There has been much debate surrounding the state of the CMO. Should the title be more expansive? Is the role itself even necessary? When Hyatt Hotels eliminated its global CMO position last year, the company replaced it with a chief commercial officer as part of a "larger corporate restructuring." And a recent Ad Age article, "Why More Brands Are Ditching the CMO Position," discussed the "growing groundswell" to move away from the CMO in order to "reflect the new ways companies are reaching customers."
There is no doubt that the CMO role is evolving—fast. According to a recent report by Accenture/Forrester, 88 percent of organizations agree that the role of the CMO has changed in the last couple of years and will continue to change over the next two years. However, that shift should only elevate the role of marketing. If anything, the "M" in marketing should actually rise in importance and be better represented across the C-suite, rather than be replaced by a “G" or an “X."
How to boost the "M" in CMO
To remain competitive, experienced marketers have deepened their expertise in disciplines such as data analytics, customer experience strategy and product. This has made them highly sought-after executives, and uniquely qualifies them to take on broader responsibilities within the organization—especially within the C-suite. To that end, CMOs should be asserting even greater ownership over several organizational functions:
- Revenue. Today's marketers have advanced analytics at their fingertips, with the ability to identify ideal customers and prospects, as well as understand which customers are most likely to respond to an offer. That means they can judge not only marketing investments, but also data points such as base versus incremental sales and long-term brand equity—both of which drive overall sales and LTV. The bottom line? The CMO should own not just customer acquisition and marketing-driven revenue, but total sales.
- Customer experience. These days, CX is essential for every brand's marketing mix. While analysts dismissed the CMO role and predicted its decline a couple of years ago, they now admit that the "responsibilities of the role have risen"—including the revelation that CMOs will become the “story makers" who place customers at the center. Forrester's Keith Johnson got it right in a blog post that predicts that in 2020, “one designated C-suite leader will be responsible for all that surrounds the customer, clarifying the role of marketing in a business environment obsessed with growth." The CMO should be that leader.
- Product. Who has the best insights on consumer intent, behavior and social attitudes? Marketing. That suggests it is marketing that should inform the product mix. “The modern marketer should be more the renaissance marketer," said Jerome Nadel, Silicon Valley Chapter president of the CMO Club, in a 2018 roundtable discussion. “We should be more connected to product strategy, product concepting and product marketing." And yes, that includes pricing: According to Deloitte, “With their proximity to the customer, CMOs play an important role in defining a product's value and designing an appropriate pricing strategy."Putting the CMO front and center in 2020
Putting the CMO front and center in 2020
The predicted decline of the CMO role stems largely from the complex brand challenges facing today's direct-to-consumer era, including customer loyalty, CRM and commoditization, as well as technology challenges (like the vast number of channels and access to the right data and measurement solutions). Underpinning all this change is a C-suite that historically lacks clarity about marketing’s full—and potential—value or, worse, thinks of the CMO as no more than a creative advertiser. But today’s critical shifts highlight how central the CMO needs to be when it comes to delivering the seamless experiences customers expect.
In 2020, it's time to stop repeating simplistic and facile arguments about a disappearing CMO. Instead, brands should be elevating a more capabilities-driven CMO to a front and center leadership position.