Change and disruption is the new norm for the 21st century CMO. The customer journey has changed. Talent needs have changed. The business landscape is volatile and uncertain.

So, how are CMOs tackling the biggest challenges of our time? What do clients want and what keeps them awake at night? According to panellist Nigel Vaz, “The definition of insanity is a company trying to maintain the status quo”.

Suki Thompson, Oystercatchers’ CEO, brought together an eclectic panel of influential marketing thought leaders and practitioners at last night’s Oystercatchers’ Club evening in London to discuss and dissect these issues.  Joining her on stage were Vodafone’s Director of Brand Marketing, Daryl Fielding; DFS CEO, Ian Filby; Sapient Nitro’s SVP Managing Director Nigel Vaz; and, Contagious Co-Founder/Editorial Director, Paul Kemp-Robertson.

Key insights uncovered during the evening.

There is no one mould for the CMO. “Companies construct the CMO they want for the business they are in,” commented Daryl Fielding. Ian Filby went further, “I wasn’t looking for a CMO but for a brand developer to develop a personality for the DFS brand”. His brief for finding a new CMO:  find me someone persuasive, passionate and customer centric.

CMO as Chief Innovation Officer.  The customer journey has changed: at DFS 80% of consumers go on line to view product – it’s not the same voyage of discovery, said Ian Filby.  Laura Joseph from BT Wholesale questioned:  how are we connecting with the consumer at every touch point of the journey? How do you balance the Omni channel customer? Unpick multiple channels and multiple touch points? Daryl’s perspective: “Customer journey reunites all the pillars of business”.

Sarah Todd, CEO Geometry Global UK remarked that she was finding customer journey understanding critical in prioritising key opportunities to change attitudes and behaviour, and delivering experiences that convert to purchase. “Daryl Fielding hit the nail on the head when she said customer journey understanding is also helping reunite communications silos by prioritising spend against impact”.

Innovation, the audience believed, is just like marketing but harder.

“Sometimes innovation takes longer than the tenure of a Brand Manager. Planning ahead is hard” suggested Paul Kemp Robertson, “marketers should learn by investing in start-ups and innovation units”. He referenced Nike Fuel’s transformation to a digital brand, and, Delta airline’s positive transformation as it pivoted around service to become a travel brand at every stage of the journey. At DFS, Ian runs regular agency sessions to garner expertise across the board – making, in his experience, a huge difference to innovation.

Customer at the core: Customer first, second and third whatever business you are in – was the collective take-out. Put your money in the right place and invest in mapping customer journeys: leverage digital and drive growth. Place all efforts on the genuine customer experience. Vodafone’s Daryl believes that the customer journey reunites all the marketing pillars.

Martin Glenn, CEO United Biscuits shared his thinking too: “We need a brutal prioritisation of what’s important – e.g. brand penetration and what’s driving choice. We need to make enduring financially smart choices”.

CMO as Chief Experience Officer/Chief Marketing Technology Officer: in other words, collaborative, innovative, customer-centric teamwork, ditching silos for extended expertise and replacing hierarchy with wirearchy, “For customer focused business, the role of CMTO‘ is a new but fundamental developmental to the requirement of the marketing community” commented Richard Bagnall Smith, Qatar Museums Authority.

And to round up, according to Daryl Fielding, “People forget advertising can still be bloody effective”.

Our great thanks to our passionate panellists and to all our Oystercatchers Club members who helped, once again, to make this another memorable evening.

Next Oystercatchers Club Evening

Our evening will take place at the Mayfair Hotel on 20 May and will focus on ‘Brands Building Trust’.

The panel will include:

Please contact Victoria Sinclair for more details:

In the meantime, don’t forget to join us next week for our Advertising Week Europe seminar where Justin King and Martin Glenn are on stage for “The CEO Interview”. Wednesday, 2 April, 12 noon at BAFTA. Please click here for details…

About the Oystercatchers Club

The Oystercatchers Club is a members only forum where senior marketers and agency heads get together to share knowledge and get inspired by topical and relevant debates.

What members are saying about the Club

“These Club evenings are a fantastic way to catch up with friends and contemporaries in the business and to keep your finger on the marketing pulse.” Nigel Gilbert, CMO, TSB

“I joined the club because it was a group of leaders from clients and agencies who are all looking to shape the industry’s future by an exchange of ideas and personal lessons. I love the camaraderie, the sharing and importantly the community – it keeps me coming back.”  Nigel Vaz, Senior Vice President Managing Director Europe, SapientNitro

If you keen to hear how you can join the Club please contact Victoria Sinclair: