James R. Stengel: Ultimate Marketers
November 12, 2007
Three years ago, Jim Stengel absolutely startled an industry that prides itself on being ahead of the curve. "The traditional marketing model we all grew up with is obsolete," Stengel told attendees of the 2004 American Association of Advertising Agencies annual media conference. "We are taking the reinvention of marketing very seriously at Procter & Gamble," he added, "and we all need to do that."
The proclamation from the chief marketing officer of the world's largest advertiser was all but terrifying to any number of marketing and agency people who were quite comfortable, thank you, slightly nudging the status quo ahead whenever change seemed to be in the wind. In response to Stengel's challenge, advertisers from all over the world started to look for ways to pick up the pieces and start over.
Of course, the reinvention was well under way at P&G. Marching orders from A.G. Lafley, the chairman, president, and chief executive, had defined the direction: "Let's get back to what we do best, and that is putting the consumer at the heart of what we do, having a higher kind of purpose to help improve her life. Let's articulate that, let's live it, let's talk about it, let's value it."
Stengel led the follow-up marketing conversations that ensued in Cincinnati and at P&G outposts all over the world. Some of the discussions were, Stengel admits today, "unsettling." A very pragmatic company - with very pragmatic career paths for its most valued employees - would now be thinking emotionally as well as rationally. The rules would change. The promotions would not come as quickly as they once had. And a new world of media opportunities would take the company in a number of still-to-bediscovered directions.
Marketing for the world's largest advertiser was, in fact, being redefined and reinvented.
The changes were already clear in such processes as R&D, innovation, and the selection of message media. "The demand for more mastery and specialized skills is much higher than it was 25 years ago," Stengel explains. "Designing communications that somehow can engage consumers who are tired of it all is a much more creative challenge. A lot of the same mental discipline goes into it, but it's no longer as template driven as it was; it's much more principle driven."
With a B.A. from Franklin & Marshall College and an MBA from Penn State, Jim Stengel spent four years with Time Inc. before he joined P&G in 1983. His Procter career path of 24 years and 11 jobs (brand assistant, assistant brand manager, brand manager, associate advertising manager, advertising manager, U.S. marketing director, Eastern European general manager, Western European general manager, Western European vice president, global vice president, and global marketing officer) was the stuff of packaged-goods tradition - seemingly the least likely source for the new P&G marketing mandate: One size no longer fits all.
Strategy+Business (S+B): For well more than 100 years, P&G has been a marketing leader. Is there tension in trying to achieve balance between a manufacturing culture and a consumer culture?
Stengel: That struggle is never over. I think, actually, that the consumer was not at the heart of all our businesses even 10 years ago. Even today, [Procter CEO] A.G. [Lafley] still can point to one of our businesses and say, "The machine is the boss, not the consumer." So you can't ever be complacent about that. You've got to always be on your toes.
We're going to continue to really, really hit on that: The consumer's at the center of all we do. We're here to serve her. That mentality is really important.
S+B: How do you reinforce that mentality?
Stengel: At Procter, marketing plays a huge role in P&G culture. That has an important ripple effect: What's important to us will inevitably influence our consumers. In any company, the CMO has to be not only the consumer-insights champion, but also the person who is really valuing what the enterprise is working on.
S+B: How does the marketing team work as culture champion?
Stengel: We really have culture on our minds all the time. The kinds of things that we spend time on, that I reward or recognize - the places I visit, and the people I recognize - these all have symbolic importance to the company. They help shape our values and our activities, and it flows out to our audience.
S+B: There are plenty of companies that say, "We're consumer insight driven." How do you make that happen in a tangible way?
Stengel: Look at our people's work and development plans and you'll see consumer focus in them. Look at our investment in research, and the kinds of research being invested in. Is it all in "checking" or "validation" research, or is it true consumer-knowledge research? Look at what the company measures. We don't just ask, "Does it clean better?" We routinely conduct equity audits of our top brands in our top countries.
Another way to make a consumer orientation tangible is to walk the talk - up to (and including) the leadership. We do spend time as leadership groups engaged in issues that are very consumer centered. After the Gillette acquisition, for instance, we spent half a day at one of our quarterly top management meetings with very media-savvy moms. We wanted our senior people, who are digital immigrants, to understand how people are spending their time and getting their information. After four or five hours of an experience like that, you can't come back and say, "Well, we're going to do a media plan that is 95 percent TV." You think about things differently.
S+B: Procter & Gamble has developed a scorecard system to evaluate brands. What sorts of questions do you ask in that process?
Stengel: Our marketing and research people created the scorecard and helped decide what is important, what are we going to measure. In terms of how it's used business-by-business, I don't get involved in a detailed way. There are marketing people in the business units, and they're in our network. And they are all plenty smart enough to manage that on their own.
However, A.G. and I regularly do get involved with our top brands - we look at how they're doing on the big questions. We ask about their choices on equity. Are they building the right things? We're trying to build the consumers' image and perception of our product. So we need to know what we're aspiring to.
Throughout the company, we also have a business-review process that all brands and all markets follow. We look at the equity attributes that drive share and the value attributes that drive share, and we report those to the senior leadership team.
In the areas related to brand equity and brand value and ROI, I'm on point for it, making sure we're looking for the right things at the right level.
S+B: You've said that the creation of a consumer-centric culture at P&G was a 10-year process. What were the milestones along the way?
Stengel: We've always had a strong culture of consumer understanding, consumer research, creating new categories, helping improve life. But eight years ago, we started going through a lot of organizational change, including a program we called Organization 2005. It had the right ideas in it, but it was very unsettling to the company, and it may have distracted us from that mission.
A.G. came in and said: "Let's get back to what we do best, and that is putting the consumer at the heart of what we do, having a higher kind of purpose to help improve her life. Let's articulate that, let's live it, let's talk about it, let's value it." The culture responded very clearly to that, because it was in our DNA.
S+B: What did your organizational reform accomplish?
Stengel: We learned to value the heart as well as the mind. We've typically been a very rational company, very data-based. This isn't something we want to lose. But we became more empathetic, more of a listening company than we ever had been. It's important to have extremely strong discipline and extremely high creativity. If you put those two together, it's magic, and I think we've been pretty successful at doing that.
S+B: What can you do to make marketers better listeners?
Stengel: Partly, it comes from keeping people in one position longer. In the past, we typically pushed people through relatively quickly. We now have longer tenure in jobs. The more senior you are, the longer you're staying in the job. Melanie Healey, who runs our feminine-care business, has probably been in femcare for nine years. Gina Drosos, one of the real innovators on Olay, had been there for 10 or 11 years. Hartwig Langer, who runs our Prestige fragrances business, which has been a rocket for us, has been there 12 years.
So we're getting better at building continuity and expertise in roles. When you do that, the leaders become a lot more confident, and they become a lot more willing to take risks because they understand their consumer on many levels, in a deep way. They develop an implicit knowledge, and they become more intuitive.
S+B: In a company of Type-A personalities accustomed to rapid promotions and change, how difficult was that adjustment?
Stengel: We take a longer view of the criteria that people need for advancement. Before someone moves to a general manager or vice president level, we still think he or she should gain experience working in a global business unit [GBU]. We think he or she should have an experience out of their home country. We think he or she should have an experience in what we call an MDO [market development organization] - a local organization with an operational job. We can have superstars within a business, but if they're not building capability, they don't get a top rating. There are two axes on our appraisal grid: performance and capability. To get a superior rating, you've got to be great at both.
S+B: How involved are you in those development decisions?
Stengel: I'm on our senior leadership team, and we look at general manager promotions, but A.G. is ultimately responsible for deciding which senior marketing people move into general manager slots. I run a very inclusive process every year with business leaders around the world - because I don't know everyone out there - and come up with the top list of general manager candidates. We vet it thoroughly, so we have a good portfolio of top talent to choose from.
S+B: Has marketing always contributed that high a portion of the P&G management talent?
Stengel: It has for decades. We're still very much a marketing-oriented company in terms of where our GMs come from. A.G.
Lafley came out of marketing. Susan Arnold, our president of global business units, came out of marketing. Bob McDonald, our chief operating officer, came out of marketing.
S+B: From your cross-industry perspective, would you say that Procter is still an exception, or do you see marketing talent rising in other sectors?
Stengel: It's shifting. You can hardly go to a company now where they're not talking about building marketing capability. I get called almost every day for advice on who can fill a job. The pace of stuff coming in about openings and needs for people with these kinds of capabilities is huge. I sit on Motorola's board, and I can see people there recognizing the power of marketing in technology.
S+B: What is the role of marketing in innovation here?
Stengel: Marketing is central to innovation. The role of marketing in innovation is to partner with R&D, with design, and with external agencies, and to be there at the beginning - not to catch something at the back end, but to be there, up front, co-creating. It's about marrying what is possible with what people want, or what we can give them that they don't know they want, but can come to love.
The primary role of marketing in innovation is to understand your brand's territory. What is it? Who are you appealing to? What does it stand for? Where can it go, and how far can it go? If the brand doesn't understand that, the innovation strategy has nothing to hang on to. If you define that territory right, the innovation stream can be really exhilarating. One example we've used many times: We created the first commercially successful diaper, inventing the category, and we centered the brand territory on a functional benefit - there are fewer wet bottoms in the world because of us.
We had an entire R&D organization focused on fluid absorption, its speed, [its effect on] skin health, and so on. But then we began listening very closely to the consumers, who told us Pampers meant much more to them than just containment and dryness - that they really saw Pampers as meaning much more about baby care knowing babies beyond diapers. And that really made us think about where we wanted to be, and how moms saw us. We said, "Don't we aspire to be that baby care leader, and really make a key difference with moms and babies?" So the whole equity of the brand the territory - evolved into baby development.
You have hundreds of people in R&D, and plants that have tens of millions of dollars invested in them, all organized to make a drier diaper. But when you start to say, "We want to be a brand experience; we want to be there to help support parents and babies as they grow and develop," that creates all sorts of new needs. Babies wear a diaper 24/7 for almost three years - it needs to be soft and comfortable like clothing and have a design that goes hand in hand with overall performance and consumer satisfaction. Everything starts to change.
The most important thing is that the measurement changed. It's easy to measure if you're drier. But when you ask, "How do we know we're better for a baby's development than our competitors?" - that means your competitive set changes, your market share changes, what you're looking for in your equity changes. And that's why marketing and deep consumer understanding is central to innovation. Pampers is a huge brand for us, and it continues to grow. And that new growth started with that change of mind-set. That's been happening across lots of franchises.
In the initial days, people thought we were nuts. How can a diaper help in a baby's development? But actually, when you start to think about it, it starts to orient R&D to say, "How can we help babies sleep better?" Why are we concerned about babies sleeping better? Because sleep is important to brain development. It helps relationship skills. Thinking like that, and decisions made like that, compounded, have a big effect on a business, and the way we're able to help improve life for our consumers.
S+B: Who initiated the change?
Stengel: There were a couple of courageous people who said, "This isn't where I want to be." And they kind of banded together and began a mission to listen more closely to parents' needs, and reframe and refocus the Pampers franchise. It took years.
S+B: And marketing people did that?
Stengel: It was marketing people and agency people. I was in a very prophetic meeting in an attic in Frankfurt, Germany, in the mid-1990s. A lot of this started there.
S+B: How formally are you structured in terms of the relationship between marketing and R&D? In some companies, marketing and innovation now fall under the same portfolio.
Stengel: Our structure for marketing and R&D is in global business units [GBUs]. We also have market development organizations [MDOs], GBS [global business services] that do a lot of back-office work, and corporate functions.
In terms of the marketing-innovation nexus, we'd start with GBUs. Every GBU has a single point leader, a very senior position in the company. Everything - the factories, the R&D organization, the design organization, marketing, research - reports to the GBU leader. Most major initiatives within a business are directed by a multidisciplinary team that includes marketing.
S+B: What role does the local organization play? How much local customization is there?
Stengel: We customize when we need to, but we hardly customize at all on, for example, Hugo Boss or the SKII skin-care line. We do customize a fair amount in laundry, because regional habits are different. And we often do back-end customization, when we may do a special pack or a special offer or something for a retailer. That's pretty common.
For things to work in the market, the GBU and the MDO must engage in a lot of dialogue. We talk to customer teams; we have dedicated customer teams at all the big global customers. We get their input. Sometimes we do that directly from the GBU. Sometimes it's aggregated with the MDO.
Here's a North American example: About once a month in the Sunday papers we have P&G-branded coupons - a marketing device that everyone thinks is dead. Actually, we rethought it - we packaged it in a very attractive booklet that's delivered in the Sunday papers. We group it under a theme. The theme could relate to a charity or a cause; it could be a time of the year. But we put the value on the front of it: "There are $90 of values in here, and it's all P&G." That idea was invented by the MDO and run by the MDO. It has very high look-at rates, and very high redemption rates.
Another example of locally led innovation - this one with more back-end customization - happened during the World Cup. For Pringles in Europe, we did a lot of country-specific cans. And they were really hot!
S+B: You've been working on the balance between the geographies and the global business units for a couple of years. How mature is that now?
Stengel: With Gillette coming into the company, we're doing a lot of introspection about what that balance is. It's going to be a bit different, business by business. We're not going to have "one size fits all." Gillette was a fairly centralized operation. We've been learning a lot from that, and we're not just saying: "Let's let Gillette do what they've always done." We're trying to get the learning back under P&G business and ask: "Do we have the balance right?" In fact, earlier this year, we did a Webcast where the whole topic was the best practices that Gillette and P&G have brought together. We'll send that out to our marketers around the world. They'll watch it and they'll discuss what they can learn and what they can do differently because of that shared vision.
S+B: In the matrix you describe, some of the roles will be working with you in corporate, while others will be in the GBUs. Is that kind of positioning common in the company?
Stengel: My leadership team is largely in the business units. That enables me not to have to build this giant central infrastructure. I stay better connected to what's on the businesses' minds, and they stay better connected to what's on my mind. It's good chemistry.
The woman who leads our whole marketing ROI effort, which has been extremely successful for us over the past couple of years, is in one of the business units. She's accountable to me corporately for leading the group. The advantage to her of having that line to me is that I get to apply these concepts quickly across businesses.
S+B: What other specialized positions do you have?
Stengel: A communications specialist role is becoming critical in the new marketing environment. It's someone who is a bit of a consumer researcher and a bit of an advertising agency planner type - someone who is an integrated thinker; someone who understands the communications world. And I think someone who also understands the content world.
So we're looking for all that in an individual. It's a need in the industry. I don't think there are many people who are truly world-class. It's a big capability that I don't think has been fully developed. It's a much more complex planning skill - strategic thinking, you might call it. And so we're looking for some very special people. I think that's going to be the hot growth area in the agencies.
S+B: Are advertising agencies providing any of that "strategic thinking" capability now?
Stengel: They need to get more integrated. They need to collapse structures. They need to go digital. Those that are making those changes are turning away business. Those that haven't adjusted are struggling.
Kind of like our factories making diapers, agencies have set up a process and an infrastructure to make television commercials. Yes, we still make television commercials - we make a lot of them - but we've got to be more agile, we've got to be thinking about different media. We need to start looking at television as an amplifier of other things, not the only thing. The agencies have acknowledged that.
S+B: What makes for a successful agency relationship today?
Stengel: The thing I hear most from people we work well with, and it's a diverse group of agencies, is that we ask a lot of them in a positive way. We don't say to them: "Go make this ad." We'll say to them: "Our business challenge is that X is growing faster than we are. And we want you to think deeply about that and get back to us with some ideas." We give them broader challenges. They've told me that we've raised their game. We ask them to think more.
We've started working with Wieden + Kennedy in the last couple of years. That surprised a lot of people, because they do approach things a bit differently than we do. But the cultures are actually very compatible. We both have total respect for the consumer. It's not just spoken, it's deep within us.
S+B: Your company archives in Cincinnati remind visitors that Procter owns 22 brands that each generate more than $1 billion in sales - half homegrown and half acquired. Although merger integration is a well-established P&G capability, are you still learning about the acquisition process?
Stengel: With Gillette, learnings have been as tactical as taking a look at how they do packaging changes. Do they do that faster and better than we do? Can we build that system into ours? We've also been taking a look at how they do sports marketing. Our sports marketing was very decentralized; Gillette had a pretty centralized way to do it. As a combined company, we're asking ourselves what we should do.
S+B: What's the process by which you've integrated the expertise you've found at Gillette?
Stengel: We're doing an awful lot of data gathering and process mapping. We try to quantify benefits. It's really a matter of picking the areas where we think there's a lot of value to standardization. We have found quite a few that we think are productive and are going to help the combined company.
We had an integration team led by our CFO, Clayton Daley, and Jim Kilts, who had been Gillette's CEO. It was very disciplined since the beginning, with a critical path, lots of teams under it, frequent reporting, and reviews with our senior leadership teams.
S+B: Procter has always been known for the rigor of its training program. Is that still core?
Stengel: Certainly the role of training is central here. If you're not training - especially at a company that's promoting from within - you can't expect to grow. We need to be outstanding trainers and never be complacent about that.
S+B: What percentage of your marketers are MBAs, as compared to non-MBAs? Has that ratio changed in recent years from years ago? Are there patterns there?
Stengel: It's going back more toward MBAs. When I started it was largely MBAs, too. But maybe 10 years ago, we swung back a bit toward undergraduates.
S+B: What are the changes in the career path of today's typical Procter MBA compared with the group that came with you 24 years ago?
Stengel: Mine was much more standardized, predictable, and a bit myopic. The path was brand assistant to assistant brand manager to associate ad manager to ad manager - probably all within the same business unit and the same country. Even when you got to general manager or VP, you weren't guaranteed to move out of the country.
Today, titles are different; there's one less level, actually. And we expect people to have more diversified experience - and more extreme experiences. In today's marketing world, the demand for more mastery and specialized skills is much higher than it was 24 years ago. Imagine doing a media plan in 1983 and a media plan today.
Designing communications that somehow can engage consumers who are tired of it all is a much more creative challenge. A lot of the same mental discipline goes into it, but it's no longer as template driven; it's much more principle driven. We're also probably more coordinated across the visible disciplines in our training. But we're training different things.
We teach a very disciplined approach to our brands. Within the principles we teach, dropping that default option means being open-minded and basing your decisions on your consumer understanding.
S+B: You mentioned scalability. Do you have a defined knowledge-management capability that's responsible for identifying and codifying processes, programs, and other elements that are capable of being scaled?
Stengel: In marketing, absolutely. Some individual brands have their own knowledge-management capability, but they're linked into the global structure.
It's very networked, very integrated. We're adept at putting together thought teams to tackle something that might take six months, 12 months. They're put together to grapple with a pressing business issue.
S+B: What's the future of your retailer relationships? Will the allure of incumbent brands continue to give you an edge?
Stengel: We have marketers who are working on dedicated customer teams.
It's up to us to continue to be relevant. If we give the retailer an opportunity for a profitable segment, they should take it. But we need to be ahead of it. If we're not innovating in a way that is bringing value to the retailer and the consumer, we're not in business.
We need to think about collaboration, co-opetition, and win-wins - all those are important now and for the future.
S+B: What other capability gaps in marketing need to be filled?
Stengel: Certainly the whole area of what's going on in-store - there's a lot of evolution there, a lot of opportunities for better understanding, beginning with the shopper.
Measurement is, of course, another big area we need to address. A lot about the way we measure marketing is not appropriate for the kind of marketing we're doing today. We have made a lot of advances. To improve our metrics, we state what we're trying to learn about, make it a priority within our research community, and seek outside partners who have some interesting ideas.
S+B: How advanced are you in taking your traditional accountability measures and adapting them to new media?
Stengel: I think we've gotten very good at assessing what is effective and what's not with external relations influencer marketing. I think we've gotten very good at understanding what's going on in the stores. We've also become tremendously creative at how we're using modeling, looking backward and also projecting forward. And we've advanced our knowledge in TV - thought about, again, what should we be looking for there. That's changed over the last couple of years as well.
But there still is a research opportunity. We understand the elements pretty well. And we're not bad at figuring out how they interplay. But we're not quite where I'd like us to be in terms of projecting specific results.
In the last couple of years, we've put a lot of effort into this. We're continuing to work with VNU and Arbitron to develop portable people meters; the base of that test group is growing. Earlier this year, we started to see data from that project and started to work with it. And it looks really good.
Above all else, as I said, it's important to stay disciplined - to hit the accountability issue very hard, and also be creative.
S+B: The television era was notable because scale was so easy to achieve in marketing. Alternative media seem less scalable. What about your own initiatives in new media? You developed www.homemadesimple.com, an online "home solutions" magazine. Is that a continuing new capability for Procter?
Stengel: That's the challenge of it all. It's all inherently scalable. But most of the work that you see appears very one-off. Some startups, however, have established good ongoing engagements with consumers at scalable dimensions. MySpace and Facebook have people choosing to spend a lot of time with them - even more time than they do with portals. There aren't many of these, but there are some.
We have been in the content business for a long time. We did soap operas. And we do advertising, which is, after all, content. So we're actually a very large content player, and have been forever.
This new spin on it, taking it online, is as scalable a capability as it was in the old days. Typically, it's a very service-oriented form of media. Things like HomeMadeSimple or Pampers.com, or sites we have done with Olay and SKII around the world - they've all helped us connect with consumers in new ways. In particular, we've done a phenomenal amount in some Asian markets, to be very connected with consumers. We have a program in Japan for new mothers who feel very isolated. So, we're doing a whole Web program to connect with them better, to help them, to support them.
And this kind of work comes from the values you want in a marketing department. You'll be seeing a lot more of it coming from us. What's changed is that the engagement level we can have with our consumers is just so much higher. We can have a dialogue and build a relationship. And, when we do our job well, consumers will want that. That means we will need more brand-enhancing, consumer-enhancing dialogue in more of our businesses. It's a different skill set - with different capabilities - than we required in the past.
S+B: You created a unit called Tremor - an online panel of thousands of teens - to develop insights for product development and marketing. Is that part of the dialogue you're referring to?
Stengel: Yes, and it's been very helpful. We now also have Vocalpoint, which is oriented toward moms. They are both working really well. They're great for our culture. I think they're kind of a subset of this communication planning I've been talking about. In my mind, we need to build the capability to ask the right questions as we think about a communication plan.
You've also got to get away from just the reports. If you're going to develop a tremendous Tampax communication plan for 17-yearold girls, you'd better be out there and understand what their lives are like.
S+B: Doesn't that kind of effort require a substantial broadening of the definition of marketing?
Stengel: The function has different meanings in different organizations. In a lot of companies, marketing is a sales aid. In some companies, marketing is core and central. As integration becomes more common, mastery of a skill set is going to become more important for marketing people. There will always be a role for generalists; we need to train generalists. But we will also need more specialists: communication planners, specialists in retail innovation, product category specialists with deep innovation skills. We're going to need people who are absolutely outstanding in those areas.
S+B: How has P&G's growth focus changed?
Stengel: We're in a fortunate position, in that almost everything is growing. But we do have different growth expectations for different businesses, based on the categories they're in and our level of development. For instance, we're very interested in health and beauty, and I can't imagine that changing in five years, even 10. We've made acquisitions - a lot in beauty - in the last five or six years. In fact, our business shift toward beauty has been pretty dramatic.
We certainly want a nice balance of innovation. Some of that may be commercial innovation - things like Pringles World Cup. We're not changing the product. It's not a new technology. But it's good, solid product innovation that keeps our brands more relevant.
And we need to balance our portfolio with some level of disruptive innovation.
We're very interested in developing markets, especially those growing disproportionately. Being too focused on the wealthy countries and wealthy populations is a blind spot. You can't lose the high tier when you're marketing, but the money and the people and the growth are in lower-income countries and with lower-income consumers.
S+B: Can you tell us about how disruptive innovation has helped you change business models?
Stengel: We need to continually experiment in business models. And, over the last five or 10 years, we've unleashed people. We've encouraged them to go out and think bigger and think more deeply about what they're trying to do.
In terms of low-income consumers outside the U.S., we have a test going on right now in Latin America. You have an underserved group who are very low income and who are trying to take care of families. We've been trying like crazy to sell them Ariel, Tide, and Downy. But they don't have reliable running water. So they do laundry when they can, in a basin. The business model innovation is to create a Laundromat, and brand it Ariel. And let's put it in a place where the kids can play. And why don't we put in some showers for them, because they don't have the opportunity to take showers at home? We give them a choice of products - Ariel with Downy, Ariel with bleach - they buy a little package, get the token, go in and do the laundry. And they hang out, they meet other women. You can imagine the feeling they have about Ariel now.
S+B: Marketing is integrated into the senior management culture of Procter & Gamble. And that positioning, in some ways, makes it easier for you to do your job simply because people throughout the organization know they should pay attention when marketing steps up to the microphone. But there are a number of CMOs at other companies whose influence network is not quite as broad. What advice would you pass on to a CMO who doesn't have the network to support and reinforce the decisions of his or her department?
Stengel: In a lot of companies, marketing isn't important. Or maybe management isn't thinking about it or looking at the right things.
In this case, I would start with the consumer. I would try to figure out if she or he is delighted by my product or service. What is her real experience? What's really happening? In the first two months on the job, go out and spend a lot of time with your customers.
If you can, make a deal with your CEO: "If you're going to hire me, leave me alone for 90 days and I will come back to you. And if you don't like the agenda I have and what I think we can do for this company, then I'll renege the contract."
Then begin to focus on metrics. Do it for your own personal credibility. You need to show what can be done, what you want to be held accountable for, and how marketing can help the organization achieve it.
But keep coming back to our consumer experience. And keep asking, "What is the state of our business?"
"James R. Stengel: Ultimate Marketers." Edward Landry, Leslie H. Moeller, and Will Waugh. In "CMO Thought Leaders: The Rise of the Strategic Marketer. A Strategy + Business Reader." Edited by Geoffrey Precourt. Booz Allen Hamilton, 2007.