Power feels good. Doesn’t it? Especially if it’s given back to you after a long time. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) would have experienced this.
Talking about CMOs and truth be told, they have lived a life deprived of the much-deserved power and responsibilities in the past. CMOs had lost their relative importance in the eyes of the CEO/Board members and other CxOs. A widely cited study in 2008, for example, concluded that the CMO has no effect on firm performance. Then came a 2012 Forbes article that proclaimed ‘The CMO is dead’.
One of the main reasons most CMOs lost heavy ground in terms of power and responsibility was that the mind-set within organizations was very much ‘product-focused’. Brands were under the assumption that the product/service that the R&D team had come up with would surely find a need in the market; they had no clear information on what customers exactly wanted or expected from them.
This became the norm as companies were never in the habit of collecting feedback from customers, and even if they did, it wasn’t put to effective use. The thinking from the company’s side used to be:’We know what our customers want‘. Lucky for them, they were able to get away with it!
Shift to the present, and everything has changed drastically, or should I say evolved, big time. Any room for error is virtually non-existent and if your business processes aren’t in sync with the customer needs or expectations, then you’ll be soon forgotten by customers, replaced by competition.
Customers have become more aware, more choosy and naturally more demanding. Therefore, companies that have wanted to survive this drastic metamorphosis have had to go from being product-focused to being customer-focused. This has consequently brought a paradigm shift internally, within the business, wherein CMOs have a golden opportunity to become the cornerstone of the organization.
Forrester’s recent report – “The Evolved CMO In 2016” – is further evidence on how the CMO’s role is changing dynamically. Here are some of the findings that would interest you.
1. Two-thirds of CMOs are now responsible for customer experience.
2. More than one-third of CMOs report that their performance goals are tied to their customers’ overall satisfaction
3. Improvements in customer experience also rank high with 23% of B2B CMOs and 32% of B2C CMOs calling it one of their top three business drivers
So, how can the CMO exploit the current trends, become undisputed and confidently drive wide-scale growth?
Simply put, in the age of the customer, a CMO who thinks and acts like a chief customer officer (CCO) will ultimately stand out. This is because, at the end of the day, it is the customer who generates revenue for your business and keeps it running. So, being a CMO, place yourself in the shoes of a CCO to ensure that all organizational efforts right from R&D to the marketing campaigns are streamlined – to satisfy or even exceed customer expectations.
This new-found power of the CMO does have disruptive consequences. We’ve listed a few of them below.
1. Addressing the real problems of your Customers
Once the CMO puts on the thinking hat, that of the customer, he looks at all processes and policies affecting customer experience from the customer’s side. All of a sudden, customer feedback becomes important and central to product manufacturing. The CMO instructs the R&D teams to look into the customer data – focus where it matters – and study/look deep into customer insights, before modifying/changing the product under question. = Therefore, any alterations will consequently be what your customers had asked for and not something your gut feeling told you to do!
2. High Probability of Success
All this added responsibility means that CMOs now have a higher chance to succeed and shine within the organization. What earlier used to be a very mundane role, now comes with a lot of clout to determine the entire roadmap of your organization. This motivates CMOs to perform better and embrace the challenges, contributing to their personal development as well as to that of the brand as a whole.
3. Co-Creation of the Value Proposition
Your value proposition is what ultimately makes the customer want to buy from you. Hence, it is important to make sure that your value prop is in sync with your customers’ needs. To help build a highly focused value prop, the CMO can be of great help – a blessing in disguise actually.
The CMO carries with him the game-changing perspective of the customer. Therefore, by creating your product’s value proposition with the inclusion of inputs from the CMO, you will be able to precisely narrow down on the points that need to be said out loud, and filter out the other redundant/irrelevant things that do not add value to your product/service as seen by the eyes of the customer.
4. Stay Relevant, Stay ahead of Competition
An organization spearheaded by a highly customer-centric CMO is bound to stay on its heels, proactively meeting customer expectations, and also dominating the marketplace. A CMO’s customer-centric outlook helps organizations prioritize customers over and above everything else. So, while your competition relies on assumption, raw instincts or a great product (they think so!) that in no way aligns with customer needs, your CMO continues to steer the boat towards the customer, doing exactly what they want!
With organizations leaning towards customer centricity. the role of a CMO has definitely become more prolific and game-changing. Therefore, in the coming years, it will be exciting to see how organizations rack up responsibilities and autonomy to the CMO and how this, in turn, fuels growth both internally and externally.
Now, what are your thoughts on the changing role of the CMO? Leave them in the comments section below!
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