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Still, “sacred cows” exist within virtually every organization and these continue to serve as proverbial lighthouses in the midst of chaos. For generations, every enterprise has needed a CMO. For the last 120 years, P&G has steadily increased its advertising investments. And GM, at its core, has made cars.
Toss it all out the window in 2018. This will be a year in which conventional enterprise wisdom will be challenged, sending many of these sacred cows out to pasture.
The CMO had a tough year in 2017. If you’re in the profession, it was hard to miss Harvard Business Review’s ominous cover story, “Why the CMO Doesn’t Last.” One of the primary drivers behind this headline is the misalignment of expectations, responsibilities, and outcomes between the board of directors and the marketers themselves. One solution is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Forrester reports that at least eight Fortune 100 firms will replace their CMOs with Chief Growth Officers. While the primary goal is to consolidate responsibilities under new offices to create a more complete vision of the end-to-end customer experience, this will in no way reduce the external complexities that caused firms to rethink the CMO role in the first place. No matter the title, the imperatives remain: check egos at the door, reach across the aisle to the CIO and CTO, and put the customer first.
Few industries will change as radically as the automotive industry over the next few years. Given that our cars go unused 96% of the time, we’re quickly moving from individual vehicle ownership to transportation-as-a-service (TaaS).
Within three to five years, TaaS will represent a new trillion-dollar market, and car companies will face a new reality as best captured by Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of GM, “It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era. The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve...we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules.”
In making this transition, auto companies will be in search of new means by which to differentiate themselves in a market where consumers are no longer the primary buyers. Considering that “driving” will no longer require us to focus on road safety, stepping up the in-vehicle experience seems like a great place to start.
The “advertising industrial complex,” a term coined by Seth Godin to describe a situation in which advertisers made products, bought ads, and reinvested said profits in more products and ads, continues to slowly grind to a halt.
The world’s largest advertiser announced it was planning to cut over two billion dollars from its marketing and advertising budget in the next two years, and as P&G goes, so does the industry.
At the same time, P&G is raising its internal standards for how a successful customer experience looks and feels. Moving forward, if a consumer product and the associated campaign isn’t deemed “irresistibly superior,” it may end up on the chopping block. At the end of 2017, P&G reported internally that only 30 to 40 percent of products met the criteria.
Between the deafening marketplace noise and increasing competition, from baby wipes to driverless cars, it’s the experience, not the ads, that matters most.
Sacred cows represent legacy ways of thinking and operating. What’s most challenging about them is how remarkably easy they are to overlook when there are clearly more pressing issues at hand.
Like GM and P&G, brands looking for growth in challenging environments will find themselves increasingly questioning assumptions, no matter how sacred they may seem. In 2018, opening Pandora’s box won’t necessarily be a bad thing.