Building the Plane While Flying It

October 25, 2017

By Diego Scotti



The transformation from a "need" brand to a "want" brand requires a new structure, which has to happen as if we are building the plane while we fly it. That is to say, not only do we have to build the organization for now, but also for five years ahead. At Verizon, doing this involved some big challenges, including:

  • Recognizing that being digital means more than just e-commerce. It means transforming the way we think about the customer experience and what that looks like online and offline.
  • Finding the right talent with a broad understanding of the entire customer journey, as well as specialists to help drive innovation with new technology and advance existing functions.
  • Being centralized and regional, global and local.
  • Thinking deeply and broadly about diversity and true inclusion to fully leverage new and different ideas that better represent our marketplace.
  • Inspiring the right culture to maximize growth of all, i.e. a culture of collaboration. This is not top down, but rather starts with employee and customer values and aligns with customer vision.

In every marketing organization, three factors are critical for success: process, structure, talent. Verizon is no exception. The first critical element we address is one of the most fundamental: how to resolve conflict around the marketing vision. With so many stakeholders it's important to have a process in place to address questions and provide clarity to better unite and focus on growth objectives.

Second, it is essential that both internal and external communications are part of the marketing function. How you present your vision to the world is critical for ensuring that the brand intentions are well stated and delivered. This is as important with customers as it is with employees, who represent the brand.

For talent, we made a conscious shift in our training program from focusing on capabilities and competencies to performance and outcomes. If the team doesn't have a way to understand and measure the impact of its actions within the context of overall business objectives, all bets are off. When it comes to recruiting new talent to the team, we are as aggressive in attracting the right talent as earning customers. This is where having communications under marketing becomes even more pivotal, as well as aligning across the C-suit to ensure everyone is focused on building the right plane. It requires intense collaboration with HR or whoever owns the "employee experience" as a whole. It is critical, though, that the CMO step up or in to navigate the right employer brand in line with the brand's vision, and support every aspect of building the right teams.

As a result of our efforts, we have evolved into a highly-integrated unit that includes PR, internal communications, and marketing. We brought on a chief experience officer and chief creative officer to act as yin and yang as we evaluate all of our efforts. We expanded the traditional media function to a more holistic activation function with the integrated marketing function bringing it all together as part of a cohesive process. And, at the center of it all is a head of insights and analytics for a single version of the truth.


Diego Scotti is the CMO at Verizon. To read his lessons for CMOs, download the ANA CMO Talent Challenge Playbook. The playbook features case studies from more than two dozen CMOs from the ANA Masters Circle who are redefining the rules of what it takes to be a great CMO. Learn more about the ANA Masters Circle.

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