The Changing Role of the CMO in a Post-Digital World

The role of CMO is evolving from the traditional, functional manager who oversaw marketing communications, product marketing, PR, and online.

1. The new role of the CMO in a Post-Digital World doesn’t differentiate between online and offline, as a matter of fact, the emphasis is completely flipped from the old paradigm.

2. The idea of marketing as a silo function, independent of accountability for sales, customer experience, product or service satisfaction is also fading.

Evidence: Look at the number of marketing people on the street looking for jobs who were “staff” positions. My dad, an old-style chemical sales manager used to refer to those who weren’t in sales as “staff”, sales being “line”. Of course, this was borrowed from the military. The reality is that this model is coming back, but the twist is that in the best companies, everyone in an organization is now on the front-line with the customer. (Discussion of online communities, Web 2.0, & collaboration platforms to follow in subsequent posts)

Marketing functions disconnected from the customer relationship are a luxury that many companies in a down economy are making redundant. Whether these roles were important or not in reality doesn’t matter, the perception is that the company could live without them. I think the real question is whether these roles will come back with the economy or will shift…

The internet has continued evolve and the role of marketing is evolving with it. The divide between online and traditional is disapearing. Most customers and prospective buyers today don’t differentiate between online and offline. Even more so, when a majority of potential buyers do research on search engines prior to engaging with a vendor, you cannot afford to have siloed activities. As a matter of fact, because of cost and speed issues, more and more investment in marketing is going “online” and then repurposed offline.

Imagine that you run a webinar in combination with a partner organization that you promoted through an email marketing campaign, your partner, sales people, website, etc. ;which is really an inexpensive dry-run of your speaking engagement next month at a conference; which you will tout in a press release that is submitted online and will be picked up by all types of media, bloggers, and search engines; which you blog and twitter; which is also driven to get visability in an organic search to drive traffic to your website; all of which is to get traction so you can sell them.

At the end of the day, where does online and offline come in? Offline would be your branding and your interactive firm would be your execution of an online campaign or your website. This was disconnected from your CRM efforts which was somewhat disconnected from the way your sales people managed their sales efforts. I could throw in your business intelligence, enterprise content management, product management, etc. and you get the picture. I haven’t even gotten to what people do at your website, I will save the online community conversation for another post.

CMO’s really no longer do “Marketing”… they no longer differentiate between traditional and interactive; sales, marketing, and customer support… there are too many connected, moving pieces. The leading CMO’s today play 3 dimensional chess, ensuring that the:

  • Customer is the center of the customer lifecycle
  • Value of the offering is tangible and solves something important to the customer
  • Everyone involved in the customer lifecycle shares the perception of value
  • Company is viewed as a credible provider of the solution
  • Sales organization is positioned for the sale
  • Customer is satisfied
  • Customer will not only buy again, but will also refer others
  • Then they do it again, again, and again in a scalable way

None of the above is a traditional, functional view of marketing; advertising, PR, online product marketing, customer service, product management, channel marketing, etc. Instead, Marketing is aligned with the customer lifecycle. The Post-Digital CMO is focused and measured on bringing value throughout the life of the customer relationship; irregarless of the the medium. 

Now, take that a step further, the execution becomes more aligned to the desired value each step of the way. I don’t have a webinar, website, email marketing, channel marketing program, etc. I have a consistent value proposition, coordinated messaging, defined set of interactions through multiple touchpoints, and a measurable outcome that isn’t necessarily just about getting eyeballs or “butts in virtual seats”.

If  the integration sounds familiar, it is. Very much like sales has evolved, so has marketing. In the ’80’s the hot topic was “integrated marketing communications”, then it was “integrated marketing”, and now… just “integrated”.

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