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Mike Linton - Enterprise Chief Marketing Officer at Farmers Insurance Group of Companies

Mike is on the Board of Directors at Peet’s Coffee, Support.com, Allen Edmonds Shoe Company, Medical Solutions, and Capella Education

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At Farmers Insurance, Mike is responsible for all Brand Management, Research & Insights, Agency Marketing, Sponsorships,Internal & External Communications, Advertising, CRM and the Company's Digital efforts.


Show notes

Getting Into Marketing (02:40) 

After I did my MBA at Duke University, I was really intrigued by both marketing and finance. I got an offer from Procter and Gamble. Even though it was my lowest offer, I decided I needed to go there for the training and the experience. 

At that time, consumer packaged goods companies were seen as the best training grounds for marketing. Besides marketing, you were also in charge of product development, profit, and a lot of other things. You were constantly being improved or told how you could do better. 

Is The Role of Marketing Different Today (05:22) 

Marketing has always been at the edge of where the brand meets the consumer and the company. The marketer is always at the front end of the communication to the customer in some way. 

The role is definitely different today. The fact that so many new tools are coming out every year, compared to the past where we only had the TV and cable networks for example. 

These tools come out at a very rapid pace and your job is to figure out how to use them for your business. 

I also have the tendency to shy away from marketing jobs in where I don’t have any say in the product or service. 

Work Experiences Early in the Career (10:17) 

After leaving Procter and Gamble, I went to Progressive Insurance. They moved me into various roles including running a business as the general manager, but also running call centers. 

Moving to different roles in my career allowed me to think about businesses and consumers differently. 

The Role At Best Buy (13:39) 

The first thing I had to figure out at Best Buy is how the company makes money and then how it sells ideas. When you look at retail there is more a short-term focus because if you have a really bad short term run, you don’t get a long term run. 

The big thing I learned at Best Buy was that I got to make today’s number while protecting tomorrow’s future. 

My vision building the department was - I don’t want a retail-only marketing department. Our vision and marketing were that we’re going to be the most fun place to shop around and that means that you can play with our stuff too. The whole strategy was built around the actual enjoyment. 

CMO Experience At Best Buy (20:30) 

Essentially, you are managing the marketplace, your team, and the company because you are at the front edge of the technology. Marketing is like an iceberg and everyone sees the top of that iceberg only. One of the most important things is that the company should support your long-term vision. 

A Transition To eBay (23:35) 

When I moved to eBay, I felt like I had to go to school on what it’s like to be a digital-only play because it was different. I had a lot to learn and I’m thankful that a lot of eBay people took time to teach me. 

I worked in marketplace adjacencies and that was anything that wasn’t eBay. It was managing the business outside of eBay. It was great learning for me and after a while, they asked me to be CMO, which I did. 

The Lifestyle of Being a CMO (33:33) 

I like the job because it’s really fun. Not all parts of the job are fun but you’re always forced to learn new technology, new shopping behaviors, competitors are always doing something new etc. 

The lifestyle is what you think it is and you can always, like in any job, work 24/7. Sometimes it sucks up a lot of time, but in general, it’s been an okay balance for me. 

In all of my jobs I had some elements of stress, but if you don’t have some stress in your job, it’s usually uninteresting. I have never felt my lifestyle being drastically different other than maybe making some bigger decisions. 

Advice For Aspiring CMOs (36:47) 

Be good at marketing, but also be good at business. Have the broadest possible lens you can have on business. Find people that tell you the truth about what you’re not good at. 

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