Over the last few months, a couple of reports were released that highlight the challenges the modern CMO faces. Yeah, how is that even news?
The fact that the CMO role is profoundly changing and will continue to change isn't really news. But what these studies provide is a unique multi-faceted prism outlining the kinds of changes and pressures that are pulling the CMO in all kinds of directions.
For the purpose of this post (and so you don’t have to read them), we have used the following reports:
- IBM’s Stepping up to the challenge – CMO Insight study
- Adobe’s CMO Impact study
- Immediate Future’s In the Social Moment study
- Forrester’s Create a Connected Communications Plan for the Post-Digital Era
If you look at the titles of these white-papers you can already see the changed CMO world. Most strikingly, there weren’t any white-papers on how to spend more media on TV advertising (easy: just buy the same as last year, you’ll end up paying more this year, guaranteed!).
We’ll start at the top, which is where IBM likes to operate. They have taken stock of the role the CMO has within the overall organization, and how much impact the CMO role has on business results. What they have found is that there are three different kinds of CMO’s: Digital Pacesetters, Social Strategists and Traditionalists.
Although by a relative small margin, the Digital Pacesetters are the smallest group. They are however per this study the group that help their companies fare financially better, suggesting that the other two groups are delivering far less financial value to the overall organization.
They also demonstrate that tenure and experience matter – and experience in actually doing stuff, rather than managing stuff. Two components are highlighted as critical to be successful: setting and aligning around simple and clear expectations and being in a company that believes that marketing matters. This last one is almost a no-brainer, but there are many companies I have witnessed that say that marketing and brand building matters, but in a pinch always favor any other C-suite member over the CMO.
Both IBM's and Adobe’s studies highlight the importance of understanding the consumer as job number 1. Adobe suggests that if a firm is not consumer focused, it is likely that a CMO and marketing as a whole will not be successful. IBM shows that companies with a deep understanding of their consumers are 60% more likely to outperform their peers financially.
“Z.E.R.O., zero paid media as the new marketing model” co-author Joseph Jaffe likes to quip “There is no real time marketing. Just do it faster”.
But fact is that, according to the study by Immediate Future (I.F.), there is real value in Real Time. They report 76% increased engagement through a timely effort, and a 35% increased customer retention and loyalty score. That should make it worth something. Like time allocated by the CMO to Real Time Marketing efforts.
Earlier this year I provided my insights as one of 17 contributors to a Forrester study called “Create a Connected Communications Plans for the Post-Digital Era”. In it, the contributors clearly echo the IBM findings, stating among many other success criteria:
- that TV isn't and shouldn't be the marketing plan starting point nor should it be what I call the scaffolding that holds the whole plan up.
- that the organizational silo’s within the marketing department, and between the marketing department and other critical departments such as Sales/Trade Marketing, Finance, Corporate Communications and others are structures that may make organizational sense, but are hurdles to an integrated consumer brand experience.
- that consumers should dictate the connection plan.
- Etcetera, etcetera. If you read “Z.E.R.O.” you will find a ten point action plan that will basically get you future proof to deliver all of this.
So we can safely conclude that in order for the organization to be successful you shouldn't and can't afford to rely on a CMO adept at 1990's marketing. We can also safely say that marketing matters, that an enlightened CMO delivers a lot more value to the company that employ’s him/her than a company with a traditional CMO. And that the time to get (or, if you are a CMO, evolve yourself into) one of these types of CMO’s is now. Wait and you’ll do significant damage to your company and its stakeholders.
How does Joseph Jaffe put it again? “How do you kill a dinosaur? You don’t, evolution does.”