The Fiscal Cliff and Marketing – Part II


This is the second of a series of postings about the Fiscal Cliff and Marketing. The first (here) dealt with planning.  This concerns leadership.


In the movie Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis portrays a President that is both a visionary and pragmatic. 

As shown, Lincoln strongly believes that an amendment to the Constitution is needed in order in protect those people freed under his emancipation proclamation.  At the same time, he recognizes that he has to work with varying constituencies, both within and outside his party , in order to see his vision realized.  Working, in this case, extends from proverbial arm-twisting to bribery.

President Roosevelt employed many of the same techniques in order to get elements of his New Deal passed during the Depression.  We now have the opportunity to watch how President Obama works to accomplish his objectives relating to the fiscal cliff.

Although smaller by several magnitudes, the CMO is also faced with making trade-offs and decisions.  He/she must have a vision of where the company is going, the position the company/brand should have in the market place and the time frame when his/her plan must be implemented.  Achieving this vision requires the expenditure of resources by the company, both tactically and strategically. 

At the same time the environment is moving, there are doubters and critics and not all plans work.  In a true customer centric company, the CMO is at the heart of the company in how it relates to the customer.  Failure to achieve the vision can severely, if not fatally, impact the company.

What do Lincoln, Roosevelt and Obama have in common that can be shared by the CMO?

  • First, an articulated clear vision of what they want, i.e., the 13 amendment,  the specific New Deal programs, a tax increase for those making over $250K, a #1 market share.
  • Second, a view of how to get there.  Arm-twisting, bribery, cajoling, going to the public, increasing promotional dollars.
  • Third, flexibility.  The ability to follow multiple paths at the same time, not knowing which is going to work best, and then jumping on the one that seems to be the sure winner.
  • Lastly, humility.  The ability to reinforce and praise those who work toward achieving the vision, making them aware of their contributions, and taking (if required) a back seat.

As the fiscal cliff comes closer it will be interesting to see which of these traits President Obama shows to the public.  At the same time, the CMO who can incorporate all of these in his/her daily activities will reach their goal.

As the CMO in your company do you have, and are you using all these traits?

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