Insight From HP's CMO, Antonio Lucio
As the 19th article in my CMO Insight Series, I interviewed Antonio J. Lucio, the former CMO of VISA and the new CMO of HP Inc. Below is Lucio’s insight regarding what it takes to be a true global marketing leader and the importance of generating deep insight into the world’s people, customs, and cultures, through reading, travel, and learning.
Kimberly Whitler: What is the biggest “challenge” you’ve had as a CMO?
Antonio Lucio: Actually, the biggest challenge is the one I’m currently facing. I joined HP last spring, and with the separation of the Hewlett-Packard into two new publicly traded companies, I’m charged with defining and reframing the HP brand for the future. The company was founded in 1939 in Palo Alto, and became the birthplace of Silicon Valley with a 76 year history of tremendous innovation. With the separation, we now have a more focused product portfolio spanning both commercial and consumer markets, a more focused target audience (especially Millennials), and with this change comes the need to rethink what the brand is and the promise we have to deliver on. Our new brand platform will be nourished by our past, but inspired by the endless possibilities of our future.
Whitler: As CMO, what has been a key “instrumental mistake” you’ve made (i.e., one that provided significant insight that enabled you to perform better) and what did you learn from it?
Lucio: Mistakes are par for the course. We make them every day. If we don’t make them daily, we aren’t pushing the boundary and challenging the system enough. However, three years ago, I had a profound experience that changed my life. I wasn’t paying attention to my own health and I got sick, and through it I learned to be more in tune with my own vulnerability. I applied the lessons and discipline learned in business to my own recovery. I researched, found great expert opinions and developed a three step plan: I became vegan; I significantly increase cardio to my strength training; and learned to meditate. Together these three steps have made me a better professional and a more in tune human being.
Whitler: What advice would you give somebody who is aspiring to become a C-level marketing leader?
Lucio: Your career will be determined by your ability to build, nurture, and grow sustainable brands over a period of time. I have a simple formula: E = I2+DEA. Emotion = Insight + Innovation + Digital Engagement + Experiences + Accountability.
Developing an emotional connection is the ultimate objective of marketing. In the digital era of infinite impression and multichannel noise you must breakthrough or become irrelevant. Brands that are able to transcend the rational dimension of their product and build a place in consumers’ heart, will remain relevant for a long time. The first step in driving emotion is to approach our customers with empathy; we need to walk in our customer’s shoes to feel the world as they feel it.
You develop an emotional connection by combining:
Insight: in the era of big data where consumers and marketers suffer from data overflow, the ability to synthesize and obtain meaningful nuggets of relevant human truth is essential in the development of long term emotional connections.
Innovation: our millennial generation expect constant renovation and an endless flow of meaningful and relevant innovation. Marketers need to be grounded on their brand values but leap forward to maintain always fresh and culturally relevant interactions at every level of the brand experience.
Digital engagement: Our world is digital and social; these are not channels, rather a mindset. Our marketers need to be experts in the constantly evolving digital world. A combination of depth of knowledge with thirst for experimentation is needed. Great marketers are great practitioners in the digital world.
Experiences: marketing is not just about driving transactions but about creating brand and consumer relevant experiences that delight consumers across their decision and product interaction journey.
Accountability: to lead a marketing organization prospective candidates need to be able to demonstrate their ability to build the business. Great marketers are 100% accountable for business results and deliver tangible ROI.
A second piece of advice would be to invest in miles. If you want to be a global CMO, you must accumulate experiences and the only way to do that is to experience the markets and the people personally. A subtle understanding of cultures and the ability to adapt and build teams across cultural boundaries is critical if you aspire to be successful beyond the U.S.
Whitler: What are the skills that students should be acquiring today to prepare them to be future C-level marketing leaders?
1. They need a deep understanding of analytics. The math, the math, the math. Our discipline has become as much a science as an art.
2. Balance analytical skills by cultivating a broad set of interdisciplinary interest in the humanities. Take time to learn philosophy, history, literature and become a lifelong student of culture. Marketing is about establishing human connections through empathy. Take time to find human truth.
3. Be resilient. Life will throw you curve balls. Resilience is the ability to pick yourself up, learn, adapt and move forward with experience and conviction. In this constantly evolving and changing world, there is no more important leadership trait than resilience.
4. Stay hungry for learning and achievement. Make a commitment to noticeably improve anything and everything you touch.