The Evolution Of The Chief Marketing Officer

Posted by

As more and more social media channels like Blogs and online social networks expand, consumers are discussing, reviewing and engaging with brands more than ever before. This newfound connection and communication is forcing a unique evolution of the CMO – Chief Marketing Officer.

Marketing is facing a new reality and the CMO is going to have to adapt like never before. This was the key message out of a study of global CMOs conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Google. The report, Future Tense: The Global CMO (pdf) was written about today on Marketing Charts here: Study – CMOs Must Evolve to Meet New Marketing Challenges.

"Marketers are increasingly able to reach out to consumers at all points along the value chain, not just at the moment a purchase decision is made. Because of this, global marketing of the future must engage all corporate stakeholders with consistent, constant and accurate messaging. At the same time, it must encourage and be able to respond quickly to customer feedback and involvement, pulling stakeholders closer to the corporate brand… In terms of progress toward this goal, 56% of the 263 marketing executives surveyed agreed that their company is highly customer-centric and that marketing functions are interwoven throughout their operations."

How can the CMO evolve? The report offers the following recommendations:

Balancing global brand awareness with local market relevance. Centralizing global marketing functions such as advertising development and production can create economies of scale and save money, but they must be guided by the needs of the local market and customer insights. At the same time, budgets must be freed up so that regional directors can make appropriate decisions based on market demands.

Integrating marketing with other forms of corporate communications. Both the interactive nature of Web 2.0 technologies and the transparency of corporate messages among different constituencies—such as customers, investors, media, regulatory bodies and employees (past, present and future)—demand the integration of various forms of marketing and communications. Businesses can no longer segment audiences and messages as if audiences don’t talk to each other.

Adopting new media. In particular, there should be a specific budget for experimentation with the newest Web 2.0 technologies. To remain competitive, companies must engage customers and fully exploit the interactive nature of digital media to create a stronger affinity with their brands among consumers and other stakeholders. The CMO should have the foresight to anticipate how different constituencies will respond to different events, messages and channels, and should be able to deal with the proliferation of new-media tools and expanded audiences.

Developing new skills, capabilities—and partnerships. CMOs must not only position their companies, but help define them. To do so, they need to understand the fundamental business model, brand, culture, policies and values of the organization. Equally important in terms of adapting to the evolution of new media are partnerships with vendors whose expertise can be used to get new initiatives to market faster—and more effectively—than a company would on its own.

Championing innovation. The need for greater accountability for marketing expenditure is pushing global companies towards digital marketing campaigns with higher returns than traditional media. The interactive nature of the latest digital-media vehicles provides the opportunity to develop deeper insights into customer dynamics and allows the CMO to become the corporate champion of customer insight.

Do you think that the CMO of today can either adapt or evolve to become the CMO of tomorrow that this report is recommending?


  1. Hey Mitch,
    Good post and interesting question. I think the easy answer is that some CMOs will adapt and some won’t. Anyone who still uses the “half my advertising works, but I just don’t know which half” is a goner. I also think that anyone who is still thinking of Web 2.0 technologies and interactive marketing in general as “experimental” is on the way towards extinction.
    Conversely, CMOs who embrace the idea of the open brand, as Kelly Mooney discusses in her book “The Open Brand: When Push Comes to Pull in a Web-Made World” (, will be the ones to thrive. These will be CMOs who invite their customers to participate in their brands and help define them and help market them. They won’t experiment with new technologies, they’ll embrace them and use them to their fullest extent.
    Anyway…that’s my two cents.

  2. Mitch, I also think that anyone who is still thinking of web 2.0 technologies and interactive marketing in general as “experimental” is on the way towards extinction.

  3. Mitch:
    The Economist study was well done. Indeed, as a full-time practitioner I was solicited for a response to their survey myself and thought they covered some key issues. However, there is more to the “Championing Innovation” piece, which the report is missing. More specifically, CMOs – and marketing in general – need to do a better job of 1. Definitively tying our activities to revenue growth (innovation is one of those tools, but there are others) and 2. We need to syndicate this connection, and more broadly, do a better job in terms of the “marketing of marketing” within our firms. To this end, it is incumbent upon CMOs to master financial reporting nearly as well as their CFO peers.
    The current issue of The CMO Journal ( has two well-written pieces on the the measurement and financial impact of marketing that your followers may be interested in. This isn’t a “pitch”… there are other great books and experts out there (MarketingNPV for example), but instead a statement of our situation as a profession and the need for us to educate ourselves and our peers on these issues.
    W. L. Koleszar
    Editor, The Chief Marketing Officer Journal

Comments are closed.