Age-old marketing solutions no longer cut it for CMOs

John Zealley 4Chief marketing officers of the global consumer brands that have long dominated the industry, face a constant challenge to find the right balance between excelling in their traditional marketing functions and contributing to overall business growth.
On the one hand, the accelerated pace of change is forcing them to focus on being brilliant at the basics just to keep up with their customers. On the other, our research shows 52% of consumer goods CEOs now hold their CMOs responsible for driving disruptive growth.
So how can CMOs best manage these competing requirements? The temptation is to fall back on what’s worked before. Three in every four CMOs say the top way they look to achieve strategic marketing objectives is by reapplying solutions that worked in the past.
But this isn’t sustainable in the long run. An agile, responsive “living” business set on capturing future sources of growth needs its CMO to help create new value, supporting “hyper-relevant” experiences that deliver just what the customer needs, just when they need it.
The growth agenda
CMOs should therefore be helping the whole organisation orient itself around customer needs and growth. The goal is to deliver relevance at scale by creating an organisation that can adapt and respond, not just to where customers are today, but also to where they’ll be tomorrow. That means working across organisational boundaries to upgrade operating models and shape a far more customer-centric culture.
Look at how the Intelligent Brewing Company is crowdsourcing consumer views about its beers through its website, then using artificial intelligence to update its recipes. By centring its marketing and operating model around customer needs, it has identified a new growth opportunity and is delivering consumer relevance on a whole new scale.
New toolkits required
Today, many CMOs of consumer brands are still being held back by legacy systems and processes – significantly more so than in other industries. Six out of 10 told Accenture they were not able to develop the more agile, dynamic organisations and operating models required in the fast-changing environment.
Modern, adaptable backend systems will deliver the marketing agility that smaller, newer competitors are already enjoying. And technologies like AI, analytics, and the IoT will open up new operating models and create different and much more personalised outcomes for customers.
Maximising future talent
CMOs must also be ready to reimagine skillsets and ways of working. Many are abandoning static hierarchies to create more flexible organisational structures (such as multidisciplinary “pods” of employees formed to solve specific problems).
They should also be planning for a very different kind of workforce, including entirely new roles like “immersive experience designers”, “growth hackers”, and “futurologists” who can unlock growth through experimentation and technology-led creativity.
As the expectations on marketers continue to grow, CMOs must find the freedom to take on an expanded role, balancing the need to deliver the marketing basics brilliantly and cost-effectively with the need to help the whole business pivot to future sources of revenue. It means growth is now a central part of every CMO’s agenda.

John Zealley is senior managing director, global lead customer insight and growth practice at Accenture

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