Enterprise Marketing: Trends, Challenges and the Future

What is the future of enterprise marketing and the CMO role? Diana O’Brien, CMO at Deloitte, tells CXOTalk about changes in how large organizations approach marketing today, special challenges in marketing services, and trends like personalization.


Apr 06, 2018

What is the future of enterprise marketing and the CMO role? Diana O’Brien, CMO at Deloitte, tells CXOTalk about changes in how large organizations approach marketing today, special challenges in marketing services, and trends like personalization.

O’Brien is Chief Marketing Officer for Deloitte’s US and global organization, leading the network’s marketing function to drive growth, build world-class creative and analytics capabilities, and champion the voice of the customer. She’s been named among Forbes’ World’s Most Influential CMOs and Business Insider’s Top 50 Most Innovative CMOs in the World. She also leads the C-Suite CMO Program, serves as an advisory partner to two global life sciences clients, and is the chairman and founder of IMPACT Autism, an organization that creates and delivers life management solutions for those living with autism.


Michael Krigsman: Marketing has changed, the role of the chief marketing officer is completely in flux and is evolving, and the expectations that organizations have of marketing is also changing. Today, on Episode #284 of CxOTalk, we are speaking with somebody who is, on the face of the planet, one of the most qualified people to talk about this set of issues. I'm Michael Krigsman. I'm an industry analyst and the host of CxOTalk.

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I am so thrilled to welcome Diana O'Brien, who is the chief marketing officer of Deloitte, which is one of the largest organizations in the world. And so, when I said that she's well qualified to talk about the CMO topic and role, I meant it. Diana O'Brien, thank you so much for being here on CxOTalk.

Diana O'Brien: Michael, thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Michael Krigsman: Diana, please tell us about Deloitte, and tell us about your role as global CMO.

Diana O'Brien: Well, as you said, Deloitte is the largest professional services firm in the world. We have 260,000 professional associates around the world who, every day, worry about making an impact at their clients. That's their singular focus to impact them positively in the areas of tax, audit, consulting, and advisory services.

For me, I've had a long career here, 30-plus years, but lots of different roles, all of them around our clients. Five years ago, I took on all clients and, essentially, the entire marketing funnel for the U.S. Just a few months ago, I took on the global chief marketing officer role for Deloitte.

Michael Krigsman: I can't even imagine. How do you think about marketing for an organization with 260,000 people and so many different types of clients and different activities? How do you wrap your mind around that size and scale?

Diana O'Brien: It's a fun question because I think that is what people normally think of is just, "Gosh, it's so big. It has lots of service lines. It has lots of offerings many places." Actually, I think it still comes down to the same thing it comes down to for really any business, which is: who is your customer, what is their problem, and how can you solve it?

We try to keep things simple. When you're a big organization, you can create silos and create friction points. A big part of what an organization like Deloitte or other large Fortune 500 companies need to do is to think about how to take that friction out, how to reduce the multiple steps that we often add. It's so easy to add things and so hard to take things out. I think we have to ask that question more often. What should we be taking out to make sure that our customers have the best experience?

Michael Krigsman: For you then, marketing comes down to--I don't want to put words in your mouth--creating that kind of experience for your customers. But, it's not just a veneer, it also goes back into the organization and your processes, your own efficiency, and how you're organized as an entity, as an organization, as a business.

Diana O'Brien: We are. What's interesting about that is I think, in today's environment, everything, the transparency is so key. Your insides have to be what you want your brand to be, which means all 260,000 associates have to represent the brand every day. If they're not treated or in an environment that's easy to use, allows them to show their entrepreneurial spirit, and so what's necessary to solve our clients' problems, then they're not going to feel like they want to go out and deliver that to our clients. The brand and the culture that we have really go hand-in-hand. Then how we show up in the marketplace and, ultimately, the perception of that brand go hand-in-hand.

Michael Krigsman: Your view of marketing is a very expansive one, actually, far more than how we traditionally think about, well, marketing is how we talk to the outside world.

Diana O'Brien: Yeah, I think marketing has a history, for sure, and that was absolutely a part of it. Marketing--I like to call it--started with a small m, which was the message. The CMO and marketers owned the message, the brand, and what went out to their clients and their customers.

What has happened, I think, as a result of a number of big factors and trends in the marketplace, is that we are now are what I consider to be the big M, which is that you own everything that happens to that client or customer no matter what, no matter where  it sits in the organization, what silo it might be a part of. As the chief marketing officer and the marketing organization, you are the voice of the customer, and so you have to be the one championing it no matter where the issue may reside, no matter where the touch point is and who is interfacing with them. We do; we think of it as a really fundamental, different role than it used to be when you were simply pushing out a message.

The other thing that's different is that now, in this sort of 24/7 world where you have to be on all the time, marketers don't control the brand as they did when it was just a message to push out. Marketers now need to shape and respond to the brand and make sure that the experience that they're continuing to create reflects the brand, what they value, and what they want their customers to feel as a result of experiencing something with them. I do think it's really dramatically different. I think more has changed in the last couple of years than maybe in the last 20.

Michael Krigsman: I just want to say a thank you to Zachary Jeans who is watching who just tweeted out a great screen capture photo of you right now. Zachary, thank you so much for sharing that.

How then does marketing integrate into the rest of the company? The reason that I'm asking is because, as you're describing marketing this way, it is such a broader role than we tend to think of and there are all these implications for process, for culture, for relationships among different silos. How does the organization as a whole relate to this, and how do you relate to it as opposed to the traditional marketing approach?

Diana O'Brien: It's a great question. I think, when you think about it, sometimes you might think, "Well, what's really the role then? How does the marketer do that? How does the CMO function to make that happen?"

I think the first sort of mindset change is to see yourself as a convener of specific insights that can really change the business. The customer has to be at the center of your organization strategy. If it's not, then you've got other issues. Your role is to help make sure that the customer stays at the center of the strategy, but the other leaders, they all have something that they are trying to accomplish. The CFO has got some financial expectations and return on investments. The CIO has certain things around technology. Your operators might have certain process flows or supply chain things that they want to accomplish.

The key for a great CMO is for someone to spend the time to understand all those individuals, all those members of the C-suite, what they are trying to accomplish, and then what can the CMO do? How can the CMO engage with them by understanding what they're measuring, by figuring out the insight that they have and how it can influence what they're measuring? Start to talk in a way, use language that will resonate with them.

I can't tell you the number of times individuals have gotten a job. They're the CMO. They're told they own the client experience, they own the client customer insights, but they say, "I don't have responsibility for all the touchpoints," and that's often the case. The CMO has to build influence skills with those executive members to establish trust and credibility and be able to influence them in ways that really keep the customer at the center of the conversation. It's been challenging for a number of CMOs, I think, as they've stepped into it, but more and more of them are getting their sea legs about them as they start to make some of the changes that are needed.

We have some interesting research that we did that I thought was quite telling about where we are. We had a survey and some insights from about 400 CFOs. Only about 3% of them thought that the CMO was strategic. However, the CEO said if their organization were to stop growing, the first person to get fired would be their CMO. So, it's a pretty big disconnect between the CEO's expectations of the CMO having a bigger seat at the table influencing and driving the customer conversation.

Michael Krigsman: I have to say, the research that you do at Deloitte is just outstanding. Deloitte University Press, I'll tell everybody, puts out some of the very best research of this type anywhere.

The CMO then is responsible for ensuring or, let's just say, having the compass point of the customer as the north star for the organization but, at the same time, from what you're saying, is responsible for influencing inside the company so that the whole organization is focused and unified in that direction towards positive, towards the right customer experience.

Diana O'Brien: Right. What I'd say is the CMO has to have an enterprise view, but the lens that they're coming in with, with that enterprise view, is going to be the customer so that decisions aren't made along the customer's journey that creates a bad experience, heightens the friction that's there, or completely turn them off to what's happening and what you're trying to communicate with them. That's why it's so important that they have the enterprise view and then learn the language of those other enterprise leaders.

Michael Krigsman: At the same time, it seems your focus is equally maybe even more so outside the company because, in order to speak to customers, you have to understand what customers actually care about.

Diana O'Brien: Right, and a lot of times it's through customer research, analytics, and data that you can extract and pull into your organization. It's also, though, still qualitative as well. You need to hear the customer experience, what the customer is experiencing. Whether you're in a professional services firm, you're in a retail store, or you're in a hospital, each touchpoint of those experiences affects that customer's experience, and so you need to understand what's happening. If you don't go out into the market to see it, experience it, and hear what people are saying, you're not as effective.

Michael Krigsman: When you talk about customer experience, what does that encompass?

Diana O'Brien: I think customer experience really encompasses every touchpoint that causes me to think or feel anything about your brand. We used to say that brand was everything, and now we say everything is brand, meaning from the person who answers the phone when I call, or I log on and I see something on your website and I have a chance to interact with you, or I have an opportunity to do something. If all of a sudden, after that, I get a negative experience, someone speaks rudely to me, I get a bill, or anything that I wasn't expecting or didn't follow the flow of it being easy, simple, and engaging for me at the time I want it to be important to me, it has the opportunity to affect the client experience. I think people have to think of the client experience as everything, end-to-end, from the point that you first establish interest and awareness and are sharing initial thoughts, to the long-term, sustained relationship where you are coming back and back because you want more and more services from the person offering it.

Michael Krigsman: Now you mention the term "relationship." Earlier, you mentioned, almost in passing, the term "measurement." Where do measurement and the quantitative dimension come into play? Where does the qualitative, and how do you juggle these two?

Diana O'Brien: Yeah, they're both super important. In fact, our research says that you really need to have, what we call, have your whole brain in the game. If you're in marketing, you need the left and the right side. You need your creative, empathetic, and engaging side, and you need your analytical and scientific side. You need to have both in your teams and even in your own mindset when you're thinking about marketing.

Measurement is key. I think measurement has become even more important because it ties back to what is the value proposition for the CMO, which is, if I know the customer and the customer is at the center of my strategy, and I can give you insights that help you make the best customer experience, I'm going to drive growth. That's the bottom line. The CMO needs to drive growth in the organization. They need to be able to influence the competitive positioning that you have. They need to influence how quickly lead gens come in and accelerate that process through it. All those things come from deeper, smarter client insights.

As those things happen, you can tie it back to measurable things. But, in the end, you need both. You need to hear and understand things that the data sometimes can't tell you, and you need to invest in having enough data, meaningful data, so that you really understand where your customer is when and what they're looking for at that time.

Michael Krigsman: You're saying the CMO needs to drive growth. Is that then kind of the crux of the whole issue that if the CMO has an understanding of the customer, if the CMO is able to influence the organization to provide that right customer client experience, then growth should be the natural result that arises out of that.

Diana O'Brien: Yeah. The only thing I would put in the front side of that is my comment about the enterprise and the strategy having the customer at the center. I think that's key. I've seen strategies that build around a lot of tactics. People can say, "Well, where's the customer in that?" I think that's really important. You don't find startups missing that because they know exactly who they're going after. Sometimes when you become a large organization with maybe lots of different offerings, it becomes a little less clear who the customer is, or the customer can be aligned in different niches sometimes. That can dilute that, but it's really important for someone to be able to see that this customer is in the center. If it's an enterprise view with that and you do what you said, absolutely, I think growth is the outcome of that.

Michael Krigsman: How do you at Deloitte, again, given your scale, ensure that the internal organizational enterprise understanding of the customer is clear and precise and that you are meeting those customers' needs, just as you were describing?

Diana O'Brien: Yeah. No, it's great. I'll tell you, just as I'm stepping into global, I am visiting and learning about different parts of our organization that I didn't have as much exposure to since I was primarily focused in the U.S. before. But, I do think that what we do is, we look to the global strategy now just as I looked to the U.S. strategy.

The good news is, our global strategy is very clear on what we're trying to accomplish, who our customer is, [and] what our purpose is. If we anchor on that, then we align the marketing strategy and execution to deliver on that in every market. Now, there are training opportunities, and there are skillset opportunities, as people learn and become more competent in the ability to assess the market, understand how our strategy lives in that market, and then making the choices about how to engage in whatever marketing strategy might make the most sense for the need that we're trying to address.

Michael Krigsman: You said something very important. You said that your purpose is clear, and you understand; you know who your customer is. That's very unusual, I think, for many organizations.

Diana O'Brien: Yeah. I credit our global CEO. He repeats our purpose. I don't believe you could ask a person at Deloitte a question and say, "Do you know what your purpose is?" and not have someone repeat that our purpose is to make an impact that matters for our clients, for our people, and the communities that we live in, and then be able to describe how they do it.

What I really like about our purpose, and because we're a professional services firm where our individuals who show up our talent, that shows up really is our brand, is who we are, if they can all say that, then they also have the freedom to understand what is that impact and can define some of that for themselves. While there might be behaviors that we want them to carry out because that's our best, we know what that looks like, and we try to put those into the DNA of our people through training and development activities, we know that everyone knows their job is to make an impact that matters for their clients or their people or their community, depending on what they might be working on at the moment. Every single person can see themselves in that no matter you're serving the largest client, you're serving an individual tax person, [or] you are talking in the internal organization and serving someone. You can deliver on that promise.

Michael Krigsman: I want to remind everyone that we are speaking right now with Diana O'Brien, who is the global chief marketing officer of Deloitte, which is the largest professional services organization in the world with 260,000 associates. Right now, there is a tweet chat taking place using the hashtag #CxOTalk. You can ask questions of Diana. It's a really rare opportunity, so ask your questions.

Diana, now, when you talk about understanding the customer, you were describing earlier. I keep coming back to this understanding of the customer because it's so fundamentally important. You were talking about quantitative means and qualitative means. Can you speak a little bit about each of those directly in terms of how do you use these various types of tools to better understand, in a nuanced way, who your client is?

Diana O'Brien: We would do focus groups where we're talking to customers. We do individual client survey assessments where we are soliciting feedback from clients. We're doing that face-to-face. Then we're doing broader surveys or capturing data as a result of the client interactions and then monitoring and watching that data as it moves through so that we can help people understand where individuals are during the stage of what they might be focused on.

It's capturing the analytics that we get. It's capturing analytics from outside that informs that. Then it's personal, face-to-face discussions in client service assessments [and] focus groups.

We also seek out strategic partners to engage with where our brand is extended by our relationship with them. We look for feedback from them as well as to what it is that their customers are looking for and how we can support and serve that in the solving of whatever issue they might be addressing.

Michael Krigsman: Now, marketing in a professional services organization like yours is different, of course, than marketing for a consumer brand. Can you describe some of the unique aspects of marketing that Deloitte undertakes, marketing a professional services organization as opposed to other types of companies?

Diana O'Brien: You know what's interesting about that question? I think there's some truth to it, but I actually think that it's starting to erode. I think that it's really B2P, meaning people. It's not B2C, and it's not B2B; it's really B2P because you're still connecting with a person and how you make that person feel.

For us, [it's] having that person feel that they have all the information they need at the right time. That might be coming to our website and seeing thought leadership that informs them about something that's in their strategy that they'd like to implement. Then being able to say, "I'm talking to the right people," so they want to be able to feel that they've got the right experts around them to address the things that they're trying to solve for in their company.

It's important that all marketing change the way you feel. I think when you get comfortable with what you're trying to make a person feel about something, and sometimes it's a set of people who are deciding in a business, but it's still a one-to-one relationship in terms of people's individual choice and their description of who you are as a brand, and trying to understand that and focusing on the things that you can do around the issues you own.

If your platform is to address issues that are associated with digital transformation, then you need to have content early on that helps explain it to people. You need to have ways to engage with multiple leaders who are dealing with the topics of digital transformation and what's happening. You need to be able to share best practices from other clients that are going on.

I don't think those things, fundamentally, are that different than from a B2B or a B2C type company. I just think that you're still trying to make them feel something, and you're trying to delight them through that process so that they're loyal, so that they continue to stay excited about who you are and what you're doing.

Michael Krigsman: At the end of the day, it's about creating that emotional connection and engendering a sense of delight in that customer.

Diana O'Brien: Yeah, I think it is. I think you want your clients to feel that they've made the right choice, that there's no risk here, that they can have confidence, that they can move forward and be wildly successful, and that's can be delighting if you do that. [Laughter]

Michael Krigsman: Well, there's no question about that. We have some questions from Twitter, and Arsalan Khan asks an interesting one. He says, "Who should marketers work with inside the organization to provide the most impact?"

Diana O'Brien: It's a good question. I think sometimes it depends on the business, but I would say I've probably heard, more often than not, that the CFO is a place to start. I know one CMO who, when she was just stepping into her role, she said, "The very first person I established a relationship with before I even started was the CFO."

I have other clients where, again, if you can't make the business case to the CFO as to what you're doing and why, then you might struggle to make it elsewhere to operational or business unit leaders. I think it's a great place to start, but I do think, across an organization, how a business is structured and the types of products, it's just as important for a company that has really important insights to affect product development. You're getting insights that can change the product and make it better.

You need to be instrumental then in product development and how that's researched that might be going on to evolve a product. That would be a difference that I think, again, the structure, the product, et cetera, might suggest different people and approaches. But, I don't think it ever hurts to go to the CFO.

Michael Krigsman: Go to the CFO but, as you were describing, having touchpoints back into the product and feeding information back into the product because, after all, marketing, the CMO is, in a sense, we could say the proxy for the customer inside the organization.

Diana O'Brien: Absolutely. Absolutely. It's also the proxy for your associates as well. Hence, I have a strong relationship with our chief talent officer. It's because our culture, what he protects and shepherds, is something that, again, will show up on the outside in brand if it's not healthy, if things aren't well.

Part of my job is to help him because often your associates also can be your customers. In certainly a B2C, that's often the case, and also influencers. Having them play all those roles, it's really important that your internal culture reinforce your brand. The chief talent officer is equally strategic in that particular regard.

Michael Krigsman: Now, we have another question from Twitter. Shelly Lucas, who is @pisarose, I happen to know and is one of the best content marketers that I know. She's asking, "Some people say brands are dead, and so what is your view?" I guess the broader question is the question of building a brand, the relevance of a brand, and associated set of issues.

Diana O'Brien: Yeah, I just don't think it's true. I think brands are alive and well. I think the difference is that you no longer compete with brands that are in your industry or brands that were in your neighborhood, down the street, or in your city. You're competing with the best brands in the world, and so it's much more challenging to be distinctive in establishing a customer experience and really differentiating your offering. The companies that are doing it well are companies, I think, that have really well-established brands. I think your brand has a lot of value. Even for companies, like a professional services firm, I think that the brand value is in all of the intrinsic value that every associate and every client we had the chance to serve, their representation of us.

I don't think it is. I think brand is super important, and I think that a lot of what you do is in service of the brand. The service of the brand is reviving. Marketing is about growing the business, and so I think they're really linked.

Michael Krigsman: Building a brand, you mention differentiating, that now brands are competing not with their local competitors or their industry competitors, but with other strong brands throughout the world, which begs the question, I think, on just a tactical level. What CMOs want to know is, how do you compete? How do you differentiate yourself in a digital world?

Diana O'Brien: I think that you, one, don't get distracted by the technology itself. You stay focused on the customer you have and the problem that you're solving for them. You continue to simplify. Everything needs to be easy. I think that, again, as organizations get large and complex, if you can combine your physical and your digital experiences together--you go and get coffee, and you can charge it--those types of experiences when they're linked make it easier, simplify the process, keep everything in a way that is most meaningful to me, I think that's how you have to compete. I think it's just going to continue to change and the opportunity to change it, to create these immersive experiences is only going to get more expansive as we stick out toe in and further investigate some of the new technologies, the emerging technologies in AI, digital, and mixed reality type spaces.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. We have another question from Twitter. I want to remind everybody we're speaking with Diana O'Brien, who is the global chief marketing officer at Deloitte. It's an enormous company, and you have a great opportunity right now to ask her questions.

I always let the Twitter questions take a priority over my own, even though I have a bunch of questions that I want to ask you as well. [Laughter] I'm learning here as much as the audience is learning. Now, we have another question from Twitter. Saurabh Rijhwani is asking, "What role does social media play for companies in the B2B environment?"

Diana O'Brien: Yeah, that's a great question. When I took the role initially, I actually wasn't at all sure that it played a role. I first learned that it did by just appreciating via an associate coming up to me saying, "Diana, you're not very good at this and your LinkedIn profile is not very effective. You need to do some things."

I said, "I really appreciate you telling me that. Now I'd like you to help me if you wouldn't mind becoming my mentor on this topic," and she did, and so she really started to expose me. What I learned to appreciate first was that how I presented myself was a voice for how everyone else in the firm could present themselves. It helped to give folks a lens through which to see that and to appreciate the value of telling our story in the marketplace, being authentic, real, out there, and open about who you are. That was the first thing I learned.

The second thing I learned was that, again, people want to be affiliated and know that you know people that are talking about the issues they're talking about. It's helpful if you can comment and you can share an insight with others on topics or with people that are influential in the areas that you focus or that are important to you. When we have conversations that are going on about smart cities, digital transformation, or any of our topics, we love it when people engage because it makes all of us better. We all learn from the rich conversation that transpires. You might not agree with everything everyone says, but I think everybody can walk away and get additional perspective. It's making the pie and the ecosystem bigger that you're a part of, and that's terrific.

Michael Krigsman: Your Twitter account and your LinkedIn account are very active, so you're very engaged on social media.

Diana O'Brien: We can thank Paige Montgomery. I'll tell you; she's one of my associates, and she's terrific. She stepped up and had bravery to help me, so I thank you.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Shout out to Paige Montgomery.

One of the issues I think that CMOs face, maybe in smaller companies--and I'd love to get your advice--is you're describing earlier this expansive view of the CMO role where it's customer experience, but that touches back on everything from processes to the product definition. I think, for many CMOs, they may view it that way but, at the end of the day, they're being judged. No matter what the CEO says, at the end of the day they're being judged by demand gen, by leads, and by very tactical, concrete measures. What advice do you have for a CMO who is in that situation, wants to do more and have a greater impact, and knows they can do more?

Diana O'Brien: Yeah. I think they really go hand-in-hand because driving leads, bringing insights around those leads, and making sure that you can influence as an opportunity moves through the funnel, your insight, in the beginning, can be enormously helpful in driving the process and accelerating how fast that can happen. It's actually an area where there is measurement. It's easy to push it. You can use it as a way to influence and convene leaders in your organization. Then start to step into some of the other areas, bring that same value, and you'll start to establish a level of trust that I think they'll start to invite you in more.

Michael Krigsman: It's a matter of demonstrating a result and developing trust over time.

Diana O'Brien: Yeah, absolutely.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. We have another question from Twitter, from Zachary Jeans, who asks, "What challenges does GDPR compliance present to marketing at Deloitte?" For those people who don't know, GDPR is a European set of very stringent privacy compliance regulations.

Diana O'Brien: Yeah, it's a very important topic. CMOs need to absolutely understand the implications in their organization so that they don't violate the law and protect the identity of the individuals that they need to protect in those regards or who ask to be protected in those regards. It's critically important, and they need to work hand-in-hand with risk, your chief risk officer, your chief technology officers. There is really a group of you that would need to come together to make sure that you have the right processes in place to protect the security and privacy of those individuals. It's very important.

What I would say is that there is so much opportunity with digital transformation to become a more strategic leader, to use your insights in thoughtful ways. But, it's a little bit of a tale of two cities because, along with all that opportunity that I believe is there for all of us, I think the pie did really just get bigger. There is this looming issue of security and risk and privacy and safety that people want to be assured about. That's just one regulation that's attempting to protect for things like that. You have to take that as seriously as anything.

Michael Krigsman: Let's talk about team building and talent. You have said that talent is more than just hiring people. What did you mean by that?

Diana O'Brien: Well, first let me say, talent is close to my heart. Right next to clients are our people. One of the reasons that's the case is I had an opportunity to shape Deloitte University, which is our leadership center where all of our professionals at some point do go, and several, multiple times to really become the best leader they can be. What I know in that process is that it's super important to hire people, hire the right people, hire skills that you need. Skills are changing. Jobs are changing. You have to think about all the things that are in your team and individuals that you need going forward.

But, what you really need are some leadership skills of agility, thoughtfulness, and empathy. Where do you build those? It's just as important to invest in our people to build those skills, to appreciate how important it is to adapt, to have a growth mindset, to have one experience.

I've had a chance to be at Deloitte an awfully long time. In the course of that, I've had lots of different jobs, none of them the same. The world has changed dramatically since I started, so I look at it now and I think that's only going to be magnified for the generations coming in now. And so, what are the most important skills that we need? Investing in development that helps our people think, be more creative, take more risks, have a little bit more entrepreneurial spirit, be a little bit more courageous in how they're showing up in the world, I think those are enormously important and they're just as important as hiring the right person.

It's really nurturing and developing the right person. That comes from development and learning. It comes from exposing them to things that are outside and different from your organization, mentors and sponsors, and all the right connected role models in organizations - in and outside organizations.

Michael Krigsman: For you, quality, such as you mentioned, empathy and thoughtfulness, can we say are the ingredients that help shape that client experience and, thus, your very keen interest in this topic.

Diana O'Brien: Yeah. We have, actually, gone as far as to say there are a set of moments that do matter in people's lives and in the life of a client that you're serving. If you can show up in that moment, we'd know what our best looks like. Our best is someone who can walk in your shoes, understand what you're experiencing, have a point of view, [and] say what others won't say. These are things that show bravery. They show interest. You can suspend your own ego in that and be there for someone else in their journey to whatever they're working to solve. Yeah, those are all really important attributes to delivering a world-class client experience.

Michael Krigsman: I love that. You just said, "Suspend your own ego and show bravery." I mean those are extraordinary qualities. How do teach people that? How do you develop that culture?

Diana O'Brien: Yeah. Honestly, the way we did it was we went as far as developing a pretty robust training that our professionals go through. It's embedded into our milestone programs now, as our professionals progress. We thought it important enough to teach our leaders and then our account teams together, this is what our best looks like. We have crafted, what does empathy look like, how do you practice it, how do you do it in it, and we have, behind that, a business chemistry that gives us a common language, if you will, to talk about it. That's one of the important tools that we have in our toolkit of service.

Michael Krigsman: Wow! I'm almost speechless because it's extraordinary to me the extent to which--again, I keep coming back to this--you think about marketing in such a broad way to encompass all of these different components. It sounds like this is very central to your thinking.

Diana O'Brien: It is. It really is. I see that digital technology is giving us a platform for that, so I'm excited about what I think it can do for others as they step down the journey. But, it doesn't take away from the fundamentals of what marketing is. I think that's what's special about it is that people can grow and understand the broader context maybe more easily than, say, learning a specific marketing competency.

Michael Krigsman: We have literally about three minutes left, and so we haven't spoken at all about technology. Can you say anything at all about the role of technology, AI, personalization, and all of that given that we only have a couple of minutes left? [Laughter]

Diana O'Brien: It's very important to creating the best client experience. Just don't get distracted by what the technology is. Think about the problem you're solving and make sure that the technologies you're bringing to bear are really addressing that. I think sometimes we can get a little enamored by what the bells and whistles are and not think about the client again. But, if you really do know what you're solving for, technology can be an enormously valuable enabler to terrific marketing.

Michael Krigsman: Being clear about what you're solving for and then using technology to help lever whatever it is you're trying to do.

Diana O'Brien: Absolutely.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Another very quick question for you on a very complicated subject: privacy. How do you think about balancing personalization and the value of that against the privacy risks and also the potential to be creepy, which we don't want to be?

Diana O'Brien: Yeah. It's at the heartbeat right now of the marketplace, and I think it's enormously important. We have an entire practice that thinks about privacy every day. For us, we cannot have a trusted relationship with you if we don't value and hold dear the data we have on you, the privacy of your persona out in the world and protect you. It stands fair with our highest ideals that we will protect our customers' data and do everything we can to keep it secure.

Michael Krigsman: It sounds like, overall, your general approach is a very, shall we say, human-centered approach: empathy, trust, [and] reducing risk for the client. These types of attributes sound like this is where you get a lot of thinking time.

Diana O'Brien: It is, and I think those are words that we would want people to describe our brand as human-centered, as empathetic, as clear about the problems we're solving, not getting distracted. We want to be the market leader in changing the business models, driving the future vision of the disruptions that are there and how those are going to become terrific new businesses in the future. What the entire digital disruption happening in the world has done, it has created an enormous opportunity for us because those are big problems, and that's what we go about solving are those. For us, it's a big opportunity, but we only want to do it if, one, we can solve it in a way that matters to you, that brings value to you.

Michael Krigsman: Let's finish up by my asking you advice. What advice do you have for organizations, for other organizations that are listening to this and want to embody these things, but it's a struggle; they're not sure? What advice do you have for other CMOs to help move their organizations in this way?

Diana O'Brien: I think the first thing is to just get smart about your customer data. Then use this opportunity to make marketing make sense to people. I think when you talk in languages like campaigns, those don't make sense to people. They don't understand what that is. You have to turn it into making it make sense for them. Talk about it in ways that tie back to the business, the things that you do. Those two things alone, I think, are really important steps. Help the leaders understand what marketing is. Make it make sense. Then think about how you can continue to translate those customer insights.

Interestingly, I think a lot of folks don't know their customer as well as they think they do. I am reminded all the time when I meet with terrific CMOs how much time and energy they put into really understanding their customer. Get out of the office. Go see customers. Talk to them. Spend the time to learn the data.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Great advice. Well, you have been watching Episode #284 of CxOTalk. We've been speaking with Diana O'Brien, who is the global CMO at Deloitte. Diana, thank you so much for spending all this time with us.

Diana O'Brien: Thank you.

Michael Krigsman: Everybody, be sure to tell a friend and be sure to subscribe on YouTube. We have amazing shows coming up. Thank you so much for watching. I hope you have a great day. Bye-bye.

Published Date: Apr 06, 2018

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 513