It appears that the CMO position’s responsibilities have shifted toward a greater emphasis on driving business growth and brand loyalty.

A new report from The CMO Council titled “The CMO Shift to Gaining Business Lift,” focuses on the evolving role of the CMO as a growth driver, change agent, and customer experience advocate.

Nearly 70 percent of more than 200 participants in the international study indicated there is a clear mandate for marketing to be the growth driver and business value creator in their organizations.

Here are some revealing statistics about CMOs from the study:

Only 6 percent say they are defining routes to revenue across all facets of their business globally.

Just 8 percent say they are finding new ways to recover, reactivate, and re-engage lost, languishing, or dormant accounts.

Only 10 percent are embracing customer-direct e-commerce channels and new monetization programs that upsell and cross-sell based on intimacy and context.

Just 8 percent admit to auditing, assessing, and continually improving the customer experience.

And only 7 percent say they are looking for strategic partnerships, alliances, and acquisitions that drive growth.

Loyalty360 caught up with Liz Miller, senior vice president, marketing, CMO Council, to find out her thoughts about the study.

Are you surprised by the results of this report?

Miller: No, not necessarily surprised. Every year when we conduct our State of Marketing Study, or when we gather our Advisory Board, we continued to hear about the expanding role of the CMO that actually saw the job dramatically shift from being the primary branding officer to that of a true business leader.

What we are seeing in this study is not only the confirmation of that, but the additional shift away from those branding or advertising-centric positions of old into ones where brand — or the crystallization and communication of value that is delivered to customer to drive advocacy, loyalty, and profitable relationships — is driving business versus the business looking to marketing to establish new branding.

We have reclaimed the concept of brand…pulled it out of what so many people wanted to think of as the “coloring in department” and turned it into the very value the entire enterprise rallies around and delivers to the customer. Because of this shift, the CMO has evolved into the growth driver with both hands on the wheel, steering toward opportunities as outlined by the voice of the customer.

Why do you think CMOs are struggling to embrace integrated data-driven analytics to pursue revenue, better returns, and stronger customer relationships?

Miller: What the data is clearly showing is marketers falling back into functional comfort zones…sticking with what we know instead of making waves. But just take a look at the CMOs interviewed for the report like Martyn Etherington of Jasper/Cisco or Maggie Chan Jones of SAP…these are business leaders.

Yes, brand and even tactics like branding and advertising are all in their wheelhouse. But these leaders are identifying growth opportunities, consolidating the view of the customer, leveraging analytics on everything from an individual customer relationship to the overarching state of the market to better steer the ship towards profitability. Those CMOs that are struggling to embrace this path tend to be those that are either holding on too tight to the branding-heritage of the role, solely focused on creative and campaigns and hoping their gut leads them to a deeper relationship with the customer, or alternatively, they are CMOs who absolutely want that role of growth driver but fail to have the mandate and support of the CEO and organization to impact organizational and operational change to enable systems, teams, and tools to align around a singular customer experience strategy.

But now is the time to get moving. We have two options: Grow into this growth driver role or potentially find yourself looking for a new job. There will come a point where those are the two options because our two biggest stakeholders (the CEO and the customer) aren’t going to wait around for us to figure it out. Our customers will go elsewhere, choosing to spend their dollars with brands that value, recognize and engage in a relevant manner with them. And our CEOs, well they will just start looking for a replacement.

What do you think has led to this shift?

Miller: For most of our members, especially our Advisory Board, being the business leader and growth driver has been the path for many years. But I do think that has been met with some resistance, both from cross functional peers who don’t understand or value the role of marketing within the organization as well as from marketers themselves who have felt they are not ready to or able to shift from a wholly creative role to a more business-minded strategic one.

But, I think this shift has been years in the making, certainly accelerated by the rapid onset of digital transformation. But if truth be told, I would actually say that the customer’s changing behaviors and heightened expectations (and the fundamental understanding most customers now have that they are, in fact, in charge) have done the most to bring on this shift. Before, we could get by with being a product-centric or sales-centric organization, making the assumption that if we build it, of course, they would come.

But today’s connected customer not only expects immediate delight and, even more, immediate resolution to needs or issues, they also have the expectation that they will see themselves reflected in the engagements they choose to initiate with the brands they transact with. With the customer at the center of this new experience era, the CMO is ideally situated to serve as a hub, an orchestrator of the whole customer experience. 

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