CMOs, what do our CEOs really want from us? I recently spoke to my CEO, Paul Jarman, about exactly that.
Our shared thoughts on the role of the CMO as a “chief growth officer” reveal what I think is a great shift for marketing leaders everywhere. Yes, this great shift has to do with the expansion of our role in business, but it also has to do with the fundamental way we approach everyone to be that chief growth officer: our customers, colleagues, partners, and shareholders.
Marketing executives can no longer win big by packaging a great product, service, or idea and telling the audience on the other end why they should buy. Today, CMOs must engage in conversations to discover and create shared value. This co-creation with your buyer community is key to developing strong, long-lasting relationships.
Everything CMOs do today should be part of an ongoing conversation. Sound soft? Well, hang on, because having an authentic, transparent, and valuable conversation is more demanding--quantitatively and qualitatively--than yesterday’s approach to doing business. Following are three critical roles Paul and I discussed--roles that CMOs should strive to master on the road to becoming a rebooted conversationalist and chief growth officer.
Role #1: Chief Analytic Officer
Marketing may soon become the single largest consumer of enterprise data. As such, CMOs must understand all of the new analytics coming at companies. As “chief analytic officers,” CMOs proactively sink their teeth into sources. They synthesize information, customer data, and metrics for the whole organization’s use. This is all part of an ongoing conversation with the market, customers, and the organization itself.
The CMO as chief analytic officer looks beyond current customer knowledge to identify not just who the customer is, but who the customer should be and what products should be delivered. Customers might be ready for a solution that they’ve not even considered: Perhaps they don’t think it’s technologically possible, but they’d sure love to have it. To identify these kinds of opportunities, CMOs need to recognize commonalities and understand implications of disparate data.
“Great CMOs see beyond the obvious to deliver assets. They see unmet possibilities beyond the most common pain points,” Paul said during our conversation.
Satisfying unrecognized needs is especially critical for CMOs operating in emerging markets. We must have a strategic approach from the get-go. We’re not chasing what’s already there; we’re looking for the next big growth area to create. We connect, and project, the dots. We understand the company’s current state while envisioning its place of leadership in a new future.
Role #2: Chief Customer Officer
It’s nothing new to say that the CMO should be customer-driven. What Paul and I are talking about here is much more. Today we have to bring our customers in and excite them, helping them to see the vision and future possibility. For example, my world includes user conferences. Some CMOs may leave this to customer service. But the CMO as “chief customer officer” is a core ambassador who is engaged before, during, and after the sale. He or she is self-learning, responding, and always working on building a stronger relationship with the customer.
In our conversation, Paul also said that the CMO is now the “chief social officer.” We are only beginning to see the implications and opportunities of social media. It’s another way to converse--where unprecedented power is in the hands of the customer. One thing is certain: The market is forcing on us complete transparency.
“You are who you are, not what you say,” Paul added.
Role #3: Chief Communicator
The role of a CMO that runs through all the others is “chief communicator.” Are you able to engage in a credible, ongoing dialogue with different people and groups who have divergent interests? Can you co-create value in the process?
A great chief communicator engages people about what might come next and enrolls people in the future. This involves daily conversations and negotiations about a the company needs to become--to compel people to change and behave differently. Doing so is neither easy nor obvious. It must be the organizational will. You must have the ability to communicate the plusses for the other parties--not stuff it down their proverbial throats.
“It is a conversation, not a presentation,” Paul told me.
In closing, my conversation with Paul sharpened and broadened my view of the role of CMO. The dialogue was rich and multilayered, just as it should be for all CMOs and their customers, colleagues, partners, and shareholders. Ask your CEO what he or she wants in a great CMO. You may be surprised by the answer.