PwC's CMO on reorganizing, diversity and why it's critical to master tech
In an interview with Marketing Dive, Matt Lieberman also dished on realigning his team around an integrated, agency-like model, AI and putting clients back at the center of business strategies.
PwC offers a wide range of client services, from accounting to strategy consulting, and employs more than 200,000 around the globe. With so many groups in the air, executing an effective, comprehensive marketing strategy can prove a daunting task — one that's made doubly complicated by marketing skills that are constantly shifting to integrate nascent, complex technologies, like artificial intelligence and blockchain, along with new business models.
Matt Lieberman, an 18-year veteran of PwC, was promoted to CMO of the company's U.S.-Mexico business in July to help reign in and rethink the company's approach to marketing to meet client's demands today. He recently spoke to Marketing Dive about his customer-centric approach, PwC's ongoing efforts to revamp its marketing, including through a greater focus on data and technology, and spearheading efforts around diversity and inclusion.
The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
MARKETING DIVE: Now that it's been roughly eight months since you started, how has everything been shaping up at PwC? What initiatives have you been tackling?
MATT LIEBERMAN: It sounds very simple, but we are refocusing our efforts on the customer. For example, on our website we're building a preference center so that our clients can select what information they want to receive that's specific to their industry or a topic area, like cybersecurity, and also how they want to receive it.
We've also gone through a reorganization of the team itself to make sure that we are best utilizing our resources. We've created a new model for our marketing department in which we look very similar to an ad agency. We have multi-functional teams that have a couple of dedicated core marketers, but also people from our creative, PR team and analytics teams. It was a bit of a difficult transition in terms of getting people to think and act differently, but the results are tremendous.
Finally, we have a much heavier focus on analytics. We have been investing in a number of new technologies that allow us to be hyper-focused on measuring our impact with very specific targeting of clients and their needs. And we have been able to actually assign some attribution to marketing activities in a company that traditionally has had long sales cycles and hasn't pushed products, but services.
How important is leveraging data and technology in your new role?
LIEBERMAN: It's incredibly important. We are moving from disparate solutions to a much more comprehensive one. We have started to successfully utilize artificial intelligence to help with predictive targeting and we're looking to build that out over the next year. We have shifted our marketing strategy so that, when somebody wants to add a new marketing activity, they must have the data to support the ask.
We are using a variety of emerging technologies to do real-time updates. In the past, we put a campaign out there and would get results at the end of the quarter. Now, we have the ability to shift those campaigns in real time. We can see which are working or not working and then either put some more paid support behind the ones that are successful or pull down the ones that are not to rework them.
In the old days, a CMO was often not as involved with the technology. How has that changed and why do today's CMOs need to be tech savvy?
LIEBERMAN: In the old days, CMOs weren't really involved in business strategy. They were often tasked with doing marketing after the business strategy was created. We're now a critical part of the leadership team, setting the strategy both commercially to help drive sales, as well as from a brand perspective to help drive brand value.
It's not even optional for a CMO to be tech savvy anymore, it's critical.
You recently started giving digital skills courses to employees instructing on everything from drones to blockchain. How is this going and what have you learned from this program?
LIEBERMAN: It's totally blown our minds. Delivering learning and development opportunities has always been core to development of all of our people. Over the last year or so, we've really been doubling down on our focus on providing digital training. We released a report in January at the World Economic Forum and it found that 39% of CEOs are extremely concerned about skills gap and we were are also very concerned.
We have an app that allows employees to take courses on areas they want to learn, both online and in-person. For marketing things, we look at how to use AI to help marketing analytics or how to use VR at live events to enhance the marketing experience overall. There's also a digital accelerator program for things like how do we better automate different tasks so that we can provide better value for our clients.
How are you driving PwC forward in diversity and inclusion?
LIEBERMAN: Diversity and inclusion is the No. 1 agenda item for our U.S. senior partner, who is the equivalent of a CEO. As CMOs, we have the responsibility in the company to help shape the narrative and identify what are requirements to promote inclusiveness.
Everybody at our firm goes through diversity training. Managers are taught how to be inclusive leaders. As an openly LGBT leader, we want to show that we support all types of inclusiveness.
We also make the conversation real for our teams to make sure that people feel comfortable talking about what they feel are challenges or opportunities. We're trying to make an environment where people can ask questions and be an effective part of the conversation, because they're not always easy things. We really do live what we state and it's a very comfortable and safe place to work.