In partnership with The CMO Club, The CMO of the Week series profiles CMOs who are shaping, changing and challenging the world of modern marketing. For Drew Neisser's complete interview with CMO Award Winner Matt Sweetwood, click here.
What kinds of appliances are in the toolbox of today's CMO, you ask? Well, where shall we start? Thanks to a never-ending assembly line of digital instruments, there's enough metaphorical gadgetry to make the modern marketer's so-called toolbox look more like Home Depot. But the person wielding the tools is also important, just as the photographer holding the camera can make or break a good photo.
Matt Sweetwood, until recently the longtime-CMO and President of Unique Photo, saw his company through the decline of the developed film industry in the late 00's in no small part due to his keen understanding of his own utility-not just within Unique Photo, but as an icon of his industry. This also helped him scoop up a President's Circle Award from The CMO Club last year, so read closely and see why all CMOs should learn to apply the lens of their personal brands to their businesses.
Learning New Techniques
In 2007, the traditional camera industry was facing dire numbers due to the rise of digital photography. As CMO of a company whose model had relied on developing film, this put Sweetwood in a place to innovate professionally, and innovate he did, by establishing Unique Photo as the premier learning place for those who wanted to tinker with new photographic equipment and by moving from B2B to a retail business model.
Facing a crisis of existence or not, he advises CMOs to sate their hunger for professional learning outside corporate walls. "To stay on top," he says, "you have to view knowledge like food. You need at least 3 servings every day." Sweetwood says your personal brand is the tool by which you can best absorb information. For his part, he networks frequently and isn't even afraid of the cold-caller. "I am very open to being solicited from digital marketing vendors," says Sweetwood. "You learn when they present, even if you don't buy."
Choosing the Best Lens
As photographers know, while learning is crucial, it's best to stick with one medium and be known well for it. The same goes for a CMO's communication of his or her personal brand. For many marketers, the medium of choice is Twitter, but for Sweetwood, it's Facebook, and this makes sense, given that Facebook integrated photo capabilities long before Twitter was around. Being visible on this network helped Sweetwood develop leads for his company via his personal brand. "I have leveraged my Facebook page to establish me as the most recognized figure in the photography business," he says. "That brings enormous benefits to me from vendors, consultants, customers and media who regularly follow me."
Getting Acquainted with Your Fellow Craftsmen
That said, it's important to step outside of your silo and reach out to marketing professionals beyond your area of expertise. As one of few marketers in his own, Sweetwood stresses the necessity of establishing a peer network for today's CMO, especially when the CMO finds him or herself operating in a niche industry as Sweetwood did. "Having a strong peer network," he says, "reminds me there are others out there who think like me, and that gives me the extra confidence to implement new ideas." Think of them as members of your marketing guild, who can provide sound advice and a new perspective on your trade as CMO.
Refocusing Customer Service
Sweetwood has even found personal branding useful when it comes to the customer experience. It's easy to advise on customer service from behind the desk, but Sweetwood has found that CMOs can make a bigger impact if they practice what they preach. "I believe that how you treat and view customers starts from the top," he says. Sweetwood often personally answers social media inquiries and monitors Unique Photo's customer service queues. "It sets the standard for your staff when they see the person at the top of the marketing department interact with customers.
When we spoke, Unique Photo had added live chat and closer social media monitoring to its customer service du jour. As Sweetwood puts it, this not only helps the customers, but also gives your company better insight into what makes them tick. "When you are close to your customers, they give you great marketing ideas."
CMO of the Week is an exclusive Social Media Today Column appearing every Thursday