There’s no question that the corporate marketing function is evolving rapidly to become one of the most strategic functions in the enterprise. And that means the makeup of the marketing teams that leading CMOs must assemble is also undergoing a rapid transformation.
“Marketing is changing quickly, and it’s incumbent on CMOs to adapt to those changes in the teams they build,” said Todd Merry, CMO of global hospitality and food service company Delaware North, in an interview with CMO.com. “We need skill sets previously not required in the marketing suite.”
Marketing is in a state of evolution, explained Caren Fleit, senior client partner with Korn Ferry and head of its global marketing center of expertise, in an interview with CMO.com. And the skills required of the marketing organization are changing rapidly as well—from deep technology knowledge to customer experience expertise to sales enablement.
That will present a human resources challenge in coming months, but it’s also an occasion for competitive advantage. “CMOs today have a real opportunity to get a competitive jump by organizing more forcefully around today’s buyer—who is changing rapidly,” said Bill Lee, founder of the Center for Customer Engagement and author of “The Hidden Wealth Of Customer: Realizing the Untapped Value of Your Most Important Asset,” in an interview with CMO.com. “It’s arguably the most important trend in marketing.”
The following are six new or evolving roles that forward-thinking CMOs will fill in 2015.
1. Customer Experience Czar
Customer experience has been a boardroom buzzword for months. But in 2015 it will become a corporate strategic priority—one that deserves a dedicated marketing executive. “If done well, this executive could be the strategic influencer on a company’s overarching market strategy and positioning,” said Kurt Andersen, CMO of SAVO, a manufacturer of sales software.
A cross between data scientist, customer satisfaction director, and business analyst, the marketing professional in this role employs data to better understand the state of customer experience across channels and the enterprise in order to create meaningful customer experience programs.
“At the senior-executive level, you need a strong executive sponsor who understands the dynamics of the new, empowered buyer and can make sure this integration at the implementation level succeeds, and remains focused on strategic outcomes,” Lee said. “In my experience, if you leave this up to implementation teams or committees, it won’t work.”
In the past, marketing analysts might have simply assumed some of the customer experience responsibility. “[But] with the availability of so much data these days describing and informing the customer experience, this role requires the chops of data scientists with the understanding of the customer experience and the ability to work with the rest of the marketing team,” said Delaware North’s Merry, whose company serves half-a-billion customers, from its own destination resorts and national parks to TD Garden and the Kennedy Space Center.
However, this position will be particularly difficult to develop and fill because many companies haven’t yet built the framework for customer advocacy and support, Anderson said.
2. Content Conductor
Content marketing is hot. And marketing organizations are creating and collecting more content than ever before.
In fact, 86 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing, but just 38 percent say they’re good at it, according to a 2014 survey by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Similarly the survey found that 77 percent of B2C marketers are using content marketing tactics, but just 37 percent claimed their content marketing efforts were effective. Both groups of marketers reported that they were generating more content than the previous year.
While there is no shortage of technology tools to wrangle all that information, what is lacking is a talented professional to manage the human side of the content marketing task.
“We need a maestro to make a symphony of the cacophony [of content] that exists today,” Merry said. “Curation, coordination, distribution, and content standards are just some of what we need.”
3. Sales Enabler
U.S. companies invest almost $900 billion annually in their sales forces, according to Frank V. Cespedes, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and author of “Aligning Strategy and Sales.” That’s more than three times the amount they spend on all media advertising, and 20 times more than the total spent on digital marketing. Yet companies deliver only about 50 to 60 percent of the financial performance their sales strategies promise, Cespedes told CMO.com.
The relationship between sales and marketing has always been somewhat fraught, but 2015 marks the year they’ll have to do more than just get along. More tools for lead generation and outbound marketing are blurring traditional distinctions between marketing and sales; online media makes marketing and sales gaps visible to customers; and successful selling has become more reliant on customer data than ever before, said Cespedes.
Anderson advocated hiring a director of sales enablement. “This will be an important, but difficult, role to fill, impacting both channel operations and direct sales,” he said. “Marketing plays an important role in the sales enablement function, and it can be challenging to find a person who can effectively bridge the gap between marketing and sales. This executive will be responsible for working closely with sales leaders and sales ops to overhaul content and ensure the development of materials that sales will use daily.”
“Marketers get asked more questions about ROI on various initiatives and how marketing performs its role as systems integrator between high-level business strategy and rubber-meets-the-road business development activities,” Cespedes added. “They’d better have answers.”
Too often, companies try to deal with these developments by dumbing-down their existing talent, turning great marketers into mediocre salespeople or vice versa. New twists on existing roles can be the key, according to Cespedes, whether it’s field marketing directors, sales support, or lead-gen specialists.
4. Chief Marketing Technologist
Sure, most marketing groups have a head of CRM or a director of digital marketing. But what they’ve needed for some time is a dedicated technologist-in-chief.
“Marketing as an enterprise function has been taking a leading role in the implementation of new technologies that help customers connect with businesses, and allow businesses to better understand the needs of customers,” said Adam Howatson, CMO of information management provider OpenText. “I think it is safe to say that CMOs who ignore technology won’t be CMOs for much longer.”
But the chief marketing technologist must be more than an IT specialist. Those taking on this role must be able to respond rapidly not only to technology changes but also shifting customer expectations, said Michael Cooke, partner with consulting firm Strategy& (part of the PwC network).
“This is the modern-day Atlas who straddles the two worlds of IT and marketing and enables the seamless partnership between the CMO and CIO. We know these two strange bedfellows have been pushed together over the last 15 years, and that successful CMOs must have a bit of CIO in them these days to succeed, but in many cases it can fail at the next level down of the relationship,” said Merry of Delaware North, who will be looking for a chief marketing technologist in the year ahead. “This marketing technologist role bridges the gap on projects, day to day, and can speak both languages.”
5. Marketing Thought Leader
Marketing is a part of the strategic fabric of the corporation today. As such, the marketing organization must manage not only media and messaging, but also ideas and insight. With the day-to-day tactical demands on the marketing group increasing by the day, however, how do you drive innovation in the marketing organization?
“In the year ahead, many CMOs will answer this question by hiring a marketing thought leader to focus solely on providing insight and commentary on industry challenges and opportunities across all channels,” SAVO’s Anderson said.
Investing in a role solely focused on looking ahead rather than tacking on the responsibility to already taxed marketing professionals will quickly pay for itself. “It will be essential to have a single person dedicated to marketing to customers without solely focusing on the company’s products and solutions,” Anderson said. “By looking instead at the customers’ everyday realities, companies will be able to build tighter connections with them and develop deep loyalty that will rub off on other prospects and customers. This is where true advocacy comes out.”
6. Utility Player
This isn’t a single new role, but an emerging requirement for everyone on the marketing team.
Tena Crock, vice president of e-commerce and digital marketing for toy company Step2, said she would be looking for marketers who are both creative and business savvy. “In the past, these skill sets were often viewed as mutually exclusive, and in today’s world it is very valuable to have them packaged up in the same pro,” Crock told CMO.com. “As teams become more lean, we are looking for people who are able to pinch hit in several areas and who are able to be decisive without being told exactly what to do. Basically we need someone who can think beyond the decision point to how and where it could impact other areas, processes, or profits.”
The best way to fill positions that require both mind-sets, said Einat Weiss, head of global marketing for contact center software maker NICE Systems. is to identify talent within the organization who has a passion for marketing and a background in product-oriented roles.
The marketing organization of 2015 needs what Fleit calls the “learning agile.” According to tests by Korn Ferry, about 10 to 15 percent of job applicants fit that bill. “You need specialists in marketing—like content marketers, social media experts, and search engine optimizers—but you need those people to be able to reinvent themselves as the environment changes,” said Fleit, who has worked in marketing roles for such consumer product companies as Revlon, Guerlain, and Christian Dior for 20 years. “They’ll need to evolve into broader leaders, and not everyone else can do that.”
CMOs should identify their high potential employees and create clear development plans for them. That said, CMOs will still need specialists. But everyone “plays zone, not man-to-man. Every team member must understand and be capable of participating in every area of marketing,” Merry added. “More and more CMOs are being asked to do with more, and that means our teams must be more capable.”
See what the Twitterverse is saying about the role of the CMO: