Are You Lost, CMO? This Is the C-Suite
Even as all things marketing now need to be measured in order to continue to have budgets, what if that truth doesn't ultimately benefit CMOs? CFOs, CIOs and CTOs may vie to take over the marketing responsibilities, considering the discipline’s tech and finance aspects. Plus, with the advent of Big Data, some companies are adding chief data officer roles. And what’s more, if CMOs are too afraid of data and measurement, they may end up without a seat at their firms’ decision-making tables or get eliminated altogether.
“Twitter recently announced moving the marketing department under control of its CFO Anthony Noto, who was also the one who orchestrated its IPO,” reads one of Tuesday’s articles on Marketing-Interactive.com. “The new combined Kraft Heinz company has a finance executive heading its APAC business, rather than a marketing guy.”
The piece asks, “Are CFOs and CMOs Able to Effectively Handle Role Reversals?” But it’s not the only article talking about all the changes, mergers, additions and subtractions happening at the top.
Maybe marketing is so in control now, it will take over the bulk of a brand’s decision-making, opines Target Marketing Editor-in-Chief Thorin McGee in the February 2015 piece, “Editor's Notes: The Year Marketing Takes Power?”
Target Marketing’s “Technology: The CMO Is IT!” article from the May 2014 issue posits that technology, such as marketing automation, may mean marketing works in an IT role. But what if it’s the reverse?
Or perhaps the role will morph into what Target Marketing blogger Stephen H. Yu mentions in his January 2015 post: chief data officer or chief analytics officer.
Here’s how CMOs can ensure they remain or become relevant to their organizations’ leaders, says David Reibstein, a marketing professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in a September 2013 CMO.com article:
1. Get Customer and Brand Value on the Balance Sheets. That will earn CMOs seats at the decision-making tables for their companies. Although brand value is leveraged in business mergers and acquisitions to increase prices, it’s generally not part of daily decision-making.
“Most CMOs are the ‘keeper of the brand,’ ” Reibstein says. “Yet ‘brand value’ doesn’t show up anywhere on the balance sheet. Again, this is fairly surprising given the data suggesting that brands are contributing more and more to overall firm value. If I were a CMO, I would want to understand how I’m contributing to growing brand value and would then want to share this with the top management team and board.”
Similarly, CMOs attract and retain one of the company’s biggest assets — its customers. [Editor’s note: Many marketers also significantly contribute to the bottom line, which involves another merging responsibility — sales.] While Reibstein suggests marketers work with finance to get the customer value numbers to bring to the CEO, Marketing-Interactive.com says marketers should gain their own finance skills.
2. Be Fearless or Be Gone. Reibstein says the marketers who aren’t at the table may be afraid of being held accountable. “The irony is that without demonstrated value, they are actually more at risk of being fired,” he says.
3. Don’t Wait to Be Invited. CMOs have the power to force the invitation to the table, he says.
4. Stay ‘Big Picture’ in Meetings. Talk about driving firm strategy and growth with marketing’s unique insight into customers, the marketplace and competitors in order to create “superior” products, services and customer experiences. Leave the nitty gritty in the marketing department. “When marketers have been relegated to firm implementation (e.g., ad development and promotion tactics), they have been marginalized and don’t have the requisite insight to be relevant in strategic discussions,” Reibstein says.
Yu says something similar.
“If the career path for a data scientist ultimately leads to chief data officer or chief analytics officer,” he writes, “it is important for the candidates to understand that such “chief” titles are all about the business, not the IT. As soon as a CDO, CAO or CTO start representing technology before business, that organization is doomed. They should be executives who understand the technology and employ it to increase profit and efficiency for the whole company.”
Among the marketers reading this, how many are at the decision-making table about brand strategy?
Please respond in the comments section below.
Related story: Can You Prove the Value of Marketing to the C-suite?