29 Lessons from the World's Best Marketers (Part 2)

In Josh Steimle’s great book “Chief Marketing Officers at Work” he interviewed 29 CMO’s about their habits, their thoughts, and strategies about marketing in the modern world. In this two-part series, I will share 29 lessons from these marketers.

Lesson 16: Learn as much as you can outside of marketing

John Costello, President of Global Marketing Dunkin Brands Group Inc., mentions the importance of also doing and learning things that have nothing to do with marketing. In his opinion, this will help you to become a more effective marketer and businessperson.

Lesson 17: Create raving fans and let them do the marketing

Luanne Calvert, CMO of Virgin America, mentioned that a lot of the brand is built by the guests of the airline themselves. It is therefore important to think about how to get the conversation going and getting people to talk about your brand. You can’t control this but you should trust the creativity of the people and let it go.

Lesson 18: Challenge yourself and everything you do

Trish Mueller, CMO of The Home Depot, recommends that the “This is how we’ve always done it” mentality does not work anymore and, as such, has no place in business today. Therefore it is important to bring in people in your team who have different lenses on the business.

Book recommendation by Trish Mueller:

John F. Ellet “The CMO Manifesto”

Lesson 19: Create a number of peer networks and stay in touch

Marketing is changing very fast, so how can CMO’s keep up? How do they know what’s going on and what they need to know? Peter Horst, CMO of The Hershey Company, has a mosaic of things he does:

  • He stays engaged in a small number of peer networks where he asks questions about what exactly he should need to know

  • From time to time he engages with external consultants

  • Having a good filtering system for what’s worth his time and energy

Lesson 20: Allow your team full expression of their creativity

Finding good talent is a major job of CMOs and everybody has different advice on this topic. Brian Beitler, CMO of Lane Bryant, thinks about teams in a very interesting way. He believes people work best when they are allowed to use their full expressions of creativity. If people have this feeling they can test and try things out and allow amazing things to happen.

Lesson 21: Be everywhere!

Some tools that Walter Levitt, CMO of Comedy Central, and his team use:

  • Sprinklr: Manage and measure social media activity

  • Nielsen Social: Measure conversations around television content in the social media space

Another advice for all marketers from Walter Levitt: You better be on every social platform that exists because that is where your fans and consumers are. The job of the marketer is, in a sense, to be the voice of the consumer in your organization. Therefore you have the responsibility to be personally on all those platforms: try them out and experiment to find which one works best for your organization.

Walter Levitt shares some more ideas on his blog:

Lesson 22: Simplicity is power

Geraldine Calpin, CMO of Hilton Worldwide, believes strongly in simplicity. No matter what you’re working on, if you can make an idea, a product, or a message simple, the customer will understand it. Ask yourself these three questions when you read something about a product or service:

  • When can I get this? 

  • Who is it for?

  • What does it do?

If the answer to one of the questions is unclear, you have to rework the messaging. Make the messaging customer-driven, simple and clear.

Lesson 23: Localization means adjusting your messaging

If you have a global brand you have to think about messaging in different regions of the world, which is the meaning of localization. Matt Price, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at Zendesk, explains that localization can be a number of things. First of all, it can be a simple translation, but then you have to adjust your messaging in order to suit a particular market. Markets are different in the channels they use, how they interact, and also how they buy products. These are things to consider if you're rolling out marketing campaigns on a global level.

Lesson 24: Acquire business skills

Susan Lintonsmith, CMO of Quiznos, gives advice to future CMOs to get some general business skills. It is not only about marketing but trying to understand all aspects of the business because as CMO you will make decisions that impact the whole company.

Book recommendation by Susan Lintonsmith:

Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” and “Great by Choice”

Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne “Blue Ocean Strategy”

Malcolm Gladwell “David and Goliath” and “Outliers”

Lesson 25: Be on-demand, customized and fast

Linda Boff, CMO of General Electric, mentions the importance of acting on-demand, customized, and very fast. Customers have good experience with Uber, Amazon, or Airbnb and expect that level of speed and efficiency from whoever they do business with. 

Book recommendation by Linda Boff:

Brian Grazer “A Curious Mind”

Ed Catmull “Creativity Inc.”

Peter Thiel “Zero to One”

Lesson 26: Learn PR & Crisis Management

Lauren Crampsie, CMO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, gives advice to understand the media and how the media ecosystem fits together. This can be helpful in order to generate buzz about products and services. Another topic she mentions is crisis management: with topics like data leaks forcing businesses to become good at crisis management.

Lesson 27: Think long-term and deepen the engagement with your customers

According to Jeff Jones, CMO of Target, marketing has three major roles:

  • Drive traffic to one of your assets

  • Deepen the engagement with your customer (Jeff Jones calls them “guests”)

  • Strengthen the love that guests have with the brand

In order to create this successfully, you have to think long-term about equity building.

Book recommendation by Jeff Jones:

Peter Sims “Little Bets”

Eric Ries “The Lean Startup”

Dan Ariely “Predictably Irrational”

Lesson 28: Break down silos

David Doctorow, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing Expedia, explains why CMOs are perfectly positioned to break down silos within organizations. The main job of a CMO is to listen to the customer first and raise the right questions inside their own organization. This also means that the CMO has to bring different people together within the organization and break down silos. 

Lesson 29: Consume a lot of content

Rishi Dave, CMO Dun & Bradstreet, gives the advice to consume a lot of content on the web - almost like crazy. In order to keep in touch with trends, you should be talking to partners, vendors, and agencies all the time.

This was part two of the lessons that I got from the book “Chief Marketing Officers at work” by Josh Steimle:

You can find more information about Josh Steimle on his website:

Here you can read part one of the article: 29 Lessons from the World's Best Marketers

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