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What It Means to be a CMO in 2019

networx september 2019

The role of Chief Marketing Officer is a coveted one in the marketing and business space and one that is rapidly changing as consumer expectations evolve. At this month’s Networx event, we heard from the CMOs themselves on how they stay relevant and achieve growth in their companies, including the skills needed to succeed in the role. The panel included Adam Coward, CMO at Youfoodz, Yasmine Gray, Executive Director at Red Havas AU, and Kirsty Jackson, CMO at Cohort Go. Facilitated by Elizabeth Gibbons of zeroseven, the panel discussion had some valuable takeaways for marketers aspiring to the C-suite.


Put the customer first and align the business smarts behind it 

The primary objective of a CMO is understanding how to bring together the customers, your business knowledge and your team to the table to hit the business’s objectives, and operating at the intersection of all three. Focusing on the customer and their needs over the business politics is what’s going to have the most value long term. This is why we’re seeing titles like ‘Chief Growth Officer’ gaining popularity. After all, the fundamental purpose of the role is to expand new business opportunities, which will always come back to the customer.


Collaboration and communication are key

The day-to-day life of a CMO will vary depending on the size of the organisation, but one of the most important aspects of the role is ensuring collaboration and communication within the company and within your team. As a leader, outstanding communication and interpersonal skills will be crucial to developing and executing new initiatives and delivering consistent marketing messaging. An important part of the role is facilitating conversations between different functions of the business to find answers to problems and identify new ways to generate revenue for the organisation as a whole. 


Data is like money – it doesn’t mean anything until you use it

At the core, a CMO must understand Analytics, Data and Insights. From there, you can broaden your knowledge about Always On, Strategic Models, Deep Digital, Spending Your Own Money, Learning to Learn, Incremental Growth – and finally Culture, Finance and Governance.

Clients and even marketers themselves can often get confused by the volume of data out there. The job of the CMO and marketing agencies as a whole is to help people navigate through the data and pick out what’s most valuable for their business. 


Disrupt yourselves before somebody else does 

One of the most common questions a CMO can ask themselves is “are we going big enough?”. Generally, you’ll know if you’re on the right track if you’re evolving along with your competitors and continuing to innovate around them. This doesn’t mean copying what they’re doing, but rather building in systems to ensure you’re consistently innovating and keeping on top of industry trends to stay ahead of the curve. 


Beware of the ‘Drug of Discounting’ 

A common pitfall of the CMO is getting caught up in a cycle of continuously discounting your products or services to the point where you rely on it to get results. This generally happens in four stages:

  1. Experimental Stage – Let’s try out some discounting, and see how it goes.
  2. Social Stage – Everyone else is doing it (e.g. Black Friday, Click Frenzy), so we should too. 
  3. Instrumental Stage – We’re starting to use discounting often to hit our revenue targets.
  4. Compulsive Stage – We’re completely reliant on discounting as a means to an end.

The danger of frequently and heavily discounting your products is that it will eventually end up detracting from your brand, which can be particularly detrimental for high-end or luxury names. To avoid this, make sure you bring it back to the customer and what they expect to see from your brand. As long as you’re meeting their needs and getting positive feedback from what you’re doing, there’s no need to resort to discounting at every opportunity that arises.


Key Tips:

After a great evening of networking and panel discussion, the speakers shared these final key tips for those looking to pursue the CMO role:

  • ‘The Rule of 7’ – You need to say the same message seven whole times before someone hears you.
  • Show your opinion through data.
  • Find your favourite models and master them.
  • Be brave and take risks. Success comes from patiently seeking solutions despite the chaos around you.
  • If you’re going for a CMO role, don’t just show how you’d do the job, show where you would take the job.

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