Future of the CMO

Of all the roles under pressure in the C-suite, the CMO might be the most scrutinized executive level position. CMOs on average have the shortest tenure of any C-suite role, and Coca-Cola, famous for its marketing campaigns for nearly a century, has eliminated the position. So what does the Future of the CMO role look like? A recent article titled, The Future CMO, by Raconteur looks at this issue.

The article outlines a number of areas that are either changing or increasing in importance for marketing executives. A few of the trends caught our eye and we wanted to share them with you. The areas discussed in the piece include:

  • Emotion
  • Purpose
  • Transparency
  • Brand
  • Professional Development
  • Customer Centricity
  • Creativity
  • Tribal Marketing
  • C-Suite

One of the overriding themes is customer experience. The dynamic between consumers and brands has changed for both B2C and B2B companies. Consumers expect fast, personalized, seamless experiences with brands. Yet, they also expect to keep their information private, and when they do need to speak with someone, they expect that interaction to be an extension of their digital experience, with the other person aware of any information they have already provided and able to handle their request quickly.

One area that is quickly evolving to support these expectations is the use of chatbots powered by machine-learning and artificial intelligence algorithms. The ability to answer simple questions quickly and accurately improves a customer’s experience. To keep the experience positive, the chatbots also need to understand when to transfer a consumer to a human. According to a Deloitte survey, “Customers are increasingly demanding instant forms of communication – messaging apps and social media have replaced emails and phone calls – especially in personal life.”

Focusing on the customer experience is no easy task. According to the article, “The biggest challenge they face is changing the culture of their organisation, which can be tough without a strong top-down approach. Good customer experience must be embedded in a company’s DNA, says Dr Andreas Eisingerich, professor of marketing, at London’s Imperial College Business School, but that is much easier if you do it from the start.”

Another area that is changing for companies is transparency. If you’re not being as transparent as you can with your customers, it’s going to hurt your bottom line. It’s easier to be honest and open in communications than it is to try and repair a damaged reputation. The consequences last far longer. It’s important to remember that branding is not just the responsibility of the company any more. Consumers have as much to say about your brand as you do. Demonstrating respect for customers and showing that their voice is heard is critical in building long-term growth.

Transparency is also evident in how you handle purpose driven marketing campaigns. While companies for years have discussed their charitable and cause related efforts, it was hard for consumers to determine the accuracy of their contributions. In today’s environment however, purpose-driven marketing is far more transparent and companies are being held to new levels of expectations. 

A third theme of the article is data driven decision making. Up until recently, many marketing decisions were made by “gut feel”. The data simply didn’t exist and the methods to determine what worked and what didn’t was difficult to justify to CEOs, CFOs, and the board. Today, the problem is in the opposite direction, there is too much data, which can lead some CMOs down a rabbit hole of reacting to tactical information. You can’t simply manage to the numbers you’re measuring. 

As a leader, you need to understand the strategic implications of the data you’re seeing. Data certainly enables decisions, and CMOs absolutely must become proficient in the latest tools and software. But decision making can’t be at the expense of creativity. As an organization you need to maintain authenticity, implement storytelling, and think about entertaining your customers. 

Are you looking for a new CMO, or considering how the role fits on your executive team? Send us a note. Our team of executive recruiters can help identify the traits, skills, and experience you need to round out your leadership team.