Why Every CMO Needs a Millennial Advisory Group

December 2, 2016

As the CEO of Pixlee — and a millennial myself — I haven gotten to know many emerging leaders and the next generation of millennial marketing leaders. They often voice frustrations that their marketing organizations and leadership lack a strong understanding of how to recruit and retain millennial talent in today's marketing environment.

One suggestion that I often give is to form a millennial advisory group. Some people reading this might roll their eyes at this suggestion, but there are several ways that CMOs — and leaders from varying industries — can use a millennial advisory group to their advantage.

  1. Hear Ideas and Obstacles Directly

    The best ideas aren't always top-down driven. In fact, many organizations unconsciously prohibit some of the best ideas to surface from within the organization purely due to organizational structure. Even worse, I've heard of situations where talented employees are reprimanded for voicing their opinion to the heads of their group because they didn't run it by their managers first.

    Beth Comstock says it best. "As you get more senior in your career, people are less likely to tell you the truth because they want to please and bring you solutions rather than just problems. You need to continue asking your colleagues for things you don't want to hear — it's okay to give me some bad news, in fact, I want to hear it"

    Often, the more hoops and obstacles that an idea has to go through, the more diluted it becomes. At times, it can be incredibly valuable to bypass some of these layers to hear ideas and problems directly from the original source. This is not to say that every idea from a junior level employee or a millennial advisory board will be a game-changer, but at bare minimum, it will provide you with additional data and a different perspective that may be useful to take into consideration.
  2. Engage, Reward, and Retain Your Talented Employees

    In addition to opening yourself to different perspectives, a millennial advisory board is a great way to reward and retain talented team members who want to make a difference within your organization. At the end of the day, millennial employees want to be valued, they want to have an impact, and they want to feel like their opinions are heard. While this is not unique to millennials, these are some of the most common complaints that I hear from talented millennial marketers who feel unsatisfied at their jobs. Ultimately, employees who are engaged and who develop a certain level of ownership within the organization are less likely to leave.
  3. Fuel for Your Recruiting Machine

    Finally, if you want to attract top-tier millennial marketing talent, highlight the work that other successful millennials have contributed for your organization. By demonstrating that your leadership is not ageist, and that talented employees, regardless of their level of seniority, can have an impact in your organization, you will develop a recruiting advantage. Furthermore, by engaging young talent, you can create strong advocates who will vouch to your peers that your company is an excellent employer. Typically, talented people know other talented people. I'm a strong believer that your employees can be your best recruiters if they believe in the company and the mission.

By creating a millennial advisory council, CMOs will not only expose themselves to new perspectives and ideas that may move the needle for the business but, they can also better recruit and retain talent in a competitive landscape.

Note: My emphasis on millennials in this piece was inspired by the recent ANA Talent Initiative which has an emphasis on attracting young marketing talent. This is not to say other generations are not important, but rather offering a suggestion for attracting and retaining millennial marketing talent.


"Why Every CMO Needs a Millennial Advisory Group." Kyle Wong, CEO at Pixlee, 12/2/16.

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