A Job Description for the CMO of Tomorrow

 [ This article originally appeared on The Way, Sprinklr’s content hub. As one of PRSA Pittsburgh’s sponsors, each month Sprinklr will be delivering you with some insights into how you can use technology to make your marketing more efficient and effective. ]

Marketing is going through an unprecedented shift. Customers have more power than ever before, and brands can’t rely on traditional methods to reach them.

As a result, CMOs are under immense pressure to lead their teams through this uncharted landscape. According to a survey by Deloitte, 80% of CMOs are sensing increased expectations and 82% believe they need to personally acquire new skills.

That’s why – in a new whitepaper about the future of marketing – Mohanbir Sawhney, Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, outlined a brand-new job description for the CMO of tomorrow.

Sawhney wrote that CMOs have to master these six key roles to survive this marketing transformation.

1. The Customer Experience Conductor

Eighty-nine percent of companies now compete primarily on the bases of customer experience. And yet, according to a new study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, less than half of today’s companies have an executive dedicated to this task.

That’s where the CMO comes in. The CMO needs to develop programs that will measure, monitor, and improve customer experience management across the company.

As Sawhney wrote, “By wholeheartedly taking ownership of customer experience, CMOs can position themselves to spur alignment among all of their organization’s customer-facing functions – including sales, research, commerce, and customer care.”

2. The Insights Generator

As the customer experience leader, the CMO will have access to a wealth of data from multiple touchpoints. They need to mine this data for insights about consumer needs and behaviors, and use those findings to fuel innovation.

“When these insights are fed to other functions,” Sawhney wrote, “customer feedback can dramatically improve products, qualify leads, target ad spending, and elevate customer service.”

3. The Growth Catalyzer

Smart CMOs don’t just identify great ideas; they own them and act on them.

McDonald’s, for example, used social listening to see that customers wanted breakfast sandwiches to be available all day. Marketers then worked with supply chains to build a new customer-driven menu: “All Day Breakfast.” This prompted significant revenue growth after 14 consecutive quarters of decline.

To drive similar success, marketing leaders must break down silos between teams. Those who gather social data and those who interact with customers must be able to communicate and collaborate in real-time.

4. The Brand Steward

All companies are vulnerable to public criticism and negative reviews online. That’s why CMOs must identify brand advocates and empower them to share their positive experiences. With advocates on their side, CMOs can help create engaged communities of new and loyal customers.

“By embracing the ‘brand steward’ role and committing to rank and file Advocates,” Sawhney wrote, “CMOs can not only guard against detractors, they can build and sustain brand affinity.”

5. The Marketing Communicator

Marketing leaders have to keep up with a growing number of digital platforms. This makes it tough to collect and coordinate data in real-time. CMOs can solve this issue by using an integrated platform that lets them collect data from multiple channels, build audience segments, and deliver personalized messages all in a single framework.

This communication tool will also allow the CMO to connect legacy systems like email and CRM, so all teams can have a unified view of the customer.

6. The Talent Incubator

CMOs aren’t the only ones affected by this digital transformation. Content directors, data scientists, and managers will need to be trained or re-hired to help the CMO fulfill these new responsibilities.

Marketing leaders must take a hard look at their current teams and find opportunities to expand digital and technical expertise. If current employees aren’t up to the job, CMOs need to find candidates with the right skill sets. After all, the CMO of tomorrow needs the team of tomorrow in order to succeed.

The Customer-First CMO Profile

The rules of marketing have changed. The role of the CMO must change with them.

As IBM’s Chief Marketing Officer Michelle Peluso wrote in the whitepaper, “20 years ago, the CMO was essentially the broadcast arm of a company in charge of taking the company’s messages and distributing them through advertising, PR, etc. But that is changing dramatically now.”

It’s up to CMOs to lead their companies through this new world of marketing. And that starts with mastering the six competencies outlined above. It’s not just critical if they want to keep their job; it’s also absolutely necessary if they want their company to survive.


The author, Ben Waldron, is a former journalist and PR professional, who joined the Content Marketing team in 2016 as Associate Editor.

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