CEOs need to work synergistically to help CMOs succeed in 2020. This is imperative, so marketing drives business growth and delivers a great customer experience. How can this be achieved? Here are the top 3 ways, along with insights from Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle Insights.
There has been a shift in the CMO’s role – from being focused on external communications and new customer acquisitions traditionally, to owning the customer experience across all touchpoints today. Expectations from CMOs have also changed as the entire landscape of marketing has changed dramatically, with data and technology playing a major role. This gives rise to a unique set of challenges for CMOs.
What’s the CMO Role in 2020?
Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) haven’t been able to settle comfortably into the cushioned chairs of boardrooms in recent years. On the one hand, they’re being measured against a whole new set of expectations from CEOs, and on the other, customers are more demanding than ever. To top it all, their ways of working are being disrupted by the increasing impact of technology on marketing and the need for continuous innovation.
One of the most profound changes in the CMO role is the shift from being focused on external communications and new customer acquisitions traditionally to owning the customer experience across all touchpoints today. In order to achieve this, the marketing function must consider data science, analytics, customer experience management, and compliance with the regulations that govern data privacy.
All this means that the life of a CMO has changed drastically in the past few years. Some have adapted and innovated, but others have found it difficult to function, and the cracks are showing in the form of high churn. A SpencerStuart survey of the 100 most-advertised US brands found that the average tenure of the CMO had fallen from 48 months in 2014 to 43 months in 2018. A Korn Ferry survey found that the average tenure of the CMO is the lowest compared to any other c-suite role.
2020 needs to be different. The CMO’s role is external-facing and affects the way customers interact with the organization. Every new CMO is likely to make strategic changes in positioning or advertising or packaging, so churn leads to expense and instability. This means that businesses need CMOs to succeed, and must create the ecosystems that will enable massive success.
Learn More: What are the Best Career Paths for Marketers with the CMO Position Under Threat?
3 Ways CEOs Can Help CMOs Succeed in 2020
So, what will a CEO need to do in 2020 to facilitate CMOs’ success? We look at the 3 most important aspects.
1. Define clear expectations and success metrics
This may appear to be an obvious starting point but has been found to be lacking and is a contributing factor to CMO churn. Is the CEO looking at the CMO to create strategies for growth? Or are strategies in place, and is the CMO needed for communications and advertising only? In different organizations, CMOs are expected to drive or participate in widely diverse decisions such as product strategy, pricing, sales management, geographic expansion, and design.
What are the exact expectations and how will the CEO measure the CMO’s performance against each of them? Discussing this clearly will go a long way in helping the CMO to succeed.
2. Recognize strengths and augment them
A CMO is expected to have brilliant creative talent, the technological prowess to apply digital technologies to marketing, and fabulous organizational and team-building skills to make everything happen. These unrealistic expectations lead to dissonance. According to a March 2019 research report by Accenture, two in three CEOs don’t believe that their current marketing leads have the leadership skills or business acumen required for the role.
The CEO should recognize the unique strengths that the CMO brings to the table, and see that the marketing team includes others whose strengths complement and complete their skills. So if you hired the smartest data analytics and digital marketing CMO around, but you know that messaging and creatives are not her strong suit, then see to it that her team includes just such a maven. In a way, it’s like breaking up the CMO role into two or more roles and drawing on the strengths of each person.
Learn More: What Are Marketers’ Biggest Fears? Expert Insights, Plus Overcoming Them
3. Build cross-functional collaboration
A business in 2020 needs to keep the customer right at the center of all strategic and tactical planning. A CEO may choose to have the CMO own the entire customer journey, or may create a specific role – ‘Chief Experience Officer’. In any case, planning, managing and monitoring the customer experience touches a number of other functions.
The CIO needs to be involved, as all information systems are in her ambit. Some organizations have a Chief Data Officer or Chief Digital Officer, and of course, these roles will play a part as well. Then there are the roles responsible for information security and legal compliance related to protecting data about customers.
The CEO needs to ensure that all these roles collaborate while keeping the customer at the center of focus. CMOs who don’t know what’s happening in other functions cannot perform effectively. CEOs need to build and drive collaboration, so CMOs can succeed and deliver great customer experiences consistently.
Insights From the CEO of Full Circle Insights
We asked Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle Insights and five-time VP of marketing, her thoughts on this subject.
How can CEOs push CMOs to succeed in 2020?
Q4 is planning season for most companies, and it’s a great time for CMOs to meet with CEOs to set goals and make plans to overachieve in 2020. Most CEOs love performance metrics, so that’s a great place to start the conversation. Step one is for CEOs and CMOs to get a meeting of the minds on the expected annual marketing performance and how the company expects to measure the marketing impact on the overall business. Next, CEOs and CMOs should evaluate the marketing department’s ability to produce the metrics — whether the department has the right people, processes, and technology to effectively achieve the performance. If the CMO is set up with great marketing operations in 2019, they can provide measurements throughout 2020 on whether the department is achieving the goals, how they are optimizing their internal processes for efficiency, and perform regular evaluation review of every program to understand the impact on sales.
What can CMOs and prospective CMOs do to ensure the role of a CMO lives on?
The most important thing for CMOs to do to preserve their role is to get a complete understanding of what is expected of their performance and impact on the company. This starts with a good meeting with the CEO. Many CEOs don’t really understand the complex discipline of marketing, so CMOs need to make it simple for CEOs. Give them the metrics they need to evaluate CMO performance. The most important measurements to demonstrate marketing impact are funnel metrics and campaign attribution. These measurements show impact on the business and demonstrate clearly the success or failure of specific programs. And, CMOs can use funnel metrics and attribution to show how they are evaluating marketing campaigns and optimizing the marketing budget. CEOs love improvements, so it’s important to set baselines and show incremental progress on business impact.
Learn More: CX from a CMO’s Perspective
2020 needs to be the year that organizations craft the CMO role to match the new marketing landscape. The CEO will play a vital role in defining expectations from the CMO, creating an ecosystem that enables marketing to drive business growth, and building a truly customer-centric business.
How can CEOs help CMOs in 2020, so marketing drives business growth and delivers a great customer experience? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook; we’re always listening!