Behind every brand delivering a great experience is a leader who recognizes the value of keeping things simple. In Simplifiers, Margaret Molloy, our Global CMO, interviews business leaders who put simplicity to work.
MM: What does your brand stand for and how does it deliver on that promise every day?
AL: I believe brands must be anchored in purpose, play a meaningful role in people’s lives, behave with integrity and be built on strong emotional connections. At HP, our brand promise has become our operating system—to Keep Reinventing. Reinvention powers our never-ending quest to make, do and create. It’s what drives us to develop transformative technology that powers our communities and shapes our world. We deliver on that brand promise every single day by creating technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere.
MM: What role does simplicity play in delivering on that promise?
AL: One of the most important responsibilities of the CMO should be to synthesize and simplify complexity for the rest of the organization. Synthesizing big data into meaningful differentiated insights helps us better understand our customers, build stronger connections and drive action.
MM: How does your organization strive to create simple experiences?
AL: At HP, we constantly strive to minimize complexity. For example, we’ve reinvented the communication development process to ensure that everything we do has behavioral and media insights upfront, and significantly reduces the number of layers involved in the process. This ensures that our work connects with our customers and is delivered in a timely manner.
MM: How do you strive to conquer complexity within HP?
AL: Complexity in digital and social media marketing has led to a dense ad tech ecosystem and mounting concerns about transparency. Three years ago, to simplify and advance transparency, HP made the decision to bring digital ad buying technology and management in-house. It was a huge strategic move, the implications of which we didn’t fully appreciate at the time. Bringing ad tech in-house has enabled us to integrate our customer data into the system, allowing us to target our media and audiences even more precisely. It has also given us more visibility into what we’re buying and its impact.
We’ve also been doing deep audits of our media inventory. We’ve researched different types of ad exposures. As a result, we’ve decided to pursue a much higher viewability standard for our digital inventory, while increasing impact.
MM: What benefits has your company experienced from simplifying?
AL: Simplifying has allowed us to make faster decisions, minimize redundancy and grow our business—but the fight against complexity is a never-ending battle. In a world where marketing is becoming much more personalized, owning and managing customer data—and being able to execute messaging based on it—has tremendous advantages. It has also provided smoother transitions and continuity in working with different vendors or agencies. Plus, we’re saving tens of millions of dollars.
MM: How do you strive to keep things simple for your marketing team every day?
AL: Keeping things simple starts with setting clear objectives that are specific, achievable and measurable. Then the right decision-making processes must be in place to ensure efficiency, speed, and impact. There must be accountability measurements to achieve the desired outcome and feedback mechanisms to make necessary adjustments throughout the process. All of this requires hiring and developing talent for whom simplifying is a state of mind.
MM: How do you lead as a simplifier?
AL: As a modern-day CMO, my job is to understand the complexities in the world, determine where marketing can make the biggest impact and then translate this vision into priorities to ensure our global organization is moving in the right direction. This clarity and frequency of communication is critical for maintaining alignment across the team.
MM: What’s the most recent, simple customer experience that inspired you?
AL: We’re doing a lot of work in Asia, with clients like Alibaba, where we combine our data about our customers to develop delightful experiences that translate into consumer satisfaction, customer success, and brand equity gains.
AL: The biggest mistake is not simplifying. In the tech world, sometimes we get endless lists of product attributes and features. It requires discipline, insight, and the capacity to synthesize information and translate those multiple attributes into simplified benefits to connect emotionally with our customers.
MM: What are the key indicators that simplicity is driving your business?
AL: ROI. Everything we do as a marketing function needs to demonstrate that we can deliver the right returns. If we’re working smarter and simplifying processes, we should be able to reach our key audiences more effectively—and show business leaders within HP how we’re doing it!
MM: What does simplicity mean to you?
AL: Anchor your brand in purpose – everything we do maps back to our brand’s mission and values.
MM: What is the top piece of advice you’d give to other brands trying to simplify?
AL: Simplification is an active choice—it doesn’t happen spontaneously. In this very noisy world, brands must have a purpose, set objectives and develop processes to monitor performance. Simplifying is a state of mind, and the work will never be done.
MM: Thank you.
This is an ongoing Simplifiers series. See interviews with CMO at Aetna, David Edelman; CMO at Birchbox, Amanda Tolleson; CMO at Lenovo, David Roman; CMO at SAP, Alicia Tillman; EVP – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Henry Gomez; CMO at Twitter, Leslie Berland; CMO at Blue Apron, Jared Cluff; SVP, Global Brand Management at American Express, Clayton Ruebensaal; EVP and Group President at Verizon Wireless, Ronan Dunne, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Cofra Holding Ltd, former CEO of C&A China, Lawrence Brenninkmeyer; CMO at The Recording Academy, Evan Greene; CMO at Mary Kay, Sheryl Adkins-Green; Head of Marketing at Home Centre, Rohit Singh Bhatia; SVP, CMO of Aflac, Gail Galuppo; SVP and CMO at Cambia Health Solutions, Carol Kruse, Managing Director of The Nature Conservancy, Geof Rochester, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of Motorola Solutions, Eduardo Conrado, EVP; SVP, Chief Marketing & External Affairs Officer at Abbott, Elaine Leavenworth, GE CMO, Linda Boff; McLaren Automotive Head of Brand Marketing, Stephen Lambert; Ascension Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nick Ragone; Hertz CMO, Matt Jauchius; Direct Line Group Marketing Director, Mark Evans; McDonald’s CMO, Deborah Wahl; Jet.com President, Liza Landsman and VP Marketing, Sumaiya Balbale; Target CMO, Jeff Jones; Spotify CMO, Seth Farbman; Ally Financial CMO, Andrea Riley; Gannett CMO, Andy Yost; CVS Health CMO, Norman De Greve; Dunkin’ Brands CMO, John Costello; Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh; Southwest Airlines CMO, Kevin Krone; and Google CMO, Lorraine Twohill.
Know a simplifier or would like to be included in the series? Please recommend an executive for my next interview: [email protected]