6 Maxims of Creating Buzz

Maxim #1: Push The Taboo Button To Start Conversations
Even Procter & Gamble stumbled upon taboo many years ago with Mr. Whipple and his admonishment, “Don’t squeeze the charmin!” Whipple told America it wasn’t allowed in the store…we couldn’t squeeze the Charmin. And the Mr. Whipple campaign was the most successful campaign in the brand’s history. Time after time, a P&G ad agency would try to kill off Whipple and replace him with a new campaign—only to return to Whipple, because sales were higher with Whipple. Whipple succeeded because he tapped into our taboo. When we arrived at the supermarket aisle for bathroom tissue—what did we do? Squeeze the darn Charmin, of course! Why? Because we knew we weren’t supposed to do it—it was taboo.

Why did our urinal screens work for Half.com?

First, because it suggested a contextual message that was creative (Don’t piss away half your money…head to Half.com). But second, because it was bathroom humor.

Bathroom humor is taboo—and we talk about the taboo. If you’re ever at a dinner party with parents of babies or toddlers—give yourself thirty minutes before somebody starts talking about “doo-doo” and diapers. Of course you’re not supposed to talk about those things at a dinner party— they’re taboo. Or Viagra—can you imagine your parents or grandparents talking about bedroom performance except when alone in the bedroom?

Got a boring product like shampoo? Introduce taboo. Herbal Essences did. Each commercial pictures a woman in the shower, orgasming in sheer delight as she washes her hair with Herbal Essences shampoo.

Clairol turned a hum-drum “Herbal Essences Organic” into an industry star with their vibrant commercials playing on the close wording of organic and orgasmic. Every time you see their commercial, you see playful (but taboo) images of women enjoying their shampoo…as much as an orgasm.

Just think if GM’s Hummer could get Hugh Grant in one of their commercials (slyly reminding us how he was caught by the police for, er, getting a hummer from a lady of the evening). Talk about taboo! That would get the whole world talking!

Maxim #2: Push The Unusual Button To Start Conversations
David Letterman’s got the “unusual” buzz button nailed with his stupid human tricks and his Top Ten lists. For marketers, look as far as Pepsi’s decision to put a competing product, Coke, in the Pepsi Challenge commercials (revolutionary in its day, and still not much done). Unusual marketing makes its way into pop-culture and gives people currency.

In a very different kind of business, a man named Ian Klein five years ago decided to go into the online dating business. But when you’re competing against Match.com, things get pretty competitive. His sister was one of the 64 percent of overweight Americans, and also one of the eighty million single people in America. In time he made the connection, pushed an unusual button, and created a niche site called OverweightDate.com.

Among overweight singles, the whispers started. At Weight Watchers meetings, at bars, everywhere.

Best of all, the idea worked. People who had been shelling out $40 a month on Match.com and getting zero dates because of their weight were now getting dates left and right. These days when founder Ian Klein walks through the mall in the Boston area where the site is based, people stop him to ask about it. Put on a tee-shirt with the OverweightDate.com name, and he gets stopped even more.

Will he resort to having flyers slipped to people eating at In-N-Out Burger locations in California? You bet. They’re handed to everyone— overweight people, athletic people, skinny people. People laugh, they actually read the flyer, and most important of all—they talk. It becomes an unusual conversation piece.

With marketing held to word of mouth, flyers at In-N-Out Burgers, some keyword buys online, and a few tee-shirts, OverweightDate.com’s registered user count tallies in the millions. Push the unusual button.

Maxim #3: Push The Outrageous Button To Start Conversations
You can’t get more outrageous than asking a town to rename itself. Still, the town went for it.

But a word to the wise when you push this button. Outrageousness for the pure sake of outrageousness doesn’t resonate too well. If you try to get attention by shooting gerbils out of a cannon, that’s certainly outrageous. But if you push this button just for the sake of being outrageous, it will probably work—giving people something to talk about. But what’s the connection to your brand or product?

There needs to be some connection. In renaming our town, the “half” connection was obvious to everyone—and plenty of people found it outrageous. What you’ll find with gerbils being blown out of a cannon is that people might not remember your brand or make a connection to your brand…unless there is a connection.

Here’s the difference. A hypothetical situation: a porn star in the GM Hummer commercial. Outrageous? Yes. Any connection? NO. So—a bad decision.

Now let’s put Hugh Grant in a GM Hummer commercial. Outrageous? Yes (and taboo). Is there a connection, YES. A good decision? Debatable.

The point is: the outrageous button will always work. It just works ten times better if there’s a connection between your product and the outrageousness.

Maxim #4: Push The Hilarious Button To Start Conversations
The hilarious button works, but it may be one of the harder buttons to push—being truly funny is never easy. It can work to your advantage if done right, and to your disadvantage if you’re on the wrong end of it.

A client of ours, the foods and household products company Reckitt Benckiser (they sell nine million household and personal care products every day) came to us with one of its tougher challenges. The brand was French’s Potato Sticks, and it was a classic case of milking the profits with not much marketing spend. As a test, they asked what we could do. The budget wasn’t huge, and we weren’t sure if we would even accept the project, but off I went to the grocery store for three hours one night to make my decision.

The baseline situation was awful. French’s Potato Sticks used to be sold in a can but the company had recently started putting it in a stand-up pouch. It reduced the visibility of the product, but the cost savings of switching to a pouch were too attractive to pass up.

The positioning in the grocery aisle was awful. Right next to Pringles, but low down on the shelf. Hard to see, hard to find, more competitors from the Dorito family arriving. A recipe for disaster, but it was a small cash cow. I lurked in the aisle and asked every one who walked by if they knew about potato sticks (making clear I was a marketing and PR person, not a wacko). Nearly every person paused, squinted, and seemed to reach in the recess of their brain and said, “Yeah, I used to have them as a kid.” Bingo.

It wasn’t so bad after all. All it took was a prompt…a conversation…and people remembered.

The next day we called to take on the project. I didn’t know what we were going to do, but I knew if we could spark some word of mouth conversation, it would be easy to recall a brand people knew when they were kids. We later presented a two week, intensive campaign that focused on nostalgia and comedy.

We would literally bring Potato Sticks to life—with comedians. We recruited amateur comedians and gave them the exposure and the prayer (long shot) of getting on The Ellen Degeneres Show or The Tonight Show. Each day, we would have three comedians show up in Potato Stick costumes that looked like your eight-year-old made them.

Talk about rough around the edges, these were made from UHaul cardboard boxes and spray paint. When people saw these people in costumes, they couldn’t help but stop, approach, laugh, and ask, “What the heck…?”

Purposefully, we designed the costumes to look home-made versus corporate. The costume begged inquiry. They were our conversation openers. But once you start a conversation, you’ve got to continue it, make people laugh (in this case) and give them a ready-made story to take away with them and talk to other people about.

The comedians had no problem making people laugh—office workers, cabbies, teenagers, tourists, gays, straights, hot chicks, metrosexuals, old ladies, cops, and suits…they all stopped, listened, and laughed. Along with a product sample to eat, the punch line was, “Potato sticks…they’re back!”

Combined with two weeks of appearances all over Boston, and a Web site with riddles to guess the next Boston location, these comedians gave out twelve thousand packages of Potato Sticks.

Since this was a test, Reckitt Benckiser wanted to measure awareness results as well as sales. They spent $15,000 on the awareness study, and to be honest, we were nervous, even though we knew it would work. We were pushing the hilarious button, it was planned extremely carefully and deliberately, with locations chosen to cross-pollinate wide across all the Boston metro area.

Before our campaign, unaided awareness of French’s Potato Sticks tallied a mere 10 percent. With three comedians and twelve thousand packs of Potato Sticks—unaided awareness in the Boston Metro more than doubled from 10 percent to 21 percent.

If you know anything about awareness statistics, they are like glaciers. It takes mountains to move them. What we had done was to start conversations and make connections. We pushed the hilarious button to do it. Humor isn’t easy, but when it works, it works well. We weren’t just getting exposure and impressions. We made people laugh. They took pictures of our comedians, and our comedians took pictures of them. The entire purpose was not to sell, but to give. Give people something to laugh about…and a ready-made story to talk about.

Maxim #5: Push The Remarkable Button to Start Conversations
How do you make auto parts worth talking about, among people who ordinarily wouldn’t? When I ran marketing and advertising for Pep Boys, we looked at all the categories that moved the needle in our business and picked a few ‘leader’ categories to promote. One of these categories was brakes. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or prefer to have a mechanic fix your brakes for you, you need reliable brakes. Everybody does.

So how do you create advertising about brakes that starts conversations and gets people remarking on brakes? First, we had a creative team at DDB that produced a great commercial. It opened up with two guys driving back from a weekend in the mountains clad in plaid shirts. They’re driving their Ford Explorer along a winding mountain road as country music plays on the radio. They pass a “moose crossing” sign…then another sign labeled “really big ones.” Looking at each other bemused, they continue driving. They pass another moose crossing sign labeled “no kidding.” They now look at each other confused, then immediately jam on the brakes—stopping just short of a huge moose, standing twelve inches in front of their vehicle. The moose calmly looks at the drivers…and begins to speak.

“Hey, d’you get them brakes at Pep Boys?” says the moose.

The camera cuts to the two guys—shocked by the talking moose. The driver responds in bewilderment, “Yeah…I did.”

The unscathed moose then responds, “I appreciate it,” followed by a closing promotion on brakes at an attractive price-point.

The commercial itself was very good, and bordered on the type of marketing that people would talk about. But we needed a boost. So to enhance the word of mouth and got people remarking on it, we created an in-store campaign with the moose. Tapes of the moose commercial were sent to all the stores, and the employees loved it.

We then had employees in every store wear a round button with a picture of the moose saying, “Ask me about Raybestos brakes.” And guess what? When a customer sees a moose button on your shirt with an “Ask me about” …they remark “What’s up with the moose?” It started conversations between customers and the sales associates.

It also started a conversation among our employees. They talked about the commercial, and they also talked about the new line of Raybestos brakes promoted on the button. So when customers asked about the brakes, employees knew the features and benefits and were prepared to make the sale.

Based on the expected trend of sales from the prior year, brakes showed a double-digit net increase. The commercial itself was very good. But what pushed it over the edge was the in-store campaign causing employees and customers to talk about this crazy moose. We created a campaign that would push people’s buttons and start conversations.

Maxim #6: Push The Secret Button To Start Conversations
How many times has someone said to you, “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but…”

Secrets are currency. Revealing a secret is a definite conversation starter. People love to talk about secrets, and when they do, they become ‘in the know.’ They become part of an exclusive circle, and exclusivity is the cousin of secrecy.

Sometimes withholding can work better than flooding. Limit supply and everybody’s interested. Limit those in the know of a secret, those not ‘in the know’ want the currency of knowing—they want to be part of the exclusive circle. Withholding a secret can push people’s buzz buttons, and get people talking.

While not intentional, Google’s Gmail created secrecy and exclusivity in its Gmail account. At one point, people were paying $200 on eBay for an account (I admit I paid for one on eBay myself). But the crazy thing is…it’s a lousy email account (yes, it does have one gig of storage…perhaps enough for twenty years of one person’s e-mail archives). But you can get e-mail accounts anywhere.

Although it’s standard practice in the world of technology to create a very small list of beta test users, Gmail was kept a secret. It became exclusive to have an address like Joe@gmail.com. Limit supply, create exclusivity, know the secret, and more people want to know also. They get interested in what they can’t readily have, and people talk. Shhh…push the secret button.

CMO + Yoga: 3 Things To Keep You Moving

Def Jam records founder Russell Simmons, “The Voice” star and singer Adam Levine, and Jon Bon Jovi all practice yoga. People from all walks of life, all ages and all religions practice yoga for spirituality, relaxation, detox, strength and flexibility. Looking in from the outside, I always wondered, “What do they know that I don’t?”

When a friend suggested taking a yoga class two years ago, I went with trepidation and visions of chanting, incense, and body parts in odd places.

What I didn’t know at the time was that I was beginning a journey learning more about myself and, surprisingly, more about business than I learned at one of the top ten business schools in the country and 20 years of professional experience.

Here are three things I learned:

1). Embrace Fear to Overcome Fear
That first class I was nervous. Was I doing yoga right? Was I out of step (yes)? Did it matter (no)? It turns out yoga is called a “practice” because it’s about growth, and just like in business, every day is an opportunity to succeed or fail.

As a fit person, I was confident in that first class. “No problem,” I thought.

Until the headstand.

My calm teacher said in the calmest of tones, “Now it’s time for some inversions. Everybody grab your mat and let’s get close to the wall. I want you to place your head on the ground with your arms out in front, and flip your legs up against the wall for an inversion.”

And fear came over me. I quietly thought, “You want me to what?”

I was out of my element. I started breathing heavy. But I wasn’t going to be shamed, so I tried. As my head turned red with a rush of down-flowing blood and want of oxygen, I flung my legs up against the wall with a loud bang. I thought, “I’m crushing my spine; this is not good!”

I came down hard, wondering if I had crushed a vertebrae. But when I looked around and saw other people in perfect headstands, my ego hurt more than spine.

Class by class, as I continued to show up and push through the fears of uncharted territory, I came to believe that I could do a headstand. I would do a headstand. If I fell, so be it. And my hard work paid off. Today—no wall needed. I can stand on my head in the middle of any yoga class. Any time.

It reminded me of a time in the past when everybody thought I was insane—even me at times. When launching Half.com from scratch, I had the idea to corral a 350-person town called Halfway, Oregon and rename their town to Half.com, Oregon. My ad agency snickered. As I drove into the small hamlet for the first time, I felt fear and doubt—maybe I couldn’t do this. I had visions of being tarred, feathered, and permanently tossed out of town. Fear.

But I pressed on. For the cost of $100k, and 23 computers for the elementary school, I renamed the town, literally putting Half.com on the map. Six months later, eBay acquired us for $300 million.

The headstand. It’s a pose in yoga that few novices relish. But I envisioned it in my mind, embraced the fear of falling as real, the fear of injury as real, but temporary, and thus overcame that fear.

And with many other poses in yoga, the fear of falling, the fear of making your failure widely known in front of many people is entirely real. But embracing that fear enables regular people to overcome great adversity in business. It enabled Richard Branson to create a billion dollar enterprise from a basement. It enabled Howard Schultz to go from subsidized housing to creating Starbucks. Achieve power through fear and adversity by embracing it.

2). Transitions Make or Break You
When you’re standing on one foot, spine parallel to the ground, back aligned to the wall, one arm reaching for the sky, and three fingertips separating you from a fall, that’s not tough. The tough part is transitioning from one position to that position; that is what makes or breaks you.

Again, this is true in business and in life. Doing what you’ve been doing isn’t hard. Transitioning from one position to the next is where failure abounds.

It’s this transition that’s a lot like business. Transitions require planning and execution with intense focus.

If you’re paying attention, planning is the easiest part. Transitioning from planning to execution is where things make or break you. Without intense focus, you could slip and lose sight of the end goal. Focus was one of Steve Jobs three golden rules of Apple’s marketing (the other two being “impute” and “customer empathy”).

In yoga, if you don’t focus intensely during transition: breathing, turning, pulling up—you can exhaust quickly or fall on your ass. There is no room to mind wander, and there is no room for distraction. In business, as well, if you don’t focus, you can exhaust quickly or fall on your ass.

When we transitioned from buying online media to becoming a forerunner in advertising attribution modeling, we focused on product and technology for two years. We were intensely focused with out first client and had only a one-page website during that time. After two years of continual focus, we saved our first client over $5 million, and then, after proving to ourselves that we had a winning product, we finally got a real website and unveiled to the world.

When Larry Page asked Steve Jobs for advice before Jobs passed, his advice to Page was, “Don’t get distracted. Focus.” When you transition, make sure you plan, and most of all, execute with intense focus solely on what matters. Distractions will make you fall on your ass.

3). Soul Needs Training
This is perhaps the most surprising lesson of all.

The whole “Namaste” “Ooohhm” aspect of yoga freaked me out. What I’ve learned, though, is the complete yogi – and the complete CEO – are about positive energy.

Namaste is simply a phrase meaning “the light in me honors the light in you.” Whether you’re Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, or Hindi, when you examine the phrase Namaste, it’s really about energy.

Like nuclear power, it’s energy that can be used for good or bad. The amount of positive energy you bring to your office, your call, your meeting, is felt. This is embodied in your body language, your smile, your gratitude, and gestures like opening a door and saying hi. When a baby smiles at you, you smile too. There is no complication in that exchange. The amount of energy and light you bring reflects on people. And sometimes that soul energy requires training. Case in point:

A client of ours has a wacky member on the team. Quick to change decisions, also quick to not make a decision, and usually crabby. Perhaps you’ve encountered someone like this. I usually tried to avoid this person, but we had a conference call scheduled, so I consciously decided I was going to be positive and smile throughout the call. We began chatting personally and children came up. A child of mine has special needs, and I shared this. One of her two children has special needs, unable to speak, with limited mobility. Upon learning our uncommon, yet common bond—we went from friction to friends.

It was because of yoga. The light (or darkness) we bring follows us everywhere. Into meetings, into calls, into our homes. And yes, life will suck at times. And we often don’t know why. Smile anyway. It’s the now that matters: the soul needs training just like our smile needs training.

Now where do you go from here? The yoga studio? Maybe. Yoga’s really a metaphor for life and a metaphor for business. Each day starts anew with an opportunity to learn and to succeed. But to succeed, a wise man said…

“We must become the change we want to see in the world.”

Will you become the change you want to see in your world?

CMO Wake Up Call – Innovation Isn’t Dead

I hear innovation is dead. Long live innovation.

Despite some well-informed and provocative writing about the recent death of innovation, I would like to respectfully disagree.

Innovation in marketing measurement and technology might be at a slow point.

If it were a racecar, it would be downshifting for the hairpin turn. But innovation is far from dead, and I’d like to take issue with the mourners and give some advice to marketers.

First, the evidence of innovation’s supposed demise. On a high-cultural level, Kurt Andersen, in Vanity Fair, wrote that, “new technology has reinforced the nostalgic cultural gaze: now that we have instant universal access to every old image and recorded sound, the future has arrived, and it’s all about dreaming of the past.” Ron Ashkenas in the Harvard Business Review blog wrote a much more scholarly piece called “Managers Don’t Really Want To Innovate.”

Ashkenas lays the blame on short-term thinking. “First, managers need immediate results, often reinforced by short-term incentive plans or the regular expectation of earnings improvements. Innovation may take a long time to produce returns, which conflicts with these short-term requirements.” The Unofficial Stanford Blog unexpectedly hops on the bandwagon writing: “What happened to new ideas? What happened to innovation?”

Too often I go to conferences and hear negative attitudes from people who should know better. Ph.D.s, analysts and even experienced executives often speak of the mounting gap in innovation that’s hurting the marketing’s growth. To me that is a self-fulfilling proposition. If you keep saying innovation is slowing, you’ll keep finding reasons to believe it. And inherent in the statement is that only the person who thinks innovation is dead can be the one to resuscitate it. Bull puckey. I believe a better spirit must be embraced. The current state of marketing needs to be accepted, but the spirit of innovation and the simple fact of innovation will continue to dominate.

Let’s look at that area close to my heart: marketing measurement. I’ve heard at recent conferences that marketing measurement lacks innovation both in terms of execution and results. That pessimism is simply unwarranted.

Innovation is subtle.

Just look back, one of the greatest innovations in marketing measurement has only been around for a few years, and that’s the measurement of viewable impressions. Several years ago the issue wasn’t on the radar. Now it owns the radar. Viewable impression innovation changed the way digital advertising is measured and the way the results are attributed.

I understand that it’s easy for Vanity Fair and Harvard to throw bricks, and it’s easy for them to be provocative because it does get attention. But it’s short-term attention. I’ll agree with Ashkenas to the extent that if a company wants to innovate and wants to innovate in the marketing measurement space it first needs to stop and think, which means thinking long-term. It’s true that some managers don’t innovate because they can’t get their heads out of this week, let alone next year. I get that. We’re all moving very fast in this business, trying to scale, and trying not to scale headcount. Innovation, however, is at least going to take some “mid-term” thinking.

Here’s what I mean by that. Short-term thinking means your company looks at your marketing mix as a static image. We know it’s not. Long-term thinking is often left to the visionaries: the CEOs, the analysts, the academics. Let’s put innovation in the middle. Let’s put it right into the 90-day plan. Because if you’re not thinking at least mid-term about measuring marketing success with attribution, viewability, pricing, and other marketing measurement issues, your competition will. I promise you that.

Innovation is what you make it. Marketing measurement right now is at Level 7. If you want to get to Level 10, embrace the innovation in its nascent stages now. The elevator is going up.

Your Mother Can Buy Media Better Than You

Many of us remember quotes from our moms–simple sayings which may not have rung true then, but are timeless now.

Among them: “If all your friends jumped off a cliff…would you do it too?”

It’s obvious, but sometimes it takes a mother to show us that the well-worn path is not always the right path. And this is why your mother can actually buy media better than you.

Some Historical Perspective
See, here’s what she knew that can help online marketers right now.  The majority of tracking and measurement systems used today are antiquated legacy systems built 15+ years ago. They erroneously give all credit for a conversion to the very last ad in line. So if 10 ads were involved from the top of the conversion funnel to the bottom, the bottom one gets all credit. You’ve heard of line cutters (folks who cut in line), these are ‘funnel’ cutters—stealing all the credit by jumping in at the end.

Why do we still measure everything this way? Because that’s the way it was done, and we’re following everyone right off the media cliff.

We Are To Believe What?
Today, the majority of marketers have just one slot for which an ad is credited with success (display/search social media/affiliate, etc). Just one? Are we to believe that college-educated media buyers pouring many hours over optimization should accept there’s only one ad responsible for a conversion? Only one? Even though the advertiser may be investing in five channels…there’s only one ad responsible for a conversion? There are never two, three, or perhaps 17?

Are we to believe that even though the purchase funnel was created in 1898 by E. Lewis there’s no purchase funnel online…beginning with Awareness, Intent, Desire, and Action. None?

Committing Media Suicide
Of course, anyone who looked at this situation with some perspective (like your mom) would draw some parallels. Your mom knows it takes many dates before you get married in the real world–and in the online world, it takes many impressions and clicks to convert. Not just one.

What would your mom say? In a slightly surprised and slightly irritated tone, she’d say,

“What are you doing? Just because everyone else is doing it that way, why would you do that!!

If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?

Of course not; you’re smarter than that!”

Your mom is or was smarter than every marketer who’s not using an attribution model. And if your mom can see it, your client and your boss are going to see it very soon.

Now What?
What moms do is take a very complex problem and make it simple. Same thing with attribution. It involves billions of data points, but modern attribution makes it easy enough that even your mom could buy media better than you (if you continue doing what you’re doing now).

Here’s how. In a fractional attribution model, 100% of revenue, say from a Zappos transaction, is split and attributed among Originators, Assists, Converters plus what we call a Roster. This can be done so that all four pieces of the pie equal 100%, and each of these four has a very different pie percentage–by industry, and by client.

Each ad player deemed worthy of attribution credit is tied to purchase funnel chronology with machine learning.  The fractional revenue is apportioned to the ad players on the team, which become the numerator of a fraction–and the cost of the ad player becomes the denominator of the fraction. Divide them, and you have your new ROAS, which we call AVSR or ‘Attributed Value-To-Spend-Ratio’. A ratio of 2.0 means: for every $1 you spent on a certain ad you get $2 in attributed revenue back.

With this one number, attribution modeling takes complex, big data and simplifies it. You just gave birth to a new way of measurement: an accurate way of measurement.

And for now, by not jumping off the media cliff with everyone else, your mom can buy media better than most.

You’re smarter than that. Your mom knows it, too.

What’s Changing The Landscape Of Advertising?

Ladies and gentlemen, the white elephant has left the building.

It was in the building and dominating more than a few conference rooms for years. The white elephant was palpable but not quite visible as blue chip brands were discussing a long-term commitment to digital advertising, but they were really facing the inability to consistently measure results. Or they had lingering doubts about committing more money to digital when “nobody ever got fired for buying more TV.”

The elephant we’re talking about: antiquated digital measuring systems still clinging to a $30 billion industry.

My experience with pitching blue-chip brands, is that the elephant is gone. We’ve moved beyond having to evangelize about moving into better, more holistic digital marketing and measurement and away from last click measurement (the measurement model that disproportionately gives all credit for a sale or desired action to the last click at the bottom of the funnel). With the last click Kool-Aid behind us, the next year will be about accelerating digital spending for brands. We’ve seen a dramatic shift in attitude to the point where three blue-chip companies – industry leaders in three large ad verticals – are pulling the trigger on entire new measurement systems, in this case attribution modeling. These are big brands—brands that advertise on the Super Bowl – and they’ve not only realized the elephant in the room, but ordered it out.

The IAB says that nearly two thirds of B2B digital budgets have increased this year, with the number-one objective being to increase brand strength. Nielsen’s report, “Beyond Clicks and Impressions: Examining the Relationship Between Online Advertising and Brand Building,” shows evidence that brand metrics, which show that attitudinal response to online campaigns can predict offline sales. The research further shows that there’s virtually no relationship between click-through rates and brand opinion or offline sales. As any experienced online marketer who’s seen it all knows: clicks can play tricks.

The Nielsen report in particular shows that marketing measurement has infinite possibilities for CPG brands, fashion, auto and consumer electronics. I see from our own slate of international meetings this fall that the discussion has turned from “should we leave last click behind?” to “how do we measure online marketing success more effectively?” and “how do we know we’ve spent our money properly?” Blue-chip brands have made the move. I’ve noticed three common themes in their decision-making process when picking a firm that helps them leave last click measurement behind:

Reputation: If an analytics firm is going to partner with a blue-chip brand, track record, management team and financial stability is critical. I’m all for start-ups. I’ve been involved with several. But even for start-ups, reputation is analyzed with the sum of every single interaction.

Consistency: Consistency of effort, personnel and analytical rigor is a hallmark of the blue-chip companies. Partner companies can’t load up on the first fastball and then underdeliver for the rest of the season. Measurement is a process, not an event. It should be treated as such.

Data: In my experience with blue-chip companies, data is what you lean on. It’s your hallmark. Solid and consistent data means a company can report measurement results without apology, without taking credit and with the long view in mind. Blue-chip companies don’t care that your data and methodology worked once. It needs to work every time for a long time; and most importantly, your data has to be easy to use. The new normal is a client needing an answer in hours instead of weeks, and systems need to deliver on real-world demands.

Now that the blue chips are in, the biggest mistake would to invite the white elephant back.

He’s still around. He’s still nimble.

But most importantly, change is afoot.

5 CMO Strategies To Stay On Top

Today’s average lifespan of a CMO is only 18 months. But there’s no reason for CMOs to sit back and idly wait for their 18 months to run out.

Just as you can increase your personal lifespan by implementing healthy changes and eliminating bad habits, CMOs may be able to double their tenure by following this simple plan.

Think of this as getting a jumpstart on your New Year’s resolution.

Five ways for CMOs to lengthen that 18 months to 36 and much longer.

#1 Stop Worrying About Your Tenure
Part of the problem is that CMOs play defense. They spend a lot of time worrying about the chain of command, who reports to who and when the next board meeting is. They play too little offense because they’re afraid they’re going to ruffle some feathers, and then the next thing you know they become a statistic themselves. Get out there and be what your title says you’re supposed to be.

#2 Don’t Base Your Strategy On The Economy
Remember “Mr. T” in Rocky III? “Prediction? Pain.” You can’t be a CMO and base your strategy on an “if-then” economy. Don’t base marketing spend on the S&P 500. Base marketing spend and strategy on growing customer value, increasing marketing ROI and taking market share while your competitors play chicken with the stock market and latest Eurocrisis.

#3 Stop Experimenting With Digital Marketing
Check the most recent Nielsen report on branding online. “It would be a mistake to assume that all ad networks or demographic models are created equal,” according to Nielsen. “It’s critical to measure the efficacy of delivery using campaign reporting to ensure the tools and audience are aligned with the premium pricing charged for that model.” Take note. The tone here is not one of testing and recalibrating. The tone is, “do it, and measure it properly.” The time for experimenting with digital marketing is over. The time for acting like a CMO, and demanding the right metrics, is on.

#4 Control Your Destiny
The best way to stay off the CMO scrap heap is to understand what you can control. Most great marketers share that. You control the message, the channel it will be delivered through, and the way you will measure the effort. You don’t control customer reaction or random events (see the economy).

#5 Measure Your Legacy
When you do get to that day when you decide to leave, get promoted, or they throw you out, what will they say about you? That you increased revenue? You controlled spending? Or you left some best practices and processes to do both? What’s good for the company is good for you. Make sure you have the tools to measure your impact.

Now it’s double or nothing.