Modern Marketing Health Check: How Does Your Company Stack Up?

Posted on by Lisa Loftis

smart city and wireless communication network, internet of things“The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as where we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it,—but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”—Oliver Wendell Holmes

Although Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was talking about outgrowing old friendships when he penned that famous quote about change, his words contain a striking message to today’s CMOs.

Marketers are increasingly expected to extend their influence, take on non-traditional activities, and drive strategy—all to expedite change within their organizations. While this may feel at times like “sailing against the wind” there is little doubt that a significant transformation is taking place in marketing and the CMO is at the helm.

What kind of change? Contrast the definition of marketing found in the Oxford Dictionary: “The action or business of promoting or selling products and services,” with the definition of marketing popularized by Gary Armstrong and Philip Kotler taught in universities today: “The process of building profitable customer relationships by creating value for customers and capturing value in return.”

The difference is significant. The marketing executive of the future must look beyond product, promotion and pricing to embrace the customer relationship in its entirety. Marketing analyst firm Demand Metric interprets this to mean that the modern marketing organization has responsibility over the entire spectrum of activities attendant in developing and nurturing customer relationships. These include the traditional activities of campaign generation and sales enablement, as well as all other processes, technologies, tools and talent that support the customer experience. Unfortunately, marketers rarely have unbridled authority over all of these areas.

A survey by McKinsey & Company titled “The Digital Tipping Point” highlights the difficulties marketers face when implementing a digital program. Unsurprisingly, structural issues as well as technical ones posed the biggest challenges, with the top four responses as follows:

  • Difficulty finding talent (functional and technical) – 28%
  • Organization structure not designed appropriately for digital – 22%
  • Business processes too inflexible for new opportunities – 19%
  • Quality data and analytics to inform business decisions lacking – 19%

For a CMO, building profitable customer relationships means marketing must determine innovative ways to extend their influence and take on a broader and more authoritative role. Initiatives like customer experience management (CEM) and digital transformation are driving the need for a marketing makeover. There are four critical areas that the modern CMO must focus on, each with its own defining characteristic, skillset and influence values.

Technology and Data Readiness (Technically Savvy) –The 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape super graphic (created by Scott Brinker at Chief Marketing Technology) contains a jaw-dropping 3874 marketing technology vendors, more than double the number from 2015. Beyond the sheer number of choices facing marketers is the growing recognition that technology-driven marketing is here to stay; Dataxu found that 78% of US and 63% of European marketers highlight martech understanding as a critical skill and 70% have at least one marketing technologist on their team.

Business Alignment (Transformative) – Being transformative is critical to facilitating business alignment because managing customer experience requires the ability to develop and implement multi-channel strategies and business processes. Mapping the customer journey and understanding which business units own each journey step is only the beginning. Exploring business objectives across these diverse groups, identifying competing or incompatible goals and working across the organization to reconcile conflicts is a critical but often overlooked step – one that often requires significant transformation to mindsets, to metrics and potentially even to compensation.

Analytics Readiness (Cogent) – Being cogent is essential to analytics readiness because data-driven marketers must be able to utilize customer insights and advanced analytic techniques to present a clear and compelling story to the rest of the organization; about market direction, about customer behavior and value, and about ROI on marketing and experience management activity. Analytically savvy marketers can even find themselves in a position to help develop a fact-based, decision-making culture throughout the company by using analytics to drive organizational behavior and process change in the name of customer experience.

Organizational Readiness (Cohesive) – Being cohesive is indispensable to organizational readiness because marketers will need to foster cooperation and coordination across business units in order to implement the sweeping change necessary for multi-channel business strategies such as experience management. The CMO may be identifying and driving these changes, but it will likely fall to the business units themselves to execute them. It will be imperative that marketing forge solid partnerships with areas ranging from information technology to human resources.

Technical savvy, transformation, cogence and cohesion will go a long way toward ensuring that marketing can transcend traditional boundaries and lead the company into a future of loyal, engaged and profitable customers. Is your CMO ready to assume the mantle of a leader? In the next part of this five part series, we’ll look at martech and data readinesss.

Lisa Loftis is a thought leader in the customer advisory services team in SAS Best Practices and co-author of Building the Customer Centric Enterprise (Wiley).

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