your mother warned you about - it's completely different sort:
"Marketing people can’t do viral marketing. You don’t just build a product and then choose viral marketing. There is no viral marketing add-on. Anyone who advocates viral marketing in this way is wrong and lazy. People romanticize it because, if you do it right, you don’t have to spend money on ads or salespeople. But viral marketing requires that the product’s core use case must be inherently viral." - Peter Thiel, Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup - Class 9 Notes
Marketing -- that job of creating awareness and finding new customers / users across a variety of media and channels -- is now less about paid media and more about earned media. The thing that’s changing the shape of the position is that the online product or service itself is now the biggest driver of earned marketing impact. (Note: ecommerce remains very different - you're selling products online, not selling online products)
If I explain that I’m in marketing, they get it the advertising part - but that’s only half my job (less these days). When I say I run product management, too, I get blank stares. I have to explain product management and that it’s not a coding position, but a general management position. (It’s somehow unique that software product managers, unlike the product managers at Proctor and Gamble, Mattel and Nestlé (who are the general managers of their products) don’t run into the same quandary.)
But, that’s changing - and it’s about time! Product Management needs more recognition as a critical function, even for startups. It’s usually the CEO or the CTO who’s the head product manager - it’s just not part of their title.
Take Instagram. Their focus on creating a passionate user network, rather than new features or platform expansion, turned that company into a tidy little acquisition. CEO Kevin Systrom understood the value of users, and [relentlessly] focused the technical team on that over all else. There were no Google Adwords campaigns, no SEO links, no paid Facebook campaigns, and hardly even a website – every bit of "marketing" was embedded the app.
As an accomplished Chief Marketing Officer for multiple Internet and software companies, building market awareness is largely reliant on a great product / service experience - and happy customers who can and want to tell their friends about it.
The customer drives marketing now. Marketing isn’t something you do. it’s what your customers and users do for you. If they like you (your product or service), it will grow (with well-executed coaxing and encouragement, and viral product design). If they think it’s OK or don’t like it, growth is slow, painful and expensive. It’s why so many companies fail – customers just aren’t delighted.
Not sure about your company? Give yourself a litmus test – run a customer survey to captive email addresses and your website to get your NPS (Net Promoter Score). Ask just one question:
How likely are you to recommend this product / service to a friend or colleague?The results will tell you how much work you have to do on your product experience with the goal of getting users completely enthused about it. (Make sure your scale is 0 to 10, not 1 to 10, otherwise you’ll be getting good information but it won’t be a comparable NPS score.) An aggregate score of 70 or more is great - you're on your way.
Today’s successful Internet head of marketing isn’t a corporate marketing wonk, creative advertiser, or a brand builder – the traditional emphasis of a CMO. Marketing is not about paid media, brand advertising or even direct advertising. This new breed of CMO must orchestrate a blend of integrated online, social and email marketing programs that drive word of mouth and online recommendations and referrals. That means finding and leveraging happy customers as brand ambassadors and harnessing their inherent goodness. These programs are part of the product and service experience, intrinsically sharable and leverage the power of the network (and yes, the social graph). But how do you differentiate this CMO from the 'old version'?
Combining the “Chief Product Officer” and “Chief Marketing Officer” into a single role is the right call for early-stage Internet companies. My naming dilemma of the day is finding a new title for this role that encompasses both marketing and product management in a way that’s descriptive, intuitive and creative.
- Chief Experience Officer?
- Vice President of Distribution?
- Head of Customer Experience?
- SVP of Advocacy?
- VP of Customer Mobilization?
- VP of Customer Experience?
- Director of Social Sharing?
- Growth Hacker?