CMO Insights: Looking Ahead After The Downturn

an interview with
Brian Kardon Chief Marketing Officer, Eloqua

I ran into Brian Kardon at The CMO Club Summit and we had some great conversations despite the fact that he is a RedSox fan.  Brian is the CMO at Eloqua, a leading provider of sales automation software and a true thought leader.  Brian makes a strong case for crowd-sourcing, content marketing, personalization and mobile while encouraging marketers to take advantage of the downturn.

DN: As 2011 winds down, are you thinking “good riddance” or “darn I’ll miss it?”
Missing 2011 already!  2011 was the year that the four horsemen of the digital age became real: mobile, social, apps, cloud.   We found real value from these.  It’s not the proverbial “just a few months away.”   It’s now.  It’s an exciting time to be a marketer!

DN: What new things did you try in 2011?
Crowd-sourcing took a big step forward.  We leveraged our online community to help answer customer questions and create new, valuable content faster and cheaper via crowd-sourcing.  And when the “crowd” creates its, they are also your partner in distributing it.  Content that was created by outsiders received lots more love than that created by insiders or “the usual suspects”.  Companies are reaching outside their walls like never before.

DN: Is the current economic uncertainty effecting your plans for 2012?
I’m starting to hear “hunker down” talk from business leaders.  That’s a huge mistake.  When your competitors are zigging, that’s the time to zag.  It’s like doing a house renovation.  You get higher quality workers and lower costs during a recession.  The same is true of business.  You can find better talent, get better media rates, pay less for words at Google because there are fewer dollars chasing those things during a downturn.  And when the recession is over, those companies are in an incredibly strong competitive position because they have been continually investing.

DN: Looking ahead to 2012, are there some emerging trends that you hope to capitalize upon?
Call it 1:1 marketing or mass customization, but the dream of personalized digital experiences is finally here.  Websites are no longer the embodiment  of Groundhog Day, where the website looks the same every day.  Think NetFlix and Amazon – where they use your digital body language to personalize movie and book recommendations.  Retail and fashion sites use shopping card and clickstream digital body language to personalize the shopping experience.  You like Gucci, hate Pucci?  Your favorite web sites should know that and present content that they know you will like.  Drew likes tennis – he gets an offer for US Open tickets.  Drew likes the Yankees – he gets invited to Terry Francona’s Farewell Party! (Blogger’s note: you won’t see me holding my breath for that invitation.)

DN: What do you have to say about the growing challenge of complexity for marketers?
In all the petabytes and exabytes of data, some people see complexity and shudder.   I think smart marketers see beauty in the data and their ability to personalize and improve customer engagement.

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