126: How Emerson’s Long-Time CMO Reduces Complexity

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By Drew Neisser. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Perhaps Kathy Button Bell’s title should change from “Chief Marketing Officer” to “Chief Complexity Reduction Officer”—after all, she’s been simplifying things at Emerson Electric for over 20 years. Over that time, marketing has become complex due to the advent of new tools and the increased precision of targeting, among other things, but sometimes marketers need to shift their priorities towards making things easy to understand.

On this episode of RTU, Kathy and Drew discuss unnecessary complexity, employee engagement, the importance of—and keys to—longevity in marketing, and perhaps most importantly, how to keep your marketing brave, human, and uncluttered.

You won’t want to miss Kathy’s insights!

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What You’ll Learn How to stay fresh as a tenured CMO

In a world where there is massive CMO turnover, Kathy Button Bell has not just survived for 20 years as CMO at Emerson, but she has thrived! She digs in and stays at one place by working on culture and driving it in a positive direction. She stays fresh in her job by being transparent. The world is pushing her to change every day, and she says to not be afraid of this change but to run with it! Marketing today has become overly complicated with all sorts of new channels, but it's not becoming more effective as a whole. Return to your main purpose. Instead of advertising your way to greatness, you have to earn your way to greatness.

Emerson’s “We See” Marketing Campaign

Emerson launched its “We See” marketing campaign for its 125th anniversary. This campaign started internally with videos, banners, and information going first to employees. This campaign plays on Emerson’s core brand idea: Consider It Solved. Focussed on video advertising, it highlights the warmth and care from Emerson by showing how they enable life-saving drugs to be made faster and allow quicker access to natural gas. Kathy explains that they chose to go broad with this campaign to drive the relevancy of their business and remind people who they are! With this campaign, she has set the table for other businesses and created an umbrella for the campaign to be stretched and applied locally.

2 dos and a don’t for other CMOs

Kathy Button Bell shares her biggest dos and don’ts for other CMOs. She says to be the Chief Complexity Reduction Officer. Meaning, a great CMO should reduce complexity in an organization and make others’ jobs easier. A great CMO should also reduce complexity externally by creating messaging that is simple and understandable. Secondly, she shares that CMO’s should always do the thing that is a little unexpected to keep people’s attention. For example, when Emerson wanted to create a video on its core values, instead of filming its employees talking about values, the children of employees were filmed! A small change such as this keeps people interested. Kathy says that as a CMO, you should never be defensive. Defensiveness is the enemy and makes you inauthentic.

Timeline
  • [2:01] Who is Kathy Button Bell
  • [3:47] How she dug in and stayed at one place as a CMO
  • [11:24] Living out her moto: Be Brave and Have Fun!
  • [18:48] How to stay fresh when you’ve been in the same job
  • [22:12] Emerson Electric’s new iteration of a campaign
  • [28:21] Kathy Button Bell’s guiding principles
  • [31:30] Measuring the success of the “We See” campaign
  • [34:16] Two dos and a don’t for other CMOs
Connect With Guest:
  • Kathy Button Bell’s Bioon Emerson’s Website
  • Connect with Kathy Button Bell on LinkedIn
  • Follow Kathy Button Bell on Twitter
  • Follow Kathy Button Bell on Facebook
Resources & People Mentioned Connect with Drew

153 episodes