CMOs are the next generation of CEOs — here’s why
Client: Cheetah Digital
Publication: Business Insider
Just a few years ago, the idea of a marketer becoming CEO was pie-in-the-sky thinking. Today the jump is real. Dick’s Sporting Goods recently promoted CMO Lauren Hobart to company president, Kevin Hochman leapt from CMO to president at KFC, and former QuickenLoans CMO Jay Farner ascended to CEO, AdAge reports.
As marketing continues to transform from cost center into revenue driver, CMO skills have become more CEO-like, and empowered consumers are behind the change. Instead of passively accepting products and services as they used to, customers expect instant service, customized offerings, and brands bursting with personality. The scope of modern marketing covers all of these needs now, with 75% of marketers expected to be responsible for the end-to-end customer experience over the next three to five years, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit survey.
The CEO’s imperative — to master an industry — is a complex staffing, partnership, and technological challenge. So is the CMO’s mandate of mastering the customer relationship. Marketers must curate, manage, and optimize dozens of digital channels, partner networks, and analytics platforms, and somehow discern the difference between the 5,000 marketing point solutions currently on offer. The challenge becomes exponential for enterprise marketers, who juggle multiple brands and verticals.
Only a small number of enterprise marketing solutions exist, and all but one have their DNA in sales and commerce. CMOs are left with marketing point solutions as add-ons, rather than benefitting from a purpose-built marketing platform. Limited by marketing functions developed as an afterthought, CMOs end up playing catch up.
“Change before you have to,” Jack Welch advised leaders, and for both CEOs and CMOs, that means wiring a business for what drives revenue today, not what worked yesterday. With the number of online marketing channels growing rapidly, CMOs who match marketing technology with customer demands set up the business to win.
The answer lies in using CEO-level discernment to ask what helps grow the business — and figure out what limits it.
1. Is there real substance?
Is the platform built by marketers, for marketers? Do you get support directly from the provider or is support relegated to a third party? Ensure that the solution you are purchasing delivers on the promise that you bought it on.
2. Is it agnostic?
Single provider products may use own branded platforms for everything, regardless of whether they contain the best features. An end-point agnostic API lets CMOs curate best-in-breed solutions and improve marketing performance and revenue as a result.
3. How does it handle data?
Putting campaign management into one system and channel execution into another creates dams instead of an uninterrupted data flow. The only way to facilitate real-time execution and accelerate campaigns is to bring all customer data together in a single relational structure that underpins cross-channel execution.
CMOs who adopt these perspectives will position their brands as champions of customer success. This is the first step in a challenging but rewarding path to CEO. After all, the next CEO could come from marketing. Will it be you?
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