The Keys to Agile Marketing

January 11, 2018

By Kieran Hannon



As the first CMO at Belkin International, my role was to take marketing to the next level. Having spent the first half of my career leading agencies and the second half as CMO for consumer and B2B brands, I had a pretty good idea of what the future could look like with the right focus. That said, it takes careful step-change planning to ensure an organization can eloquently morph without disrupting business.

In my first year, I spent a lot of time learning about the organization, brands, partners, people, and processes. As years two and three went by, we step-changed from a regional, channel-led organization to global brand teams. We had to reframe the mindset and capabilities of our entire team to be customer-centric instead of product-centric.

Consumers move very fast, which means that we have to be ready to respond in real time to meet the changing needs and new opportunities that surface. We need to forecast consumer demand, test new concepts during the day, and iterate overnight. This is only achievable when you have the right team of people in place who are mindful of every point in a consumer decision process and are able to operate swiftly.

Traditional marketing training and outdated career paths do not equip marketers to operate in the real world today. Today's modern marketer has to seek out every opportunity to learn new ways to engage consumers. It is my obligation as CMO to enable people to experience all those interactions and support a more dynamic career path. If you start as a creative designer on my team, it is very possible you can get to be a brand manager. I fully support and encourage my team members to explore every option that inspires them.

It is also my personal obligation to provide mentoring for everyone on my team. On average, I dedicate 30 percent of my time to mentoring, but overall, mentoring is something you do day in and day out. It's the only way to really coach your team into strategic thinking — even folks with strategic thinking capabilities need someone to bounce ideas around with and help them look at opportunities from every angle. I focus my mentoring on two things: asking good questions and helping them learn trade-offs. I benefit from seeing my team grow and keeping up to date on all the work they are doing.

The camaraderie and collaboration that have been the product of thoughtful, consumer-driven team-building over the past four years have created an extremely nimble and innovative team. We've grown together from our mistakes and successes into an agile marketing engine, fueled by an insatiable quest for providing amazing experiences. We have created a new, dynamic team structure and unique centers of excellence.

Our agency partners are core to our capabilities as well, working hand-in-hand with us through every effort. This type of partnership is difficult to achieve, but we start by being very clear about our commitments to them and our expectations of them in return. We select our partners by design, giving them tasks, not challenges. The agencies we choose know how to manage their time well and be laser-focused on what we are trying to accomplish.

Overall, our ability to operate with agility and with consumers' best interests in mind has strengthened our retail partnerships and delivered countless achievements. From co-producing or co-launching brands to creating new consumer formats, we are able to take great ideas and activate them efficiently and effectively.


Kieran Hannon is the CMO at Belkin International, where he has led marketing for the past four years. To find out what lessons he's learned from transforming his marketing organization, 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.

You must be logged in to submit a comment.