The changing roles of CMOs


Market conditions, consumer demands, two years of a global pandemic, and an amplified shift towards digital have all redefined the function of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), forcing C-level marketers to change their roles, and the way they view their domain. 

An Infinite Loop of Responsibilities 

Today, CMOs must simultaneously manage their brand's voice, build brand awareness, ensure their organization is an active part of the collective conversation, and continually find a way to make their company stand out to convert potential customers to paying customers all while managing internal needs.  This has led to an infinite loop of responsibilities that challenges the CMOs role and has forced them to find the perfect balance between board demands and team needs. 

CMOs are active drivers of growth and revenue whose impact is directly felt on the bottom line of their business. Their need to ensure strategy drives profitability means meeting the increasing demand of the board and upper management. This must be delicately balanced while becoming an increasingly active part in the businesses strategic discussion as a ‘chief market officer’ that is expected to have a comprehensive understanding of the company’s dynamic position in the changing market. Complexity further is increased when CMO’s must manage hard KPIs, such as increasing revenue by 5%, and softer ones, like opening a new region,  launching a product feature or boosting positioning.

Added to this is the other side of the loop - leading the marketing team. CMO’s bring their experience and expertise to their team, and must lead the department in a way that upholds the company's vision and creates a cohesive brand. This is increasingly difficult when considering the complex specialties and roles the marketing team now consists of, the channels a company must manage, the topics their product relates to, and the immediate ability to assess impact of campaign and marketing activity effectiveness due to the fact that each internal stakeholder is responsible for different cadences and their success is measured in a different way. 

Driving Growth - EVERYWHERE 

Marketing and sales can no longer communicate with customers face-to-face due to rapid digitalization of nearly all aspects of life. Instead, they must communicate with their customers wherever their customers are, and in today's digital age, that means everywhere. 

If Don Draper only had print and television to control, CMOs today have an ever-growing list of domains which they must continually manage, and an increasingly challenging competitive landscape. Each of these domains, whether social, paid, blog, newsletter, virtual events, etc, have their own characteristics, and as a result, companies have to craft unique messages for each channel and be a part of the different conversations taking place on that channel.  Within each channel companies can segment and hyper-segment in order to pique the interest of a potential customer, further complicating the CMOs scope.

Looking back at the infinite loop of responsibilities, is it here that CMOs must find the right balance between internal and external needs, and ensure the right message is delivered on the right channel at the right time. To do that, CMOs need to oversee an ever growing team of specialized marketers, each with their own niche skill set, while ensuring that a single cohesive marketing strategy is upheld to truly drive growth across every domain. 

Digital Marketing- Fewer Barriers , More Competition 

One one hand, digital marketing has made it easier to directly communicate with customers anywhere, on the domain of their choice - however it also made it easier for new players to enter the market. 

Few barriers to entry exist in today's world, making it significantly easier for any company, from anywhere, to enter any domain, and say anything. Companies no longer need a huge budget to take out the biggest billboard or the most coveted TV commercial spot - they need to stand out on their own accord.  

CMOs must therefore ensure that their marketing strategy and messaging has a key differentiator, and that they are conveying their unique selling points (USPs) in a way that drives action.  This is done through blogs, organic social, newsletters, and events, but also by being a part of the conversation, knowing what the consumer needs are, knowing where your company stands in your competitive landscape, and knowing where you stand in each vertical your operations encompass. 

The Future of CMOs

The CMOs are not just marketers; they are business accelerators, the bridge between management, marketing departments, and customers, the embodiment of the business they represent, the revolutionary thinkers who will drive change, and the ones who will dictate the narrative. 

And they cannot do it all alone. 

CMOs that operate in the digital domain need the right digital solutions to effectively monitor their activities, ensure they are part of the right conversation, compare their marketing activities to those of their competitors, and continually adapt their strategy to make sure they meet their goals and budgets.