Category Archives: Adams’ Insights

Why CMOs Never Last – and What We Can Do As Marketers

I couldn’t help but pick up the July-August 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review regarding the revolving door of the Chief Marketing Officer within the C-suite. Its premise is simple: 80 percent of CEOs are unhappy with their CMOs because their job descriptions/roles have been poorly designed.

I get it. I’ve seen so many marketing organizations operate as functional units within the business. They want to deliver financial value — and many executives wish they would, too. But they haven’t been given the tools and resources to succeed.

A new CMO comes in with an expensive ad campaign that misses the mark with the customer, the sales team can’t support it and operations doesn’t deliver. So Marketing never had a chance, and the turnover game continues. Marketing becomes campaigns in silos and eventually loses the respect and attention of the organization. The first downturn in the business and Marketing gets cuts.

From my perspective, it’s bigger than the job description. It’s about the survival of Marketing. There is hope.

We can educate our internal teams and executives on the value we can deliver:

  • Marketing must have P&L responsibility to truly connect all the functions of the organization.
  • We must commit to ongoing customer dialogue. Customer insights must be the winning voice for our go-to-market strategy. The customer should be driving our initiatives, whether it’s quantitative or qualitative (I’ve seen how this can be the secret sauce of many organizations, compared to companies making decisions without customer input).
  • Marketing can bring value even if the business has no differentiated value. There are hundreds of case studies (B2B and B2C) where marketing alone helps the company win. (A great read with these examples is Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin).

Marketing will continue to be commoditized by some type of automation program and not earn a seat at the executive table. It takes a commitment — talent, financial investment and discipline to pay dividends. Maybe someday the CMOs can be driving the C-suite!


20 Years and Counting at PRISM! Michelle Reminisces and Shares Her Gratitude

When President and Founder Michelle Adams launched PRISM Marketing in 1995, she knew her business was up against a market of long-established giants.

But bigger doesn’t always mean better. Adams thought a team of talented people with a different, creative approach to marketing and advertising could succeed. She was right. During the past 20 years, PRISM has grown tremendously to become one of central Ohio’s 25 top agencies. Continue reading

And there he was in Business First

I remember the day clearly still today. I was sitting in my living room reading the People on the Move section of Business First. I read it religiously, always hoping to find a new prospect to call on. There he was: Jim Martin, recently hired as vice president of marketing at Cardinal Health.

I decided to send him a clever promotion. Shockingly, he then took my call in the winter of 1996. It was a cordial conversation and he seemed interested in doing business. Months went by and I continued to follow up, knowing that sales is often all about timing. Wow, timing really got me! Continue reading

It Started with Two Men

Yes, 20 years ago, two men encouraged me, at just 26 years old, to start my business. I wasn’t interested. But they persisted. It took them quite a bit of convincing, but eventually they won and I founded PRISM. The first champion was my former boss and dear friend, Don Fovel. Don believed in me from the very beginning. He was definitely hard on me, although looking back I realize it was all those tough lessons that helped shaped the person I am today.

Don gave me such great counsel around work, but perhaps his greatest advice was this: Marry the right person, this decision will determine your happiness in life. Gosh, I miss him so. His advice was so right! Continue reading