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Perspectives

Panasonic and Deloitte CMOs on marketing's next frontier

From The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today

As the CMO role continues to evolve, many top marketers are embracing a more expansive remit that extends beyond tactical brand and campaign activities to encompass enterprisewide growth responsibilities. Lauren Sallata, CMO of Panasonic Corporation of North America, and Diana O’Brien, global CMO of Deloitte, discuss how this shift is playing out at their companies.

When Lauren Sallata joined Panasonic Corporation of North America as CMO in 2016, she says she was drawn to the marketing challenge of helping a storied 100-year-old brand ready itself for the future. The company was already several years into a larger business transformation, shifting its focus from consumer electronics to B2B products and solutions for industries like renewable energy, automotive, retail, and avionics. Yet although 95 percent of the company’s revenue was coming from B2B markets, Sallata believed the brand perception lagged.

Sallata undertook a brand overhaul to help solidify the company’s image as a B2B and business-to-government (B2G) solutions provider. The effort entailed an agency search, extensive customer and stakeholder research, and a new brand platform, “Technologies That Move Us,” that resulted in a 67 percent increase in awareness of Panasonic in B2B markets, according to Sallata.

Though the brand overhaul has given the company a foundation for the coming years, Sallata says her work isn’t done. Like many CMOs who are increasingly adopting a broader strategic mindset, she is intensely focused on driving revenue across the company.

“We are absolutely on a journey. We’ve done important foundational work, but the next frontier is the development of growth programs that really help the business units think about how they approach their markets in a modern way,” Sallata explains. “Marketing used to be built around the four P’s: product, price, promotion, and placement. Now, especially for companies with complex buying cycles, it’s much more about the three R’s: revenue, relationships, and reputation.”

It’s a narrative that’s familiar to Diana O’Brien, global CMO of Deloitte, who has been overseeing a similar transformation to move marketing from an execution machine to a disruption and growth driver. The company is roughly two years into a process that reimagined its marketing organization structures, processes, technologies, and talent models.

“We needed to re-establish marketing as a core competency and elevate its role in the company,” O’Brien says. “We saw an opportunity for marketing to be much more strategic, but we had to rethink some fundamental elements—the way we work, our capabilities, and our people and skills—to help enable that shift. Now that we’ve laid that groundwork, marketing is taking on a more significant role. We’re currently focused on improving in such areas as measuring our impact on the business, accelerating sales velocity, and becoming more globally consistent in our account-based marketing efforts.”

Enabled by Technology

For organizations undergoing a marketing transformation, updating or upgrading technology—whether to improve marketing measurement, enable real-time content creation, or realize efficiencies with data—is often an important step. As part of Deloitte’s marketing transformation, the company implemented technologies including a workflow automation tool and new dashboards to enhance and standardize marketing measurement and reporting. The firm also improved its content delivery to enable real-time sharing of insights with clients at a global level.

“Digital technologies are becoming a key differentiator across all facets of marketing,” O’Brien says. “Having the right tool sets and capabilities enables marketers to spend more efficiently but also interact with clients and customers in much more meaningful ways.”

At Panasonic, taking marketing to the next level required a new digital platform that was better equipped to give business and government buyers the information they seek, according to Sallata. Partnering with representatives across business groups, Sallata led the creation of a digital strategy working group that launched a new, more customer-focused website.

“It’s imperative to meet the market where it is and to understand how customers and prospects consume information,” she says. “All the data told us that our audience is heavily digital—and mobile—in the early stages of awareness and education. The website relaunch allowed us to better meet their needs, but it also acted as a catalyst internally for us to become a more digital-first organization.”

In addition, Sallata created a strategic function that led a re-evaluation of marketing’s ecosystem of vendors and suppliers. The group analyzed procurement for all categories across business units and implemented standards to help ecosystem partners understand and consistently apply the new brand direction. The strategic function also led an analysis of the marketing organization’s talent and capabilities, identifying areas of need—for example, individuals who are certified in marketing automation technologies—and hiring or training accordingly.

With those brand, technology, and talent cornerstones in place, Sallata and her team are now focused on driving business growth and revenue generation—for example, by exploring ways to implement or improve strategies such as social selling, account-based marketing, and relationship-building with top customers. The ability to generate meaningful customer insights is fundamental to those efforts. Panasonic’s marketing function is now working to build out customer profiles with data reflecting their interactions across marketing touchpoints, information about account health, and insights into buying habits and needs.

“To play that strategic role and truly drive growth requires us to have a single, very detailed view of customers,” Sallata explains. “It’s a simple concept, but in a B2B sales environment—where multiple business units within our organization are selling to different groups within client companies—it can be very complex.”

"As marketers, we can bring the broader perspective of customers, partners, and the market into the discussion and think strategically about the long term. We can work shoulder to shoulder with the business to figure out where to go and how to get there."

—Lauren Sallata, CMO, Panasonic Corporation of North America

Forging Strong Partnerships

Though today’s CMOs often are eager to extend their roles beyond tactical activities, many struggle to actually do so, according to Deloitte research. The research found that one way CMOs can gain greater influence is by partnering closely with their C-suite peers—an insight both Sallata and O’Brien have found to be true.

“Having alignment across the C-suite is critical,” says Sallata, who collaborates frequently with peers including the CFO, CIO, and chief human resources officer (CHRO). “With the CIO, for example, we meet almost weekly. We discuss strategy, include each other as stakeholders on significant projects, and create working groups with representatives from each of our teams. The CHRO relationship is also very important; we’re highly focused on talent, development, and culture, so we have worked on a number of initiatives together.”

Partnering closely with business unit leaders also has been instrumental in Sallata’s efforts to elevate the marketing function at Panasonic. “The business units often are highly focused on their quarterly cycles and meeting their numbers, as they should be,” she says. “As marketers, we can bring the broader perspective of customers, partners, and the market into the discussion and think strategically about the long term. We can work shoulder to shoulder with the business to figure out where to go and how to get there.”

As companies become more customer-centric and as marketing technologies become more complex, CMOs may increasingly find themselves playing the role of organizational orchestrator. “Marketing today involves many moving parts, with technologies, customer needs, and the business landscape changing rapidly,” O’Brien says. “As CMOs, we can increase our influence and drive the business forward, but only if we connect all the dots at an enterprise level.”

—by Mary E. Morrison, senior writer, Deloitte Insights for CMOs

Lauren Sallata’s participation in this article is solely for educational purposes based on her knowledge of the subject, and the views expressed by her are solely her own. This article should not be deemed or construed to be for the purpose of soliciting business for Panasonic Corporation of North America, nor does Deloitte advocate or endorse the services or products provided by Panasonic Corporation of North America.

This content was originally published on the Wall Street Journal CMO Today.