Are You Sure It Is a CMO, You’re Looking For?

Is anyone else puzzled by searches for top marketing talent? I am often approached by brands and search professionals who excite me for amazing roles. Then comes the fine print.

This piece is not about silly titles like CMO and CRO and CGO, though that issue is directly related. The top marketing jobs now carry ridiculously unrealistic expectations related to grand titles. Whatever happened to VP Marketing (and a VP Sales)?

The grandiosity assumed by super CMO’s has hurt marketing within businesses. Once we demanded a seat at the executive table, now most marketers fall short on deserving to sit there. It has had another impact. Every company wants a CMO or so they think. Take into account these searches found online this week. These are the first paragraphs of three different searches. 

Change the World

We are seeking a dynamic CMO to join us in developing a brand funded by people who are passionate about improving the way humanity interacts in the modern age. This is not your typical, everyday corporate work environment. This is not another 10¢ job opportunity. This is a chance to literally change the world as we know it and to build something people around the globe will cherish for decades to come. It is likely that your past pursuits have been leading you here all along… to do this… with us… at this very special moment in history.

Save Us, Please!

YYYYY is seeking a Chief Revenue Officer to drive strong, profitable revenue growth ($100M+) by building on our customer-focused organization and effectively implementing go-to-market strategies. The CRO will work closely with the President, Leadership Team and Owner/Board to expand business development and company brand recognition and value. This role will have a strong understanding of SaaS-based cross-channel sales and marketing in the tech market space, as well as the ability to use a premium brand value proposition to create powerful community engagement, and a sales strategy that delivers rapid and robust sales growth across the following channels: direct sales, consumer business development, distribution/resale, international rights, and licensing. The CRO will act as role model, motivator, team leader, and culture builder, inspiring strong support of YYYYY’s core values. 

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Food for Hooking Up

Who knew that pumpernickel could be so amorous. A high fibre, naturally dense bread baked by Germans hardly seems romantic or randy. That is why the choice of packaging photography is so intriguing and, downright, mystifying. My stepdaughter sent me a photo from her recent grocery shopping expedition. I thought it was a joke, something plucked from the Internet, perhaps faked.

It turns out this interesting choice of photo is the real deal. The stock photography looks originally shot for a dating site, underground after hours Berlin lounge, or adult toy. It sent me searching for an explanation. I discovered that Mestemacher celebrated its 150th anniversary last year and bills itself as, “The Lifestyle Bakery”. As a brander, I could have a lot of fun with that tagline.

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Say What? Origins of Popular Expressions

It is interesting to dig back and see when common expressions originated. Not only when, but to understand the underlying meaning. Sometimes, we apply them improperly. Here are bunch to set you straight and use in the right context. Oh, and you will learn what, “Nuke the Fridge”, means.

The Acid Test: to prove something is real.

During the California Gold Rush, prospectors and dealers used acid to distinguish gold from base metal. If the metal dissolved in a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid, it was the real thing.

A Baker’s Dozen: one more over 12, or 13 in total.

Medieval English bakers gave an extra loaf when selling a dozen to avoid being penalized for selling a short weight. Bakers could be fined, pilloried or even flogged for selling ‘underweight’ bread.

Bite The Bullet: to make a difficult decision or one long put-off.

During early battles there was no time to administer anesthetics while performing surgeries. So, patients were made to bite down on bullets to distract from the pain.

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Has it Been 10 Years?

I have not seen this since 2001. Thanks to GT, for sharing this interview from Cannes. Great, still relevant thoughts and bon mots from Amir.

Are You Not Educated and Entertained?

When it comes to information, there is too much skimming and surfing. Too many soundbites, so little substance. We have a duty and privilege to inform and educate ourselves. Thankfully, a few publications don’t shy away from high word counts and provide deep reporting backed by tremendous research and fine writing. What follows are some of the better, longer business reads from last year. They are all jewels but among the shiniest are Marker‘s work on Alex and Ani, GQ‘s account of an infected cruise ship, and Leland Nally’s queasy look at Jeffrey Epstein’s black book in Mother Jones.

Much of the recent solid business writing is more true crime than entrepreneurial inspiration. I did not seek those out, I swear. Reporters and readers are drawn to the corporate grifters, start-up downward spirals, cult-like leaders with nefarious intent, and the shockingly inept. To be sure, they entertain and all stories carry lessons. So read on, learn and enjoy.

Unlucky Charms: The Rise and Fall of Billion-Dollar Jewelry Empire Alex and Ani

Medium’s publication, Marker, exposed me to a business and brand I’d never heard of. How reasonably priced bangles created such a wealthy soap opera will puzzle. The article eloquently chronicles a fall from towering grace. You’ll want to shake the main player so that the hubris falls off. It is also well written, “Clad in a simple pink cardigan over a T-shirt, Rafaelian stood at the lectern in a hotel conference room, her gum-snapping accent lending a common, relatable touch to what might otherwise have seemed a dubiously lofty message. “Every single person in this room is divinely put here by God,” she said, explaining that she knew this because He told her so.”

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Want to Write a Business Book…Write a Paper First

Having written a book on marketing and nurtured other nonfiction books from concept to shelf, I have learned much. Clearly, there are tangible and personally rewarding reasons to write a book. They establish you as a thought leader. Business books are proven to boost awareness, establish leads, and help close sales. Books are a ton of work but pay back in many ways.

It is a shame that the majority of them should never have been written.

There is an overwhelming amount of substandard work out there and more every day due to self-publishing and assisted self-publishing. I am not talking about books that have typos, horrendous grammar, and downright awful writing. My issue is with books that lack premise or have lazily and greedily repackaged what is commonly known and previously published. This happens across the nonfiction spectrum, from business books to self-help to the how-to varieties.

I have read over 500 marketing books and the law of diminishing returns kicked in 480 books ago. Further, when I was Chief Marketing Officer at DDB Worldwide, many colleagues were interested in writing to boost their personal brand. The global advertising agency had over 12,000 employees, so I expected waterfalls of thought leadership.

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What is a Group of Authors Called?

You have heard of a murder of crows and a pod of dolphins. Not to mention, a parade of elephants and barrel of monkeys. How about a warren of rabbits? Those are a bit obvious. Digging deeper, it is fascinating to see, how other wildlife groups are identified. Most are quite fitting. Let’s check them out before describing a group of authors.

Look out for that Cauldron of bats and Army of caterpillars. Don’t get run over by a Caravan of camels or fall prey to a Coalition of cheetahs. It is tough to join a Convocation of eagles or partner with a Business of ferrets. I’m too short for a Tower of giraffes and intimidated by the Flamboyance of flamingoes.

Time to run if you hear a Thunder of hippopotamuses or are threatened by a Mob of kangaroos. It is a Conspiracy of lemurs that led to a Prickle of porcupines and the Unkindness of ravens. All true!

Oh, and then there is Wisdom of wombats. No joke, it seems those critters get smarter in large numbers. When it comes to authors, hats off to tripfiction.com for soliciting submissions to name a group of authors. These are great…

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Yogababble: The Spiritual Disguising of Brands

Language is fascinating. Written, spoken and designed communications are my trade, so my senses perk up when I happen across something new. That occurred while listening to one of Wondery’s entertaining and informative podcast series. WeCrashed covers the rise and fall of WeWork and its faux messiah leader, CEO Adam Neuman. 

On a side note, Wondery produced the insanely popular, Dirty John, among other titles. Its growing library and model of partnering to develop content, made it attractive to Amazon. The giant company paid US$300 million for Wondery on December 30, 2020.

One word hooked me through the WeCrashed series. It was, yogababble. According to Urban Dictionary, it means, “Spiritual-sounding language used by companies to sell product or make their brand more compelling on an emotional level. Coined specifically about WeWork’s IPO prospectus in 2019, which was full of phrases like “elevate the world’s consciousness” and at the same time showed problematic financials. Yogababble is intended to disguise or compensate for practical or financial weaknesses in a business or product.”

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How Spam Came to Rule the World (and why it is shoplifted in Hawaii)

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Spam”? First off, we are not talking about electronic junk mail. 

If you are thinking luncheon meat, you probably have a mixed reaction at best. For most of the grocery product’s 8-decade history, Spam has been disparaged and dismissed. The harshest critics cite is as inedible and mock it as “Something Posing As Meat” or “Scientifically Processed Animal Matter”. Yet, over 8.5 billion cans have been sold since Hormel launched the product in 1937. 

Americans buy 113 million cans of Spam annually. This means 3.8 cans are consumed every second in the United States. To keep up with demand, the slaughterhouse next to the Hormel plant in Austin, Minnesota butchers 20,000 pigs a day. So, how can we reconcile what is so bashed with what is bought (and stolen) in mass amounts?

Spam was successful right out of the gate, having grabbed 18% market share in its first year of sales. By 1940, 7 out of 10 of Americans had tried Spam. This was largely attributed to an economy still suffering from the Depression and it began Spam’s longstanding association with low-cost and frugality. Sales still spike when times are tough. 

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Wagyu: Beefy Branding or True Luxury?

Restaurant menus provide me with great entertainment. First, there are the overly florid descriptions, “Isle of Gigha halibut plucked today from Neptune’s briny depths and glazed with hints of Aegean seaweed while paired with citrus-infused Atlantic King crab balanced delicately by herbal-honeyed cauliflower couscous, index finger lime, and accented by a buttery and woody ras el hanout infused broth.”

All joking aside, given I penned that pretentious menu item, it does pay to have dishes sound more enticing. Guests, on average, spend about 109 seconds with a menu. Item descriptions trigger 45% of buying decisions for a specific dish and well-written descriptions can increase sales up to 30%. Another consideration, 80% of a restaurant’s food sales come from 16% of menu items.

The second reason menus entertain are my hunt for typos. Being a marketer and a writer, I am programmed to spot these but never do so to shame. When it is so egregious, forcing me to bring it up, the restaurant has been already well aware but do not want to eat the cost of a reprint (blame the printers!). Such errors show humanity, so often this can be endearing. After all, you may spot syntax and grammar no-no’s in this piece (like using the hyphenated expression, no-no).

A third reason is menu layout and design. Studies call for just 7 items per page, so customers absorb and focus. Generally accepted thinking is to ditch dollar signs and round up or down to even numbers. Forget that $6.95 way of thinking and make it 7. Restaurants have assumed that customers are drawn to the upper righthand corner of menus, so place higher profit items there. Newer research suggests customers read menus like a book, starting in the top left corner.

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