How CMOs drive decisions and shape strategies with insights

John Sevec, mTab's Senior VP of Client Strategy, reviews how CMOs can excel at the intersection of strategy and storytelling.

Q&A with John Sevic

Recently, Harvard Business Review published an article entitled ‘How to Help Your CMO Boost Global Growth’ which focuses on research out of St. John’s University which engaged 41 chief marketing officers and reviews many of the challenges they face professionally.

Their findings revealed that giving CMOs leeway in strategic, financial and operational decisions tends to benefit the company in terms of increasing sales and expanding markets.

One of the most intriguing dimensions of the report was that a 25 percent increase in financial discretion provided to a chief marketing officer correlates with an impressive 77% increase in sales..

We sat down with John Sevec, Senior Vice President of Client Strategy for mTab, who advises an array of leading enterprises on how to reign in their fragmented data, extract insights and use it to guide the decisions and strategies of marketing and product teams.  

Q: John, do the findings of this report surprise you?

JS: “Not really. Over the past decade or so, marketing has come under increasing pressure from organizations. Effective marketing sits at the intersection of art and science and creativity and innovation. It’s coming up with unique ways to communicate and engage, but also effectively measuring and tracking the efficacy and results. That is challenging for most individuals given that people are generally ‘left brained,’ meaning they are analytical and methodical, or ‘right brained,’ meaning they are creative and artistic. So, it is challenging to operate at the intersection of both.”

Q: Where do you think the struggles for most CMOs stem from?

JS: “From my perspective, most individuals who have reached marketing leadership roles have largely been focused on the creative side of engagement. I have found that most individuals go into marketing because they are generally creative individuals and excel in this realm. The challenge for many of these folks is the quantitative and measurement dimension of marketing, which has become increasingly critical given their array and complexity of channels. When you look at the ever-increasing variety, velocity, veracity and sheer volume of data surrounding campaigns and customers, it can quickly become very daunting.”

Q: Many organizations seemingly strive to be data-driven, so what is creating this disconnect?

JS: “When you look at the recent Capgemini report that Mark Lummas, our Vice President of Customer Success, discussed, that report revealed that 69 percent of chiefs marketing officers indicate they are responsible for customer experience, however upwards of 55 percent say they don’t have access to technology that provides unified views of customer data. In other words they apparently own the customer experience however, for whatever reason, do not control the data-driven needs of its success. In some situations the gating factor may be financial or operational in nature, but I tend to see that it is more often an uncertainty of where to start to become data-driven in today’s ‘Digital Age.’ Again it can be intimidating based on the sheer number of data sources across the technology stack and when you overlay the need of third party data to compare and benchmark performance it seems to hold many marketing organizations back.”

Q: How do CMOs balance the need for being artistic in their creativity and accurate in their measurement?

JS: “The brands we see doing it most successfully are the ones where marketing or product are embracing metrics and data on a cultural level. It is a full commitment developing strategies, driving decisions and delivering innovation based on quantitative measurements of the markets and customers. The ‘right brained’ creative dimension serves the left brain in this manner. In other words, the marketing determines elements like the target audience, and product features through precise data analysis and then engages, communicates and promotes these aspects creatively. It’s a hand-in-hand approach, but data insights are leading the charge in the process.”

John Sevec

SVP, Client Strategy

John provides strategic advisory and insight guidance to premier clients across mTab’s portfolio. His expertise spans customer strategy, market insight and business intelligence.