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How CMO’s Can Achieve Longevity in Tenure

Marketing Measurement by Michael Lake
Marketing in 2019 and beyond is virtually unrecognizable from marketing as recently as 15 years ago. The rapid pace of changes in technology, practices, and culture has drastically changed the marketing landscape even more so than many other fields. In addition, marketing is a complex discipline with a lot of moving parts, and many CEOs have a hard time understanding the challenges faced by their CMO.

To make matters worse, marketing departments in many companies have been the last to automate. That, combined with the breakneck speed and ubiquitous impact of digital disruption in the field has meant a lack of clear performance metrics, making ROI extremely hard to track. Add all that together, and it quickly becomes clear why a recent study by Korn Ferry found that CMO's are the shortest tenured individuals in the C-Suite at an average of just 4.1 years. 

Fortunately, there are several steps CMO's can take to secure their position and improve their tenure. By leveraging the right data, improving communication, keeping up with technological changes, planning ahead, and demonstrating ROI, CMO's can overcome the unique hurdles presented by working as a top tier leader in a field that has virtually been razed and rebuilt in the last two decades. 

The Immeasurable Power of Measuring

Proving your worth as a CMO starts with identifying the right data points and KPIs to set goals, create strategies, and measure your success. Bonnie Crater, CEO of Marketing for ROI measurement platform Full Circle Insights, recommends measuring lead volume, conversion rates, and velocity to understand how to meet sales goals.

Crater further counsels CMO's to monitor performance versus solely focusing on objectives. Predictive analytics can be an extremely useful tool in revealing patterns in data. Solid insight analyses can improve MROI by 10-20% and drives an average profit growth of 14%.

"McKinsey's DataMatics 2013 survey shows that companies that use customer analytics extensively are more than twice as likely to generate above-average profits as those that don't. They also outperform their peers across the entire customer lifecycle, are nine times more likely to enjoy superior customer loyalty, and a remarkable 23 times more likely to outperform less analytical peers on new-customer acquisition."

All that data Reporting on data-driven customer insights allows you to demonstrate your marketing ROI more effectively, in terms that translate well to the rest of the C-Suite. Few things are more potent in proving your worth than being able to show the ROI of every dollar spent on marketing and how that marketing is impacting the bottom line.

There's No I in C-Team

To demonstrate value and success, it's imperative that the CMO improve their relational dynamics with the CEO, CFO, and the rest of the C-Suite. Reporting on marketing successes is a big part of demonstrating worth; it can also help you share goals and vision. 

"Today's customer-centric CMO role is exceptionally complex and requires the right balance of left as well as right-brain skills, and very importantly, a differentiated set of leadership competencies," said Caren Fleit, senior client partner and leader of Korn Ferry's Marketing Center of Expertise. "CMOs with this unique profile are in high demand and are often recruited to lead the next transformation. Also, in some cases, short tenure can be attributed to the organization not being well aligned behind the change that the CMO is tasked with leading."

Transforming an organization to adapt to digital disruption is an enormous task. The C-Suite all have critical parts to play in these endeavors; however, the role of the CMO is particularly important. Being the person closest to insights about customer behavior and market trends means the CMO is uniquely positioned to steer innovation efforts and act as the conductive fiber that binds the C-Suite together and facilitates better communicative dynamics between all members of the C-Team. 

Strategize for a Multi-Channel World


The customer experience is sophisticated and often touches many parts of an organization. From social media to website to app to print media to call center, the customer experience needs to be consistent and positive across all those touchpoints. That means that CMOs must take a holistic approach with a broad view that spans the entire organization.  

In some ways, a CMO may have to take on a managerial role to keep all the various departments on the same proverbial page. McKinsey cites the example of a CMO at a tech company who was able to coordinate across multiple departments to woo high-value customers. This CMO worked with the risk team to fast-track the credit approval process, with the call center and IT to create a live chat button, and assigned a salesperson to individual customers. All those moves were based on data analytics and resulted in a tangible bump in loan volumes that the CMO could show off to the rest of the C-Suite. 

Embrace Change and Be Adaptable


The first rule of the digital age is either do the disrupting or be disrupted. It is critical to keep up with new tech, new channels, and new best practices. That doesn't mean you have to be on the bleeding edge of every new fad product or service out there. Quite the contrary, it's important to educate yourself on what's available and do your due diligence to find out what's effective and what will work best within your company culture. 

Keeping up with new tech and new channels is especially crucial for CMO's. As new tech develops, it changes where to find your customers and what their expectations are. How well you navigate a new social media platform can have a considerable impact on how your customers perceive your brand and your credibility. 

Sometimes, the most effective changes don't even involve adding a new gizmo or implementing a new platform. Before you look to add, look to optimize. For example, roadblocks often pop-up between sales and marketing. Making small changes to the hand-off process can improve efficiency. Introducing standardized reporting and streamlining communication will make sure that both departments are in sync and prevents the departments from existing in silos, cut off from one another. 

The Bottom Line


All this boils down to two straightforward concepts: Be good at your job and be good at communicating your successes to your fellow C-Suiters. Being agile and adaptable will keep you, and by extension, your company on its toes. Maintaining open, clear channels of communication makes the whole organization run better and keeps the rest of the C-Team well aware of your value. Leveraging data helps you strategize for the future and benefits your company's bottom line. A CMO doing all this isn't going quietly into the night, and they aren't looking at a short tenure.

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