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Breaking Down the Key Types of CMOs

August 26, 2017
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At the very top of the marketing food chain is the Chief Marketing Officer, whose primary role is creating a big picture marketing strategy with long-term business growth in mind. The CMO is a man/woman of many hats. Especially in 2017, with so many dynamic marketing outlets, they are quickly becoming a necessity for even the smallest businesses. But what exactly does a CMO do? What types of CMO’s are there? And does your company actually need one? Well let’s start with the basics.

Role Of A CMO

First and foremost a CMO has to be able to assess your company and translate it into a strategy for growth. This is done through sales management, advertising, branding, and budgetary management. It’s the CMO’s job to formulate a plan on how to insert your company into the market.

Related: How to Manage Your Team Closely…Without Micromanaging

Establishing a strong brand that targets the right demographic with budgeted advertising campaigns is a lot of work. Owners usually have their plates full with operational tasks, which is what opens the need for a dedicated CMO. Here are some of their daily duties:

  • Getting employees to ‘buy in’ – Once a CMO has established a company vision, the best way to implement it is by having all of your employees believe in it. How do you accomplish that? It varies from business to business but most CMO’s will tell you, if your employees are given a clear vision as to where the company is going and how you plan to get there, they are more likely to practice what you preach.
  • Communication with CEO – The CMO and the CEO work together, bouncing ideas off of one another and carrying out the big picture strategies of the company.
  • Team leadership – Delegating and ensuring that goals are being reached by sales and marketing teams.
  • Understanding of the industry – Ever evolving knowledge of competitors and industry specific trends.
  • Analytical skills – Interpreting data and making necessary changes.
  • Customer focus – It starts from the top and trickles down. Effective customer service initiatives require the attention to detail that a good CMO should provide.
  • Product management – By knowing the market and interpreting data, CMO’s get a clear picture of products and where they are in the product cycle. From there they make choices on how to either phase out struggling products or inject new life into existing products.
  • Accountability – Analyzing the effectiveness of marketing expenditures keeps your company accountable. Their goal is to show the impact of marketing on the bottom line. Mid-level marketers become more resource-conscious when they know that their efforts directly affect the bottom line.

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Changing Role Of A CMO In 2017

Marketing trends are always evolving, and a good CMO has to be adaptable. Here are some of the modern roles a CMO has to be responsible for:

  • Placing importance in what customers are saying – Online presence and reputation is relatively new and it’s largely dictated by consumers. Customers don’t rely on cleverly worded advertising anymore to get information about a company. They trust other customers, just like them. There are hoards of in-depth data to analyze, and a good CMO will know how to use their customers as their most powerful marketing asset (i.e. Buying habits, customer profiles, product reviews, brand ambassadors, word of mouth).
  • Making data-driven conclusions – The numbers don’t lie. Companies that have performed the best since 2013 are relying heavily on data. In fact, a McKinsey’s DataMatics survey shows data-driven entities are two times more likely to earn higher profits, over twenty times more likely to get new customers, and nine times more likely to establish long-term customer loyalty.
  • Having a profit-and-loss-first mentality – Because there is so much data available nowadays, there’s no excuse not to track every dollar spent and its subsequent ROI. Revenue is the main goal of any company, so a good CMO needs to be able to create P&L goals and hit them. Marketing efforts should be targeting very specific people at very specific times to maximize ROI. For instance, have you ever googled a product like ‘backpack’, and suddenly advertising for backpacks are popping up all over your internet feeds. That’s because data is being used to target you and increase the likelihood of impacting the bottom line with a sale.

Types Of CMO’S

Breaking down the types of CMO’s is tricky because depending on a company’s needs, they will usually position their head of marketing a little bit differently. However, the one thing most companies have in common is their digital presence. Jake Sorofman, author and marketing research expert, published an article that discusses the 4 different types of CMO’s:

Observer and reporter – You can typically expect this type of marketer to be hosting a focus group. An observant CMO places customer behavior above all else. The proof is in the pudding, and by that I mean people who buy pudding. It’s all about buyer behavior and determining what motivates them to make purchases, tell their friends about their purchase, and to become return customers.

Related: Tactics to Grow Lifetime Value of an E-Commerce Customer

They don’t just draw data from customers, they interpret their findings and build ideas upon it. For instance, if a hotel learns that millennials aged 20-35 aren’t staying with them—  because their brand is too “out of touch” compared to their competition —a good observer will focus group the reasons why and present solutions for the company.

Inspire the masses – These aren’t your average solutions — this is the type of marketing manager who thinks outside the box. They challenge themselves and their employees to be unique and thrive off of innovation.

Automatic, systematic – Order, routine, predictability, patterns, repetitiveness, repeating things, repetitiveness. This type of CMO painstakingly churns through data until they areable to create well oiled systems that operate like a closed circuit. They are very rational thinkers who put the bottom line first. They don’t need to think outside the box, because the box is a well designed structure and there’s no reason to leave it.

Engage against the machine – They break down the walls that surround a stuffy corporate environment and inject an element of humanity by engaging with people. Whether it’s with customers or employees, these CMO’s focus on maintaining relationships and dialogues. They are social butterflies who know the value of establishing trust: long-term loyalty.

Related: Building & Maintaining Effective Business Relationships: A Helpful Guide

That’s how Sorofman dissects the different types, but we can go even deeper — in the digital world, CMO’s have to be eclectic and master a range of skills. Here are two beneficial non-traditional skill sets:

Data Scientist – The old guard in marketing has become all but obsolete. It used to be that the people with the most seniority in the firm had all the answers to data questions because of their sheer volume of experience. Now it is a younger man’s game — a software savvy 22 year old can comb through the data in Google Trends, Alexa, or Comscore and get a clear picture of consumer behavior.

This helps companies make smarter marketing decisions and save money on the bottom line. For example, if you’re a real estate company and you want to target homeowners, how do you know what time of day is best to run your advertisements? ‘Data scientist’ marketers can help build you a model to answer this question.

Social media guru – Some companies have such high social media needs that they need to hire a Chief Social Media executive. This is not always be the case, and the duties will usually fall upon the CMO. So if you want to be a successful CMO in this day and age, you’ll need to be a social media wise guy.

A huge amount of human interaction is done through social media, so as odd as it sounds, to remain human, companies have to engage with people through apps. Immediate online engagement is how people derive brand satisfaction, and like everything, there’s some science behind it:

Every time someone checks their phone and they receive a new ‘like’, they get a little hit of dopamine from the pleasure centers of their brain. Now imagine if someone commented on a Facebook picture of New Balance sneakers. Let’s say New Balance liked that comment. The customer would receive that notification, feel satisfied, and associate that satisfaction with New Balance. Repeat that a few times, and you have yourself a neurologically dedicated customer.

The role and persona of a CMO is a hotly debated topic, because the exact positioning is drastically different between companies. Especially now that the modern age demands so much diversity amongst skills sets. If your company is in a place where it needs Chief-level marketing leadership, there are some key ways to avoid failures as a CMO.

For instance, design the role in a way that fits the needs of the organization. If the CEO wants a desired impact, it should directly correlate with the goals and resources of a CMO (i.e. If a CEO wants more sales, then the CMO should be given the opportunity to implement strategies with a sales team).

Related: Tips for Managing Your Marketing Team

There’s a lot to ingest when deciding what type of CMO will fit your company. But the main skills they should all have in common in the modern digital world is: adaptability, accountability, a data-backed strategy and a consumer-first mindset.

At Power Digital, we often take on the role of CMO for companies that are looking to take their business to the next level and haven’t been able to find the right person to take on the role in-house. We see a lot of success when doing so as our team is so integrated and hands-on in all aspects of our client’s marketing. While finding the perfect CMO can seem ideal, sometimes the cost it comes with can offset the overall benefit making an “outsourced” CMO more cost-effective and impactful.

At the end of the day, it’s important to have the right team managing your marketing and looking down the field. Whether you have a CMO or an agency working towards growing your business, they always be working to innovate and grow your marketing channels.




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