Friday, October 9, 2009

Pete the CMO

I gathered two quick impressions of my friend Pete the CMO the other day.

First, he's easily impressed. Surprisingly so for a New York Chief Marketing Officer guy.

Just take him to lunch at the down-home Five-Eight cheeseburger joint in Minneapolis. The $12 bill for two will impress him so much he'll grab the tab. In Manhattan, where Pete hangs out, $12 wouldn't get you half-a-burger. And Pete, as you'll soon read, knows a bit or two about restaurant tabs.

Second thing about Pete, he's one of our planet's best marketing/social/community nurturing talents. And what a great talent to have at this moment, the moment of Community Centricity.

Two-plus years ago Pete was a C-level marketing guy at Avaya leading global this-n-that. One thing about the chiefy levels of Corporate America: For all its power and trappings, it is a lonely place. And Pete recognized there was no place, no community of CMO peers focused exclusively on helping each other.

Sure there are plenty of high-brow conference panels, boards and trade groups out there; places where Pete says "You get sold to." But nothing exclusively comprising "peers who know as much about my challenges and problems as I do," Pete said.

So Pete did what any social marketing community nurturing guru would do: He started having dinners with fellow CMOs as his day-job travels took him around the country.

In early 2007 Pete organized his first CMO dinner. Six people showed up. The roundtable dinner discussion ranged from helping one CMO who'd just been promoted get more comfortable in the new role to brainstorming better customer engagement ideas with another CMO to thoughts about building trust and reputation with another CMO.

Wow. To be a fly on that table.....

Today Pete and The CMO Club he founded (after jumping off the corporate C-Level high dive) numbers more than 800 Chief Marketing Officers. "It's called a club on purpose," Pete says. "Everything is driven by the CMOs in the club." And it's Pete's full-time job to listen to what the club needs and wants.

Today Pete hosts dinners for CMOs in 15 cities three or four times a year.

The CMO Club website ( is an exclusive place on the web for its members. It's one of the best social media & community sites out there. Which is the reason well over 100 CMOs spend time there every day listening and learning from one another.

And twice a year The CMO Club hosts its Thought Leadership summits. It's quite an experience to be in a room for two days with high wattage corporate marketing execs.

Like last spring when Pete and his club thought it would be good to hear from a group of young millenials about their perspectives of today's market and work world.

CMOs didn't react so well when one kid on the panel bragged about his habit of being on Facebook during staff meetings. Darn near started a food fight. And lunch was still 30 minutes from being served.

I remember watching Pete, waiting for him to panic. Not a chance. He loved every minute of it.

Because Pete gets community. And community is at it's finest when it is open, dynamic, engaged, authentic and, yes, even messy.

As a community, The CMO Club is one of the finest. 40-50 new CMOs join every month. And here's the thing, of all the stuff Pete does to breathe life into The CMO Club, there's one thing he doesn't do: sell.

One CMO told Pete the secret sauce of the club is simple. "You have my best interests in mind." Pete's approach is to let the club evolve as the members will have it evolve.

For Pete the CMO, doing this well means he follows. And the club leads. And the club grows.

That's Community Centricity.

Isn't it funny how the more you follow your community, the less you have to sell?


twitter: tjmorin

No comments:

Post a Comment