Commentary

The Moneyballing Of The CMO

Limited by the indefinite and imprecise results of traditional marketing, CMOs of the past could not realize meaningful metrics to measure success. But today’s technology has ripened, enabling sophisticated and precise decision-making. CMOs have adapted and thrived accordingly, so much so that they will soon lead not just marketing, but companies in their entirety.

The CMO as Billy Beane

Michael Lewis’ Moneyball (W. W. Norton & Company, 2004) chronicles how baseball teams evolved to embrace new and more sophisticated metrics to achieve success. Traditionally, teams looked to antiquated statistics (e.g., batting average, stolen bases) to determine a player’s worth. Around the year 2000, the Oakland A’s realized that advanced stats like slugging and on-base percentages were far better indicators of value. Building a roster with these new metrics, the A’s became one of the best teams in baseball despite one of the smallest payrolls in the sport.

Marketing is experiencing a similar revolution now. In the past, no substantial feedback loop existed to tie customer choices to marketing activity. Marketers had to do things by touch and feel, often betting their careers on the black-boxed “genius” of creative agencies or the fuzzy results of focus groups. Ultimately, CMOs simply had to hope that correlation was causation; that an uptick in sales was actually attributable to them and not some confounding factor.

That has all changed. With the plethora of analytics tools, big data platforms, and precise tracking methods available today, marketers can see inside the black box. Like in baseball, sophisticated metrics have emerged to enable better decision-making.

Enter the Moneyballer CMO

Today’s Moneyballer CMO plans her marketing initiatives the way Billy Beane built the Oakland A’s. She uses streams of analytical data and relies less on subjective focus groups or simplistic measures. Her analytics are acute and precise; the impact of every marketing and branding initiative is quantified. She leverages granular data on customer actions to expand beyond the traditional CMO role, influencing product strategy, customer service, and optimized sales pitches. 

The Moneyballer CMO still uses smart agencies and consultants, but in-sources the core marketing strategy using the increased visibility her technology allows. She also in-sources her company’s data, employing it across multiple platforms and applications. Silos are the enemy of the Moneyballer CMO, because connected data means more holistic and measurable results. 

Moneyballer CMOs and Technology 

The rise of the Moneyballer CMO is both a symptom and a cause of marketing technology growth. As data becomes more integrated and accessible, smart marketers demand better analytics, so companies respond by spawning countless marketing applications. 

Analogous to Moore’s law, the number of marketing applications doubles every two years. Just think of all the platforms that have emerged in the past 12 years: search marketing, social media, cloud applications, site analytics, mobile devices. With so many new technologies to manage, CMOs have had to become smarter, shrewder, and data savvy to stay competitive. It’s little wonder that they have become some of the smartest people in the room.

Residing on the cutting edge of technology, the Moneyballer CMO is often the most forward-looking executive at an organization. She’s always scanning the horizon for the next platform that will complement her technology stack, improve leads, or lift conversions up another fraction of a percent. That foresight is key to keeping an organization modern and relevant across all departments.

The CMO’s Touch

Business is just starting to experience the positive influence of the Moneyballer CMO. Marketing technology companies are in their infancy, and we should anticipate an explosion of new tools that will yield massive returns for marketers and customers alike.

The CMO is moneyballing everything that touches the end customer. That’s why the CEOs of the future are the CMOs of today.

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