While the CMO title has traditionally been defined as one that focuses solely on market research, advertising, and brand management, many of today’s CMOs find themselves operating far outside these defined roles. The changing needs and behaviors of consumers are creating a wide range of potential new opportunities for CMOs to play a more central role in moulding an organization’s public persona.
To succeed in this rapidly shifting environment, the role of the CMO needs to redefined to include monitoring the company’s public profile, managing complexity, expanding the skillsets of marketing personnel, and overseeing the online sales process in response to evolving buyer patterns.
Managing the Company’s Public Reputation
The growing popularity of social media, blogs, and live chat is forcing many businesses to develop new strategies to not only defend their brand from attacks, but to also capitalize on the marketing opportunities offered by these platforms. While companies have traditionally separated marketing from corporate affairs and public relations, today’s PR issues require a more integrated approach to managing the brand’s reputation across marketing, public affairs, and investor relations. CMOs are in the best position to lead an integrated approach between the marketing and PR teams, as they understand which marketing strategies to apply in response to consumer behavior.
As consumer habits evolve, the ability of companies to develop their brands across a growing number of online platforms has become crucial. For many companies, this means managing expanding teams of communication professionals, web experts, and online advertising professionals as well as developing new skill sets for delivering integrated marketing messages. The CMO is the natural choice for overseeing all these teams and for providing the required skills training. In fact, many CEOs are already having their CMOs lead “commercial councils” to better coordinate marketing and customer relations efforts across company departments.
In the growing international marketplace, many CEOs are realizing the need to develop new approaches in managing complex competitive environments. With more countries, customer segments, distribution channels, and media outlets to manage, companies face the constant challenge of maintaining a consistent global brand image. CMOs have to play a key role in managing complexity by developing data management processes and tools to ensure brand consistency across geographies and segments.
Leading Company-wide Changes that Reflect Consumer Behavior
With consumers now making over 90% of the purchasing decisions online, businesses have to effectively transfer their sales process online. As web-based sales channels expand, there will be a call for greater integration across marketing and sales departments. Again the CMO becomes the best candidate to help lead the company in effecting changes that reflect customers’ changing buying habits.
As businesses respond to changing customer behavior, increasingly popular user-generated scrutiny, and more complex target markets and demographics, they must expand the roles of the marketing department and, in particular, the CMO title. While the traditional responsibilities of the CMO title — market research, advertising, and brand management — will always be central to the role, successful companies will embrace a new definition for the title: one that encompasses shaping the company’s brand image, expanding marketing personnel, managing the complexity, and leading the company toward effecting changes that reflect evolving customer patterns and needs.
Do you feel that you are currently taking on more than ever before? What do you see as the role of the CMO? Should the name be changed completely?
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