Magazine article CRM Magazine

Are CMOs' Jobs in Jeopardy? Research Suggests That More Than 30 Percent of Chief Marketing Officers Could Soon Be out of Work

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Are CMOs' Jobs in Jeopardy? Research Suggests That More Than 30 Percent of Chief Marketing Officers Could Soon Be out of Work

Article excerpt

The stakes are up for chief marketing officers in 2017, as 30 percent of CEOs surveyed by Forrester Research indicated they would fire these C-level professionals in the new year. Data from Accenture Strategy uncovered a similar trend, with 37 percent of CEOs saying their CMOs are "first on the firing line if growth targets are not met," writes Robert Wollan, senior managing director at Accenture Strategy, in this month's The Tipping Point (page 6).

A major reason, according to Shar VanBoskirk, a Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst serving CMOs, is that businesses are in a "post-digital era" in which customers don't think of digital experiences as separate from physical ones. Amid political and institutional uncertainty, customers value trustworthiness and positivity from the entities with which they interact. In such a climate, the onus of demonstrating company promises often falls on marketing leaders.

Unfortunately, many struggle to keep up, still thinking of their function as maximizing the reach, frequency, and exposures of promotions, VanBoskirk says. In turn, they overwhelm their customers with too much contact, she adds.

Further, marketers have long treated digital as a "bolt-on" function and focused more on click-through rates or pitching new products than connecting with customers holistically, VanBoskirk contends.

But "we expect that in 2017, the pressures of post-digital customers will force CMOs to begin to develop a post-digital mind-set themselves," she says.

Marketers will try to create more "one-to-moment experiences," VanBoskirk says, working to identify each customer's needs at an exact moment in time.

Firms won't have to throw away established practices or buy a host of new tools. Rather, they should leverage existing practices and tools in original ways and incorporate the three Hs--humanism, helpfulness, and handiness.

For companies to be more human, helpful, and handy, marketers will have to blend the art and science of their roles. "Neither the high-energy creative CMO nor the data wonk will be enough to carry marketing functions and business strategy into the age of the customer," Forrester's report states. They'll have to follow the lead of companies like the Gap and Macy's, which have combined digital fluency with business acumen.

CMOs who want to outlast the average tenure of 44 months will also have to step up training initiatives and invest in people, not just processes. …

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