Future CMO: The Future is Now

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The CMO role is changing more rapidly than any other “C” suite position.  CMO’s and the COO’s or CEO’s who manage them are scrambling to keep up.  While CMO’s used to be able to get away with understanding brand and advertising, this is no longer enough.  Any CMO with this selective toolbox is only going to provide a very limiting solution to their employer.  Hiring a CMO with this limited view of marketing is one of the reasons the average CMO tenure is 18 months.

Today’s CMO needs to understand how the business works.  This seems obvious, but too often marketing is relegated to the “make things pretty department”.  Only a CMO who understands the business deserves a seat at the big table.  If you are savvy enough to drive corporate strategy then you have the insight necessary to be a great CMO.

Analytics will drive your decisions.  Historically the most persuasive person on the marketing team was the one who was able to get ideas started and implemented.  Today, it all starts with customer data and dispassionate analysis.  We are seeing a trend of top analytics executives being promoted to CMO.  I expect the pace of that trend to accelerate.

The CMO job is getting more difficult by the day.  New pressures include the evolving media landscape, economic uncertainty and responsibility for corporate strategy.  Continually we are in a period where more is expected with less.

In addition to all the traditional responsibilities (branding, direct marketing, market research, etc.) we place on the CMO’s plate.  In order to keep their jobs, CMO’s need:

  • Innovation – Both in products and how they market them.
  • Revenue Growth – Sales team is execution, marketing owns the sales strategy.
  • Alignment – Cross-functional, global, executive team all need to be aligned with customer.
  • Accountability – Both in investment and a focus on constant improvement
  • Strategy – Top level CMO’s are driving corporate strategy, marketing strategy and sales strategy using customer centric data.

The result is when done correctly, the CMO is the second most powerful role in the organization.  In the future we will commonly see CMO’s promoted to CEO.

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