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tortoise hare

Brian Fetherstonhaugh, chairman and CEO OgilvyOne Worldwide is a guy who talks to a lot of CMOs. And insofar as digital marketing is concerned, he's not impressed with their either their knowledge or skill-set.

"Marketers lag behind consumers in digital adoption," he told an audience at Search Engine Strategies, speaking at a session devoted to selling search to the C-suite. "Your average 12 year-old has a better-integrated performance dashboard than a CMO,"  he pointed out, illustrating his point with a World of Warcraft screenshot.

Mobile's on your average CMO's radar, but only because, according to Fetherstonhaugh, they've personally invested in an iPhone during the last 180 days or so. And search? It occupies 1.5 percent of your average CMO's mindshare.

The CMO Council's Liz Miller called the CMO's job "the most complex function that exists in business," and digital marketing channels are making it more so every day. "The CMO gets blamed for what the CEO didn't stop him from spending on," she added.

Perhaps that's why a CMO Serengeti Communications' Nan Dawkins worked with recently couldn't account for a single penny of the allocation of his $50 million digital spend. What portion of the $50M was allocated to search? To banners? To lead-gen? The guy holding the pursestrings just shook his head.

Meanwhile, sessions on social media here in San Jose are packed -- and they're packed primarily with small business owners and marketers. People who are trying to market smart...and cheap. People deep-diving into digital channels not only because of the bang for the buck, but because in recessionary times there are no bucks.

And the CMOs have yet to catch up with the curve.

It's a situation that puts me in mind of living in Berlin when the Wall fell. The gulf in knowledge, education, experience, and work methods between the "Ossies" and the "Wessies" was so deep and vast, only a generational shift could breach it.

This digital divide has the potential to be a great leveler of the marketing playing field. Smart, savvy and nimble small companies will seize the day. It's not going to last forever, you know.

Rebecca Lieb

Published 12 August, 2009 by Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb oversees Econsultancy's North American operations.

Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

160 more posts from this author

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Take SEM for instance. Do the little guys have an edge because they usually work with smaller budgets and therefore need to be more creative and stay on the forefront of trends?  I think yes.  The bigger players can continue to use older techniques because the sheer size of their budgets allow them to gain awareness and visibility in the market by brute force.

almost 7 years ago

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BJ Cook

Not being in one of the major metropolitan areas in the US, we're at an interesting place where most people don't actually get what digital marketing is or how to execute it. In many cases, most people who are making the decisions on where to segment budgets just never got the hands-on experience of optimizing a website, architecting a paid search campaign or developing an SMS campaign. The divide between people doing the work and those controlling budgets is still large, but as VPs and CMO's are filled by the upcoming generations; this should decrease. How about a Top 50 digital agencies with 20 employees and under?

almost 7 years ago

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Ianhlhm

I don't think the little guys have more advantage, many of them have poor brand and use Social Media in the wrong way. It's much easier for the bigger brands to create the 'Tidal Wave' using Social Media, through offers, competitions, redesign and great customer service.

Small businesses do benefit from being able to make decisions quicker, change and edit ideas when there not working and build relationships faster than the big companies.

almost 7 years ago

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Ed Stivala

I would tend to agree with Ian, I don't believe that small businesses have any advantage.

In addition to often having a poorly defined brand, their ability to make "quick decisions" seems to often lead to bad decisions in my experience. Perhaps if they were forced to slow down just a little bit and think their plans through, apply some process research and rigor to the their thinking and seek the varying perspectives of others more, then they might not try and execute so many bad ideas?

I realize that it is far more fashionable to claim that these apparently outdated business principles are no longer relevant - the web "changes everything", but we all secretly know that is just not true. A 12-year-old playing World of War Craft quite clearly IMO does not have a "better-integrated performance dashboard than a CMO". Whist they may have a higher degree of operational ability in using technology, that hardly qualifies them to anything about marketing or indeed business. 

Also lets not forget that actually "executing" digital campaigns *does* have a price tag. Despite small businesses trying to persuade themselves that somehow they can achieve digital marketing on a shoestring, this is just not true. The quality of the execution and the results typically bear this out.

almost 7 years ago

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hozo1@aol.com

size has nothing to do with it ... bad hypothesis ... mind set and the ability to engage the customer genuinely and openly is one key ... the other is the marketer and their agency's ability to understand target marketing from a classic media planning perspective AND to transfer that knowledge effectively into an execution in the digital space ... you do not need as much as you think to achieve purchase intent, awareness and sales lifts in the digital space ... you need smarts and the guts to do it ... these attributes can reside in any size company

the main problem is that the old marketing/advertising guys do not live 'digitally' and the young digital guys do not understand the basics of media and strategic planning ... thus a knowledge gap exists that prevents holistic solutions leading to ROI

almost 7 years ago

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Ian Hughes

"the main problem is that the old marketing/advertising guys do not live 'digitally' and the young digital guys do not understand the basics of media and strategic planning"

Think this could be right but that comes with experience, and the digital guys are a lot cheaper than an old skool ad agency putting out the same boring work using the 5ps of marketing.

However not sure about Hozos idea that size has nothing to do with it, we know its 'everything'.  When you have a brand like Coca Cola, and a brand like Daves Discos for example, how can you create the same effect?  You can't.

almost 7 years ago

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Rajiv Kapoor

I recently had an experience with a CMO that was allocating large amounts of money to things that seemed not to be worth that money. For example a re-branding that cost a lot and resulted in a bunch of pretty variations of the look and feel of stuff. Meanwhile on the ground we were getting feedback from the marketplace from different campaigns which was ignored by the CMO and decisions were being made top-down without any regard to thie feeback. I don't know how many CMO's are like this but to me this seems like a critical mind set difference. Do you realize that you should not plow ahead with grand ideas made in a committee without a test that might tell you the quaity of that decision and also have you seen examples of what new techniques can accomplish so that you can factor them into your plans.

almost 7 years ago

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