Commentary

The CMO Is Now The CM(?)

Marketers never have enough money, never have enough people, staff, analytics, you name it. But they do have greater and greater responsibilities. And their budgets aren’t decreasing. A speaker at the Argyle Forum on retail marketing Thursday offered a nice pictorial on the latter: Mark Battaglia, CEO of ThinkVine, showed a confounding chart of digital channels offering a dizzying array of tactics and media access points. The audience laughed knowingly. And then silence, especially when he asked, "What would you add to this?" 

Yes, chief marketers have more money and more options on how to spend their money. But, consider there are way too many choices for marketing. Just on mobile alone, he noted, there are, like, 17. 

It's obviously an incredibly challenging environment when it comes to knowing what to test and what to rule out. And now, marketers are being driven by CEOs to be accountable for a lot more than delivering strong campaign KPI's. It's about sales, and ROI and also growth and also revenue. As Battaglia said, "The CEO is saying, ‘Did you drive sales and growth and if you didn't I'll switch the money to someone else.’” And, as he pointed out, CMOs now have a lot of other letters after the "C" and "M".

There's chief communications officer (and maybe chief content officer should be under that), thanks to the explosion of social media channels and digital companies and the need with a focus on the message and how you deliver it. And chief customer officer. And chief analytics officer, because marketers need to know "how to take data and technology and use it to make marketing better," he said. Did I mention chief analytics officer? "They need to know how to take data and technology and use it to make marketing better."

Put it all together and, Battaglia said, CMOs are now chief growth officers because the CEO is turning to the CMO and saying their job is to grow the business. I'm not actually sure how that's different, philosophically, from what CMOs have always been charged with, and I think he missed one letter, "P": Carmakers, like everyone, have worked to "de-silo" themselves to speed things up and focus on the customer.

One result is to make marketers chief product insight officers, since product has to adjust to what consumers expect from product technology, and that expectation is moving as fast as the evolution of technology. They want simplicity, intuitive interface and design, and connected, cutting-edge, and time-saving systems, something Ford car marketing manager Amy Marentic alluded to at a recent panel the automaker held on how to make commuting less horrible. If CMOs aren't involved in these things, there's something wrong with the organization. 

It's not just cars. And at the AdAge digital forum, this week Salesforce.com EVP and CMO Lynn Vojvodich gave her own example of this, citing Black & Decker's CMO involved in new product features that make tools connected devices. 

"We need to be able to understand and predict behavior," Battaglia said, adding that, according to a Forrester study, 66% of marketers say they can't keep up with the landscape. And 69% of marketers said their annual media/marketing planning doesn't match the pace of change. Speakers at both the AdAge conference and the Argyle event, both made the point that, regardless of the dizzying choices  dancing around the marketing maypole, executives should focus on the pole: the brand's core identify and purpose. Everything springs from that. 

Tags: cmo, commentary
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4 comments about "The CMO Is Now The CM(?)".
  1. Eric Herberholz from self , April 4, 2014 at 10:37 a.m.
    What about Chief Community Officer?
  2. Mark Battaglia from Breakout Advisors , April 4, 2014 at 1:49 p.m.
    Karl, Thank you for writing about the speech. As I did at the speech, I want to give credit to Marian McDonagh, the CMO of InContact, and Mariyam Banikarim, who is SVP and CMO at Gannett, for coining the idea of CMO as CGO. Like the trend to faster, data-driven planning cycles to match faster, data-driven execution cycles that I spoke about, it's something we've seen happening at many of our customers. But, they deserve the credit for coming up with a label on it that really fits well.
  3. Mark Hosbein from accenture , April 4, 2014 at 2:03 p.m.
    The speech echo's what I see a lot even below the CMO - and a huge issue the teams are having is where to focus. That impacts metrics as well as what tactics to address. I wonder if at some point marketers will begin to move from specialist partners to more generalists who can cover a lot of ground across multiple areas. The other implication is that there is a premium on execution on the front end of marketing - in terms of understanding the new trend better - and the backend - being able to deliver it quicker. Partners that bring those values are in my mind more likely to rise to the top of the CMo's list.
  4. Karl Greenberg from MediaPost , April 4, 2014 at 3:28 p.m.
    Mark, duly noted, thanks. Thought it was a great speech. I think trying to keep a consistent brand strategy going, and brand purpose in this environment is a bit like Shackleton trying to navigate to South Georgia in those stormy seas with an overcast. with someone trying to sell you the latest and greatest sextant.