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The Changing Nature of a CMO

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​There’s no such thing as an ordinary day in the office as a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). You’re expected to lead on key digital trends like AI and mobile experience, meet higher customer expectations, orchestrate cultural transformation and be a consistent innovator.

Those are big shoes to fill. But playing such a pivotal role in a business' success can be extremely rewarding.  

In this blog we explore how the role of the CMO has evolved and speak to three senior marketers who explain what it takes to lead marketing teams and explore the increasingly complex role of a CMO.

At the forefront of technology

Owing to the unprecedented competition in today’s modern market, CMOs need to leverage every insight they can glean about their potential and existing customers, so their marketing campaigns resonate with audiences and set their businesses apart from the crowd.

With over 20 years’ experience as a senior multi-channel marketing professional, Mel Cheung Turner, Founder and Marketing Director at My Creative Thoughts, knows all too well the power of big data. She explains how this fits into a CMO’s role in more detail:

“Whilst it’s always been important for marketing leaders to understand big data, it’s become increasingly essential to understand consumer behaviour and use that data in a more sophisticated way; targeting and communicating with customers more effectively, utilising technology and automation and driving strategic decision making.”

Andy Vale echoes these thoughts. He has been Head of Content at Infinity, a leading call intelligence platform, for the past two years. Since harvesting intelligent data is a  huge part of his role, he explains how:

"Modern CMOs need to be able to face raw, honest feedback from the marketplace in the form of audience awareness and commercial performance. Meaning the needs of a CMO have evolved to be both a market visionary and a data-based realist,
putting them in a unique position in the C-suite.

 “This fanatical devotion to understanding and serving the customer is one that all senior figures are going to need more of in the future. Data is key to achieving this.”

Enlisting the support of data specialists

 There’s no reason CMOs need to tackle big data on their own. As Mel Cheung Turner puts it:  

“This is where bringing in experienced tech specialists for interim periods can help with those transformational phases. Or during a period of change and growth which requires more strategic focus and support. They can give CMOs the ability to stay ahead of the game and ensure they have the right resources and tech solutions in place to transform the business.”

Ailsa Illingworth, Head of Marketing at Metro Rod, agrees. She has 15 years of experience utilising powerful content to create compelling customer journeys for growing businesses. And data plays a huge role in helping her achieve this:

“Without proper data analysis, and understanding of that analysis, any strategic planning, far less tactical execution, is a shot in the dark.”

“The most important relationship for a CMO is with whoever leads on data and technology. They need support from a data expert to help them interpret the numbers. So they can translate it into human language that represents customers’ demands to make a genuine impact.”

 An effective marketer can’t operate in a silo

Mel Cheung Turner also stresses the importance of working collaboratively with other departments:

“CMOs these days play a pivotal role in any business and now hold a firm seat in the board room alongside their C-suite peers. However, what’s fundamental to the success of any senior marketing leader is building those relationships with key stakeholders and peers within the business.”

“Gone are the days where marketing worked independently from sales. It’s crucial to work collaboratively as a team to deliver the strategic objectives and KPIs for any business.”

Andy Vale firmly believes this too:

“As they have built a solid career in this area, the CMOs of today are fully equipped to meet many of the big leadership challenges head-on. And a big part of their role is helping to expand the learnings of their department into the teams working on the product, sales, service and more.”

Many businesses are moving towards interim CMOs

More and more businesses - big and small - are choosing to hire contractors over permanent staff. You can discover why in more detail in our blog:Time for Change? Breaking the Misconceptions of Hiring a Contractor.

This is great news for CMOs who are in between jobs, as Mel Cheung-Turner expresses:

“With the rise in demand for interim CMOs, becoming a contractor can open you up to many more opportunities. More employers are opting to bring in senior marketing leaders on an interim or contract basis, rather than recruiting a full-time resource which can be costly and also time consuming.

“With the interim support of a CMO, businesses have the benefit of a highly experienced strategic individual who would be able to hit the ground running immediately, without the long notice periods and added costs.”

“It also allows a business to ‘try before you buy’ to see if they need this level of expertise on a permanent basis, and will also help to determine the operating model required for the future success of the business.”

CMOs are highly respected (and rightly so)

If you think CMOs aren’t as highly valued as other business leaders, think again. In fact, as Andy Vale, explains, they are in high demand:

“A recent Heidrick & Struggles report reveals that one in five CEOs in the FTSE 100 cut their teeth with a marketing background.

Having built a career on balancing risk with an adventurous spirit, it's no surprise that CMOs have been selected to lead major companies forward. The fact that these traits are so desirable for the top spot at a company suggests it's increasingly mandatory to hire CMOs than ever before.”

Want to be a respected marketing leader?

If you’re a resilient and tenacious individual who’s passionate about people, processes, technology and everything in between, it sounds like you’re CMO material and we’d love to hear from you.

To find out more about our career opportunities, call us on 0161 359 3789 today.