The new CMO is coming, why CEOs should be worried.

CMOs do have a BIG problem. Since some years now and for the first time in the whole marketing history, consumers are much more ahead than the brands they buy. I’m not going in depth on this, everybody knows why: distrusted hyper connected consumers much more informed and influenced by others’ opinions.

Let’s face it, part of this gap is maybe due to the CMOs lack of vision, that have been educated under the Kotler and Ogilvy principles and probably reluctant to change. Sorry, that’s not going to come back again so better prepare for what is coming. In this constant change environment, I do frequently find big organizations where there is a wall (sometimes literally) between marketing departments. There is Consumer Marketing, and then Trade Marketing (recently reshaped into Shopper Marketing), and luckily a Digital department formed by one or two mid level professionals. The truth is there is no consumer-centric vision, just because the organization is not adapted to the new consumer. A consumer that doesn’t make the difference if he or she is online, mobile, offline, on trade, off trade, in store, at home… it is the same consumer, with the same needs from a single brand. Why then brands are not facing consumers as consumers need? Unfortunately is not only about Consumer Empathy.

We’re listening about the digital revolution since at least 15 years now, and still many brands don’t have a fully integrated marketing strategy. Even with this long history, it is difficult to find digital savvy CMOs (and don’t even speak about CRM) that are able to define and execute these strategies in order to not only fulfil their business objectives, but most important, connect with their consumers. Some CMOs are aware of their handicap, and are compensating it hiring strategic-integrated agencies, but finding a good one it is probably as difficult as finding a good digital oriented CMO, the digital hype has created a lot of specialized companies that are just that, specialized (check this post about the new agency model).

In the near future we’ll face non digital (and CRM, and mobile, and…) savvy CMOs managing even higher IT budgets than the CIOs. And that, is a problem that CEOs should be aware of, now. If you do things the same way, you’ll get the same results. It’s time to stop, and reflect on what are you going to need in the next years. It’s not that the “old” marketing is useless (that’s why the digital-only boys/girls are not reaching CMO positions, because it’s still part of the game), it’s about to integrate the marketing as-usual with an endless (because of constant change) list of professional capabilities. CEOs should look for this new generation of superhero CMOs, and support the existing ones in the meantime, with the appropriate organizational changes, hands-on training and inspiration from other categories (because the consumer is the same for other categories too).

The IncrediblesThese superheros, like The Incredibles, would have several capabilities at the same time, and be able to understand and collaborate with other superheros in the family (Finance, Sales, IT, Legal…) with a single objective: Consumer engagement.

Let’s assume you are the CEO. Your role is to manage the company, you have to take care of the financial aspects, sales, operations, HR, IT, marketing… you read interesting articles about the digital revolution and you want to take your company there, but let’s be honest, you don’t have the time, nor the marketing vision in order to define the path to follow. That’s why you have a CMO, but for some reason your CMO is resigning and you need to find a new one. You sit down with the HR director and start building the brief for your lead head hunting consultant. According to the Young Entrepreneur Council, these are the three qualities of a Great CMO:

  • Able to focus also on relationship, not only on acquisition. CRM is as old as digital, or even more. It is part of the game now but few people take care of that, particularly in FMCG.
  • A multichannel Master. It speaks about itself, but if your consumers are hyper connected omnichannel consumers, you as a company have also to.
  • A well versed professional in all the technologies that support marketing activities

Unfortunately, marketing business schools are not (yet) enough focusing on technology, not only from the point of view of understanding its importance, but in order to be able to use it effectively. A CMO that could perfectly be a CIO is uncommon, but if you find it, he or she will definitely increase the shareholder value, and that, my CEO friend, it is your responsibility.

So CEOs should be really worried today and ask themselves if they already have this new Eclectic CMO on board, because that will make a difference in their companies in 5 years time. Don’t wait until then, in 5 years, it will be too late…


4 Comments on “The new CMO is coming, why CEOs should be worried.”

  1. […] was recently reflecting on the role of the new CMO, and it seemed to look like a super hero. But as in any organization, super heroes don’t work […]

  2. […] of all, hire a CMO that understands the importance of sitting down these two people on the same table. You might need some technical […]

  3. […] a year ago, I reflected on thequalities of the new CMO, and why CEOs should be worried not finding them. Let’s imagine you are one of those superhero multidisciplinary CMOs, […]


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