“My job today looks nothing like it did just a few years ago,” said a friend who has served as CMO of a high-end home brand for the past ten or so years. He came up through the ranks as a strategy and creative guy, but sometimes struggled as his role evolved during the digital era to include data and analytics.
He is not alone. Many CMOs feel the tug between creative and analytics – or as search firm Spencer Stuart recently framed the dilemma: “Chief Magic or Chief Logic Officer?” On one hand, CMOs are expected to master big data and plot the course of the consumer as he or she journeys down the path to purchase. On the other hand, CMOs are also expected to be fluent in consumer insights, brand strategy, and messaging.
This growing need to embrace both magic and logic was highlighted in a recent survey of senior marketing leaders by Spencer Stuart. Researchers noted,
Interestingly, even in an era of big data and unprecedented access to information shared by consumers, the majority of those surveyed believe that creativity is just as important as analytical ability for current and future marketing leaders. Yet, far fewer respondents feel their teams strike the right balance. The challenge is finding and competing for leaders who have a command of both the art and science of the function.”
In my experience, it’s rare to find someone who is equally expert in all areas. The smart marketing leaders I’ve known have a good self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses and aren’t shy about hiring team members who complement their strong points and shore up their weaker points. Those teams always seem to be performing at a higher level than their peer groups.
Another way to frame this “magic vs. logic dilemma” is to see the two as symbiotic. Is it possible that being intentional and methodical in your analytics leads to a place where your creativity flourishes? I think there is.
Tony Palmer is president of global brands and innovation for Kimberly-Clark. He says in the Spencer Stuart study, “We set up these false paradigms intellectually, with science being the enemy of creativity and creativity being the enemy of science. My observation throughout my career on creativity has been that the more structured you are, the more disciplined you are, the more scientific your work is and the more focused you are, the better the creativity you unleash. I have a perspective that they are not in conflict, but on the contrary, can be perfectly correlated.”
It’s true that striking a balance isn’t always easy. But the rewards are great if you can build a team that functions well with magic and logic.
The Spencer Stuart poll surveyed senior marketing leaders from a broad cross-section of categories above and beyond the high-end of the marketplace. You can read a summary here.