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Enabling CMO Success: What Organizations Need to Do

Of all the roles in the c-suite, that of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has been under the most pressure in recent years. On the one hand, CEOs want marketing to deliver business growth, and on the other customers have higher expectations than ever. An unfortunate fallout of this pressure is that CMOs have the shortest tenure compared to any other CXO.

Traditionally, marketing focused on brand building, external communications and enabling sales by generating leads. Today marketing is expected to have a far larger sphere of influence and the CMO has become the custodian of the customer experience across all touch points – before and even after purchase. As more and more brands adopt omnichannel marketing, customers can interact with them over websites, live chat, mobile apps, games, social media, voicebots, call centres, AR and so on. The CMO is dealing with far higher complexity and more advanced technologies than ever before.

In this environment the CMO must successfully use and integrate the knowledge of data science, analytics, digital marketing, regulatory frameworks, and user experience.
Organisations struggle to find these multifaceted marketing professionals to fulfill this challenging role and once they are recruited, their short tenures are a drain on resources. There is the cost of search, recruitment, induction and replacement, but more importantly – each time a CMO changes, marketing plans get disrupted. The CMO is external facing, and affects the way that customers and other stakeholders view the organization. Every new CMO is likely to make strategic or tactical changes, so churn can cause instability.

So what should organisations do in order to enable CMOs to succeed?

Clearly state expectations and performance metrics

It may appear silly to list this basic requirement when discussing a CXO level role,  but it has been identified as a challenge for CMOs in many different organisations. The expectations from  CMOs tend to be diverse and numerous. While some CEOs expect the chief of marketing to focus mainly on communications, advertising and brand building, others expect growth strategy to come from marketing. CMOs are often expected to own or contribute to a wide variety of strategic decisions including product strategy, pricing, go-to-market, geographic focus and channel management.  

Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar spoke to Mumbrella Asia about the what he is measured on and what accountability is demanded of him. His answer: “There are two sets of metrics for the department and myself – brand and business.
Brand metrics are pretty classical, but we took some of those and made them very modern so they are relevant and contextually appropriate. For example, ‘total awareness’ may not be relevant in this day and age. So we dropped it but brought in something extremely relevant. The likeability of the brand, its trustworthiness and the reassurance factor. We have identified and created a set of parameters that we measure our brand on.
We have accepted the metrics the business measures itself on – the financial topline and bottomline.

Identify the person’s strengths and add specialists, if necessary

A CMO is expected to be exceptionally creative when it comes to branding and advertising,  adept at applying data analysis to understand consumer behavior, savvy at digital marketing  and have strong organisational and leadership skills. To expect all these qualities in one person is simply unrealistic. So when a CMO joins an organization it’s important that it the CEO and other colleagues recognise the unique strengths that she or he bring to the table and add other specialists to the team, as needed.

A management team that recognizes the challenges of the CMO role, and takes the necessarythese steps to enable the CMO’s success will gain a strong competitive advantage over others.

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