It wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s when companies began installing their first Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) – when the importance of connecting the buyer to the seller began to gain prominence and value within organizations. In those days, it seemed as though marketing got a pass when it came to accountability and ROI while other departments – like sales, finance, operations and HR – were often held to much higher standards.
Fast-forward to the advent of digital and mobile technology – and the deluge of data – and the role of CMO has been flipped on its head.
Achieving the lofty goals set by today’s organizations isn’t impossible. In this series, we’re going to explore today’s CMO, including all the ways the role of the CMO has evolved, tips to successfully navigate (and maintain) the role of CMO, and our predictions for the role of CMO in 2019.
3 core competencies of the future CMO
Driving brand messaging, conducting market research, and collaborating with sales to increase revenue were, historically, traditional responsibilities of the CMO – and they still are. However, the digital age has evolved the job description of the CMO into much more than a marketing expert.
Today’s CMOs are under immense pressure to drive change, act as the voice of the customer, innovate, harness and analyze vast amounts of data, and understand and use today’s evolving digital technology – all while minimizing costs and maximizing customer retention.
That’s a lot.
“Most functions are left or right brained,” says Cision CEO Kevin Akeroyd. “The CMO has to be whole-brained. Few people are and this makes the role more challenging than just a pure quant or artistic talents.”
Indeed, when it comes to successful CMOs, there are a few patterns – and core competencies – that emerge.
1. Talking and collaborating with other departments
Senior leaders can no longer go it alone in today’s multifaceted and constantly-changing business landscape. Aptly referred to as the symphonic c-suite by Deloitte University Press, the goal of today’s senior offices must be to act as experts playing in harmony to move the business forward – and perhaps CMOs most of all. Today’s CMOs must be fluent in the language of every other C-suiter and actively collaborate with them to move marketing functions forward. From communicating their vision and end goals to the COO so they can craft a superior customer journey to communicating marketing ROI to the CFO, the CMO’s job is inextricably connected with all other C-suite players.
2. The ability to build company culture
Creating a marketing team that will thrive in a disruptive environment is a critical task for the CMO. Just as the CMO’s own role is evolving, so are the team structures, functions and core competencies necessary to lead and drive a company’s success in today’s dynamic landscape. Many marketing positions that exist today were unheard of just 10 years ago – so it’s essential that a CMO knows how to build the right team – and the right culture among that team.
3. Digital skills
The best CMOs know that technology enables their strategy – and they know how to harness it to drive better results. If a CMO knows little to nothing about CRM and automation platforms? That’s a problem. After all, a jaw-dropping $1.2 billion is spent on marketing technology in the U.S., and data science now plays an integral role in understanding consumers – and the behaviors that drive them to pay attention, buy, and stay loyal. Therefore, it’s up to the CMO to maximize dollars spent, and focus on constantly optimizing processes.
However, only 43% of CMOs effectively use data analytics to generate customer insights and have the expertise and resources to handle the explosion in social media with a fully integrated digital enterprise in place.
“When you ask CMOs what they do, many of them still talk about traditional advertising, but in the future the CMO needs to have a more strategic role within the executive suite and the board,” writes Blake Morgan of the American Marketing Association. And the future is now. Intangible metrics like customer engagement are increasing in importance. And it will be up to the CMO to determine what success in those areas looks like.
If you’re among the many marketing leaders who have felt increasing pressure to perform in an increasing number of areas, you’re not alone. The role of CMO – and marketing leadership positions everywhere – has evolved significantly, and now requires a wider skillset and more interdepartmental collaboration than perhaps any other role in today’s business leadership.
Check back with us in the following weeks for practical tips to navigate the shifting duties of marketing leaders, how to harness the power of technology, and our predictions for marketing leadership roles in 2019.