Marketing Strategy Blog

Inside the Mind of the CMO

Mind of the CMO

What keeps you up at night?

If you’re a Chief Marketing Officer operating in the current turbulent business climate, the answer is – quite a bit.

According to IBM’s 2012 Global Survey on the state of marketing, 52% of the 362 participating marketers say they are not prepared for the level of complexity they expect to encounter over the next five years. So what issues will be causing sleepless nights for CMOs? Here’s a look at five of them.

1. Handling Social Media

Jeff Hayzlett, former CMO at Kodak, says that social media is forcing CMOs to “face the facts about business. It used to be that we could dictate how we wanted customers to deal with us. Now customers can say and post and blog and share whatever they want. Thanks to social media, they are always in charge.”

Hayzlett goes on to say that some businesses have been wary about jumping into social media for fear of giving up control. He asserts that business has never been in control in the first place. He stresses that organizations need to become “radically transparent.”

The way CMOs can accomplish this, according to Hayzlett, is through a process he calls the 4 E’s: Engage, Educate, Excite and Evangelize. Businesses need to own up to “who you are, what you are, and what you want to be. Get in control by giving up control.

2. Integrating Channel Silos

Connecting online and traditional channels continues to be a struggle for marketers. According to the IBM report only 65% of the respondents are reporting and analyzing their online visitor data. Only a third use this data to target one-to-one offers or messages in digital channels. Less than one in five leverage online data to make one-to-one offers in traditional channels.

The report also reveals that only 34% of marketing organizations have a sophisticated approach to investing resources and engaging customers across multiple channels. When asked to name their biggest challenge over the next three to five years, 41% of the respondents said the growth of channel and device choices. Half of the those surveyed are trying to resolve this issue through increased spending.

Seventy-one percent believe integration across owned, earned and paid channels is important, but only 29% feel they are effective at actually addressing it.

The report goes on to say that marketers must map out an “engagement of customers across all channels and business functions, define metrics and analytics that meet executive-level rigor and identify quick wins that showcase cross-channel marketing success in business terms and then expand to other areas.”

The key report conclusion is that “integration is a must to deliver on digital’s promise.”

3. Embracing Technology

Lorena Harris, VP of Corporate Marketing at Vantiv, wrote in the Customer Think blog that innovative marketing and sales automation systems are about to become pervasive. These systems will provide an avalanche of data that will put even more focus on measuring and analyzing all marketing functions.

She states that “this decade will see the corporate marketing function change shape dramatically.”

In a Marketo webinar, Harris outlines a Marketing Maturity Journey through the use of marketing automation technology. According to the data, achieving revenue target goals can increase from 60% to 100% through the use of marketing automation tools. Those tools include:

  • Demand Generation: content creation, integrated CRM and lead scoring practices
  • Integrated Marketing: multi-channel program delivery, lead scoring and nurturing, alignment of sales and marketing and integration to a 3rd party system
  • Revenue Performance Management: continuous analytics and optimization of sales and marketing resources.

With the proliferation of cloud-based marketing software, CMOs can now empower their teams more cost-effectively and in a more scalable manner than ever before. Whether it’s CRM, lead nurturing, paid search management, A/B landing page testing, social media management, or analytics, teams have a wide variety of options at their fingertips. And if they don’t make use of the technology, their days may be numbered as their competitors are sure to leverage the technology.

4. Managing Metrics and ROI

Steven Cook, former CMO at Samsung and an Advisory Board member with the CMO Council, in his presentation at a recent CMO Exchange suggests, “It’s time to raise the CMO bar.” He believes we’ve reached the “tipping point to develop a new and improved role for CMOs.”

Cook sees a shift from the traditional role of the CMO to one of Commercial Growth Accelerator driven by five key attributes (CGAR5):

  • Relationship (People Engagement)
  • Reputation (Authentic, Transparent)
  • Relevant Reimaging (Compelling Value Proposition)
  • Revenue and Results (Metrics that matter)
  • Real Time (Responsive and agile)

In Cook’s blog post on, Tim Suther, CMO at Acxiom, asserts that smart marketers are “narrowcasting.” They “increasingly put the consumer first and let the channel and product decisions follow. They drive actionable insights, not just with big data, but with better data grounded in the intersection of insights they and their most important partners possess.”

Better data means CMOs are in a position to make better decisions. To successfully do this, they need to:

  • Collect customer data from a variety of sources, including both internal and external sources
  • Share customer data across the organization
  • Educate all employees on the customer
  • Establish clear success metrics
  • Configure a standardized marketing performance review process
  • Update and improve marketing initiatives based on the data
  • Use the data to personalize marketing efforts

You simply cannot ignore the data any longer. The successful CMO of tomorrow will be the one leveraging data to not only innovate, but to connect more deeply with the customer.

5. Driving Change

Clearly the overriding issue facing CMOs is change itself. As mentioned previously, 52% of marketers in IBM’s report on the state of marketing say they are not prepared for the complexity they expect to encounter in the years to come.

Future CMOs will need to become more agile in navigating the increasingly complex landscape and in leading meaningful change. From greater customer empowerment to a shift to a mobile-first world, change is everywhere. And the pace of change is only going to quicken.

The CMO is now the Chief Change Identifier, Chief Change Agent and Chief Change Manager. The ability of the CMO to leverage change to more effectively fulfill customers’ evolving wants and expectations is going to be a critical asset of the successful organization of tomorrow.

Change is the new normal. Ready or not, a new revolution has arrived.