Interview with: 

Amy Fuller, former CMO Accenture

Allen and Amy

Allen knows Amy well because they both worked at WPP.

Is marketing more difficult?

Allen asked for advice as to “what you need to do differently tomorrow than you and I did back in the day where we could work on a campaign for six months and then hit send and sit back and watch. What makes marketing so much more difficult today than it was perhaps yesterday, and what marketers need to think about when they trying to make a company relevant and different and matter to people”?

Amy disagrees. I think marketing is easier now than it's ever been. Two reasons why:

  • More metrics
    “When I first got into marketing, there were very, very few metrics.”
    • The primary metrics were backward looking tracking studies or for advertising, copy testing”. Copy testing was the best that could be done, but not necessarily accurate because it couldn't capture is the context that the advertising was running in. So, it was tended to be more of a forced exposure, which of course. gives you different results because of the battle for attention”.
    • This has always been true. Now it is arguably harder to get attention because there are more places to engage with brands. But there are many more tools to both anticipate and evaluate the strength of what you're doing and determine whether you are even getting attention.
    • Before all you had were the network ratings. And you weren't sure if people were in the kitchen or watching the TV show. Now you can really understand what you are doing. You know what's really connecting with people.
  • The ability to automate.
    • In the past, things that had to be done manually, in your nonbusiness life as well. At Accenture they were trying to adopt a global approach to marketing. “What does sustainability mean? It means different things in different parts of the world, but as a global company, we were working on a global idea around how you talk about the whole range of activities that in the broadest sense fall into sustainability” They used a large language model to get the answer.
    • The only hard part is keeping up with the tools. She spent a few years outside of advertising at Deloitte managing the brand globally. Then she came back to advertising at Accenture, as CMO. She found that just in a couple of years, the nature of how media was purchased had absolutely changed. it was a very strange feeling to understand that in such a short period of time, the vocabulary had changed, the tools had changed.”

Constant change makes marketing attractive.

  • Learn new things.
    “it's a field of continuous growth and continuous reeducation. that is one of the reasons why marketing is still a good field to be in. It is a place where for those who like to see change and experience, change, learn new things. You must. It's not an option.”
  • understand what the composition of a team ought to be.
    knowing how to compensate for what you don't know as a CMO is, I think one of the keys to success in large companies. “You can't know everything and it's changing too fast, but you build a team around you to cover the field”.
    “You shouldn't know everything, because if you're spending your time doing everything, what you're not doing is spending your time on your primary task. The primary task is understanding the business strategy of your organization in enough nuance that it writes your marketing and brand strategy.

Working with the CFO

  • Understanding sources of profit
    As little as one sentence from the CFO can write your marketing strategy because it will help you understand quickly and accurately what the drivers of profitability are. Sometimes it's obvious, but a lot of times it's not so obvious where margin and profit come from and those are the things that that tell you what to do in marketing and how to build a brand.
  • Getting deep into the organization
    • it's getting out of the bubble of marketing and getting deeper in your organization. In a fast-moving world, if you're not tied to how your company goes to market and makes money, you're not doing your job.

Involving the whole organization

  • In lots of companies marketing is off to the side. But you need the whole organization to deliver on the brand promise. the channels you control are maybe not as important as the channels you don't control.
  • In services organizations the people are the products. They are not brand ambassadors; they are literally the brand. so, including them in brand decisions is essential.
  • In Accenture the way they developed the brand purpose was to survey the entire organization, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world in very disparate functions. “We were able to use that to make sure that the language and ideas we used, were faithful to the people, who are the product and delivering what the company is. As a result, “the purpose took off like wildfire. I've never seen anything adopted so quickly in an organization.”. “We didn't invent the purpose in a conference room. It came from the experience and the point of view of the people in the organization.


Need for a holistic approach.

I think the single way you can destroy your brand is to fragment what it feels and looks like. Making sure that communications are cohesive can be the easier part of the equation. It also has to be the mirror of the inside of the company. In big professional services companies, how the brand operates on the inside of the company is arguably more important because that is where the client experience emanates from.  

Need for speed.

  • speed matters.
    When Julie Sweet came into her job as CEO with tremendous energy, and it was the right moment for the organization to evaluate the next business strategy, it was also COVID, and they were working entirely remotely. they were able to work with incredible speed to support the delivery of the new business strategy and restage the brand consistent with the business strategy.
  • Forgiving culture
    the reason we were able to deliver is that we had created a culture that was forgiving and not scary. we could work quickly because it was easy in that culture to have ideas and to refine them. “I came up with this saying that became one of my mantras which was, “early, ugly and often.”. She had noticed that people on the team were spending a lot of time perfecting the presentation of ideas. She said, “do not worry about making the PowerPoint look good, but let's talk early and at frequent intervals, so the magic iterative process can happen. That’s the way to work, rather than polishing the marble until it's perfectly ready and then finding out it doesn't fit. They had frequent meetings with a very tight group of the CEO and her peers at the highest level of the organization and they would do the same process of “here’s some ideas. We're not selling ideas; we are working them through and getting input. it was extremely successful.”, PowerPoint was always designed to look spectacular and be the answer and almost looked too real. Going back to the napkin and the little drawing earlier on to build alignment before you polish it into a sales pitch works better.

listen at all levels.

great ideas come from a variety of places. They don't come hierarchically. The person who's in charge of. Social media has a perspective which may be unique. the CFO is a goldmine for deep understanding of the key drivers of margin and profit and growth. “To be a successful CMO, you have to go in every day in a listening mode, not a command-and-control mode.” it’s hard because there's a lot of pressure, a lot of moving parts and, it takes patiencr to be able to course correct constantly.”

 How did you make big data useful?
it's hard to find a question that's not helped by using all the data that's out there. that was always the ill of marketing that you could get point in time and partial views of people, language, and channels. And that was never enough. We did the best we could. But we were always mindful of the fact that, in some cases it felt like anecdotal information, and now it doesn't. It's not anecdotal, it's actual.  

Difficulty in finding the best suppliers.

The transformational tools are coming from different kinds of companies, companies you might not have ever heard of. in the past, because of the strength of the big brands in the marketing, communications, and advertising space, it was not so hard to identify and work with best in class.”. Now I don't think it's so obvious.”

Amy  Fuller, Allen Adamson and Joanna Seddon

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