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The Solution to the Chief Marketing Officer’s Dilemma – Accurate Emotional Engagement Metrics


Guest articles > The Solution to the Chief Marketing Officer’s Dilemma – Accurate Emotional Engagement Metrics


by: Dr. John L. Schinnerer and Shirley Knight


On average, companies change CMOs every two years. Is this a function of unrealistic expectations, unclear job requirements, or something more fundamental? Perhaps the solution is as simple as accurately measuring that which truly bonds consumers to brands – emotional engagement.

The task of linking consumer behavior to brands and marketing efforts is a difficult one with which the best Chief Marketing Officers’ grapple daily. Solutions such as self-report surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews suffer from a critical disconnect between their results and consumers’ real world behavior. This ongoing challenge has put Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) into the unenviable position where their best efforts are not measureable, and as a result their job security is never assured.

The CMO’s Dilemma

In his Gallup Management Journal article “The Chief Marketing Officer’s Dilemma,” Willam J. McEwen looks at some of the difficulties of the CMO position – rapid turnover, high pressure expectations, and a poorly defined job. The CMO position faces inherent difficulties in the sense that customer engagement depends upon

a) Communicating the brand promise and

b) Delivering upon the company’s brand promise.

Both consumer engagement and profitability rise when employees help deliver on the brand promise. The difficulty arises in that the CMO has control over the first half of the equation (communicating brand promise via advertising and marketing) but not the second half (delivering upon brand promise via employees and operations).

The CMO has no direct control over the workforce. They control the packaging, promotion and promise, but not the daily deliverance and implementation. Thus, to a large extent, the real potential, and the potential pitfalls, of the brand are in the hands of employees who are outside of the CMO’s control.

Gallup’s Proposed Solution

The solution to the dilemma is two pronged. First, CMOs must be capable of recognizing and understanding the entire breadth of their brand – from the brand’s promise to each interaction between employee and customer to every experience customers have with the brand. This indicates that CMOs must “look at the world from the customer’s point of view.” Second, senior executives must design more comprehensive, well-defined objectives and accountability measures for their CMOs. However, this solution proposed by Mr. McEwen falls short of the target.

The assessment of the problem and its respective solutions can be extended to incorporate a broader view of the mind, the market, the brand and the CMO – a view which involves both sides of the mind, the rational and the emotional, and allows for a more accurate picture of engagement, branding and profitability

Rational vs. Emotional Mind

From a neuromarketing perspective, there are at least two parts to the human mind – the rational and the emotional.

The rational mind is reasonable, logical, and linear. The rational mind is excellent at developing levelheaded explanations for behavior. It is so good it has consumers (and others) convinced that they are rational shoppers. The rational mind is so good at creating the illusion that it is in control that scientists didn’t even discover the emotional mind until a few decades ago. In other words, the rational mind has conveniently overlooked the existence of the emotional mind ever since Descartes’ famous but flawed line, “I think, therefore I am.”

The emotional mind is associative, largely subconscious, irrational and intense. The emotional mind is more powerful than the rational mind. It had greater endurance than the rational mind. It works more quickly than the rational mind. This is partially due to the order in which the brain evolved over millions of years.

Those areas of the brain which are primarily responsible for emotions, the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the insula, among other regions, developed 5 – 10 million years ago. On the other hand, the part of the brain responsible for rational thought, the neocortex, developed a mere 40,000 – 2 million years ago. In terms of evolutionary brain development, the rational mind is still in its infancy, while the emotional mind is like a mature adult. So the emotional mind has been through hundreds of revisions and updates, while the rational mind is still a bit ‘buggy.’

Research confirms the emotional mind is a more powerful driver of behavior. Consumers buy with the emotional mind and explain the purchase (to their spouse, for instance) with rational mind.

The Importance of Fully Engaged Customers

Gallup has shown that “profitable growth is directly dependent on the degree to which a company’s customers are ‘fully engaged.’” Gallup defines “fully engaged customers” as “strongly emotionally attached and attitudinally loyal.” On the other hand, actively disengaged customers are “completely detached from your company…they may become virulently antagonistic toward your company or brand…they’re always eager to tell others exactly how they feel.”

The inevitability of negative customer-employee interactions and subsequent drops in customer engagement make it imperative that the CMO find a way to accurately quantify and measure emotional engagement. With an accurate method to lay out the conscious and subconscious emotions that consumers feel when they interact with the brand, the CMO has a fighting chance to ensure customers return again and again for the same “feel good” experience.

Once the CMO has this emotional profile for the brand, then she can set about focusing on “increasing sales share …while meaningfully enhancing the brand.” Until then, the CMO is akin to a ship atop the sea without a rudder; adrift without a map.

Emotions and the Subconscious Drive Behavior

Emotions and the subconscious are the primary driving forces behind consumer behavior, including buying behavior. The challenge has been to develop a tool to accurately identify and measure conscious and subconscious emotions in real time. In the absence of any such tool, CMO’s have had to rely on basic, rudimentary methods, such as observation of shopping behavior, self-report questionnaires and focus groups to predict engagement and behavior. These methods have proven inconclusive at best.

The CMO’s job security is thus tied to shaky and unreliable data collection methods. Given how consumer data is still being collected in archaic ways, it’s no wonder that the tenure in the CMO position is so short. The problem is not that the CMO does or does not know how to do the job. The problem is that no one knows how to accurately measure emotional engagement so there are no real benchmarks against which performance can be judged.

Communicating Brand Promise

The creator of the most successful mass-communication ad campaigns for Avis and Volkswagen, William Bernbach, said, “You can say the right thing about a product, and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen.”

The value of brand equity is not so much in the rational, conscious mind as it is in the emotional, subconscious mind. It’s not how consumers think about a company or its offerings. It’s how they feel about it. And oftentimes, they’re not even consciously aware of how they feel. The most successful marketing campaigns will speak to the head and the heart, the rational and the emotional. Yet, for most CMOs, the ability to accurately measure the emotional side of the equation is not an option, if, for no other reason, than no adequate emotional ruler exists.

The one company which has best delivered on the promise of measuring emotional engagement is the aptly named, Emotion Mining Company. Emotion Mining Company has developed an online, projective technique which enables accurate and reliable measurement of the emotional mind. This information is as essential as it is unprecedented and as such it makes sense that Emotion Mining’s tool be standard for every company that wants to reach consumers at a gut level.

Delivering On Brand Promise

The second part of the CMO’s dilemma, delivering upon the brand’s promise, also has an essential emotional component to it. This should come as no surprise as we are still dealing with humans who are quintessentially emotional beings. It is well understood that employee satisfaction is positively linked to profitability. The more engaged employees are, the better their interactions with customers; the better the interactions with customers, the more loyalty generated; and customer loyalty equals profit.

To truly leverage employee engagement, find out how employees really feel about the customer base in general. If a call center representative thinks of and, more importantly, feels that customers are like incapable, annoying children, their interactions will obviously suffer. If a call center rep sees the customers as sources of innovative ideas who are in genuine need of help, their interactions will flourish and the brand will gain new champions as a result of their positive exchanges.

Even though delivery of the brand promise is outside the CMO’s purview, she can still influence her colleagues who oversee delivery by acquiring and sharing a deeper, more accurate, understanding of a) how the consumer perceives the brand and b) how the consumer wants to experience the brand. In this way, the CMO provides the company with the necessary hard data to create the finest possible customer experience. Such information in the hands of senior management would be a powerful driver of organizational change and brand enhancement as it creates positive guidelines for promotion and delivery.

Measuring the emotional responses of consumers is an aspect of market research that is just now coming to the fore, creating new and necessary tools for the marketing toolbox. Dr. Tom Snyder, the founder of Emotion Mining Company Inc., whose method identifies conscious and subconscious emotional reactions to a question, brand or concept, states, “The emotion data – both quantitative and qualitative – is generated in less than a month and provides previously unavailable insights into the consumer’s perspective. As a result our clients, such as Coca-Cola, have been able to better target both marketing and delivery.”

As McEwen suggested in his article, CMOs need to look at the world from their customer’s point of view, and senior management need to design more comprehensive, well-defined objectives and accountability measures for their CMO’s. Recognizing the role of emotions and measuring emotional responses provides competitive advantage for the firm as well as job security for the CMO!

About the Authors:

Dr. John Schinnerer is Director of Client Relations for Emotion Mining Company which offers a novel, patented method to measure conscious and subconscious emotions and thoughts. In the past, Dr. Schinnerer has served as President of Guide To Self (, a company that focuses on executive coaching.

Dr. Schinnerer also hosted Guide To Self Radio, a prime time radio show on positive psychology and emotional management. Dr. Schinnerer started in the private sector as President of Infinet Assessment (, a psychological testing company to help firms select the best applicants. Dr. Schinnerer wrote the book “Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought” and the article “The Marketing Revolution: Connecting Behavior with the Subconscious Mind.” His book was awarded the “Best Self-Help Book of 2007.”

Shirley Knight is an Executive MBA from Queens University who has 30 years experience in banking and insurance, fulfilling roles in leadership, sales, relationship management, and change management. Shirley joined Emotion Mining ( as COO to help clients gain access to unique insights that can build more competitive organizations.


Contributor: Dr. John L. Schinnerer and Shirley Knight

Published here on: 30-Mar-08

Classification: Marketing, Management


MSWord: The Solution to the Chief Marketing Officer’s Dilemma – Emotional Engagement.doc


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