How Emerson’s Long-Time CMO Reduces Complexity

Guest: Kathy Button Bell SVP & CMO, Emerson

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How Emerson’s Long-Time CMO Reduces Complexity

Perhaps Kathy Button Bell’s title should change from “Chief Marketing Officer” to “Chief Complexity Reduction Officer”—after all, she’s been simplifying things at Emerson Electric for over 20 years. Over that time, marketing has become complex due to the advent of new tools and the increased precision of targeting, among other things, but sometimes marketers need to shift their priorities towards making things easy to understand.

On this episode of RTU, Kathy and Drew discuss unnecessary complexity, employee engagement, the importance of—and keys to—longevity in marketing, and perhaps most importantly, how to keep your marketing brave, human, and uncluttered.

You won’t want to miss Kathy’s insights!

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For the whole article:


    • [2:01] Who is Kathy Button Bell
    • [3:47] How she dug in and stayed at one place as a CMO
    • [11:24] Living out her moto: Be Brave and Have Fun!
    • [18:48] How to stay fresh when you’ve been in the same job
    • [22:12] Emerson Electric’s new iteration of a campaign
    • [28:21] Kathy Button Bell’s guiding principles
    • [31:30] Measuring the success of the “We See” campaign
  • [34:16] Two dos and a don’t for other CMOs

Connect With Guest:

    • Kathy Button Bell’s Bio on Emerson’s Website
    • Connect with Kathy Button Bell on LinkedIn
    • Follow Kathy Button Bell on Twitter

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Drew

Meet the Guest

Kathy Button Bell is senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Emerson. In this role, she is responsible for the company’s global marketing and corporate branding strategies. She also oversees corporate communications, digital and social marketing strategies, market research programs, and professional development programs for the company’s marketing teams worldwide. In 2016, she was named to Emerson’s Office of the Chief Executive, which helps develop and guide the company’s global business strategies. Button Bell joined Emerson as chief marketing officer in 1999. The next year, she led the development and launch of Emerson’s corporate branding program, which introduced a new brand architecture and strategy across the company’s more than 60 businesses, as well as the first corporate logo change in more than 30 years. Soon after, she initiated the company’s first global advertising campaign, which she expanded in 2006 to include the company’s first television commercials. Before joining Emerson, Button Bell was president of her own marketing consulting firm specializing in market planning, brand building, and marketing training for Fortune 500 manufacturers. Prior to that, she was executive director of worldwide marketing communications for Converse Inc. and director of advertising and public relations for Wilson Sporting Goods. Button Bell served as chairman of the Business Marketing Association board in 2013-2014. She was named the “Top Marketer of 2013” by BtoB magazine and recognized as one of the world’s top 10 marketers and strategists in the publication’s 2003 “Who’s Who Special Report.” She serves on the board of directors of Johnson Outdoors Inc., Sally Beauty Holdings Inc., and the Foundation Board of St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She is also a member of the board of trustees of the Saint Louis Art Museum. Button Bell holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.

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