CMOs, collaboration, customer experience and the real-time data imperative – Interview with Thom Gruhler

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Today’s interview is with Thom Gruhler, CEO & Founder of Fjuri, a marketing consultancy that is combining his CMO experience from Microsoft with world-class technology, data science, and the right analytics to help brands optimize their marketing performance and deliver more significant and consistent value from their marketing investments. Thom joins me today to talk about how advertising is no longer effective, how marketers should be using data and analytics to build better relationships with their customers, the impact of GDPR and what is required to succeed as a CMO and CCO these days.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Brands can create a better customer experience by being purpose driven – Interview with Alicia Tillman, CMO of SAP – and is number 246 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Highlights from my conversation with Thom:

  • We talk a lot about data but the real challenge seems to not to be with how much data we have but with strategy and how we use the data we have at our disposal.
  • Fjuri, the name, is inspired by the furious pace of change that we are seeing in marketing right now and the calm body of water that are the fjords of Norway.
  • Thom believes that there is an experience gap in the market right now. He explains that this is related to all of content, media, targeting and investment going on right now, how much of it is falling short of expectations and how too few people are asking why.
  • To many marketers are delivering the wrong type of content, not adding value to a conversation, don’t really understand their customers and what experience they want to have.
  • Marketers have got to get out of the way of just looking at operational data, backward looking data, campaign measurement data, ROI measurement data and other vanity metrics and get into experience data i.e. what can we tell about our customers in real-time and how should that influence our decision-making.
  • Marketers are in danger of getting addicted to the performance data available on digital channels and overlook other viable options that don’t offer the same volume of data.
  • There is an over-dependence on measurable metrics.
  • Marketers are becoming wholly reliant on data based decision making and are not trusting their own judgement and intuition.
  • CMO tenure has now dropped to its lowest level in 42 years.
  • Marketers need to take a step back and think about the greater goal of a better customer experience and where they can collaborate, help and apply their skills across the organisation to deliver that.
  • The data and privacy challenge is going to get more complicated with the advent of things like GDPR.
  • The leading companies will be those that are open and transparent about their use of data, the types of data they have, where it comes from, how they protect it and the large degree of control they give to customers over their data.
  • The stand out companies that are using data to build better relationships with their customers include Netflix and Amazon.
  • Marketing leaders have got to start getting into the real-time data and conversation around what is happening with customers in real time (i.e. did a call start, did it end, did it fail, did the customer hang up etc etc) so they can better understand the implications for the (commercial) outcomes they are trying to drive.
  • However, they also need to be sure to do something with any extra data that they ask for. There is nothing worse (and it’s happened before) than asking for more data and then doing nothing with it.
  • You are a new CMO and it is your first day on the job: Thom recommends that you first go and make friends with the Chief Product Officer or their equivalent – If you can align with your product owner as to who your customer is, how the brand story is evolving relative to the roadmap for that product and how you are going to be measuring a differentiated/unique experience that will separate you from the marketplace then you will be doing yourself a big favour.
  • Secondly, you should go and get to know who owns and manages the data.
  • Marketers need to make sure that they are leveraging the information they have access to in order to drive innovation in the way that they go to market.
  • More and more businesses in the future will be offering free and paid services. However, we need to make sure that we are thinking about free and paid customers as exactly the same from an experience perspective as both will have commercial value.
  • Wow service/experience for Thom is all about establishing and building trust with your customer, understanding where value lies for your customer and meeting them there.
  • Check out all the great things that Fjuri is up to here.

About Thom (taken from his Fjuri bio)

Thom GruhlerThom Gruhler is the CEO & Founder of Fjuri, a cutting-edge marketing consultancy that has arisen from decades of collective experience within marketing organizations.

Thom is described as a creative, high-achieving leader with twenty years of experience in marketing leadership on a global scale with world-renown brands. Recognized as a dynamic motivator and change agent in driving modern methods for brand and customer engagement across marketing and R&D; building data-driven demand generation and modern marketing programs; and achieving breakthrough results. Respected executive known for hands-on leadership in scaling global marketing strategy and building effective teams. Directed a broad range of successful marketing teams and programs for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups, including Microsoft, Verizon, Nestle, General Mills, MasterCard, Chrysler & Chevrolet.

Prior to founding Fjuri, Thom led marketing team for Apps and Services Marketing Group at Microsoft, for commercial and consumer including Office/O365, Skype, Outlook, OneDrive and OneNote. In his role as one of three divisional marketing VP’s Thom led a cross-functional team of 400, accountable for business planning, product marketing, brand and integrated marketing, demand generation & CRM, sales & partner-channel enablement. Principle to his role as global marketing leader for Office was to drive revenue growth for the Office franchise by directing the important transition to the cloud with O365 and increasing O365 subscribers and retention with oversight of brand marketing, direct acquisition (paid and organic), ecom strategy, trial conversion and upsell, all lifecycle marketing including demand gen and CRM across all segments. Including efforts to improve O365 commercial direct acquisition, which was up 131% in FY16 while reducing CPA through SEO and marketing automation optimization.

Before joining Microsoft, Thom’s decade of thought leadership in the mobile category led to his appointment as Global Managing Partner of Telecom & Technology for McCann Worldgroup, the world’s largest global communications network. Thom also served as President of McCann Worldgroup’s flagship agency, McCann NY, where he led the transform of McCann NY, readying it for the digital age. He reset the leadership team, defined and recruited new agency talent, redesigned key work processes, and coordinated a multimillion dollar redesign of the agency’s physical space. For ten years Thom was the key relationship holder on the Verizon account, Worldgroup’s largest domestic client and an IPG top-tier partner. He led the client and brand through multiple agencies and in 2008 captured Verizon’s full range of wireless, land-line and broadband business. The highly successful Verizon “Can you hear me now?” campaign was developed during Thom’s tenure there.

Thom was the executive leader for a 2016 company-wide initiative to improve global demand gen capability, improving content marketing capability, scaling marketing automation platform, building stronger call-center conversion, and improving RM/user engagement and upsell performance Prior to his role as Office Marketing leader, Thom was the Corporate Vice President and Global CMO of Microsoft’s Windows Division, Thom led all division marketing, working closely with product engineers and field partners to ensure customer satisfaction and to drive revenue and market share in the highly competitive sectors of PC, Tablet and Smartphone. In this role, Thom provided the expertise and leadership needed to align a matrix internally and externally, to deliver an effective marketing plan across the system, and to deliver results. Thom also led US and global marketing for the new Windows Phone as Corporate Vice President and Global CMO of the Windows Phone Division.

In 2008, Thom was recognized for his high-profile leadership, earning the advertising industry’s highest award—induction into The American Advertising Federation’s prestigious Hall of Achievement for professionals under age 40.

You can find out more about Fjuri here, say Hi to Thom and the folks at Fjuri on Twitter @thomgruhler and @fjurigroup and connect with Thom on LinkedIn here.

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

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