How to position communities to your CMO / VP Marketing so it resonates with their key initiatives?

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I had a phone conversation after CMO 2007 with a VP Marketing at a medium sized company based in Florida. His top of mind item (as a takeaway) from the conference was creating a series of dashboards for giving him “visibility into the next trends within his industry”. So in my attempt to try and discuss Online communities, I asked him why communities did not make it on his top 5 “strategic intents” list.

There is a very good summary of CMO 2007 by Foghound and the key point I took away was:

“CMOs Lauren Flaherty of Nortel and Dan Henson of GE stressed the need
for more predictive insights and analytics. “It’s about the headlights
not the taillights,” said Flaherty.
You’ve got to measure real time,
looking at the future not historical data. That’s why Tracking studies
don’t provide value.

I can understand if your CMO or Marketing head attended this show that they are looking forward to being “more aligned with sales and the business” and hence are not exactly willing to listen to the best ideas around building a customer community.

The one takeway: My suggestion to you is to position communities within the context of learning from your existing customers sooner, hence its a leading indicator which is better than focus groups, sales forums and other means to learn trends within your industry.

There is really no better source of good information about your customer base than fostering an ongoing with customers in an open, candid and open dialog about their issues, trends affecting them and challenges they face.

The next conversation you should have with your team is putting together a business case for how this will be justified and aligned to the CMO’s goals.