The Origin of the legendBut there was a time before all this. History of marketing is said to be as old as humanity itself. When our ancestors started selling the gains of hunting & farming, some honed their skills in the unique craft of persuading. At the most basic level, this can be referred to as marketing 101. Marketing underwent a great awakening after WWII as corporates started bringing tasks like public relations, sales & promotions under one corporate umbrella. When customer attention started evolving with relationship marketing in the crazy 90’s, marketer’s focus turned to building trust as the center of any good relationship. CRM & data mining started to bloom and the rise of social media & mobile marketing brands started constant communication to the customer who has become always receptive. No position evolved more than the CMO during all these changes. Earlier the CMOs in organizations were self-described marketing heroes who were good at marketing the job & themselves, but not at driving revenue or results. Recruiters elevated marketers who were best at traditional marketing functions such as brand development & tactical programs to the roles of CMOs without having a second look at whether they will be perfect for the job. As per CMO Council, the hiring criteria for CMOs did not include skillset like “business strategy, vision and corporate direction”, “budgeting and accountability of spend with CFO” or “sales, marketing and channel integration”. In other words, they were hired to be Marketing VPs, not Chief Marketing Officers. This resulted in the CMOs becoming ill-prepared to operate at the same level of other C Level Executives as they used to operate tactically not strategically. Chief Marketing Officers were ridiculed for lacking character, mastery, or power in the organizations and for leading to failure, short tenures & high turnover. News started coming up saying positions of CMOs are dead & several corporates even started bidding bye to the positions. But as Management Guru Peter Drucker once said, a company has two and only two key functions – marketing and innovation – and that all other functions should support these. Marketing as well as the role of CMOs can never die but only evolve.
Winds Of Awesome ChangeThe New era of CMOs has already arrived and they are more powerful than ever before. CMOs are not only executing on corporate strategies but are also often among the key shapers of it. Unlike earlier, CMOs are now required to master the new digital channels that dominate our lives along with the need to navigate quickly in the moment while charting new courses into the future while keeping a close eye on the costs. Thanks to technology, today’s customers can shop around the globe, find out more than ever before about the organizations they’re dealing with, are highly connected and share their views with thousands, if not millions, of fellow customers. And the fun fact is that CMOs are responding to these changes using the same technology. What’s in a name? For today’s CMOs, damn plenty. The job title means different across companies & industries. The roles of CMO has broadened in general, job descriptions varied than ever before. CMOs are also well aware that they have to be more financially accountable than ever before as ROI has become the most important measure of success over the years. CMOs are no longer just defined by the quality of creativity but also on their ability to handle other areas including data & digital. Today’s CMOs are expected to be proficient in data analytics to generate customer insights and experts in handling online media with fully integrated digital enterprises in place. Digital transformation serves as a crucial point in the evolution of CMO. The duties of CMOs now require having an effective and trusting partnership with IT and Data Science teams whom they previously considered as corporate nerds(pun intended) to create a climate of innovation and use internal data to come up with new ways to market to customer segments. The goal of any organization is to drive business goals by predicting customer futures with business. When you know what’s likely to happen, you will be able to anticipate how the company will perform. Predictive analytic techniques are now enabling CMOs to understand performance at an aggregate level, what drives business goals, what can be controlled, what can be leveraged & what can be influenced.
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The Future Of The GameIn the future, CMOs will be expected to act more like Sherlock Holmes of the C-suite as they will be the geniuses on intuitive customer behavior, a sociologist of sorts. They will be even more important players in the C-suite as they will be the one who knows the customer best. Customer experience, usually owned by CMOs will gain more importance in the future where not much differentiates one product from another. CMOs will not be operating with a VP of marketing mentality alone in the future as there won’t be any other officer who can play a greater role in shaping the customer’s perception. The characteristics of Future CMO will include
- Steering Company Strategy
- Presenting a Future Vision to the Board
- Data and Design Genius
- Innovation and Transformation Leadership
- Master of Personalization
- Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Content Curation Alongside Customers
- Innovative Thought Process