Five years ago, most CMOs were primarily focused on brand strategy. Today, they are responsible for turning customer insights into cash. It’s quite a significant change in a relatively short period of time, and it’s largely been driven by the ever increasing sophistication of marketing tools and technology.
CMOs have much greater insight and deeper analysis into customer behaviour than ever before. They understand how to personalise, engage and nurture prospects throughout the buying cycle and across multiple channels. They can measure the return on investment of specific campaigns and calculate marketing’s contribution to the revenue pipeline. As a result, CMOs are gaining a much more powerful position in the corporate hierarchy.
And it’s about time too. For far too long, marketing has been characterised as a cost centre, rather than a revenue engine. But with capability comes accountability. We live in a metrics-based, data-driven world, and that extends to the CMO’s role as well. This can be a double edged sword for some who may not yet have adapted to speaking the “language” of the C-Suite. Soft metrics like brand awareness, impressions, organic search rankings, satisfaction, and quality are all important – but only to the extent that they eventually connect in a quantifiable way to hard metrics. Your CEO, CFO and COO want you to talk in bottom line hard metrics around pipeline, revenue, and profit. The days of relying on gut feel, guesses and estimates are long gone.
As such, skill requirements are changing in the information age of marketing. This new generation of CMO needs to continue to diversify the talent and specific skills of the marketing team around them. Applying data in strategic marketing is the way of the cornerstone of modern marketing, which is why strong analytical skills are becoming much more important than just good creative or communication skills. In fact, I think recruiting for data skills will become much more commonplace in marketing. Likewise, to be an outstanding CMO in this brave new world means you need to be very comfortable with analytics, customer insights and have the ability to work cross functionally.
Marketing has moved from being a black art to a science and the responsibilities of the marketing department have expanded significantly – think multi-channels, big data, content management, customer experience et al. The transformation has been so dramatic, that I’m not even sure the C-suite title of Chief Marketing Officer is actually applicable anymore.
With the technology tools available today, CMOs can link investment with return quite easily. Consequently, a CMO’s job is to make the right investments that will drive the revenue engine of the company. This in turn, requires a much tighter collaboration between the CMO, the CIO and the CFO. You could argue that the CMO is morphing into the role of Chief Revenue Officer. No matter what you call it, the role of CMO is fast-changing and becoming ever more crucial to the overall operations of the business.
What are your thoughts? Is the CMO morphing into the CRO (Chief Revenue Officer)? Let me know in the comments section below and if you liked this post please share!
You can also delve deeper into this topic by reading this report from The Economist.