Digitally Deficient CMOs Need Not Apply

How to Ramp Up Your Online Smarts Fast

By Published on .

With digital media and marketing budgets growing at a compound rate of more than 20% annually, what steps are you taking as a CMO to build and develop your personal brand in an increasingly digital and integrated world?

We are seeing that a surprisingly high percentage of CMOs are not compatible with the fast-arriving digital-marketing world, and this may explain the short average tenure that makes this the highest-risk C-level position.

In many instances, CMOs lack the professional experience to integrate the digital channel and new media with traditional off-line media and marketing strategies. They often don't have the direct marketing, analytic/segmentation and customer-relationship-management-consultative skills to lead integrated media and marketing programs, combining general advertising, branding, direct, promotion, PR and digital elements.

So what does this mean to your personal brand, if you are a CMO looking to the future?

Here are the top five things you need to do now:

  1. Immerse yourself in direct marketing, CRM and database/analytics, so you can manage your personal transition from a mass marketer to a one-to-one marketer.
  2. Immerse yourself in the internet and understand best practices in website design, e-mail marketing and e-commerce (online sales and lead generation), both within your industry sector and in other sectors.
  3. Learn everything about new media, including search-engine marketing and optimization tools, because these are becoming drivers of future integrated-marketing and media efforts.
  4. Do a deep dive in mobile marketing -- the iPhone and other mobile devices are the future communication hubs for receiving just-in-time communications and incentives -- at the point of sale. The mobile phone is also rapidly becoming a payment system where funds can be automatically transferred at the point of sale.
  5. Hire people at the VP levels and below with different skill sets -- for example, more engineers with Ph.D.s -- people who understand the numbers, who focus on ROI. In other words, surround yourself with VPs who have the relevant skills in database/analytics, online marketing/new media or e-commerce that you may be lacking. Then learn from them.
We are moving toward a marketing world that is driven by a direct-marketing opt-in, predictive modeling and tracking approach. Marketing in the future will not be about the masses but about understanding micro-segments of customers and using tools that enable marketing to get more granular and take campaigns to a one-to-one level.

We are living through the death of traditional brand management. Consumers are taking away less from brand advertising and more from customer experience. What this means is that marketing, advertising and communication processes are changing quickly and CMOs need to change their core competencies quickly to remain relevant in the digital world.

Unlike marketing campaigns that take six months to develop and then remain in the marketplace for a long period, integrated marketing campaigns are being created in less than half the time, and in many instances, the online elements are being changed and optimized in real time. The ability of a CMO to think on her feet, and react quickly and nimbly, has never been more apparent or more important.
Jeff Gundersen is CEO of Executive Connections, an executive-search consulting and coaching firm specializing in marketing-services businesses.
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