Conducting the Marketing Machine Like a Finely Tuned Orchestra

CMOs Need to Make Better Use of Data Analysis and Customer Information to Reach All Consumer Segments

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CMOs: now is the time to become a true chef d'orchestre -- taking the lead to define the brand and shepherd the brand experience across the marketing mix and around your company. This requires you to build influence and collaborate with all of your organization's departments. It's complicated, and while many CMOs believe in this approach, few make it past lip service.

New data based on an online survey by Forrester, in which 54 self-described marketing leaders voluntarily responded, identifies four areas that CMOs need to focus on:

  • Stressing customer-centricity. While 59% of CMOs say their CEO believes in customer centricity, only 33% have a senior marketer on staff responsible for all marketing activity around the company -- media, product mix, service offerings, sales training -- for each important customer segment.
  • Synchronizing resources to customer needs. Sixty-five percent of CMOs have common objectives across the company, but only 43% of those surveyed said that they coordinate and guide activities across channels or departments. Functional marketing continues to reign as CMOs' primary focus, limiting their ability to promote broader strategic objectives.
  • Establishing a unified view of the customer. Major gaps persist in knowledge of customers -- fewer than half of CMOs tap into customer insights when defining propositions, and only 20% of those same marketers have tools in place to measure and track success back to specific customers.
  • Differentiating the brand experience. While 54% of marketers position content as a value-add for consumers, they stop short there. Far fewer embrace the remaining two parts of defining visible value: interaction and tailored offers. As long as the CMO's oversight excludes pricing, product and distribution decisions, companies will fail to capitalize on the opportunity to provide a seamless, engaging relationship with customers.

How can marketers target these weaknesses? The first step is understanding where they lie on the maturity model for orchestrating the brand experience. Are they what Forrester defines as a Beginner, Builder, Driver or Orchestrator?

Beginners (35% of respondents) are generally at large organizations. A majority of $1-billion-plus organizations fall into this bucket. There is a spoken commitment to the principles but limited action. It's up to the CMO to organize around consumer groups or segments, dedicating a marketing plan and specific next steps for each, and identifying where to place resources so they will best meet customers' needs. This includes leveraging rich marketing and customer insights to teach the rest of the company about its customers.

Builders (30% of respondents) tend to be at smaller companies. They often have a culture of testing and learning and allocate resources according to customer needs. To sustain progress, builders need to go from casually coordinating to explicitly orchestrating. CMOs must ask for a mandate from the executive team. JetBlue and Zappos ( Forrester wrote a case study about JetBlue last spring) are great examples of the CMO leading the brand experience for the company. To figure out how they are doing, CMOs should introduce tools to measure customer KPIs like share of customer or loyalty.

Drivers (5% of respondents) are at various sized companies. What sets them apart is active management of interactions inside the company and a trained, empowered staff that delivers on the brand experience inside and outside the company. For drivers, the next stage is to assign staff to refine and adapt the company's brand premises and offers for each of its consumer segments. For example, with its e-magazine, Beauty Recommended, Procter & Gamble encourages high-value consumers to share their views about a number of different beauty brands.

Orchestrators (16% of respondents) were skewed toward B2B marketers. Though they are the most advanced, we found that orchestrators can improve by deploying the tools and infrastructure required for a single view of the customer and adapting the offer and brand experience to the needs and potential for each customer group. Fidelity (a Forrester client) has a segment of investors who, having placed their money, don't want to think of it any more. Their ideal brand experience is no interaction. Fidelity needs to be flexible, accept that and promote interaction for investors who want the care.

How do you stack up? Leading the full orchestra requires taking four interconnected paths: aligning around customers, synchronizing the brand experience, developing and using customer insights, and delivering visible value. Most organizations don't perform evenly on all four.

Mary Beth Kemp is an analyst at Forrester Research.
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