Rapid change is driving CMO responsibilities

Why CMOs need broader authority.

In my last post, I gave an introductory overview of the rapidly evolving, increasingly demanding role of the Chief Marketing Executive. I described areas of CEO-CMO collaboration critical to your company remaining viable and competitive. Whether your title is Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Customer Officer (CCO)—or Chief Influence Officer (CIO)—the challenges are much the same.

In this segment, I discuss in detail how the CMO role must change to meet new market and tech-driven challenges.

Redefining CMO responsibilities

CMOs have a lot on their plate—including keeping up with constantly changing buying patterns and continually morphing digital venues. They’re also responsible for evolving their brand, responding to growing internal demands and initiating entirely new marketing capabilities. According to a recent Marketing Science Institute and McKinsey survey, 75% of CMOs agree their organizations need to redefine and expand their role.

CEOs and other C-level executives often fail to grasp the full scope of these challenges. This is the primary reason for high CMO turnover rates. Many CMOs are hampered by narrowly defined roles giving them no say in handling emerging challenges they are ultimately held accountable for. Paradoxically, the CEOs who believe their CMO already has enough authority are often frustrated when they lack the skills required to tackle new, cross-silo initiatives. Fortunately, an increasing number of CEOs now recognize their CMO needs broader authority as the “voice of the customer” if their organization is going to adapt to new market demands.


Working towards a marketing organization

Cross-silo collaboration is no longer just an advantage; it’s a necessity. Whether the focus is on marketing, sales, training or another organizational sector, none can function adequately as a separate entity. Some companies already integrate sales and marketing to more easily connect product/service messaging with sales outcomes.

Additional examples of the need for closer internal collaboration–

  • Marketing needs to be on message with Public Relations in response to a crisis. In fact, CMOs are now more often called upon to coordinate PR, investor relations and public affairs in countering negative publicity about a product or service failure.
  • Marketing data analysis frequently requires specialized IT support. This may require outsourcing, as is the case for a broad range of new, specialized tasks.

Next, I’ll discuss external market and technology changes that CMOs and other marketing managers need to understand.

Managing complexity is key in the changing role of the CMO

So far, I discussed the rapidly changing, increasingly demanding role of the chief marketing executive. Whether your title is chief marketing officer (CMO), or Chief Customer Officer (CCO)—or even Chief Influence Officer (CIO)—the challenges are the same. In my last two posts, I described forces driving internal cross-silo collaboration, and why the CMO/CCO/CIO is best equipped to lead it.

In this segment, I introduce some of the technology-driven challenges CMOs/marketing managers need to master to succeed.


CMOs must manage new, increasingly complex market forces – part 1

Internet-based marketing has resulted in new, more sophisticated distribution models requiring a global reach. National/ethnic identity and other demographic variables call for increasingly varied messaging for the world’s diverse ‘tribes.’ Amplifying this trend is the rise of populist nationalism throughout the world. Bottom line– “local” (or what is pitched as local) now sells better.

This, combined with the bulleted agents of change, listed below, are transforming not just marketing but everything from public relations to product research/development to new distribution models.

  • Most consumers carefully investigate a product or service online before any purchase. They pay little attention to ‘push marketing.’ Instead, they act upon research findings over, for example, advice they may get from a sales agent in a brick and mortar store. Even aging baby boomers go online for information to assess their doctors’ advice.
  • Third parties like bloggers and user-generated platforms are often more influential than a CMO in determining brand and product reputation. In this dynamic, consumers evaluate the relative credibility/objectivity of various online sources. Marketers, in turn, need to develop persuasive, indirect, strategies to favorably influence that content while countering any damaging information.
  • The radical, worldwide demographic shift towards low and high-end market demand has resulted in a decline in middle-range product purchases. On the low end, market strategy to date has favored simple, direct messaging. More effective approaches are on the horizon. By contrast, at the high end, they have to meet high expectations for product quality and service–often requiring alternative distributors.
  • Emerging markets are driving stronger demand for lower income demographic products and services. Minimal marketing messaging isn’t enough. What is required is a broad organizational push to develop, produce and deliver a growing range and volume of such options. This demands an in-depth understanding of developing market consumer needs, driven by sophisticated Big Data analysis. Unfortunately, Big Data algorithms haven’t yet caught up with the complexity of this exploding market segment. Payoffs, however, can be tremendous, as with Nokia’s introduction of low-cost mobile phones in India.

In my next Insights installment, I’ll explore the related issues of radical personalization of marketing content, building trust, and the rise of Blockchain purchasing.

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