Is the role of the CMO over? In Fall 2019, Forrester predicted that CMOs must broaden their view of their role or see their responsibilities divided to newly created positions, such as VP of Marketing Technology. Global corporations, including Johnson & Johnson, Uber and Coca Cola, are revisiting the role of the CMO, and in some cases eliminating it altogether.


Forrester is not saying marketing is less critical to success. Rather, org structures are redefining roles to adapt to evolving marketing technology, consumer sentiment, employee expectations, talent acquisition, automation, data security, analytics, marketing strategy, brand reputation and ultimately revenue.


Lead, Partner or Lose

As technology and marketing become more intertwined, marketing leaders must present a clear vision for their scope of responsibilities or risk having their role carved into increasingly smaller fiefdoms. The unification of a marketing team under one leader isn’t about protecting the ego of a bloated title. Instead, a marketing team aligned toward a single vision – and partnered with customer-focused CIO – can keep the entire customer journey in sight. It simply is not feasible that the customer experience can be separate and distinct from the tools that customers interact with.


Forward-thinking marketing leaders will need to be able to clearly articulate the factors that are (or will) drive consumer behavior and align a proper MarTech stack to collect, monitor and analyze that data.


Ecosystems Must Support the Customer Experience

Let’s look at another component of the Forrester report, which predicts that consumers will have a demonstrated brand preference for companies that project and demonstrate clear values.


In 2017, 52% of consumers said they actively consider company values when making a purchase. That number continues to grow. – Forrester Predictions 2020


In an organization with widely distributed marketing responsibilities, is it possible for an organization to say, “We really care about our customers,” while a fragmented or insufficient marketing technology stack prevents deeper personalization, such as knowledge of previous purchases or a customer’s place in a customer journey. Consumers are savvy. They know how the systems work, and they know when they’re being played. A “Hi Friend, Thanks for your purchase” message can immediately erode any brand trust that has been established in your paid media, branding, social media and customer service interactions.


In 2020, the top CMOs will be responsible for all that surrounds the customer. They’ll recognize that the best mechanism to drive growth is a strategically planned ecosystem that delivers value to customers throughout their lifecycle. – Forrester Predictions 2020


What Should a Marketing Leader Do?

Build for the long-term. While delivering quarterly results is critical, it cannot be at the expense of a long-term foundation. Take stock of the current marketing technology stack. Ask an expert if you have questions. It’s not a CMO’s responsibility to be an expert on all things MarTech, but it is an expectation that a CMO have an expert on hand who is.


Analyze your environment. Do you really understand how and where customer data is flowing? Do you have the right tools and people to make sense of the data? Does the current customer journey align with customer expectations or your brand promise? For corporations with multiple websites or brands, are all of the sites speaking with one voice and does the customer experience live up to the brand promise?


Have hard conversations. When making significant investments in technology, know what you can give up and what you must retain. For example, as a marketer, you may not have a fanatical loyalty to Salesforce over Microsoft Dynamics, but you should have a clear understanding of how and what customer data can be stored and retrieved, and whether other non-native marketing tools can easily integrate into the CRM.


Have a clear plan for CX and be able to articulate its value. Forrester also projects significant changes to the customer experience roles, suggesting that CX needs to demonstrate a strong ROI or be gone. Strong leaders will rise, while those unable to quantify the success may be at higher risk.


The sheer complexity of CX has proved daunting, even as CX’s importance grows increasingly apparent. Firms that have made the least headway will cut their programs in frustration. Meanwhile, companies that have started realizing the benefits of CX will double down, simultaneously shoring up their fundamentals and innovating. – Forrester Predictions 2020


Hire smart people who are aligned to a customer-first vision. All the tools in the world won’t align without a smart leadership team aligned to a single vision.


Know the difference between complicated and complex. According the Harvard Business Journal article Learning to Live with Complexity “complicated systems have many moving parts, but they operate in patterned ways. Complex systems, by contrast, are imbued with features that may operate in patterned ways but whose interactions are continually changing.” Additionally, complicated systems can yield unintended consequences. Perfect foresight isn’t possible, but consulting with the CIO, technology teams and vendors may help you minimize unintended consequences.


The role of the CMO is definitely evolving, but complicated doesn’t have to mean complex. With a clear vision that can be clearly articulated across the organization and the right people in place, a CMO should be able to drive an organization toward a customer-first culture with supporting tools and processes in place.


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