Three Prerequisites for CMOs to Lead

CMOs must make three actions fundamental to the way they and their teams operate before marketing can become a strategic partner to the CEO.

A 2012 report from Forrester and Heidrick & Struggles concludes that marketing is “moving from the outskirts to the core of the enterprise” in helping leadership teams develop and implement customer-centric strategies. In other words, marketing must become a force for visualizing and evangelizing the future.

I must have touched a nerve, because I have received over 130 comments so far. As some observers thoughtfully pointed out, a potential issue is that if CEOs embrace the idea of marketing as a strategic partner, they will soon see what’s missing from marketing’s ability to deliver on that promise. Indeed, before marketing can even consider taking on the five key responsibilities that I outlined in my previous article, CMOs must make three actions fundamental to the way they and their teams operate:

1. Embrace Next-Gen Skills

SAP_FutureMktg_2BRIEF_image175px_1Tomorrow’s marketers must possess a hybrid of traditional marketing skills and quantitative skills, mixing art and science. But it’s not enough to have both on the team; you have to have some of each in everyone.

We’ve started living this at SAP. In many cases, we plan our marketing campaigns with digital and social media first rather than treating them as add-ons. We use SAP Jam to discuss marketing ideas, settle on best practices, and vote on the things that work best. Meanwhile, I have a dashboard where I can track and optimize the entire marketing process, from brand positioning all the way down to customer demand – in real time.

2. Measure What Matters

SAP_FutureMktg_2BRIEF_image175px_2A CMO of a large company told me he was thrilled that his team tweeted 1.2 million times in 2012 – surpassing its goal of 1 million. These kinds of “egometrics” – Web site pageviews, Facebook fans, conference attendees, and so on – look great on a dashboard but don’t really move the needle for the business. I believe we should track outcome metrics, not activities.

For example, instead of asking how conference attendees rate a session, how about analyzing which sessions correlated with attendees who ultimately bought something? Ultimately, the CMO I was talking to decided that a better metric would be the percentage of nonemployee followers who retweeted the company’s tweets – a measure that would provide insight into how the market was amplifying the company’s message.

3. Become Your Customer

SAP_FutureMktg_2BRIEF_image175px_3As marketers we spend so much time tracking customers’ activities that we forget to consider what they are experiencing. So many marketers bandy about the popular term “customer experience” but have never walked a mile in their shoes. For example, when was the last time you called your contact center? Or tried to purchase a product or find information on your Web site? Are you listening to live conversations on social media? If you want to be a champion of the overall experience, you first have to experience it yourself.

This certainly isn’t everything we need to do as modern marketers, but they are three actions that I commonly see missing in marketing departments.

About the author:

Jonathan Becher is the chief digital officer and former chief marketing officer of SAP. You can follow him on twitter @jbecher.


Future of Marketing, marketing