Article - Marketing

What is the future of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)?

As customer needs evolve, so do their demands. In the current climate, which is one of the most challenging and competitive landscapes that most marketers have faced, it’s harder than ever to keep up with the pace.

At its heart, the success of marketing is the attraction and retention of customers – and being able to anticipate, understand, and fulfill their future needs. Only with an effective marketing strategy, a strong customer experience, and a culture of innovation can this be achieved at scale – but most importantly it must be spearheaded by a CMO who is an agent for change.

No longer just the bullhorn for the brand

Transformation has become an essential currency over the course of the year, as the buyer becomes more distant than ever and the seller contends with restrictions to its working practice. As well as operating innovatively, CMOs must not underestimate the importance of a resilient brand strategy which keeps them in step with the needs and sentiments of those distant consumers.

In order to build this, consideration needs to be given to the following:

Ethos – consumers want to know that brands are taking their responsibilities serious, e.g caring about their employees and their communities. Consumers also want proof of this, not just a statement on social media. They have become more critical of the businesses that they shop with, and many now assess how their favourite brands align with their personal aims. Ketchum recently revealed that almost half of consumers had changed their brand preferences, based on values, this year so far.

Technology – every business everywhere is now pursuing digital transformation as a safeguard against the restrictions of the pandemic. But beyond operational changes, CMOs should also look into the implementation of emerging tech and innovating ways to use it in pursuit of greater marketing efforts. If the digital space was crowded before, now it’s fit to burst – and CMOs must somehow help their brand stand out.

Experiences – with a lack of physical interaction, the digital experience has taken centre stage in the fight to differentiate service. With 91% of consumers expressing greater positive sentiment towards brands after joining their online and events and experiences, it’s a channel that CMOs can no longer overlook.

The role of the modern CMO

As an agent of change, the modern CMO must steer their business through the uncertain climate by maintaining a strong and resilient brand presence. They must also pursue innovative solutions to keep their departments forward thinking and their consumers intrigued.

Caren Fleit, MD for Korn Ferry’s Global Marketing Officers, agrees:

“COVID heightened the need for marketing to become more innovative, consumer-centric, mission-driven, and authentic, making these skills and the CMOs who have them, more important than ever.”

These core skills must also be matched by having the ability to be whatever the business requires them to be, and adopting the skills of other senior leaders in order to see this done. Taking a chameleon approach, the CMO must be part digital/technical like the CTO, people-focussed like the CHRO, and budget-conscious like the CFO.

The CMO’s job description has been repeatedly rewritten during the pandemic, but their new role is one of revolution – as they seek to connect the business and consumer across multiple segments and channels, all whilst operating with less budget and remote teams. Perhaps it’s time for a raise.

Continue the debate at the CMO Insight Summit, a GDS Summit, where we bring together senior marketing executives who are actively seeking to share, learn, engage, and find the best solutions.

GDS Group hosts experts to help experts. We strive to provide an atmosphere for our attendees that enable them to confidently lead their companies through major transformation projects. For information on upcoming events, view our Digital Summits. To remain current on our activities, visit GDS Group on LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter.

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