How Modern Marketing Leaders Can Harness AI for Growth
Smarter CMO Forum 03.12.2024

How Modern Marketing Leaders Can Harness AI for Growth

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Don McGuire, the CMO of Qualcomm, discusses marketing strategies and AI-powered growth. Some key topics covered included McGuire’s career advice on staying true to oneself and being open to opportunities. He also discussed how Qualcomm has evolved its marketing structure and is adopting AI tools like Writer and Firefly to accelerate content development. McGuire emphasized the potential of generative AI to improve work-life balance by freeing up time. He also talked about building the Snapdragon brand through visual and sonic elements. Overall, the episode provided valuable insights from McGuire on marketing, AI adoption, and career leadership.

Best Moments

05:56 –  Don discusses the evolution of marketing's role at Qualcomm and how the company has matured in prioritizing storytelling.
13:59 –  Don shares details about the new Snapdragon Sonic branding and how it will be integrated to build brand affinity.
19:43 –  Don expresses optimism about generative AI's potential and discusses Qualcomm's adoption approach.
21:54 –  Valuable career and leadership advice from Don about staying true to yourself and being open to opportunities.

About the guest

Don McGuire is the CMO of Qualcomm. In this role, Don leads global marketing across all Qualcomm’s businesses, as the company continues to diversify beyond mobile into new growth areas. Don joined Qualcomm in 2016 to lead the Global Product Marketing organization, where he redefined Qualcomm’s strategic approach to product marketing. A seasoned marketing leader with 25 years of experience, Don has worked across mobile providers, device OEM, content/developer, and semiconductor industries. Before joining Qualcomm, he was a senior leader at Intel, where he led global marketing strategy, campaigns, and messaging for their Client Computing Business.

Connect with Don McGuire

Key takeaways

  • Stay true to yourself and be open to opportunities in career development
  • Tie marketing objectives to business objectives to drive success 
  • Build brand awareness and affinity through storytelling and partnerships
  • Use sonic branding to create instant brand recognition
  • Adopt AI tools like Writer and Firefly to accelerate content development
  • Generative AI can improve work-life balance by freeing up time for creativity
  • Experiment with AI tools in a controlled way before deploying enterprise-wide


“It’s not meant to replace people in jobs, it’s meant to replace tasks.” 

– Don responding to the fears about job loss due to AI.

“Sonic branding can be a very, very important and effective tool in building out an affinity for your brand.”

Highlights from this episode

Could you provide an inside look into Qualcomm’s marketing structure and how the organization operates?

Don McGuire shared that Qualcomm is a large, 50,000-person technology company that was historically more engineering-driven than focused on branding and storytelling. As CMO, McGuire has worked to evolve the company’s thinking to prioritize the importance of marketing.

He has invested in building out the marketing function and emphasizing storytelling to understand and connect with audiences that influence product perceptions. McGuire’s goal is to tie marketing objectives directly to driving business success for Qualcomm.

Both the Qualcomm and Snapdragon brands have made big strides in a short time under McGuire’s leadership, with an exciting future ahead as marketing continues to mature within the organization.

You’ve recently released the Snapdragon Sonic, could you tell us a little more about that, and how that’s going to impact the brand?

Don explained that building a global consumer brand for Snapdragon, which powers device experiences but can’t be directly purchased, is challenging.

He discussed the importance of storytelling and brand partnerships to create an emotional connection with consumers and get them to care about what’s inside their devices.

Using visual and audio branding elements, like the new Snapdragon Sonic, to build affinity for the brand beyond just tech specs can be powerful. McGuire discussed working with a music company to develop the Sonic after extensive global testing.

McGuire believes the Sonic will help build affinity, recognition, and recall for Snapdragon through consistent integration into advertising, social media, and events. He’s excited about how it will help elevate the brand as Qualcomm tells its story.

What are your thoughts about how modern marketing leaders can effectively harness AI tools to improve their business?

Don shared that while AI has been used for years behind the scenes, generative AI has thrust the technology to the forefront. He acknowledged that many enterprises are overwhelmed by AI options, while around 20% are early adopters.

McGuire discussed Qualcomm’s pragmatic approach of bringing all stakeholders together to address concerns before deploying tools. They have experimented with writing tools like Writer to kickstart copy development and accelerate creative processes.

He expressed optimism about AI’s potential, having deployed tools across Qualcomm in a thoughtful manner. McGuire believes AI can revolutionize marketing by freeing up time for increased productivity and creativity. Overall, he recommends experimenting with AI tools to become familiar with their capabilities and benefits.

What are some of your tips for marketers who may be starting to use AI or AI-powered marketing tools?

Don provided the following tips for marketers starting to use AI tools:

– Experiment with AI tools in a controlled environment to get familiar and comfortable with how they work.

– Give writing tools like Writer a try to experience how they can kickstart the creative process.

– Take time to understand how AI models are trained and what data is used for different tools.

– Bring in subject matter experts from functions like legal to help evaluate tools and use cases.

– Don’t let fear govern decisions – be open to opportunities while also protecting the organization.

– Many tools have free online courses and tutorials to help develop AI skills.

– Adoption takes time, so start small and gradually expand appropriate tool usage.

His overall advice was to get hands-on experience with AI in a low-risk way before deploying tools more broadly in the enterprise.

Book recommendations

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