Thoughts and ideas from SHAKE Marketing Group
How CMO's Can Become Indispensable Growth Drivers
by Stacey Danheiser

You may have heard that more and more companies are doing away with the “Chief Marketing Officer”. Instead, they are consolidating marketing, customer and commercial leadership strategy under a new leader—the Chief Growth Officer or Chief Revenue Officer.

As a lifelong marketer, I’ll admit that this news stings a bit. But I’m not surprised. Trends have not been favourable for CMOs in the past several years due to digital disruption and the expectation that CMO’s need to be more growth-oriented, innovative and tech-savvy than they’ve ever been.

According to this recent Accenture report

CEOs are most likely to fire the CMO first if growth targets are not met. This seems logical when you consider that CMOs—more so than any other C-suite position—are supposed to have an end-to-end view of the customer, identify trends, and make strategic recommendations to outsmart and surpass the competition.

This requires CMOs to step out of their traditional marketing functions and take on a broader role in creating relevant and memorable interactions at all touch points throughout the entire customer lifecycle. If they fail to do this, they risk losing customers, business revenue—and even their jobs.

Clearly, today’s CMOs are expected to fulfil a more challenging role than ever before. But, at the same time, they are being presented with the opportunity to step up and to lead the charge in building strategies and processes to drive ‘customer obsession’ across the organization.

Today’s marketers need to be aligned with the customer

Customers are completing up to 70% of the buying process alone online before they contact your organization. This means that CMOs and the entire marketing department are now responsible for helping buyers navigate piles of information before they contact a sales person.

It also means that your marketing team better be aligned with how customers make decisions, what messages will resonate, and what type of content will help. But we all know that marketers are not spending enough time to figure this out. In fact, companies are only spending 4% of their marketing budget to conduct market research versus 30% on creating new content.

The result? Only 25% of CMOs are confident as to how to delight their customers. And over half feel that a large portion of their marketing budgets are wasted and not delivering the results the business expects.

As a marketer, you may be constantly collecting customer data but it really amounts to nothing if you’re not able to track it back to the individual customer as they flit across multiple channels. Nailing the customer identity is the key to creating positive and effective customer engagements.

The big question is…

Is your marketing team driving innovation and growth?

Besides being data-driven, CMOs need to focus on accelerating growth for their organization by adopting innovative approaches. If you aren’t there yet, you can start doing it by:

  1. Nurturing a learning mindset

Marketing is a fast-paced field. Unless you are spending enough time and resources to constantly educate yourself and your team, it’s difficult to survive, let alone thrive in today’s business landscape.

When it comes to training professionals, HR leaders recommend the 70:20:10 model — 70% of learning from on-job experiences, 20% learning from a coach, mentor, or boss, and 10% from external sources such as educational events. Try implementing this by allowing your team to attend online classes, conferences, etc. while piloting various tactics to involve them in an ongoing learning process.

If you think you don’t have enough time for this, step back and rethink — are you using your time most effectively? If not, what are the things you could cut down from your schedule? By reassessing and delegating well, you could free up nearly a fifth of your time and spend it on more worthwhile tasks such as coaching your team or attending conferences and webinars to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices.

  1. Knowing what your customers value

Not all customers are created equally. They have different preferences and care about different things, which translates into what they are willing to spend money on. If you can’t crack this code, no marketing tactic will break through the clutter.

For instance, more customers are now making purchases online and some are even willing to buy through social media. In today’s omnichannel world, neglecting any of these channels could be risky.

Recent surveys suggest that only 12% customers want to meet with a salesperson while making a purchase decision, while 16% are willing to discuss with a sales representative over the phone. They prefer to do their own research — even spending three hours in the process for purchases worth more than $5,000. Marketers are, therefore, tasked with providing prospective customers with enough information that will help them make a well-informed decision and draw them into the sales funnel.

CMOs must know how to interweave product knowledge with data analytics to strategize meaningful interactions across all human, physical and digital touch points.

  1. Understanding what the business expects

Are your marketing goals aligned to corporate objectives? — This is a question that may provide an answer to why only 25% of marketing organizations have outcome-driven objectives.

A recent research study found that most successful CMOs not only understood their customers’ needs, but their companies’ needs too. They were great at striking the right balance between customer priorities and business objectives.

For example, one way CMOs can create alignment between marketing and the C-Suite is by viewing customers as relationships rather than transactions. With solid customer engagement and retention strategies, they can turn repeat customers into lifelong loyalists, improving the profit margins. Starting to talk in terms of ROI and CLV — metrics that delight CEOs and top executives — CMOs can transform into business leaders with a focus on long-term benefits rather than short-term gains.

  1. Paying attention to new competitors

This is something only 43% of CMOs are doing now. And considering how companies like Uber and Airbnb completely disrupted industries that were unprepared, not paying attention to new and evolving competitors is a recipe for failure. But at the same time, if you spend too much time obsessing over your competition, you can lose sight of your customers —an even bigger risk.

Therefore, as a marketer, you need to maintain a healthy balance of focusing on your own customers and tuning into what your competitors are doing.

In this ‘post-digital era’ where customers don’t think of their digital experiences as separate from physical ones, CMOs need to break out of the moulds of traditional marketing and establish themselves as growth-oriented business leaders, not just marketing experts. That’s how they can become indispensable to their organization.

If you’re struggling to stay in tune with what your customers value or are feeling challenged to align your teams and processes around the customer, Value-ology: Aligning Sales and Marketing to Shape and Deliver Profitable Customer Value Propositions can put you on the right track.


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