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Digital Marketing, Marketing Trends

What Does It Take To Be An “Evolved” CMO?

Marketers face plenty of pressure to keep up with the latest marketing strategies, tactics and channels. Something is always changing . . . and falling behind can leave your brand at a competitive disadvantage.

For CMOs, the challenges are even more intense. In addition to adapting to the everyday needs of the changing marketing landscape, CMOs must also evolve as leaders so they can optimize their position in the C-suite. It’s a job that requires constant self-evaluation and re-assessment of answers to questions like: What are our core priorities? How should we be adapting to realize opportunities across the enterprise? Who’s best to collaborate with to get the job done?

Understandably, charting the right course isn’t always easy, and that’s why I was eager to hear from Sheryl Pattek at SDL’s recent CMO Executive Forum. Pattek, a VP at Forrester Research and the firm’s Principal Analyst serving Chief Marketing Officers, recently published a report with important insights about what it means to be a CMO in 2014.

The biggest takeaway? CMOs need to see their role through a much larger lens than was used in the past. We need to see ourselves as business leaders, rather than just marketing leaders. By taking this broader view, we open ourselves to more knowledge, create opportunities for more collaboration and ultimately, lay the foundation to have much more of an impact.

According to Sheryl, here’s what it takes to be an evolved CMO in 2014:

  • Realize the importance of technology—and the person in charge of it. EveryCMO needs to make the CMO-CIO relationship a top priority. Why? Because a CMO needs the CIO’s help to put technology in practice—and to get the most out of data.Forrester’s survey indicates that 62% of respondents see the CIO as a strategic partner, and 51% made this collaboration a priority—up from 30% in 2011. And while the 65% of unsynchronized data systems in 2011 is now down to 50%, there’s obviously still some serious integration to do in the years to come.
  • Take an active role in management and bring vision to the table. 62% of survey participants viewed a good relationship with their peers as vital, while 96% stated that strategic thinking and vision—keeping an eye on the big picture—was integral, as well.Marketing strategy is still at the heart of every CMO’s role, but smart CMOs know that a broader business perspective will earn the respect—and cooperation—of the other members of the C-suite. 59% said they wanted to grow their influence in this area.
  • Tie marketing goals into overall corporate goals. Customer acquisition. Revenue growth. Customer retention. Product development. Brand awareness. Shareholder satisfaction. The CMO plays a role in all of these, and we need to make sure the entire C-suite knows that. By clearly tying marketing goals to enterprise-wide needs, CMOs can establish their role in the company’s success.

To be successful today, you need to leave old silos and purviews behind and make yourself an invaluable part of the larger team. Fortunately, it’s likely you’re not the only one who needs to do so. Communication and collaboration is vital for everyone in the C-suite.

You can find more insights by digging into Sheryl Pattek’s full report, The Evolved CMO in 2014. , and by visiting her blog on Forrester

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Digital Marketing, Customer Experience

Throw Away the Crystal Ball – CMOs Now Know What CEOs Are Thinking

The C-suite can be a difficult place to achieve consensus and establish shared priorities, given that everyone there sees the enterprise through a different lens. What the CIO perceives as crucial to the company’s success might not be what the CFO wants to invest in, and what the CMO sees as a top priority might be at odds with the CIO . . . and so on.

When there is alignment and the lines of communication do open up, however, smart strategy is born. Recent research from Gartner suggests CMOs and CEOs may be moving in that direction.

Forward-thinking CMOs are investing time, money and resources into their digital strategy. Whether the goal is to improve efficiencies, glean insights by sifting through mountains of data, establish a presence on the platforms their customers prefer or a combination of all three (or more!), finding the right technology solution—and keeping eyes open for the next innovation—is the name of the game. It’s the only way to truly stay competitive, and from what I can see, more and more CMOs are willing to go to the mat to make technology solutions a top priority.

Fortunately, Gartner’s How CEOs Are Driving the Digital Business Imperative suggests CEOs are now recognizing the value of technology, as well. Here are a few key insights from the report:

  • IT is growing in importance in the strategic priorities landscape. More than 40% of the CEOs and senior business executives surveyed included IT-related strategy as one of their top five priorities for 2014—that’s up 21% from 2013.
  • CIOs must connect IT priorities to overall growth priorities. How can technology support company growth initiatives? It’s up to the CIO to crack the code—but CEOs and CIOs don’t necessarily agree on where the growth focus should lie. This is an area where CMOs could help establish a bridge and do a bit of translating –a shift that would benefit marketing, too.
  • Digital business and product innovation are top investment priorities. More than half (51%) of the senior business executives surveyed said they plan to increase spending on IT. Other places where they plan to increase investments: digital capabilities (48%), research and development and innovation (47%) and product enhancements (43% increase).
  • Digital marketing is at the top of the technology investment priorities over the next five years. CMOs rejoice! 38% indicated that digital marketing would be their main spend over the next half-decade. E-commerce and customer experience management came in second-place, tied at 34% –and that’s great news for CMOs, too, since customer experience is a key to business success.
  • CEOs don’t always completely understand digital business. Are you and your CEO on the same page when you’re talking about “digital solutions?” It’s up to the CMO and CIO to decipher, educate, recommend . . .  and to be ready with data to back up their words.

It’s gratifying to see more CEOs and senior business executives become digitally focused—especially when CMOs need top-rung support to evolve how they connect with customers via technology. It also seems as evident as ever, however, that CMOs will need to lead the charge so the rest of the C-suite can truly grasp all that digital business delivers. A unified C-suite can strategize, plan and spend most effectively.

To read the full report, head over to https://www.gartner.com/doc/2387015

Customer Experience, CMO

Elevating Customer Experience: What Every CMO Needs to Know

The days of building your brand solely through carefully-crafted marketing campaigns are long gone, and in this brave new world, every Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) needs to move cultivating a stellar customer experience to the very top the to-do list.

What that means is that every channel, every touch point and every interaction must work in tandem so that ultimately you communicate one essential message: Our customers are what matters most.

Of course, the entire c-suite plays a role in this synchronicity, but as CMO, it’s your job to take the lead in defining your customer journey. You’re responsible for elevating the brand by strengthening relationship (both internal and external) fostering loyalty and encouraging advocacy. And in order to do all that, you need to fully recognize that consumers – and their expectations – have changed . . . dramatically. For example, today’s consumers are:

  • Empowered. The rise of digital communication and social media as marketing and customer service channels means that consumers have more ways to talk to you . . . but it also means they have more ways to talk about you, too. Word-of-mouth, for better or for worse, used to happen over fences and by the water cooler. Now consumers can share their unvarnished opinions with millions of others with the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen. And again, for better or worse, they’re not holding back.
  • Fickle. Your competitors have as many ways to reach out to your customers as you do, and if you fail to value and nurture your customer relationships, your competitors’ experience could trump yours in a heartbeat. That said, social media offers tremendous opportunities to observe how your competitors engage with the market – and you can be there with tailored offers, insights and assistance to pick up wherever and whenever they fall short If your competitors’ customers are looking to jump ship, give them somewhere attractive to land, precisely when they’re ready to make the leap.
  • Expecting relationships, not campaigns. Traditional marketing campaigns push out a singular message, while a great customer experience does so much more. In fact, leading marketers are gaining competitive advantage by leveraging data to build relationships and participate in the natural buying cycles that customers create. I fully expect that in the future, mutually-rewarding customer relationships will vastly outperform campaigns – which is why we’re already seeing more and more marketing organizations shift away from one-way, mass-market campaigns to personalized, continuous engagement.
  • International . . . and local. “Think global. Act local.” That adage was developed outside of the marketing world, but we’ve all heard it – and now CMOs need to embrace it. Being international and local means not only speaking to your customers in their own language, but also connecting with them in ways they find culturally relevant and compelling, and being present in their communities. One size – or message, or product, or channel – will not fit all.
  • Ready to be known. Companies that keep customer information in silos, by business line, department, channel, region and so on, will only frustrate customers who are seeking a cohesive experience. Priority Number One: Treat all customer data with care; customers will not tolerate misuse of their information. But once they’ve opted in, and you follow best practices for data privacy, leverage the data you gather as deliberately as possible. Use it to create responsive, personalized interactions and a truly meaningful customer experience.

I believe that CMOs who take on the customer experience as a strategic priority will see their marketing performance improve over peers who continue to focus solely on pushing out pitches. Today’s customers expect to be engaged in fresh, relevant ways. If they feel as though your brand respects (and meets!) their needs, they’ll be far more likely to pursue long-term relationships with you . . . and then they’ll pass on their glowing recommendations to friends, family and social networks – all of whom are just as eager for great customer experiences.