CMO Perspective: Beth Comstock: The Marketer as Leader
January 3, 2008
Spend an hour or two with Beth Comstock and you come away with an idea of tomorrow. A conversation about her work may start with where she's been - an unavoidable topic for someone whose career trajectory has been so spectacular - but it's a discussion about where she's going that really engages Comstock. "For all the projects I've managed, all the efforts we've launched, all the tough decisions," she says, "I still want to learn more."
It's that learning - the appetite not simply to move up a corporate ladder but also to absorb information at every rung - that brings together all the pieces of her career. Twenty-odd years ago, she wanted to be a journalist. Today, she's the business leader of a major global multimedia entertainment company. And, along the way, her credentials as a marketer, including a stint as General Electric's first chief marketing officer in more than 20 years, have given her a formidable voice at the global communications table.
When quizzed about her accomplishments, however, she talks most persuasively about her "learnings." And ask her about the future and you'll hear about the new lessons that she can hardly wait to embrace.
Beth Comstock was named president of NBC Universal (NBCU) Digital Media and Market Development in late 2005. In this role, she drove the company's emerging digital business, including iVillage Properties, which NBCU acquired a year ago. Comstock is also charged with leading digital content and distribution strategy across the company. In addition, she oversees NBCU's marketing, promotion, research, and communications teams. In February 2007, she expanded her role to become president of NBC Universal Integrated Media - a change that means she's also taking on oversight of television advertising sales.
Comstock served as corporate vice president and chief marketing officer of GE since 2003. In that role, she oversaw development of marketing across GE and was responsible for cross-business sales and marketing programs and integrated communications. She led GE's brand through the successful "imagination at work" advertising campaign. She is also known for developing GE's "ecomagination" environmental initiative, and the Imagination Breakthrough innovation effort to drive organic growth across GE.
Comstock has been a GE company officer since 1998, when she became the company's vice president of corporate communications. Previously, she had served as senior vice president of communications at NBC and as vice president of NBC News Communications. Before that, she held a succession of publicity and promotion positions at NBC, Turner Broadcasting, and CBS Entertainment. She started her career with a television news service and in local cable programming in Virginia. A native of Virginia, Comstock is a graduate of the College of William and Mary.
Strategy+Business (S+B): Your career path started with a junior public relations position, moved up to the top marketing position in one of the country's most highly regarded companies, and now you're leading a business at NBC. What were the key learning steps along the way?
Comstock:I actually started out aspiring to be a journalist. I was in Virginia covering state politics. Next, I moved to a local cable station, first as a producer and then as a programming person. That brought me to NBC, which I joined in 1986, just as GE was buying it. In fact, Bob Wright's first day on the job as president of NBC was my first day. I was a public relations person working for NBC News. I always identified myself as a promotions person - those seeds were planted early. So I worked my way through NBC in various corporate communications capacities and finally moved to New York, when I promptly left the company and went to Turner Broadcasting. From there, I went to CBS Entertainment in a publicity and promotion role, and then returned to NBC to lead the news communications team. [President of NBC and NBC News] Andy Lack had just been brought in and I was hired to work with him.
Although all those jobs were important in terms of my career development, that last position was the pivotal one, where my marketing abilities were encouraged and cultivated. I was given the opportunity to drive change, to build creatively integrated programs. It was the time when Today moved to the windows studio, when the news division was more or less reborn. It might have been called communications, but it was clearly a marketing job.
Strategy+Business (S+B): You said that you always considered yourself a promotions person. What do you mean by that?
Comstock:It means I'm somebody who is able to promote products. My whole PR career was built on driving eyeballs to products. With the television shows, the product was news. And it was my job to drive viewers, to build excitement. A lot of it was brand-building work. But the brands happened to be people, like Tom Brokaw or Katie Couric or Tim Russert.
I also did have some more-defined corporate communications roles, where issues management came into play. That was where I was able to hone strategic-thinking skills and work on either-or scenarios, as well as understand scenario planning.
S+B: Was that initial skill set more analytical or creative?
Comstock: In this particular instance, it was a little of both. It was creative because we were trying to get attention, trying to break through, trying to do something unique that got attention in one way or another. We tried to create unique campaigns or unique story lines that made people write to us and read about us. I don't think a marketing person has to have both skills, but I think a good marketing team has to have both. Ideally, you have marketing people who can at least navigate the creative and the analytical.
The analytical is something I've had to learn. And thank goodness for my GE experience. No matter what your line of work is in GE, you're put through Six Sigma-type training that really teaches you analytics. And you learn to pursue process not just for process's sake. The fact is, you have to understand how to get things done. I don't think I would have gotten that had I just stayed within the media world.
It was in 1998, when I went to work with Jack Welch and added advertising to my responsibilities, that we all went through mandatory Six Sigma training. You'd sit there and ask yourself, "How is this relevant?" And that was part of the challenge: to figure out how it was relevant. It taught me that there is a way to analyze everything - from the kind of coverage we were getting to the effectiveness of our advertising. It's a process that creates a discipline. We had to figure out how Six Sigma could make us better communicators and marketers.
We did a lot of Six Sigma analysis of our Web efforts. And, back at that time, the company was very, very big on e-commerce. It was our job to figure out how an old company could adjust to new tools. We did a lot of analytics around our Web activities. We tried to determine what was most effective internally and externally. We used the analytics to determine how we could get client engagement and user engagement. And, when the process was completed, we had a revised Web site, a revised intranet, and a number of new e-commerce capabilities.
S+B: How instrumental was Jack Welch in driving this process?
Comstock:It was a marketing job, because it was all about the brand. It was about the brand of GE. And it was about the brand of Jack Welch. He was just a great marketer, in his gut, in his own way. You learned a lot about gut from working with him. His first book, Straight from the Gut, could not have been named any better. I started working with him just when his particular concept of brand value began to become popular. The job was to manage the brand in the marketplace. And the brand was everything from Jack Welch to the advertising we did. He would review every single creative piece we did. He just had a passion for it. He didn't want to see a lot of research. It was a lot of gut, just from him. And all those pieces came together.
S+B: Why isn't that micromanaging? For a company this size, is it the best use of time for the CEO to get involved on every piece of advertising?
Comstock:I didn't see it as micromanaging. In fact, [current GE CEO] Jeff Immelt does the same thing today. If you're the champion of the brand, if you're the CEO, if you're trying to sell the message of the company, that message has to have your imprint. Micromanaging would be telling everybody how to do the ad. And neither Jack nor Jeff has ever done that. They might say, "That's not quite what we're trying to say" or "That's not the essence of the vision we're trying to drive." But they would not presume to tell the creatives how to do their work.
S+B: What were the other kinds of key things that you learned in order to become not just a communicator, but also a marketing chief?
Comstock:What did I learn from Jack? One - and this has to do with leadership as well as marketing - it's just good management to be honest and candid. That's what I appreciated. He'd say, "You don't have this down yet," or "You're doing really well on this." You always knew where you stood. And that's a skill I've tried to incorporate.
You learn a lot through launches. And, throughout my career, I've come to be known as a launch person. The launch of MSNBC was probably one of the biggest ones, and that's where I came to work with Jack Welch and Bill Gates. And that's also when I got on Jack's radar screen. I think he saw that and said, "I need that kind of mind-set. And I need someone to help navigate, to eventually navigate the public view of the transition from Jack to Jeff."
When I first went to GE, one of the things I really pushed for was integrating marketing and communications. I have just never seen the need to delineate. But when I first got to GE, people would ask me, "Are you marketing communications? Are you public relations? Or are you promotion?" I answered, "I think I'm all of those." I've always been very focused that way.
By the time I worked with Jack at GE, "We bring good things to life" was a well-oiled campaign that personified what the company stood for, for over 20 years. But the company was changing. For me, however, it was a transitional time when I did a lot of learning. And we'd just ask anybody what they thought about GE. We asked investors, consumers, customers, employees. And we learned what was good and we learned what was bad.
Our biggest lesson: Don't change some things. As a manager, that was important. We had felt we had to change everything. But we gained the confidence we needed to change just the things that we had a gut feeling about. I've never found research that totally tells you something you absolutely didn't know. It tends to refine guts or anecdotal evidence and shed light [on something] that otherwise you're not going to see.
S+B: During that learning period, what did you discover about the DNA of the GE brand?
Comstock: When Jeff [Immelt] came in, he said, "We need to be a company that's about growing from within. And we need to make certain we understand the culture and that our various businesses buy into it."
We did a ton of research and unearthed a lot. And we rediscovered this sense that the employees - dating back to Thomas Edison - had always been driven by a deep-seated need for innovation. And we learned that customers and investors also expected us to be innovative, whether we were working in financial services or health care. The message was so loud that we simply couldn't ignore it.
But the DNA of the organization was also saying something that seemed to be the opposite of innovation: "We're very process focused. We like structure. We like process."
To move the company where it needed to go, we needed to do both. We needed innovation, but we also needed leadership that valued process. Jeff Immelt talked about ambidextrous leadership. And that's really what we were feeling in the culture - a new voice that was saying, "We love process, but we can't do this forever. We must have new ideas, and we need to be encouraged to create ideas." This was a real tension we needed to address.
S+B: Is the role of a senior marketer to be an internal culture change agent?
Comstock: I'm very passionate about this. Marketing is a lot about culture - internal culture and external culture. When does marketing hit? Externally, it hits when you get into this culture and create something that sticks. Internally, if you try to do something that works against the culture, it misses.
You have to learn how to listen and how to read the signs. And you have to understand that messages and efforts and products won't resonate if the culture doesn't accept them. In marketing, you have to think about this all the time. Whatever you do, you have to do it in a way that the culture will accept it. And you need to believe it, because your customers are going to feel it from Day One. We really focused on the notion of employees as brand ambassadors and, with that, the sense that our culture really has to resonate from our sales force. Our marketing people did a lot of work with sales-force training and getting them to embody that experience. We all understand that human resources is very much in touch with a company's culture. But marketing also has to be. And that was a big surprise for me.
S+B: There are only 24 hours if you don't sleep, and 20 if you do. These two roles - internal and external marketing - are both several fulltime jobs. How do you learn to balance these functions?
Comstock:The internal marketing was much more of a discovery. And we've had to hand it off. What's worked so well is that HR took that discovery insight from marketing and developed it into training programs with performance measurements. We've taken our learnings and said, "OK, this is how we're training our leaders of the future. We're doing team-based learning. We're trying to bring more innovative process rigor." This isn't something that marketing should do. But we helped lead to that discovery. You have to know where your role is and when to hand things off. That's another lesson I've learned.
S+B: At what point did you become a member of the senior leadership team of GE? And, just as importantly, when did you feel confident about that role?
Comstock: Working with Bob Wright at NBC from 1996 to 1998, I was a member of his president's council. But I first became an actual member of the leadership team when I went to GE in 1998 and headed up corporate communications, working with Jack Welch. I became part of a corporate executive council that meets once a quarter. That was the first time I had a seat at the leadership table.
It really wasn't until I got more involved developing the marketing piece that I really felt embedded with the business. I was in the GE communications job maybe several years before I really started to work on business problems and learn business from a different point of view. And that was pivotal. I don't think I could have done the marketing job without that kind of learning.
S+B: At that same time, you also took charge of the GE brand marketing effort - one of the world's most renowned corporate campaigns. How much of a learning curve climb was figuring out learning to work with all the agencies, vendors, and suppliers?
Comstock:I felt like a student, soaking it all in. I had a great partner in Judy Hu [global executive director of advertising and branding], who's been steeped in advertising her whole career. What I learned from Judy was how you get the best out of creative - how to motivate agencies to do great work without stepping on their toes. It's a fine balance. It's a real art to learn to guide without interfering with their creative judgment and process. You do have to keep the pressure on. You have to give people productive feedback. You have to be very clear and very concise. But you can't let your personal opinion get in the way of good judgment. If you're the target audience, well, OK, then maybe you have some valuable feedback. But more times than not, your creative people are trying to appeal to a target audience that you may not represent.
S+B: Is there a distinction between a creative agency and an account based agency? Are there creative people who resist analytical input but who are so good that you still need them?
Comstock: Creativity unfettered is chaos. You need some sort of structure. That's why really good creative briefs yield really good creative work, right? The clearer you are in setting direction, the better the creative framework your people will have, and the better results you'll have.
On the marketing side, we developed a marketing strategy process we called CECOR. (Because GE loves acronyms, we thought we could add one to the company lingo.) It's all about marrying analytics and creativity, and putting it in a framework of process - remember, our culture insists on process. CECOR was our way of saying, "calibrate, explore, create, organize, and realize." It sounds so basic, but we found it was really critical to create that process and those tools so that we could focus our creativity.
S+B: You've moved from a position of marketing leadership to leading an entire business. What have you brought from your marketing experience to your new job? And in what ways were you not prepared to take on a larger-scale management position?
Comstock: Essentially, I've brought a marketing point of view into a technology space. And I regularly have debates with Silicon Valley people who have a technology-focused view. I just ask them to start with the question, What's the consumer experience? That's how I see the business developing.
We all come up with these great business plans, but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is how your customer is going to react to them. I have that frame of reference. I don't necessarily get excited about the technology itself. I'm more interested in how consumers are using the things we've created.
What are the challenges? It just continues to be general management - not specific issues. Any manager constantly needs more skills and experience. For all the projects I've managed, all the efforts we've launched, all the tough decisions, I still want to learn more. The digital media job, in particular, is filled with a lot of ambiguity.
For instance, how do we know if this business model is going to work? Who knew YouTube 18 months ago? What's next? Why aren't we doing it? Is our strategy this or that? Right now we're planting four or five seeds. But we don't know all the answers. I thrive in this kind of environment, but I'm not sure if I could have been trained differently.
S+B: Because you're in a digital unit, do you ever wish that you had more training in technology? Or that, at least, you understood the engineers' jargon a little bit better?
Comstock: I really was intimidated in the beginning. I didn't know the lexicon, the vocabulary. And there is a certain kind of cultural speak that keeps people out. I had to work my way through that.
I bring a different point of view, so that's how I ended up navigating. Telling people, "I'm going to look at this from a different point of view" or "Maybe I can bring a different perspective to this discussion." That helped me navigate it. But I had to study a lot.
If I could go back to that CMO role, there are so many things I would love to do now. So many things I've learned that I think would have made me a better marketer. Digital is just such an opportunity from a marketer's perspective. It really does engage you in a different way: It gives you this one-to-one connection; it gives you this engagement. Everything is in the engagement.
S+B: The amount of experimentation would seem to be unlimited, but there are only so many things you can launch. How do you concentrate your efforts?
Comstock:That's portfolio management. And I think, again, through the CMO role that's something I preached. In that role, I tried to focus people on pruning their portfolio of innovation projects. That's the same skill set I had to bring to this job. This is all about succeeding, innovating, and forcing people to place bets.
There was a time when we had too many things going on in too many places. We needed to cut back. We're not going to succeed in everything we do. So that is a constant. But it's tough. You don't want to be the one who killed the next MySpace in favor of an idea that ended up being Dudsville. You have to go on gut, but you also have to go on research. Stay true to your strategy and remain flexible enough to walk away from something when it is not working.
I also do a lot of negotiating with finance. "Just give me six more months." "We just need three more months to get this going." "I know you don't see any revenue from it yet, but trust me, it's around the corner." So the job requires not just a little patience but also a whole lot of salesmanship. And helping them understand how what we are doing will get us to our financial goals.
We also rely on a bunch of tollgates that are more typical of a traditional process discipline. "Give us three months, and if we can hit this tollgate, we'll get another three months," or "Give us six months, and then give us another six months to prove this can move forward."
S+B: CMOs and CFOs work more and more closely together. What was your experience as a CMO, and how are you interacting with finance in your new role?
Comstock:At GE, Jeff Immelt is a marketing zealot; having someone like that at the top makes your job much easier. But if you don't have that person, your CFO is your next stop. You make it clear what you're trying to accomplish: "Here are the goals. And here's how we're going to judge the success of our program."
You get in trouble if you think there's some magic ROI formula, and that if it's not perfect the CFO's going to reject it. I've found just the opposite. A dialogue works a lot better. And it begins like this: "Maybe in this case we can't exactly define sales, but here are some other things we can define. Is that acceptable for you? Does that convince you that we're going to grow?"
At the end of the day, there were numbers that counted at GE. If the company wasn't delivering at least 8 percent organic growth, then marketing was not doing its job. So that was a pretty easy barometer. But it was a number that finance, marketing, and the business leaders shared. It wasn't all on marketing's shoulders. I can't imagine doing a marketing job without connecting with the CFO. Marketing must be a finance team partner.
In fact, the worst thing a marketer - or, for that matter, a business leader - can do is say, "Just trust me; I'll show you when I make my numbers." You need to have some progress report. You need benchmarks that force you to ask, "Are we giving it enough juice? Are we really being successful? Should we pull back?"
S+B: If you're a Growth Champion leading a marketing organization, how important is it for you to be out with customers, either as a lead person or closely supporting sales?
Comstock: Those relationships often are the most difficult in an organization. Marketing says it wants to get out in front of the customer. And sales responds, "Slow down! That's my customer. I have the relationship and I don't want you to do anything to mess it up." It's an inherent tension. And it's been across all our GE businesses.
What we had to do was create small proof points. We also had to create operating rhythms - ways to force sales and marketing to work together. We created training programs that were marketing focused, but we made the salespeople attend. And Jeff Immelt created a commercial council that met every quarter. Every month, we had a conversation between the top sales and the top marketing leaders in every business. It was a way to get them rallied and sharing.
We even involved our Quality Leaders (those who lead Lean Six Sigma) by creating a net promoter score as a get-closer-to thecustomer initiative. In the end, we had a triumvirate of sales, quality, and marketing rallying around the customer.
S+B: Which digital innovations are going to endure and which ones are you less certain about?
Comstock: Well, search is here to stay. I think it's just going to become more productive with video. I'm not sure we need to be the search gurus, but we need to understand it and develop easily accessible programming. Recently, we have successfully implemented a search engine optimization program across 34 of our digital properties, and we were able to generate a 66 percent increase in traffic from search.
Search allows accessibility. But what's so exciting about this world is the proliferation and liberation of video. It's not just passive; it's interactive. It's a form of personal expression. I think that's changing the way we look at it.
Mobility is another enduring innovation. When people watch video on their iPods or cell phones, it says more about behavior than technology. We've done a lot of research and we found that people are using their mobile devices in very different ways. A couple wants to be in the room together. One is watching TV; if the other does not want to go in another room, the iPod becomes a vehicle for alternative programming. It's a completely different kind of experience.
S+B: The whole history of NBC is grounded in mass scalability. And now fragmentation has become a big part of the mix. How do you figure out how to create mass scale around certain items and fragmented opportunities around others?
Comstock: It is my team's job to help our company and our marketing partners navigate the transition from mass to niche. We are definitely seeing a path through it. Scale still matters. But in addition to scale, you need to have intensity. And digital time allows you different kinds of intensity. That gives you an opportunity to get people to spend more time with you and to really target your message/programming to them in a way that engages them and encourages action and participation.
Television is always going to allow you to connect eyeballs to messages in a way that no other medium can. And television is not going away. But, increasingly, television is going to be made more effective by interactivity, by connectivity. It all comes back to the mix between scale and intensity.
And our job increasingly is to reassemble and reconnect with the audience through multiple platforms and content assets.
S+B: Can digital media use consumer insight to focus on brand building?
Comstock: That's where we're shifting a lot of our focus. Combining digital with the analog world creates an incredible opportunity for marketers to align all of their assets around the consumer segment they're trying to target.
It starts with an investment in research. We need to have insights about how people consume media. If you're a big advertiser, you need to know about your consumer. But you depend on us to know how different audience segments consume their media. And digital does allow you more analytical behavioral tracking, with insight on how people are actually using the medium.
We're very interested in moving beyond just a CPM base. To be a full-service media company, we should offer more - not just cost per-click models, but cost-per-action models. And, of course, digital platforms allow you to do much more one-on-one marketing.
S+B: Isn't that kind of one-on-one marketing a lot more labor intensive - a costlier way of doing marketing than selling ads in an up-front market? How do you envision generating profitable growth as the new technologies take hold?
Comstock: I would imagine marketers are going through this transition in much the same way media companies are dealing with it. They have the traditional ways of doing business, and now they have the new ways. They're kind of layered on top of each other. You still have to do the traditional, but you want to do more of the new.
The traditional has to be reinvented in some ways. I think technology is going to allow us more transparency. And I think all these efforts are learning. So I would say to advertisers, "Why wouldn't you look at those as learning experiences? What can we learn from it? How do you help?"
We're going to find equilibrium. Television's not going away. The Internet's not going away. So we need to figure out how you merge the two. Right now, it is cost intensive. It is labor intensive. It's a pretty distressing period right now when you look at the financials, but we're all learning. We're also placing a lot of bets. You see glimmers, but you're not ready to bet the farm on one versus the other. It's tough to navigate that.
Marketers want good ideas and they will pay more for good ideas. But, for a company like ours, it means that you have to put in more resources to keep coming up with those ideas and delivering them. At our recent up front, we were able to offer at least one online tie-in for every single prime-time show. We are constantly working with our marketing partners to find the appropriate, as we say, 360 idea that will help them achieve their campaign goals and engage with the audience in new and innovative ways.
S+B: What are the core competencies of a television company that carry over into the new realm?
Comstock: The core competencies have to be good storytelling and packaging. That's who we are. If we can't tell that story and amass eyeballs, we're not going to be successful.
And how do we carry those competencies into a digital world?Increasingly, we're seeing opportunities to work with our advertising clients in new partnership ways that may transcend advertising. It's business development. It's creating new intellectual property together. It's partnering on research so that we both get something out of it.
You can't do this with every client. And not every client wants to deal with every media company.
S+B: Does the increasing ability of consumers to filter advertising - or to avoid it entirely - demand a new kind of broadcasting business model?
Comstock: One of the biggest trends in the media space right now is that consumers are in control. And it's more than just click the remote capabilities or the ability to do a browse/search on the Internet. Consumers are telling us that they want to be in control of the storytelling. And, as a part of that desire, they want to engage in advertising in different ways.
Marketers ignore this change at their own peril. Media companies ignore this change at their own peril. There will be times when the old kind of passive experience is going to be just right. But increasingly, consumers want to filter, they want to act, they want to be a part of the experience. And we have to be smart about it. Right now, our shows are being streamed online in record numbers - in much greater rates than we knew to expect. Every week, several million people are watching our storytelling digitally.
From an advertiser's perspective, it has created a really interesting environment where we generally have one sponsor in a series of breaks. If I were in a marketing role, I would use this opportunity in a different way. I wouldn't just put a bunch of disparate ads in there. I would create a different kind of experience; I would tell my story.
I think the easy thing right now in a video, at least, is just to put your 30-second spot up there and say, "Great, I'm connecting." But I don't think many of us believe that's the future. In fact, NBCU is no longer accepting 30-second spots for online short-form videos.
Advertising agencies - whether it's the media-buying companies or the creative agencies - have a lot more in common in terms of investing in shared research platforms and technology platforms.
Interactive advertising on television is a case in point. It's a chance to create a true viewing experience between television and the Internet. We need to partner together to figure this out. What are the right technologies? What are the ways we want to start to measure effectiveness? Although it will be a lot of work, it's a big opportunity for us to come together as opposed to trying to define ourselves separately.
S+B: What advice would you give to a new chief marketing officer coming into the role in a company where marketing has not had the prominence that it's had at GE? What can that individual do to make marketing more valued within the enterprise?
Comstock: Spend the first 100 days listening and trying to understand the real needs of the organization. And then go to the senior leadership with a definition: "Here's what I think marketing's charter is. What do you think?"
Be very clear. Get some buy-in. You need to make your senior leadership team feel like they're part of the marketing experience.
Pick a few key projects and give people a better understanding of what you're talking about. Try to accomplish one highly visible piece of your new program in your first six months.
We suffer as marketers when people think we're just giving them jive talk. You just have to be very clear in the beginning. And you also have to align yourself to the business goals. Tell your senior leadership, "There are two or three things that I'm going to do that will make a difference. They're going to be actionable, they're going to be measurable, and they're going to create proof points."
They don't have to be big programs. Some, in fact, can be very small. I'll give you a good example: In our energy business at GE, our new CMO came in with big visions but started by simply saying, "I'm just going to show you how I can find a couple hundred million dollars by resegmenting a market." It was such a simple, basic marketing exercise. But he got everybody to listen when he gave them a road map that said, "Here, in three years, is $300 million." He wasn't suggesting that we develop any new products. It was really just commercial innovation. "We're going to realign how we go to market. We're going to sell in different ways to different targets. And here's a way we're going to start to get it."
People really listen when you have money on the table, when you have a real action plan. Sometimes, it's the simple things that will get you the kind of confidence you need from senior management - confidence to develop the very elaborate triple-Lutz program that you really want to pursue. You need to show you can skate across the rink first. If you show a proof point early on in the job, you'll have more confidence going forward.
Sometimes people in companies think they know what marketing is. And maybe they have a different interpretation of what you believe marketing can do. A simple idea, well executed, can be very powerful in bringing them around to your way of thinking.
"CMO Perspective: Beth Comstock: The Marketer as Leader." Christopher Vollmer and Barbara Bacci Mirque. In "CMO Thought Leaders: The Rise of the Strategic Marketer. A Strategy + Business Reader." Edited by Geoffrey Precourt. Booz Allen Hamilton, 2007.