Cable Answers the Call for Better Marketing

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The cable industry is in a new era in entertainment, information and telecommunications, with an ever-changing landscape and a more competitive marketplace. As such, industry leaders used the CTAM Summit last July to call for “better cable marketing,” urging us to redefine the industry's place in consumers' minds, and promote advanced products, in order to stem migration to — and to beat — the competition.

So, how does the industry address this appeal for better cable marketing, while retaining peak business and resource efficiencies? As the former chairman of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, I can attest to the pressure placed on the organization to devise creative ways to educate members in marketing excellence, especially in times of consolidation, increasing competition, economic pressure, new products and business models.

In turn, I've seen the industry follow CTAM's lead in expanding the role of marketing, bridging the gap between marketing and technology and advancing the sophistication of those directly responsible for developing and marketing cable's products and services. But clearly, there's more to be done.

The CTAM Educational Foundation and its core initiative, the CTAM Executive Management Program at the Harvard Business School, are dedicated to improving the industry's expertise to translate into better consumer satisfaction with cable television and our new products and services. This can be accomplished by increasing the marketing knowledge of all who create and deliver these services to consumers.

CTAM U., as the program has been affectionately nicknamed, is an extraordinary learning experience for cable professionals.

The one-week program, relevant to executives of various disciplines within cable companies, program networks and technology companies, is built on an intensive, cable and related industry-centric curriculum. It features corporate case studies, including topics such as high-definition TV and cable phone strategies, and direct-broadcast satellite and digital subscriber line competition.

The Harvard Business School faculty immersed themselves in our business with key industry executives and created a blend of intense and stimulating experiences. Simply stated, this program puts the “oomph” in strategic cable marketing, operations and related areas.

As one of the founders of the CTAM Educational Foundation, I believe we have delivered on our promise to provide cable executives with world-class, strategic marketing education.

My company and I are uniformly dedicated to persistently upgrading the skills and knowledge of our executives. I don't think we can ask executives to do more, know more and be more without fully enabling them by providing the training and opportunities to perform at these ever-higher levels.

When I headed distribution for Universal, I sent my best and brightest to CTAM U., because bright people inspire other bright people to do more, be more and learn more. I also sent executives from various disciplines, such as business affairs, sales and marketing, strategic planning and finance, because it's the finest way to build a corporate culture of marketing excellence and understanding across all aspects of a business and company.

In fact, every time members of my team returned from CTAM U., they approached business issues with an increased understanding of marketing implications and complexities, and were more energized for the challenge. Specifically, I found that those traditionally outside of the marketing discipline were much more successful working with my sales and marketing team on significant issues and projects.

As part of my strong commitment to marketing and business education, I decided to experience CTAM U. first hand in 2003. I had very high expectations, since I'd worked closely with other industry leaders to develop a sophisticated and comprehensive curriculum, taught by renowned professors. I was also very interested in seeing just how the Harvard Business School functioned, given I obtained my MBA from rival Columbia University many years ago.

Well, let me tell you that my experience was much more than I imagined. It had been a long time since I'd attended grad school, so I was a bit anxious about being back in a classroom, particularly with those much younger. After I received the assigned reading, I thought 'there's no way we'll get through all this information in a meaningful way in one week.' I was wrong!

Arriving on the “mythical” campus in a student persona was a bit surreal, given all my past trips there for business. From the first minute of class, I was impressed. The curriculum was thoughtful and provocative, and each day and case was more challenging than the previous.

In addition, my classmates were all there for the same reason: To improve their skills. There was an impressive group of executives from a diverse group of disciplines, companies and segments of the industry, and there were a number of highly intellectual and analytical discussions. I am definitely better off for the experience, and so are my company and staff.

CTAM U. reaffirmed my belief that you are never too experienced or too old to learn, and the program strengthened my resolve that ongoing strategic learning is the key to addressing the call for better cable marketing in the industry today.

Let's join together to answer the call for improved marketing by supporting the CTAM Educational Foundation and CTAM U. In my estimation, there's no more powerful solution for you, your executives and your company.

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