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The Biggest Issues Facing Incoming CMOs in 2016

Sharon Gillenwater

The-Biggest-Issues-Facing-Incoming-CMOs-in-2016.jpgReaching millennial customers, managing big data, and dealing with the flood of marketing technology are some of the top challenges for CMOs in 2016, according to AdAge. So is becoming customer obsessed. Both B2B and B2C CMOs are also grappling with how to woo ever-more-empowered customers.

The year kicked off with more than half a dozen high-profile Chief Marketing Officers taking the reins at both B2B and B2C companies. They range from tech firms like Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., Informatica Corporation and Sprint to entertainment’s NBCUniversal, eateries like Papa Murphy’s and Subway, and major retailer Wal-Mart. While the issues mentioned above are ubiquitous, each new CMO has to also address industry challenges as well as the goals specific to their own companies.

Here are some insights on these new CMOs and what they are facing in the year ahead:

Julie Parrish of Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.

Parrish, named to her new role in December 2015, is responsible for driving the company’s global marketing strategy to create preference, awareness, and demand for Check Point solutions. According to a December 2015 CRN article, Parrish said she is looking forward to making partners and customers better understand the role the company plays in the security of the cloud. "Check Point is in a very strong position, with strong strategies in the cloud and multi-level defense approaches," she said. "My first question is, why don't people know that more broadly? So I'll look at the vision and how we talk to customers and partners, and make sure everyone understands what we do." Parrish is also spearheading a move to help channel partners bring the Check Point message to a wider range of key customer personnel. "My philosophy is, channel partners in general need the same training and capabilities as our sales reps," she said. "They need to understand our value proposition and make sure they have the tools to do the job well. I want to make sure partners know we provide them the right [marketing development funds] and other tools, and know we will provide them the right air cover to drive the value proposition to their customers."

Jim Davis, Informatica Corporation

Davis recently joined software development company Informatica from SAS. Having just been taken private earlier this year, Informatica is planning new initiatives and new products, Davis said. His new boss says Davis will help drive those efforts. “Jim’s background and expertise will be instrumental as we enter the next chapter of growth for the company and deliver the solutions for our customers to realize business value from all things data.”

John Harrobin of NBCUniversal

NBCUniversal appointed Harrobin to CMO in November 2015. He now oversees oversee the strategy, development and implementation of all marketing and creative content activities for the company's Advertising Sales division. Under Harrobin, NBCUniversal's marketing efforts will expand to give clients more access to original content created for the company's entire portfolio across all platforms. It will drive all of NBCUniversal's marketing services including video, branded and native content development for its clients. "NBCUniversal has a unique combination of scale, programming assets, world-class talent, and data to drive incredible marketing results and I'm excited to join the team," Harrobin said. "Their recent investments in cross-platform video and partnerships to enable things like Audience Targeting Platform are examples of why NBCUniversal provides the best results for advertisers' investments. Right now, clients are looking to the expertise of content creators for even stronger, more unique creative ideation, production and distribution capabilities. Our team's purpose is to bring those ideas to life that deliver on that promise."

Brandon Solano, Papa Murphy’s Holdings, Inc.

Solano joined Papa Murphy’s Holdings, the world's leading take and bake pizza brand, as Chief Marketing Officer on November 30, 2015. Solano most recently served as the Chief Marketing Officer for Wendy's International. His biggest issues will likely be addressing the company’s online ordering efforts, including the launch of a redesigned, more user-friendly website; mobile marketing, using Waterfall, a Cloud mobile messaging platform; and the launch of a mobile app. CEO Ken Calwell has said, “Once we launch the new e-commerce platform, we will be in a position to put significant marketing resources behind online ordering, which will increase consumer awareness and trial. Ultimately, we believe the number of orders online will accelerate to meaningful mix of overall transactions and sales.” But Solano also has in-store marketing to pump up. In July 2015, Papa Murphy’s signed an agreement with InnerWorking’s to strengthen the impact of their point-of-purchase, printed marketing materials, and branded merchandise to support franchise owners.

Roger Solé, Sprint

Solé was named Sprint’s CMO in December 2015 from his position as Senior Vice President for Innovation, Marketing & Hispanic Market. He’ll be operating in a difficult environment focused on a continued drive to significantly reduce operating costs. According to CEO Marcelo Claure, “We’re already beginning initiatives to eliminate as much or more cost next year as we continue to reinvent how we operate and focus our spending on acquiring, retaining, and serving our customers. This includes a team dedicated to improve procurement and operational efficiency using zero-based budgeting, reducing our roaming expenses and the cost of running our network and optimizing our spend in sales, marketing, care and IT…” Claure’s priorities are to grow the customer base and enhance their value proposition to do that. “We also continue to optimize our distribution model to make sure we have enough doors in the right locations to attract and serve customers. Our 1,435 co-branded Sprint and RadioShack stores are currently open and staffed with Sprint employees and we expect to update the signage and fixtures of these stores by the end of calendar year 2015.” Solé will also be addressing Sprint’s move to eliminate two-year contracts in favor of a model where customers lease their smartphones.

Joseph Tripodi, Subway

Tripodi joined Subway in December 2015, taking responsibility for Subway’s marketing, corporate social responsibility, product quality and food safety, public relations, and research and development functions. He most recently had been with the Coca-Cola Company. Tripodi arrives at Subway at a crucial time for the brand, as AdAge reported. In September 2015, Subway Co-founder and longtime CEO Fred DeLuca died after battling leukemia. Subway is also trying to move past its ties to former pitchman Jared Fogle and rebound from a sales slump. “As consumers tastes evolve, I want to build on Subway's legacy of innovation to ensure we are always leading in our marketing, product offerings, and consumer engagement strategies,” Tripodi said. Subway has been struggling with maintaining its brand as a fresher, healthier meal option, and has been criticized for not staying current with the evolution of what Americans see as healthy.

Tony Rogers, Wal-Mart

Rogers became CMO for Walmart US in January 2016. He joined Walmart in 2005 and most recently was CMO of Walmart China. He now has responsibility for Walmart’s marketing efforts including customer research, strategy, program development, branding and customer communication. WSJ reported in December 2015, "A new marketing chief can often lead to changes in strategy or in advertising agencies the company hires. Mr. Rogers will 'need some time in his role' to make any decisions on strategy," a company spokesperson said. Despite that, Wal-Mart stores executives view recent strides in e-commerce, grocery pickup and smaller format stores as key in helping them compete for higher-income customers, reported Arkansas Online in November 2015. CEO Doug McMillon has mentioned appealing to shoppers with a wide range of incomes as key to the company’s growth. McMillon has cited the desire to reach "a blend of income levels." He said, "We already serve customers from all income levels around the world, but we have an opportunity to get stronger." Also outlined as part of the growth strategy is an emphasis on value and convenience and improving the marketing approach in stores and online with a focus on North America and China. McMillon noted that income growth worldwide will "disproportionately" come from middle- and upper-income households. Rogers will also be promoting Wal-Mart’s efforts to improve both store experience and digital capabilities, including online grocery pickup. Rogers will have to help Wal-Mart reverse sluggish earnings and keep pace with the rapidly changing behavior of shoppers as it competes online with Amazon.com.

Boardroom Insiders is a leading source for insight about executive decision makers and their company strategies, initiatives, and challenges—just the type of insight you need to have successful conversations with busy executives. You can learn more about these new leaders—and more—by accessing their profiles at www.boardroominsiders.com. As a Boardroom Insiders customer, you can use our in-depth executive profiles to educate yourself about these and other key accounts to close bigger deals, faster.

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Sharon Gillenwater
Written by Sharon Gillenwater
Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market, from Fortune 500 companies to independent non-profits, to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.
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