Today’s Modern CMO

The three common factors that define modern CMOs

Today’s post is a special preview of the content in our newest LinkedIn Learning Course, “The Effective CMO.” Be sure to check out the course; you can view a video sample and get more details here.

Whether you’re a seasoned CMO or an aspiring one, you’re probably no stranger to endless conversations related to CMO turnover. A global survey by the Fournaise Marketing Group revealed that 80% of CEOs don’t trust, or are unimpressed with, their CMOs.

But we’ve found that modern CMOs have found a way to win the hearts and minds of their teams and customers, and continually create impact.

So, what separates modern from traditional CMOs—the “mad men and women” of the ‘90s and early 2000s? 

We’ve discovered three factors that help leaders evolve into the “modern CMO” role: data, roles, and content. Let me explain each one.

The first factor is data. The rise of artificial intelligence, data accessibility, and big data are changing the way we interact with teams and customers. Think about the data scientist profession, for example—it barely existed 10 years ago! Now it’s an essential ingredient to every modern marketing team. 

Modern CMOs must adapt and restructure teams—and be willing to fail—in the drive for higher growth. And the numbers prove it: a study published in a 2012 issue of The Harvard Business Review revealed that big data-driven companies can average a 6 percent increase in profits and a 5 percent increase in productivity. 

Second, the data revolution is creating new roles for marketing leaders as well as their teams. Marketing operations, data scientists, and digital marketing strategist roles were only a blip 5 years ago.

Fresh decision-making approaches are also emerging. Big data encourages democratized decision-making. Collaborative decision-making is replacing top-down or “shoot from the hip” decision-making. The days of deferring to the smartest or most seasoned person at the table are disappearing quickly. 

Lines of responsibility across marketing and sales are disintegrating. Many companies now expect marketing teams to drive transactional sales growth, and Sales no longer owns that role exclusively. GE Solutions, for example, has split marketing into ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ groups. The upstream group focuses on product development, and the downstream group focuses on working with the sales teams.

The third modern CMO quality is the mastery of content. CMOs adapt their content strategies to a whole new editorial board: social media algorithms. Facebook, Google, and other ad platforms are selecting what content your ideal customer audience will see, based on behaviors and buying preferences. In the world of algorithms, private chat rooms, and viral videos, modern marketing leaders have to accept a hard truth: they are no longer in total control of their brand, message, and customer conversations.  Modern CMOs are capable of living in a world of ambiguity and uncertainty.

It is possible to think and thrive as a modern CMO—and your success, if not survival, depend on it. If you can incorporate the consistent use of data to make important strategic decisions, they will help you define the ideal roles required to satisfy customers and stakeholders. And, finally, you will be able to produce a dynamic content strategy that is capable of withstanding a wide variety of human and algorithimic editors.

Copyright 2018, Lisa Nirell

Related posts:

       New Video Course: Become an Effective CMO     

       How to Think Like a Startup CMO (CLIC ’17)     

       The CMO’s Perspective on Innovation: An Interview with Spiral Marketing     

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