Qualcomm’s CMO On In-Housing And Measuring What Matters

Don McGuire, CMO, Qualcomm

Qualcomm, one of the largest mobile chip makers in the world, is a company that usually helps other companies undergo digital transformation. But Qualcomm is also undergoing a transformation of its own.

Over the past two years, Qualcomm has restructured its marketing organization to position it as a business driver more directly tied to results.

“We’re transforming internally,” said Don McGuire, who joined Qualcomm as CMO last year. “We realized that we needed to be eating some of our own dog food, so to speak.”

The process began in earnest when longtime Qualcomm executive Cristiano Amon, formerly the company’s president, stepped into the CEO role after the retirement of Steve Mollenkopf, who had served as Qualcomm’s chief executive for seven years and was with the company for more than 25.

“Cristiano is a CEO who also thinks a lot about marketing, which is refreshing in a company full of engineers,” McGuire said.

Homing in

One of the first things McGuire did was reevaluate what functions needed to come in-house, and he had help from outgoing Qualcomm CMO and SVP Penny Baldwin, who served in an advisory role leading up to her retirement at the end of 2021.

McGuire and Baldwin approached Qualcomm’s C-suite, including Amon and the company’s CFO, to make the case for in-housing more talent by hiring some of the people dedicated to its business who worked at external agencies and marketing partners.

“We’re a small marketing org compared to some of our peers, so we do rely on agencies. But those resources could go away at any time,” McGuire said. “Not only could people leave the agency for another job – and then all of that experience and competency is gone – but we’re also paying margins and fees on those people.”

Qualcomm’s leadership agreed, and McGuire and his team are now in the midst of an insourcing exercise to see which roles make sense to bring inside (and trying to do so in a cost-neutral way).

So far, McGuire has added around 90 people to his team of 280.

Comic: TinkeringOwn it

Besides in-housing people, McGuire is making it a priority to in-house Qualcomm’s marketing and ad tech contracts. And he’s expanding and updating its technology partnerships.

Qualcomm’s marketing group uses Adobe Experience Manager, including the Adobe CDP, and Adobe Target (Adobe’s personalization and A/B testing tool) – and it owns the contract directly.

In the past, Qualcomm used “a lot of homegrown tools, I’ll just leave it at that,” McGuire said. “The systems weren’t the best, and we didn’t have a unified customer database to truly manage lead acquisition or the digital customer journey on our site.”

Rethinking the customer experience on Qualcomm.com has become a greater imperative since last November, when the company spun off Snapdragon, its consumer-facing mobile chip division, into a separate brand.

Qualcomm now has multiple brand stories to tell: one targeted at its B2B enterprise customers, investors and policymakers, and another that speaks more to technology influencers and consumers.

“We have to think about our marketing now in the context of Qualcomm and Snapdragon separately,” McGuire said.

Measurement betterment

Which means there’s even more to measure.

Qualcomm’s approach to marketing measurement historically wasn’t all that organized until relatively recently.

“Previously, we had sporadic measurement in place, where some things were measured very well and some not at all,” McGuire said. “Sometimes we even had the entity that was delivering a campaign, like the agency, also measure that campaign, so it was the fox watching the henhouse.”

Qualcomm brought in Millward Brown to help measure some of its campaigns and also started circulating campaign results internally to key stakeholders at Qualcomm, which keeps everyone on the same page.

“We often check in and revisit tactics so that we can shift, change or stop things that aren’t working,” McGuire said. “We didn’t have that discipline before – business intelligence and insights wasn’t even a function in the marketing org until the restructuring.”

But as good as it is to exercise these muscles in-house, he said, Qualcomm isn’t in-housing anything just for the sake of bringing it in-house.

“We never want to be inefficient,” McGuire said. “If it makes sense to use someone else’s tools with a better and easier time to market – then we’re all for that.”

Enjoying this content?

Sign up to be an AdExchanger Member today and get unlimited access to articles like this, plus proprietary data and research, conference discounts, on-demand access to event content, and more!

Join Today!