Whether you review the work coming out of Cannes or your own marketing department’s output, one thing is certain: It would not have gotten to where you see it without a whole bunch of boring stuff.
It’s absolutely necessary to start the journey to brilliant work with a brilliant strategy. And for that you need smart strategists, armed with great data and insights. Getting a smart strategist, or keeping one, is an important task. That means working out a job description and org structure conducive to attracting and maintaining such top talent.
Once you have a smart strategy and an insight to separate your offering from all your competitors, a lot of wheels get put in motion. You probably need a good briefing, to agree on the right KPIs to track your efforts, and have your agency or agencies start translating the strategy and insight into messages. You also need to figure out the appropriate touchpoints.
Step one is creating an inspirational briefing. Briefings are consistently mentioned by almost all parties involved in the marketing and communications process as the weakest link. If we could all improve our briefings by a third, the industry would be 100% better off (that math works in my head!).
You clearly also need good data, smart analytics and tools, and a team capable of discerning what data points matter. I mentioned that your brilliant strategist needs data to mine for insights. And once the strategy is there, the selection of meaningful and measurable KPIs to track your success (or failure) is critical. So you need to ensure you have acquired the talent and the tools to allow for all this to happen.
Obviously, an agency partner and/or an in-house agency, is equally critical. Talent plans, development plans, frequent evaluations and feedback, team building and so on are all part of managing the process. And contracts, incentives and scopes should be thoughtfully crafted to ensure the partners in the process are not only fully capable of delivering what you are after, but also incentivized to do so without being limited by financial restrictions or margin worries.
A similar avalanche of enablers is needed once you go into production. Does your media team have the tools and data to buy what is right versus what is cheap? Are they buying what is safe (perhaps it is better to aim for “safe-ish”) versus buying what is cheap? Are they capable of optimizing in real time to ensure maximum impact versus what is cheap? I think you see what I'm getting at here.
For your content, you will need fabulous content creators. Sure, that impressive piece of video will get all the attention and hopefully recognition. But the email marketing campaign, the text that your consumers will see when they search for you, or the work that goes into ensuring that your website runs on mobile just as smoothly as it does on a computer: All this work is really important as well. And it will only happen if the right resources, talent and processes have been defined and are being managed.
So yes, as CMO, or really as anyone in the marketing ecosystem, you will be judged by the brilliant work you create. But the only way you are going to get there is by ensuring that the “boring stuff” is equally well-thought-out and managed. Process, structure, org design, contracts, incentives and evaluation (of the right metrics!) are what really make marketing success.