In today’s ever-evolving digital world, the role and influence of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is transforming more quickly than ever. CMOs are well aware of the critical impact a consumer has on a brand’s success or failure via social media with a few choice words or visuals. To navigate this, brands must embrace a proactive, open and continuous dialogue with consumers and begin to invite consumer-created content into the marketing mix. The consumer’s ever expanding role, coupled with the need for resources that support these changing dynamics and an uncertain economic outlook provide enough fodder to unnerve even the most resilient and experienced CMO. Below are five critical issues that the progressive CMO needs to consider:
1. How do I better engage the consumer in a rapidly changing environment?Emotionally engaged consumers spend more, and more frequently, while actively sharing their positive views of your brand. At the same time, digital media requires more tailored and personalized marketing initiatives delivered through platforms that are constantly evolving and moving in and out of vogue. CMOs may feel that just as they figure out the best way to engage their consumer, new media is introduced that changes the game. The successful CMO will bring in talent and leverage external experts to help anticipate the social engagement platforms and trends that will resonate with their consumers.
2. How do I best harness and leverage data?While every leader now understands the need to leverage big data in order to deliver a meaningful and consistent experience across every customer touch point, the “how” is often a question for many organizations. The CMO should be an influential voice along with the CIO in determining the scale of investment in technology and how investments must be allocated. Overall, the CMO must identify and prioritize the consumer metrics that will have the biggest impact on the business and ensure that the organization is focused on capturing and utilizing the relevant insights to achieve them.
3. Do I have the right marketing talent on my team?The CMO must actively assess and build internal capabilities to support the changing landscape and anticipate the business needs of tomorrow. Having the right talent becomes even more critical in a soft economy when positive business results become elusive and many brands need to transform. Providing existing employees the tools and development they need to stay current should be balanced with external recruiting efforts from across industries to ensure that fresh perspectives and innovation permeates the organization. Likewise, partnerships with outside agencies must be evaluated and balanced with bringing expertise in-house for digital, social and CRM. Ensuring that your organization is equipped to capitalize on big data will be critical, especially in a talent pool that is still developing.
4. How can I elevate the role of the CMO?As organizations continue to move toward true customer-centricity, the CMO has an opportunity to reinforce his/her position as a necessary strategic partner to the CEO and Board. To be truly valued, today’s CMO must bring commercial sensibilities, focusing on revenue and profit, while developing the brand and ensuring all functions understand their respective contributions to consumer experience and engagement. Overall, rather than merely aligning marketing objectives with corporate goals, the CMO should seek to be the bearer of the consumer perspective when shaping corporate strategy.
5. How can I prepare for the next step in my career?You have worked your entire career to perfect the marketing and branding skills that have earned you the highest title in your field. Often the next step is less clear, and many CMOs are concerned about how to best set themselves up for general management positions, outside Board roles and CEO succession. Advocating for responsibilities beyond the traditional marketing role, to include such functions as e-commerce, merchandising, revenue management or sales, may allow the CMO to advance to the next level.