Why Marketing Leaders Must Think Differently

November 18, 2015

By Ken Beaulieu

Tectonic shifts in the business environment are challenging traditional ways of thinking. Senior marketers who develop new leadership styles and customer types stand poised to transform their organizations and lead them into the new world of “value creation,” contends Jerry Wind, Ph.D., founding director of the Wharton Future of Advertising Program. To dig a little deeper into this topic, we reached out to Wind, who will teach the new Wharton workshop Business Transformation Leadership for CMOs, December 11 in New York City.

Q. Why is it important for senior marketers to transform their traditional ways of thinking?
A. Mental models are often the major obstacle preventing senior marketers, especially those from legacy companies, from seeing the changes going on around them and the implication to their business. This is evident by the fact that most major marketing and business breakthroughs come from industry outsiders and not from the leading incumbents, who are too focused on protecting the past, as opposed to capitalizing on new opportunities. Therefore, in a dramatically changing environment, with rapid scientific and technological advances and increasingly skeptical and empowered consumers, leaders must challenge, and ideally change, their mental models.

Q. Marketers are beginning to move away from command-and-control structures to networked organizations. What is the key advantage of this shift?
A. The key advantage is an increased “multiplier,” or price-to-revenue ratio, and the ability to leverage zero marginal cost operations. A recent study we conducted found that the market multiplier (over revenues) for networked organizations, such as Uber, Airbnb, MasterCard, and Visa, is eight-plus, compared to much lower multipliers for asset builders (multiplier of one), service providers (multiplier of two), and even technology makers (multiplier of four). To implement, network orchestration requires a different leadership style that is centered on co-creation and a “win-win” approach with all the networks, rather than the traditional command-and-control model.

Q. What does the new world of “value creation” look like?
A. The new world of value creation is an “All Touchpoints Value Creation” model. It is based on four critical and interrelated phases implemented through a series of adaptive experiments.

  1. Aligning objectives. This ensures that everything we do addresses the traditional objectives of the firm (including long-term shareholder value and intermediate values, such as share of wallet), consumer needs (especially those of increasingly empowered and skeptical consumers), and has a positive social impact.
  2. Creating a compelling, unifying brand purpose.
  3. Orchestrating the brand purpose and resulting offering and messages across all touchpoints.
  4. Maximizing each touchpoint for context and content.


Q. What challenges are holding marketers back from accelerating the transformation of their organizations?
A. Obstacles to effective transformation include old mental models and the desire to preserve the status quo; siloed mentality and organizational structure; fear of loss of control; not adopting the philosophy of continuous adaptive experimentation; and lack of courage.


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