CMOs face an inflection point, with a dramatically shifted landscape forcing them to reinvent their roles or risk irrelevance. To create value and win the trust of their CEO and other C-suite partners, CMOs must deliver on three fronts.
My first job after business school was in a prominent general management strategy consulting firm, where I focused on marketing strategy. Over the first few years, I worked on projects that my clients — marketers of all stripes at major global brands — deemed their highest priority. We evaluated acquisition opportunities for a food company, conducted pricing analysis and determined competitive fare strategies for an airline, and reinvented product management and innovation capabilities for a global consumer electronics company.
But Then, Things Changed …
Since then, I have continued to work with marketers for over two decades, but I’ve seen many of their roles take a dramatic turn. Nowadays, marketers often find themselves in a corner doing not much more than communications and promotions. Seldom do they have the clout to shape business strategy through levers like product, pricing, customer, and channel strategies. This divestment of responsibility is an ominous trend; it moves marketers away from the organization’s center of gravity. IBM’s research with CEOs found that, when these CEOs were asked to identify the most crucial members of the C-suite, CMOs came in well behind their CFO and COO peers.
It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way …
Our research and conversations with leading CMOs and marketers at companies such as Bank of America, Nestlé, Vanguard, and Vodafone have identified three areas of focus that can resurrect marketing to its former glory. Think of these as three pulses of energy that fuel a customer-obsessed marketing flywheel to drive business performance and long-term value:
The first pulse comes from marketing being elevated to encompass a span of responsibility across the marketing mix. Pair that with an insatiable curiosity and intimate knowledge of the market, and marketers will be ready to develop and implement brand and customer experiences that inspire devotion and cement loyalty.
The second requires marketing to be evolved to stay in sync with the continuously advancing marketing, media, and tech landscape. The evolution of marketing to harness the power of technology will extend its capabilities in critical areas like AI, digital commerce, and data strategy and do so through the lens of privacy and ethics.
The third pulse makes marketing emboldened by demonstrating value through measurable outcomes and, as a result, earning the support of the CEO and the rest of the C-suite. When marketers embrace financial validation using models like customer lifetime value, they can more effectively validate their contribution to the organization.
How do marketers prepare to take on this challenge? It’s going to take some yin, some yang, and a whole lot of versatility. The marketing discipline has historically been rooted in right-brain facets like creativity and intuition. The technology-propelled redefinition of consumer engagement and brand experience has transformed the expectations of the profession. Marketers now have an embarrassment of data riches and potent analytical weapons that could benefit significantly from left-brain thinking. More so than any of their peers, customer-obsessed marketers must fortify this yin and yang skill set to be complete marketers — Renaissance marketers, if you will. And their Da Vinci code to unlocking the value of marketing lies in the three E’s of elevating, evolving, and emboldening marketing, with a laser focus on creating value for the organization.
Are You Interested In Cracking Marketing’s Da Vinci Code?
My report, The CMO Must Own Marketing Again, covers the “three E’s” framework in detail and guides marketers in developing a system to measure and demonstrate value.