Four years ago I wrote a blog post on the new “Gen X CMO.”
While pundits and publishers were spilling pixels about the disparity between the time spent online versus the money spent online, few were getting to the root cause of that disparity.
My argument then, which is now being played out, is that the media spend hadn’t shifted because the person spending the money hadn’t changed. Now, however, with the Baby Boomer CMOs starting to retire and Gen X CMOs coming into office as we speak, this equation is changing rapidly and radically.
While the Baby Boomers grew up with TV and the original Mad Men, the Gen X CMO now taking office grew up with computers in junior high school, with the Internet exploding early in their careers, and with a bigger focus on automation, analytics, self-sufficiency and financial accountability. The Gen X CMO is younger, more aggressive and more digitally oriented than her predecessors, and she is shifting her spend to digital marketing and doing it with her own teams in house.
The Gen X CMO is also more likely to integrate targeted search (both paid search and SEO), in addition to content and discovery marketing components as key strategies, as opposed to splashy broadcast TV campaigns and other forms of paid media like display advertising. As a digital immigrant or digital native, the new era CMO knows that only search, share and serendipity are the ways that her consumers will find and engage with her brands. And that these consumers are more valuable, more measureable, and also more expensive – in that order.
Search, in particular SEO, is the highest ROI, lowest cost per impression, and conversion form of content or discovery marketing available today. Search marketing – both SEM and SEO – is also often thought of as “lean forward” marketing because it is one of the few times when a consumer is leaning forward, actively engaged, and searching for something specific – the “zero moment of truth” as Google puts it.
Social sharing (more than social listening, paid social and social community management) is also highly measurable and valuable. Social sharing can be thought of as “lean sideways” marketing (a new term we are coining). The consumer is leaning sideways to listen to a friend or relative’s recommendation on a product or service, or may be leaning sideways to tell someone else. Lean sideways marketing is partially active, partially passive, but it is certainly engaging as it is the voice of one consumer to another, and can scale through networks of influencers, advocates, and their social graphs far more than individuals searching one search at a time.
Finally, “serendipity marketing” is my lighthearted moniker for interrupt-driven, lean back, paid advertising on TV, print, radio or online. The marketer is attempting to do the best job possible to pay to place the right message in front of the right consumer at the right time, but ultimately must interrupt consumers with whatever they are doing in an unasked-for diversion. The marketer is basically hoping in some form of serendipity that consumers will discover their brand. At this moment the consumer is the most passive and the least engaged with what the advertiser has to say, thus yielding the lowest ROI forms of marketing.
Agencies and ad-tech software creators need to be able to service the Gen X CMO’s requirements in all of these categories of search, share and serendipity marketing – whether you call it content marketing, discovery marketing, or even inbound marketing. The CMO’s brands, content, conversations and ads all need to be found, friended, followed and forwarded.
The concept of Smarter Content™, which we developed at Covario and Rio SEO, encompasses many of the services and the software tools that Gen X CMOs and their teams need to maximize the ROI of these activities, and to create measurable and meaningful results.
Originally published in Marketing Daily on the MediaPost website.