Is the CMO role important and if so why?
Ritchie: Over the last year the role of the CMO has been elevated within the board. So with increasing clout, it is worth taking a step back to fully understand what the purpose of marketing is. Marketing is the growth engine of an organisation and because it deals with growth, it becomes an extremely powerful force within the organisation. The best CMOs can pivot the department into a growth engine and not a cost centre. There are four tactics that help them to do this:
- Focus heavily on measurement and tracking. Measure both the short-term revenue performance of their campaigns as well as the long term brand building impact on the bottom line. This proves legitimacy, ROI and a licence to operate.
- CMOs need to work on the demystification of marketing. Great CMOs turn marketing metrics into commercial metrics and get everyone on the board on the same page.
- Marketing as a function has a branding problem. It can actually be seen as a philosophy more than it is as a function in today’s teams. Great CMOs come up with some great creatives and work with other functions to execute those ideas.
- Great CMOs harness their inner mischievous self. CMOs need to be able to take risks and not take themselves too seriously. There’s a great report by McKinsey which says that 83% of CEOs turn to their CMOs in times of trouble as CMOs are out of the box thinkers who get them out of sticky situations.
Mark: Chief Growth Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Marketing Director are all synonymous and a marketing function has to be focused on growing the business. The role of marketing is to bring the outside in, the future forward and providing the organisation with a North Star. The role of CMO is often a tricky role as you need to have the ability to dream but also need to be financially astute and credible. Without a good CMO, companies tend to drift away from being customer orientated, towards short term-ism and doing the obvious things rather than the things that will offer differentiation in the long term. The CMO is pretty damn important! The CEO and CFO need to think that the CMO is an individual who is worth listening to. Only two in 10 CEOs trust their CMOs to do the right thing and be credible so CMOs have a lot to overcome. CMOs have to talk the language of the board (KPIs, performance and commerciality) and understand the market, customers, market segmentation, strategy, targeting, positioning and risk assessment.
Another aspect of the success of a CMOs is their ability to build a good team. At Direct Line, after lots of investigation and research, we rediscovered the purpose of the brand, and built a campaign around being a “fixer”. The campaign was a turnaround in financial performance, profitability, belief in the organisation and employee engagement. The thing about marketing is that when you get it right, you can really hit the jackpot, you can transform a brand, business and even a sector from a simple idea. Marketing done well can change the world.
Ritchie: Over the last year, there have been some major shifts in the industry towards digital. Thoughts?
Mark: Post pandemic, some things will change forever, for example, the way we work. From a marketing point of view, the process doesn’t change at all. It’s still all about: understanding what customers need, challenging an organisation to deliver it and telling customers that they can have it. The fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed but the execution of it has changed radically.
Ritchie: Marketers have a terrible habit of running to the new and shiny thing and over-exaggerating new trends. TV is still the most dominant media although there is a slow gradual shift to digitalisation. The key objectives remain: fostering communities, building advocacy and focusing on trust.