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To set the stage for our tale of two CMOs, we first must consider the essence of brand power. The essence of any organization’s brand power comes down to emotion. And science proves it.

There was a famous neuroscientist, Susan Greenfield, who discovered how humans connect emotion with an image. This insight came from a study of how newborns learn to identify their mothers. The newborns, whose eyesight is very much limited at birth, were found to capture distinct images of parts of their mothers’ faces as they stared continuously to learn more about the person holding them, feeding them, etc. Each of those images forms, or reinforces, a new neural connection, building the ‘brain wiring’ needed for a newborn to instinctively identify and bond with its mother.

Each of these ‘snapshot’ images, if you will, is a brand moment. Now, eventually, a baby forms all the neuroconnections necessary to recognize the entire face. And, at that moment, that association of that face with an abstract concept - that of provider, nurturer and caregiver (mom) - is, in turn, is associated with a single, powerful emotion: happiness. And the moment that happens, the newborn smiles at its mother and a lifelong bond is formed.

Like newborns associating the pieces with the whole face and then a feeling, each digital touchpoint and customer interaction gives each customer a different snapshot of an organization. These snapshot mental images serve to wire each customer's brain - much like a newborn's - to eventually form a clear association of those interactions with another abstract concept: your brand. The key to successful marketing is the emotion they next attach to that bond. Happiness? Excitement? Satisfaction? Value? Once that association is set, it forms the basis for lifetime loyalty. And this, is of course, central to the 2016 CMO's mission to gain a competitive edge in a new digital marketplace.

Basically, it is the emotion that counts. And for Jahia, putting people back at the heart of digital business is - in part - recognizing the emotional need of customers who, in today's digital world, are increasingly feeling vulnerable to the exposure of their private lives without their knowledge, consent or control.

In 2016, there is a clear call to action to CMO's to put customers first and put consumer data privacy and protection at the core of their customer experience strategy. (And, of course, Jahia is standing by to be your strategic partner to make it a reality.)

Now, on to our Tale of Two CMOs…

There once was a marketing campaign that needed to be designed and delivered to gain new visibility for a particular offer. The Establishment CMO and the Disruptor CMO have very different ways of approaching that target. And that is where our tale diverges…

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As you can see, our two CMOs have very different approaches and measurements of success. Marketing in today’s digital world is more than taking off-line marketing strategies online and having one cool advert in a push campaign.  

Instead, marketing is your brand promise made visible through every touchpoint over time in a supportive, educational exchange. It is deceptively simple in its sophistication. And it has to be in best interest of the customer. Customers today do not want to be ‘sold’ - they want to be helped. If a marketing activity provides value and is in the best interest of the customer, then it is in best interest of the brand to do it.

All brands are trying to engage the new digital consumer. But here’s the thing - digital consumers do not have brand affinity. They switch from app to app, from brand to brand. As a result, many brands are struggling to regain brand power, to re-establish their brand. Even household-name brands are re-thinking their strategy from the ground up to be more relevant to the new digital consumer.

In the past, this has been talked about but it has not been with a sense of urgency. But this has now reached the point where there is a critical call to action for CMOs to make disruption a part of your strategy and customers the center of your marketing. This is your #1 priority going forward in 2016. Consider this a new mandate that cannot be ignored; to do so is at the peril of your brand.

What You Can Do Today

If you are ready to take on being the Disrupter CMO, then it’s time to expand beyond brand and demand to customer experience.

First, map out your entire customer journey - acquisition to loyalty - including user touchpoints. Confirm the major messaging and calls to action at each touchpoint; make sure they are consistent with your brand, relevant, engaging and offer value to your customer.

Know that customers are no longer purchasing widgets; instead, they expect to have ‘experiences’ with your brand that include happiness, passion and a sense of discovery they can share. There are no ‘boxes’ anymore; instead, think of how your customer will use and relate to your solution(s). Invite your customers to online events, community forums and / or use humor to engage them that much more with your brand. When your brand becomes worthy of going viral, your customers will become the gateway to their entire network for your brand.

Make your customers look good and have social status by giving them ways to benefit when they share your brand. Whether that’s a special discount or a virtual VIP offer, let them be the hero of your brand.

Remember that digital customers rely heavily on the testimonials and endorsements of other customers who share on public review sites and via social media. Monitor what is being said and, where needed, actively bolster the conversation. The good news is that digital customers like to share their experiences; however, that can also work against you if you’re not paying attention.

Where do you see yourself in the Tale of Two CMOs? I’d love to hear… please leave me a comment below to let me know.

Lynn Scheurell