It’s no surprise to hear that marketing is changing. Many of the channels that are used today didn’t exist a decade ago. The days of Madison Avenue creating and defining brands is a distant memory. Today’s CMO needs to focus on their customers. Not just say they focus on their customers, but actually change their approach, process, and culture to put the customer first. The question you should be asking is, is your CMO customer focused?
A lot of executives dismiss a customer focused approach to business strategy. According to recent research by Accenture, they are leaving revenue on the table if they do. They talked to nearly 1000 CMOs and found that the small group who have put the customer first have provided greater shareholder value on average over the past five years, including 11% better returns in the past year alone.
When asked what their secret is, Accenture found, “It’s this: they make the customer central to their thinking and vision, not just in the services they provide, but in how they pivot and adapt as a company. They create what we call a Living Business: one that continuously adapts at speed and scale to achieve total customer relevance and sustained growth”.
And they’re not simply spending more than everyone else on customer experience initiatives. The spend is in line with others. Instead the research found three areas in which they are outperforming their peers.
Reinventing the Now and the New
These CMOs embrace the idea that change is the only constant. They understand the need to innovate constantly. What worked last year is not going to work next year. Technology is moving too fast, as are customer expectations. The key is to disrupt your own thinking, otherwise someone else will. Reinvention is not as hard as it sounds. Think like your customers (i.e. put them first) and you’ll find new opportunities for growth.
Rejecting a Broken Marketing Culture
Change is hard because it can be risky, but let’s be honest. Not changing is worse. These CMOs are not afraid to fail, because innovation means you’re going to fail more often than those who play it safe. But those who play it safe may be out of a job. Marketing used to try to get everything perfect before a campaign was released to the public. Today you need to get campaigns out in a timely manner, even if everything is not perfect. That’s the beauty of technology, you can “fail fast” and make changes quickly. Afterall, you’re going to reinvent anyway, the quicker you react the more you learn and increase your opportunity for growth.
Rewiring Operating Models for Growth
You can’t look at your teams as separate entities. Marketing, Sales, Support, and even Product have to be considered as a single organism. That’s the way the customer sees it. They don’t delineate whom they are talking to or who created a piece of content. To them it is a singular company. So we need to take the same approach internally. Look to create high levels of open, honest, and transparent collaboration with other departments. This includes HR, IT, Finance, as well as those listed above. The same applies to partners that you choose to work with. Hold them to a higher standard and reinforce the importance of the customer to them. If they aren’t aligned with your thinking, find one who is.
Customers want to be respected and appreciated. Whether B2C or B2B, we’re all people buying and selling with other people. That’s why the customer experience is so crucial. Instead of being pessimistic based on where you are today, take advantage of the opportunity in front of you. There’s never been a better time to be a CMO. And remember, as the report notes, “marketing is not a department, it’s a mission.”
If you’re concerned about your customer focus or you’re looking to hire a CMO and want to be sure you get it right, send us a note. Today’s CMO looks different than those of the past and our executive recruiters can help you find the fit for your company.