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Tuesday 2¢: CMOs: The ART of C-$uite Communication

Like me, you’ve probably read a lot about the changes happening to the role of CMO or even its extinction in some brands, this Tuesday I have a simple suggestion....


It seems there is a change in the world of the CMO. Recently I’ve read a lot about the changing role, of brands ditching the  CMO completely, of additional C suite positions like “Chief Growth Officer” or “Chief Experience Officer” picking up all or part of the leadership role that the marketing head honcho should have and of the responsibilities of marketing being fractured across the business.

Has marketing lost its focus?

One suggestion of the cause is that marketing has lost its way, forgotten its primary purpose; to create revenue and growth – distracted by the latest fad strategy, developing brand stories, the channel du jour or oh so hot technology. Now, I am a fan of a brand story, channels and tech, but without a core focus on a metric the rest of the C suite cares about, the CMO is going to plow a lonely furrow.

But, fixing marketing is not just about a CMO that describes themselves as revenue-driven, it requires the entire department (and their agencies) to be marching to the same tune and the metrics you choose are key to this.

Focus on metrics the C-suite understands

If you follow me, you may know I bang on about marketing creating ART (Awareness, Revenue and Trust) and these are my personal marketing objectives, I build my marketing plans, objectives and metrics around them

I admit, these three goals are not independent equals, without Trust there is no Revenue and in some early-stage businesses or non-profits Awareness might be leading metric over Revenue.

Regardless of which dominates, these three goals are very relatable in any industry, both up to the C suite (and the board) and down into the mechanics of the actual doing of the marketing. And as some wise old sage has said; you get the behavior you measure.

Growth not vanity

I once consulted with a large financial software and services institution in New York, a huge organization, working with a CMO that knew he had an organizational problem, but couldn’t quite put his finger on it.  

We did our discovery, running the client through a maturity model and one of the key things we found was a marketing team with conflicting goals, some judged on vanity metrics chasing hits, others were judged on the amount of content they created for their product teams and everyone competed to be on the homepage.

The result, one product group that created a huge amount of revenue from a small audience, was basically ignored, at risk from losing their web pages as they had very little traffic as their billion-dollar client didn’t register on the big vanity needle.

And of course, on discovering this, the conclusion was to lean into the revenue, not chase the hits.

Growth goals are the guard rails

Often the distraction of the CMO away from the business goals is not entirely at their hands, some bright C suite spark thinks advertising at the airport is a good idea, another that suggests a focus on existing customer communications, maybe an intranet, a technical doohickey, a Pinterest page – whatever it is that falls under the CMOs purview.

Having the guard rails in place of firm goals and metrics is the ability to have a C suite conversation about the business pros and cons (not just the superficial marketing value) of each of these ideas.

Frankly, if it doesn’t create ART, provide a return, it doesn’t happen….

Or OK…. if it’s the CEO who’s asking, let’s have a conversation and understand how this fabulous idea will impact the ROI of the marketing budget.