The Most Successful CMOs Adhere To The “Rule of Two”

Rule of Two

On any given day, depending upon how granular one gets, chief marketing officers are focused on literally dozens of marketing objectives. Sometimes it gets very complex and even complicated keeping track of which strategies and tactics are targeted against which goals.

So the most successful CMOs focus on the big two: increase sales and build awareness.

Yes, despite all the progress of our industry and proliferation of technologies that have enabled a plethora of strategic solutions to critical business and marketing problems, the most important goals of every organization remain the same: bring money into our organization and make sure everyone knows about our company and our products.

And while this may seem like an obvious statement (and one that no doubt some will attempt to argue with), there is in fact a movement in our industry among deluded marketers (mostly in the digital and inbound camps) who believe it is advisable to develop strategies before thinking about (or regardless of) goals. In other words, they are so intent on how they plan to get something, they are losing sight of what they want to get. The cart is in front of the horse.

Chandar Pattabhiram, group vice president of product and corporate marketing at Marketo, is one such marketer. He actually told Marketing Daily in a recent interview that most marketers just don’t get it: “A lot of marketers still have the mindset of building brand awareness,” Pattabhiram says. “Organizationally, they have not been [structured] to have a one-to-one experience with customers.” Apparently he believes he is just smarter than most marketers.

Likewise, Unilever Vice Chief Creative Director Eddy Moretti recently told Ad Age: “Rather than go for a billion users, our philosophy is to have a really deep and committed community.” Even Paul Polman, the most generous CEO on the planet knows that you have to reach the masses in order to attract the committed few. So, despite what Eddy Moretti says, awareness trumps on-on-one.

Let’s be clear, the idea of one-on-one or personalized communications is (albeit fairly obvious) good. And creating tailored and focused content that engages and builds trust is superb (though hardly groundbreaking) thinking. But NEVER, ever should these types of strategies be considered in the place of building brand awareness. Rather, they are all fine ideas AFTER you have already achieved mass brand awareness.

Smart CMOs – the ones who hold their jobs for more than 18 months – understand the rule of two and prioritize their marketing expenditures accordingly.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.