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The revolution of enterprise marketing leadership will not be televised

Something that has always amazed me over the past half-decade or so is the obvious disparity between the makeup of marketing thought leadership on social networks and blogs versus the makeup of marketing executive leadership at enterprise brands. If I had to guess, I’ve probably interacted closely with hundreds of enterprise brands, and more often than not, the digital marketing leadership teams within those organizations – from the manager level all the way up to the CMO level – are rarely folks that also have a well-established voice on mainstream online community niches like Twitter or the blogosphere.

In other words, many of the folks that actually run the marketing programs at large organizations have little or no professional or personal footprint within those very channels they manage. They haven’t built a following or community via social networks. They’ve never built traffic or conversion funnels for their own personal websites via search, email, affiliates, etc. Heck, for that matter, they’ve never built a website (e.g. coded or designed). And they definitely haven’t implemented analytics tracking or built custom analytics reporting dashboards. Lastly, many of them learned about marketing from the standpoint of a much more traditional TV, radio, print, and PR communications paradigm.

And that makes for a curious disparity indeed.

Granted, one of alternative reasons for the lack of online thought leaders occupying marketing leadership roles at large organization is that many of those great marketing minds have found that it’s more lucrative – and enjoyable – to go the entrepreneurial route. Another reason is that many of the brightest minds in the online marketing space prefer the relative freedom and flexibility that employment at a start-up or small business affords. Still, I can’t help but think that the time is ripe for more of our online thought leaders to begin taking the marketing reins within some of the larger organizations in the marketplace.

I’ve decided to personally help stimulate this shift by going out of my way to connect known enterprise marketing recruiters with savvy marketers in my personal social network. I’m also considering the idea of creating a formal coaching or training program to help up-and-coming digital marketers in our niche online community land leadership roles within these larger organizations.

And I encourage any of you reading this that are already entrenched in leadership positions to do the same, because the sooner that more of our ilk occupy those executive positions at large organizations, the sooner that the marketing industry as a whole will shift from a more traditional mindset to a more progressive one, which sounds like a whole lot of fun to me.

P.S. If you’re a marketing executive that’s on the outskirts of the online marketing niche community – or completely on the outside looking in – I highly suggest that you start dipping more toes into these waters. Your long-term career prospects might depend on it.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • webprotech

    Shifting to the digital media sooner or later is inevitable for any organization. The challenge is how they manage the shift .

    My SEJ article on the same topic discusses about 3 possible situations when the shift is taking place .


    • hugoguzman

      Thanks for sharing that insight. That’s definitely inevitable particularly once TV becomes a digital channel. This article deals more with a shift in marketing leadership as opposed to media/budget shifts from traditional to digital, though I do understand that there’s a bit of a relationship there.

  • rymcl

    I honestly can’t wait for this. There is a ton of disruption to be had at the top of Fortune 500 marketing departments. Great points, Hugo.

    • hugoguzman

      Thanks for the kind words, Ryan! And I say, why wait? Let’s make the shift happen now.

      • rymcl

        I’m down for that man. I’m building my cred so I can make some pillars fall soon.

        • hugoguzman

          Do it to it, and don’t hesitate to send me your list of requirements (e.g. cities/states where you’d be willing to work, salary, skills/departments) because I get a lot of inquiries from recruiters. I’m thinking of building an email newsletter for folks that want to stay in the loop and get contacted when I get a new job inquiry. Would you be interested in joining that? I’m thinking of charging like $1 a month or something to help me cover the costs of managing the list.

          • rymcl

            I’d do that just for the inside info on trends/shifts in the industry!

          • hugoguzman

            Cool! Thanks for the feedback. I think I may just have to make this happen.

          • rymcl

            Anytime. Hit me up when you do.

  • http://twitter.com/madeale Alessio Madeyski

    great post Hugo, really! I love when you say to shift from a more traditional mindset to a more progressive one, because having a progressive mind is what you need to change (REALLY change) the world, and do something amazing.

    looking forward to this moment, and hopefully, be part of this.

    • hugoguzman

      Thanks Alessio! I’m glad it resonated with you. One thing I would say, though, is that while I agree that a progressive mindset can lead to true change in the world, I tend to doubt that true change in the world will be driven by marketing. It may play a role, but there are much more fundamental forces at play (economic, political, technological, philosophical, etc.) that I believe will play a larger role in that real change you speak to.

      That said, I’m all for that too!

  • http://twitter.com/edmundpelgen edmundpelgen

    That is a very interesting observation. I’m often struck by that very disconnect when i meet people in organisations who are responsible for “digital” and “social media” where few have a strong presence in these channels. I wonder though whether it is a different person/personality who chases and achieves the position as “head of digital” who is adept at climbing the corporate ladder versus the person who is willing to invest in connecting at a 1 to 1 level via social.

    Great food for thought

    • hugoguzman

      Thanks for chiming in, Edmund! I often wonder the same thing. I believe that other factors are in play and one of them is that we’re still in the infancy stage of the transition from traditional media and marketing to digital media and marketing. Therefore, a lot of the top, C-level executives that ultimately drive the hiring strategy come from the old school.

  • http://twitter.com/TheNextCorner Dennis Goedegebuure

    Dude, Hammer.. Nail.. Head..

    You can’t believe how many stories I have concerning this very point you are making! In my former life, I’ve seen it all. A CTO asking for people to DM him on Twitter for free tickets to a conference, while he only followed 50 people, a Director being appointed to Social Media, while having a Twitter stream locked up for public viewing and many more stories.

    You can say, it’s just a matter of time before all the old guard Marketing Executive retire, and the new ones come in, grown up with being heavily invested into Social and having a following.

    However, I agree with you, we should be pushing for a faster revolution. I don’t want to wait to sit in that chair until somebody retires, although I have created plenty of great opportunities for myself already.

    Sign me up buddy!

    • hugoguzman

      Thanks bud! I know that you’ve been there and I also know that you’re one of the trailblazers making inroads into those upper-management roles, so keep it rolling and I’ll definitely loop you in as I build out a newsletter for this initiative.

  • http://www.monicawright.com Monica Wright

    I was at the eTail Boston conference this week where some of the biggest hopping and commerce brands around were speaking, as well as attending. I was only there for one day, but I was pretty immersed in the social track the whole time. And I was shocked, SHOCKED that barely anyone was tweeting from those sessions. From any session for that matter, including the search session which was happening at the same time the next few rooms over. I was sitting next to a marketer, I would say she was pretty high up the food chain – from a major athletic brand (I don’t want to embarrass anyone) and she barely had a Twitter presence. Some of the speakers I saw who were fantastic – AND SPEAKING ON SOCIAL – barely had an individual online presence. Now these professionals aren’t “old guard” types, in fact they are bright, dynamic and many younger than me. And some of the stuff they were sharing was brilliant. But it made me wonder how was it that was holding them back. So after the sessions, I asked a few of them. One said he couldn’t risk being as prolific online because of his career. Another said it was too time consuming. Another said they have others do it for them. My best friend from college who was the brand manager for major baby products brand would just tell me she couldn’t get anything done – too much red tape. I found this fascinating, because while these channels are necessary in what they needed to accomplish as marketers, they just couldn’t get their hands dirty. Ultimately, I also believe that certain people get it and, and some just don’t. If you think about it, we’re a brave bunch, it’s hard work to get your individual personal brand out there, no matter where you work.

    • hugoguzman

      Wow Monica. That’s some fascinating stuff. I’ve run into similar stories and I think that there’s something to be said about the opportunity cost of spending a lot of time on social, but one thing I would note is that I’m not just referring to social media. I’m also referring to knowing how to code, design, optimize, analyze, etc. You don’t have to be an expert at all of them, but some tactical expertise would seem to be a prerequisite at least in my mind.

      I really appreciate you swinging by to share those thoughts. Great stuff and looking forward to hanging out again in person soon!

  • Harris Schachter

    “Dad, can I please have the car keys now?”

    • hugoguzman

      Thanks for chiming in, Harris! I think that you’re right about that particular distinction, and to be fair, I have seen traditional folks successfully transition to the digital mindset. What I have yet to see is those folks both transition successfully and also build real digital visibility for their personal brand and/or for smaller personal sites and communities outside of the “enterprise” universe.

  • jnthibeault

    Great article. I think the reason that you don’t see these guys in mainstream organization is because the organizations don’t put digital first. They don’t understand that everyone in the org has a role to play in the 24/7/365 conversation around their brand and products. It’s not just the marketing department (the antiquated “silo” approach). But that’s still the mentality and so when you put a marketing guy in those organizations who’s thinking “digital first,” it’s a complete value conflict and the exit strategy happens fast. As you’ve identified, startups are often thinking digital first. They understand the need to stay engaged with customers and prospects all the time as those conversations are what build the company. I wrote a blog post about this as well:



    • hugoguzman

      That’s a great take, Jason, and one that I’ve personally witness at times during my career.

      But I think that the tide is slowly shifting, and hopefully, all of us can help speed up that transition.