CMO post 2As marketing shifts away from the traditional branding and pushing of products to the business of customer relationships, so, too, will the role that spearheads it in every firm. CMOs today are engaging with customers through social media and building trust with a sophisticated consumer base. Let’s take a look at some new challenges facing chief marketing officers.

Digital Marketing and Social Media

The Internet has changed the way companies do business and therefore, tactics to market and sell products and services must change as well. Marketing is moving from television and paper to digital. Gartner, an IT research and advisory company, estimates that CMOs will spend more on information technology than the CIO. The Internet, which was strikingly ad-free in its infancy, is now a plethora of advertisements. Fewer people are reading magazines and newspapers, and thanks to streaming television and DVRs, commercials are no longer as influential. Companies engage directly with consumers on Facebook and Twitter. Consumers often recommend (or not) a product or service to their “friends” or followers. Every company is looking for the next big “viral” ad, blog post, or inspiring story to gain traction in the marketplace. Companies now routinely engage with bloggers for product placement in their blog posts. The shift towards digital marketing has picked up rapidly, especially as social media networks have gained users worldwide across all demographics.

Customer Relations

Following on digital marketing and social media, the CMO is increasingly beholden to the customer directly. In years gone by, executives carefully honed a product and brand and released it into the marketplace, where print ads and television commercials distributed the message. Today, brands and products are subject to 24-7 scrutiny on social media. Customers engage with other customers on social media regarding the product and word-of-mouth is more important today. Therefore, CMOs are beginning to communicate with customers directly. One influential blogger with a large Twitter following can have an extraordinary effect on a product’s success or failure. CMOs are charged with breaking down the silos in organizations and ensuring that everyone, not just a dedicated “customer service department,” can respond to consumers. Rapid response times are integral to the success in our world of quickly changing news feeds and content creation. Now, it is less important to simply put a product out there and market it. CMOs must lead the customer service experience and ensure it is a good one. A survey by Deloitte showed that 52% of customers stopped buying after a bad customer service experience.

Automation and Data

With all of the above, marketing is more complex than ever. How do CMOs manage it? Automation is becoming the new buzzword for marketers. Mass and transactional marketing are giving way to relationship marketing by engaging with the customer directly. Companies like Eloqua and Marketo offer services such as data collection and analysis, and the development of campaigns designed specifically from those findings. The collection and analysis of data is becoming essential to make sense of the diverse landscape of channels, consumer demographics, and media to market and sell products effectively.

While some have said the CMO role is “dead,” there is, in reality, tremendous opportunity for CMOs to lead business revenue growth, customer engagement, and use innovative technologies. The challenge is to recognize the changes and adapt quickly.

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