Forbes CMO leads multichannel effort
Jorge Consuegra never stops moving. The CMO of Forbes Media, and two-time New York City marathon veteran, was born in Havana, Cuba, but his parents brought him to the United States when he was still a baby. In high school, he was a baseball and soccer player. During his 20-year marketing career, he's moved from big name brand to big name brand, from American Express Co. to PepsiCo to Yahoo to Western Union Holdings and, as of January, Forbes Media.
Forbes created the CMO position to facilitate the company's magazine and website redesign, a critical component of president and CEO Mike Perlis' vision to create a multichannel distribution network with a focus on digital and print, as well as an international business that transcends borders. In the months leading up to Consuegra's appointment, Forbes launched a reimagined print version of the brand with simple, more interactive content, and an online experience that uses social media to drive participation between readers, writers and advertisers.
Coinciding with Consuegra's arrival, Forbes launched its new homepage, redesigned channel and section pages, and a Forbes.com video player. Roughly one month after his arrival, the company launched the Forbes Media Extension, a platform that offers marketers digital access to Forbes' network of more than 18 million users. In May, Forbes printed its first English-language European edition, which will be distributed bi-weekly in 11 countries. It plans to continue the redesign by adding "places" and "articles" pages to its website, as well as a Facebook Connect feature.
"Forbes is a media company that provides cross-platform offerings that include print, digital and live events," Consuegra explains as a prelude to detailing the company's decision to overhaul its look and feel. "There are millions of users who access Forbes.com digitally, and it was important for us to have authoritative journalism at the center of social media. We wanted to provide a content continuum with access to content in print, digital, mobile and tablet."
Forbes integrates media channels
The Celebrity 100 Issue
The June issue of Forbes celebrates “The New Celebrity Moneymakers” and “The Rise of Hollywood's Entrepreneurial Elite.” The company leverages magazine inserts, such as the June “Price Break” insert, which offers discounted subscriptions.
The Forbes Insights arm conducts primary research that informs strategic and tactical decisions for senior business executives. “Insights connects us to our advertisers and it provides insights about our consumers,” Consuegra explains.
Celebrity 100 Invitation
“Print is still very important to us,” says Consuegra. “We wanted the piece to stand out in Hollywood, and we wanted it to talk about the event, but also celebrities who act with passion and perseverance. We wanted the piece to bring the Forbes brand to life.”
Enabling two-way conversations between Forbes contributors and consumers is a major initiative for Consuegra, but he knows it wasn't the main reason he was brought on as CMO. His main goal, he says, is to drive growth. In the time he's been with the company, he's attempted to do that by emphasizing the already well-defined Forbes brand, as well as the individual brands of Forbes staffers and contributors, he says. Forbes worked with Landor Associates on the process. Forbes does not have a general agency of record and is not in the market for one, says Consuegra, though the company named integrated marketing firm Gyro its agency of record for all CMO-directed efforts in late June and it does some marketing work with the Walton Isaacson agency.
In addition to building the Forbes brand, Consuegra analyzes categories of business that drive Forbes's growth, including financial services, technology and luxury lifestyle, and that means tapping into consumer sentiment. "It's very important that we get the b-to-c part right, because we've got to really understand the consumer and how they enable us to drive growth," he says.
Forbes employs a healthy marketing mix to reach those consumers, including direct mail, email, online banner ads, social media and events marketing. Consuegra considers himself a multichannel marketer, which was reflected in a campaign Forbes launched for its June "Celebrity 100" event. Forbes commenced the targeted campaign with a 3-D mailer that featured a quote by Forbes magazine founder B.C. Forbes, graphite quotation marks and brief copy highlighting the characteristics demonstrated by award recipients. Forbes also sent email invitations to reinforce the mail package.
When asked if he believes Forbes will ever move completely away from print mailings to save money, Consuegra shakes his head. He says the same "continuum" Forbes provides for its readers must also be provided for marketing campaigns. The integration of mediums, says Consuegra, benefits the audience because each person responds differently to each medium, and thus should be able to choose how they consume campaign materials.
In fact, it is Consuegra's understanding of the digital marketing landscape that Perlis says made him stand out. During one of the first encounters between CEO and CMO, over a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast at a Connecticut diner, Perlis was impressed with Consuegra, to whom he refers as a "passionate student of historical, current and future business trends."
At that time, Perlis was a Forbes adviser, and Consuegra was interviewing for the CMO position. Immediately after their meeting, Perlis says he contacted the hiring committee at Forbes to recommend they bring Consuegra on board.
For Consuegra, someone who has moved around so much in his life, the opportunity to work and build something at Forbes is "a dream," and he said he plans to honor the rich history that traces back to the magazine's origin in 1917.
He also honors his own roots. Although he hasn't been back to Cuba since his parents brought him to the US, he and his wife "hope to go back at some point" and they have raised their four children biculturally and bilingually.
Despite being comfortably settled in his new position and at his home in Greenwich, Conn., Consuegra's kids still keep him moving everyday. "If you want to know what keeps me up at night," he jokes, "it's my three teenagers and my 10-year-old."