CMO Smart Round Roundup Part 2: How Leadership Manages at the Speed of Change, and How C-Suite Partners Resource Ideas

By John Lawrence

Marketing executives from some of Chicago’s most prestigious companies and non-profits joined moderator Kim Feil for two CMO Smart panel discussions. They shared their professional experiences and offered advice on managing a rapidly changing business landscape and fostering best practices for working across the C-Suite back in June 2017.

Innovation, solving problems for clients, and investing in digital marketing and analytics were some the key ideas that emerged from the first panel, which was titled “How C-Suite Partners Manage at the Speed of Change.” The panel featured Patrick Bernardi, CMO for Hu-Friedy, Jennifer GoodSmith, VP for The Morton Arboretum, and Jonathan Copulsky, Retired Principal and CMO for Deloitte.

Patrick Bernardi set the tempo by challenging the audience to tackle change head and seek new business developments and emerging trends. Bernardi’s firm, Hu-Friedy, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium dental instruments. Bernardi noted, however, that his company has begun to see diminished returns from traditional advertising in dental journals. Instead, they’ve found that marketing can create value for a new generation of customers by allowing dental hygienists to connect with each other using the Salesforce Community Cloud. To stay competitive, his firm is also creating added value services such as a dental tool recycling and an infection control compliance program.

Jonathan Copulsky observed that during his time at Deloitte there has been significant blurring between traditional sectors. This creates what Copulsky called ‘adjacencies,’ business opportunities from new segments which an alert executive can use to create growth.  Added value services or allowing customers to connect with each other, as Hu-Friedy has done, are effective ways of exploiting these adjacencies.

Innovation and technology, of course, must serve to satisfy client needs. Copulsky cautioned that CMOs today must balance innovation with the tried and true and he challenged executives in the audience to put themselves in the shoes or their customers. “Most of us have never been a customer of the company for which we work,” he said. Jennifer GoodSmith, reminded audience members that branding is as important as ever. As VP for The Morton Arboretum, she faces the challenge of making scientific data interesting and relevant to a general audience. “Tell a story that people can relate to,” she advised.

Bernardi, GoodSmith and Copulsky all agreed that managing at the speed of change required investing in digital technology and analytics. From social media and geotargeted digital advertising to narrative science technologies powered by artificial intelligence, the panelists described how their firms are experimenting with technology to reach the right audience in the right place at the right time.

The second panel, “How C-Suite IT and CMO Partners Resource Ideas” featured Jones Lang LaSalle North America (JLL) executives Jill Kouri and Matt Gonterman. Kouri has been the CMO for three years while Gonterman became the new CIO in 2016. Kouri and Gonterman have been working on a transformation initiative for JLL North America, a major player in the commercial real estate services sector, that includes repositioning and rebranding. These two executives displayed a dynamic professional chemistry that other teams will be inspired to replicate.

They offered several key insights to help other executives coordinate their team’s efforts. Kouri was clear that to be successful, the CMO and CIO must be in lock step. Gonterman explained that he and Kouri have been able to work well together because they first ensured they were solving the same problem. They have focused on JLL’s business goals and how the firm makes money. Then they asked whether the company’s technology and marketing approach was helping the bottom line.

From this approach, you’ve probably detected an emphasis on strategy. Gonterman explained that this was intentional. Executives, Gonterman emphasized, must focus first on strategy, then structure, and finally on people. That’s not to diminish the importance of people, but rather to emphasis the plan and processes that will allow employees to succeed. Of course, change is never easy and Gonterman cautioned the audience to expect employees to question change. To address those concerns, Gonterman said, “Listen, acknowledge, move forward.”

John Lawrence is a marketing specialist at DeMarche Associates, an institutional investment consulting firm. He recently completed his MBA at Loyola University of Chicago. Marketing is actually his second career. John is a former journalist and television news producer. In addition to volunteering for the AMA, John is a member of the community advisory council for The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Read about Kim Feil’s powerful keynote presentation with our CMO Smart recap here.

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