CMOs Becoming 'Marketing CEO Super-Species'
Chief marketing officers will no doubt be gratified by -- or at least derive encouragement from -- the conclusions of the fourth annual “CMO’s Agenda” report from strategic marketing consulting firm CMG Partners.
Based on in-depth interviews with 30 “game-changing” lead marketers at companies spanning a broad cross-section of U.S. businesses, CMOs are stepping up to the plate in the face of the unprecedented changes and challenges facing their companies to evolve well beyond their traditional roles, reports CMG.
Those changes/challenges have resulted from a confluence of the lasting effects of the “Great Recession,” volatility in markets, technological innovations, consumer/customer empowerment, and the inherently global nature of today’s business environment, sums up CMG founding partner Russ Lange.
“In the face of what could be a daunting mission, the CMOs we’ve spoken with have adapted into a super-species we like to call ‘Marketing’s CEO,’” says Lange. “No longer just the master of corporate advertising campaigns and promotions, Marketing’s CEO is a true driver of corporate growth and strategy.”
Some CMOs are taking responsibility for functions including operations, finance and public policy. For example, one CMO reported that all initiatives/projects that affect revenue are now run through marketing.
However, the report acknowledges that this evolution toward greater influence is “on the threshold” rather than in full flower in many companies. The CMO “must earn not only his or her place at the table, but also his or her voice,” it concludes. “While the door to the C suite has cracked open, CMOs must now rise to the opportunity to not only enter but also remain in the room.”
In addition to the broader-authority role evolution, CMG identifies four other core trends affecting CMOs:
- Strengthening the CMO/CEO relationship: Interviewed CMOs report that they are strengthening their credibility with the C suite, and CEOs in particular, through best practices that include framing recommendations in ROI terms (beyond creativity and the marketing budget’s P&L); educating themselves and top management on how marketing can contribute to the company’s growth/business performance; documenting where marketing opportunities exist and might be captured; and highlighting risks while laying out how those can be mitigated. Successful CMOs are also building relationships with fellow senior managers and creating intra-company alliances based on their ability to demonstrate marketing’s impact on their co mpanies’ performance.
- Social marketing: Social media are not only transforming traditional principles of brand-building and customer loyalty, but altering human interaction fundamentals, says CMG. While CMOs are best-positioned within their organizations to lead the mission of understanding and mastering these complex trends, by virtue of their ages/backgrounds, few are “native social-media speakers.” Study respondents reported that they are mastering these challenges through “generational seeding”: Creating internal teams that include younger, cyber-intelligent employees. This also brings the benefit of developing a talent pool that should secure the organization’s future.
- Managing Millennials: Millennial-generation marketing employees are critical because of their inherent understanding of social media, but their insights are too often dismissed because of their inability to present such insights with “crisp logic and presentation cosmetics,” marketing chiefs pointed out to CMG. Investing the time and energy to “connect the dots” to develop this generation’s thinking can unlock crucial learning for CMOs and their organizations, the participants stressed.
- Demand creation: Successful CMOs realize that the ability to position themselves as the rightful keepers of the “innovation flame” – the critical, differentiating mission of creating the perception among consumers that a brand is delivering what they need/want even before they know it themselves – is extremely powerful, and the key to advancing their influence within their companies.
The full CMG Partners report can be downloaded by registering.