BMA 2014 Recap Day 1. . . Most of It Anyway

I am taking some time during the networking break to record some real-time feedback from the BMA National Conference here in Chicago.  While I was not able to attend the morning workshops or all of the sessions in the afternoon (my apologies for any omissions), the feedback from the attendees was that there was some great and practical information provided by Tony Zambito, Jill Rowley and Google – no surprises there.

Beth Comstock, CMO of GE kicked off the general session with her Perpetual Motion Marketing keynote.  Her message was clear – marketing needs to innovate.  In fact they need to be as innovative as those in product development.  In order to innovate, you need to lead by being an agent of change and “inserting yourself into the strategy.”   How does a marketer accomplish this?  According to Comstock, it “starts and stops with accountability.”  Marketers must step up and claim ownership and be accountable for driving an organization forward.

At the end of the day it does not matter if you have a marketing staff of 5,000 if they do at GE or three as my new found B2B marketing friend Maggie Fitzgerald has, the concepts and approach need to be the same – “Know Thyself, Know Thy Customer and Innovate.

While Comstock delivered a great speech that gave inspiration to the attendees, Tom Stein followed with a reality check when he unveiled the results of the Stein IAS Study – Great Expectations:  What Today’s CEOs Expect From Their Marketers.  A few stats show that CEOs have large expectations –

–          81% of CEOs say the importance of marketing has risen

–          71% of CEOs have increased involvement in marketing

Stein also asked the room of about 900 B2B Marketers –  How many of you would say you are delivering extreme satisfaction to your CEOs?   Not one hand was raised.  In addition to the self-indictment, the study also showed some revelations in how much work is yet to be done by marketers:

–          61% of CEOs are not satisfied with marketing’s innovation

–          Only 23% of CEOs are extremely satisfied with marketing leadership

–          53% of CEO are not getting strategic thinking from their marketing leadership

When you translate the data from the study to a Net Promoter Score for marketing is it a -6.  Clearly CEOs expect more and there is a lot of room for growth.

The last impactful session was the case study presented by Jim Metcalf, CEO and Linda McGovern, VP of Marketing of USG .  Jim carefully unpacked the challenges and issues with the USG brand and with the help of CBS Sports host Greg Gumble described how the organization embraced a rebranding effort that was internalized first at the employee level and pro actively evangelized to their customers, suppliers and distributors.  The results speak for themselves in a 600% increase in stock price, top line revenue growing and positive net margins.  A team effort with marketing front and center of the brand strategy that according to Metcalf “was aligned to the business goals and strategies.”

The BMA Conference has just started and already there is a wealth of information from just the first three sessions.  To see the excitement and be a part of the dialogue with all those here, I am more convinced than ever that there is no better time to be a B2B marketer.

Author: Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo CEO and Principal, ANNUITAS

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