Building Better CMOs
Podcast Transcript - Building Better CMOs

Ulta Beauty CMO Michelle Crossan-Matos

In this special episode, recorded live at MMA's POSSIBLE conference in Miami, Ulta Beauty CMO Michelle Crossan-Matos talks with MMA Global CEO Greg Stuart about toggling between long- and short-term thinking, her unusual path into marketing, why every marketer should get retail experience, and more.
Michelle Crossan-Matos: If we are going to be the CEOs of the future, if we're the ones that are going to be the disruptors of all industries, great industries, we must be able to rise above the day-to-day craziness and be able to toggle between the long term and the short term. We can't only do one. We can't just be operators and we can't just be visionaries.

Greg Stuart: Welcome to Building Better CMOs, a podcast about how marketers can get smarter and stronger. I'm Greg Stuart, the CEO of the nonprofit MMA Global. And that voice you heard at the top is Michelle Crossan-Matos. She is the CMO of Ulta Beauty, which is the largest beauty retailer in the US and Michelle joined me live on stage this week at MMA Global's POSSIBLE Event in Miami.

This is MMA's largest conference of the year to help all markers better understand marketing, and it was my first ever live taping of Building Better CMOs. I'm so grateful to Michelle and everyone who joined us in the audience.

Now, today on this special episode of the podcast, Michelle and I are going to talk about one, her surprising journey to the C-suite; two, why she's really the luckiest CMO in the world, and she is; and three, creating your own framework ... and, well, so much more.

This podcast is all about the challenges marketers face and unlocking the true power that marketing can have. Michelle Crossan-Matos is going to tell us how she did all that right after this.

Emcee: Please help me welcome Michelle Crossan-Matos, Ulta Beauty CMO, and our facilitator, Greg Stuart, CEO of MMA Global.

GS: So Michelle, I should start this off officially. Welcome to Building Better CMOs.

MCM: Thank you very much.

GS: It's an official, I don't know that we're exactly Seamless. How many of you are paying attention to the Seamless podcast lately? Seamless? SmartLess. Sorry, sorry. SmartLess. I did it wrong. SmartLess. Sorry. Incredible. I'll get it right eventually.

Intense Beauty Talk with Generosity and Fun

GS: So Michelle, as you know, CMO of Ulta Beauty, it's the funniest thing. We just walked basically from registration here, and all you did was stop and engage in intense beauty conversations with every woman you met.

MCM: With everyone. Yeah.

GS: It's like that everywhere?

MCM: What eyelashes, when you have one. Love your nail polish. What are you wearing in your cheeks? What are you doing with your hair? Is that Redken? Is that Olaplex? Yeah, I ask everyone all their routine.

GS: Is it like this all the time?

MCM: Yeah, it's like I'm doing permanent market research.

GS: But you feel almost like a bit of a celebrity because they're fawning over you. They get really excited when they find out you're there.

MCM: And they're like, "Does someone do your makeup?" And I'm like, "Eh, no." I work for Ulta Beauty, and I should be able to do my own makeup. So it's really fun. I tell you, it's great to be back in the beauty care industry.

GS: And you're having fun with it too. I think that's what caught my attention. One, I think in some regards, the generosity that you had to people when... Listen, we're coming over here to get ready to be on stage, and so you can get distracted by that, but not at all. You took the time. Talked to people all along the way. In fact, I wasn't even sure we were going to get you up front here from talking to the host backstage, right?

MCM: Yeah, we're talking about it. I think he's actually from Mexico, from Puerto Rico, and we're talking about all the beautiful beauty insights that you have from the Latinas and the Hispanic world. So listen, I love being here in Miami. It's a short stop from where I live in Puerto Rico. So thank you so much for having me. What an honor, privilege, and I'm so humbled to be sitting with such amazing people right now. So thank you.

GS: The generosity continues. I just love it.

The Beauty and Wellness Boom During COVID

GS: Okay, so let's give a little context for everybody here. So Ulta Beauty, largest beauty retailer, is that the classification?

MCM: Yes. In the country, so number one. Number one.

GS: Yes, very good. Okay. Hundred billion dollar category. It's about $11 billion. I'm not here to quote financial information, but about $11 billion. Extraordinary growth over the last few number of years. Double-digit for the most part. Right? Crazy. Strong earnings, too. I saw the most recent earnings. It's really on fire.

MCM: Yes, it is on fire.

GS: Which I find almost a little... funny is the wrong choice of words, but what was the pandemic reaction to sort of beauty and the dynamics? What happened to the business during that time, but then what's their inflection points that are happening now? I'm curious.

MCM: Yeah, it's funny, when the pandemic hit, I was actually in a different industry. I was in the tech industry, and I remember reflecting to... My husband was working in beauty care at the time. And I grew up in beauty care. I was like, "Gosh, how's bricks and mortar going to survive? How's beauty care going to survive?" Get ready with me in the stores and smelling fragrances. I came from the fragrance part of the beauty care business.

In fact, beauty took off in different ways, and it was really down to fundamentally, Greg, wellness became such a core belief for everyone, and a core value. And that's why it's kind of weird to think that fragrances actually significantly grew through the pandemic because people associated smelling good as a way of uplifting their souls during a tough moment in time. So I just talk about fragrances because it's a passion point for me. But in general, all of beauty, people started to play. They had more time. They were exploring. You could DoorDash things to your home.

GS: Right.
They feel empowered after they use beauty products. And so for us, that then allows us to tell that story. And in moments like this, that's why you see growth in an industry like this because it has a deeper part of our soul.
MCM: It's exciting. So it was an exciting time for beauty, and the momentum has continued, albeit moderated a little bit now, but we're still one of the fastest, if not the fastest growing category out there.

GS: Wow. It's crazy. I don't know that I would've totally anticipated that, but it's a return to, I don't know, some sense of new normal. Right?

MCM: Listen, you have to know what beauty means, right? So everyone here works in different industries, and we all know the role we play. Beauty really is about unleashing possibilities. It really is about whoever... We'll call it the beauty enthusiasts. That might be you, that might be your mother, might be your sister, your daughter, but she, he, they, they feel empowered after they use beauty products. And so for us, that then allows us to tell that story. And in moments like this, that's why you see growth in an industry like this because it has a deeper part of our soul.

GS: Got it.

MCM: It's different from maybe watching television or using mobile phones, which I came from the tech industry. I understand the dynamic now of the emotional...

Building a Career: From IT to Beauty Care Marketing

GS: Well, let's get in just a little background, so they do have context. Listen, you've got a long history of very strong brand companies. So Procter & Gamble, Samsung, right? What else was in that there?

MCM: Vertu.

GS: Yeah, exactly. Okay, good. And I'm just kind of curious, since your accent doesn't sound like you're from Miami, how did you get... I'm guessing...

MCM: I'm not, I'm Scottish.

GS: How did you get from there? Which I know. To Puerto Rico maybe to... I don't know, you give us any direct, I'm curious.

MCM: I'll keep this story short. I started in IT supply chain for five years. I see someone one out there, IT, and after five years I met a Puerto Rican general manager in beauty care in P&G. And she says, what are you doing in IT? You're either sales or marketing, I don't know. Marketing for you. So then I moved to-

GS: Wait, your husband stepped in and said, you need to be in a different field?

MCM: No, no, no. This is a general manager.

GS: Oh, a general — GM said, okay, okay, got it.

MCM: And I'm dating this Puerto Rican, I meet this other Puerto Rican. I'm like, I think my worlds are colliding here. And so after a couple of years in IT, working in Germany, working in the UK, I relocate to Switzerland and I start my journey in the marketing world and I worked in Olay for a couple of years and Olay was really important because it's a classic brand building school. Great. Fabulous. Thank you very much. Tick that box.

Then I moved into our prestige business, which had just acquired a bunch of brands and at that time, entrepreneurial, very little data, working with celebrities, stakeholders, fashion designers. And that opened up a world for me, which really plays on my superpower, which is instinctive marketing, leveraging the best of data, but being instinctive and managing all those complex stakeholders, being able to navigate the world of celebrities.

And guess what? Fast-forward, years later, I'm in beauty care again. And let me tell you, I was just with Charlotte Tilbury yesterday. I just with all these founders and it all co mes flooding back, all the things that we used to do in that P&G world.

So it was a long journey to get here, but let me tell you, everything that got me here was important. And I say that's really important for all the people that are thinking about their next moves. Not only have I worked in IT supply chain, I've been a brand manager, I've also ran innovation for Samsung and I also ran corporate strategy and transformation. So when I sit in a boardroom, I actually can talk with real experience about robotics in a DC right through to innovating and designing a product five years out. And I think that gives marketers a stronger voice. So do the best you can to acquire as much of that operational experience.

GS: A hundred percent agree. I have twin daughters who just started working and I've told them, I says, just try to be as competent in as many things as you can. Try to learn it all, have a career plan, but trust me, you will not have any idea how you got to where you did. It just is going to happen.

MCM: Oh, that's brilliant.

GS: Isn't that right?

MCM: Great advice.

GS: It's funny too, I've spent a lot of time in P&G, a lot of time working on P&G business with agencies where — best client I ever had. I love working with them. The experience is just unbelievable. And the relationships go on forever.

MCM: They do. They do. I see my P&G family here. [cheers from audience] So we can stay together and we, yeah...

GS: Okay.

MCM: We help each other.

GS: I think we're...

MCM: I get goosebumps. Gosh, I'm getting goosebumps.

GS: I don't know if the listeners can tell, but there's a rowdy crowd in the front. We might have to have removed by security here soon.

Long-Term and Short-Term Thinking for CMOs

GS: So listen, so Michelle, listen, there's a lot of podcasts for CMOs and to be fair, all of them tend to be about how wonderful and amazing the CMOs are.

MCM: Really?

GS: Tends to be a lot of hero worship of CMOs.

MCM: Oh, geez.

GS: So I figured that category was covered. And so what you know, that Building Better CMOs is all about, is really sort of taking a hard look at our business about what we need to do different. It's what the MMA is about. The MMA is about improving the stature and gravitas role, the impact that marketing has. Okay.

So let me ask you the core question of the whole and then we're going to riff on this for whatever time we have. What do you think in marketing or marketers that we don't necessarily either well is best understood, is maybe fully appreciated, maybe where we're even wrong about something if we want to go there? You know me, I'm always on a hunt for what can I go fix for you CMOs? That's the whole thesis. Exactly. So go ahead. What do you think, what topic do you want to pick on today that we're going to sort of dig into that you think marketers, CMOs, we just could be better at?

MCM: No, and thank you for that thoughtful question. It's so thoughtful because if we crack the code on this, we unleash the next generation of the greatest marketing leaders. And that's our role really here today is to become that and to unleash that for others.

GS: Yes.

MCM: And so for me, through my career, I always had a real healthy bias for action. So you are just personality, your DNA, you are one way, but through the greatest training of P&G and Samsung and now in Ulta beauty, I also have this ability, well it was my job to run corporate strategy and to think three to five years out. And so now actually that I'm in this role now, actually as I develop my own people, I realized, some people are left or right wing brain marketers and we really need to be more center brains. I think that's the first thing. And then the second thing is the ability to toggle between long-term and short-term. So let me focus on that.

Right now, I invest a lot of my time getting ready for my analyst day. I invest a lot of time thinking about my three to five year growth strategy. How am I going to build my brands? How am I going to build the 600 brands that are in my stores today and how are we going to build the beauty category? So it's resilient in all times, but I'm also responsible for a very large multi-billion dollar e-commerce business. I run that day-to-day business. So I have to toggle and I see early sales and I have to go into my app and think about which tiles I move around and which messaging do I adapt, as well as, I'm thinking about my three to five year strategy.

So the reason why I am telling you this is to illustrate the point that great marketeers, if we are going to be the CEOs of the future, if we're the ones that are going to be the disruptors of all industries, great industries, we must be able to rise above the day-to-day craziness and be able to toggle between the long term and the short term.

We can't only do one. We can't just be operators and we can't just be visionaries. Now, there are moments where you're going to have to be visionary. Last three days, I was in Orlando and I was there hosting 3000 folk from our field leadership teams in Ulta Beauty. My job in the last three days was to be visionary. My job was to inspire.

In the last couple of weeks, working on the long-term vision, my job is to dream and think different, but when I get in the office tomorrow, it is about how are my sales doing? How can I pivot? How can I get even more this Friday?

So ask yourself deeply right now, how comfortable do you feel between that toggle? And if you don't enjoy that, that's okay. How can you learn to enjoy it? And I was working with Mel Robbins for my Joy project campaign and she says, leaders bring the weather, you bring the weather. So if you're going to be a leader, it brings the weather, how can you choose to enjoy that so therefore you can thrive, but most importantly, teach your own organization how to thrive in that and therefore, you're developing the next CEOs.
If we are going to be the CEOs of the future, if we're the ones that are going to be the disruptors of all industries, great industries, we must be able to rise above the day-to-day craziness and be able to toggle between the long term and the short term. We can't only do one.
GS: Okay, let me qualify the question. So I love the appreciation for getting to the top of the company and that kind of ambition. I'm not always sure that CMOs have been granted that orientation. Don't you agree? I think that the stats are, in fact I pulled a bunch of data a number of years ago. We compared chief digital officers, the CMOs and CDOs by and far ended up as the CEO more than double the rate that CMOs did. It is what it is, it's okay.

But let's come back here. So when you're talking long or short term, just to qualify, you're not talking just about the messaging or the brand or communication. You're talking about a master strategy.

MCM: Business model, value proposition.

GS: And that you as CMO need to understand and communicate, interpret and then deliver against that strategy working with the CEO and the rest of this sort of strategic team.

MCM: Yes, absolutely. I would even say I'm probably one of the most vocal people in our boardroom when it comes to strategy. I'm very fortunate that I do have a background in strategy. I am fortunate in that. But listen, if you came from P&G, you were also working on brand building strategies. The only thing I did on top of that was corporate strategy, M&A and all that good other stuff too.

To also round off that experience. But the ability to stand back and look at an industry and predict where it's going, where the consumer's going, and to create a flywheel that'll be competitive in that new world and how you can build towards that. I've just oversimplified corporate strategy there in like 20 seconds, but if you can map that out and then create a marketing playbook that really elevates the company and the brand position for that, that's strategy. But you need to be able to find the time. You get 30 minutes downtime, strategize game plan or you've got 30 minutes. Okay, now it's looking at my daily numbers and being able to give yourself the permission to use a different part of your brain. This is something we talked about, but I'm a very, very... How can I say, I have a playbook of how to tap into a different part of my brain when I'm thinking long-term versus short term.

GS: Let's take a quick break. We'll be back right after this with Michelle Crossan-Matos live at POSSIBLE in Miami.

This is Building Better CMOs. Let's get back to my live conversation with Michelle Crossan-Matos, the CMO of Ulta Beauty.

Ulta Beauty's Huge Rewards Program

GS: So this is fascinating, Michelle. I will say I don't think I've had any other person on the podcast, on Building Better CMOs actually say this, which is very interesting to me. And it's definitely got a long-term orientation, not just to the role but to your company. How do you go back and forth between, "Hey, we're running an offer to drive store traffic" because you see those numbers every damn day. Maybe hourly. I don't know what you're up against nowadays for retail, but I know it's pretty regular, those reports. And then also like you said, take the step back to say, "Well, but I'm crafting a bigger vision." Is there an organizational dynamic to that? Is it the sort of cooperation you have with other C-suite executives and the work that you're having to do with them? How do you turn that into a playbook and an action plan? I'm trying to get at.

MCM: A great question. I don't want to sound very tactical, but I'll tell you what I do. I created a transformation office within my own organization.

GS: Within marketing.

MCM: Within marketing and e-commerce.

GS: By the way, can I ask you, do you have responsibility, what's your...

MCM: What's your remit? Normal marketing, the normal stuff plus brand services. So I do the normal brand position, PR. I do customer service. We call it guest services.

GS: Okay, okay.

MCM: Yes, I have that. And I also have...

GS: Wait, that's the associates at the retail level. Is that what you...

MCM: No, if you have a complaint and you want to call someone and you pick up the phone, it's my people looking after you. It's customer service. I also oversee all of our finance. So credit cards, loyalty. I also oversee our retail media network.

GS: Did I hear you say loyalty?

MCM: Yes.

GS: So you have the loyalty program, which was a big relaunch for you guys recently here, I thought.

MCM: And it's arguably one of the largest in the country. So whoever here has a loyalty program, when I say this number, you'll go, wow, that's big. I have 43.3 million active members in this country alone. Bigger than Canada's population, by the way.

GS: Yeah, there we go.

MCM: It was pretty huge. Yeah. So I've got loyalty and then I've got the multi-billion dollar e-commerce system.

GS: Okay. So it's a pretty full range. Okay.

Waking Up Early, Power Walks, Beauty Routines

MCM: Yes, it's very full range. So let me go back to your question. How do we do it, right? So for me, excuse the holistic answer on this one, 'cause it is important. Then I'll get the tactical part. I think you have to be very, very strategic about how you activate your brain. I've always been very thoughtful about that. I get up very early, silly o'clock, five o'clock, sometimes four-thirty. But I think anything that's four-something in the morning is unhuman. And so I get up early and that's when I meditate and I study, I study every morning leadership.

GS: Do you?

MCM: Study.

GS: Wait, you study leadership, what are you reading?

MCM: And stoicism as well. So I try and learn from Marcus Aurelius and all these stoics about how to show up the best version of myself. But listen, I know that sounds like, that sounds very random. It takes my brain to a different place where I'm not worrying about the day-to-day issues. I'm more worrying about longer term the leader I want to be and how I want to develop my organization.

When I do this and I journal, do all that stuff that you hear about the five o'clock club, ideas come to me. They just come because you are not in a state of doing, you're in a state of reflecting and that's when strategies come — really randomly. And I always have a notebook and I write it down, I write it down. And then it's when I do my power walk. So listen, I'm not going to claim I'm the fittest person, clearly I'm not.

But what I do love is my power walk in the morning and my power walk in the morning is when the short-term stuff comes. I got to do this, got to do this. And that's when I take the notes on my phone. So you see that I already have different music is playing when I'm doing my long-term stuff and then I'm doing my power walk, different music is playing and I just feel like physiologically I'm setting myself up to think differently.

GS: Yeah, you're preparing for the day.

MCM: Preparing for the day.

GS: I love that. It's the most important thing somebody ever told me this is if I spend... I tell what somebody said. He says, if you'll spend 20 minutes taking a shower, getting ready, whatever that might be to sort of, and get dressed to go, why aren't you spending that time also preparing your brain for the day? It was the best advice somebody gave me 30 years ago.

MCM: And by the way, that's why, for the ladies in the room, that's why your beauty routine in the morning and when you're getting ready, that is one of your moments when you're putting on your beauty — I'll call it your war paint — your war paint for the day and you're elevating yourself to feel great. You are often thinking about all the things that you need to do. But anyway, let me get tactical for a moment.

Why Create Your Own Marketing Framework?

GS: Okay, yeah. Let's go back to strategies.

MCM: Let me get back to strategy and tactics. So I know that I've got an analyst October, I'm a classic PMO in a way. I have work back schedules that tells me what I need to do when I have carved out half days throughout my week to work on strategy. I block it because if I don't block it and I'm not debating strategy, looking at my numbers, to analyze data, it takes a lot of brain consumption.

And remember, I've got 43 million loyalty members. So think about the level of data I have is coming out of everywhere and so I need to take time to do that. So you have to be tactical and work back how you're going to work on your strategy. I use frameworks on what parts of the strategy I need to work on first and how do I get to the detailed parts.

This is what I do, this is my job. And so I have a framework for it. And that's the point is you don't take someone else's framework. Create your own framework right now, come out of today and say, if I were to teach five people tomorrow how to do my job, what is the framework I would give them? That was a question I asked myself and that's how I came up with my thing.

GS: Do you have that actually written down by the way? I'm just curious. Is the framework written down? No, you don't need, you have it in your mind at this point, I guess. Right?

MCM: Do you know, I am writing it down because I'm trying to figure out how to write something for my kids and this is a part of all the lessons I've learned and this is one of them. How to write frameworks, how to condense thinking.

GS: Can I ask, how old are your kids? Is that...

MCM: 10 and 12.

GS: Oh okay. Okay.

MCM: 10 and 12. And I spent so much time...

GS: By the way, by the time they get to 13, 14, they stop asking your advice. I hate to tell you.

MCM: Yeah, I know. But I brought my children to our FLC, our Field Leadership Convention in Orlando this week, 3000 people screaming about Ulta beauty. And by the way, the Joy Project is our equity platform that my daughter helped form and she saw "Joy" all over the ballrooms and she's like, "Mommy, is that the campaign that we worked on together?" I was like, "Yeah, baby girl!" And our equity platform has infused our corporate culture now. And she saw it.

GS: What a great example for a mom.

MCM: Again, goosebumps. Think about it again.

Predicting the Future as a CMO

GS: I feel the same way. Exactly. Okay, so let's come back to this long and short. So again, I'm not sure that I've really heard somebody, a marketer, CMO, who's really got that kind of orientation to the underlying growth. Let me ask you a funny question. Do you feel like you have a good sense of predictability around that strategy and growth? Do you really feel like you can know three to five years out? That's a...

MCM: I would say. It's like...

GS: You got to have a plan.

MCM: 20, 70, 30. Listen, who knew COVID was coming? Well we did know right? When I was in my Samsung days, we did predict recession, we did predict a number of things. We didn't think it was going to be a health crisis that would create the recession. And actually we actually built new business models. Subscription was one of them for buying electronics with additional benefits because we predicted a different change in shopping behaviors and people's financial crunch. Guess what? Then pandemic hit and then we activated that.

GS: You have a series of different scenarios, then, you have to operate against. That could happen.

MCM: Well actually, so that was a framework. I took every prediction I could get out there and I took it from really credible sources and crazy sources. And then actually with a little bit of, we crunched it, we didn't have machine learning at that point. We were able to see where people would overlap and my instinct told me if people are colliding on the same five, 10 things, probably it's more likely to happen. Probably. And that was how I was able to kind of — credible sources, collision of ideas, hence probability.

Working with Ulta Beauty CEO Dave Kimbell

GS: Now listen, we'd be remiss to not talk about the fact that you are the luckiest CMO in the entire world.

MCM: I am. Do you know why?

GS: I do.

MCM: My CEO is a former CMO.

GS: Now some people can consider that to be messy, then they feel like they know to do your job. But it's quite the opposite. You have tremendous support.

MCM: Yeah, Dave Kimbell is one of the most formidable CEOs out there and I'm really, really humbled and proud to be working with him. Yeah, because Dave actually is also former P&G and Pepsi. He is an incredible, thoughtful, inspirational leader. Doesn't want to do your job for you. But isn't it great that I can have a meeting with my boss and he'll say, "So what are you doing in brand building? What is your level of investment?" So we never have a debate.

GS: In your experience. Well wait, but you always worked for, I was just going to ask you, in your experience, how often do you think you get that? It can't be...

MCM: I worked in Samsung. I worked eight years in consumer tech. I worked 10 years in total. And let me tell you, I had sales leaders and there I had to convince someone in the power of marketing and return investment.

GS: Immediacy. Right. Now they want to know what are you doing to fill up the coffers today? Exactly.

MCM: Day to day to day. So now I have not a debate on, do I get a return investment. It's a debate on optimization to drive the most ROI in channels. We debate channels, we don't debate the concept of spending dollars. And it's my boss who's the first person to say I think we need to give more dollars to marketing. So I'm really, really lucky.

GS: Wow. We could do a show of hands. I think it would just be disappointing for everybody else out there.

MCM: I'm really sorry.

GS: And how many get that of the CFOs say, can you spend more on brand?

MCM: And for me, he's a great advocate for my career as well. And so I'm constantly observing him, how he elevates the discussion. He moves from marketing to branding to enterprise strategy. Seeing him toggle is the greatest teacher for me.

GS: What a great opportunity. It's like the best of situations. You really do feel so lucky and you can hear the enthusiasm you have for it.

We still firmly believe in the power of brand building and we still fundamentally believe that it can drive short-term sales as well as long-term sales. And stop please thinking that social is going to be the be-all and end-all. It is not going to be the be-all end all. We know that.

The Strength of Brand and TV Marketing

GS: Okay, let's do a couple of lightning rounds here a little bit. Listen, I think this is phenomenally interesting, the fact that you have such a long-term plan and it does make this particular episode, I think very unique. It really is. I've really not had anybody else say that. Thank you for bringing that to the table.

What do you think is most underappreciated, other than this operation thing in marketing and actually just a specific discipline marketing, what do you think there's a opportunity in marketing that people don't get? Either is it around loyalty? Is it around TikTok? Is there something you're kind of like, wow, I just don't know that enough people see this sort of small opportunity within marketing they should take advantage of.

MCM: We talked about this. So we still firmly believe in the power of brand building and we still fundamentally believe that it can drive short-term sales as well as long-term sales. And stop please thinking that social is going to be the be-all and end-all. It is not going to be the be-all end all. We know that.

GS: Why not? Why not? By the way.

MCM: I was telling you this, wasn't I? I was telling you about how I was watching. I was watching normal linear TV. Woo hoo! And I saw the same ad twice in two different locations and I instantly went on their web to buy one of the new Ninja barbecues! [laughs] And I have five barbecues, I don't need another one. And my husband's like, "What are you doing?" I was like, "It's the power of TV. It's back. It's back!" And so listen, ROI, MMM, MMA, whatever you want to call it. Don't walk away from brand building and don't walk away from the channels that we all know that works because we need to drive vision, we need to drive the brand and we've got to drive the sales. It comes together.

GS: So as part of that advocacy then, linear television, you still think has a role. Is that...

MCM: Definitely.

GS: Okay. So I'm going to give a data point for everybody. So this is pre-pandemic data. I have done more, I mean I had the opportunity to co-found multitouch attribution with Rex Briggs twenty-some-odd years ago, and then bring that to market. I've done probably more public MTA studies than anybody else through both here and formerly IAB when I ran it. So here's the thing that caught my most attention in 2018. The last study we did, last few studies we did. Big brands, too. Walmart, the big brands, right? Unilever was in those, Wendy's... Linear television as a part of that market mix. And I have no bias whatsoever to say this. Linear television at that time should have been 45% to 65% of most plans. So untargeted, mass reach, oversaturated clutter, whatever. I don't care. I'm not here to dig into the negatives.

It was still producing the results in either brand effect or in sales because we measured both. Now I don't know what it would be the era of streaming post-pandemic. I have a feeling that things would've shifted, but I was always flabbergasted what it said is that contrary to what either Adweek or Adage tells you is that TV prices are going up, it was dirt cheap. And it feels like you figured that out just in your own sort of analysis. Yeah, I've found very few people understand that. And again, I have no bias to that. It just is the facts.

MCM: No, we definitely need to diversify how we go to market and be strategic about it.

Why All CMOs Should Do Retail

GS: So underappreciated, anything overhyped you think going on today?

MCM: Overhyped.

GS: Yeah, and that's not really a marketing thing we like.

MCM: No, no, no. But can I go back to being an operator? Can I take a bit-

GS: Yeah, please go.

MCM: about that. Because under listen, one of the strands I think is working in retail now is the ability to really build up that operator "can I?" experience. And for those, anyone here working in retail?

If you don't work in retail, you should probably get a stint in retail because that ability to go in stores and be an operator, see how the inventory is and be able to join the dots with the supply chain. Make sure you're putting your advertising in stuff. You've got inventory. Well, that's a muscle that you don't want to get when you're too senior. That's a muscle you want to develop maybe, more mid to senior versus too senior. And I think great marketers and business leaders, the sooner you can get that, that's the better. So I think we don't talk about that enough as a marketing community, personally. And I would love to have more conversations on how that can propel us to be the leaders that we should be.

GS: Well here's an easy one. Do you want to offer any beauty advice, tips to everybody in the room? Like what's coming up?

MCM: Absolutely. Very quickly. Very quickly for the ladies in the room, I have — hold on — three eyeliners on and three mascaras. And people are like, "Say what?" Normally we only wear a black mascara right? You may only wear a black eyeliner. It is all about bringing dimension to your eyes. And why is that important? It's a bit like POSSIBLE. It's about bringing dimension to your career. And so the more you can do, the more you can achieve.

GS: I think that pretty much wraps this up. It couldn't be better than that. Michelle, I can't thank you enough for doing this. You're just enigmatic. I love it. Excellent. Thank you.

MCM: Thank you so much.

GS: Thanks again to Michelle Crossan-Matos from Ulta Beauty for coming on Building Better CMOs Live. Check the description of this episode for links to connect with Michelle.

And if you want to know more about MMA's work to unlock the power of marketing, visit, or you can attend any one at the 40-plus conferences that MMA runs in 16 countries where MMA operates. Or again, join us next year at POSSIBLE. Or you can write me at

Thank you so much for listening. Tap the link in the description to leave us a review, and if you're new to the show, please follow or subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeart, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find links to all those places and more at

Our producer and podcast consultant is Eric Johnson from Project manager is Lili Mahoney, artwork's by Jason Chase. Thanks everyone. This is Greg Stuart. I'll see you in two weeks.

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