The Modern CMO Dilemma: Finding Authenticity in Voice and Data

Posted by Maya Mikhailov on Oct 19, 2018 10:15:00 AM

The basis of being a successful marketer is the ability to connect to your customers. With the influx of technology we can now reach more customers today than ever before. We can segment our messaging with practically a 1-to-1 conversation, yet the simple connection we seek becomes harder to obtain. For a CMO at the helm marketing organization it’s easy to lose sight of your brand’s unique voice, especially when you are keeping up with the latest industry trends, mountains of data, and rigorous marketing processes.

The mark of a game-changing CMO is being able to talk to your customers and know what you are saying is real. It’s “real” when the conversation is authentic, and the data proves your point. Basically, the right side of side of your brain must talk using your true voice, while the left side of your brain has to look at the data to see if you are really connecting.

When it comes to authenticity – keep it 100.

“Keep it 100” is a popular term because true authenticity feels so rare in marketing these days.  However, when we do keep it real, it is a powerful tool toward building brand credibility, trust and loyalty. It requires not only a deep understanding of your audience, but the confidence to speak to them openly – even when the message is “our bad.”

There is nothing more inauthentic to a consumer than a brand trying to interject into a conversation without any authority, experience or value to lend to the topic. Consumers of all ages, particularly the younger generations, are demanding that brands take stand. Expressing a genuine voice around a cause can resonate powerfully in a crowded marketplace. Dove or Aerie come to mind for many when thinking about authenticity, as both have been able to tie their brands’ respective voices to women’s empowerment and body positivity in a natural way. As marketers, we always wish to be involved in, if not driving, popular conversations, but we must find those that resonate with our customers, where we can truly add a credible voice. Trending topics on Twitter shouldn’t automatically generate a marketing campaign. It is not only disingenuous, but can damage overall brand credibility. 

This realness extends to creating brand content, where marketers not only have to sound authentic and knowledgeable, but also add value to the conversations they engage in. No one wants to read about why your product or service is great in supposed “thought leadership” articles.  CMOs need to think holistically about their audience, and in the case of B2B, what their pain points and challenges are and how they can help. In our organization we aim to create content about topics where we can add knowledge or value. Often that is less about our core product but relates to themes where we can make a credible contribution – digital customer engagement, evolving loyalty programs, in-store digital trends. These are just a few topics where we not only have passion, but also perspective -- which makes the content relevant to our audience. We also use original research to dig deeper into key topics inform our audience of consumer shopping trends and behaviors.    

CMOs need to constantly be learning, and leading creation of relevant content that is useful to a company’s industry and is at its most effective when it cannot be found anywhere else.

If your data is not real, how can you authentically connect?

Everyone knows data is important, but can we trust its reliability? Marketing is now referred to as a science rather than an art and as such, marketers increasingly depend on data to make their decisions. We treat data as the Rosetta Stone to all customers’ wants and needs, but rarely stop to examine it. Is it clean, clear and current? How diligent are we with looking beyond the numbers on a spreadsheet and asking the important question of “why” or “how” the data was collected? As marketers increasingly depend on third party digital platforms to execute our strategies and the data story becomes even more murky. Even within the walls of an organizations data can become siloed – and CMOs can be challenged with making real time decisions without access to critical information.

Since a CMO’s ability make important and strategic decisions is increasingly more data-dependent, it’s critical the data collected is accurate and useable. Many are discussing how AI will change the marketing game through better targeting or customer segmentation. But, to be usable and effective the data used to train it must truly be accurate. Forrester found that 80% of data generated by enterprises is unstructured and, further, these enterprises don’t know what to do with that data they have available.

CMOs must avoid collecting data for the sake of collecting data, but opt for information that is accurate, cleansed and will help them either make decisions or tell a compelling story.

To thrive in today’s digitally enhanced world – CMOs are part data technologist and part storyteller. Using the former to support the latter. Mastering our right brain intuition with our left brain need for hard numbers will separate the savvy CMOs from those still trying to get up to speed.

Maya2017-Circle-1Maya Mikhailov is the co-founder and CMO of GPShopper, a Synchrony solution, dedicated to helping retailers create custom mobile app experiences for their customers. Maya is an industry expert and educator on the intersection between technology, finance and retail, with a passion for helping businesses achieve their goals while meeting the needs of the young, digital-native consumer.



About GPShopper

GPShopper is a mobile commerce platform and app developer for retailers, using technology to transform the total retail experience.  GPShopper is a Synchrony solution. 
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