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Today’s CEOs expect their chief marketing officers (CMOs) to share their top-line growth and revenue-generation mandates. The role of these brand ambassadors, who once managed marketing as a formalized process that included traditional advertising, has evolved with the rise of digital technology and the decline of global economies.

Today, businesses are only as strong as their market strategies, and those must include data, science and technology as the backdrop to any creative campaign. This has resulted in a fundamental shift in the CMO job description, with CEOs expecting their marketing executives to translate branding into business.

Unfortunately, many CMOs are finding it a challenge to balance strategic priorities with daily demands, according to a new report from Deloitte and the CMO Council titled “The CMO Shift to Gaining Business Lift.” Whereas CMOs seem to have accepted their new role as chief growth catalyst (nearly 70 percent of those polled acknowledged that senior marketing managers are expected to drive growth), they feel encumbered by their daily responsibilities, such as budget and campaign management, at the expense of developing strategic initiatives that could grow the bottom line.

In fact, 66 percent of the 200+ CMOs surveyed for the report say they want to team with leadership executives on global business and brand strategy, but only 16 percent actually are. Furthermore, 58 percent want to be innovating and implementing new approaches, strategies, products and sales development programs, but only 41 percent are doing so. In addition, only 7 percent of respondents are currently seeking strategic partnerships and alliances, whereas 24 percent would like to be.

How can CMOs get out of their own way and start building value for their organizations?

They need to create seamless brand experiences and customer pathways between the digital and physical worlds occupied by their key targets. To do this, they must first conquer the forces blocking their way: digital disruption, rising customer expectations, globalization and technology complexity.

Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, believes they will need to embrace a new crop of revenue-centric analytics platforms (in an emerging RevTech category) to make this happen. They must lead the way by aggregating the data that exists across disparate functions, and turning it into rich customer intelligence that does not just lead to shrewd campaign personalization but, also, more importantly, drives business strategy, new product and business model development, and overall engagement direction and strategy.

To advance digital transformation, CMOs need to embrace revenue-producing, tracking and optimizing solutions tied to both the business and the customer experience. Advances in marketing automation platforms, which have guided marketing campaigns for many successful brands, can be leveraged to help marketing executives and their teams measure and optimize their return on investment—relieving the CMO from oversight in this area. Outsourcing platform management to a strategic marketing automation partner will also mitigate any barriers to successful implementation of the tool.

With this and other initiatives that give marketing executives back time, they can explore options—such as the following three, recommended by the CMO Council—to develop their roles as profit driver:

  • Control the customer experience and shape it as a business driver, not as a campaign deployment strategy.
  • Shift thinking, strategy and investment around technology and culture.
  • Accept the role of growth driver and shift the CMO to a revenue-centric vision, adopting new strategies, tools and measures to define success.

As CMOs head into 2017, they can have a more direct impact on the bottom line and overall revenue optimization by more closely aligning their actions with outcomes expected by their CEOs.

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