‘With technology, you can tell which 50% of advertising is working’ – Fuji Xerox’s Susie Wong

In an interview with Mumbrella Asia's Ravi Balakrishnan, Fuji Xerox Singapore chief digital and marketing officer Susie Wong speaks about negotiating the changing role of the CMO

Through the year, the role of chief marketing officers – especially global CMOs – has come in for a lot of questioning. What’s your take on the evolution of the role?

“The traditional CMO was the creative storyteller or chief marketing communications person. The responsibilities were brand building and creative. And what was required of a marketer was very right-brained. ‘

“The pressure on the C-suite today is you need to deliver on the bottomline. And so we are required to be left-brained as well. We need to be able to link that brand building to what the sales force is doing on the ground and result in demand generation or pipeline building.

“We used to talk about 50% of advertising being wasted. But today with technology, you can tell which 50% is working – you can run, but you can’t hide.

“It’s not so much about how much you want to spend. It is about the ROI that you are committing to. The role as traditionally defined is defunct. The new title would be more on the lines of chief experience or growth officer. 

“The CMO may no longer be at the C-suite table and that has to do with commercial linkages. 

“My portfolio in Fuji Xerox covers the voice of the customer, brand building, corporate PR, demand generation, pipeline and field enablement as well as managing the product portfolio. The term ‘marketing’ seems a little limiting. 

“Increasingly the CMO has to be a chief collaborator. You have to be the voice of the customer in terms of insights and part of the mandate is expanding that through the organisation.” 

So, how do you approach such a diverse set of responsibilities?

“My remit is to build a marketing organisation and capability. When I look at the team, one of the top focus areas was capability development, especially in my first year. It’s a learning curve since we are a dominant force in the areas we serve. There is a lot of goodness in that heritage – 54 years in Singapore.

“So, as we build a new marketing organisation, how do we ensure we have the required skillsets to grow and transform the organisation? You need to build new capabilities or hire them. And at the same time, give opportunities to people within who aspire to grow. After 14 months, my team is one of choice and that has been the journey. 

“Moving beyond the marketing organisation, we are transforming as a firm – from devices to solutions and services. 

“And so the other big theme is how do we rally the rest of the organisation – especially the sales team – to be on this journey since we are only one part of the team? We need all cylinders to fire.

“We will continue to work with and educate our colleagues in terms of what they should be expecting of marketing and how we can partner to grow.” 

So, what are the challenges in moving from a product driven firm to a services driven firm in the B2B space?

“We are at the juncture where we need to move beyond evangelising to showing what we can do. What I always tell my team is: ‘Don’t tell me you are funny, make me laugh.’

“Our heritage is Xerox – 113 years old and Fujifilm – 85 years old. I think of ourselves as a 200 year old baby. 

“Xerox was synonymous with photocopying. And so the challenge for me when I came on board as the chief storyteller was ‘what do I say?’ Because of our heritage was in paper, we were in a position of authority to be able to tell our customers we can help you transition from paper intelligence to digital intelligence since we know how.” 

How has this affected how you evaluate marketing communication?

“We appointed a new agency MOI last October. We want to establish what the brand stands for since people still associate us with photocopying. And that’s how the ‘Built For More’ campaign was developed. 

“I come from a technology driven background. It is less about feelings and more about data. Having said that, I am not interested in process metrics. If social and digital visits go up, so what? 

“At the end of the day, what is the ROI? We measure on metrics like customer acquisition and retention. The other metrics are interesting but have to dovetail back into commercial measurement.


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