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Evolution Of CMO’s In Planet Corporate

CMOs in planet corporate

Last year Business Insider crowned Marc Pritchard as the most innovative of the CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) of 2017 and hailed him as the torchbearer in the ad industry’s fight to clean up digital advertising. The marketing general of Procter & Gamble made waves at the very beginning of the year when he said that the world’s largest advertiser would cut down on its ad spending and lived up to his word.


Under his guidance, P&G’s organic sales rose 2% to $16.1 billion on a unit volume increase of 2%, even though they slashed spending on digital ads by $100 million. His next battle is shifting the focus from brand safety to quality “media content”.


Pretty damn impressive, right!Role of Chief Marketing Officers has been seeing lots of changes and was said to be in a stage of renaissance until last year.  They have increasingly assumed responsibility for driving not just brand but also business growth and have an unprecedented opportunity to affect revenue and customer experience.


CMOs are acquiring more authority inside company walls, in the C-suite, boardroom & are also becoming visible and accessible outside their organizations.


CMOs are breaking through the noisy fractured media landscape as thought leaders and influencers around not just their own companies’ products & services but also around a range of businesses and marketing topics, topics about what they are passionate about has become a new exception.


Personal brands of CMOs are now playing an important role in shaping the overall perception of the corporate brand.

The origin of the legend

But 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 change

wind image

The 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 game

In 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

As Leah Davis (Head of marketing – Team GB), said: “Marketing is at an exciting time of evolution and the winners of tomorrow will be those who take brave strides based on strong data, good insights and a customer-centric strategy.” In the next ten to twenty years, the majority CMOs will be older millennials and they will have to keep in mind that the Generation Z will have their own “rebound characteristics” that’s likely won’t line up with millennial preferences.


Both exciting & scary at the same time, ain’t it? We will be seeing a lot of change as the technology revolution continues over the coming years and will dramatically change the media & buying habits of the customers. The role of CMO will continue to evolve & for the current global CMOs, this is a good time to lead the charge on issues that impact the industry.



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