Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Changing Role of the CMO

The CMO role has changed and expanded tremendously in the past several years. Qualified CMO candidates are in high demand but difficult to find. This is why the average tenure of a CMO is only 48 months, far shorter than that of his or her c-level peers. (The good news is that this tenure has steadily increased from half that in 2004.) Market forces have caused CMOs to take on responsibilities that vary quite a bit from the past and the job's complexity has skyrocketed. Here are some of the things that are leading to these changes:

  • The Internet has changed how people research and buy products.
  • The increased bifurcation of markets to high-end experiential and low-end value segments, leaving an increasing number of middle-market suppliers/retailers in a "no man's land."
  • Muti-channel marketing management becomes a critical skill, including knowing how to effectively deal with channel conflict issues.
  • The rising power and influence of retail brands reduces the leverage of manufactures' brands.
  • The proliferation and fragmentation of media, including online media.
  • The necessity of tapping into social media.
  • The rising influence of bloggers on brand perceptions.
  • The overwhelming volume of marketing information now available together with the emergence of big data analytics as a discipline but without enough people who are truly experts in this area.
  • The increasing importance of digital and analytics in understanding customers' needs and behaviors to secure a successful future for the company.
  • The need to manage the brand experience across an increasing number of customer touch points without the direct responsibility for managing most of those touch points.
  • The emergence of third parties in rating customer brand experiences. These include Angie's List, CellarTracker, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Zagat and Zomato among hundreds of others.
  • Along with this, the increasing transparency of brand and company actions. Word travels fast if a brand fails to deliver on its promise. Witness BP (Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill), Chipotle (e coli) and United Airlines (United Breaks Guitars).
  • The globalization of competition enabled by free trade agreements, the Internet and the rapid growth of emerging economies. 
  • The increasing sophistication of marketing research, especially in the areas of emotional response. 
  • The increasing importance of company and brand values being aligned with consumer values.
  • The increasing importance of the employer brand as it relates to the outward facing brand.
  • The continued growth in market segments fueled by the Internet. This leads to a greater need not only to meet the varying needs of an increasing number of segments but also to use sophisticated analytical tools to identify these segments and their different needs.
  • The growing complexity of brand portfolios driven by mergers and acquisitions.
  • The need to tailor products and brands for local markets while maintaining the appropriate level of product and brand consistency globally.
  • The emergence of brand co-creation with customers.
  • The importance of discovering new business opportunities. 
  • The necessity of seamlessly linking sales, CRM and corporate reputation management with all marketing activities.
  • The need to manage a more diverse set of functional skills under the marketing umbrella (marketing research, statistical analysis, big data analytics, social media expertise, SEO, customer relations, graphic arts, copywriting, direct response, advertising, promotion, pricing strategy, distribution strategy, sales support, and sometimes product development, product management, brand licensing, sales strategy and even trade relations).
  • The need to consider marketing strategy and brand strategy in the context of business strategy, business model strategy and competitive strategy.
  • If the brand promise drives the organization's unique value proposition, then the CMO needs to be actively involved in the organization's value chain decisions.
I hope this sheds some light on how the CMO role has changed and will continue to change.  The good news is that this role has become increasingly important to the long-term success of the organization. The bad news is that there are not enough people qualified to successfully assume this role, which is good news for those who are. 

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