You’ve probably read about companies removing the CMO role over the past few years, in favour of new titles and remits:
- Coca-Cola Co. (with a chief growth officer overseeing corporate strategy and retail relationships)
- Beam Suntory (with their president of brands position which has profit-and-loss responsibility over the company’s largest global brands, working alongside regional presidents)
- Hyatt Hotels (with the chief commercial officer position overseeing a huge range of operations, including loyalty programs, global sales, revenue management, distribution strategy, corporate marketing, communications, digital and customer-service centres).
This doesn’t mean that the discipline of marketing is being booted to the sideline. It just means that the art and science of marketing has evolved dramatically to a new way of connecting with people, including with data-driven personalised communication and AI solutions.
The commonality of these new titles is giving greater financial responsibility and accountability for performance. As well as highlighting the need to give more consistent and unified messaging to consumers, partners, media, policymakers, and regulators.
I was particularly interested to read that CBA has merged its marketing and corporate affairs functions by appointing Priscilla Sims Brown into the role of group executive marketing and corporate affairs.
It comes at a time when all the Big 4 banks in Australia are desperately trying to focus on earning trust and restoring their reputation after last year’s Royal Commission into misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
CBA’s CEO, Matt Comyn, was quoted as saying, “we are creating the new roll to allow greater focus on how we engage with our customers, stakeholders, and the broader community.”
Time will tell if the reporting line change was due to cost management, or whether it actually delivers greater consistency in communication.
However, it got me thinking about the definition of marketing and how blurry it has become.
Do you view marketing as holistic or functional?
On the one hand, some organisations have implemented holistic marketing through the whole of the organisation. These organisations make marketing decisions and implement activity based on reaching a common organisational objective.
They not only focus on customers, stakeholders and the community, but also build strong relationships with suppliers and vendors where they have identified gaps in expertise. They understand that the vendors and suppliers are equally as important to the success or failure of the organisation, and hence implement processes that ensure the relationship is not only valued, but that it grows over time.
They also focus heavily on improving the coordination among internal departments, in order to improve employee satisfaction levels. With clear measurable objectives to reduce departmental conflicts across the business, which has a hugely positive impact on customer experience.
If you’d like to delve deeper, then take a look at what these two companies are doing:
- BPAY Group – with the launch of two new companies, Sypht and Lodge assisted by BCG Digital Ventures.
- Orvis – reinventing their 160 year old fly fishing company by making inroads with women with initiatives such as Casting for Recovery, which provides fly-fishing retreats specifically tailored for women who have or have had breast cancer; as well as leaps in technical product innovations and the adoption of Adobe Experience Cloud solutions. As well as combining elements of marketing, creative, and IT into an integrated team, all reporting to the newly instated Chief Experience Officer.
On the other hand, many organisations still view marketing as a functional silo. Paying lip service to the alignment to other functional areas such as corporate affairs, HR, product and sales. Marketing is seen as a cog in the while – albeit an important one – however, the structures, processes and mindsets prevent any real and measurable performance improvement.
Either way, it highlights the need to redefine marketing if you’re going to succeed.
Marketing can be redefined and revalued in two ways
As innovator and change agent
Competitive advantage and product lifecycles have reduced significantly as consumers become more and more fickle in their choice. And businesses have responded with a proliferation of new products and product variants. This can fuel consumer desire for new experiences.
However, rather than product and sales teams leading the way, smart organisations have realised that strong marketing teams can act as the leaders of change.
Marketing teams are uniquely positioned to understand customers and customer journeys (digital and non-digital) that cross many departments within an organisation. And by aligning this end-to-end knowledge to business priorities and growth objectives, marketing can offer far greater value to an organisation in a world of customer centricity.
However, Salesforce’s 5th State of Marketing research report reveals that only 28% of marketers are currently satisfied with their ability to engage customers across channels at scale. Which means marketers need to be careful not to overpromise with the C-suite in the period of technical transformation.
As the heartbeat of insight
To be successful as an innovator and change agent, marketers can act as the heartbeat of insight. Which involves harnessing the mass of data collected across an organisation.
For some organisations this is a massive task and involves years of transformational change around unifying data feeds from legacy systems and disparate internal and external databases, as well as discovering how the data is being collected, the format it’s being stored in, and creating a single customer view.
Salesforce’s 5th State of Marketing research also projected that the median number of data sources will jump from 12 in 2018 to 15 in 2019. The research also identified that only 47% of marketers are satisfied that they have a unified view of customer data sources.
So the key for marketers (and analytics teams) will be distilling the mass of learnings into insights that can be utilised by the organisation for action. I propose more organisations appoint a Chief Insight Officer, or maybe Chief Cognition Officer, in order to carefully navigate through the quality of the complete (or more likely incomplete) data that they utilise.
As adoption and experimentation of AI solutions grows, some business leaders are arguing for applying AI and machine learning to solve it. However, this may not necessarily be the answer. It may help, but serious consideration still needs to be given to the psychology of behavioural change, which at this stage, still requires human intervention and thinking. True insight attempts to discover not just a pattern of behavioural change, but seeks to understand why people changed.
Take note of this recent fail. I received an AI generated email to 3 different business email addresses that had obviously been scraped from my LinkedIn profile containing the 3 “Present” positions. The email talked about the success the Canadian company was having in the retail sector driving e-commerce sales and 52x ROI success. Whilst it sounded impressive, I had to chuckle to myself at the waste in sending me 3 emails, and the need for their AI Marketing Engine to be focussed on building a relationship which involves a concept called trust.
If marketing leaders can create a pathway for insightful innovation, then greater accountability and value will be achieved.
The challenge is designing the right structural team model with the right capability mix, as well as having robust processes for generating strategic clarity, prioritised solutions, and collaborative execution.
If any of these questions are keeping you up at night, then maybe we can help you evolve:
- How is our marketing function performing when compared to our sector or wider industry practice – behind, aligned or leading?
- What are the right capabilities and optimum number of people that I should now have across the entire marketing team?
- What alternative model or structure could I create to deliver on our new business and marketing strategy?
- What process improvements could I make to achieve greater efficiency and alignment?
Is your marketing strategy supporting the business goals and objectives? Find out more about our qualitative and quantitative approach here