CMO Insights: Why CMOs Need to Drive Disruptive Growth

Mark Nardone

The Facts Up Front:

  • 50% of organizations state that their CMOs are the ones most responsible for driving disruptive growth. (Accenture)
  • 67% of business owners believe that by 2020 marketing will be a revenue generator for their organizations. (Marketo)
  • 30% of CMOs will be let go for not mastering the blended skill set of design and analytics. (Forrester)
  • It’s predicted that CMOs will soon be spending more on technology than CIOs. (Gartner)
  • Only 37% of CMOs view disruptive growth as very important, versus 44% of CEOs, showing a lack of alignment on this issue. (Accenture)

chief growth officer

Source: pexels.com used under CC license.

The term “disruptive growth” stems from the concept of creating and implementing entirely new value propositions that guarantee a disruptive outcome to the current business – or better yet, to the industry. In a recent blog post, I unpacked the power of ideas, explaining why companies should be focused on not just innovation but execution. You cannot accomplish disruptive growth without bringing your ideas to fruition. But whose responsibility is it to make this happen? Disruptive growth starts with an idea that will lead to increased ROI and a better customer experience. As you can see from the above facts, the role of the CMO is changing. They’re now seen as growth drivers for their brand, with expectations set by the CEO and the rest of the C-Suite.

To fully understand the impact that this has on the CMO, let’s break down the above facts.

Fact #1: 50% of organizations state that their CMOs are the ones most responsible for driving disruptive growth.

This is a huge undertaking for any CMO and unfortunately it doesn’t come without its consequences. Due to these newfound expectations and accountability, CMOs are placed front and center to deliver. If they fail, they risk either the loss of responsibility, credibility, or worse: trust. The pressure is on to find the most effective, innovative and efficient route to disruptive growth. CMOs are concentrating on the brainstorming and collaboration of teams, but integrated agencies have the potential to play a huge role in this initiative. CMOs must move past the “traditionalist” mindset, where their focus lies on brand management and content creation, to quickly pivot into a “futurist” mindset of strategy and growth initiatives with the customer experience at the center of it all. And revenue marketing the end prize.

Fact #2: 67% of business owners believe that by 2020 marketing will be a revenue generator for their organizations.

It’s one thing for CMOs to call themselves “growth drivers” or even change their titles to “Chief Growth Officers,” but to prove that you’re actually moving the needle in this direction is another opportunity. While customer experience and the customer journey are always top of mind for the CMO, they must now deliver growth metrics and drive those MQLs into SQLs. The right metrics are more important now than ever. Are you focused on a targeted account strategy (ABM)? Or do you wish to remain “far and wide” in your pursuit of revenue?

CMO priorities have drastically changed. In a 2016 survey from Marketo the top 3 most important marketing objectives for CMOs were, as follows: brand building (55%), achieving positive ROI (45%) and automating their marketing processes (39%). These priorities have not only shifted around within the last two years, but it’s my belief that “brand building” would be knocked out of this list completely and replaced with either achieving revenue and growth or creating an unparalleled customer experience (which brand plays a role in).

Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, predicted it best. In our 2018 CMO Predictions he stated the following:

“Move over cost center. Marketing is now a profit center. 2018 will see a future acceleration of marketing’s embrace of revenue responsibility. Key to making that transition will be addressing and changing the culture both of marketing and within the rest of the organization’s perception and treatment of marketing – historically as a cost center, but moving forward as a profit center driving measurable, repeatable sales and revenue impact.”

Fact #3: 30% of CMOs will be let go for not mastering the blended skill set of design and analytics.

Thanks to the age of digital transformation, CMOs have the luxury of living in a world where everything can be measured. But while they can truly prove an idea’s impact, a critical next step is to combine both the art and science aspects before final delivery.

This is where a CMO’s team is put to the test. If the right expertise and skillset within their creative and analytics departments does not exist, then their journey to disruptive growth is bound to fail. If a marketing team has a UX designer within their team, that person needs to be working with the marketing specialist to determine a research driven approach to UX. If a marketing team doesn’t have a UX designer on their team than they still need to figure out how to reach the optimal user experience – which includes journey, services and loyalty. Integration of skillsets is key to addressing the art and science behind marketing. Look at your customer behaviors through the eyes of your personas and each communication channel to achieve success. Whether this is with a firm, in house or a combination of both, it’s a must.  

Fact #4: It’s predicted that CMOs will soon be spending more on technology than CIOs.

Getting those critical metrics from your data and analytics report wouldn’t be possible without the right martech stack. But martech isn’t just the technology for developing reports – it’s also the key driver when it comes to improving the customer experience and meeting customer expectations. With the right stack comes data that gives insight into customer behaviors, allowing for marketers to get more personalized than ever before – at the right time and with the right message.

A big driver into increased personalization via tech will inevitably be the rise of AI. While it’s still in early stages for most marketers, in an interview Martha Mathers uncovers the three key benefits that marketers can look forward to: 1) It will improve productivity; 2) It will deepen customer understanding; and 3) It will improve the digital customer experience.

The technology is out there, and it will increase CMO’s success rates in achieving disruptive growth – but only if they have the knowledge and confidence to take advantage of it.

Fact #5: Only 37% of CMOs view disruptive growth as very important, versus 44% of CEOs, showing a lack of alignment on this issue.

So, why is there a disconnect here when it comes to the importance of disruptive growth? If we look to CEOs and their priorities, it drills down to delivering new sources of revenue at every shareholders meeting. But, what about the CMO? According to Accenture’s report, 37% of a CMO’s time is spent on innovation and 60% is still spent on traditional marketing activities which aren’t delivering. While CMOs might be striving for a “futurist” mindset, these stats are proof that they don’t have the luxury to sit in this mindset for much longer. They have to start acting the part and digital experiences should be top of mind.

CMOs must embark upon this journey today to stay relevant in the market. They must drive growth strategies by collaborating with integrated agencies to quickly launch new business models, develop new partnerships, converge products/ services. CMOs need to make innovation happen so that they can claim the title of Chief Growth Officer, whether by role or by responsibility.

Interested in learning more? Let’s continue the conversation @MarkCNardone.

CMO Insights is PAN Communications’ marketing leadership series. We examine the pain points of today’s CMO, how to effectively and emotionally impact the customer along their path to purchase, and trends at the forefront of today’s digital landscape, alongside insight from experts.

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