With the speed of technological advance it’s no surprise that marketing evolves and will continue to, at pace, in the future. The pace of change will increase and the complexity that this pace will generate, will make it even harder for marketers to grasp the fundamentals, let alone the fairy dust that will drive their brand into the hearts and minds of their target.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the CMO of the average large company in the US stays in their job only half as long as the CEO. That’s just a bit over 3 1/2 years, which is longer than many people would have guessed I suspect.

Interestingly if we look back at a snapshot of the 3 and a half year period from 2007 to 2010 – here is a small sample of the brands that launched in the world of marketing that would all go on to seriously impact a CMO during their tenure:

  • GroupOn
  • Instagram
  • Marketo
  • Pinterest
  • Square
  • Twitter

As a result of this shift in the marketplace I noticed two key trends emerging: 

CMO’s have to constantly tweak and adjust their campaigns to take advantage of the new tools, channel and services.

The massive amounts of data being generated through the use of new tools created a new type of accountability.

In the 20th century the well known saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” applied. Now with the rise and rise of big data and the many and varied tools that allow us to track, tag, measure and generate feedback in ever larger quantities we’re getting closer than ever to understanding which half.

This can be either a blessing or a curse. Raja Rajamannar, CMO of Mastercard, when interviewed in the Economist sees it as the former: “Marketing has become a significant item on the P&L so it’s being challenged like never before. It’s a great opportunity”.

We know that before an embrace there is familiarity, so too in marketing. Unless these tools and their role is understood by CMO’s – they can’t be capitalized on. To truly see the potential of marketing actions, the data has to be both analysed and reported – something that most CMO’s have had within their control. Now, real time dashboards are displayed live, on screen – so everyone knows within hours sometimes minutes whether the promotion is working or not.

With the rise of Salesforce.com, the sales organizations of most companies have either deployed this or a similar technology solution and happily coexist with the hourly and daily collation of accountability data. In the same Economist piece, Jamie Moldafsky, CMO at Wells Fargo commented: “The traditional sales function isn’t going away, but I think the ways people come to us and either way the relationship won’t look anything like it does now.”

The term “customer experience” can now be refined. It can be seen, measured and reported on throughout a company and it’s increasingly Marketing’s job to manage this process. From nurture marketing programs to channel performance to loyalty – it’s all in Marketing’s remit. Much more than just the “brand experience”, this holistic approach to the customer across all touch points provide valuable data on not only the efficacy of the demand generation program but the lifetime value and advocacy potential of each interaction.

This creates an extremely efficient way to collect the data and link revenue with engagement and ultimately sales. The answers are always in the data. Marissa Mayer, now CEO of Yahoo! but previously at Google, was famous for frustrating her colleagues with her adherence to the data to help guide her decision making. Considered unusual then, it’s becoming the norm now.

This leads to the next issue – how can anyone learn all this, especially with the continual day to day challenges inherent in a senior CMO role? The speed with which the tools are being developed will always outpace the senior marketers ability to learn how to choose the right ones, corral them into a strategy, ensure the data can be read and analyzed, and then optimised. All this time, keeping an eye on the big picture.

Recruiting tech savvy CMO’s will be a focus for a lot of CEO’s soon. The crosshairs will shift from creativity to marketing automation/operations, data and analytics.

Marketing tools are proliferating. Whilst there are few integrated systems, the CMO of the future will be comfortable juggling several platforms, looking (somewhat wistfully) to the big players for consolidation into one platform as Salesforce.com achieved with their sales tool now incorporated Pardot, a marketing automation platform.

A report which I highly recommend entitled The rise of the marketer Driving engagement, experience and revenue – a research paper which collated the views of 470 of the world’s top marketers,undertaken by the Economist Intelligence Unit, concluded with 6 key insights:

  1. Marketing will be seen as less of a cost and more of a revenue item
  2. Marketing will take the lead in the customer experience
  3. Engagement is becoming paramount
  4. The CMO of tomorrow will have both operational and data skills with a grasp of the “big picture” 
  5. Digital and data will dominate marketing investment
  6. Real time personalised mobile and the internet of things will be issues to watch

It’s clear – the CMO of the very near future will be “technology first”.

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