Only 57% of C-suite executives think their company is customer-centric

New research from the Economist Intelligence Unit has found that only 57% of C-suite execs think their company is customer-centric and an even lower 52% believe their organisation has a clear understanding of its customers’ tastes and needs.  The EIU took the views of 389 respondents globally for its latest report on the role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). You can download the full report HERE.

A mere 19% of respondents believed that the company CMO played a leading role in connecting customer facing functions and worse still, only 18% looked at CMOs as the voice of the customer. More thought that the head of sales (31%) fulfilled that role while admitting that the CMO really ought to be performing that function – but clearly isn’t.

Other findings make interesting reading:

  • 21% said their ability to track customer engagement across different marketing channels is “lagging”
  • A quarter believed the CCO (Chief Customer Officer) should be the voice of the customer
  • Only 61% thought the CMO role was strategic




How Twitter may really start influencing buying decisions

Let’s begin by looking at Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher. Anybody engaged with Twitter is in awe of the 13.7m followers that Kutcher has amassed – except for American professor Sinan Aral that is. The NYU Stern School of Business assistant professor wrote in the latest Harvard Business Review that he asked one of his classes how many of them followed Kutcher. Sure enough, nearly all his students raised their hands. Then he asked – but how many of you have actually ever done something because Kutcher suggested it? The hands collapsed into laps.

This made Aral wonder if, for all the hype about social marketing and the role of online influencers, corporate marketeers were wasting their time hoping that online chatter would do their selling for them. Worse, Aral suspects that the influence of friends and peer groups – who would flock together anyway as like minded folk do – is being mistaken for real, tangible social media influence. He thinks the influence of social media is way overstated.

Marketers are spending millions on social media strategies to that end; they’re working to gather followers, and they’re using “influence scores” devised by companies such as Klout and PeerIndex to try to understand how much leverage each follower exerts. Over time they hope to shift away from traditional, expensive, inefficient methods of mass advertising toward peer-to-peer, word-of-mouth campaigns.

So, are the marketing people who have embraced social media been fooled by appearances? At this point in time, he may have a point but things are about to change. And it’s the CEO of the aforementioned Klout – Joe Fernandez – who has woken up to the underlying potential of Twitter to influence. His company has up to now given Tweeters an influence score that boosts their ego and, it’s been reported, is used by some employers to measure potential recruits online impact. But Fernandez wants to go much further than that.

His plan – recognising the sort of criticisms leveled by the likes of Sinan Aral, is to directly link social media influencers to consumers at the point at which they’re making a buying decision. From this month, Klout is going to become a service where Tweeters can ask an expert when they need their advice most. As Fernandez explained to Wired:

In about a year from now, I hope that when I’m at Home Depot, I can pull out my phone, get an influencer in real time, and have a two-minute conversation about what to buy.

This will take Tweeters and Facebook users beyond their immediate circle of friends and family to informed and expert opinion wherever it can be found. Posting questions online isn’t new – Google and Quora have been putting up random and existential questions on life, the universe and everything for a while. But it’s the targeted and timely linking of expert to consumer that could be revolutionary. Klout will have a database of gardening, healthcare and cookery experts that could be segmented to very narrow areas of expertise over time. For corporates, this will mean having to monitor the emergence of uber-influencers who consumers will be able to engage with in real time.

So just when the skeptics were about to stick the boot into Twitter – the world of social media has recognised the problem and devised a smart solution.

Why corporates and CEOs need to do empathy

An increasing number of CEOs – particularly in new media – are becoming aware of the need to bring empathy and emotional intelligence into their business.  In an article for the Huffington Post, consultant Rose Schreiber explains why “empathy as a social currency” is gaining ground in the business world.  We live in different times and consumers expect companies to evidence values and understand their concerns – so CEOs need to engage in a much more sophisticated and nuanced level of communication with external stakeholders.  And frankly, they also need to show they mean it.

As Schreiber explains:

Empathy is essential to providing better customer experiences. If you understand your customers, you’ll be well equipped to give them exactly what they need.

Four steps to achieving empathy are outlined as follows:

1. Make an active decision that you want to see something from another point of view. For most part, we are blind to another’s point of view (usually as a result of our own opinions and a need to be right) and this is 80% of the work in reaching greater empathy.

2. Become conscious of the filter you’re listening through. Most of our biases are completely unconscious and when we listen to others, we don’t realise that we’re listening with judgment.

3. Go deeper than the issue to find the underlying emotion. Most of us get stuck at the issues and never really try to understand why a person is feeling a certain way.

4. Connect with the underlying emotion and acknowledge it. When we understand underlying human emotions, it’s easier to find connection. In the root of the word empathy “em” means “in,” “path” means “suffering” – empathy is simply feeling the suffering of someone else.

The principle extends to employees as well as consumers. If they feel valued and understood, not only will they stick around longer but they’ll show a greater willingness to contribute across the organisation and not just in their current silo.

In all of this, the CEO plays a key role not, as Schreiber explains, in “being human” but in humanising the organisation.  That may sound like a play with words but what it comes down to is not being everybody’s buddy, but truly grasping what stakeholders need, feel and want.

Why do CEOs admire Winston Churchill so much?

The Global CEO Survey from PwC revealed a lot of interesting attitudes among corporate chiefs but what caught our attention was the political leaders they said inspired them the most. Top of the list was Winston Churchill – war-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as it faced the threat of invasion. As CTN’s chairman, Lord Watson, is the Life Patron of the Churchill Archives at Churchill College, Cambridge we have more than an academic interest in this big thumbs up for Winston from the world’s CEOs.

So why did the 1,300 executives in 30 countries surveyed like the former PM so much?  One has to conclude that companies see this as a tough and challenging period of history for the global economy. What they admire in Churchill is the quality he was most famous for – dogged persistence. One of his quotes might give us a clue to his popularity.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.

But there’s another side to Winston that we prefer to accentuate and that’s his flair for communication. The style was a bit dated even for the time but his genius was to unpack the key messages in a way that appealed to both his audience’s head and heart. He could inform and educate while also stirring the radio listener to action.

Within government, he streamlined the communications process so that all three branches of the armed forces spoke with one voice. That hadn’t been the case previously – particularly in the First World War, which Churchill had been politically active in. Winston created the Ministry of Defence with himself as its first minister giving a strong political lead to military matters.

Churchill’s career also had distinct ups and downs.  He was an MP as early as 1900 and a government minister (as a Liberal) in the First World War. His handling of the Galipoli campaign in that war was viewed as disastrous and with the loss of British lives would have felled a lesser man’s political career.  He left the Liberals for the Conservatives in the 1920s, served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1924 but then lost his seat.

For most of the 1930s, he took a back seat in politics. But those years were spent writing and making speeches – keeping his mind active and political instincts razor sharp.  Many wrote Churchill off as yesterday’s man – an old warhorse out of touch with the public mood. Then with the fall of Chamberlain as Prime Minister over Nazi appeasement, Churchill – a firm anti-appeaser – was appointed PM.

A thick skin and a strong viewpoint had seen Churchill climb back from political doom to become Britain’s great war leader. It’s little wonder that a career like that inspires many of today’s CEOs.

Why CEOs should adopt social media – a helpful graphic from MBA Online


The social CEO – fascinating insight into how consumers and employees increasingly expect the company chief to be engaging with social media.



CTN filmed this conference for our client the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – a hugely important event bringing a global focus to the situation in Somalia and building that country’s future.

Database of Press Releases related to Africa - APO-Source





NEW YORK, May 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the second London Conference on Somalia, 7 May:


I offer best wishes for success, on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to the co-hosts and participants of today’s meeting, and thank the Government of the United Kingdom for organizing this important conference on Somalia.


What a difference a year can make. When we gathered a year ago for the first London Conference, we were focused on a political transition that had for long seemed disappointingly distant.


Today, we are here to support the Federal Government of Somalia and its agenda of peace, unity and State-building, and to help take the country to a…

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The case for internal communications

A fascinating blog post on internal communications – companies need to know when their conversations with employees are top down, bottom up or sideways. You may think you know but…

Higher EDge

About a month ago, I was in a lunch and learn session for managers, where the topic focused on what gets in the way of effective management. As we talked, the entire conversation landed on  various levels of frustration with internal communication. Lack of communication between departments. Lack of transparency with major initiatives, so that managers could align their work with the organization’s goals. And lack of regular communications from the top, so that employees could be effective ambassadors for the organization. We talked about how peoples’ natural tendency is to fill in the blanks and make something up, when communication is not clear.

Sound familiar? It might.  Here are some sobering findings from a poll of 23,000 employees from a number of companies and industries, cited by Steven Covey in his book “The 8th Habit.”

  • Only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying…

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