According to today’s Marketo blog post, the CMO is poised to play the most important role in company strategy. The post makes the case that customers are “reaching out to companies later and later in their decision-making cycle.” As a result, perceptions that impact buying behavior are made long before a company has any direct contact with the customer in the sales process.
This makes social media, digital, mobile marketing and PR key drivers in the customer buying decision and sets the CMO up to be in the best position to drive revenue. Sounds important to me.
With the CMO taking the role as the key customer advocate, who are the collaborative colleagues needed to drive effective strategy?
The Brand Methodology Consultant
With brands now largely built and supported within the domain of the communications and PR world – social media, digital and mobile, the expertise of these professionals should be brought in early in the process. Conceptual brands that are built from the bottom up, with the depth needed to support meaningful micro-content, are the most likely to be successful when it comes time for execution.
Successful conceptual branding requires multiple layers in order to be useful by communications professionals. A brand methodology that supports real-world usage is important and is best facilitated by an outside consultant that has a refined process and methodology.
It is critical to consider the long-term vision and direction of the company in order to create brand materials that don’t compete with the goals of the future. As such, the CEO, as the keeper of the company’s vision, should be incorporated into the brand team.
The Competitive, Product & Technology Expert
Brand building requires reflection on the reality of the company and its capabilities to deliver — or the brand won’t stick. This makes the CMO and CTO partnership increasingly important. The CTO should take the role of understanding the reality of the product’s capabilities in relation to industry perspective. What is truly differentiated from competitors? What does the competitive offering look like? Where are the holes? What is our company’s strategy to build products that set us apart?
The Influencer & Industry Gatekeeper Expert
In some companies, the Chief Communications Officer (CCO) role is owned by the CMO. If this is a separate role in your company, the CCO is critical to developing the communications messaging and positioning structure that will break through the competitive barriers and set the company up for success. In the digital marketing world, structuring communication frameworks to support real-time usage is increasingly critical. In most companies of any size, there is also a senior outside communications and PR consultant that brings influencer and gatekeeper expertise to the table. Incorporating this team will make sure your brand can overcome industry noise. How will it be challenged? Will it be accepted?
The Front Line
The age-old competition between marketing and sales is sure to increase with the landscape moving the sales person’s role later into the sales cycle. Even if the CMO’s role is increasingly important, the front line is still responsible to directly interact with the customer and close the sale. Supporting the front line function will now require a more integrated effort between sales, business development and marketing with social selling and one-to-one social media engagement happening early in the sales cycle. Frontline feedback on first customer interactions can help determine how the digital programs are performing to open doors.
It is an exciting shift in times for CMOs seeking new challenges and any person with a role in the CMO’s inner circle. The companies that will compete and win in this rapidly changing environment will be the ones that quickly adapt to this new environment and engage all the key players in the new customer lifecycle engagement environment. Are you ready for the shift?