Friday, March 06, 2009

Another VP Marketing lost his job today...

... for the wrong reasons.

He was (is) strategically brilliant and a fountain of ideas. His insight into his customers was formidable. His managerial capabilities were strong. His relationships with sales management were excellent. And the CEO really liked him. In fact, the CEO really supported the launch of the new ad campaign a few months back that substantially increased the company's spend.

But now, several months past the campaign's initial wave, there is no credible evidence or consensus that it had any positive effect on sales, profits, customer value, or any other meaningful dimension. And the fact that unaided brand awareness was up X% was little comfort.

So this particular VP of Marketing was let go, and marketing is now reporting to the EVP of Sales.

I spoke to the CEO who told me "I relied on (the VP Marketing) to make smart decisions about where and how we spent our marketing resources. In the end, it wasn't the lack of positive results that bothered me about that campaign as much as it was our inability to really learn anything important about why it didn't work and what we should do next. So I felt I needed to place my bets somewhere I get better transparency and feedback... sales. It may be short-sighted, but we need to demonstrate learning and improvement every day, or we're just spinning our wheels."

In better times, the VP may have gotten another chance to iterate to the magic marketing formula. But in the current environment, you only get one chance. To learn, that is, and to build confidence and credibility even when your efforts fail to achieve the desired outcome. Which, in marketing, happens quite often.

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