The Next Era of the CMO is Here: Are You Ready For It?
Late Night with Larry: Volume 8
In the face of change and disruption, many people become overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the moment. But for me, I feel excitement. Change means an opportunity to do things differently, be better, and innovate. The marketing industry is in one of those transformational moments right now. Those who understand how to adapt and aggressively pursue their vision have a unique window of time to sprint ahead.
There’s no arguing that the list of expectations placed on the CMO is growing. Customers demand consistent and exceptional experiences that take place across an expanding collection of devices and channels both on and offline. Advertising platforms are doubling down on their own automation and targeting—and putting up taller barriers to keep data and budgets within their own four walls. Brand values are under unprecedented scrutiny. In the digital world, marketers are scrambling to react to the end of third party cookies (my advice on where to re-focus that energy, later). And, on top of it all, CMOs face increasing pressure to demonstrate the ROI of every penny.
Couple these changes with post-pandemic business acceleration and it’s clear that marketers need to think bigger and differently to be successful. The talent, skills, and technology required to win will look different in the future.
This is true for Rise, too. Rise originally made its mark by being among the first in our industry to see the necessity of coupling analytics with creative for effective marketing. While our competitors hired traditional marketing talent, we brought on former financial analysts and data enthusiasts to help our clients take data-driven media management to a new level.
Today, I see the next era of marketing and Rise’s future just as clearly. Driving growth and connecting with customers will require a fundamentally new approach powered by another new set of faces essential for marketing success: technologists. These experts will infuse data engineering, systems architecture, and technical media skills across four core responsibilities that remain squarely within the CMO’s control:
- Fuel Your Brand Engine
- Future-Proof Your Audience Strategy
- Act on Real Time Opportunities
- Prove Your Impact
By focusing on these four areas and adding the right technologist talent to your strategy, you will use the magic of your brand to inspire people and turn them into customers in tomorrow’s ever-changing world. You will lead your company’s growth and shape important decisions at the C-suite table. Let’s look at this new approach and what you will need to win.
1. Fuel Your Brand Engine
Among all the CMO’s responsibilities in the evolution of marketing, the most enduring is the ownership of the brand. Machines simply cannot automate what makes your brand great, or the craft of translating your brand’s essence to an image, phrase, or ad. The CMO must continue to harness the uniqueness of their brand to differentiate and build long-lasting relationships with customers.
The CMO’s new challenge is conveying this brand story and connecting with customers at scale against a backdrop of channel fragmentation. The volume and diversity of creative needed to speak to audiences across all of the platforms—each with its own ad units and best practices—is untenable without the help of technology. Tomorrow’s winning CMO will assemble a team of experts with not only creative vision, but also operational and executional excellence in translating that vision to a scalable content generation strategy that uses a combination of CGI, a remote network of studios, and smart digital asset management to create more variety without ballooning budgets. As part of the Quad network, we’ve seen how brands benefit from agency partnerships that use technology and vertical integration to plan and produce content at scale.
3. Act on Real Time Opportunities
Putting your growth strategy into action requires real time connectivity with your customers: meeting them where they are with a unique and meaningful message. This often starts with a brand promise and a media plan to amplify that promise. In simplest form, your media plan is a collection of hypotheses about which combinations of ads, audiences and channels will produce desired results at each stage of the purchase journey. It’s a data-informed jumping off point.
Then that media plan goes live in a world with dozens of competing marketing channels and platforms, increasing levels of automation, and unprecedented digital connectivity that can shift customer sentiment on a dime. Data that is even one or two days old could mean serious dollars left on the table from missed opportunities. Now, picture the volume of data combinations that occur when you multiply each of your unique audiences by each creative message across each platform or channel for each desired outcome from any given interaction. The amount of information generated every single moment—containing critical business insights—is overwhelming.
To compete in this new world, CMOs need an entirely new breed of media manager and/or agency partner that can use automation and technology to their advantage to act on real time changes to critical factors such as demand surges, ad message effectiveness, geographic events, and more. Your smartest and most analytical marketers have been able to do some of this work to-date, but it’s time to hire professionals specifically trained in engineering and architecting sustainable data solutions. Providing your marketing team with a technology that unifies media data from all platforms and provides real time notifications of where to take action is no longer just a nice-to-have. I firmly believe that brands and agencies that have not invested in building or borrowing this capability will fall behind, which is why data architects, analysts, and engineers are among Rise’s fastest growing new hires.