Episode #16: How to Join the Ranks of the Forbes Most Influential CMOs

Every year, Sprinklr partners with Forbes and LinkedIn to present a list of the World’s Most Influential CMOs. And every year I get questions about how the list was curated and ranked. 

In this episode, we’ll look at the process and criteria for building the list, along with some thoughts and ideas about how to use your influence to help your company.

The World’s Most Influential CMOs 2020
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Yeah, all right. It’s the CXM Experience. And I am Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr here today to talk specifically about something that we put out a short while ago called the Forbes, World’s Most Influential CMOs report. And this is something that we’ve been doing now for about eight years. We work very closely with Forbes and LinkedIn to produce a list of the world’s most influential CMOs. And it’s essentially 50 CMOs, who we judge are the most influential CMOs in the world.

And I get a lot of questions on this report. And a lot of people are very excited about it. Some new people who are on the list for the first time, some people who’ve fallen off the list, or some people who’ve moved their positions within the list, and a lot of people who weren’t on the list who would like to know how to how to get onto it. And so what I thought I would do is just take a few minutes and go through those really quickly.

To outline it, I will say two things. One is that feel free to message me. LinkedIn is a great place to do it, I’m starting to get quite a few messages on LinkedIn around CXM Experience. That’s a really great way to get a hold of me, that mailbox gets looked at a lot. Or you could DM me on Twitter, that’s not bad. Friend me on Facebook… connect with me there… very good way to do it. Or you can send an email to Grad.Conn@sprinklr.com and I’ll get back to you as fast as I can. And I’m happy to do one-on-one briefings with anyone who’s interested on learning more about where their position was, and happy to talk to every CMO that we looked at. So feel free to reach out to me.

The first thing that I want to cover is how many people do we consider? And how many people do we look at and what did it take to be eligible in the first place. And so what’s probably helpful just to understand how it all works, is that there are essentially three core data inputs. There are two new ones this year, which I’ll come back to in a second. But there are three core data inputs: Performance of the individual, the individual CMO, across a bunch of different things, including news sources. It’s not just social. So it’s like influence as measured by mentions in news magazines and mentions in newspapers and things like that.

Then, the performance of the organization itself, given that the CMO has an important role in the organization’s performance. Let’s say those two are connected. And then thirdly, the CMO’s performance on LinkedIn, particularly around the social selling index score. But a lot of people underestimate LinkedIn’s importance. And I think, I’m one of the world’s biggest LinkedIn fans, I think it’s an incredible platform, they’re doing an amazing job of creating community. And if someone’s lower on the list, we always coach them up. Typically, it’s because they’re not as engaged on LinkedIn, and should be.

That’s the three data sources. The first two are Sprinklr, and we’re pulling a fairly significant number of data points. There are about 800 million brand-related social media shares, likes, retweets, and comments that we pulled in. About 130,000 different news blogs, and Twitter mentions about or from eligible CMOs. More than 2 million LinkedIn profile views, and 600,000 LinkedIn engagements. So LinkedIn does their stuff. And then Sprinklr does all the broad scale stuff across the rest of the conversational web.

So what does it take to get on the list? So 427 Global CMOs were actually eligible for consideration this year. To be eligible to be on the list, you or your brand must be on one of the following lists: the Forbes Most Influential CMOs 2019… last year’s, Forbes CMO Next list, the Forbes Hundred Most Valuable Brands list, AdAge Top Advertisers, or the Forbes CMO Summit Speakers list. Or be on both of the Brand Finance 500 list and the Forbes World’s Largest Public Companies list.

Only global CMOs are eligible if there’s no global CMO, the regional CMO of the country of the company’s headquarters is eligible. And so we’ve got that full list and we stack ranked nearly 500 CMOs around the world, which is pretty cool.

So the methodology was, I think, pretty interesting. Basically, we look at three things which I covered off quickly before. We’ll call one brand performance indicators. So the engagement rate on brand posts, and the volume of engaged followers for the brand. The second thing is personally impact on brand awareness. So total direct and indirect. Twitter mentions. That will be @ mentions, and then CMO plus brand name mentions. Also online and blog mentions of the CMO. And then news mentions of the CMO in the context of the brand. And then thirdly, there’ll be industry and internal influence. The CMO volume of LinkedIn connections, this is all LinkedIn stuff, external views of the CMO’s LinkedIn profile from outside the company. Impressions and engagements on the CMO’s, LinkedIn shares and internal views of the CMO’s LinkedIn profile from within the company.

So that’s the core things. Now, we actually added a couple of things this year, for a couple reasons. One is that classically, we release the study for Cannes which is at the end of June. Cannes was cancelled this year. So that end of June deadline went away. Also, there’s a bunch of things that happen in March, I can’t even imagine what they were, that sort of thought, this is a bit of an unusual time, maybe we should change our, our study. Because it would seem a bit weird, I think to… typically we would stop the data collection in March, and then have the report ready in June and seems like we’d be leaving on a pretty important piece of time. So what we did is we extended the data collection through the end of June, and then released the report in September.

And the two things that we added were visibility on COVID-19. So what were the engagements and impressions on COVID-19-related LinkedIn posts, total direct and indirect Twitter mentions, online and blog mentions of the CMO, and news mentions of the CMO, all on the context of COVID-19. And then we also added visibility on Black Lives Matter. Again, total indirect and direct brand name mentions and Twitter mentions, online and blog mentions, and news mentions. And so by adding COVID-19, and BLM, I think we took the two core things that were happening in that March to June period and looked at how CMOs responded to that. And actually had a pretty big impact on the ratings. And I think what it was an interesting test of is how fluid are CMOs in terms of their ability to adjust to change.

And so basically, we look at quartiles for each of the scores. So there’s four quartile view, and people will rate in the different quartiles. And we can go through and we have essentially strengths, neutral, and challenges for each CMO. And you can see what was going well or not going well.

I think what was fun when I go through these is that many the CMOs actually did a really good job of continuing what they’ve been doing in previous years. But what we’re seeing across the board is there’s been a significant escalation broadly by other CMOs. So treading water is just not going to do the trick anymore, you’re going to have to keep going forward and keep getting better all the time. And so I do enjoy these calls, because it’s a good way to help the CMO understand what they need to do to drive to the next level. And I think that’s always good to keep sharpening the saw, keep thinking about how things have changed, things are changing, and keep looking at how to make sure that your own influence can be used to help your brand.

And I think at the end of the day, the maybe the one thing that I would sort of leave us with here is that the influential CMOs study is less about CMOs wanting to be famous, and more about the fact that the CMO has a big impact on the brand itself and the brand awareness itself. But you know, you’ve heard me talk a little bit about this move from the broadcast world of the 20th century, to the conversational world of the 21st century. So think about broadcast channels, conversational web. And in the conversational web, you know, we have the identity and interests of the customers who are coming to us. 

So in kind of like a trade-like modality, customers are like, I want to know who’s behind the company. Who am I buying from? And who are you? What kind of people are you? Let me see your name and identity, let me understand who you are, let’s put a face on this thing. And I think that that ability to put more of a face on your company as a CMO, and to create a brand for your company around who you are, is not about puffing yourself up. It’s really about helping your company be successful by associating it with real individuals, with real human beings.

And so I’m a big believer in that. I mean, I blog, do this thing called a podcast on a regular basis. Pretty much I’m out there as much as I can be. But you know, I’m talking about Sprinklr. And I’m talking about how Sprinklr can change the lives of millions of people on the planet, and certainly change the fortunes of the customers who work with us.

So get out there make it happen. If you’re a CMO who’s shy don’t think about it as being about you, thinking about as being you helping your company be successful. And if you want to know more, again, please hit me. Give me some comments, throw me some suggestions, happy to talk about it more.

And for the CXM Experience. This is Grad Conn.