New Deloitte Report Underlines Need to Redefine Chief Marketing Officer Role

Staff Report

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

A recent report by Deloitte found that the role of chief marketing officer has been elevated over the past decade from brand and marketing plan manager, to enterprise-wide revenue driver. To investigate the challenges and potentially address the gaps between the role of today's CMO and how it has traditionally been defined, Deloitte conducted over 40 structured interviews with CMOs and a variety of other C-suite executives.

According to Deloitte's research, as more tools and techniques have entered the marketer's arsenal many CMOs have seen myriad responsibilities added to their plate. These responsibilities include everything from the execution of social media campaigns to market research, digital marketing, direct marketing, advertising and public relations. With brand and marketing plans at the foundation, many of these new responsibilities have been treated as operational: tactical add-ons rather than a justification for elevating CMOs to strategic partners.

In today's customer-centric environment, it can be easy to view every task as customer-related and, therefore, the CMO's responsibility. Based on Deloitte's research, there are three areas that today's CMO's should focus on and own:

  1. Relentlessly pursue customer expertise. By positioning themselves as customer experts — and bringing the benefits of that expertise to other functions in the organization — CMOs can trade tactical responsibilities for enterprise-wide strategic influence.

  2. Make marketing make sense. CMOs can make their voice heard by translating marketing insights into the language of their C-suite peers, be it financial, strategic, sales-oriented or talent-related.

  3. Establish a "center brain" mentality. Much has been said about the increasing need for strong data-analytics capabilities in marketing, and rightly so. Yet this should not tempt CMOs to undervalue the creative, right-brain skills that marketers have more traditionally valued. By marrying the two CMOs can bring insight and actionable guidance to organizations, and it requires a forward-thinking, strategic mindset.

"It's interesting to note that while CMOs are increasingly being asked to drive revenue growth, only 6 percent of those surveyed said they were actively working on growing revenue," said Diana O'Brien, Global and U.S. chief marketing officer for Deloitte. "For CMOs to be successful in their role, they need to take advantage of their unique position as the customer expert, and engage with stakeholders across the enterprise to make that growth happen."

The report also uncovered that while CMOs are expected to play an enterprise-minded role in organizations, they often don't have the authority and responsibility to do so. Approximately half of those interviewed said having an enterprise-wide mindset was one of the most important factors in a CMO's success. However, a far smaller proportion thought it was important for CMOs to have a voice in company growth initiatives, own a significant role in budgeting and strategic planning, or be part of a customer-centric company – all factors that typically come with having an enterprise-wide mindset.

"The challenge and opportunity for CMOs is to cultivate a data-driven mindset, both personally and within their team, without losing that creative spark," said Jennifer Veenstra, managing director, Deloitte Chief Marketing Officer Client Experience program, Deloitte Services LP. "It's critical to cultivate an environment where a diverse set of opinions can be expressed and applied to CMO initiatives."

Based on this research it's clear that by using customer analytics and organizational partnerships, communicating clearly with the C-suite, and skillfully melding the right- brain and left-brain aspects of their role — CMOs can take charge of customer insights. This includes not only justifying their marketing seat at the board table, but embracing the strategic counselor aspect their responsibilities and knowledge demands. The nature of marketing has changed and so has the role of the CMO.