Today’s marketers are no longer confined to creating campaigns and generating leads and sales. Opportunity exists for the marketers of today to become the CEOs of tomorrow.
Since the 1980s, marketing has earned a place in the C-suite. This trend has been shaped in the last three decades by profound changes in marketing’s sharply growing complexity.
A recent study by the CMO Council and Deloitte found that, over the past decade, CMOs have been increasingly asked to change their activities from brand and marketing plan management to delivering a company-wide revenue driver, that owns customer experience.
But, according to the Deloitte Insight Report, the reality is that more than 40 % of CMOs said they were still working on brand-shaping and campaign execution activities, while only 6 % of CMOs said they were actively working on growing revenue across all global business activities. Only 18% felt that they were “extremely poised to succeed” as the growth leader in their organisations. The key question here is – what sets this group apart?
Playing an active role as revenue driver requires focusing on long-term business gains, and aligning marketing goals with the board room priorities.
Marketers are now adopting innovative creative and engaging strategies to fuel their company’s growth – through storytelling and branding – no longer reliant on just engaging in traditional activities of demand generation.
Often this requires a mind-set shift, and building new habits.
Most of us will agree that trying to get physically fit after a period of inactivity can be a challenging endeavour. What’s more, those who do not commit to make fundamental lifestyle change on a long-term basis will most likely find any physical gains short lived.
This analogy could be applied to the marketing world, where despite all the technology at a marketers disposal, the majority are habituated to focus on campaigns and lead generation to engage the individual, and the results thereof.
Marketers poised to be CEOs need to practice new ways of thinking.
For example, their mind-set starts to shift from focusing on short term activities like demand generation campaigns to long-term sustainable expansion delivered through corporate-wide, revenue-focused strategies and decisions.
Growth mind-set marketers know how to identify new product opportunities and windows for market expansion. Individuals who seek to improve operational effectiveness and efficiency to better manage costs and maximise profit margins, will harvest sustainable revenue growth – a cornerstone of any long-term strategy.
For example; an e-commerce business a marketer should know about the gross merchandise value, and the volume based value, and how these are performing. This will enable them to build campaigns that support long term vision and growth.
Marketers geared towards growth know how to use the right language to report results back to the business.
Growth drivers have shifted from more limited conversations about campaign metrics, to broader discussions about revenue, market share, customer lifetime value, and margins.
You don’t have to be an expert, but to build credibility, marketers have to be able to know how to talk to executives of the C-suite. They must be comfortable talking to the CFO about profit and loss (P&L) and to the CIO about technology needs.
It’s important to know how to communicate the results of specific campaigns, and how they have improved customer experience, accelerated revenue and overall business growth.
Departments have traditionally existed in a company as functional silos, and exist that way so they can become pillars of excellence.
However, with emerging technologies rapidly changing the way we do business, it’s becoming important that silos work together in cross-functional teams.
With data underpinning everything, it’s especially important for marketers to have connections within IT, data and analytics teams, and other departments and know how to work as one team.
According to 36 % of growth leaders, and 47 % of all other respondents in the Deloitte survey, functional silos that keep data separated threaten to derail the success of growth strategies.
But it’s not just IT. A growth driven marketer partners across all silos (finance, operations, procurement) to solve the big issues quickly. They know how to leverage these partnerships to address the day-to-day challenges that could be impeding growth.
Today, the disruptive digital landscape has led to exponential growth of new marketing channels and huge amounts of data, which provide key insights into customer needs and behaviour.
If applied accurately, it will give marketing the ability to build deeper, stronger relationships with individual customers. Which should create long-term loyalty.
That being said, working in silos can prevent this data from being as effective as it should be in enhancing the customer experience, making it critical for business to take action now, to break down barriers.
Not to forget that collaboration is also great for innovation and generating new and exciting ideas and campaigns.
Some 71 % of all marketers surveyed see the President or CEO as their primary ally. This is followed by the Head of Sales (56 %) and line of business leadership (38 %).
However, growth drivers also see the Board of Directors as key allies, with 35 % indicating the board is a champion of growth strategy development.
Ultimately, having senior mentors and advisors who can support from a business leadership level will make the growth path smoother.
Senior mentors will impart learning, and become a sounding board for challenges and new ideas.
In the past, the career path for marketers typically started in digital, communications, or branding and, for those who rose through the ranks, culminated with the CMO role.
Today, as more marketers actively play the part of customer champion, experience strategist, and growth leader – a new and exciting path extension has emerged. The CEO role.
Brands including McDonald’s, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Campbell Soup, Mercedes Benz, Gilt Group, Royal Dutch Shell and H&R Block have all brought on CMOs to fill the CEO post.
Marketers need to embrace a CEO mindset. Don’t just sit and think only about marketing; think about external and internal environmental factors, how to change pricing, tax management, and technology – ultimately understanding how all affects the business.
It starts with building habits, and the best time to start is now.
At LCIBS our Business Marketing courses and diplomas will equip you with skills needed to tackle this demanding field, head-on.
Our real-world approach means you learn how to communicate, forge alliances, solve-problems and forge your path to CEO – from the beginning.