Marketing Memos: CMOs, Content Strategy, Private Equity, Team Warren, and Twitter

I read (and listen to) a lot about what’s happening in marketing and media these days, and while the desire for clicks and the illusion of engagement generates a lot of useless noise, there are still some good, actionable insights being put out there that can be easily missed. I share the good stuff on Twitter and LinkedIn when I find it, but “Marketing Memos” is a weekly selection of 3-5 of the most interesting and insightful articles and podcast episodes—curated after I’ve had a chance to process them and identify the best.

[NOTE: Follow Free Verse Media on LinkedIn or Twitter to receive notifications for each week’s post.]


Why More Brands Are Ditching the CMO Position
By E.J. Schultz, Ad Age

“It’s almost as if the word ‘marketing’ itself needs a marketing campaign because it no longer encompasses all that goes into building brands and growing revenue.”

Part semantics, part shell game—no matter the title, it comes down to accountability. When marketing is treated as an expense rather than an investment, it doesn’t matter if you have a CMO or fragment those responsibilities into other roles; someone still needs to be made accountable for establishing clear goals that are aligned with business objectives.

Making the business case for content strategy (versus taking a giant leap of faith)
Andrew Hanelly, RevMade

“Do you have the expertise to be a voice in the conversation?”

A simple, seemingly obvious question, yet most brands—and way too many media businesses—don’t bother to ask it of themselves before jumping into content marketing. If you’re not adding value, you’re adding noise.

Media’s Blame Game
Om Malik

“My theory is that the lack of forward thinking in this industry stems from the predominance of sales executives as leaders of media companies… Still, the surest path to becoming a chief executive of an organization is through sales — and this is especially true of media. These days, if you are a media executive with a developed (albeit chimerical) reputation, an ability to manage an advertising sales force, and a willingness to hobnob with media investment bankers, then you are always in demand. No matter your level or lack of competence, you can jump from one gig to another.”

Malik cuts through the symptoms and identifies the disease that has hampered and/or killed too many media businesses. I came at this from a slightly different angle a few weeks ago in The Whole System’s Bankrupt.

End Wall Street’s Stranglehold On Our Economy
Elizabeth Warren, Team Warren

“Putting private equity firms on the hook for the debts of companies they buy, making them responsible for the downside of their investments so that they only make money if the companies they control flourish.”

This is the root cause of the “failure” of so many private equity-owned media companies over the years but it’s rarely reported as such while it’s happening, downplayed afterwards, and the execs who are really “good” at it are PE darlings. If a plan like this had a retroactive component, a lot of “successful” media executives would suddenly be looking into countries without extradition laws.


Twitter’s Sarah Personette: We want to contribute to publishers’ bottom lines
The Digiday Podcast, DigiDay

There’s a lot of “read between the lines” here thanks to Brian Morrissey’s fundamental skepticism and willingness to push back on vague metrics; you can clearly hear Personette’s eyes roll a couple of times as she sidesteps or outright ignores certain questions. To her credit, though, she makes a compelling case for Twitter’s place in the modern marketing ecosystem.

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