As CMOs, it’s important that we demonstrate our value and impact in the boardroom, considering that only 2.6% of board members have active marketing experience. But it’s not just in the boardroom where we need to elevate perceptions. It’s also with our C-suite colleagues, who may think marketing is just about billboards and ads, and our CEOs (80% of whom don’t trust or are unimpressed by their CMOs).
A perceived lack of business and financial acumen is keeping CMOs out of important strategic decisions, and this is especially true for women CMOs who already face gender bias in leadership. When CMOs can’t operate strategically or don’t have a seat at the table, we and the businesses we work for pay the price. We are saddled with random marketing activities instead of providing the results we are capable of—improving predictable revenue, pipeline, sales velocity and net retention to name a few.
That’s why many CMOs (myself included) are rebranding themselves as chief market officers. By dropping ‘‘ing,’’ we shift focus to where we can have the most impact: the market. Here are the three ways chief market officers can set themselves apart:
Know the market inside and out
This is more than just marketing insights. It takes mastery of analyst information, market research and voice of customer to make an impression in the boardroom. These types of insights are key to overall company strategy, category design and go-to-market strategy, but they also help in important day-to-day decisions.
High-growth companies rate the product and alignment on the target market as the top factors driving success, according to our research. These categories fall under the umbrella of market—not marketing.
Market insights are like bumpers in the bowling alley—even if you slip up, bumpers ensure you knock down at least a few pins. When we use market insights as a guide, we will get some wins no matter what marketing tactics we use.
Differentiate through brand (and create meaningful customer experiences)
Brand is more than just logo creation. It’s the way people experience a company every day. When functioning as market experts, chief market officers can think big picture to improve those experiences and create the kinds of results that are valuable to the executive team.
To accomplish this, we must first amass insights into the buyer’s journey. The more we know about the spaghetti soup that is the customer journey, the better we can optimize it and free it of high-friction elements. Second, let customers lead; one size does not fit all. Many marketers make the mistake of trying to lead customers through their defined journey and nurture tracks. But the reality is the true buyer’s journey is much less predictable and linear. Instead, take a wide lens to the customer experience.
Why does customer experience matter? Because it has a direct impact on your company’s success: 84% of companies that improve customer experience see a boost in revenue.
Use market insights to optimize revenue generation
Chief market officers stay focused on revenue—and not just marketing-sourced revenue. Focusing only on revenue attributed to the marketing team is playing too small and selling the company short.
A chief market officer dissects the funnel for data on conversions, average sale prices and cycle times to diagnose problems and focus resources to optimize performance.
The shift to chief market officer might seem small, but it’s far more than a title change. It’s a change in the way we CMOs think, operate, and present ourselves. And it’s essential if we want to be taken seriously and make the impact we are meant to have within an organization.
Register for Ad Age Next: CMO at AdAge.com/NextCMO.