Jeff Jones took two unusual steps among executives in large enterprises. First, he responded. Second, he responded with humility and grace.
As the CMO of Target, Jones was responding of course, to a Gawker story that circulated the social web last week, where an anonymous employee attacked the company’s culture.
“The Target culture is very Minnesota – it’s very passive aggressive. They expect you to conform to them, to be “Targetized” and drink the Koolaid. If you aren’t super bubbly, super social and passive aggressive, you get told that you’re a problem. Being direct, wanting to actually get your work done, asking questions and pushing back are all viewed as bad things and you’ll be told to tone it down or you’ll be pushed out.”
Culture is about as central to a business as its model. As Peter Drucker (ostensibly) said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Jones’ response was “remarkable for its candor,” wrote Matthew Schwartz, on the PR News Blog: Target CMO Sends a Powerful Message to PR Field.
“Rather than put out a news release about how the company is turning things around, Jones responded via a LinkedIn “influencer” post with the title, ‘The Truth Hurts.'”
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From @rbinhammer: What soft skills do marketers need? https://t.co/LHLwZukGwn
— Shel Holtz (@shelholtz) May 23, 2014
Jones’ response is remarkable, which brings me to a second data point on adaptability. A May 2014 study by Econsultancy finds that 75% of senior marketers believe the “ability to embrace change” is the single most important soft skill in marketing.
“Indeed virtually all of the respondents from around the world – though primarily from the UK – tabbed this as an important skill, followed by the ability to spot opportunities and adapt strategies quickly and being passionate, hungry to learn and curious.”
Future: the content marketing CMO
Finally, in an outstanding post by Contently’s Sam Petulla, venture capitalist and avid blogger Fred Wilson sums up adaptability bluntly: Tomorrow’s CMOs Will Be Content Marketers.
Petulla summarized Wilson’s remarks at and event earlier in the week.
“It may be hard for a VP of marketing from another era to embrace this moment. Some will. Many won’t. We need people who understand this instinctively or intuitively.”
Adaptability clearly has a role in moments of transition, which is exactly where Wilson places content marketing on the spectrum.
“It’s a transition from an old world of marketing to a new world of marketing and we’re somewhere along the way.”
* * *
In reading and thinking over the long weekend, it occurred to me these three posts are a sign of the times. The world of marketing has changed and it’s never looking back.
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