The Changing Role Of The Chief Marketing Officer – Part 2

06 Nov 2012|Alison Tucker

Added Value recently undertook to understand the role of the CMO in today’s businesses and the challenges these executives face.  In part 1 of this 2 part series senior brand consultant, Alison Tucker, took a top line look at the changing role – and priorities – of the modern CMO. In part 2, Alison reviews how CMO’s themselves need to change in a rapidly changing marketing environment.

In 2000, the Marketing Leadership Council (a global network of over 600 organisations head quartered in Washington) identified a growing move by companies to restructure their marketing functions.

Its research showed that 85% of companies surveyed had recently completed reorganisation efforts or anticipated launching them in the next year, 95% were centralising aspects of their marketing function and 90% were orientating around customers.

Despite being an aged survey, we still see evidence of these two trends when looking at current and recently reorganised marketing structures.

In addition, we see three new trends – the incorporation of specialist and new skill areas (such as digital/social marketing) either in-house or via partnerships, an investment in capability development (marketing best practice, skills development, coaching) and increased focus on corporate reputation management.

The latter sometimes sits within the marketing department and sometimes stands alone, reporting into the CEO.

At the same time, marketing is becoming more fluid and dynamic with increased risk of gaps between strategy and execution.  This in itself drives the need for organisational change in marketing departments.  Some examples of the shifts taking place:

  • From more rational, functional based differentiation to more emotive, experiential based differentiation
  • From brands ‘telling’ consumers to brands having ongoing dialogue and relationships with consumers
  • From a brand’s role changing from being to define and defend to that of engage and inspire
  • From brands having a single marketing partner to multiple partners

Most importantly, we are witnessing a mindset shift in the case of many companies from focusing on driving demand to creating customer value through defining what the customer really wants and working with the organisation to deliver that.

This has – in some instances – manifested in the chief marketing officer (CMO) being replaced by the chief customer officer (CCO) a la Jonathan Ackerman being named as customer director Pick ‘n Pay, having previously been marketing director.

In most instances, as a result of these trends, the marketing function has had to change and, if the marketing department doesn’t keep pace with this change and adapt, it risks being sidelined as the organisation begins living the mantra ‘customer is king’.

The key considerations when redesigning marketing structures to take cognisance of the new order are:

  • Structure follows strategy – the new marketing department take into consideration the key strategic imperatives of the business
  • Consider stakeholder/constituent perceptions and requirements
  • Cover off-decision rights and information flows – a key, but often neglected, area
  • Consider the power of digital technology – ensure that the department is structured to leverage it and to deal with its potential flipside
  • Take the market structure into account – this requires clear market segmentation and new approaches to touching customers
  • Don’t forget the ‘priority marketing topics’ – being customer-focused in all respects; innovating and value through media and channels, ensuring resources are optimally allocated and research tools and new sources of data are fully leveraged

Successful CMOs will realise the need to promote a customer-centric culture, remove obstacles of customer information throughout the organisation and regularly get leaders to engage with customers.  Sadly, being truly customer-centric is still an unrealised philosophy in many organisations; talk but not ‘walking the talk’.

If CMOs don’t embrace the same philosophies, they won’t move forward with the organisation.

Written by Alison Tucker, Senior Brand Consultant, Added Value South Africa.

Read Part 1of the changing role of the CMO.

Picture credit ~ Thinkstock.com

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