Three Areas for CMOs to Focus On

Posted on by Patty Odell

For those already in the CMO position, this may not come as a surprise: The role of chief marketing officer has been elevated over the past decade from brand and marketing plan manager, to enterprise-wide revenue driver, a new report from Deloitte found.

CMO roleMany CMOs have found their plates loaded with a myriad of additional responsibilities as more tool and techniques have emerged, including executing social media campaigns, market research, digital marketing, direct marketing, advertising and PR.

“With brand and marketing plans at the foundation, many of these new responsibilities have been treated as operational: tactical add-ons rather than a justification for elevating CMOs to strategic partners,” the report said. “In today’s customer-centric environment, it can be easy to view every task as customer-related and, therefore, the CMO’s responsibility.”

Deloitte uncovered three areas that CMO’s should focus on and own:

  1. Relentlessly pursue customer expertise. By positioning themselves as customer experts—and bringing the benefits of that expertise to other functions in the organization—CMOs can trade tactical responsibilities for enterprise-wide strategic influence.
  2. Make marketing make sense. CMOs can make their voice heard by translating marketing insights into the language of their C-suite peers, be it financial, strategic, sales-oriented or talent-related.
  3. Establish a “center brain” mentality. Much has been said about the increasing need for strong data-analytics capabilities in marketing.Yet this should not tempt CMOs to undervalue the creative, right-brain skills that marketers have more traditionally valued. By marrying the two CMOs can bring insight and actionable guidance to organizations, and it requires a forward-thinking, strategic mindset.

“It’s interesting to note that while CMOs are increasingly being asked to drive revenue growth, only six percent of those surveyed said they were actively working on growing revenue,” Diana O’Brien, global and U.S. chief marketing officer for Deloitte, says. “For CMOs to be successful in their role, they need to take advantage of their unique position as the customer expert, and engage with stakeholders across the enterprise to make that growth happen.”

The report also found that while CMOs are expected to play an enterprise-minded role in organizations, they often don’t have the authority and responsibility to do so. Approximately half of those interviewed said having an enterprise-wide mindset was one of the most important factors in a CMO’s success. However, a far smaller proportion thought it was important for CMOs to have a voice in company growth initiatives, own a significant role in budgeting and strategic planning, or be part of a customer-centric company—all factors that typically come with having an enterprise-wide mindset.

Deloitte conducted over 40 interviews with CMOs and a variety of other C-suite executives.

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