Wanted By The CEO: A CMO Super Hero


The IDC 2016 CMO FutureScape predicts CMO turnover continuing at 25 percent per year or higher through 2018.

This is not surprising, because marketing is being disrupted and reinvented.

The CMO must anticipate the expectations of the connected consumer, master an accelerating digital learning curve, and negotiate a new role and relationship to the CEO - who himself must come to terms with marketing playing a new position in the organization.

The CMO is asked to be a super hero - one who speedily turns customer-centricity into P&L results ... uses technology and data analytics to drive performance ... delivers marketing ROI ... drives leads to sales channels ... and advances capabilities to keep up with marketplace opportunities. She is a leader who gets beyond intellectualizing the need for change, and quickly makes change happen. She gets millennial consumers to flock to the brand.

Being data driven is core to the wiring of the new CMO who can accomplish all of this. Being a member of the millennial generation may be a sufficient credential too. But I'm hearing a hunger for even more, from startups to Fortune 500 leaders. These leaders are looking for a CMO who demonstrates:

  • Strategic, visionary, executional, and transformational wiring
  • Skill at seeding and scaling innovation
  • Analytical, technical, logical and creative abilities
  • A collaborative style - someone who is a motivator and a networker
  • Digital native instincts and intuition
  • Linkage to P&L performance
  • A sense of urgency

This is a tall-order profile. To find your CMO super hero:

Define, first, what marketing means in your business. Marketing can be the high-impact discipline that connects your company's brand with customers to create growth. If you have defined marketing as the advertising, promotions and research function, my definition proposes a much-expanded view with implications for the broader team, goals and metrics, and alignment. Being clear on the function's role is the basis for picking the must-have CMO qualities.

Maximize the CMO's potential by envisioning a function that can:
  • Be immersed in customers' lives and be the internal advocate for their needs
  • Surface, synthesize, and apply market insight and data - pushing beyond demographics to a segment-based understanding of attitudinal, behavioral, and cross-cultural attributes
  • Create experiences to attract customers and cultivate relationships
  • Test and learn - acquiring and applying data to get better
  • Have a P&L focus - connecting customer behavior to financial outcomes
  • Be a collaborator with colleagues, especially technologists and data scientists

Look to the CMO to embrace the mature methodologies that matter, and meld these with what technology and data now make possible. Segmentation, A/B testing, and positioning methodologies work, and are essential in an environment of channel proliferation and media fragmentation. Apply these alongside customer journey mapping, machine learning capabilities, and the best social, mobile, community, and other connection tactics to motivate customer engagement.

Hold marketing accountable for concrete metrics that make sense. The best marketing metrics focus on the drivers of prospect and customer behavior that marketing can affect. While awareness, intent to buy, and volume of qualified leads are on the list, more rigorous metrics linked to P&L outcomes also belong on the marketing scorecard - accounts opened, sales closed, evidence of loyalty such as repeat purchase and recommendation to others. But be aware of the dependencies beyond marketing, across a multi-functional business, to move these levers.

Provide sponsorship. Marketing will continue to transform, irrespective of the size or maturity stage of the business. Marketing success increases in a culture of customer commitment and insight where leaders keep the customer at the center of decisions.

Chances are your CMO will be mortal. So, how will she succeed? Whether digital migrant, native or newbie, data-driven or intuitive, CMOs will rise to super-hero status when they:

  • Operate with a relentless customer focus.
  • Achieve differentiation that matters to your target.
  • Build and motivate a diverse team - creating, in effect, the composite super-hero marketer.
  • Lead with openness, trust and collaboration, self-awareness and humility, clarity of vision and connection to execution.

Amy Radin connects customers to companies to create growth. She brings an unexpected combination of insight, reinvention and pragmatism to companies in transformation. Amy serves on Advisory Boards, is an angel investor, keynote speaker, and consults with companies from startups to Fortune 500 applying her Framework for New Growth (c) to attract new clients and expand client relationships.

This post also appears in Amy's regular column on LinkedIn, and on Medium.com and in a targeted version on Insurance Thought Leadership.

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